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Army allocates $27 million in defense budget to Fort Drum for drone hangar

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FORT DRUM — The Army, in its budget unveiled Tuesday, set aside $27 million for the post to create a hangar to house a fleet of MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield.

The placement is part of an Army plan worth several hundred million dollars to put the aircraft at installations across the service. The news of the allotment was confirmed Tuesday afternoon by the office of Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Building this facility strengthens our effort to harness the full potential of this new technology in keeping Americans safe, and supports Fort Drum as it leads the way in integrating UAS into our national defense,” she said.

The unmanned 3,600- pound aircraft, equipped with up to four Hellfire missiles, has been used for a variety of missions, including surveillance, convoy protection and air support. The Gray Eagle is smaller than the 10,500-pound MQ-9 Reaper aircraft already used at the airfield by the New York Air National Guard.

A group of about eight to 10 of the Gray Eagles along with about 128 employees is scheduled to be in place on the post by about July.

The post funding is one part of the proposed 2015 Department of Defense budget. The proposed $496 billion in spending is essentially unchanged from this year’s budget total.

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