Flying high

A $21.7 million project began last month to expand Fort Drum's capabilities with unmanned aircraft. Watertown Daily Times

A groundbreaking ceremony held last month demonstrates the ongoing role military officials see Fort Drum playing in our national defense.

On May 12, authorities from the post and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began a $21.7 million project on an unmanned aircraft system at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield for the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade. The U.S. military has come to rely more on drones to implement missions, and the enhancements underway at Fort Drum complement the post’s participation in this aspect of defensive operations carried out by our armed forces.

“A major construction project like this only happens after years of strategic planning, environmental studies, funding requests and justifications, structural planning, contract writing, bidding and rewarding,” Col. Jeffery Lucas, Fort Drum’s garrison commander, said in a prepared statement, according to a story published May 12 in the Watertown Daily Times. “It’s a long road to get here, and I’m incredibly proud of the many on the staff in the garrison whose ongoing work empowers readiness here every day in countless ways.”

Officials have been planning this project for a long time. A 26,000-square-foot hangar, which will host a portion of 10th CAB’s Shadow Platoons, will be constructed. The project also will include an extension to the existing runway at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield.

“We require facilities like this to continue year-round capabilities that we can launch, as a power projection platform, for the benefit of the U.S. Army,” Col. Travis McIntosh, 10th CAB commander, said during the ceremony. “We do that here at Fort Drum because of the facilities you are able to provide.”

This project reflects well on Fort Drum and all those who have planned these improvements. The military has again shown the confidence it has in the post’s capabilities, and this bodes well for Northern New York.

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