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Shut Down Creech
Monday, July 12, 2010
More bases for drones
Ellsworth Air Force Base will get half of what its supporters were hoping for in a new mission piloting unmanned drones overseas. The local base will share the high-tech duties with an air base in Missouri.
But even half is a lot in a new-age world of aerial surveillance and combat where the pilots and navigators may be half a world away from the aircraft they control.
“This is more of a high-tech, futuristic type mission,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., during a news conference Monday morning in Rapid City.
The Air Force has chosen Ellsworth and Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to handle an expansion of unmanned drone flights in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations. The two bases will split the new drone duties, and each will receive about 280 new military and civilian personnel. Ellsworth will come on line with the new mission early in 2012, following Whiteman in 2011. Ellsworth is being delayed for upgrades in the communications infrastructure, Thune said.