Exercise Agile Reaper Part 2: Back and Better

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kristin Weathersby
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs

Airmen and Guardians from various career fields across the 49th Wing, Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, participated in the second iteration of exercise Agile Reaper April 7-26.

Personnel from the 452nd Air Mobility Wing, March Air Reserve Base, California, 27th Special Operations Wing, Cannon AFB, New Mexico, and the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing, Creech AFB, Nevada, participated in the exercise.

During the routine training exercise, a small contingency of Airmen and assets forward-deployed to San Clemente Island, California.

“What was unique to this exercise was that we had the opportunity to showcase and load our MQ-9 for flight with inert Hellfire missiles loaded onto it”, said 1st Lt. Angelina Layton, 29th Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge. “This also demonstrated the ability to rapid reload and also demonstrated the concept of hopping from different locations with limited resources available to use.”

“This is the first time the MQ-9 has ever island hopped in the Department of Defense” said Maj. Steven Massara, 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. “We will continue to make the future exercises more and more challenging for our maintainers and operators, but we look forward to the challenge.”

Operations from NAS Point Mugu displayed the resiliency and rapidly mobilizing force of Airmen and assets, signaling a mission success.

“Agile Reaper is about beating adversary targeting cycles as we get MQ-9s into any location, rapidly relaunch, and create effects, before the enemy detects and targets us,” said Lt. Col. Brian Davis, 29th Attack Squadron commander. “We’re putting penetrating, persistent, multi-role aircraft over the battlespace where least expected. This provides reduced-risk, low-cost options to our leaders that present asymmetries to potential adversaries.”

Throughout the exercise, Airmen practiced the warfighting and flexible movement capabilities of the MQ-9 and its controlling station.

“It's essential that we posture ourselves to be in alignment with the National Defense and National Security Strategy priorities,” said Massara. “From a logistics and maintenance perspective, it’s figuring out what you need to pack in your storage containers that's necessary, because you still want to be light and agile with a small manning and cargo footprint, yet still able to execute the mission.”

By incorporating agile combat employment concepts, Airmen had the opportunity to practice being agile and lean, as well as the ability to put their practices from home-base to the test.

“Exercises like this helps the overall Air Force mission because Airmen get to move out of their comfort zones, work with members from other services and units, and find ways to become more efficient,” said Layton.