The New York Air National Guard’s 174th Attack Wing officially opened its new training facility at Hancock Field in Syracuse for airmen who will operate and maintain Air Force MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft, reported the Syracuse Post-Standard. During the May 3 ceremony, officials dedicated the 15,656-square-foot building in the name of retired Maj. Gen. Robert Knauff, former wing commander, who died in 2014. Knauff is credited with initiating the wing’s transition from flying F-16s to operating MQ-9s, according to a wing release. The facility, the wing’s newly renovated former F-16 avionics building, will allow the wing’s 108th Attack Squadron to increase the number of students it trains. “In the years to come, nearly 90 students annually will walk through the doors of this building,” said Lt. Col. John Knutsen, 108th ATKS commander. Workers began the renovation in May 2014 and completed it in March for a cost of $3.5 million—some $2.5 million to $3.5 million less than constructing a new building, states the wing release.
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.