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Chabelley Airfield



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Chabelley Airfield

Chabelley Airfield was a remote airstrip located in Djibouti. In September 2013, the Pentagon announced it was moving its fleet of drones off Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti to Chabelley Airfield. Chabelley Airfield had been used only rarely prior to this, including during a training exercise in 2011 when a 6-man Marine Air Traffic Control Mobile Team from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit set up an austere landing zone there.

On 31 August 2012, the House Armed Services Committee received the Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti Master Plan, which outlined a $1.4 billion investment to provide infrastructure to support operational requirements and support functions at Camp Lemonnier. The committee received an update to this master plan on 12 April 2013, which reduced the total cost to $880 million. However, the committee was aware that the Government of Djibouti mandated that operations of remotely piloted aircraft cease from Camp Lemonnier, while allowing such operations to relocate to Chabelley Airfield, Djibouti. As of June 2013, the House Armed Services Committee had received notification of approximately $13.0 million in investments made to ensure that appropriate infrastructure and equipment was in place to support the relocation of RPA operations to Chabelley Airfield. While the Committee was supportive of the investments necessary to allow continuity of operations from Djibouti, the Committee was concerned about the lack of clarity on the long-term plan to sustain operations and the infrastructure at this leased location and subsequent investments required to support such operations. As a result, the Committee encouraged the Department of Defense to keep them informed as alternative locations were considered to host RPA operations that were previously hosted at Camp Lemonnier and as changes were made to the short- and long-term master plans for infrastructure requirements to support operations from Djibouti.

In September 2013, the Pentagon said it was moving its fleet of drones off Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. The change came as US officials adjusted their overall strategy for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, which involved an increased dependence on unmanned aircraft to keep an eye on militant groups that were operating in eastern Africa. The decision followed the request by Djibouti's government, which voiced safety concerns following several drone crashes. Camp Lemonnier sat on the edge of Djibouti's international airport, and the unmanned aerial vehicles were taking off and landing from the same runway used by commercial aircraft, prompting concerns by Djibouti government officials. The move of operations to Chabelley Airfield did not result in reduced operations in any way.




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