SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --
The 52nd Security Forces Squadron conducted flight trainings of the Small Unmanned Aerial System RQ-11B Raven for the first time at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, June 9-11, 2020.
The Raven SUAS program provides defense force commanders with a lightweight portable integrated defense multiplier by generating low-altitude, live video footage, and enhancing early warning detection and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.
“The 52nd Security Forces Squadron is home to the only U.S. Air Forces in Europe Raven 11B training program with a mission to sustain operator qualifications in support of USAFE and Africa Command missions,” said Tech. Sgt. Chad McCambridge, 52nd Security Forces Squadron NCO in charge of supply.
SUAS is used for a wide range of intents. It can be used to get an overhead measurement of a runway, so pilots have the information for safely landing, and used for combat operations, specifically target identification, finding locations of mortar sites, and more.
The program is not new to the 52nd SFS. Members have continually trained on the aerial system; however, up until March 20, 2020, certified operators could only maintain currency through designated flight simulators or traveling to perform temporary duty for live-flight sessions held at installations like the U.S. Army base in Baumholder, Germany, more than an hour and 30 minutes’ drive from Spangdahlem AB.
“The significance of flying this week is primarily to get our operators back to currency status,” said Staff Sgt. Dalton Hensley, 52nd SFS SUAS program manager. “In the past, this has been a very difficult issue because we have not been able to fly locally. We would have to coordinate and work with Baumholder to conduct these flights. This eases up the strain of the time and resources it takes to fly there. It also appeals to the Raven operators as they already work unorthodox shift hours, and it is much faster to coordinate a flight.”
SFS members who operate the small aircraft find the program unique.
“The SUAS program is something that I am very grateful to be a part of,” said Airman 1st Class Caley Cozens, 52nd SFS member and SUAS operator. “This opportunity in our career field is something a lot of the security forces members are unaware of. I was lucky enough to have Sgt. Hensley as a mentor to introduce me to the program and help me in becoming a part of SUAS.”
McCambridge said Hensley and Master Sgt. Kevin Cumbie, 52nd Fighter Wing innovation and transformation superintendent, were both huge contributors to the 52nd SFS gaining authorization to fly locally.
The team hopes to continue forward with the program and the momentum it has gained.
“There will be a lot more flights,” said Hensley. “SUAS is a very versatile capability for home station, and deployed commanders. SUAS will be around for a very long time.”