Jackson County, Mississippi Supervisors OK Fire Scout Bond Issue

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) -- Jackson County supervisors have approved the sale of $5.1 million in port general obligation bonds to help fund construction of the Fire Scout unmanned helicopter manufacturing facility here.

The bond issue also must be approved by the Jackson County Port Commission.

The commission owns the land at Trent Lott International Airport where the Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems' Unmanned Systems Center will be built and will own the 39,000 square-foot building.

Last week, the county got approval for a $1.7 million federal Economic Development Administration grant to help pay for site preparation and other work on the property.

A $300,000 Mississippi Development Authority site preparation grant was previously approved for the project.

The $5.1 million bond issue includes the county's match for the site preparation work and money to build the unmanned systems center.

In April, Northrop Grumman broke ground for the new facility that will produce the unmanned drone helicopters that are capable of both surveillance and attack missions.

Fire Scout can perform its work without putting the lives of crew at risk, and it will be used by multiple service branches, including the Navy and Marines. The remote-controlled drone can fly up to 20,000 feet hovering for hours above enemy positions.

The Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Center is expected to employ about 40 workers with more jobs to come as the program progresses.

Information from: The Mississippi Press