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Indiana, Ohio touted for drone test site

The entire Indiana congressional delegation has sent a letter to federal officials in support of the Ohio-Indiana bid for a drone test site.

Proposals for six sites were due Monday with the Federal Aviation Administration, which is expected to make its selections by yearend. According to media reports, at least 50 proposals for testing unmanned aircraft systems in 37 states were expected to be submitted.

“The states of Ohio and Indiana have both the military and civil resources necessary to be a leader in the emerging UAS sector,” the Hoosier delegation wrote in a letter dated Monday.

Ohio is proposing that Dayton’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base become a regional hub for the development of unmanned aircraft systems, or drones. The Indiana congressional delegation’s letter, signed by all 11 Hoosier senators and representatives, also mentions the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and the Naval Surface War Center Crane Division near Bloomington as “a diverse and powerful team of FAA partners already conducting research and development work for UAS integration.”

The letter touts “the knowledge base of area pilots, researchers and engineers already operating in the UAS aeronautical specialties,” as well as 11 universities in both states that have “partnered” with what is being called the Ohio/Indiana Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center & Test Complex.

The letter was sent to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

“Indiana is the perfect place for this to take place,” Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., said Monday in a teleconference call with reporters.

The FAA’s selection criteria include climatic diversity. The Indiana congressional delegation writes that Ohio and Indiana offer “a broad array of weather conditions, allowing for adequate testing of aircraft and equipment in any weather conditions they may experience throughout the national airspace.”

Congress in 2012 directed the FAA to implement test sites.

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