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California Guard to get the Predator

1/4/2006 - WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- As part of ongoing Total Force initiatives, the Air Force, the National Guard Bureau and the Adjutant General of California announced today that the California Air National Guard’s 163rd Air Refueling Wing, March Air Reserve Base, Calif., will become the home for a new MQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) unit.

This important Air Force transformational mission converts the 163rd Air Refueling Wing to the 163rd Wing, and represents another example of the Air National Guard leveraging the unique talents of its units and Airmen to provide support to global operations with its Total Force partners – the Air Force and Air Force Reserve.

“The unique characteristics that the Guard and Reserve bring to the fight provide economies of scale in experience, stability and cost savings and, as such, significantly enhance the Air Force’s ability to accomplish our Mission. One team, one fight,” said Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Wood, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs.

Initial plans include basing the mission at the 163rd Wing, March ARB, with
mission flight operations being conducted in the Restricted Airspace in
Southern California. This unique and cost-effective split operation will
allow the California Air National Guard to optimize its personnel, increase
Total Force UAS flying and maintenance training, and provide much-needed
Predator capability for national defense.

"The Air National Guard’s growing participation in Predator operations represents the National Guard’s commitment to remain out front in the new and emerging missions of the future. It displays the new direction of the Total Force and the cooperative relationship we will continue to build upon," said Lt. Gen. Daniel James III, Director Air National Guard.

“The California Air National Guard has been actively changing legacy missions into new missions in areas such as Space, Intelligence, and now UASs. The men and women of the 163rd look forward to this new Predator mission and to serving the State of California and the Nation,” said William H. Wade II, Adjutant General, California National Guard.

Predators are long endurance, medium altitude UAS systems for surveillance and reconnaissance missions. Since the first flight in 1995, Predators have flown more than 3,000 missions and over 130,000 flight hours, of which more than half have been during combat area deployments to the Balkans, Southwest Asia, and the Middle East where Predator operates in support of U.S. and NATO forces.

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