Reapers Stand Out At Eglin’s Emerald Flag

A United States Air Force MQ-9 Reaper Drone rests on the Tarmac. 📸: The US Air Force

Eglin Air Force Base put on an unmanned airshow in October – highlighting the MQ-9 Reaper’s abilities during the Emerald Flag Exercise.


For non-military types like me, Emerald Flag is a joint training event that allows military members from different branches to work together in a combat-like scenario to work out any of the operations bugs before they have to do it in real life. 


Members of the 2nd Special Operations Squadron (2nd SOS), an MQ-9 reserve unit based on Hurlburt Field, worked with an active-duty unit, the 65th Special Operations Squadron (65th SOS), and MC-130H Combat Talon II planes to train on a couple of different scenarios the units would experience in a combat area. 


Specifically, the teams worked together to prove that the MQ-9 could work within a smaller operational footprint and use fewer resources of US military forces while still getting its job done. 


In order to prove their capability – the 2nd SOS and 65th SOS performed Satellite Communications (SATCOM), Launch and Recovery missions at four different airfields within 28 hours. This scenario proved out that the Reapers could get refueled, rearmed and continue to assist in combat at small forward operating bases – so long as they have a small maintenance team on the ground at a forward base. “Emerald Flag was our opportunity to highlight how we are leveraging Agile Combat Employment into MQ-9 Operations,” a major with the 2nd SOS said in a press release from the 919th Special Operations Wing. 


Emerald Flag wrapped up on October 20th.

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