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Mich. guard base to get drones, not cargo planes

AP Wire • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:20 PM

The southwestern Michigan base said it learned from the U.S. Air Force on Thursday that it will fly the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle and won't get C-130 cargo aircraft as it had hoped.

"It's disappointing, as many folks around our community have fought hard trying to get us this flying mission," said Col. Ronald Wilson, 110th Airlift Wing commander. "We will move forward ... and we are excited for the MQ-9 mission. This is the way of the future in aircraft technology."

Officials said the timing of the transition hasn't been released and they don't know yet exactly how it will affect staffing. The base currently employs about 1,000 people, including 370 full-time.

The release describes the drone as "an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long endurance RPA (remotely piloted aircraft)." Pilots on the ground will operate the aircraft as they fly surveillance, reconnaissance, and combat search-and-rescue missions overseas. Base officials said it's similar to the A-10 Thunderbolt mission flown from 1991 until 2009.

Plans also call for the 110th Wing to get a "Cyber Command" unit and regional munitions storage area.

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