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Drone Command Center, 200-Plus Jobs Coming To Horsham

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HORSHAM, Pa. -

New jobs and new technology are coming to the former Willow Grove Naval Air Station in Horsham.

Pentagon sources confirmed Monday for FOX 29 that the United States Air Force and the Pennsylvania National Guard will announce the formation of a command center for military drones on Tuesday morning.

The base will conduct missions to fly Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs) or drones from thousands of miles away.

No aircraft will actually fly out of the base. Pilots sit in virtual cockpits on the ground while flying missions ranging from bombing to reconnaissance. The center will be in charge of piloting MQ9 "Reaper" drones.

The Pennsylvania Air National Guard's 111th Fighter Wing has been the host military entity at the Horsham Air Guard Station since the Naval base officially closed in 2011.

The new command center will reportedly bring more than 200 new military and civilian jobs to the base.

"They are controlling drones around the world," said Horsham Township Manager William Walker.

Township officials had not heard about the official announcement about the new command center but knew it could be a possibility months ago. Walker said breathing new life into what's left of the base may help it's long-term sustainability, not to mention local businesses.

"They help the local economy. They help the local businesses, the restaurants, the drug stores, supermarkets," said Walker.

The owner of the Red Lion Diner located across the street from the main gate at the Horsham Air Guard Station says the new center is a welcome shot in the arm for many businesses that have been suffering since more than 3,000 workers left the base when it closed.

"That would be great. You know, just to get 10 people a day it's going to be tremendous for us, it's going to help everybody in the area," said owner Gus Maris.

There's no word on when the drone command center will open up. But we will get more details when the official announcement comes Tuesday morning, FOX 29's Chris O'Connell reported.

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