CASLAV AIR BASE, Czech Republic: The Texas Military Department’s 147th Attack Wing demonstrated an MQ-9 Reaper agile combat employment (ACE) movement from Caslav air base to Ostrava airport during Exercise Air Defender June 13, 2023 in Caslav AB, Czech Republic.
This ACE movement displayed the effectiveness of the MQ-9 Reaper in a remote location.
This training flight was the first MQ-9 Reaper ACE movement successfully completed in Europe that integrated a military air base and a civilian airport. This demonstrated a cross-functional force package ability to rapidly conduct remote split operations in austere environments.
The MQ-9 Reaper was launched via satellite using its integrated automatic takeoff and landing capability (ATLC) from Caslav AB, remotely piloted from Texas by 147th ATKW aircrew, and used ATLC to land in Ostrava Airport.
A C-17 Globemaster led by the 105th Air Wing, New York Air National Guard, preceded the MQ-9 Reaper at Ostrava Airport, carrying a small contingent of Multi-Capable Airmen specialized in rapid launch and recovery. The team consisted of 147th AKTW maintainers and 136th Airlift Wing logistics Airmen that prepared and secured the recovery site for the MQ-9 Reaper.
“Air Defender has been a great opportunity to show our capabilities as an Air National Guard MQ-9 Reaper organization,” said Maj. Karl McGarvey, the 147th Operations Support Squadron chief of launch and recover operations. “This exercise has given us the ability to strengthen our relationship and interoperability with our Czech Republic state partners.”
This training mission was coordinated between the 147th ATKW, Czech Republic military partners, the Czech Civilian aviation authority, and operations director at Ostrava Airport, Michal Holubec. The MQ-9 Reaper was able to enter civilian airspace through this coordination and was accomplished because of best practices from 147th ATKW leaders who previously navigated similar procedures through the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States.
This coordination between Texas and the Czech Republic comes at a pivotal moment between United States and Czech Republic relations because of the Defense Cooperation Agreement recently being signed by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Czech Republic’s Minister of Defence Jana Cernochova.
“It has been rewarding to see the focused training of the 147th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen program coming to fruition as they integrate with the 136th Contingency Response Force to successfully perform the first MQ-9 Reaper ACE movement in the U.S. European Command,” said 1st Lt. Mark Wilson, the 147th AMXS director of operations. “All direct learning objectives have been seamlessly achieved as we continue to develop and test our home station tactics, techniques, and procedures with our allies and partners.”
Exercise Air Defender gives the 147th ATKW a great opportunity to enhance their relationship through the State Partnership Program between Texas and the Czech Republic. This program has facilitated collaboration and exchange in various areas such as defense, education, and cultural understanding.
Through joint training exercises, workshops, and information sharing, the partnership has enhanced the capabilities of both Texas and Czech Republic in areas like military readiness, disaster response, and cybersecurity. The program has also encouraged cultural exchanges, allowing citizens from Texas and the Czech Republic to learn from each other's traditions, languages, and customs, thereby promoting a greater sense of understanding and friendship between the two communities.
The collaboration between the Texas National Guard and the Czech Armed Forces has resulted in improved interoperability, sharing of best practices, and enhanced peacekeeping operations. The State Partnership Program between Texas and the Czech Republic stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and diplomacy in building strong international relationships.