US Airmen conducting drills with MQ-9 reaper drones in California this month have been sporting patches that depict a drone and a skeleton over a red silhouette of China.
The new patches suggest that the Air Force’s drone operators are preparing for war with China. According to Air Force magazine, the drills started on September 3rd at Naval Air Station Point Mugu, California, and will end on September 29th.
The drills joined three MQ-9’s with the Navy’s Third Fleet, which deploys submarines, strike groups, and other vessels and aircraft in the eastern Pacific. US Air Force C-130s are also taking part in the drill, along with personnel from the US Marines Corps.
The reapers carried out airstrikes during a mock amphibious assault on San Clemente Island off of California’s coast.
“It’s a demonstration of our capability to rapidly move the MQ-9 anywhere in the world, to unfamiliar locations, and then get out and show the operational reach capabilities of the MQ-9,” US 29th Attack Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Brian Davis told Air Force.
The MQ-9 Reapers are a staple of US bombing campaigns in the Middle East and North Africa. Chinese state media suggested the Air Force could be preparing for an assault on Chinese-claimed islands in the South China Sea.