Reaper Drone Detachment Activated at Ellsworth AFB

A MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle prepares to land after a mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The Reaper has the ability to carry both precision-guided bombs and air-to-ground missiles. (Photo credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)

Release Number: 010411

4/1/2011 – ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, SD — About 150 leaders from the 28th Bomb Wing and invited guests witnessed the unfolding of a new era as Detachment 1 of the 28th Operations Group was officially activated during a ceremony April 1 in the 28th Operations Support Squadron auditorium.

The detachment commander, Maj. Chris Clark, former 28th OSS director of operations, said Det. 1 will be responsible for coordinating meetings with various organizations on base who are teaming up to assist with the activation of the MQ-9 Reaper RPA squadron next year.

“The base itself will undergo changes to facilitate a smooth transition as the new detachment paves the way for the incoming RPA squadron,” said Col. Jeffrey Taliaferro, 28th Bomb Wing commander. “We are on track with the critical events and activities that need to be completed before the squadron flies its first combat air patrol next year.”

Maj. Chris Clark assumes command of Detachment 1 of the 28th Operations Group on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., April 1, 2011. The 432nd Attack Squadron is scheduled for reactivation next year, with ground control stations for MQ-9 Reapers assigned to it. Until then, Det. 1 will lay the groundwork in preparation for the incoming squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Marc I. Lane)

Air Force officials announced its decision June 21, 2010 to bring the MQ-9 Reaper ground control station mission to Ellsworth. The installation is preparing for the addition of about 280 civilian and military personnel to operate MQ-9 Reapers. While the squadron operating the aircraft will be based at Ellsworth, the aircraft will remain overseas, supporting continuing operations.

“In addition to gaining a mission vital to current conflicts, we will add another linkage to our proud heritage,” Colonel Taliaferro said.

Once activated, Det. 1, 432nd Attack Squadron will join the 34th Bomb Squadron and 37th Bomb Squadron, each direct descendants of three of the four original squadrons that made up the Doolittle Raiders.

In January 1942, Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold selected Lt. Col. James Doolittle to lead Special Aviation Project No. 1, a top secret plan which called for B-25 Mitchell bombers to take off from an aircraft carrier about 450 miles from Japan. The bombers struck selected targets in Tokyo, then flew another 1,600 miles to friendly airfields in mainland China. The legendary Doolittle Raid not only proved to be a monumental achievement in airpower, but also helped bolster morale in America during World War II.

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