Thursday, January 18, 2001

Wright-Pat an also-ran for spy plane

The Associated Press

        DAYTON, Ohio — The Air Force has tentatively decided to base its new high-altitude robot spy planes in California, a disappointment for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

        An Air Force official confirmed Wednesday that Beale Air Force Base, about 30 miles northeast of Sacramento, has been selected as the home of the Global Hawk fleet. A final decision is expected after an environmental assessment in March.

        The Washington D.C.-based official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, is familiar with the details of the basing decision.

        Marriane Miclat, spokeswoman for the Air Force at the Pentagon, would not comment except to say an announcement on Global Hawk will be made Friday by Air Combat Command in Langley, Va.

        Beale won out over four competing Air Force bases: Wright-Patterson, Ellsworth in South Dakota, Tinker in Oklahoma and Edwards in California. Housing the aircraft is expected to generate 400 to 850 new jobs.

        The $45 million Global Hawk, which is being tested, will be the first high-altitude, long-endurance robot plane used by the military. Plans call for the first six Global Hawks to arrive at their home base next year, and the fleet to grow each year until there are 18 in 2008.

        The strengths of Wright-Patterson, where the Global Hawk program is managed, included low construction costs and lightly used runways. The base already has an aircraft maintenance building that could have been used to house the Global Hawk.


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- Wright-Pat an also-ran for spy plane
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