Boeing to build Navy drones at Mascoutah Airport, Ill.
Boeing Co. is building a production facility at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah which will be used to manufacture the first US Navy aircraft refueling drones.
Representatives of the defense contractor will join Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and other state and local officials for a Friday afternoon press conference at the airport to announce the project.
Boeing plans to move 150 jobs from the St. Louis area and create 150 new jobs for engineers, mechanics and support staff once the facility opens.
“The fact that the world’s largest aerospace company doubles Illinois is a testament to our unmatched strengths in transportation and logistics and the world-class talent of our people,” Pritzker said in a prepared statement.
Boeing has already started moving land for the 300,000 square foot facility, according to spokesperson Kurt LaBelle. It will be built on 34 acres that the company leases from MidAmerica, which is owned by St. Clair County.
The land is near Illinois 4, just south of the airport entrance. Boeing expects the installation to be completed by 2024.
“The team and advanced technology we bring to the Navy’s MQ-25 program are unparalleled, and we are incredibly proud to expand both as we build the future of autonomous systems in Illinois,” said Kristin of Boeing. Robertson said in a statement.
“We have received great support from MidAmerica Airport and countless dedicated employees, and we are delighted to build the Navy’s first operational and airborne unmanned aircraft right here in the Eastern Metropolitan Region.”
Robertson is President and CEO of Autonomous Systems, Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “Automatic” is another word for unmanned in the industry.
Boeing won an $ 805 million contract with the US Navy in 2018 to design and produce four MQ-25 Stingray tests. Unmanned airplanes (tankers) can refuel fighter jets in the air, thereby extending their combat range, according to the company’s website.
Last year, Boeing was contracted to produce three more MQ-25s for $ 84.7 million. There is a test aircraft, known as the T1, in service today. It took a big step forward this spring, according to a June 7 press release from the company.
“The MQ-25 T1 successfully extended the hose and drug from its US Navy-issued Air Refueling Store (ARS) and safely transferred jet fuel to an F / A-18 Super Hornet from the US Navy, demonstrating the ability of the MQ-25 Stingray to perform its primary air-to-air refueling mission, ”he said.
The T1 refueled an E-2D Hawkeye in August and an F-35C Lightning II on September 13. In each case, a pilot from the Navy’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 took off from MidAmerica.
The St. Clair County Public Building Commission, which oversees MidAmerica, approved a deal on Aug.31 to allow Boeing to develop 34 acres of airport land and lease it for 20 years.
The agreement includes an option for three 20-year renewals, totaling 80 years of possible lease.
Boeing provided a large one-page synopsis to the commission, promising “significant job creation”, economic development for the region and “significant income” for the county.
Boeing will pay $ 65,000 in rent the first year, then about $ 450,000 a year, according to MidAmerica director Bryan Johnson.
“All income from the lease will be returned to the airport for investment or operation and maintenance projects,” he said after the county approved the lease.
Two additional MidAmerica plots may be available for Boeing’s expansion in the future, Johnson told the committee. The company already has an airport facility, producing components for combat aircraft, commercial aircraft and military helicopters.
Boeing’s plan to build the MQ-25 facility was made possible in part by an EDGE (Economic Development for a Growing Economy) agreement with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunities, according to a press release. of the ministry.
Boeing has reportedly promised to invest at least $ 200 million in the airport project over 15 years. The press release did not say how much the company will receive in tax credits.
“My administration is committed to making continued investments that will modernize our airports, spark new innovations, and bring jobs and economic opportunities to our communities from Chicago to St. Clair and beyond,” Pritzker said in its statement. .
“I want to thank The Boeing Company for their vote of confidence in Illinois, as well as the leaders of St. Clair County and the MidAmerica Airport team for giving companies yet another reason to choose Illinois. .
This story was originally published September 17, 2021 5:00 a.m.