WASHINGTON — Raytheon Co. of Waltham, Mass., announced July 19 that it plans to build a Standard Missile (SM) production facility at the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala.

Raytheon intends to break ground later this year on the 6,500-square-meter facility that will be used for final assembly and testing of the SM-3, a key element of the ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, and SM-6. The $75 million facility will be constructed in two phases, with each phase tied to SM-3 and SM-6 production contracts.

Raytheon spokesman John Patterson said the facility is scheduled for completion in 2013. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency manages testing, integration and fielding activities from Huntsville.

Production of the SM-3 is expected to increase substantially over the next 10 years as the United States prepares to deploy a European missile shield based on the sea-based Aegis system starting next year. Plans call for developing a land-based version of the SM-3 that will be deployed at sites in Poland and Romania later in the decade.

The SM-6, meanwhile, is expected to enter production this year as an extended-range interceptor designed to protect ships against cruise missiles and other airborne attacks.

Patterson said the new facility, which could bring up to 300 jobs to Huntsville, is expected to have little impact on employment at Raytheon Missile Systems facilities in Tucson, Ariz., and Camden, Ark., which will handle earlier phases of Standard Missile production.

Raytheon said it spent 18 months investigating more than 80 locations before narrowing the list to Huntsville, Tucson and Camden. Huntsville ultimately was chosen because, Raytheon said in a statement, it was “the most financially viable and operationally feasible solution” of the three finalists.

In a Frequently Asked Questions document posted on its website, Raytheon said time, schedule and cost considerations “took Tucson off the table as an option” for hosting the new facility.

“The acquisition of additional land, development of site infrastructure, and road work on undeveloped land would not support current schedule requirements,” Raytheon said. “Operationally, long-term encroachment concerns exist because of surrounding industrial and residential development.”

The Huntsville facility will be built on an 80 hectare plot, with additional land needed should it be necessary.

Alabama Gov. Robert Riley, in a statement, praised Raytheon’s expansion plans as “an important piece of Alabama’s economic picture.”



U.S., Poland Revise Missile Defense Pact

U.S. Defense Authorization Bills Spotlight European Shield

Pentagon Shifts to SM-3 For European Missile Defense

Brian Berger is editor in chief of SpaceNews.com and the SpaceNews magazine. He joined SpaceNews.com in 1998, spending his first decade with the publication covering NASA. His reporting on the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia accident was...