Whether day or night in the Heartland of these United States, Hoosiers are sitting in highly secured facilities in Terre Haute, Indiana, communicating directly with operators and decision-makers around the world, providing real-time analysis of information obtained from imagery and other data collected by, and transmitted from, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the most widely recognized type of Unmanned System.
Terre Haute International Airport—Hulman Field was originally called Hulman Field, and is still referred to as such by many in the Defense community. Hulman Field is home of the U.S. Air Force 181st Intelligence Wing, and the Indiana Air National Guard 113th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS). The airfield is capable of launching, supporting, and recovering the largest UAVs. Its distance from Muscatatuck is typical to that found in overseas environments between similar air facilities and target zones. Included in the FAA's National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2011–2015, it is categorized as a general aviation facility.
Terre Haute is one of only forty-five sites around the world to host a networked site within the United States Air Force Distributed Common Ground Station (DCGS), where the Indiana Air National Guard’s 181st Intelligence Wing (IW) provides critical processing, analysis and dissemination of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, data collected by UAVs in various areas around the globe.
Terre Haute International Airport—Hulman Field has no passenger service, which allows for space available for UAV operations, but there is an outstanding Fixed Base Operator (FBO), restaurant, and other aviation businesses on site. Indiana State University currently uses Hulman Field for their aviation program and it is building a new flight school facility for 2013.
The 181st Intelligence Wing
The 181st Intelligence Wing was a flying wing until BRAC 2005 converted the 181st “Racers” into an intelligence and ground support wing. The 181st Intelligence Wing serves as a support group to armed forces deployed overseas, primarily offering intelligence analysis to ground forces and offering recommendations on the best options for close air support. It also was quick to respond in flying armed patrols over the Midwest shortly after September 11th. After the closing of the missions out of Hulman, the wing was given the new task of being a Distributive Ground Station (DGS) and an Air Support Operation Squadron (ASOS). The DGS is an intelligence based mission that is “monitoring near real time video feed from Predators, Global Hawks and other unmanned aerial vehicles hovering the skies over any military area of operation.”
While the 181st IW’s primary mission is in the defense spectrum, it has also supported humanitarian missions, including provision of imagery analysis to relief workers in Haiti following that country’s devastating earthquakes. Hoosier imagery analysts were able to quickly and capably assist in re-routing aid convoys around roads blocked by debris, accidents, or crowds.