Christmas is in the rear-view mirror, but Fort Bragg received a gift that will keep giving for many years to come. Wolf Amacker, Fort Bragg’s range control officer, signed off on the installation’s Nijmegen Unmanned Aerial System Launch and Recovery Facility in late December. Amacker said he expects to sign off on the Ram UASL&RF later this year, as well.
Each facility cost nearly $1 million and is designed to train combined arms team and units on the proper launch and recovery operations of tactical UAS activities.
They are ideal, allowing Soldiers previously hampered by dirt or clay terrain to train regardless of weather.
“This is a direct request of Soldiers’ requirements for a need to be able to launch in all types of weather and continue to train,” Amacker said. “We took the best plans from FORSCOM (U.S. Army Forces Command) engineers and from units and merged them together.
“We’re trying to set up a standard across all of FORSCOM units for a range designed to support a shadow UAS,” said Kim Van Borkulo, general engineer, FORSCOM.
Nijmegen was closed as a drop zone in August 2016 to prepare for the UAS facility, Amacker said.
Leadership seems appreciative of the transformation.
According to Col. Jayson Gilberti, FORSCOM engineer, the facility “will definitely serve the units of Fort Bragg and our Army, in my experience and judgment, to the maximum strength possible to ensure the units’ readiness, as well as the mastery of fundamentals of reconnaissance and surveillance that the shadow platform brings to both the brigade combat teams and the combat aviation brigades in our Army.”
Features include a 1,300 by 50 foot combined runway, a 70 by 30 foot launch pad, four 12 by 10 foot tactical automatic landing systems pads, two 80 by 60 foot aircraft maintenance structures and a 40 by 20 foot classroom. The concrete runway is 5,000 psi, 2,000 psi above standard requirements, and capable of accommodating huge aircraft. Buildings can be powered by a 10-kilowatt generator.
Scheduling for facility use falls under Fort Bragg regulation 350-6, which requires six weeks to four months from the start of training date.
Its capabilities will seemingly make life easier for Soldiers.
“We won’t have to set up hangars … it will reduce the damage done to the aircraft,” said 1st Lt. Jonas Amaral, 127th Engineer Battalion.
“I think we did Fort Bragg right on this one,” said Amacker. “I think the units will like it.”