Whiteman, Ellsworth Win RPA Mission

The Air Force announced Monday that Whiteman AFB, Mo., and Ellsworth AFB, S.D., will host ground control stations for MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft, respectively. Each base will add a total of 280 personnel, both civilian and military, for the new mission. Operations with the new RPA operators’ squadron at Whiteman are expected to commence by February 2011. They are scheduled to begin with the new squadron at Ellsworth by May 2012. Whiteman is already home to the Air Force’s only B-2 bomber unit, the 509th Bomb Wing. Ellsworth hosts the B-1 bombers of the 28th BW. These two bases beat out the two other candidate locations announced in April: Langley AFB, Va., and Mountain Home AFB, Idaho.

Congressional reaction:

Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) statement

Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) statement

Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) statement

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) statement

Rep Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) statement