This is a list of United States drone bases, which contains military bases from which the United States operates unmanned aerial vehicles. We like to think of drone warfare as something far away, being waged in the deserts of Yemen or in the mountains of Afghanistan. But now we know that it's closer than we thought. There are 64 drone bases on U.S.
soil. This includes 12 locations that house Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles, which may be armed. From takeoff until it leaves the line of sight, the drone is controlled by a direct data link from a ground control station. When the drone leaves the line of sight, the ground control station switches to a satellite link to control the aircraft.
The drone also uses GPS to transmit its position. If the communication link is lost, the drone is programmed to fly autonomously in circles or return to the base until the link can be reconnected. The Army has also conducted unmanned aerial vehicle training exercises at the Dugway testing ground in Utah and, earlier this year, the Navy launched its X-47B, a next-generation semi-autonomous stealth drone, on its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Since then, that flying robot designed to operate from the decks of aircraft carriers has been sent to Maryland's Patuxent River Naval Air Station for further tests.
At nearby Webster Field, the Navy discovered problems with its Fire Scout unmanned helicopter, which was also tested at Fort Rucker and Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, as well as at the Mayport and Jacksonville naval stations in Florida. This last base was also where the Navy's wide-area maritime surveillance unmanned aerial system (BAMS) was developed. It is now based there and at the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in Washington State. During the Bush presidency, while the United States increased its drone fleets, the country began wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and carried out limited attacks in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia, using drones in at least four of those countries.
While Creech gets most of the media attention, it even has its own drones on site. Many other bases on U.S. soil have played a critical role in America's drone wars. With the assassination of al-Awlaki, the Obama administration expanded its armed drone campaign to no less than six countries, although the CIA, which killed al-Awlaki, refuses to officially recognize its drone assassination program.
Despite frequent news of the drone assassination campaign launched in support of the growing undeclared wars in the United States and a series of stories about drone bases in Africa and the Middle East, most of these facilities have gone unnoticed, untold and, until now, remarkably anonymous. At Beale Air Force Base in California, Air Force personnel pilot the RQ-4 Global Hawk, an unmanned drone used for long-range and high-altitude surveillance missions, some of them originating at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam (a stage for drone flights over Asia). Military drones have crashed in major accidents around the world since 2001, a record of calamities that exposes the possible dangers of opening American skies to drone traffic, according to a year-long Washington Post investigation.