THE ROLE OF DETACHMENT 3 (EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE/AIR FORCE TEST CENTER), OPERATORS OF AREA 51 BASE IN NEVADA, IN THE DEVELOPMENT AND TESTING OF MQ-REAPER SINCE AFTER 2001, as noted in a memorandum of 2009. (The Air Force Flight Test Center – AFFTC – was renamed AFTC a few years ago).
|by Airman 1st Class William O’Brien
95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs 5/5/2009 – EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — The Aeronautical Systems Center Detachment 3 and the 772nd Test Squadron began testing the MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle on April 28.Scheduled to continue through June 12, the tests characterizes the radio emissions and susceptibility of the aircraft.
“The testing will increase the aircraft’s ability to access worldwide air space,” said Lt. Col. Dan Fritz, 703rd Aeronautical Equipment Systems Group’s DET 3 commander. “The objective is to collect electromagnetic interference data to support air worthiness certification.”
Because of the design of the Benefield Anechoic Facility, it allows testers to evaluate the aircraft’s radio emissions in an isolated area, preventing other radio frequencies from interfering or compromising the tests.
“The BAF has the size and technical capability to support the testing we need to do.” said Steve Yamaguchi, 703rd AESG Operating Location-DET 3 chief of test. “The BAF shuts out other frequencies, isolating ours so we can make accurate evaluations.”
The MQ-9, known as a “hunter-killer,” is capable of both reconnaissance and attack.
“The MQ-9 provides the ‘unblinking eye’ of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance,” said Mr. Yamaguchi “It provides real-time full-motion video to commanders and can also attack with a combination of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, GBU-12 Paveway II and GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions.
The varied capabilities offered by this aircraft have made it a valuable commodity in the current war effort, said Colonel Fritz.
“This aircraft has one of the highest mission-capable rates of any combat aircraft,” the colonel said. “Combine that with its diverse capabilities and that is what makes it the most requested combat asset in current theaters.”
703rd AESG DET 3 is a military and government support contractor Combined Flight Test Force organization located in Gray Butte, Calif. Their primary mission is to perform flight tests on MQ-1 Predator and Reaper UAVs for the Air Force.
“We are much like other USAF test facilities,” said Colonel Fritz. “We are government independent testers responsible for weapons testing for both the Reaper and the Predator. We are the only ones in the Air Force doing this testing and we’ve been doing it for more than eight years now.”
Colonel Fritz said that even though this is the first time his Detachment has sent a MQ-9 Reaper to Edwards, this is one of many testing efforts they’ve had with the base.
“This is the first time we’ve landed one of our MQ-9s at Edwards but this is only one of a long line of collaborative efforts we’ve had with Edwards,” said Colonel Fritz. “We’re always pleased to work with Edwards on things like this. We’re happy to tap into the expertise and facilities Edwards have to offer to further the capabilities of our aircraft.”
Though the testing is in its early stages, Colonel Fritz said he’s happy with how smooth the arrival was and the testing to be done.
“We were able to seamlessly merge into Edwards air traffic pattern and even do a planned low approach just like any manned aircraft,” said Colonel Fritz. “This testing will expand this aircraft’s air worthiness, and Edwards BAF offers us the perfect location to effectively complete this testing.”
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