3/5/2008 - CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, NV -- The 556th
Test and Evaluation Squadron, the Air Force's first
operational test squadron for unmanned aerial systems,
held an activation ceremony here March 5.
The ceremony included a flag furling and unfurling,
signifying the deactivation of the 53rd Test and
Evaluation Group, Detachment 4 and the activation of
the 556th TES. The 53rd TEG detachment transitioned
into a squadron when Air Combat Command officials
decided the detachment's workload and aircraft equaled
that of other 53rd Wing flying squadrons.
The 556th TES will continue to provide support to UAS
operations worldwide through force development
evaluations; development of training, tactics and
procedures; systems expertise and meeting warfighters'
urgent needs. The squadron will help to manage and
execute programs for MQ-1 Predator and the larger MQ-9
Reaper UAS sensors, hardware, software and weapons
upgrades to maximize combat capabilities before
releasing them for operational use.
"Creech used to be a sleepy hollow," said Col. Brian
O'Rear, 53rd Test and Evaluation Group deputy
commander, based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. "Now
airplanes are flying all the time. The [UAS community]
is growing--the mission is incredibly important and
The UAS's currently in use today were new and
emerging technologies when the 53rd TEG detachment
activated in January 2001. The detachment's initial
mission was to support MQ-1 initial, developmental,
and follow-on operational test and evaluations. That
mission has increased with the required force
development evaluations on the MQ-1 and the
introduction of the MQ-9.
The unit received three new MQ-1s this February, and
anticipates gaining another one by end of year. The
squadron is also scheduled to receive its first of
four MQ-9 aircraft in 2010. The detachment's Airmen,
employees and equipment will remain in place at the
base, but transition into the new squadron to serve
the now larger mission.
"It will definitely be a significant challenge, but
our job is to ensure the right improvements get to the
warfighter as complete and as fast as possible," said
Lt. Col. Ty Moyers, 556th TES commander. "This is a
team effort and we'll continue to work closely with
warfighters at Creech and Nellis to increase our
efficiencies," he said.
The 556th designation was chosen by ACC for its
lineage and history of surveillance. The 556th
Reconnaissance Squadron, a C-130 Hercules squadron
that launched reconnaissance drones over North
Vietnam, was active from 1968 to 1972.
Source: USAF/Nellis AFB Press Release by Capt.