WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Robins Air Force Base leaders say their economic engine is pumping strong. Community leaders met Thursday afternoon for the annual, State of the Base event.
In 2022, the base brought in more than $3.57 billion to Georgia's economy. They say Robins paid out $1.7 billion dollars in salaries, and the majority of that went to civilians working on the base.
Other topics included hiring trends and new missions. The base is working to bring four new missions.
These missions include an airborne command and control squadron. flying the E-11 Battlefield Airborne Communications unit, an Advanced Battle Management System, and a Spectrum Warfare group.
Megan Western shares why the base says four new missions are necessary.
"Those planes were built when the world did not know who the Beatles were, so let that sink in," Colonel David J. Rice said referring to the J-STARS.
They're saying goodbye this year to J-STARS, their flying surveillance system unit.
"We are going to continue to modernize, we are going to continue to innovate, we are going to continue to increase the viability of this institution here at Robins," Colonel Lindsay Droz said.
Colonel Droz says their national defense strategy focus is to ensure that the war fighter is dominating their competition.
"We're facing authoritarian regimes such as people Republic of China, and Peoples Republic of China, to be frank, are showing increased intent and capability to destroy the world order," Droz said.
In response, base leaders say the U.S. is strengthening its defense by advancing with technology.
That means four new missions coming to Robins.
"These four missions that are coming to Robins are huge for the base, huge for the National Defense strategy, and all of these mission sets are going to play a major role in our national defense probably 2035 and way beyond that," Colonel Christopher Dunlap said.
He says they aren't just expecting increased security, but an increase in their 22,000 person work force.
"What we've come to find out is these next missions are so critically important with the technology change so it's actually going to be a growth," Colonel Dunlap said.
They also plan to increase partnerships in education. They currently have partnerships with several Georgia universities.
Colonel Brian Clough says it's important to get students starting young.
"We need to get into the kindergarten level, all the way up through the university level. At the very least instill curiosity for STEM and at the very least a passion for STEM," Colonel Clough said.
As for the future of J-STARS, the base expected to retire them in early 2024 but now plans to shut them down in November 2023.
The base is looking to hire for all types of employees, from daycare workers to engineers.
They're mostly looking for people with STEM degrees, especially computer scientists.