SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) — The U.S. is continuing to work out what to do after a drone was hit by a Russian fighter jet over the Black Sea last week. The aircraft was an MQ-9 Reaper, which is also flown by the 178th Wing of the Ohio National Guard in Springfield.
Col. Paul Kavanaugh is the 178th Operations Group Commander.
“We use our multi-role aircraft primarily as an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance asset. But we also have a variety of mission systems and kits to provide the combatant commander with the effects they need in their theater of operations,” Col. Kavanaugh explained.
The MQ-9 can essentially do it all from intelligence gathering, to even striking a target if needed.
“It is a unique aircraft and a unique platform to be able to do that. We can switch from a strategic role to a tactical role at the drop of a hat,” Col. Kavanaugh said.
The 178th Wing in Springfield is one of several units across the country that flies this type of aircraft. It is all done remotely, and they are given missions around the U.S. and around the world. Col. Kavanaugh said this gives them the opportunity to tailor their missions to the exact needs of intelligence agencies.
“We want to make sure that we provide the best information in a timely fashion to those that need it,” Col. Kavanaugh said.
Col. Kavanaugh said the uniqueness of this mission is also helpful when it comes to recruiting. He said this is just one of the many opportunities within the Ohio Air National Guard.
“Not only can you take advantage of the scholarship programs that we have within the state of Ohio, but you’re also learning a very important skill and you’re working within a team. It’s very important that you get to provide and be a part of something larger than yourself, and support the nation as well as your state in your own backyard,” Col. Kavanaugh said.