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414th ERS marks 70 years, embraces new mission
An MQ-1B Predator from the 414th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron sits on the flightline Feb. 14, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Reactivated Nov. 23, 2011, the 414th ERS dates back to World War II when it was known as the 414th Bombardment Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)
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414th ERS marks 70 years, embraces new mission

Posted 3/16/2012   Updated 3/16/2012 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Marissa Tucker
39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

3/16/2012 - INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- *Editor's note : Last names were omitted to protect identity of Airmen due to operation security measurements.

Members of a newly reactivated squadron here recently celebrated its lineage as the members marked the 70th anniversary of the unit's formation throughout the month of February.

The 414th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, composed of Airmen from both Creech Air Force Base, Nev., and Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., was reactivated Nov. 23, 2011. The unit was initially designated the 24th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy) in 1942 until it was redesignated that same year and transformed into a bomber unit. The number of the squadron- 414 - dates back to World War II when the 414th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) flew missions from North Africa and Italy, said 2nd Lt. Michael, 414th ERS officer in charge.

While the mission of the squadron has shifted since the days of WWII, the unit continues to support host-nation objectives. As a reconnaissance squadron, their primary mission is to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, in support of NATO and host-nation operations. This is achieved by using the MQ-1B Predator, a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) that provides full-motion, high-definition video surveillance.

The Predator weighs in at 1,130 pounds without fuel, which is relatively light for an aircraft. During flight, the aircraft is extremely quiet with potential speed maxing out at 135 miles per hour. Due to its size, the RPA is easily deployable to virtually any location and can operate on a 5,000 by 75 foot hard-surface runway.

The RPAs were moved from their previous location in Iraq during the drawdown of military forces in the area to provide ISR-only mission support to Turkey. A C-130 Hercules transported the disassembled MQ-1B Predators to Incirlik where maintainers completed a four-day turnaround in reassembling the aircraft. Also assembled was the ground control center and a primary satellite link, which connects the squadron to their corresponding base in the U.S.

"Once we rebuilt the (RPAs) we set up communications with our counterparts and began flying missions immediately," said Chief Master Sgt. Edward, 414th ERS maintenance superintendent.

The squadron uses a remote split operation, meaning half of the operation is conducted at another location. At Incirlik, the focus is on launch and recovery. When a mission is planned, Airmen coordinate with mission-control element crews based in the U.S. who operate the aircraft once in flight via satellite data links. Airmen here are responsible for maintenance and proper take-off and landing of the RPAs. All data received during flight is transmitted directly back to the MCE.

For many of the 414th Airmen, this was their first experience standing up a new unit. The process, while seemingly daunting because of the high visibility and initial security procedures, went smoothly according to Maj. Kenneth, 414th ERS commander.

There is nothing unmanned about MQ-1Bs or like aircraft. More than 15 Airmen from six Air Force specialties are currently deployed to Incirlik to maintain and operate the RPAs. The unit operates a 24-hour mission in order to launch aircraft anytime.

Battlespace Flight Services, a civilian company which encompasses all specialties needed to continue the mission of the unit, will soon take over maintenance operations of the 414th ERS. Together, BFS and U.S. service members will ensure smooth operations within the unit.

The 414th ERS will remain committed to maintaining current U.S. and Turkish efforts to enhance regional stability, said the squadron commander.

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