Today, Congressman Ken Calvert (CA-42) applauded the passage of an amendment offered by Congressman Paul Cook (CA-8) to the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that urges the Air Force to prioritize the replacement of MQ-1 Predators with MQ-9 Reapers at locations with existing Formal Training Unit (FTU) schoolhouses. The NDAA is expected to be approved by the House Armed Services Committee later this evening.
"I strongly believe that we should be replacing Predators with Reapers at facilities that have infrastructure and resources already in place to train military UAV pilots," said Rep. Calvert. "As we transition to the next generation UAV technology it only makes sense to build upon the assets and experiences of existing schoolhouses, like the one at March Air Reserve Base."
In addition to urging the Air Force to prioritize the placement of MQ-9 Reapers at locations with existing FTU schoolhouses, the language in the Cook amendment directs the Secretary of the Air Force to submit to the congressional defense committees a recapitalization plan for the replacement of MQ-1 aircraft with MQ-9 aircraft. The plan shall include the criteria for beddown, including both the weight and scoring of such criteria that will be given to MQ-1 wings and squadrons with co-located formal training unit schoolhouse missions.
Currently, the 163d Reconnaissance Wing operates a Predator FTU at March Air Reserve Base. The unit's schoolhouse Predators are stored, maintained, launched and recovered at Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA).