HomeNewsArticle Display

Reaper maintainers ensure ISR mission accomplishment

An Airman assigned to the 451st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron marshals an MQ-9 Reaper to the runway prior to launch March 20, 2015, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Airmen assigned to the 451st EAMXS provide 24/7 maintenance support to the Air Force’s largest Reaper unit, ensuring ground troops are supported around the clock. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Whitney Amstutz)

An Airman assigned to the 451st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron marshals an MQ-9 Reaper to the runway prior to launch March 20, 2015, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Airmen assigned to the 451st EAMXS provide 24/7 maintenance support to the Air Force’s largest Reaper unit, ensuring ground troops are supported around the clock. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Whitney Amstutz)

A 451st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Airman performs preflight checks prior to launching an MQ-9 Reaper March 20, 2015, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Airmen assigned to the 451st EAMXS provide 24/7 maintenance support to the Air Force’s largest Reaper unit, ensuring ground troops are supported around the clock. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Whitney Amstutz)

A 451st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Airman performs preflight checks prior to launching an MQ-9 Reaper March 20, 2015, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Airmen assigned to the 451st EAMXS provide 24/7 maintenance support to the Air Force’s largest Reaper unit, ensuring ground troops are supported around the clock. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Whitney Amstutz)

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- In an era where combat extends from the battlefield to cyberspace, technological advancement can mean the difference between victory and defeat; between lives lost and lives saved.

One of the most advanced airframes in the Air Force’s arsenal, the MQ-9 Reaper is the manifestation of technical ingenuity and a guardian for ground forces in Afghanistan.

Supporting the largest Reaper unit in the Air Force, Airmen assigned to the 451st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron work 24 hours a day to ensure the Reaper fleet is fully operational and ready to launch at a moment’s notice.

“I perform preventative maintenance as well as scheduled and unscheduled maintenance on the aircraft,” said Staff Sgt. Adam, an avionics systems specialist assigned to the 451st EAMXS. “If it has anything to do with electronics or a computer system, it’s my job to make sure it’s working properly.”

The Reaper, a remotely piloted aircraft primarily designed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance collection, can also perform close air support, combat search and rescue, precision strike and other critical functions, making it an indispensable tool.

“There are many things that require unique and specific attention pertaining to avionics and the kind of education the Air Force provides us,” Adam said. “The Reaper is a sophisticated airframe and it requires an elevated level of care and comprehension.”

In addition to avionics, aircraft mechanics are also on hand to ensure troops in the field have the support they require should the need arise.

“Unlike other aircraft, Reaper aircraft mechanics not only take care of the airframe, but the engine as well,” said Tech Sgt. Jacob. “With fighter aircraft, they have a dedicated engine shop, but we became an all-in-one shop for this specific airframe.”

Comprised of approximately 100 active-duty and Air National Guard Airmen, the 451st EAMXS acts as a melting pot where Airmen from various facets of the Reaper community come together and function as a cohesive unit.

“I’m a guard guy,” Jacob said. “But I haven’t found it challenging to blend with a group of primarily active duty maintainers because they know what they’re doing, I know what I’m doing, and at the end of the day we’re all here to accomplish the same goal.”

Adam echoed his colleague’s sentiments.

“Working with guard and reserve Airmen makes things more interesting,” he said. “It adds a different level of experience to the group and brings new perspectives to the equation. When I leave here I will take information I’ve learned from our guard Airmen back to my home unit and that’s how we become more knowledgeable as an organization.”

Jacob on his first deployment, and Adam on his third, volunteered their time to fulfil the Reaper mission in Afghanistan.

“I volunteered for this deployment,” Jacob said. “There are Airmen who are on their third and fourth deployments to Afghanistan and I decided this was an opportunity to share the load and gain some valuable experience.”

Adam, having already served the required tour length for his deployment, chose to double his time in country by extending.

“I’ve worked this mission every time I’ve come to Kandahar,” he said. “It’s been interesting to see the aspects of our assignment that change and the ones that stay the same firsthand. It’s such a learning experience being out here and I’ve worked with the best people I’ve ever known. I would never want to give that up.”

As evidenced by their willingness to serve, purpose is not something 451st EAMXS Airmen struggle to find at Kandahar.

“I think anytime we can potentially protect American lives by simply not sending a pilot up in an aircraft, it’s beneficial to us as an Air Force,” Adam said. “We are able to alleviate the strain placed on other aircraft and also support ground troops. We’re accomplishing the mission every time we protect an American life and that gives me satisfaction.”

(Editor’s note: Last names were removed due to safety and security reasons.)

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @AETCommand: It's Week 2 of #NCSAM2019 and here are a few practices you can implement to defend your family and #becybersmart: verify an…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: This past weekend our @AFThunderbirds and @rafredarrows put on an amazing show at the #PacificAirShow. I'm sure ACM Mi…
RT @AF_Falcons: “The cadets at the Air Force Academy have the best college football venue in the state of Colorado.” https://t.co/XKJMV1k…
RT @NASCARonNBC: "You guys are the real heroes of our country." Master Sgt. Chad Huggins took a joyride with Jeff Burton, presented by @To
RT @30thSpaceWing: #ICYMI An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile was launched during an operational test Wednesday, Oc…
A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to Spangdahlem AB, Germany, crashed near Zemmer, Germany, during a r… https://t.co/ugrVTbeQNB
We are one month out from our next Pitch Day! This initiate will help provide emerging, smarter technologies to our… https://t.co/auyQUFANyY
RT @PACAF: Medics from the @51stFW took part in multiple two-day Tactical Combat Casualty Care training courses that provides medical perso…
RT @Team_Tinker: She enlisted in the @usairforce in 1957. At 15 years in service, she achieved the rank of Chief Master Sergeant, making he…
RT @AETCommand: The @AF_Academy recently redesigned its Airmanship program, augmenting live flights with VR training to reach cadets who ma…
RT @AETCommand: 🙌🎉 Congratulations to the @usairforce's newest F-16 Viper pilots, who graduated Oct. 5 at @HollomanAFB!!!!! https://t.co/C…
RT @AstroHague: It’s been a long year...two safe landings, two emotional homecomings, one wild ride! https://t.co/ZvZBVZ3vj9
RT @AFResearchLab: Ted Harmer is an Electronics Engineer who finds ways to improve @usairforce training programs! His area of expertise cen…
RT @37thTRW: #ICYMI the new Air Force uniform is now officially the uniform issued to all who enter Basic Military Training! The trainees t…
RT @PACAF: A pair of 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron B-52's flying out of @AndersenAFBGuam performed a flyover of #Palau during Palau’s 25…
.@AFResearchLab's innovating a new material that can be integrated into garments. Find out more on this transferabl… https://t.co/E40jBU2tDa
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Great work to the #USNavy Midshipmen & #AirForceAcademy Cadets! At the end of the day, these athletes are the future l…
RT @EsperDoD: Just finished speaking with service members, civilians & families at @WrightPattAFB. Followed up with a lunch with team membe…