By DAVID C. HENLEY
LVN Publisher Emeritus
Naval Air Station Fallon may become incorporated into a nationwide multi-service “center for excellence” for the testing and development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, the Lahontan Valley News has learned.
Gov. Brian Sandoval, in Fallon on Monday to participate in the annual Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast and Lions Club Parade, revealed that the Pentagon and FAA are studying a proposal to include NAS Fallon in a “package” with Creech Air Force Base and the Nellis Test Ranges in Southern Nevada into one of seven centers of excellence to be established across the country.
Although the decision to name NAS Fallon a component of one of the centers is months away, Sandoval is “fairly optimistic” the base will be chosen.
“NAS Fallon would be a logical choice for UAV testing and development,” he said.
Creech AFB at Indian Springs about 45 miles north of Las Vegas already is the nation’s foremost center for UAV operations and testing, critical testing and drone flights also are held at the Nellis ranges, and thus it “makes sense” to include the Fallon base in a proposed Western U.S. “center of excellence,” Sandoval added.
There is also an abundance of air space above Churchill County and northwestern Nevada, the flying weather is among the best in the United States and the people here have always welcomed the military to the community, Sandoval said.
Should NAS Fallon become part of a UAV center of excellence, Sandoval believes the base population would expand, new jobs would be created in Fallon and the county.
“Much of Northern Nevada, including Reno and Carson City, also would benefit from the job growth,” he said, noting that it is too early and premature to release job growth figures.