Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is one of three finalists to become the home of a new active-duty squadron.
If selected, 280 jobs would come to Tucson.
The other finalists are Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii and Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina. A choice could be made as early as next month.
Once it finds a home base, the unit will handle unmanned aerial vehicles, but no remotely piloted aircraft would come to Tucson.
The group here would be a ground control station for MQ-1B Predators and MQ-9 Reapers used on air-support and intelligence missions.
The Air Force will send a team of majors and lieutenant colonels here to evaluate D-M on various criteria to see how well it suits the mission, said Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokeswoman.
The criteria include mission requirements, training requirements, facilities and infrastructure, support capacity, environmental impacts and cost.
Gov. Jan Brewer said she is "thrilled" D-M is a finalist and pledged to help the evaluation team, because "a strong military makes for a strong Arizona."
A draft resolution from the Pima County Board of Supervisors to support the selection of D-M lists more than a dozen reasons why Tucson would be a good home for the squadron. Among them: Similar units and support services are already based in the region, there's room to grow at D-M, and Tucson has clear skies and no hurricanes.
Did you know?
Cruising speed for an MQ-9 Reaper is about 230 mph.
Contact reporter Becky Pallack at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4346.