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Unmanned Aerial Site relocated to Fort McCoy's North Post to avoid conflicts

November 26, 2012

By Rob Schuette, Fort McCoy Public Affairs

FORT McCOY, Wis. -- The Unmanned Aerial Site (UAS) landing and takeoff zone has been relocated to a North Post site to help eliminate air corridor concerns and to increase training opportunities.

Terry Hoff, Fort McCoy Range officer, said the UAS previously was on the Young Air Assault Strip, a semi-improved area that also handles the take offs and landings of larger cargo aircraft, such as C-17s and C-130s.

Whenever the UAS was in use, however, it basically grounded all the other aircraft in the area, including at the Sparta-Fort McCoy Airport, he said.

James Hubbard, Sparta-Fort McCoy Airport manager, said part of the concern was that the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) can be as heavy as 300 pounds with a wingspan of up to approximately 14 feet.

"If the aircraft collided, the UAVs could cause significant damage to the larger aircraft," Hubbard said. "So it wasn't conducive to having the systems together."

It was advantageous for everyone involved to move the site to North Post, where it also would be closer to other training opportunities, Hoff said.

The UAS site now is located conveniently so it can be used in conjunction with missions at Range 29, or is near other training areas, such as the Warrens Drop Zone or the North Impact Area.

"The important thing is having the landing and takeoff site on North Post," Hoff said. "This gives us more flexibility in letting the UAV flights land and take off without impacting air traffic."

The UAS generally is used by National Guard units, and the Wisconsin Guard units often train with the equipment at Fort McCoy, Hoff said.

Brent Friedl, the Integrated Training and Management (ITAM) coordinator, said the installation Forestry Program conducted timber sales to open up the site for construction. The ITAM program provided support to ensure any remaining trees, shrubs, and woody debris after the sales were removed within the flight line footprint.

Relocating the UAS also will allow better use of the equipment for weekend training, when there is limited air traffic control support available to control the air space near the Sparta-Fort McCoy Airport, Hoff said. The new location also allows for better collective training and the potential for live-fire training missions in the future, he added.

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