By Staff Sgt. Paul Duquette
California National Guard
MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, Calif., (12/17/09) -- The 163rd Reconnaissance Wing of the California Air National Guard recently received three Block 15 MQ-1 Predators, making it the first ANG unit to receive the brand new aircraft.
The unit took possession of the first aircraft Sept. 29, from an operational testing facility in Grey Butte, Calif. A few months later, the unit received two more Block 15s. It is slated to take possession of at least four more new Predators.
The Block 15 aircraft is the latest from General Atomic's Predator line, which is a reconnaissance unmanned aerial system.
"This new block has an infrared camera in the nose," said Jordan Manns, a General Atomics Airframe and Power Plant mechanic. "Another nice feature it has over the Block 10, the under engine cowling, or cover, can be taken off without the removal of the prop, which is especially nice for maintainers."
The 163 RW uses the high tech system to train active duty, Guard and reserve aircrews at the Flying Training Unit how to pilot and operate the sensor ball, and maintenance personnel how to maintain and repair the aircraft at the field training detachment.
Currently, two of the three aircraft are stationed and maintained at
Southern California Logistics Airport, while the third is at the field