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MQ-9 begins flying missions from Romania

Capt. Sophie, left, 20th Attack Squadron pilot, and Staff Sgt. Timothy, 20th ATKS sensor operator, fly a sortie via simulator at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., Nov. 20, 2020. The 20th ATKS is a geographically separated unit under the 432nd Wing and 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class William Rio Rosado)

Capt. Sophie, left, 20th Attack Squadron pilot, and Staff Sgt. Timothy, 20th ATKS sensor operator, fly a sortie via simulator at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., Nov. 20, 2020. The 20th ATKS is a geographically separated unit under the 432nd Wing and 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class William Rio Rosado)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. (AFNS) --

The 25th Attack Group began flying the first active-duty operated U.S. Air Forces in Europe MQ-9 Reaper sorties in Romania via remote-split operations as of Feb. 1.

The 25th ATKG is a unit under the command of the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing. Both the wing and group are dedicated to providing dominant, persistent attack and reconnaissance on behalf of the nation and coalition partners.

Until now, the 25th ATKG specialized in counter-terrorism missions in United States Central Command area of operations. They are now building capacity in the United States European Command area of responsibility to support great power competition while maintaining a persistent presence in USCENTCOM.

The MQ-9 weapon system is continuously evolving to nest within Air Force initiatives to operate in and from contested environments against near-peer adversaries.

“This is an exciting moment where we can showcase the value of the MQ-9 across the globe, not just in the Middle East,” said Col. Timothy Monroe, 25th ATKG commander. “We can demonstrate to our NATO allies and coalition partners that, when our Airmen are given the most difficult tasks, we rise to the occasion and bring the best of who we are to every mission that we accomplish.”

While in the EUCOM AOR, the aircraft will be employed to conduct persistent reconnaissance with a sophisticated suite of capabilities across varying employment strategies.

“Standing up active-duty Reaper combat lines in the European theater is a significant milestone for the RPA (remotely piloted aircraft) community,” said Col. Stephen Jones, 432nd Wing and 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander. “We intend to move to evolve our weapon system to survive and provide critical capabilities in contested environments. The support from our partners in Europe has been outstanding, and we are proud of achieving operational capability ahead of schedule.”

The 25th ATKG began preparation for EUCOM support more than a year ago. The unit reset and readied its squadrons by providing a dedicated training opportunity for the aircrew. Prior to this reconstitution, every squadron shared continuous operations and was unable to take time to train for advanced mission sets and respond to emerging threats.

Reconstitution not only allowed time to develop new tactics for MQ-9 missions in the European theater; it has also advanced new relationships with partners and allies who are vital to maintaining our strategic edge on competitors.

“Throughout the chain, commander's intent is very straightforward,” Monroe said. “Deliver the most credible, professional and capable MQ-9 force to meet European security requirements.”

With a new frontier for the 432nd AEW, the 25th ATKG will rise to the occasion.

“The 25th ATKG has a proven track record of successes,” Jones said. “They are the A-team, and no group is postured better to succeed at this mission.”

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