High-ranking military officials, Republican Party politicians, and national defense industry businesspeople from seventeen states surveyed booths and shuffled into the lecture hall of the Mid-America Science Park in Scottsburg on Wednesday. The Mid America Defense Conference showcased the developing high tech applications of un-manned aerial vehicles, or drones, like those currently in use by the U.S. military in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Jeff Hauser says southern Indiana’s proximity to military installations means it has huge growth potential for drone development.
“We have so many assets that people are not aware of that we can take advantage of in the state of Indiana,” he says. “And right now with the FAA trying to announce 6 test sights to try and fly unmanned systems we’re in a perfect place. We’re one of the few areas with restricted airspace with a runway that you could go ahead and fly these systems in.”
National Center for Complex Operations Executive Director Matt Konkler says Indiana lawmakers and business entrepreneurs like him are hoping to make the state a leader in high tech development in order to tap into lucrative defense department contracts.
“There is a defense department report that was put out last year that states that $95 billion will be spent in this industry in the next eight years,” he says. “$95 billion is a significant amount of money and if we’re privy to even a small percentage of that in the region, that’ll be a good thing.”
Around 150 people attended the conference.