The California Air National Guard?s 163rd Air Refueling Wing at March Air Reserve Base will the home for a new MQ-1 Predator unit. The announcement was made today by the Air Force, National Guard Bureau and the Adjutant General of California. The move is part of ongoing total force initiatives.
This transformation converts the unit to the 163rd Wing, and represents another example of the Air National Guard supporting global operations with its total force partners.
?The unique characteristics that the Guard and Reserve bring to the fight provide economies of scale in experience, stability and cost savings and, as such, significantly enhance the Air Force?s ability to accomplish our mission. One team, one fight,? said Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Wood, Air Force deputy chief of staff for plans and programs.
Initial plans include basing the mission at the 163rd Wing, but conducting flight operations in restricted airspace over southern California. This cost effective split operation will allow the Guard to optimize its people and increase total force unmanned aerial system flying and maintenance training. It will also provide much-needed Predator capability for national defense, officials said.
“The Air National Guard?s growing participation in Predator operations represents the National Guard?s commitment to remain out front in the new and emerging missions of the future,? said Air National Guard director Lt. Gen. Daniel James III.
?It displays the new direction of the total force and the cooperative relationship we will continue to build upon,” General James said.
?The California Air National Guard has been actively changing legacy missions into new missions in areas such as space, intelligence and, now, UASs,? said California National Guard Adjutant General William H. Wade II. ?The men and women of the 163rd look forward to this new Predator mission and to serving the State of California and the Nation.?
Predators are long-endurance, medium-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles used for surveillance and reconnaissance missions. Since the first flight in 1995, Predators have flown more than 3,000 missions and more than 130,000 flight hours, More than half of these hours have been over combat area in the Balkans, Southwest Asia and the Middle East where Predator operates in support of U.S. and NATO forces.
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