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Navy plan for MQ-25A unmanned aircraft clears last hurdle

The U.S. Navy can proceed with plans to house MQ-25A unmanned aerial vehicles at Point Mugu, Calif., after a positive environmental assessment. Photo courtesy of Boeing
The U.S. Navy can proceed with plans to house MQ-25A unmanned aerial vehicles at Point Mugu, Calif., after a positive environmental assessment. Photo courtesy of Boeing

March 17 (UPI) -- A positive environmental assessment has cleared the way for MQ-25A Stingray drones to be stationed at Point Mugu, Calif., the U.S. Navy announced on Wednesday.

The final environmental assessment indicated that no significant impact of having up to 20 Stingray CBUAS -- carrier-based unmanned air vehicles -- based at Point Mugu, a part of Naval Base Ventura County, was expected.

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The Navy's plans include construction of a hangar, training facilities, and supporting infrastructure; training and maintenance space; about 960 Stingray flights annually, and the stationing of approximately 730 personnel and their family members.

The MQ-25A is an unmanned aerial vehicle capable of mid-air refueling of fighter planes and other aircraft. First flown in 2019, the Navy expects to eventually have as many as 72 MQ-25As in use.

The Boeing-built, Rolls Royce-powered vehicles are 51 feet long, 31.3 feet wide with wings folded, 75 feet wide with wings extended, according to Boeing.

In December 2020, a warrant officer specialty for Aerial Vehicle Operators was established by the Navy, with plans to train about 450 personnel for the designation.

The AVO warrant officer will be charged with operating MQ-25 Stingray aircraft.

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The U.S. Navy announced plans for an MQ-25A Stingray squadron at Point Mugu in October 2020, with detachments sent to air wings of aircraft carriers.

The announcement on Wednesday indicates that additional environmental impact statements are not necessary, and that the Navy can proceed with its plans, according to the branch.

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