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Reservist member of Predator's 500,000-hour milestone crew

CREECH AFB, Nev. -- A MQ-1B Predator unmanned aircraft system takes off for a training mission at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Larry E. Reid Jr.)

An MQ-1B Predator takes off for a training mission at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Larry E. Reid Jr.)

CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- A 15th Reconnaissance Squadron aircrew supporting operations in Iraq flew an MQ-1B Predator Unmanned Aircraft System mission surpassing the half-million flying hour milestone Feb. 18. 

The Predator's first 100,000 hours were flown over a 10-year span, but with an increased operations tempo, the last 100,000 hours were reached within six months. 

"Reaching a half million flying hours is a huge accomplishment for the Predator," said Tech. Sgt. Emory Cass, mission intelligence coordinator with the 15th RS. "I'm proud to have been part of the crew flying when it reached this milestone." 

A Predator mission is operated by three crewmembers, a pilot, sensor operator and mission intelligence coordinator. During the mission the MIC coordinates with ground forces to collect target information and ensure the rest of the crew understands the mission flow and tasks. Additionally, they're responsible for coordinating with command centers, joint terminal attack controllers, airspace control authorities and many other intelligence agencies around the world. 

Sergeant Cass is a full-time reservist. He falls under the 78th Reconnaissance Squadron, a U.S. Air Force Reserve squadron at Creech AFB, whose members integrate into regular Air Force units such as the 15th RS. Through the Department of Defense's Total Force Integration initiative, the RegAF provides the aircraft and other assets, and the Reserve augments the mission by providing additional manpower to meet the demand of UAS combat operations. 

"The 15 RS currently flies 28 percent of all MQ-1B Predator combat air patrols over Iraq and Afghanistan," said Lt. Col. Ken Callahan, 15th RS director of operations. "We're able to meet the needs of the Joint Force Commanders for this no-fail 24/7 combat ops mission because of the hard work and dedication of our total force team of active duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard Airmen here." 

The 15th RS is one of the first armed UAS squadrons. It provides deployed warfighters with persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, full-motion video and precision weapons employment. 

The MQ-1B's primary function is armed reconnaissance, airborne surveillance and target acquisition. It has the ability to stay on station for long periods of time, seeing beyond a commander's line of sight and increasing their battlespace awareness. The Predator can be armed with two laser-guided AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and carries the Multi-spectral Targeting System which integrates electro-optical, infrared, laser designator and laser illuminator into a single sensor package. 

(Information collected from 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs News Release.)