Jacksonville, Fl. - Naval Station Mayport has been selected by the U.S. Navy to house a new drone squadron.
Mayport becomes the East Coast home base for the Navy’s MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle, which has the capability to fly for more than 24 hours at a time and survey over 2.7 million square miles in one flight.
Mayport was selected to take on the eight Triton drones and up to 400 sailors and their families as part of the program, and was chosen over Naval Air Station Key West and the NASA Flight Facility at Wallops Island, Virginia.
Construction on the necessary facilities will begin this year with the first Triton aircraft scheduled to arrive in 2020. A hangar and ramp to be specially built in Mayport is estimated to cost $42.2 million.
“The MQ-4C Triton’s advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities bring enhanced battlespace awareness for the fleet to achieve full spectrum superiority,” Navy Adm. Phil Davidson said in a statement.
In April of last year, Florida Senator Bill Nelson sent a letter to the secretary of the Navy, advocating for Naval Station Mayport and Naval Air Station Key West:
"As you are aware, both installations meet the requirements established by the Department of the Navy as current operations at both airfields are compatible with MQ-4C operations, both airfields provide direct access to overwater operating areas without land overflight, and both installations have existing airfield facilities with the capacity and capability to meet the start-up and on-going operation schedule of the MQ-4C."
The Triton aircraft is 48 ft. long with a wingspan of 131 feet and will be conducting most missions over international waters.
Good news for Jacksonville! A new squadron of Navy drones – and 400 sailors – are heading to Mayport.— Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) February 15, 2017