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Maffei observes training mission at Oswego Coast Guard Station

Gino Geruntino/WRVO

Rep. Dan Maffei observed a maritime exercise using unmanned aerial vehicles for civilian search and rescue in Oswego on Wednesday. Members of the U.S. Coast Guard and the 174th Attack Wing of the Air National Guard participated in the training.

Maffei, D-Syracuse, says the UAVs, called MQ-9 Reapers, used in the training rescue missions could save more time, money and lives compared to the current search measures.

"They had a rescue not too long ago and somebody fell overboard," Maffei said. "They were able to find the person but it took many, many hours and they were only able to find them once it got dark, because they had a light. If you have an aircraft up there, constant surveillance, that's not a problem.

The congressman also says coordination between the 174th, the U.S. Coast Guard, civilian groups and Canadian Coast Guard members makes the training more successful.

"It really is amazing what they're able to do with that level of cooperation," Maffei said. "So in a time when budgets are real tight, you can actually see that there could be significant savings for using these aircraft in this way."

While in Oswego, Maffei also toured the 174th Attack Wing's mobile operations unit and the U.S. Coast Guard station.