Missile to be made here

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 30, 2002

News Editor

Two recent contracts signed by Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Military will create approximately 60-70 new jobs for Pike County.

The most recent contract, for $39 million, was signed on Monday, Jan. 28 with the U.S. Marine Corps for the production of the shoulder-fired, short-range Predator anti-armor missile into low-rate production.

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A portable, inertially-guided, point-and-shoot system, the Predator is designed to defeat advanced armor targets at ranges from 17-600 meters. Weighing less than 22 pounds, the system uses a fly-over, shoot-down trajectory to attack tanks at their most vulnerable point.

"We received strong legislative support from the Alabama delegation, specifically Senators Richard C. Shelby (Rep.-Ala.), Jeff Sessions (Rep.-Ala.) and Representative Terry Everett (Rep.-Ala.)," said Randy Stevenson, plant manager for the Lockheed Martin plant near Troy. "They played a significant role in promoting the Predator program from development and into production."

Stevenson said the new contract will create about 30 new jobs for the plant. In addition to that contract, he said the approval of Lockheed Martin’s Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) for low rate initial production, will add between 30 and 40 more new jobs at the plant.

Stevenson said, while a few of the new jobs created will be technical jobs, most of the positions will be training positions. "We will fill most of those jobs from right here in Pike County," he added.

The JASSM is a 2000-pound class weapon with a multi-purpose penetrator warhead. It is planned for deployment on B-1, B-2, B-52, F-16 and F/A-18 aircraft. The missile gives Air Force and Navy aircrews long-range capability against a wide range of high value, heavily defended targets.

The JASSM has been produced at the Troy facility since 2000.

The Predator contract was signed on Friday, Jan. 25. Final assembly for the missile and several subsystems will be done at the Troy Plant. The Predator becomes the first fire-and-forget short-range anti-tank missile in the international marketplace to enter production.

Mike Woodson, U. S. Marine Corps Project Officer, said that Predator will "satisfy a long-standing Marine Corps requirement to provide the individual Marine warfighter with a lightweight, simple to operate antitank weapon which is accurate and highly lethal against all main battle tanks and other armored vehicles existing in the world."

Predator successfully completed

flight tests at China Lake Naval Weapon Station, Calif., in September, paving the way for LRIP.