Manufacturing giant Boeing is expanding its aerospace footprint in St. Clair County, with a 300,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility expected to be completed in early 2024. The facility at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah will bring up to 300 advanced manufacturing jobs to the Metro East area. Aircraft production is projected to begin in the start of FY ’24, and Boeing is investing $200 million into the project.
The plant will manufacture the MQ-25 Stingray, the Navy’s first carrier-based unmanned aircraft, or drone. The mission of these aircraft will be airborne tank operations, which includes refueling other aircraft in mid-air. The MQ-25 Stingray can refuel fighter jets in the air and extend their combat range.
The drone will help the Air Force because new, longer-range anti-ship missiles could force U.S. aircraft carriers to operate further from combat zones. The drones double their effective areas of operation. In addition, Super Hornet fighters currently refuel in mid-flight, but the drones would let them rest for refueling, extending their life spans and giving pilots a break.
Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company, is based in Illinois. The company is developing 34 acres of airport land with an initial 20-year lease that includes options for three 20-year renewals. Boeing plans to initially hire 150 mechanics, engineers, and support staff to build the Stingray, with more employees being added as orders increase.