US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper Deploys to Estonia for First Time
US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper Deploys to Estonia for First Time

US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper Deploys to Estonia for First Time

For the first time in history, MQ-9 Reapers from Detachment 2 at Miroslawiec Air Base in Poland deployed to Amari Air Base, Estonia, June 14. The purpose of the deployment is to provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions within the European theater, and is made possible through the utilization of Amari AB. Strong and strategic relationships are one of the most important core principles for ensuring security throughout the European theater and ensuring NATO allies stand together. Throughout the length of the deployment, the aircraft will be performing ISR missions in support of NATO until they return to Poland.

US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper Deploys to Estonia for First Time
US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper Deploys to Estonia for First Time

“We are specifically focusing on air, maritime, and land domain,” said Brig. Gen. Jason Hinds, Deputy Director of Operations, Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration and the United States Air Forces in Europe and United States Air Forces Africa Air Operations Center Director. “We are gathering requirements from the U.S. European Command and our NATO allies, and then we are going to execute those taskings in coordination with the Estonian Air Force.”

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“We are the first American contingent to operate out of their hangar and operations building,” said Lt. Col. Clayton Sanders, 52 Operations Group Detachment 2 commander. “The Estonians have done everything they can to help us work out the kinks to operate out of both buildings, and that is where we have seen the increase in partnership.”

US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper Deploys to Estonia for First Time
General Atomic aircraft maintenance technicians prepare to lift an MQ-9 Reaper fuel tank at Amari Air Base, Estonia, June 30, 2020. One of the aircraft was transported via cargo truck from Miroslawiec AB, where it was then offloaded and assembled in a hangar at Amari. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alison Stewart)

One of the aircraft was transported via cargo truck from Miroslawiec AB, where it was then offloaded and assembled in a hangar at Amari with the help of the Estonian Air Force. Members of Detachment 2 in Poland are on temporary duty assignments to Estonia to facilitate the movement of the Reapers and have also built partnerships with the Estonian nationals. The Estonian Air Force has made the operation at Amari possible through offering their assets to complete the mission. On July 1, a media day was held at Amari AB to allow Estonian media to view the aircraft and ask questions about the mission and partnership.

US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper Deploys to Estonia for First Time
Colonel Rauno Sirk, commander of the Estonian air force, addresses Estonian media at Amari Air Base, Estonia, July 1, 2020. Sirk attended a media day at Amari AB alongside U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen Jason Hinds, Deputy Director of Operations, Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration and the United States Air Forces in Europe and United States Air Forces Africa Air Operations Center Director (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alison Stewart)

The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (sometimes called Predator B) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) primarily for the United States Air Force (USAF). The MQ-9 and other UAVs are referred to as Remotely Piloted Vehicles/Aircraft (RPV/RPA) by the USAF to indicate their human ground controllers. The MQ-9 is the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance. The MQ-9 is a larger, heavier, and more capable aircraft than the earlier General Atomics MQ-1 Predator; it can be controlled by the same ground systems used to control MQ-1s.

US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper Deploys to Estonia for First Time
U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Jason Hinds, Deputy Director of Operations, Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration and the United States Air Forces in Europe and United States Air Forces Africa Air Operations Center Director, right, poses for a photo with Colonel Rauno Sirk, Estonian air force commander, at Amari Air Base, Estonia, July 1, 2020. The MQ-9 Reaper is deployed to Amari AB for the first time in history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alison Stewart)
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