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Boeing will build drone production facility at MidAmerica Airport

Boeing and Illinois government leaders will be in Mascoutah Friday to officially announce a drone production facility planned at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport.

Boeing will announce a manufacturing project to build drones for the U.S. Navy. Among those expected to be present are the governor and U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin.

The announcement formalizes private and public discussions that have been underway for more than a year.

Boeing’s existing presence at MidAmerica includes the Boeing St. Clair site, which supports manufacturing operations that produce components for the CH-47 Chinook, F/A-18 Super Hornet and other defense products, as well as numerous flight test operations for the F-15EX Eagle II, MQ-25 Stingray and eT-7A Red Hawk programs.

A group of dignitaries will gather at 1 p.m. in the main terminal of the airport.

Here is Boeing’s official release on the subject, announced this morning:

Boeing [NYSE: BA] will build the Navy’s newest carrier-based aircraft at a new high-tech facility in Illinois, bringing the benefits of digital aircraft design and production to the Navy and up to 300 advanced manufacturing jobs to the greater St. Louis region.

The new 300,000 square-foot facility at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport, scheduled for completion in 2024, initially will employ approximately 150 mechanics, engineers and support staff who will build the MQ-25TM StingrayTM, the Navy’s first operational, carrier-based unmanned aircraft. Employment could reach up to 300 with additional orders.

“The world’s largest aerospace company is doubling down on Illinois because of our unparalleled assets in the transportation and logistics sector and the world-class talent of our people,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “To prepare our communities for the future, my administration is committed to making continued investments that will modernize our airports, spark new innovation and bring jobs and economic opportunities to our communities from Chicago to St. Clair and beyond. I want to thank the Boeing Company for their vote of confidence in Illinois, as well as St. Clair County leadership and the MidAmerica Airport team for giving companies another reason to choose Illinois.”

Boeing digitally engineered the entire MQ-25 aircraft and its systems, resulting in high-fidelity models that are used to drive quality, efficiency and flexibility throughout the production and sustainment process. The new MQ-25 facility will include state-of-the-art manufacturing processes and tools, including robotic automation and advanced assembly techniques, to improve product quality and employee ergonomics.

“The team and state-of-the-art technology we’re bringing to the Navy’s MQ-25 program is unprecedented, and we’re incredibly proud to be expanding both as we build the future of autonomous systems in Illinois,” said Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Autonomous Systems, Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “We’ve received great support from MidAmerica Airport and countless dedicated employees, and we’re excited to build the Navy’s first operational, carrier-based unmanned aircraft right here in the Metro East.”

For two years, Boeing and the Navy have been flight testing the Boeing-owned MQ-25 test asset from MidAmerica Airport, where in recent history-making missions T1 has refueled an F/A-18 Super Hornet, an E-2D Hawkeye and an F-35C Lightning II. 

The U.S. Navy intends to procure more than 70 MQ-25 aircraft to help extend the range of the carrier air wing, and the majority of those will be built in the new facility. Boeing is currently producing the first seven MQ-25 aircraft, plus two ground test articles, at its St. Louis facilities, and they will be transported to MidAmerica for flight test. The MQ-25 program office, including its core engineering team, will remain based in St. Louis.

The new MQ-25 facility will be in addition to existing manufacturing operations at Boeing St. Clair, which produces components for the CH-47 Chinook, F/A-18 Super Hornet, F-15 and other defense products.

PHOTO: Boeing will build the U.S. Navy’s MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial refueler at a new 300,000-square-foot facility at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Illinois. The facility will feature state-of-the-art manufacturing processes and tools, including robotic automation and advanced assembly techniques, to improve product quality and employee ergonomics. (Boeing Photo)

 

Following is a release from St. Clair County Government.

PLANS FOR NEW BOEING FACTORY CONTRIBUTE TO CONTINUING GROWTH

AT MIDAMERICA ST. LOUIS AIRPORT

MidAmerica St. Louis Airport (BLV) and St. Clair County, Illinois, today welcome the official announcement that Boeing will be developing its newest factory at the airport in Mascoutah, Ill., where the Navy’s newest carrier-based aircraft will be built. The new state-of-the-art facility for the production of the MQ-25TM StingrayTM represents an expansion of Boeing’s existing presence at MidAmerica Airport, which includes the Boeing St. Clair site supporting manufacturing operations that produce components for the CH-47 Chinook, F/A-18 Super Hornet and other defense products, as well as numerous flight operations for the F-15, MQ-25 Stingray and eT-7A Red Hawk programs.

“This project represents a significant milestone in the continued growth and development of the airport and wouldn’t have been possible without the support of federal, state and local officials and representatives, including the City of Mascoutah and the Mascoutah School Board,” said St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern. “Beyond the airport, development of an aerospace production facility of this size and scope will contribute to the local, regional and state economies through significant job creation and new spending.”

As details of the project and its potential impact on the region were revealed in recent months, the regional support was unanimous, with leaders on both sides of the river signaling their approval for the plans to bring the development to St. Clair County.

Airport Director Bryan Johnson added, “The project will generate significant revenue for the airport, increase operations, reinforce our strong relationship with Boeing, catalyze further development at the airport and create further synergies with Scott Air Force Base.”

The new approximately 300,000 square-foot facility at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport, scheduled for completion in 2024, initially will employ approximately 150 mechanics, engineers and support staff who will build the MQ-25 Stingray, the Navy’s first operational, carrier-based unmanned aircraft. Employment could reach up to 300 with additional orders.

“The team and state-of-the-art technology we’re bringing to the Navy’s MQ-25 program is unprecedented, and we’re incredibly proud to be expanding both as we build the future of autonomous systems in Illinois,” said Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Autonomous Systems, Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “We’ve received great support from MidAmerica Airport and countless dedicated employees, and we’re excited to build the Navy’s first operational, carrier-based unmanned aircraft right here in the Metro East.”

 

The addition of the new Boeing facility is the latest positive news for MidAmerica St. Louis airport, which is home to several other industrial tenants and also continues to see growth in its passenger service. During July 2021, MidAmerica St. Louis Airport had a new record-breaking month for enplaned passenger boardings as 27,505 travelers flew through the airport. The airport expects to set a new all-time high passenger-enplanement record for 2021. Those passengers are taking advantage of the affordable, convenient opportunities to travel to one of twelve destinations currently served by Allegiant from MidAmerica, including Charleston, Daytona Beach, Destin/Ft. Walton Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix/Mesa, Ft. Myers/Punta Gorda, Sarasota/Bradenton, Savannah, and Tampa Bay/St. Pete.

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