NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) - The 107th Airlift Wing has a new mission that will save jobs. This encouraging news comes after the base was possibly going to close earlier this year. Now, it won't only remain open but it could soon hold hundreds of more jobs through drone missions.
Last January, Congresswoman Kathy Hochul said, "This base provides a critical mission for the protection of our country. Last year alone it flew over 1,500 missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Very few bases can claims such success."
Hochul and the Niagara Military Affairs Council lobbied hard for the 107th Airlift Wing to continue missions in the Cataract City.
NIMAC officials say the fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill was finalized Tuesday. Under the bill, the 107th will eventually fly remotely piloted aircrafts, better known as drones.
It hasn't been annouced specifically which drones would be based here, but it's rumored one of the two would be the MQ-9 Reaper.
In November, New York State Senator George Maziarz said, "This is a very important additional mission, because drones are a mission that is growing within the military. And it's a new technology mission. So this is a very positive thing for the base, and for Western New York."
The drones are mainly used for surveillance missions and can carry missiles. The drones themselves would not actually land at the airbase, but would be piloted remotely in Niagara Falls.
NIMAC believes the 107th could also continue flying their C-130s. They say many times a transition of missions take close to 18 months. The airbase could also continue flying the cargo planes after the transition.
The fiscal 2013 defense budget needs to be approved by both Congress and the senate, before the deal is finalized. Both are expected to approve the bill by the end of the week.
In a statement Wednesday, Hochul said, "The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is critical to our region's economy and our nation's security," said Rep. Hochul. "I am encouraged by reports that the Air Force will bring a new mission to the air base. This is a positive step in our ongoing effort to ensure that NFARS continues to play an important role national defense and homeland security. I am proud to have worked with our Senators and the Western New York delegation to preserve and strengthen our base."
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