US Air Force activates drone attack squadron on the east coast of United States

A new attack drone squadron has been activated at South Carolina’s Shaw Air Force Base, giving a whole new meaning to the term “Carolina Reaper.”

The 25th Attack Group was activated yesterday at Shaw AFB’s Hangar 1200, and will be lead by Colonel Travis Norton.

According to a statement by the 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs team, the The 25th ATKG employs remotely piloted aircraft in support of combatant commander needs and deploys combat support forces worldwide using the MQ-9 Reaper UAV.

The group will also provide direct support to the 50th Attack Squadron; the 482nd ATKS, which will be activated Oct. 3; and the 25th Operational Support Squadron, which will be activated later this fall.

Colonel Norton spoke highly of his new group, noting that they have already gone above and beyond in forming the team from understaffed numbers.

“We have a group of Airmen here who are ready to prove they are much more than what you have seen in the past,” Norton said during the ceremony. “They have an awesome legacy to build upon and they are ready to show you more. Just look at what the 50th ATKS Airmen have done. Just a skeleton crew and in a few months they did what people said couldn’t be done in years, all by not accepting ‘no.'”

The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper is a fearsome attack drone, which has been in service since 2007. Costing around $16.9 million a piece and capable of staying in the air for around 14 hours on a full payload, the Reapers can haul ordnance ranging from Hellfire Missiles to JDAM bombs and even Stinger air-to-air missiles.

While flying drones is nowhere as “sexy” an assignment as piloting manned military aircraft such as the F-16 or A-10, the mission capabilities of armed drones ensures a heavy demand around the globe- and lots of flight time. In addition, a loss of an MQ-9 would not result in the potential loss of a pilot.

The 25th lineage dates back to World War II, when the 25th Bombardment Group conducted anti-submarine operations in the Atlantic and performed recon missions over Europe. Performing recon duties during the Cold War, the 25th saw limited service in Southeast Asia and was deactivated in the 1966. Despite a reorganization in the 1980s, the unit remained inactive until October of 2018.

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