PLYMOUTH, Maine — The Maine Army National Guard is planning to build new landing zones and a tower at its training site in Plymouth to train soldiers in the use of helicopters and drones.
Public comments about the environmental effects of the facilities are being accepted through April 15.
“This is a new addition, and because of the aviation component, we wanted to reach out to the public,” Andrew Flint, environmental project manager for the Maine Guard, said Wednesday.
The Plymouth Training Facility, located off Bardon Hill Road near Interstate 95, is used to provide heavy vehicle, pyrotechnics and other types of training, and it has a .50-caliber machine gun simulator and improvised explosive device training simulator.
The plan is to add two helicopter landing pads, primarily for UH-60 Black Hawks, and a tower. The reason the tower is needed is for the drone training, Flint said.
“The Raven is a very small hand-held, hand-launched … remote controlled aircraft. It has cameras and such,” Flint said. When training, “it has to stay within sight.”
If all goes as planned, the Army Guard hopes to break ground on the additional training facility during the summer.
“We’re going to do some of the work ourselves,” Flint said. “An engineering unit, as part of their annual training, will do some of the work.”
The 185th Engineer Support Company and 262nd Engineer Company will build the landing pads and tower, Capt. Norman Stickney, Maine Guard spokesman, said Wednesday.
“By utilizing our engineer capabilities, soldiers receive real-world training, improving the proficiency of our engineers as well as creating a first-class training area,” the captain said.
The cost of the project is about $60,000, Stickney said.
“Maine aviation units will utilize the expanded landing zone for medical evacuation training, air assault and sling load operations [training],” Stickney said. “This allows our pilots and crews to improve their proficiency in both combat operations and emergencies.”
The Maine National Guard is exploring the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, but the decision is “pending verification of regulatory compliance,” Stickney said.
The Maine Army National Guard has prepared a Record of Environmental Consideration, and public comments are being accepted concerning it until April 15.
A copy of the Record of Environmental Consideration is posted on the Maine Guard website under notices, me.ngb.army.mil/notices, and can be found at the Plymouth Town Office, Bangor Public Library or Maine State Library in Augusta. Comments can be submitted by mail, fax or email to: Andrew Flint, Environmental Program Manager, Maine Army National Guard, 33 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0033; or firstname.lastname@example.org.