Unmanned National Guard Surveillance Drones To Fly Over New York State

Tuesday, February 8, 2011
By Paul Martin

Unmanned National Guard Surveillance Drones To Fly Over New York State

By Dave Tobin
Syracuse.com

If you feel like you’re being watched while floating in a canoe or driving along some lonely road in the Adirondacks this summer, you might be right.

In June, the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Fighter Wing in Syracuse plans to begin regular unmanned surveillance flights from Fort Drum over the Adirondacks.

The training mission of the drones, called Reapers, will mark the first ongoing flights east of the Mississippi with aircraft that don’t have people in them.

The 174th’s New York flights will train pilots (who remotely fly the planes) and sensor operators (who monitor video shot from the plane). The Reapers, or MQ-9s, will be controlled from a station at Hancock Airfield, the same place from which the 174th is flying Reapers over Afghanistan.

The New York flights will not be armed and should be undetectable by those on the ground.

The new training mission shows the Syracuse air guard unit’s prominence in the growing role of unmanned military aircraft. It also hints at the looming issues of civil liberties and air safety that come with government surveillance by unmanned aircraft over American soil.

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