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Governors Want VA/MD Chosen as Test Range for Unmanned Aircraft

21 January 2012 One Comment

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley sent a joint letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood asking him to select the Virginia/Maryland region as host of an Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) test range called for in the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act and FAA Reauthorization Bill.

In the letter dated Jan. 19, the governors highlighted the region’s existing technical expertise in the defense industry, established UAS facilities and appropriate airspace for this type of testing and development.

“The Mid-Atlantic region represents a significant resource to the federal government as they develop a UAS test range,” said McDonnell. “Virginia and Maryland already host many companies that provide technical expertise, staffing and support to the federal government’s military and technology programs, and our collection of restricted airspace will provide the perfect training area for this type of testing. Furthermore, the existing DoD, NASA industry and academic institutions in our states can provide the FAA with resources to develop the cutting-edge UAS technology at no additional cost to the taxpayer. In these difficult fiscal times, this type of coordination and co-location of activities is vital to ensuring that our government lives within its means while providing our core services of government.”

O’Malley added, “Virginia and Maryland are working together across state and party lines to provide the best solutions for the needs of our nation. Already, industry, academic and federal agencies located in Maryland and Virginia design, test and operate every category of unmanned aircraft systems. We are also home to the largest collection of experience with this technology and integrating it into national airspace of any region. This region can become the UAS center for the nation, and provide the workforce, close strategic proximity to the federal government and the highest concentration of U.S. population, and the technological infrastructure to ensure the success of the national UAS program.”

Further development of the nation’s UAS program will not only serve advanced military operations, but will also provide additional resources for private industry and homeland security efforts that will use this technology.

The Mid-Atlantic region is within a day’s drive of the majority of the U.S. population, and is strategically located near the nation’s capitol and major population centers along the East Coast.

The states have not yet received a response to this letter from Secretary LaHood.

By: Contributing Author

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One Comment »

  • Jaime McDougall said:

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