JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Unmanned military drones. They can cross enemy lines without putting an American life at risk. They can take out terrorists with deadly accuracy. And now, the command center for those unmanned aircraft is NAS Jacksonville.
"Jax NAS is increasing its importance to the United States Navy," said Senator Bill Nelson.
He made the announcement Monday at the Westside naval base. NAS Jax will be the operational hub for drones, which he says will be an eye in the sky over the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and the Persian Gulf. Drone pilots will also train here.
"It makes no difference where the pilots are," said Senator Nelson. "They can be here and they can be flying the UAV on the other side of the planet." He went on to say, "The pilot of tomorrow is operating on a keyboard and ball."
He says the drones have proven to be a valuable tool in the war on terror. "It has allowed the United States to basically decapitate the leadership of al-Qaeda."
And making Jacksonville a hub, makes the naval base a major player in homeland security. "It's another indication that Jax NAS is a place of the future," said Senator Nelson.
He says most of the drones will be launched from Navy ships. Construction on the operations facility is already underway.