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  • This map from a June 2011 US Air Force presentation lists "Mt. Washington" as a base for Wasp and Raven drones, or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), that are overseen by Special Operations Command, or SOCOM.
  • This map is included in a 2010 presentation about Unmanned Aircraft Systems given by a director at the Unmanned Warfare office of the Department of Defense.
Friday, June 15, 2012

Military says drone aircraft are based at or near Mount Washington

FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE: Special Operations Command spokesman Ken McGraw says that group “does not have a UAS/UAV base in New Hampshire.” He says Wasp and Raven drones are “Army pieces of equipment,” issued to Army special operations units.

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Unmanned drone aircraft have been based on or around Mount Washington by the military, according to presentations given by the Department of Defense and Air Force in 2010 and 2011, but it’s not clear when or why.

“Mt. Washington” is listed as the location for the basing of small unmanned drones in both an April 2010 presentation given by Dyke Weatherington, deputy director of the unmanned warfare section of the Department of Defense, and a June 2011 presentation by Lt. Col. Maggie Howard of the U.S. Air Force Safety Branch.

Both presentations, which are available online, indicate the Mount Washington operation is overseen by Special Operations Command, which oversees worldwide use of special operations elements of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Mount Washington is the only location in New England where drones were listed as being based.

The presentation indicates that the Mount Washington operation involved small drones, models known as Wasp and Raven.

A Wasp drone can weigh less than a pound, so small they can be launched by a slingshot, while the Raven usually weighs around 4-6 pounds and can be launched by hand.

Both are powered by electric motors and according to publicly released information are used for reconnaissance, carrying cameras or other recording gear. The Raven in particular has had extensive use in Iraq and Afghanistan wars, since it can fly as high as 15,000 feet above sea level at speeds of 30-60 mph.

Neither presentation gives any specifics about the Mount Washington listing, such as location or purpose or how often the drones fly.

The next closest operation is in New Jersey, although several locations in upstate New York were listed in both presentations as future sites for drones.

Calls to the Department of Defense, Air Force and the Special Operations Command were made by The Telegraph, but no more information was available Thursday.

The listings were first made available Wednesday by the group Public Intelligence, a 3-year-old international nonprofit that provides documents, analysis and “open-source intelligence products from the private and public sector,” arguing that it can help “engender a more informed and proactive populace.”

When contacted by The Telegraph, the group said it had no more information about the Mount Washington listing.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or dbrooks@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Brooks’ blog on Twitter (@GraniteGeek).