FORT IRWIN, Calif., Jan. 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District along with officials and contractors broke ground at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, beginning the construction of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft System facility.
The facility will include a 52,000 square-foot hangar, aircraft container storage, taxiway, repair shops, and a parking lot. Additional work includes repairs to the existing runway, taxiway and access apron.
"This project is one that will make a significant contribution to the National Training Center's ability to conduct tough and realistic training," Los Angeles District commander Col. Kirk Gibbs said in a statement. "The Los Angeles District Fort Irwin Team pushed hard to award this contract."
Construction is expected to be complete by 2017.
The MQ-1C Gray Eagle is an unmanned aerial vehicle follow-up to the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator in service with the U.S. Army. The aircraft is designed as a medium-altitude long endurance vehicle, and can be used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. It can also carry a payload of 800 pounds, including armaments such as Hellfire missiles.
Modifications to its Predator predecessor include increased horsepower and fuel efficiency. The Gray Eagle can use both jet and diesel fuel.