The Iowa Air National Guard’s 132nd Wing is at risk of losing its facilities at Des Moines International Airport after swapping its F-16s for remotely piloted aircraft, reported the Des Moines Register. The wing leases the 172-acre airport facility at a cut-rate, provided it retains a flying mission and crash and fire rescue on-site, according to the report. The wing recently began construction of a $7.9 million RPA operations facility at the site and is operating an RC-26 Condor intelligence aircraft and a C-12 transport from Des Moines to retain its favorable lease deal. Airport officials consider this insufficient since the unit’s MQ-9s controlled from Des Moines will not fly from the airport. The Army National Guard has proposed moving UH-60 helicopters to the base to take advantage of empty hangar space. “There is no question that this would resolve the issue of whether or not there is an aeronautical mission at the Des Moines air base,” Guard spokesman Col. Gregory Hapgood said, quoted in another Register article. ANG and airport officials began renegotiating the contract in March 2014. The estimated market-lease rate is pegged at approximately $5 million annually.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.