Warplanes: July 27, 2005


SOCOM (Special Operations Command), is getting its own Predator squadron. Normally, a Predator Squadron has twelve MQ-1 Predators assigned to it. The number of troops assigned varies, depending on how intensively the Predators will be used. SOCOM is gearing up for 24/7 operations. That means the Predator squadron will require about 70 pilots, and over 400 support personnel. The SOCOM squadron will have 24 Predators assigned, meaning even more personnel will be required. The squadron wont deploy as a single unit, but, like other SOCOM squadrons, will be sent off in smaller detachments. Initially, the SOCOM unit will get the MQ-1A, but may receive some of the larger MQ-B Predator models before it receives all of its aircraft.

SOCOM has already been using Predators, operated by regular air force Predator squadrons. The UAVs were used to scout areas where SOCOM commandoes were going to land and operate in. SOCOM AC-130 gunships also used Predators as scouts. Four years ago, AC-130s were equipped with gear that allowed video being transmitted by AC-130s to be viewed onboard AC-130s. SOCOM has also been using over a hundred micro-UAVs (weighing under ten pounds), which are very popular with commandoes in the field. 




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