US army to build exclusive airport for two drones

12 December 2014 (Last Updated December 12th, 2014 11:30)

The US army is reportedly building an airport in Texas, US, exclusively for two of its most commonly used drones Gray Eagle and Shadow.

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The US army is reportedly building an airport in Texas, US, exclusively for two of its most commonly used drones Gray Eagle and Shadow.

The army's corps of engineers at Fort Worth, Texas, has awarded a $33m contract to design-build firm SGS to build a 150-acre unmanned aircraft launch and recovery complex at Fort Bliss.

Fort Bliss currently hosts Apache and Black Hawk helicopters and will eventually shelter the two drones.

The airport will have a 5,000ft runway for the Gray Eagle and 1,000ft airstrip for Shadow UAS. SGS said that it will also house a mile of runways, aprons and taxiway.

"Fort Bliss currently hosts Apache and Black Hawk helicopters and will eventually shelter the two drones."

The 50,000ft² unmanned aircraft hangar will include maintenance shops, administrative space and storage space, a 5t bridge crane, oil/water separator, aircraft container and forklift storage, taxiway, access apron, oil and hazardous waste storage buildings, vehicle storage facilities, organisational vehicle parking and overhead protection/canopy.

The airspace will be restricted, fenced and secured.

The MQ-1C Gray Eagle is a medium-altitude, long-endurance, unmanned aerial system that can operate for 36h at altitudes up to 25,000ft, with an operating range of 200 nautical miles. It measures 29ft long and has a wingspan of 56ft.

The US army plans to purchase 152 Gray Eagle units to deploy in ten active-duty divisions.

Shadow UAS is 11ft long with a wingspan of 14ft. It can fly for up to six hours at altitudes of up to 15,000ft and has a range of 59 nautical miles.


Image: A US army Gray Eagle aircraft on a surveillance mission in Baghdad, Iraq. Photo: courtesy of Roland Hale.