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Former Willow Grove NAS To Become Remote Piloting Station For Drone Planes

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(File phoocredit: William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

(File phoocredit: William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

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By Brad Segall

HORSHAM, Pa. (CBS) — A new, high-tech military project is breathing new life into the former Willow Grove Naval Air Station in Montgomery County, and it’s bringing jobs to the area.

The US Air Force has tapped the 111th Fighter Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard to establish a new command center for military drones that are thousands of miles away.

The center will be located at the Horsham Air Guard Base, and will mean nearly 250 jobs will be added to the wing to support the mission.

A two-person team will control each unpiloted aircraft from a virtual cockpit.

Pennsylvania state representative Todd Stephens calls this a terrific opportunity for Horsham to continue helping the country fight the war on terror.

“I just think it’s important that people realize this does not involve the runway,” he said today.  “It does not involve even the land that the runway is located on.  These are drone efforts, and the operators will be located here but the planes will not be landing or taking off from Horsham.”

He says it’s good news for the local economy, where mom-and-pop shops lost business when the base closed in 2011.

The control station should be in operation by October.

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