Fort Drum, Army Corps of Engineers officials break ground on new drone facility

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Paul Steven Ghiringhelli
Sign welcomes motorists entering Fort Drum at the Iraqi Freedom Gate. To avoid rush-hour delays this summer at this gate, installation officials urge commuters to use the Mount Belvedere Gate, accessible from Watertown by Route 283 or from Interstate 81 by Route 342, or the 45th Infantry Division Gate, roughly two miles south of U.S. Route 11 traveling on Route 26 South.

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWTI) — At the Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield on Wednesday, officials from Fort Drum and the United States Army Crops of Engineers held a ground-breaking ceremony on Wednesday.

The ceremony was to highlight the beginning of construction on the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade’s new unmanned aircraft system.

Fort Drum Garrison Commander Colonel Jeffrey Lucas claimed that the event marked not only the beginning of a new construction project, but the end of a long collaborative project for the base.

“A major construction project like this only happens after years of strategic planning, environmental studies, funding requests and justifications, structural planning, contract writing, bidding and rewarding,” stated Col. Lucas. “It’s a long road to get here, and I’m incredibly proud of the many on the staff in the garrison whose ongoing work empowers readiness here every day in countless ways.”

According to Fort Drum, the new 26,000 square-foot facility will hold a portion of the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade’s Shadow Platoon. It is also designed to enhance the unit’s ability to perform maintenance on its tactical reconnaissance systems.

Additionally, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regional Business Director for North Atlantic Division Reinhard Koening stated that the focus of this new project is to deliver a quality facility in a timely manner, within budget.

10th Combat Aviation Brigade Commander Colonel Travis McIntosh added that the new hangar will meet all top three priorities of the Army chief of staff: people, modernization and readiness.

“On behalf of the 3,000 members of the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade who call Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield home, and the 11,000 family members of the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, we appreciate all of the world-class facilities that we have here to support our mission,” stated Colonel McIntosh. ‘And our mission is to fight and win our nation’s wars, and provide aviation operational support to our ground forces in the United States Army.”

Colonel McIntosh confirmed that the new hangar will ensure the maintenance of mission readiness.

This new project was first announced in September of 2020. Funding totals approximately $21.7 million through the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.

The construction contract was awarded to Structural Associates Inc. of East Syracuse. Construction is scheduled to be completed in October 2022.

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