Ground broken on new facility

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 30, 2002

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Lockheed Martin literally rolled out a few red carpets for guests Wednesday for the groundbreaking ceremony for the new missile production site. The new program even received almost as much celebration as the much-anticipated rain.

The Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) program is expected to create 160 job openings for missile technicians, which are to be filled within the Troy community, according to Randy Stevenson, plant manager. The hiring will not start for another 10 months.

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"[THAAD] is not only important for this community. It’s vital for our defense," said U.S. Rep. Terry Everett, Second Congressional District.

"You won’t find someone more appreciative of a good job than the people in the Second District," he said.

Everett said he would not be surprised if there was a Hellfire missile in an Apache some where that read "From Pike County, with love."

The company’s dedication to missile production and its motto of "Remember the Customer" have not only brought THAAD to Pike County, but the company has also collected an impressive entourage of decorum to hang on the walls.

The facility was named the 2002 Alabama Manufacturer of Year, marking the second distinguished award the company has received in 2002 for operational excellence.

THAAD and PAC-3 are hit-to-kill, kinetic energy weapons that strike incoming body-to-body. The two missiles will provide near leak-proof defense for soldiers and allies.

THAAD is the first hit-to-kill weapon system specifically designed to defend against theater ballistic missiles- both inside and outside the Earth’s atmosphere.

The missile is designed to detect, identify, assign and destroy incoming ballistic missiles.

"This kind of calculated technology that can hit another missile in the air is just breathtaking. People didn’t think it could be done, but [Lockheed Martin] are proving it can be.

"Our enemies may not have missiles to reach us right now, but they will. I would rather have too much smart weaponry than too little," said U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions.

"THAAD assembly operations here in Troy have the potential to bring literally hundreds of high-paying jobs into the state of Alabama over the next 10 to 12 years," said Stan Arthur, president of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Orlando, Fla.

"THAAD and our lower-tier PAC-3 Missile, the newest version of the Patriot missile, will provide an umbrella of protection for our soldiers and assets throughout the world," he said

According to Gov. Don Siegleman, he expects more big businesses to move to Alabama.

"There is going to be a significant investment made in our nation’s defense in the coming years to meet the needs of maintaining world peace," said Gov. Don Siegleman.

"With Alabama’s space, science and aerospace technology sector, there is no reason that Alabama should not take the lead in shaping the future of our national defense," he said.

Siegleman also said Alabama has become one of the "hottest places for automotive manufacturing."

The Lockheed Martin THAAD team chose the Pike County Operations in January 2001 due to its outstanding performance building quality products, as well as its close attention to cost-control and manufacturing detail on several other Department of Defense programs currently under production at that location.

The Pike County site currently employs 230 employees and covers 3,863 acres and 225,000 square feet of building space.