Predators Now In The Skies Near US/Canada Border
North Dakota Governor John Hoeven and ND National Guard Adjutant
General Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk announced Tuesday the 119th
Wing, ND Air National Guard, has flown its first unmanned aerial
vehicle (UAV) mission from Fargo.
The squadron is flying the MQ-1 Predator, a medium-altitude,
long-endurance, remotely piloted aircraft. The MQ-1's primary
mission is interdiction and reconnaissance.
As ANN reported, in January
2007 the 119th Wing converted from the F-16A Fighting Falcon jet
mission to the new missions of the UAS and the C-21A Lear Jet cargo
aircraft. The C-21A Lear Jet is an interim aircraft leading to the
Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) which is expected to be available by
"This is an example of how truly incredible the members of the
ND National Guard are," Hoeven said. "Our Soldiers and Airmen
continue to make significant contributions on the frontlines in
Iraq and Afghanistan, and now they are able to do it right from
"This week marks the beginning of a new era and an exciting
future for the NDANG. The 119th Wing is at the forefront of future
unmanned aircraft systems," said Sprynczynatyk. "The hard work and
dedication of the Happy Hooligans have made this a very successful
transition. The 119th Wing is leading the way and will stay
relevant for years to come."
"The ND Air National Guard has flown fighters for 60 years, but
now, we're bringing all of the skills from the fighter mission into
the Predator mission," said Col. Robert Becklund, 119th Wing
commander. "This is a dramatic and cultural change for our unit and
we're proud to be a part of this new and exciting mission."
Throughout the transition, 119th Wing personnel have been
training for the new positions of the MQ-1 Predator mission.
"It is great to be a part of this air and space power mission.
Our squadron is committed to maintain the traditional high
standards the Happy Hooligans are known for," said Lt. Col. Rick
Gibney, commander the reconnaissance squadron. "It is exciting and
rewarding to be a part of this mission that involves the global war
on terrorism, homeland security and domestic contingencies."