Drone complex

An aerial view of the ongoing construction of the $22 million unmanned aerial system complex at West Fort Hood near Robert Gray Army Airfield.

U.S. Army photo

Fort Hood was awarded more than $50 million for new construction in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2013.

Two new training facilities and the post’s first-ever “drone” complex were funded under the President’s Budget for Military Programs as Military Construction, Army projects.

In past years, Fort Hood averaged about $80 million to $100 million for this type of construction, said Brian Dosa, director of Fort Hood’s Directorate of Public Works.

“It’s a little bit less than what we are used to in the past, but I think it shows the future,” he said. “The Army has said we’re going to build much, much less new and work on renovating our old facilities and taking care of what we have. We’re not tremendously excited about that, but that’s the way it is. It’s a reflection of our country’s fiscal realities.”

The $22 million unmanned aerial system complex will be built at West Fort Hood near Robert Gray Army Airfield, and will be utilized by Fox and Echo Companies — drone units operating within the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Air Cavalry Brigade. Fox is currently deployed to Afghanistan and Echo is training under the 21st Cavalry Brigade. A 14,900-square-foot administrative building and a motor pool were funded in the budget to accompany a UAS hangar funded in the 2011 budget, Dosa said. The project will widen Mohawk Road from two to four lanes in one section.

Part of the complex will open in mid-2014, with the rest following by June 2015. Once completed, the complex will be the first of its kind.

The two companies operate the Gray Eagle system, which can conduct reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition, as well as attack operations.

“We have a proposal in to the Army for Fort Hood to become a UAS training center for the whole Army,” Dosa said. Fort Hood’s previous commander signed off on the recommendation, which has not been approved.

Training facilities

Elsewhere on post, two training facilities set to receive funding are “badly needed,” Dosa said.

The first is a $24 million, 160,975-square-foot training aids center to support training across Fort Hood.

“We are excited about that project, because it’s going to support the training of soldiers and units,” Dosa said.

Expected to be completed in 2015, the facility will be built to the standard Army design, replacing the makeshift facilities the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security operates out of now, which Dosa described as undersized, antiquated, World War II-era wooden buildings.

Public works’ master plan of Fort Hood blocks the entire post into campuses. The aids center will be built at the training campus — a section between Murphy Road and South Range Road where the Medical Simulation Training Center and the Engagement Skills Trainer are located.

Across the street from the future aids center, more than $4 million was allocated to modify the Pilot Knob range to a record fire range. The existing range accommodates the AT-4 weapon and will be converted to 16 lanes where soldiers can qualify on the M-16 and M-4, Dosa said. It is set to be completed in the fall of 2014.

John Burrow, chief of master planning for public works, said these projects fall in line with the Army’s mission to be trained and ready, even as the war in Afghanistan is winding down.

“It doesn’t mean soldiers don’t come back and not train,” he said. “They come back and continue to train, and these projects help support that.”

Contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

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