HomeNewsArticle Display

MQ-1 squadron celebrates 100 years

On May 9, 2017, the 15th ATKS celebrated their 100-year anniversary and reflected on the unit’s extensive and honorable heritage, which coincidentally, includes their use of airpower in nearly every major conflict of the 20th Century. This heritage is carried on in today’s fight with remotely piloted aircraft MQ-1 Predators. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class James Thompson)

On May 9, 2017, the 15th ATKS celebrated their 100-year anniversary and reflected on the unit’s extensive and honorable heritage, which includes their use of airpower in nearly every major conflict of the 20th century. This heritage is carried on in today’s fight with remotely piloted aircraft MQ-1 Predators. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class James Thompson)

CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNS) -- The 15th Attack Squadron patch depicting a pigeon clutching a telescope harkens to the squadron’s long history of reconnaissance missions.  
 
On May 9, 2017, the 15th ATKS celebrated their 100-year anniversary and reflected on the unit’s extensive and honorable heritage, which coincidentally includes their use of airpower in nearly every major conflict of the 20th century. This heritage is continues today with the MQ-1 Predators.   
 
Six years prior to the unit’s inception in 1917, French Marshal Ferdinand Foch asserted that “Airplanes are interesting toys, but of no military value.” However, the 15th Aero Squadron, along with many units, proved this assumption wrong. 
 
Upon its activation during World War I, members of the 15th Aero Squadron began flying Airco DH-4s, Curtiss JN-4s and JN-6s. More than 20 years later, pilots from the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron flew photographic reconnaissance versions of the P-51 Mustang and Spitfire over the European theater in World War II. In the early morning of June 6, 1944, pilots of the 15th TRS received credit for both the first aerial victory of D-Day and the first victory by a tactical reconnaissance pilot.
 
After World War II, the 15th TRS carried on its combat legacy in the Korean and Vietnam Wars while flying tactical reconnaissance aircraft such as the RF-86 Sabre, RF-101 Voodoo and RF-4C Phantom II.
 
In 1997, the 15th Reconnaissance Squadron stood up to fly the remotely piloted aircraft RQ-1 Predator at Indian Springs Auxiliary Airfield, Nevada, which was later renamed Creech Air Force Base. Today, they continue to fly the MQ-1 in concentrated efforts against terror organizations. 
 
“Today, we are tasked to provide persistent attack and reconnaissance capabilities, against a real and tangible threat,” said Lt. Col. Erik, the 15th ATKS commander. 
 
The 15th ATKS is the second and most enduring of the MQ-1 Predator combat squadrons as the 11th RS was activated in 1995, but became a field-training unit in the mid-2000s when it relinquished its combat role. The 15th ATKS has been at the forefront of tremendous growth and technical innovations. Two of the most impactful evolutions were remote-split operations, the ability to fly the aircraft from a geographically separated cockpit (ground control station) thousands of miles away and the integration of weapons.  
 
During the early 2000s, the 15th RS began flying Predators with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles on board and played an integral part in combating terror organizations. This capability, combined with professional aircrews, enabled the future of armed RPAs and paved the way for the larger, faster and more capable MQ-9 Reaper in 2007. 
 
The 15th RS at the time also played a critical role in forming other MQ-1 squadrons such as the 18th ATKS and 3rd Special Operations Squadron. 
 
“Looking back, almost all U.S. Air Force RPA squadrons owe their operational legacy to the 15th,” Erik said. “In the beginning we were flying two to three combat lines and developing the initial tactics, techniques and procedures for RPA operations. Today, we help enable the USAF’s 60 combat lines of MQ-1Bs and MQ-9s.” 
 
On May 15, 2016, the 15th RS became the 15th ATKS, which signified the precision attack capabilities and contributions of MQ-1s and their crews. 
 
“We’ve seen the full evolution, from an ancillary role to a major weapons system, and we’ve trained our crews to maximize the potential of this airframe,” Erik said. “The change prefaces a shift in the mission set and the 15th’s future transition to the Reaper.”
 
Looking toward the future, the 15th ATKS will progress to the MQ-9 Reaper and will continue providing persistent attack and reconnaissance to combatant commanders to eliminate the enemy while keeping ground and coalition forces safe. 
 
What Erik finds even more significant is the fact that 100 years ago, the thought of military aircraft in flight was absurd. Now, it is an integral part of the war fight.  
 
“When we look back now at what Marshal Foch said 100 years ago we find it ridiculous, but at the time that was the prevailing attitude,” Erik said. “Some people had similar thoughts when we started flying RQ-1s, questioning the real military value of this technology. Over the last 20 years, the men and women of the 15th ATKS have not only proven those assumptions wrong, they’ve also set the stage for the future of our RPA enterprise.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
#MilitaryWorkingDogs have a strict diet that corresponds with their constant training regimen, but sometimes treats… https://t.co/0PWQtw7rwE
RT @thejointstaff: Meet #SEAC4 Ramon "CZ" Colon-Lopez and learn more about his role as the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman and the…
RT @AirForceCE: Welcome to the Lock Shop! 🔐 Securing everything from assets to machinery, the shop plays an integral role in the larger Ai…
Have no Fear: MilTax is here! Military OneSource offers free tax prep for active duty service members and their fa… https://t.co/8TGP8ro32o
RT @AFWERX: The @usairforce just officially announced the #SparkTank2020 selectees! Congratulations to all the teams who will be presenting…
RT @USAmbNATO: I am very proud of our 🇺🇸 @usairforce airmen from the 57th Rescue Squadron who have been in 🇮🇹 #Italy training personnel rec…
RT @DVIDSHub: The #A10 Thunderbolt II is a slow yet maneuverable aircraft capable of taking and throwing hits that would render other aircr…
RT @AETCommand: There are few missions requiring years to plan/prep, only to be accomplished in less than 6 seconds. Courtesy @AirmanMagaz
Combat rescue helicopter pilots and crew undergo intensive underwater-egress training to prepare for worst-case sce… https://t.co/Z9z1kHAmay
RT @US_TRANSCOM: Look at this amazing photo of @usairforce and @RCAF_ARC C-130 Hercules aircraft taking off from #LittleRockAirForceBase. @…
Check out what's happening around the #AirForce this week! https://t.co/MCM1NiVAEN
Ice, Ice Baby ❄️❄️🌬️ Fire protection specialists at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska practice self-recover… https://t.co/tSSMzACZyz
Great job @CivilAirPatrol. 9 lives saved this year! https://t.co/43ICzmOMaX
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Privileged to spend time at our annual Weapons & Tactics Conference @NellisAFB where leaders of our combat power meet…
RT @AETCommand: Thanks @EsperDoD for visiting our 479th Flying Training Group team at @NASPCOLA! #DYK the group is the @usairforce's only…
RT @theF35JPO: Because we all love a bit of F-35 #slowmo. Watch an #F35 release flares in #slowmotion at @EdwardsAFB. ⚡ https://t.co/AIRCGL…
RT @US_SOCEUR: U.S. #airmen assigned to the 352d Special Operations Wing fly a CV-22B #Osprey aircraft over #Hungary. https://t.co/sSmjq90S…
RT @HQ_AFMC: It's another #NightAtTheMuseum event at the @AFmuseum this Friday when a special evening to celebrate the final days of the Ca…
RT @HQUSAFEPA: The U.S. & #Romania have a standing partnership to address issues of regional & global security. To advance those interests,…