New drones-only airport heading to West Texas
West Texas is getting a new airport, but don't expect to grab a layover there: This one has a "no humans" policy. The U.S. Army's Fort Bliss in El Paso is receiving a drones-only airport after the Fort Worth office of the Corps of Engineers awarded a $33 million contract to build a 150-acre unmanned aircraft launch and recovery complex, reports Defense Systems.
The airport will be home to two of the Army's most popular unmanned aerial systems — the Gray Eagle and Shadow drones — and only them, making it perhaps the most exclusive airport in the country.
It's part of the Army's 25-year plan, first introduced in 2010, to further integrate unmanned aircraft across all spectrums of its operations. The Corps of Engineers awarded the contract to SGS, LLC, out of Oklahoma City earlier this month.
Reports Defense Systems, "The complex will include a 50,000-square-foot unmanned aircraft maintenance hangar and more than a mile of runways, aprons and taxiways, according to an announcement from the company. The runways will include a 5,000-foot runway for the Gray Eagle and a 1,000-foot runway for the smaller Shadow."
The Gray Eagle is a 28-foot drone with a wingspan of 56 feet, a range of 249 miles and the ability for armaments. The smaller Shadow measures in at 11.2 feet with a wingspan of 14 feet and a range of 68 miles.
Fort Bliss is the Army's second-largest installation, occupying around 1,700 square miles, and provides the largest contiguous tract of restricted airspace in the continental U.S.