Boeing investing in future growth at its Alabama operations

A Boeing 737 MAX sits on display at the Farnborough International Airshow in London. The company's already substantial presence in Alabama continues to grow. [Photo Credit: contributed/Alabama Newscenter]

While aerospace giant Boeing grabs headlines with major deals at the Farnborough International Airshow, its Alabama operations are having a far-reaching impact on the company’s global business.

Boeing workers in Alabama provide critical support and expertise in weapons systems, space exploration, advanced avionics research and more.

One of the latest developments in the company’s 56-year history in the state is the expansion of its Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile seeker facility in Huntsville, which is taking support of its customers and warfighters to a whole new level.

Meanwhile, Boeing is investing about $70 million in capital in Alabama to prepare its facilities for future growth.

“It is an exciting time to work in aerospace in Alabama,” said Norm Tew, vice president and general manager of the Missile and Weapon Systems Division, and Huntsville senior site executive.

“Boeing’s Alabama employees are designing, building and supporting some of the most advanced and most critical aerospace systems in the world, through our work on NASA’s Space Launch System, advanced air and missile defense systems, strategic deterrence systems, our engineering design centers and the many other projects and programs we support at our facilities in Alabama,” Tew said.

“As the largest aerospace company in the state, we continue to grow our portfolio of work here and we’re making the investments to do so.”

PAC-3 seeker

Gov. Kay Ivey speaks at a grand-opening ceremony for Boeing’s expanded PAC-3 missile seeker facility in Huntsville. [Photo Credit: Hal Yeager/Governor’s Office/Alabama Newscenter]

The new PAC-3 seeker expansion is a 28,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility with investment from Boeing, as well as its customers. Gov. Kay Ivey joined company officials in April to mark the completion of the project.

“This facility houses the latest production and test equipment and gives us additional capacity required to produce PAC-3 seekers for our customer and partner, Lockheed Martin – ultimately helping support the growing needs of the U.S. Army and its allies for the PAC-3 missile capability,” said Boeing spokeswoman Jen Wollman.

The Boeing seeker technology provides key target data to the PAC-3 missile guidance system, and the company has produced more than 3,000 PAC-3 seekers over the history of the program, which spans more than 20 years, she added.

Boeing’s Alabama-made seekers provide active data to the PAC-3 missile, which enables it to acquire, intercept and destroy enemy ballistic and cruise missiles as well as hostile aircraft using hit-to-kill technology.

The company invested $45 million to expand the Huntsville PAC-3 missile seeker production line in 2011, and last year workers produced the 3,000th seeker at the Alabama location.

Alabama presence

Aerospace giant Boeing opened its Alabama Research & Technology Center in Huntsville in June 2015, building on its long-standing presence in the Rocket City. [Photo Credit: Boeing/Alabama Newscenter]

Boeing employs about 2,700 people in Alabama at two key facilities in Huntsville, in the Jetplex Industrial Park and at Redstone Gateway.

The company generates an estimated $2.3 billion of economic activity in the state annually. Last year, it spent $606 million with nearly 200 suppliers, supporting about 18,000 direct and indirect jobs.

In addition, Boeing and its employees contributed more than $1.6 billion to charitable organizations throughout the state in 2017.

“Boeing has been a pillar of Alabama’s aerospace industry for more than half a century, buoyed by the skill and dedication of its Huntsville workforce,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“The company continues to deepen its roots here in the state, setting the stage for even more groundbreaking research, developments and products.”

Boeing’s core business areas in Alabama are:

  • Missile and Weapons Systems: Includes Ground-based Midcourse Defense, designed to detect, intercept and destroy long-range ballistic missiles during their midcourse phase of flight, and Strategic Deterrence Systems, which integrate Boeing’s support of the U.S. Air Force’s nuclear deterrence mission.
  • Space and Launch: The world’s largest satellite manufacturer, which also provides other space and intelligence systems and manages Boeing’s share of United Launch Alliance and United Space Alliance. Also includes Space Launch System, responsible for design, development, testing and manufacture of the core and upper stages and avionics for the nation’s next-generation human-rate rocket to take people and cargo to deep space and to the International Space Station.
  • Boeing Global Services: Support services for U.S. Army helicopters.
  • Huntsville Design Center: Includes a team of nearly 250 engineers that support a wide variety of programs, including military and commercial aircraft.
  • Boeing Research and Technology: The Alabama research center houses about 300 engineers, scientists and technicians who are working on advances in avionics systems, composite materials, cybersecurity and other areas.

Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.