Air Force says no site picked for unmanned aerial vehicles

Air Force officials say that no decision has been made on a depot maintenance site for its newest unmanned aerial vehicles, the Predator and Reaper.

A report surfaced in March that airframe work for the two systems would be accomplished by the Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. However, a response issued Tuesday by Air Force Materiel Command said “no decision (has been made) to send work to any organic repair facility” for the Predator and Reaper.

Robins Air Force Base and the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center are the program management sites for the two systems plus a third unmanned vehicle, the Global Hawk. Typically, the Air Force collocates airframe depot repair and program management. Robins already is the candidate depot site for Global Hawk. AFMC is the parent command for both Robins and Hill.

“The statement that AFMC recently assigned airframe depot maintenance responsibility for two of three UAVs to Hill AFB was in error,” the statement said. “Maintenance responsibility for one UAV, the RQ-4 Global Hawk, has been partially assigned with three air logistics centers designated for maintaining several of its subsystems.”

Air Force Materiel Command said the source of repair assignment process for the UAVs is complete and in various stages of interservice review, and a decision probably will be made this year.

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Ron Smith said he was pleased with the update. “Certainly, Robins has become the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance center of excellence for the Air Force, and there are synergies to assigning program management and depot repair to where that expertise is,” the former Warner Robins Air Logistics Center commander pointed out.

Obviously, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles will be increasing, Smith said. “Given their capabilities and the types of warfare and conflict that are expected in the future, it’s intuitively obvious why,” he said. “I’m anxious to see the results of the source of repair process.”

Air Force data describe the Global Hawk as a high-altitude, long-endurance system providing “near-continuous, all-weather, day or night, wide-area surveillance.”

The Predator conducts medium-altitude, long endurance armed reconnaissance. It is armed with two laser-guided Hellfire missiles.

The Reaper — bigger and more lethal than Predator — also performs the surveillance role, but it is also armed with Hellfire missiles and joint direct attack munitions.

To contact Gene Rector, call 923-3109, extension 239.