Hill gets new workload for drones

Saturday , August 23, 2014 - 8:16 AM

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Hill Air Force Base has a new and additional workload for what many view as the future of defense: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

The Ogden Air Logistics Complex will open a new maintenance, repair and overhaul shop dedicated to sustaining the electronic parts that keep three different Department of Defense drones in the air. The shop will work on the Air Force’s MQ-1 Predator, the MQ-9 Reaper and the Army’s MQ-1C Gray Eagle.

The Ogden ALC already performs depot repair and modification on the ​MQ-1 and the MQ-9. The base began working on the drones in 2009, but the new workload is different because it’s soley focused on the electronic parts associated with the systems.

“What we’re working on is called the servo or the actuator,” said Shane Robertson, business chief of Hill’s 309th Electronics Maintenance Group. “Essentially, these are the flight controls and the landing gear for these systems.”

Dave Hansen, director of the 309th EXMG, said the new shop will perform 28,000 workload hours in fiscal year 2015, which begins in October. By FY 2016, the workload hours will reach 40,000, Hansen said, and continue to rise from there.

“As new systems come on with similar components, we’ll be the place for that, too,” Robertson said. 

Paul Roberts, UAV project manager, said the new workload will eventually lead to new jobs at Hill. 

We don’t have exact numbers yet, but we’re already starting to look at adding additional bodies in 2015,“ he said.

All three of the drones are developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. Russell Kofoed, chief of the Logistic Branch of the Predator/Reaper program office at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, said UAVs are becoming an increasingly important component in the DoD’s weapons systems.

The drones fly without a human pilot aboard and can be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as performing the role of a traditional attack aircraft.

”These are the weapons systems that are fighting the war on terror,“ Kofoed said. ”If there is a bad guy that needs to get killed out there, we do it with the Predator or the Reaper.“

Kofoed said the MQ-1 and the MQ-9 have accumulated nearly 3 million flight hours since their inception. Kofoed said 80 percent of those flight hours have come in combat.

”There’s no other weapon that compares,“ he said.

Contact reporter Mitch Shaw at 801-625-4233 or mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.

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