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News > Arizona activates ANG Predator unit at D-M
162 predator activation
One of the new 214th Reconnaissance Group's new MQ-1B Predator aircraft. The 214th RG, activated here Aug. 29, will provide Predator aircrews in support of the global war on terrorism. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christina Kinsey)
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Arizona activates ANG Predator unit at D-M

Posted 9/26/2007   Updated 9/26/2007 Email story   Print story


by Capt. Gabe Johnson
162nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/26/2007 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE -- The Arizona National Guard activated one of the first Air National Guard MQ-1B Predator units in a ceremony here Wednesday.

The newly-recognized 214th Reconnaissance Group flies the unmanned aerial vehicle in daily combat missions via satellite, and represents a new era for the Air National Guard and Arizona.

"This is a terrific day for all of us," said Maj. Gen. Michael Shira, Arizona Air National Guard commander. "There are things we can do with this airplane that we haven't even thought of yet. This is the future," said the general.

According to General Shira, the Arizona National Guard worked for more than two years to make the mission a reality. The combat theater's requests for the Predator are well above what can be provided at the current operations level.

"This is just the beginning of the Guard's role in helping to meet the needs of those in harm's way," he said.

Since July 16, the 214th has flown the Predator over Iraq and Afghanistan from ground control stations in Tucson.

Currently, the unit flies one combat orbit over Iraq on a continual basis flying 20 hours per day, seven days per week. Predator operations provide troops on the ground with both daylight and infrared video of selected targets. In addition, the aircraft is equipped with two laser-guided AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.

"It has been a huge endeavor, but has been very rewarding," said Maj. Gen. David Rataczak, Arizona's Adjutant General. "It's a unique environment you work in. My hat is off to you because you accomplish a combat mission, under stress and then go home to your families at night."

Unit members also expressed pride in accepting their new mission.

"This is a great unit and a great mission," said Staff Sgt. Nicolette Sebastian, a Predator sensor operator. "It allows me to help the war effort directly from home where I am still able to spend time with my son. I am proud to do all I can for this mission because being a part of this team has done so much for me."

The 214th Reconnaissance Group is a product of the Guard's expanding role in the Total Force which was outlined by Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff of the Air Force on Nov. 25, 2004.

The vision of senior Air Force leaders called for the standup of MQ-1 Predator flying units in the Air Guard to help fill worldwide requirements for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Arizona Air National Guard Predator operations will first fill worldwide theater requirements, but will also likely evolve into providing direct defense for the homeland in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Northern Command.
A permanent facility at Davis-Monthan is scheduled for completion in 2009, and hangar facilities at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., in 2011. Once the aircraft are delivered to Fort Huachuca, crews at D-M will launch local sorties from the Southern Arizona Army air field.

The Predator, until recently, was operated solely by Air Force active duty flying squadrons from Creech Air Force Base, Nev. Arizona, California and North Dakota are the first states to bring the Predator mission to the Air National Guard.

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