Predator In the Air for 24 Consecutive Hours
The Italian air force’s remotely-piloted vehicle stayed n the air for 24 consecutive hours in December, to carry out four distinct operational missions in the Afghan theater.
For the first time during an operational mission in Afghanistan, a Predator remotely-piloted vehicle flew for 24 consecutive hours and carried out four separate missions without landing. This milestone, achieved in December, is a credit to all of the Aeronautica Militare personnel belonging to Task Group ‘Astore’.
During the same 24 hours, Predator aircraft n° AV0002 flew mostly over the Bakwa district, supporting a patrol of Task Force ‘Victor’ whose mission was to monitor the itinerary to be followed by an Italian vehicle convoy.
The aircraft first monitored a major redeployment of Task Force ‘South East’ as it pulled out of ‘Lavaredo’ base in Bakwa, which was turned over to the Afghan army. In the same district, the Predator then assisted two AM-X fighter-bombers who launched two laser-guided bombs to destroy two radio-communications antennas used by a group of insurgents operating in the same area. Finally, the aircraft surveyed and mapped a village where an insurgent weapons depot had been reported near Shindand, where Task Force ‘Center’ is deployed.
This milestone mission, which exceeds the previous record by almost two hours, is the result of detailed planning of the mission’s every aspect. To guarantee its success, the crews – comprising pilots, analysts, flight engineers and maintenance technicians – alternated every two hours, using their “off” times to monitor tasks, weather conditions as well as resting.
Col. Carlo Moscini, commander of JATF – the task force which manages the Italian air force’s flight assets in Afghanistan – praised the “actors of this important aviation milestone for their professionalism and their dedication in the use of the MQ-1C Predator aircraft, which is extremely useful for supporting forces operating on the ground.”
Task Force ‘Astore’ is part of Joint Air Task Force and operates in-theater the MQ-1C Predator remotely-piloted aircraft belonging to the 32° Stormo (squadron). It carries out ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconaissance) missions in support of national and coalition ground troops, and thereby contributes to the situation awareness of ISAF forces.