Naval Air Station Jacksonville building new drone training facility, ‘only one of its kind in the world’
By End the Lie
The international undeclared drone war continues to increase in viciousness while drone use by the military in concert with law enforcement is now commonplace and all signs show that it is just going to get progressively worse.
Clearly the military sees drones as the future of warfare and therefore it is no surprise to learn that ground was broken on September 7, 2012 at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, in Jacksonville, Florida, for both a new training facility for unmanned aerial systems along with a maintenance training facility for the P-8A Poseidon aircraft.
The P-8A Poseidon, built by Boeing, isn’t a drone but is in fact a modified 737-800 designed for anti-submarine warfare (ASW), shipping interdiction and electronic intelligence (ELINT) built to operate in concert with the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) drone built by Northrop Grumman and used by the Navy.
The BAMS drone is closely related to the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone and is slated to go into active service in 2015, according to Popular Mechanics, while the P-8A is expected to begin to be used in 2013.
The P-8A is designed to carry a wide range of weaponry ranging from depth charges to torpedoes to the Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) and even sonobuoys for maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare.
It is interesting to note that the training facility being built at the Naval Air Station Jacksonville is dedicated to MQ-4C Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) drone and will be the first and only of its kind in all of the United States and the world for that matter.
“[T]his year new P-8A Poseidon aircraft rolled out right across the street, along with the opening of its Integrated Training Center,” noted Captain Bob Sanders, the Commanding Officer of NAS Jacksonville.
“In July we opened the Fire Scout Training Facility and today, we witnessed the groundbreaking of the U.S. Navy’s Triton MQ-4C Broad Area Maritime Surveillance unmanned aircraft system training facility. The only one of its kind in the world,” Sanders added.
The construction contract is worth $15 million and was awarded to Elkins Constructors Inc., a company headquartered in Jacksonville which has constructed a whopping 24 Wal-Mart Supercenters and 49 Lowe’s Home Centers.
Personally, I think it’s somewhat deceptive to call Elkins Constructors “a local company” seeing as they have just one location in Florida while they have two offices in Georgia.
The building schedule seems to be quite accelerated, which makes sense given the rapid rise of drone use in the United States and abroad, with construction slated to begin on September 10, 2012 and completed by December 2013.
According to Gallet, the training facility will be a single-story 8,938-square-foot building designed to train operators on the new Triton MQ-4C BAMS drone. The maintenance facility is much larger, consisting of a two-story, 58,626-square-foot building for both operational and maintenance training.
While this facility is indeed the first of its kind, it is far from the only new drone training facility, which is hardly surprising given the massive increase in their use which appears to only be the beginning.
It will be interesting to see what the future of war will look like in the United States and around the world but at the same time it is almost certain that this change will not be in a positive direction. There isn’t too much we can do other than raise awareness of the rising drone problem and attempt to push our representatives to oppose the increased use of these systems.
Unfortunately, at this point many support this technology including the governor of Virginia, with just small pockets of resistance among our so-called representatives. Hopefully with increased pressure we can make more Americans realize the quite sizeable danger posed by drone use domestically and abroad.
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