FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- The 174th Fighter Wing out of Syracuse was on Fort Drum Thursday, showing off the new unmanned aircraft it plans to have stationed there.
The MQ-9 can be launched by a ground crew in a war zone, all while being controlled by satellite from ground control stations in the United States. The MQ-9 can lock on to a target and track it for long periods of time with its camera system. It can also fire weapons.
The 174th will train pilots and ground crews on Fort Drum, using restricted airspace over both Drum and Lake Ontario. And crews say not only do these planes keep pilots safer, but the planes themselves are very safe as well.
"Comparable to the F-16 in its phase of development. It will only get safer. In fact, the incidents where the planes have had a crash have been in the landing portion. The safety record is very good, very strong," said Col. Kevin Bradley.
Bradley says the planes can also be used to help survey natural disaster areas like the flooding we saw earlier this year in the Southern Tier. He says it will not be used for border security.