U.S. MQ-9 Reaper Drones Move Closer to the Black Sea

A remotely piloted MQ-9 Reaper taxis toward the runway shortly after a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Miroslawiec Air Base, Poland, March 1, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Preston Cherry)

The drones relocated to Romania because of construction works in Miroslawiec AB, Poland.

The 52nd Expeditionary Operations Group Detachment 2, the unit operating MQ-9 Reaper drones in Europe, relocated from Miroslawiec AB (Poland) to Campia Turzii AB (Romania) on July 3 while the Polish base undergoes construction works. The detachment is a geographically separated unit assigned to the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem AB (Germany) whose mission is to conduct Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and has been operating from the Polish base since May 2018.

The unarmed Block 5 Reapers are flown and maintained by contractors, with the Air Force providing communications, intelligence analysis and force protection. The move to Romania brings the MQ-9s closer to the Black Sea region, already a hotspot for daily patrols of various ISR aircraft, notably RQ-4 Global Hawks and P-8A Poseidons operating from NAS Sigonella (Italy).

The 52nd Expeditionary Operations Group Detachment 2 works closely with the Polish air force on its mission of operating the MQ-9 to promote security and stability within the region, and increase overall capability and readiness of NATO allies and regional partners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Preston Cherry)

According to Air Force Magazine “the Air Force brings in USAF MQ-9 operators for training exercises with allies or other US military units in the region. The presence in both Poland and Romania means MQ-9 operators can fly in a much different environment than they have during the past 20 years of combat in a desert setting.”

While in Romania, the Reapers will share the airbase with F-16s from the 457th Fighter Squadron deployed as part of a Theater Security Package (TSP) supporting Operation Atlantic Resolve since May 2019.

Interestingly, the MQ-9 deployed to Miroslawiec AB are civilian registered. Noted in Poland were N428HK and N429HK. In fact, the unmanned aircraft are Military-operated but Company-owned.

About Stefano D'Urso
Stefano D'Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he's also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.