The US Air Force (USAF) has identified eight bases as candidates for two locations, which could potentially host the MQ-9 Reaper wing.

The bases selected for first location are Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (AFB), Arizona; Moody AFB, Georgia; Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; Offutt AFB, Nebraska; and Shaw AFB, South Carolina.

The first location would host an operations group with mission control elements, no aircraft will be assigned to these units. These candidate bases already have an active-duty flying wing or group, and if selected, will allow MQ-9 crews to control the MQ-9 from that location.

"Based on the results of site surveys to be conducted at all the locations, the USAF is expected to select the preferred alternatives as early as this autumn."

For the second location, Eglin AFB, Florida; Tyndall AFB, Florida; Vandenberg AFB, California, and Shaw AFB have been selected.

This location, which is expected to have up to 24 MQ-9 aircraft assigned, would potentially house a full MQ-9 wing, including both a launch and recovery element and a mission control element, as well as a maintenance group and operations support personnel.

USAF installations deputy assistant secretary Jennifer L. Miller said: “We are using the strategic basing process to determine the best locations for hosting additional locations for the MQ-9 mission.

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“As we go through the basing process, we will use the information we collect to help us determine the affordability and potential locations for expanding the MQ-9 enterprise.”

Based on the results of site surveys to be conducted at all the locations, the USAF is expected to select the preferred alternatives as early as this autumn.

Following the completion of environmental analysis, USAF secretary will make the final basing decisions.

The need for additional basing locations was identified during surveys of officers and enlisted Airmen in the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 enterprise, which was conducted as part of Air Combat Command’s (ACC) Culture and Process Improvement Program.

The additional locations will allow the USAF to diversify assignment opportunities for personnel within the MQ-9 enterprise.