Jacksonville, FL - As the President’s choice to head the CIA continues his vetting, questions on using unmanned drones for lethal strikes have been a central focus.
And we’ve learned those questions have some growing Jacksonville roots.
Naval Air Station Jacksonville currently houses the Navy’s only training center for MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter operators. Right now, that drone is used primarily for intelligence gathering and surveillance. It has been used to track drug smuggling efforts in South America, pirates off Africa, and for support in the Libyan civil war.
The Navy wants to start arming those drones, however, with testing set to begin as early as next months. The Navy had previously announced plans to buy 175 of the robocopters.
That’s just one of the facilities Florida Senator Bill Nelson, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, will visit on Monday. He is also stopping in to a facility currently under construction at NAS Jacksonville which will train pilots for another type of drone. That facility is set to open in the fall.
The training at this facility will focus on the Triton drone, which is a long-range device designed for scanning the ocean and providing a closer look at suspicious ships.
Nelson supports using surgical force through drones.