CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Members from 25 remotely-piloted aircraft squadrons from across the Air Force, including Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Combat Command, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units, came to Cannon Air Force Base to compete in the 2nd Annual Reaper Smoke Competition and Symposium from April 12 to 16.
The Reaper Smoke symposium is a yearly competition between the RPA squadrons intended to build camaraderie and ambition between the members. This year’s event was held at Cannon after the 3rd Special Operations Squadron won last year’s, with their prize being the opportunity to host this year’s.
“Reaper Smoke is an RPA-wide conference and symposium,” said Maj. Nick, an assistant director of operations. “We bring everyone in to talk about RPA-specific things, compete against each other, build a better sense of community. While we’re hosting it, we also get to show the wide capabilities of the Air Force Special Operations Command and the unique capabilities Cannon has.”
This year’s exercise consisted of athletic contests, flight simulation contests, immersion flights and tours of all the Aircraft here at Cannon AFB. While the focus is on the competition, Reaper Smoke also allows Airmen to build the RPA community, learn more about the capabilities of Cannon, and have ideas and changes to bring back to their home squadrons.
“These events really let us come together across the RPA enterprise,” said Capt. Ethan, 33rd MQ-9 Reaper pilot. “Even though we’re competing, it’s all about hanging out, building camaraderie, and getting that sense of brotherhood and family going.”
After the multiple competitions, the 17th Attack Squadron, from Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, was declared the winner. With the winner declared, members will return to their bases until the next competition.
“Reaper Smoke is a total Air Force event, and that’s why it’s important,” Nick said. “This year we held senior leadership think tanks so squadron and group leadership across the enterprise can synch up and help each other grow. We’re working together to grow our community, our enterprise, and our capabilities.”
It’s not every day Airmen get the opportunity to test their skills against teammates from across the Air Force. Reaper Smoke is a unique event that helps bring the RPA family closer together and help them get to know each other better, fostering more lethal, war-ready teams for future operations.