PRESS RELEASE -- Secretary of the Air Force, Office of Public Affairs
Release No. 010106
California to receive Predator Unmanned Aerial System
January 4, 2005 -- 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, CA, 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
"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 3000 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.
March AFB is 60 miles east of Los Angeles. Years ago, the USAF used March as home base for the refueling taking before the downsizing reduced it to its current capacity.
At the rate Predators crash, March AFB won't be in business very long.