HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - State and local leaders are hoping drone research and development will be the next major industry to give the state's economy a boost. Lt. Governor Tate Reeves toured one of the companies in Hancock County gearing up to do work on unmanned aircraft. As WLOX News found-out, the Lt. Governor left Selex Galileo Incorporated quite impressed with the operation.
"Welcome to Selex Galileo Incorporated. We're glad you could take time out of your schedule to come by and see us," said Darryl Davis, Director of Selex Galileo Stennis.
Selex Galileo is located at Stennis International Airport. It's a global aeronautics company that is already deeply involved in the drone manufacturing business in Europe. Selex wants to bring some of that work to their Hancock County facility.
"We want to take the same thing we do today for manned aircraft and just implement that into the unmanned aircraft. We want to be able to compete for the installation of any packages whether it's sensors, whether it's camera systems, whether its any type of radar system, whether its any customer that wants to bring in UAV or unmanned system with any payload or package. We'd like to have the opportunity to have that business," said Davis.
Mississippi has placed a bid to become one of six drone testing centers. The Federal Aviation Administration will select six sites across the nation to test and study how to safely open national air space to drones for commercial applications.
"Technology is something we're seeing every single day, whether it be in unmanned air space or in other areas, we have to take advantage of that cause that is the wave of the future. I think that it's something these folks are clearly doing an excellent job of at Stennis and it's something we've got to continue to build on and support as a state because that is where the jobs of the future are going to be," said Mississippi Lt. Governor Tate Reeves.
Reeves and others believe Stennis Airport is the ideal place for a drone testing site.
"The biggest thing is it's not a commercial airport, so you don't have a high volume of traffic. So it's a great location strategically and tactically to do UAS work,"explained Davis.
The FAA is expected to select the first site for drone research in late summer or early fall.