As the need and scope of the military’s unmanned systems continues to grow, the Navy plans to establish a command devoted to aviation drones this fall.

Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two Four (UX24) will come into existence at Webster Outlying Field in Maryland in October, according to an OPNAV instruction issued in April.

UX24’s mission will involve providing research, development, testing and other support for Navy and Marine Corps drone systems.

That mission is currently performed by Naval Test Wing Atlantic, but growth in the field requires a command solely focused on the aviation drone mission, the OPNAV states.

The Navy’s aerial drone fleet has grown to run the gamut in recent years, and ranges from smaller models to plans for the MQ-25, a drone that will be able to refuel manned aircraft midflight.

Under the sea, the Navy announced last year the establishment of an underwater drone squadron, which will eventually oversee all things unmanned and submersible.

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at

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