Hunters fly Reapers here via New Mexico Published Jan. 28, 2009 By Capt. Brooke Brander 432d Wing Public Affairs CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Members from the 432d Wing completed a successful test flight from New Mexico Jan. 15 after flying an MQ-9 Reaper over Fort Irwin, Calif., training air space using remote split operations. Remote split operations allowed 432d Wing Airmen to control the aircraft, via satellite link, from two separate locations; Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., and Creech. "RSO is not a new concept," said Lt. Col. James Merchant, Det. 1 commander at Holloman. "All of the aircraft flying in Afghanistan and Iraq are using the same process, albeit over a much longer range. With the stand-up of operations at Holloman, or any other location, RSO ultimately provides flexibility in where we fly the airplanes. If weather is poor for an extended period at Holloman for example, we will have the ability to fly an airplane launched at Creech to help graduate students on time. " Holloman is the Air Force's preferred location for future MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1B Predator formal training units. Currently, all Predator and Reaper formal training is conducted at Creech. Personnel from the 432d Operations Group Det.1 and Det.2, and elements of the 432nd Wing have been TDY at Holloman to conduct Unmanned Aircraft System training since November 2008, including the RSO feasibility test. Maintenance support from both General Atomics and the 432d Wing were critical to making that initial flight a success. Personnel assigned to Det. 1 and 2 as well as the 432d Maintenance Group will remain in TDY status until the Environmental Analysis Process is complete and a final beddown location decision is made for the second UAS FTU. "Though we are still awaiting the outcome of the Environmental Analysis Process, the recent test by personnel from Creech of the Remote Split Operations here at Holloman is another way for the Air Force to ensure we are meeting the directives set by the Secretary of Defense," said Col. Jeff Harrigian, 49th Fighter Wing commander. With the ability to fly aircraft via RSO from Holloman, Det. 1 personnel are scheduled to fly Reapers in the Fort Irwin airspace, launched from Creech in two upcoming GREEN FLAG exercises. "The flexibility that RSO provides us is amazing. At zero knots and one G, an aircrew in New Mexico will fly a Reaper from Nevada to California and support ground troops training in preparation to deploy," said Col. Chris Chambliss, 432d Wing and 432d Air Expeditionary Wing commander. "The Hunters of the 432d use this flexibility to train as we fight for our 24/7 no-fail combat ops mission." The support provided by the 49th FW made the test possible. The 49th Communications Squadron and 49th Civil Engineer Squadron ensured the installation of electrical, fiber optic and communications equipment was successful. In addition, the support from the 49th CS and CES made the unpacking and set up of the Mobile Ground Control Station required for RSO and flying the UAS aircraft possible. "I want to personally thank the members of Team Holloman who provided outstanding support during this critical testing. Their support and 'can-do' attitudes will be a great asset in the event Holloman is selected as the location for the UAS FTU," said Colonel Harrigian.