Center lands supporting role in Predator, Reaper programs

  • Published
  • By Amanda Creel
  • 78 ABW/PA
Air Force Materiel Command recently announced the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center would be designated as the System Support Manager for the MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper programs.

The management responsibilities will be given to a four-person team from the 560th Aircraft Sustainment Group.

"It's a big deal to be recognized as the SSM for the Predator and Reaper programs. It has been a challenge, but we are on our way to establishing the best possible sustainment program," said Cindy Scheideler, sustainment program manager for the team.

Members agreed the transition from acquisition to sustainment of the Predator program by the WR-ALC would have not been possible without the strategic plans and programs office here.

"Without the support and efforts of strategic plans and programs, the transition to sustainment may not have been realized for years and years to come," Ms. Scheideler said.

The immediate management responsibilities will involve the sustainment of the predator system, a system of four unmanned-aerial vehicles, a ground control station, a Predator Primary Satellite Link and about 55 personnel. The system's primary mission is interdiction and conducting armed reconnaissance against critical, perishable targets.

"Working in aircraft maintenance, it's pretty cool to be on a program that is on the leading edge, something that is flying around unmanned, shooting things," said Tech. Sgt. Chris Rankin, an equipment specialist for the team.

The sustainment assignment means the team will be responsible for whatever items are required to keep the Predator up and going, Sergeant Rankin said.

"Our ultimate goal is to provide seamless support to the warfighter during the transition from acquisition to sustainment," said Holly Green, Predator sustainment lead.

Some tasks associated with the assignment include modifications and upgrades to the airframe, technical data or technical orders, logistics and maintenance.

The program is made up of about 250 aircraft, which means sustainment of the program will eventually provide more work and growth to Robins, the team members said.

"We are extremely excited about the workload the program will bring to Robins. It is a very exciting and interesting program," said David Hardy, supply support manager for the sustainment program.

In July, members of the 658th Aircraft Equipment Support Group will join members of the 560th ACSG to begin the transition of the Predator program from the acquisition phase to the sustainment phase.

"It is like a kickoff meeting, if you will, to start the transition to sustainment program. It is the first step to building a solid open team between the acquisition and sustainment communities," Ms. Green said.

Along with beginning their sustainment efforts for the Predator program the center has also been assigned the responsibility of sustaining the Reaper program when the unmanned aerial vehicle transitions from acquisition to sustainment. The Reaper is the "big brother" of the Predator, said Sergeant Rankin.

The MQ-9 is a more advanced unmanned-aerial vehicle and its primary mission is as a persistent hunter-killer against emerging targets in support of joint force commander objectives. The MQ-9's secondary mission is to act as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance asset, employing sensors to provide real-time data to commanders and intelligence specialists at all levels.

The 560th ACSG is also responsible for the sustainment of other ISR programs including the Global Hawk and U-2S weapons systems.

The addition of the sustainment of the Predator and Reaper programs puts the Center one step closer to realizing the ISR enterprise both on the ground and in the air, Sergeant Rankin said.