Indiana-Ohio Officials Continue Work on Drone Test Site

Though the region was overlooked as an official FAA drone test site, area congressmen are working to showcase the its assets for unmanned aerial vehicle research.

AP/Mesa County Sheriff's Department

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Despite the Ohio/Indiana region being overlooked as an official FAA drone test site, area congressmen are continuing to build relationships between the states to showcase the region’s assets for unmanned aerial vehicle research.

On Monday, Congressman Mike Turner, R-Dayton, brought U.S. Rep. Todd Young, R-Indiana, to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Today, Turner will join Young on a tour of two military installations where some drone systems developed in the Dayton and Springfield region will go for real-world field testing.

Young, serving his second term in Indiana’s 9th Congressional District, will show Turner the National Guard’s Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in his district, as well as the jointly-operated Muscatatuck Urban Training Center. Turner said he’s heard Muscatatuck described as “Calamityville on steroids,” referring to the National Center for Medical Readiness at Calamityville located in Fairborn.

Young said he was impressed with the work being done in southwest Ohio in support of the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center and Test Complex following a tour of the Air Force Research Lab.

“One of the things I came to appreciate today was the virtual technologies that can be integrated into training that have been developed right here at Wright-Patt,” Young said. “Those will serve as force multipliers of sorts for any training that might be occurring at the Atterbury-Muscatatuck Complex. “

Turner, who serves on the Armed Services Committee, and Young, on Ways and Means Committee, also met with representatives of the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center and Test Complex, including director Dick Honneywell, and David Gallagher, chief of staff. They also received a briefing from Gen. Janet C. Wolfenbarger, commander of the Air Force Materiel Command, and Col. Cassie Barlow, 88th Air Base Wing and Installation commander.

The UAS industry could create as many as 34,000 manufacturing jobs in the next few years, according to a report by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Annual spending on UAS systems will reach $11.6 billion in 10 years, according to a Teal Group report.

Gallagher said both congressmen recognize the economic impact UAS systems may have on the region moving forward.

“UAS is going to be here before we know it. The future’s coming and we’re just combining our assets to help facilitate that and the economic development,” Gallagher said.

The two states worked unsuccessfully in an attempt to bring one of the six national UAS test centers awarded by the FAA to the region. Both congressmen said it still makes sense for the two states to continue collaborating.

“What we found from getting our briefing from the FAA that in addition to the opportunities of working with the six test sites, there are also stand-alone opportunities,” Turner said. “Since we are already flying in both Indiana and Ohio in a coordinated fashion and doing research and development, we’re going to remain a very critical player.”

Turner said the two states complement each other’s capabilities.

“Some of the airspace that’s in Indiana has operational capability that we do not have here currently in Ohio,” Turner said. “And Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in its data collection and research and development, is developing real time UAV and UAS operational testing capability. That is being linked with sites in Indiana.”

Gallagher said the benefit of the airspace at the Atterbury site in Indiana provides the ability to fly larger, unmanned military vehicles “when there’s nothing below it.”

The Ohio/Indiana UAS Center is headquartered in Springfield and oversees UAS testing at Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport, the National Center for Medical Readiness at Calamityville, Wilmington Air Park and the Buckeye/Brushcreek Military Operating Areas here in Ohio as well as the sites including Camp Atterbury and the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Indiana.

©2014 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)