Boeing [NYSE: BA] will build the Navy’s newest carrier plane 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 in the large area of St. Louis.
The new 300,000 square foot facility at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport, scheduled for completion in 2024, will initially employ around 150 mechanics, engineers and support staff who will build the MQ-25™ Ray™, the Navy’s first operational and on-board unmanned aircraft. Employment could reach up to 300 with additional orders.
Boeing digitally designed the entire MQ-25 aircraft and its systems, resulting in high-fidelity models that are used to improve quality, efficiency and flexibility throughout the production process and of maintenance. The new MQ-25 facility will feature advanced manufacturing processes and tools, including robotic automation and advanced assembly techniques, to improve product quality and employee ergonomics.
“The world’s largest aerospace company doubles its focus on Illinois due to our unmatched strengths in transportation and logistics and the world-class talent of our people,“said the governor JB Pritzker. “To prepare our communities for the future, 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. I want to thank Boeing Corporation for its vote of confidence in Illinois, as well as the St. Clair County leaders and the MidAmerica Airport team for giving companies yet another reason to choose Illinois.. “
“The team and cutting edge 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.,” noted Kristin robertson, vice president and general manager of autonomous systems, Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “We have received great support from MidAmerica Airport and countless dedicated employees, and we are excited to build the Navy’s first operational, airborne unmanned aircraft right here in the Eastern Metropolitan Region.. “
For two years, Boeing and the Navy flew the Boeing-owned MQ-25 from MidAmerica Airport, where, on recent historic missions, T1 refueled an F / A-18 Super Hornet, an E- 2D Hawkeye and an F-35C Lightning II.
The US Navy intends to procure more than 70 MQ-25 aircraft to help extend the carrier’s air wing range, and the majority of these will be built at the new facility. Boeing is currently producing the first seven MQ-25 aircraft, along with two ground test items, at its St. Louis facility, and they will be transported to MidAmerica for flight testing. The MQ-25 program office, including its core engineering team, will remain based in St. Louis.
The new MQ-25 facility will complement existing manufacturing operations at Boeing St. Clair, which produces components for the CH-47 Chinook, F / A-18 Super Hornet, F-15 and other products from defense.