Fort Rucker unmanned aerial vehicles

MAX ODEN/DOTHAN EAGLE FILE A soldier at Fort Rucker soldier looks over the RQ-7B Shadow Unmanned Aerial Vehicle during a demonstration for the technology in 2008.

The United States Army could be eyeing Fort Rucker for additional responsibility in the area of unmanned aircraft systems – or drones – according to a published report.

The Arizona Daily Star reported March 29 that Sen. Martha McSally (R-Arizona) pressed Army administration last week about the Army’s plans for future drone training. Much of the current drone training takes place at Fort Huachuca in Arizona.

The Daily Star further reported the Army could choose to move drone training from Fort Huachuca to Fort Rucker, the home of Army Aviation.

The story was published after McSally questioned Secretary of the Army Mark Esper and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley at a Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing last week.

During comments to the Army officials, McSally accentuated the advantages of having drone training at Fort Huachuca, including available air space and weather conducive to flying.

According to the story, Milley was complimentary of Fort Huachuca, but did not close the door on moving drone training operations.

“In terms of where (drone training) bases, where it trains, we are taking a look at all of that, and there’s a variety of options, and Arizona’s clearly at the top of the list,” Milley said as reported by the Daily Star.

The 2-13th Aviation Regiment is currently headquartered at Fort Huachuca and is believed to operate the largest UAS training center in the world. Fort Rucker, however, maintains UAS authority since it remains under the Army Aviation umbrella.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems continue to become more integrated into Army Aviation warfare capabilities each year with exponential increases in technology.

Several factors are involved when mission moves are considered, including training efficiency and cost savings.

There is no timetable for an Army decision. It is not currently known what a potential relocation would mean for Fort Rucker as far as personnel is concerned, but the battalion is believed to train around 2,000 soldiers, Marines and foreign military students each year.

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