The USAF in Europe (USAFE) has declared its Polish-based detachment of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to be fully operational.
The announcement on 7 March came some 10 months after the USAFE began operating the medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV out of Miroslawiec Air Base in northwestern Poland "as a visible expression of US efforts to enhance regional stability".
As noted by the USAFE, the declaration of full-operating capability (FOC) was marked by a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 52nd Expeditionary Operations Group (EOG) Detachment 2 at Miroslawiec (the 52nd EOG comes under the auspices of the 52nd Fighter Wing located at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany).
Miroslawiec is the Polish Air Force's 12th UAV base, and will be home to a number of unmanned aircraft types that the service plans to procure. For the USAFE's Reaper mission, the station has been fitted with secure processing centres, a large aircraft maintenance shelter, communications infrastructure and living dormitories for US Air National Guard (ANG) and contractor personnel.
In its FOC statement, the USAFE noted that the undisclosed number of Reaper UAVs is "currently configured" for unarmed intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
The USAF currently fields approximately 200 Reapers, with the type having now replaced the MQ-1 Reaper in the service's inventory. Powered by a single Honeywell TPE331-10GD turboprop engine, the Reaper has a maximum take-off weight of 4,760 kg; a payload of 1,701 kg; a cruise speed of 200 kt; a range of 1,000 n miles; a service ceiling of 50,000 ft; and an endurance of 27 hours.
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