BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — For the first time in over a decade, planes landed at the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base Friday and, for the first time, a MQ-9 Reaper drone was among them.
“Having these aircraft here was a first and having it alongside its counterpart of the A-10, which was here previously a decade ago, and having them work side-by-side is something we’ve strived to do,” Master Sgt. Steven Jones said.
The base hosted A-10 Thunderbolts from 1991 to 2008. They saw combat in Afghanistan and Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. The 110th Wing took on a mission flying the MQ-9 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in 2013.
On Friday afternoon, two A-10s and two MQ-9 drones landed at the base as part of the Michigan National Guard’s Northern Strike training exercise. Drill saw crews move inert munitions from the A-10 to the MQ-9.
“We were able to land two MQ-9s and two A-10s and perform a hot-pit … integrated combat turn,” Jones told News 8. “At that moment, the MQ-9s landed here in Battle Creek. We were able to de-arm the A-10 and re-arm the MQ-9, simulating the real world to keep the MQ-9 in the fight.”
The drill took about two hours.
“This is very important for us because as the war front moves, we have to maintain our airmen and our capabilities as an agile component,” Jones continued. “So demonstrating … agile combat employment by landing at these small airfields are unlikely and gives us practice in real-world events.”
The National Guard says the 110th Wing played a vital role incorporating the MQ-9 in to the Northern Strike Exercise.
“It was a major event for not only the 110th Wing, but the state of Michigan and the Air National Guard,” Jones said.