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Sierra Receives More Federal Funding for Military Work

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Various technology used by the US military in the war against Iraq was created by Sierra Research in Cheektowaga, and with more federal funding on the way the work will continue. Sierra has created systems for military transport jets and warfare training programs.

Transport jets that delivered military equipment and personnel to Iraq include a flying navigation device developed by Sierra. It was originally crafted by the company in 1960s. The devices allow the aircraft to fly in formation in any type of weather. The transport jumbo jets include a drop zone detector that allows cargo to be released from parachutes.

Sierra Research declined to conduct a recorded interview due to the sensitivity of work it conducts for the military. But Western New York Congressman Jack Quinn says with US military men and women engaging in battle overseas, it emphasizes the importance of Sierra's work.

Just last week, Quinn and Congressman Tom Reynolds secured $1 million in federal funds to provide more military work for Sierra. Quinn says the funding will provide a "wide band network" for manned and unmanned aircraft flights.

"In laymen's terms, it means that we are doing some work that would allow us to have unmanned air vehicles in the theater of war where we don't have to put men and women at risk," Quinn said.

Quinn says over the last couple of years funding has also been provided for what is called a "smart target system."

"This is the type of thing that allows troops to use technology to find out where a threat is coming from so they can be prepared it," Quinn explained.

Quinn says funding will be provided for other on-going programs Sierra conducts, including the unmanned aerial vehicles known as drones.

"They (drones) will be able to communicate with each other, other aircraft and ground troops," Quinn said. "This is something else they are working on, but we cannot discuss specifics.

"Not only do we put the drones up so they can conduct what needs to be done with communication, but also the communication that takes place with ground troops and vehicles half a mile ahead or half a mile behind."

Siera was founded in 1957, and is now one of the industry leaders in developing and manufacturing electronic systems for the defense and aerospace industry. Quinn says it's "amazing" to have this technology aiding the nation in "our own back yard."