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State picked for research on unmanned aircraft

By BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Published: 6/28/2012  1:04 PM
Last Modified: 6/28/2012  1:04 PM

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Gov. Mary Fallin on Thursday announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had picked Oklahoma for a research project involving unmanned aircraft used by first-responders.

Oklahoma was among six or seven states in the running for the project, which will have an initial investment of $1.4 million. The project is expected to last three years.

Work is expected to begin this fall at Oklahoma State University's Multispectral Lab test site near Lawton. The project takes advantage of the restricted airspace around Fort Sill, a U.S. military base near Lawton.

The project involves the use of unmanned aircraft by first-responders in search-and-rescue missions, response to radiological and chemical incidents, fire response and mapping.

The Oklahoma National Guard will be a player in the project.

Adjutant Gen. Myles Deering of the National Guard said it is much cheaper to use the unmanned aircraft, which can provide immediate information to first-responders.

The project is called the Department of Homeland Security Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety Program.

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