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Five Royal Australian Air Force personnel entered training as MQ-9 Reaper aircraft and sensor operators at Holloman AFB, N.M., and Creech AFB, Nev., Australia's defense ministry announced. "We are able to gain the greatest benefit from unmanned aerial systems and the best protection for our troops on future operations," said Australian defense parliamentary secretary Darren Chester in a Feb. 23 release. Though the RAAF does not fly MQ-9s, it operated Heron remotely piloted aircraft over Afghanistan until last year, and plans to purchase the maritime surveillance variant of the RQ-4 Global Hawk, according to officials. "It would be remiss of Australia not to continue to develop our knowledge of this technology … For this reason, the RAAF is training personnel in USAF MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial system operations in the United States," he said. An Air Force Global Hawk made its first show appearance abroad at the Australian International Airshow near Melbourne this week.