This Standard-Examiner file photo shows the Utah Test and Training Range.

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — The Air Force wants to start flying drones at the Utah Test and Training Range.

The Department of Defense is now accepting public comment on a draft environmental assessment related to a plan to test unmanned aircraft at the west desert testing range.

The Air Force wants to establish a restricted area of airspace at the UTTR to operate the drones and to set-up facilities that will allow them to launch, control, recover and maintain the unmanned aircraft.

According to Hill’s Public Affairs office, the aircraft (which are called Sub-scale Aerial Targets by the military) are used to provide realistic live-fire training for Air Force pilots. Current operations using unmanned aircraft are done on nearby Dugway Proving Ground but under the new proposal, the Air Force would move the operations to the UTTR near Wendover, Utah.

“Our mission requirements integrating unmanned aircraft have increased substantially over the last few years, as have the Army’s,” Col. Daniel Gable, commander of Headquarters UTTR, said in a press release. “This new area of restricted airspace ... will give us more operational flexibility and capability and allow us to meet the increasing demand we have for testing and training using unmanned aircraft.”

The draft environmental assessment was completed to collect data, conduct research and analyze potential environmental and socioeconomic consequences related to the plan. The Air Force considered other alternatives for the location of the on-ground site, which are enumerated in the Draft EA. The agency the assessment has found the drones proposal won’t have significant impacts on the human environment or any of the environmental resources in the area.

But Gable said officials want to hear from the public on the plan before making a final decision.

The Draft EA is available at https://bit.ly/2msIqK1. A printed copy is also available for review at the West Wendover Branch Library, 590 Camper Drive, West Wendover, Nevada, or by contacting Michael Shane at (801) 586-2551 or michael.shane.2@us.af.mil.

Comments on the plan will be accepted through midnight Oct. 19.

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