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Company previews ambitious proposal involving Inyokern Airport, foreign military

A national company will be making a major presentation and pitch to the Indian Wells Valley Airport District Board of Directors Thursday: relocate some foreign allied military presence from China Lake to Inyokern Airport.

Representatives from Alion, an East Coast company, gave a sneak peek at what that might look like Wednesday afternoon at the Ridgecrest Exchange Club.

According to Christopher Amos, senior vice president and general manager of Alion's Systems Solution Business Unit, the end goal is to build an international campus facility to accommodate military allies who utilize Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake's airfield and ranges for their own weapon systems testing.

"Last year, we came to China Lake and the mission was to see if there were contract opportunities," Amos said. "We are primarily a technology company and China Lake does a lot of technology development, so we thought it would be a good fit."

Amos said in speaking with Cameron Bruce from Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division during that visit, there may be other opportunities for Alion.

"During the conversation, we were talking about things that were on the Navy's collective mind in terms of what was going on at China Lake," he said. One of the points discussed was China Lake's role as key implementors of the U.S. Strategic Initiative to involve our foreign partners.

China Lake serves as home to United Kingdom and Australian military aviation presences, as well as visiting allies like the Finish military. They utilize China Lake's airspace and ranges to test their weapon systems.

"One of the things pointed out is that there is not enough capacity to deal with all the foreign military that ask to come to China Lake to train with the Navy or test their systems," Amos said. "He [Cameron] said the backup gets so bad that they have to turn work away, and that's not good for the Navy at China Lake because if you have a customer you keep turning away, at some point they're going to stop asking."

He noted on the way out of Indian Wells Valley, he passed by Inyokern Airport along with Alion's Padraic McDermott, assistant vice president and accounts manager and Alion consultant Patti Brady of One World Consortium.

"I turned to Padraic and Patti and said 'I wonder if that airport could be used to house some of those foreign nationals, and maybe Alion could help the Navy out with a place to house some of those airplanes," Amos said. "Maybe that could take some of the burden off China Lake and make room for more U.S. work." 

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