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Proposed Relocation of US Navy Drone Squadron to Hawaiʻi

January 8, 2014, 9:35 AM HST · Updated January 8, 9:37 AM
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 Photo by Sgt. Eric Warren, courtesy State of Hawaiʻi Dept. of Health, Environmental Assessment.

Photo by Sgt. Eric Warren, courtesy State of Hawaiʻi Dept. of Health, Environmental Assessment.

By Wendy Osher

The US Navy has prepared a Draft Environmental Assessment seeking approval to relocate a drone squadron from California to Hawaiʻi.

The Marine Unmanned Aerial Squadron Three is currently stationed at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California.

According to the Draft Environmental Assessment, the proposal includes the relocation of unmanned aircraft systems and about 480 personnel and dependents to Marine Corps Base Hawaiʻi Kāne‘ohe Bay.  It also calls for the operation of unmanned aircraft training within existing Hawaiʻi military training airspace.

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The document states that the purpose of the proposal is to address an existing US Marine Corp deficiency in Hawai‘i by ensuring that Marine forces are sufficiently manned, trained, and equipped.  The action is also intended to provide a balance of US Marine Corp capabilities in the Pacific region.

According to the draft document, the proposed action includes the use of 57 unmanned aircraft that includes: three RQ–7B Unmanned Aircraft Systems at four aircraft per system and nine RQ-21A Unmanned Aircraft Systems at five aircraft per system.

The document states that the squadron would relocate to Hawai‘i with RQ-7B systems in June and July of 2014, with delivery of the initial RQ–21A systems proposed for February and March of 2015.

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No decision will be made on the relocation until after the EA is completed.

Comments on the Draft Environmental Assessment will be accepted through Feb. 10, 2014.

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