The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has selected the state of Mississippi as the new base of operations for small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), and Mississippi State University (MSU) has been selected to lead a research and development project for the DHS.
With a goal of offering support for the operations and training of homeland security, the new facility, which will be known as the DHS S&T Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Demonstration Range Facility, will be the home for UAS flight and exercise support facilities, which will provide support for the operational evaluation of UAS in different scenarios and applications.
The facility is expected to utilize approximately 2,000 square miles of restricted airspace at altitudes up to 60,000 feet.
“We anticipate the new DHS demonstration range facility will be an additional asset in the State of Mississippi’s overall economic development focus on advanced technology and highly-skilled jobs,” says MSU’s vice president for research and economic development David Shaw through press release.
The initiative will be overseen by a partnership led by Mississippi State. The partnership will also include NASA’s Stennis Space Center, the Mississippi National Guard’s Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, the Mississippi Air National Guard’s Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center, the Jackson County Port Authority and the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission.
The partnership’s members will provide facilities, expertise and personnel to give various DHS agencies such as the U.S. Coast Guard, the Secret Service, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the ability to conduct specialized evaluation and training.
The offerings from the partners will also allow the DHS S&T to conduct various forms of training and exercises for simulated scenarios such as disaster relief, highway and rail accidents, and containment of hazardous materials spills.
The state of Mississippi, and MSU, have both been active in the UAS industry over the past few years through a number of different programs and initiative, and Dallas Brooks, director of MSU’s Raspet Flight Research Laboratory, believes that the state and MSU are both well positioned to continue productive work locally, for a national cause.
“Mississippi is fast becoming the nation’s hub as public and private partners work to successfully — and safely — integrate UAS into our national airspace system, and Mississippi State is leading the way,” Brooks says.
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