HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Boeing is creating more jobs in Huntsville by doubling production for one of its key programs- building Patriot missile seekers.
The aerospace and defense giant has ramped up their operation in order to continue to support our warfighters and advance national security.
On Friday, Governor Kay Ivey and other local and state leaders took part in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new facility on Boeing Boulevard in Huntsville. The major expansion will enhance the company's ability to produce, upgrade and maintain the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile seeker program.
"It's about 28,000 square feet. We already had about that much. So we're doubling production. The mix of our production is a blend of new and recycles. We've been building these and have had them deployed in combat theaters for over a decade so some of the older ones are coming. We're going from about 300 with a max capacity with this new facility now close to 1000 in a blend of recycle and new production," explained Jim Chilton, Senior Vice President of Space & Missile Systems for Boeing.
Boeing is adding 70 employees to its Alabama workforce as part of the project.
"Today's celebration of this world class expansion is focused on the PAC 3 missile that is really a bullet shooting down a bullet to further protect the nation and also our allies from hostile missiles and hostile aircraft," said Governor Ivey. "It highlights the need for national defense, as well as producing 70 great jobs for the people of this area."
PAC-3 seekers use hit to kill technology that intercept and destroy ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and hostile aircraft.
The missile seekers made in Huntsville are delivered to PAC-3 prime contractor Lockheed Martin. The PAC-3 missile system is deployed with U.S. Army and Army National Guard air defense units and it has been purchased by several international customers.
Officials stressed the importance of PAC-3 Missile Seekers, saying they help combat threats around the world and save lives.
"This new facility won't just produce jobs, but the work that is done by Boeing and Alabamians will protect this great nation that we all love," the governor stated.
"We want our military capability to be such that no one wants to challenge the United States military. As evidenced by the last three or four decades, Boeing's contribution has been significant in that regard," added Congressman Mo Brooks. "It's about saving the lives of Americans, here in the United States, our mainland, but more often overseas in the different battle theaters that they're in. It's about saving the lives of our Allies."
Huntsville mayor Tommy Battle says it shows how industries across the area continue to grow the economy in North Alabama.
"As PAC 3 has expanded and expanded our industrial base, it also expands the ability of what we can do in this area. We're very excited to see Boeing expand. They're a great partner. But along with them, Lockheed Martin expands and other industries expand who also work on this project," he told members of the media after the ribbon cutting.
The additional program capacity resulted from customer and Boeing investments in production and test equipment, facility infrastructure and optimization, Boeing said.
"The impact for our nation is huge. PAC-3 is the only combat proven hit to kill technology in the field protecting our warfighters today, as well as our important allies. We've built over 3000 of them right here in Huntsville. Some of those need to come home for refurbishment and of course, warfighters need more. So we're proud to be investing to make a bigger facility to cause that to happen," Chilton added.
Boeing invested $45 million to expand the Huntsville PAC-3 missile seeker production line in 2011. In June 2017, the company produced its 3,000th seeker at the Alabama location.
Work on the new 28,000-square-foot facility in Huntsville began in June 2016.
Boeing's financial impact on Alabama has been measured at $2.3 billion annually, according to the state.
Copyright 2018 WAFF. All rights reserved.