HomeNewsArticle Display

Air Force awards first Remote device: Dominant persistent attack aircrew recognized

This award ceremony recognized the direct impact Remotely Piloted Aircraft aircrews have on the battlefield and distinguished those who performed extraordinarily in their capacities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Thompson)

From left, Col. Julian C. Cheater, 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander, retired Maj. Asa, former 432nd WG MQ-9 Reaper pilot; Capt. Evan, 432nd WG MQ-9 pilot; Capt. Abrham, 432nd WG MQ-9 pilot; 1st Lt. Eric, 432nd WG MQ-9 pilot and Senior Airman Jason, 432nd WG sensor operator pose for a photo July 11, 2018, at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. This award ceremony recognized the direct impact Remotely Piloted Aircraft aircrews have on the battlefield and distinguished those who performed extraordinarily in their capacities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Thompson)

This award ceremony recognized the direct impact Remotely Piloted Aircraft aircrews have on the battlefield and distinguished those who performed extraordinarily in their capacities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Thompson)

An Air Force medal with an attached remote “R” device sits in front of an MQ-9 Reaper July 9, 2018, at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. The “R” device distinguishes an award earned for hands-on employment of a weapon system that had direct and immediate impact on a military operation, without being exposed to hostile action or immediate danger. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Thompson)

CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNS) -- The Air Force’s first-ever remote “R” device was presented to aircrews of the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing July 11, 2018 at Creech Air Force Base. Col. Julian C. Cheater, 432nd WG/432nd AEW commander, ceremoniously presented the Meritorious Service Medals and Air Force Commendation Medals with the device.

The device was authorized in 2016, with the criteria released in 2017, establishing an award earned for hands-on employment of a weapons system that had direct and immediate impact on a combat operation or other military operations. Qualifying actions can be performed in any domain, but must not expose the individual to personal hostile action.

This award ceremony recognized the direct impact Remotely Piloted Aircraft aircrews have on the battlefield and distinguished those who performed extraordinarily in their capacities.

The “R” device is authorized for placement on the Legion of Merit, Meritourious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal and Air Force Achievement Medal. It is not authorized on any other ribbon or medal.

432nd Wing leaders highlighted five Airmen for their actions in combat.

Their selection was based on stringent criteria, including strategic significance, protection of ground forces, leadership displayed, critical thinking, level of difficulty and innovation.

“It is a great honor to recognize the contributions of these Airmen,” Cheater said. “Much of the world will never know details of their contributions due to operational security, but rest assured that they have made significant impacts while saving friendly lives.”

All devices may be awarded retroactively to Jan. 7, 2016.

Bringing the fight to the enemy
In three separate combat operations, aircrews from the 432nd Operations Group and the 732nd OG were successful in eliminating threats and saving lives of American and coalition forces on the ground.

Retired Maj. Asa, 732nd OG MQ-9 pilot and mission commander, and Capt. (then 2nd Lt.) Evan, 732nd OG MQ-9 Reaper pilot distinguished themselves in combat operations in February 2016.

The crew supported dominant persistent attack and reconnaissance over 74 days to identify a high-value target and known terrorist. Once identified, the crew adapted to a dynamic situation as the target traveled through densely populated areas at a high speed.

Evan’s crew provided key input and strategic coordination with other aircraft and buddy-lased for the strike, successfully removing the theater’s number two high-value individual from the battlefield. Buddy lasing is a technique where a laser-equipped aircraft guides in a laser-guided weapon delivered from another aircraft.

Evan said the “R” device should help shed light on the impact RPA aircrews have in battle, was humbled to be recognized and hopes that those outside of the enterprise gain a better understanding of what RPAs bring to the fight.

“I went home that night and I knew what I did,” Evan said. “I think to the outside community, something like this will give a sense of perspective.”

In another combat operation, 1st Lt. (then 2nd Lt.) Eric, 432nd OG MQ-9 pilot; and Senior Airman Jason, 432nd OG MQ-9 sensor operator were recognized for their support during a contingency effort.

While scanning for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria enemies ahead of coalition forces on the ground, the crew discovered a truck with a large caliber machine gun mounted in the bed moving toward friendly forces. The vehicle began firing at the friendly forces for a short period of time and then returned to a garage. The enemy repeated this maneuver multiple times.

The crew began coordinating a nine-line with a Joint Terminal Attack Controller for strike authorization. While maneuvering the aircraft, the crew noticed a large group of civilian adults and children, across the street in an alley from the vehicle firing at friendly forces.

With a persistent attack capability, the crew elected to wait until the vehicle returned back to the garage in order to protect the civilians.

“In this particular situation, we were able to quickly assess that the enemy was not yet inflicting effective fire on friendly forces which allowed us to completely prepare for the strike,” Eric said.

Once the truck returned to the garage, Eric and Jason took action. Using their only AGM-114 Hellfire missile, they eliminated both the vehicle and enemy combatants who performed hostile actions, while safeguarding friendly forces and civilians.

Additionally, Capt. Abrham, 432nd OG MQ-9 pilot and his aircrew were scanning a known hostile area when the weather deteriorated, causing all manned aircraft to exit the area. Abrham remained on station. After several hours of surveillance, he observed enemy personnel begin to open fire on friendly forces.

While battling increasingly adverse conditions, Abrham dynamically employed four Hellfire missiles, eliminating three enemy targets, two vehicles, and one mortar system. He then navigated the safe return of his aircraft despite the marginal weather.

All recipients made key decisions in the heat of the fight which saved lives on the battlefield.

Recognizing modern warfare contributions
This device originated from the controversial Distinguished Warfare Medal proposed in 2014. Similar to the “R” device, the original decoration aimed to honor those who made a significant impact in combat without physically being exposed to hostile action.

The proposition was declined due to its ranking, which would have placed it above the Purple Heart and Bronze Star with the Combat valor “V” device, a suggestion that didn’t sit well with many combat veterans.

Simultaneously, Air Force officials announced that it would be replaced by a device that would attach to authorized medals. Since then, Air Force leadership has made strides in normalizing the RPA enterprise with the Culture and Process Improvement Program, an initiative that brought forward several improvements including improved manning, additional basing opportunities and streamlined training.

“These members create direct combat effects that lead to strategic outcomes and deliver lethal force, while physically located outside the combat area,” said Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, the deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services in a 2017 release.

As the community grows, recognizing RPA Airmen achievements with the “R” device is another step toward normalizing remote operations relative to other weapon systems.

“It’s important to recognize the unique character of this type of warfare, and the RPA Airmen who provide significant contributions to the joint fight,” said Lt. Gen. Mark Kelly, 12th Air Force commander.

RPAs allow for a 24/7 year-round mission, but the Airmen in the cockpit are the driving force behind that mission set. They continue to meet the demand of combatant commanders and coalition forces around the world.

“The unwavering and collective dedication of the members of the RPA community often means that U.S. family members are able to reunite with their deployed loved ones again and innocent civilians are liberated from ruthless groups like ISIS,” Cheater said. “The ‘R’ device denotes that there were critical impacts accomplished from afar—often where others cannot go—and that we are ready to fight from any location that our U.S. leaders determine is best.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
DYK: Aircraft have lifespans! Like humans, they require check-ups in the form of maintenance inspections to prolong their ability to fly. These "checks" prevent in-flight system failures which ultimately protects aircrew and passengers. Learn more from the 86th Maintenance Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on what it takes to correct issues so aircraft can stay airborne.
WATCH: United States Air Force pilots talk about the importance of Exercise Saber Strike 18 as they refuel over the Baltic Sea on June 18, 2018. Saber Strike 18 is a long-standing training exercise designed to enhance interoperability between the U.S. and our allies. The training focused on improving land and air operational capabilities between the U.S. and our NATO allies. (U.S. Air National Guard video by: Master Sgt. Wolfram M. Stumpf)
Check out some shots from yesterday's All-Star Armed Services Classic Championship softball game in Washington, D.C. This event, part of MLB’s All-Star Week, pays tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces. Washington Nationals U.S. Army
Air Force and U.S. Army coed softball teams render military honors during the playing of the National Anthem during the All-Star Armed Services Classic Championship softball game, Washington, D.C., July 13, 2018. This event, part of MLB’s All-Star Week, pays tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces. Washington Nationals
Great way to lead by example!
The United States Air Force is facing a pilot shortage. To help solve the challenge, the Aircrew Crisis Task Force was recently created to provide strategic direction and actionable recommendations to senior leaders on how to solve the aircrew manning crisis. FULL STORY: https://go.usa.gov/xUb3z
Your United States Air Force news: ✓ A B-52 crew assists in a search and rescue operation off the coast of Guam ✓ An Afghan pilot class graduates in the Czech Republic ✓ The Air Force is using innovative approaches to training pilots to make the process faster and more efficient
Now that’s how weathermen work! Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters fly weather reconnaissance missions into Tropical Storm Chris and Tropical Storm Beryl. http://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1569944/hurricane-hunters-fly-tropical-storms-beryl-chris/
The F-22 Raptor's combination of stealth, supercruise, maneuverability, and integrated avionics, coupled with improved supportability, represents an exponential leap in warfighting capabilities. The F-22 cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft. Maintaining these aircraft can involve a bit of a learning curve. Airmen at KadenaAirBase use past technology to help learn how to work with the undefeated Raptor. FULL STORY: http://www.kadena.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1567295/hard-to-raptor-head-around/
Help us out! Can you caption this photo?
The B-52 Stratofortress has sniper pods that provide improved long-range target detection/identification and continuous stabilize surveillance for all missions, including close air support of ground forces. Air Force Global Strike Command crew members on a B-52 were able to spot a historic Pacific Island style canoe so that the U.S. Coast Guard could rescue the six passengers!
For the past 60 years, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has continually helped us maintain a technological edge against our advarsaries. Together with the Air Force Research Laboratory - AFRL, a fusion of ideas is leading to newly highlighted innovations.
SOUND ON! Celebrate freedom with the sound of freedom! Happy Independence Day!
#DYK: The 1st Aero Squadron was the first tactical aviation unit to participate in American military action.… https://t.co/FPijKQVfHp
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: An open letter & invitation to Col "Ned Stark:" Join my team & help us re-exam our officer promotion system -- as lead…
RT @AFWERX: AFWERX is using Ideascale to offer USAF Airmen the opportunity to submit their innovative idea for the Air Force. Join the netw…
#Airman uses data from the #MQ9Reaper to give firefighters near-real-time information as they confront fires in… https://t.co/tX2TSbYrSg
#Airmen from 105th Airlift Wing learn impact of their mission as this #Airman shares her harrowing tale of survival… https://t.co/40kBNQOz3d
Maj. Onier Alejandro-Villarreal & Capt. Rodney McIntyre, 927th Aeromedical Staging Squadron medical techs, operate… https://t.co/YsMHOL2vV7
Only in the #AirForceFamily! The chances of being your sibling's replacement at a deployed location are slim to non… https://t.co/JRED65irZS
RT @AETCommand: “The squadron is the beating heart of the @usairforce; our most essential team,” - Chief of Staff of the Air Force @GenDave
.@MacDill_AFB #Airmen prove that in an emergency a wing commander can turn to augmentees for additional support.… https://t.co/Pgal3TEP3p
RT @DeptofDefense: Prepared for all situations in all conditions. @AKNationalGuard #airmen with the 212th Rescue Squadron at @JBER_Officia
Happy Monday! Let's get this week off to a great start w/ #AirForce #WIP! https://t.co/rlP3y4NQ9k https://t.co/OlzebNB1lQ
After toggling with the idea of joining the #military for years, she promised herself to stop waiting for life to f… https://t.co/7Gt22iqNlD
It's #NationalAviationDay & new aviation opportunities are here! We're partnering with @CivilAirPatrol to groom tom… https://t.co/Fe9b4jlmGw
These supply #Airmen work 24/7 to ensure there is no break in the mission @RAFMildenhall because #NKAWTGhttps://t.co/biE2BPXVe1
Every #Airman has their reason for serving. Read on as these #Airmen explain what putting on the uniform everyday m… https://t.co/ubeDmY1liq
For the first time in the 63-year history of Operation Deep Freeze, #Airmen from the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Sq… https://t.co/CdeyI4HjHT
#DYK, the #MedalofHonor is the highest award for bravery that can be awarded to members of the United States Armed… https://t.co/qei2LbbD1I
.@388fw’s 4th Fighter Squadron became the first operational unit to fire the F-35A’s the #aircraft’s 25mm cannon on… https://t.co/J7hbXrCSCv
#DYK: The @22ARW is the host unit of McConnell AFB! Its mission is to conduct air refueling & airlift operations su… https://t.co/12bR9cwIuG