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MQ-9 Taxi Operations Expanded

HANCOCK FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The New York Air National Guard's 174th Attack Wing (ATKW) expanded its taxi operations of the MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft to include all taxiways and ramps of the Syracuse International Airport on Saturday, December 6.

The taxi operations conducted on the Syracuse International Airports taxiways is one further step towards launch and recovery of MQ-9 aircraft at Hancock Field.

"Our goal along has been to fly off of Hancock Field and today's taxi event is another step towards this goal," said Col. Greg Semmel, 174th Attack Wing, commander.

Since January of 2014, the 174th has worked closely with the FAA to develop a plan to fly the MQ-9 off of Hancock Field and Syracuse International Airport. A decision by the FAA is expected sometime in the spring of 2015.

"We are continuing to work with the FAA and local air traffic controllers in order to safety operate off of Hancock Field," said Col. Greg Semmel, 174th Attack Wing commander.

On August 18, 2014, the unit conducted its first taxi operations of the MQ-9 which were confined to the 174th ramp only. Expanding taxi operations outside the 174th ramp will allow further development of operations and procedures with local air traffic control.

Background:

Currently, all flight operations of the MQ-9 aircraft are conducted at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield at Fort Drum.

The wing is involved in an environmental assessment which is another step in the process to gain launch and recovery operation approval off of Hancock Field.

It is expected that the FAA will ultimately approve for the departure and return of MQ-9 aircraft from Hancock Field to fly to Fort Drum or transition to the area's restricted airspace for military training.

The 174th ATKW trains all MQ-9 maintenance technicians for Air Force, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve as well as training some personnel from allied nations. The wing also conducts training for MQ-9 pilots and sensor operators at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base and Fort Drum, operating out of Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield.

Members of the 174th Attack Wing also respond to state emergencies and other state domestic operations missions when called upon and maintain high-tech communications and command and control equipment that can be called upon by the governor of New York when required.