Katherine Ziesing | Canberra

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has commenced training aircrew and support staff on US Air Force (USAF) MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) operations in the US, announced Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Darren Chester.

The training program provides a cost effective method to increase the ADF’s understanding of complex UAS operations and how this capability can be best used to protect Australian troops on future operations, Chester said.

“It would be remiss of Australia not to continue to develop our knowledge of this technology to ensure we are able to gain the greatest benefit from unmanned aerial systems and the best protection for our troops on future operations,” Chester said.

“For this reason, the RAAF is training personnel in USAF MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial system operations in the US.”

Air Force currently has five personnel training to be MQ-9 air vehicle operators and payload operators at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, and a communication systems engineer at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada.

The announcement from the government comes amid strong rumour that the RAAF will be acquiring the Reaper under the new White Paper and the Air 7100 program that will debut in the new DCP later this year.

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