Stealth aircraft will be used more frequently in the future,
including radar-evading UAV drones. This is the X47 made by Northrop
An upcoming decision by the Federal Aviation Administration could
spark big growth in jobs at defense contractors that make UAVs, or
Stealth aircraft will be used more frequently in the future, including
radar-evading UAV drones. This is the X47 made by Northrop Grumman.
A decision by the Federal Aviation Administration could provide a huge
economic boost to six states looking to grow jobs at defense contractors
that make or do research on UAVs, also called drones.
The FAA in the next couple months could request proposals from states that
have air space that could serve as pilot sites for studying whether to
allow unmanned aerial vehicles to fly with commercial aircraft, said Ohio
State Sen. Chris Widener, R-Springfield.
The FAA eventually would choose six states in which to set up those sites.
“We want to be one of them,” Widener said.
The Republican who represents parts of Madison, Clark and Greene
counties also said an undisclosed Beavercreek-based company could add
1,000 jobs to its payroll if the FAA designates air space near Dayton to
allow UAV testing. Currently, the closest approved testing space is in
Indiana, he said.
If Ohio is chosen, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the Wilmington Air
Park or Springfield Air National Guard Base could benefit, boosting the
Tentative plans show the unnamed company would produce 40 to 60 UAVs
annually, each priced at $3 million to $5 million, Widener said.
And it would not stop there.
“That’s just one of many companies that have plans … and we feel like
they’ll pull the trigger and start down the road of manufacturing, if we
have the air space close,” Widener said.
The FAA proposal request could come prior to any approval by Congress of
the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2011, which includes language to
set up various pilot UAV test sites. The U.S. House OK’d the bill in late
Local leaders have said authorizing air space in the Dayton region makes
sense, and the advantages will stretch across many industries.
“We have infrastructure in the region — with the Air Force base here and
(federal) Department of Development contract firms — that no one else
has,” said Greene County Commissioner Rick Perales. “All we’re lacking in
the equation for being the hotbed for UAVs is air space.”
But competition could be steep to land FAA approval. Local leaders must
work together to make it happen, Perales said.
“If we can pull together ... and work toward that end goal of getting the
air space we need, that’s a win on every level,” he said.
UAV research and development already has sparked some recent industry
growth in the Dayton region.
In February, McLean, Va.-based Science Applications International Corp.
announced plans to add 215 jobs in the Dayton region, in large part
because of the Air Force’s focus on UAV research and development in the
Officials said SAIC will hire several hundred employees during the next
three years – mostly engineers, scientists, computer programmers and
technicians. It already has 380 workers in the region at two buildings in
Beavercreek and one in Springfield.
General Atomics, which makes the Predator drone as well as the Reaper, has
5,000 employees and has been a big player in the military aeronautics
field since it was founded in 1955 as a division of General Dynamics Corp.
Among the major players that have a presence in the Dayton region and
could grow further here depending on the FAA decision are Boeing Co.,
which started a UAV unit several years ago; Lockheed Martin Corp., which
makes the Desert Hawk and Samurai UAVs; Northrop Grumman Corp., which is
developing a new, multi-purpose UAV; and BAE Systems, which acquired
Dayton-based MTC Technologies to gain a foothold in the Dayton region and
has become one of the top 10 largest defense contractors in Dayton.