Three contract maintainers walk an RQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle into a shelter. They are assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit at Balad Air Base, Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jason Ridder)
Robert Attard works on an engine from an RQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle. Mr. Attard is a contract maintainer assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit at Balad Air Base, Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jason Ridder)
by Airman 1st Class Jason Ridder
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
5/5/2006 - BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) -- Total force is more than just a concept for one squadron here. It is a way of life that brings the skills and talents of various groups into one unit to accomplish the mission.
The 46th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit is responsible for maintaining the RQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicles here.
The unit is about half Airmen and half contractors. The Airmen in the unit include four members of the Royal Air Force and two Nevada Air National Guardsmen. Most of the contractors are prior military and about half are former Airmen.
The 46th EAMU is part of the 332d Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Group. Squadron members bring different experiences and capabilities to the table.
“My prior experience with the Predator on active duty helped me want to do this,” said Orival Greenfield, 46th EAMU deployment team lead and a retired senior master sergeant.
The level of experience that someone like Mr. Greenfield brings to the unit is a plus, according to Maj. Joe Giuliani, 46th EAMU officer-in-charge.
“Some of the contract maintainers were here last year doing the same job in an Air Force uniform,” he said.
Mr. Greenfield has been working with the Predator for almost a decade and has seen the evolution of the aircraft.
“When I first started with the Predator in 1997 there would be only one aircraft in the sky at a time and the entire mission was flown from where it was launched,” said Mr. Greenfield. “Now there are multiple Predators in the sky at the same time, and most of the missions are flown from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada."