The consultation period has been over for a couple of months now, when residents of North East Florida were given the opportunity to file comments on the initial draft of the drone base proposal.
We obviously don’t know what comments were submitted yet, though the proposal was very clear that there would be no significant environmental impact on the immediate area if the Mayport Naval station was expanded to become a drone base.
It’s not the only location being considered, there are two other possible sites for the baseing of the MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System according to the Naval spokesman in charge of liaising with the community. The plan is to establish a major base which would include a launch and recovery sites for four of the unmanned aircraft. The center would also become a maintenance center for the drones which are used extensively by the Navy in current operations.
The MQ-4C is one of the most advanced drones in the world and the country’s military is very keen to expand it’s use. The drones can fly for approximately 24 hours and have the capacity to survey over 2.5 million square miles in one single operation. The other sites being considered are Key West Naval Station and the NASA flight facility that is based on Wallops Island.
All the comments are now being considered and will be included in the final overall and environmental assessment. The draft failed to highlight any major issues with Mayport or indeed either of the other two sites which are being considered. There were some minor issues but these were expected and could be easily rectified. The Navy are confident that any of the sites could provide landing strips and a support base.
There is a fascinating documentary available on the BBC website about the development of drones and their use in the military – which you can find here. Where you can learn all about the history of these unmanned aircraft which are likely to play an increasing role in the modern military and possibly in the future of Mayport. If you have difficulty accessing the BBC site due to region locking you can try using this system which people use to bypass the Netflix blocking VPN access which also works for the BBC too.