A recently-passed federal bill includes funding for the 188th Fighter Wing Air National Guard’s transition to drones.
The $40 million will be divided among several similar types of units, said Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).
Pryor said part of that money will pay for six Air National Guard squadrons, including the 188th Fighter Wing's to switch over to the M-Q-9 drones.
“The 188th will get a good chunk of that,” Pryor said. “But also there's money here for training, equipment. And both of those are critical.”
Ashley McFaul and her boyfriend moved to Fort Smith all the way from Maryland for the 188th.
"I came to Fort Smith in hopes that the drone mission would stay in Fort Smith, so that my significant other would keep his job," McFaul said.
The couple said the 188th is their home.
"I'm just happy that we get to stay," she said.
McFaul said the number of jobs that will stay in the area is exciting as well.
“There is no question that a healthy and productive 188th adds jobs and keeps jobs in this community,” Pryor said.
As McFaul and her family celebrate the news, they remain thankful they won't be heading back to Maryland anytime soon.
Pryor is up for re-election in November. So far, Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) is his only announced opposition.
The switch over is scheduled to be complete by fiscal year 2020.