Boeing plan doesn’t impact Cannon search

Freedom Newspapers

Boeing’s plans to use the Melrose Bombing Range for robotic airplane training flights are unrelated to the search for a new mission for Cannon Air Force Base, according to an Air Force spokeswoman.

It has “no impact on the (Base Realignment and Closure) recommendation regarding Cannon (Air Force Base),” Air Force spokeswoman Shirley Curry wrote Thursday in an e-mail to the Clovis News Journal.

Continued use of the bombing range depends upon whether Boeing obtains future contracts from the U.S. military to supply the aircraft, according to Boeing spokesperson Chick Ramey.

Boeing officials announced Wednesday training flights for the unmanned aerial vehicles, called ScanEagles, would be conducted at Melrose Bombing Range beginning this summer. Negotiations to utilize Clovis Community College classrooms for training are pending, officials have said.

Four feet long with a 10-foot wing span, ScanEagles have been used by the Marines and Navy in Iraq, and send real-time video images to troops on the ground, Boeing officials have said.

The BRAC Commission directed the U.S. Department of Defense to find a new mission for Cannon or close the base by 2010. Cannon’s fleet of F-16 jets were reassigned to various military installations across the nation as part of the process.