Its new mission is a high-tech one: flying MQ-9 Reaper drones.
Reapers are remotely piloted and are primarily used for intelligence gathering. But according to the U.S. Air Force’s website: “Reapers can also perform the following missions and tasks: intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, close air support, combat search and rescue, precision strike, buddy-laser, convoy/raid overwatch, route clearance, target development, and terminal air guidance. The MQ-9’s capabilities make it uniquely qualified to conduct irregular warfare operations in support of combatant commander objectives.”
Nearly 600 people work for the 107th, making it one of Niagara Falls’ and Niagara County’s largest employers. Some have transferred to the 914th or transitioned into other roles with the Air Force, but the rest remain with the 107th, on the drone mission. The wing served as the 107th Air Refueling Wing from 1994 to 2008, flying a Boeing 707 configured to fuel fighters in mid-air. It became the 107th Airlift Wing in 2008, flying C-130s in partnership with the Air Force Reserve’s 914th Airlift Wing.
“The world changes, and we want make certain that our base is keeping on the cutting edge of what’s happening out there,” said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster. “When military technology changes, the roles of military organizations change. That means that activities at bases change. I welcome the fact that we now have a new mission here, that looks like it’s a mission that’s going to be here to stay.”
“They continue to do great work here, and this is the transitioning of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, to always prepare itself to be able to accept new missions. And this marks the closing of one mission, but hopefully the opening of a new one,” said Congressman Brian Higgins.