WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (WVEC) -- Wallops Island made a strong argument to bring the Navy's next generation of unmanned surveillance drones to Virginia, but it's not to be.
The Navy announced Wednesday that the MQ-4C Triton drones will instead be home-based at Naval Station Mayport, near Jacksonville, Florida.
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Mayport will be the duty station for about 400 Triton UAS personnel and will support rotational deployments outside the continental United States. Facility construction will begin this year, with the first drone scheduled to arrive in 2020.
The Wallops Flight Facility had hoped to win the drone bid, which would have created hundreds of new jobs and millions of dollars in economic impact. The governors of Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware all previously voiced support of basing the drones out of the Eastern Shore.
The new base in Mayport will be one of two for the program in the United Stated and one of five around the world.
The Navy envisions the aircraft, with their 131-foot wingspan and 48-foot length, serving as a kind of eye in the sky, providing 24-hour surveillance of seas around the globe.