In a momentous ceremony recently held at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference, the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) jointly awarded the prestigious 2022 Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Squadron of the Year Award upon the 2nd Special Operations Squadron (SOS).

This distinguished honor is presented annually to the Squadron that exemplifies excellence in the use of RPAs in meritorious service, and the Scorpions of the 2nd SOS, based out of Hurlburt Field, Florida, earned this accolade with their exceptional contributions throughout the year.

A Year of Unparalleled Achievement

The Scorpions of the 2nd SOS demonstrated an unwavering commitment to their mission, flying over an astounding 16,000 hours in 2022. These flight hours were dedicated to supporting critical operations, including Operation ENDURING SENTINEL, Operation OCTAVE SHIELD, and Operation INHERENT RESOLVE. The Squadron’s versatility and dedication extended beyond these missions as they played a pivotal role in satellite launch and recovery operations during Emerald Flag.

Quick side note: Emerald Flag, held at Eglin Air Force Base in October last year, is a pivotal multi-domain exercise that connects air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace to advance complex weapon systems and enhance military readiness.

One of the standout achievements that propelled the Scorpions to victory was their groundbreaking demonstration of Reaper Agile Combat Employment. This innovative concept showcased how the future of unmanned systems in the Department of the Air Force, both in the 2020s and beyond, could be realized. Their efforts exemplified the adaptability and transformative potential of remotely piloted aircraft.

Acknowledging Excellence

The 2022 Remotely Piloted Aircraft Squadron of the Year Award was presented to the 2nd SOS by esteemed figures in the field of aviation and defense. Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations for the US Air Force, was joined by GA-ASI President David R. Alexander and Lt. Gen. (Ret.) David A. Deptula, the Dean of the Mitchell Institute, in recognizing the Scorpions’ outstanding accomplishments.

David R. Alexander expressed his thrill at presenting the award, highlighting the Scorpions’ exceptional use of MQ-9A Reapers in the defense of the nation.

“I was thrilled to present the award to the Scorpions for their extraordinary use of MQ-9A Reapers in the defense of our country,” said Alexander, cited in a Thursday press release.