Overseas U.S. military drones to be tracked from Philadelphia Air National Guard base

GIMBY (Blog)
By Julia Bergman
April 1, 2013

By the end of this year a new high-tech mission involving drones will be playing out just beyond Philadelphia’s borders.

The National Guard Bureau has authorized the Pennsylvania Air National Guard’s 111th Fighter Wing to establish a ground control-station for the MQ-9 Reaper at Horsham Air Guard Base effective Oct. 1, 2013.

The new mission will fill a void left behind by the phasing out of A-10 Thunderbolt planes in 2005.

“This is great news for Pennsylvania, especially when you consider the government cutbacks nationwide,” Major General Wesley Craig, National Guard adjutant general for Pennsylvania, said in a press release.

The MQ-9 Reaper is a remotely piloted aircraft used primarily to destroy military targets, and secondarily as an information collector. The aircraft is 36 feet in length, has a wingspan of 66 feet and weighs 4,900 pounds when empty. The aircraft will be physically located overseas and will be operated and monitored from the Horsham base, according to Theresa Katalinas in Hatsboro-Horsham Patch. Remote piloting uses a video hookup that allows the on-the-ground pilot to direct the craft’s movements, launch missiles, and track individuals and vehicles for long periods of time. This practice is presently in use at other military facilities around the U.S. …

The overseas use of drones by the U.S. military is controversial both inside and outside of official Washington, D.C. The Obama administration has increasingly used drones to find and kill military targets overseas. Critics point to the high risk of civilian casualties when using drone aircraft, and the unease expressed by many throughout the country is also being felt locally. …

Read in full: http://gimby.org/blogs/gimby-philadelphia/20130401/overseas-us-military-drones-be-tracked-philadelphia-air-national