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HASC to Air Force: Craft Predator-to-Reaper Transition Plan

Jun. 5, 2013 - 03:44PM   |  
By JOHN T. BENNETT   |   Comments
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WASHINGTON — The US House Armed Services Committee is pressing the Air Force to spell out how it intends to replace the National Guard’s MQ-1 Predator aircraft with newer MQ-9 Reapers.

During its mark up of 2014 Pentagon policy legislation, the panel approved an amendment to require the service to give Congress “a recapitalization plan for the replacement.”

The MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted vehicle joined the strike fleets of the Air Force and CIA in the late 2000s. It is larger and more capable than its 1990s-era sibling, the MQ-1. Both are made by General Atomics.

The MQ-9s and MQ-1s have become the backbone of President Barack Obama’s targeted-killing program, which since 2009 his administration primarily has carried out against al-Qaida using armed drones.

The Air Force wants the Guard to eventually use the newer MQ-9s, a move the panel supports. But HASC members want more details on how the service would usher in the change.

The amendment seeks from the Air Force secretary “a recapitalization plan for the replacement of MQ-1 aircraft with MQ-9 aircraft.”

The service’s desired transition would mean getting the newer drones for the service’s pilot training facilities, on which the amendment partially focuses.

The amendment would require the plan to “include the criteria for beddown, including both the weight and scoring of such criteria that will be given to MQ-1 wings and squadrons with co-located formal training unit schoolhouse missions.”

Offered by Rep. Paul Cook, R-Calif., the amendment was part of a larger block that were approved by the full committee via voice vote.

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