A U.S. military drone command center is coming to Horsham, Penn., on Oct. 1, according to reports.
“The base will conduct missions to fly Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs) or drones from thousands of miles away,” says Fox Philadelphia’s report.
According to Phillyburbs.com, The U.S. Air Force “selected the Pennsylvania Air National Guard’s 111th Fighter Wing for the new mission” conducted at the Horsham Air Guard base.
Aircrafts will not fly from the base. Instead, “pilots sit in virtual cockpits on the ground while flying missions ranging from bombing to reconnaissance,” according to Fox Philadelphia.
MQ9 “Reaper” drones are reportedly going to be piloted at the base starting in October. The center will create an estimated 75 full-time and 175 part-time positions “as it establishes a ground-control station for the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft system.”
The legal justification for the Pentagon’s drone program has become a controversial issue on Capitol Hill.
“We have been overseas multiple times in our A-10s, now we’ll be flying overseas missions from Horsham,” said Col. Howard “Chip” Eissler, commander of the 111th Fighter Wing.
The mission has some early supporters, notably Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey.
“I’m pleased that this military mission will come to Horsham,” he said. “At full operational capacity, the NAS-JRB Willow Grove employed several thousand people and this will help, along with the Horsham Land Reuse Authority’s plans for economic development, to ensure the economic vitality of the region.”