Virtual Flying States

Some states struggling to keep an Air National Guard manned flying mission may see remotely piloted aircraft operations come their way, said National Guard Bureau Chief Army Gen. Frank Grass. If the Budget Control Act stays as is, the Guard might have to “revisit” the “guiding principles” established years ago that put a flying unit in every state, said Grass in his address on Sept. 18 at AFA’s 2013 Air and Space Conference. Grass said some states have four or five flying wings, while others are “really struggling” to keep one. To maintain a flying mission in each state, Grass said flying “could be virtual flying.” Some Air Guard units, like New York’s 174th Attack Wing in Syracuse, already have transitioned to operating RPAs. The New York Air Guardsmen, from home station, use satellite communication links to control MQ-9 Reapers that fly in combat over Afghanistan.