It’s no secret that the US military is in L-O-V-E, love with its unmanned aerial fleet. The infatuation has reached fever pitch, in fact, now that the Army has begun construction of a brand new airport in central Texas that will only be accessible to its two favorite flying drones. The military has made it clear that UAVs are the future of aerial reconnaissance, as well as aerial combat, in a growing number of cases, and that they’ll eventually be operating in the same airspace as conventionally piloted aircraft.
The Army’s ever-growing use of unmanned aerial systems has gotten to the point where two of the most commonly used UAS are getting their own airport. The service’s Corps of Engineers at Fort Worth, Texas, has awarded a $33 million contract to SGS to build a 150-acre unmanned aircraft launch and recovery complex at Fort Bliss for Grey Eagle and Shadow UAS. The complex will include a 50,000-square-foot unmanned aircraft maintenance hangar and more than a mile of runways, aprons, and taxiways, according to an announcement from the company. The runways will include a 5,000-foot runway for the Grey Eagle and a 1,000-foot runway for the smaller Shadow. In addition to maintenance shops, administrative space and storage space in the hangar, the facilities also will have a 5-ton bridge crane, oil/water separator, aircraft container and forklift storage, taxiway, access apron, oil and hazardous waste storage buildings, vehicle storage facilities, organizational vehicle parking, and overhead protection/canopy.