Raytheon’s new, state-of-the-art missile factory in Huntsville, Ala. has delivered its first Standard Missile-6, a ship defense weapon that will soon be able to attack ballistic missiles as well.
The U.S. Navy took ownership of the SM-6 round at a ceremony on Thursday at the new $75 million, 70,000-square foot facility in Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal.
The Standard Missile-6 defends naval vessels against fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and cruise missiles. By 2015 Raytheon plans to upgrade the SM-6 to also provide protection against ballistic missiles in their final phase of flight, making it the only missile capable of enhanced anti-air warfare, over-the-horizon interception and ballistic missile defense.
The weapon is a game changer for naval warfighters when it comes to defending the fleet, said Dr. Taylor Lawrence, president of Raytheon Missile Systems.
“Our state-of-the-art production facility in Huntsville will play a significant role in delivering this asset to the U.S. Navy on time and on budget for years to come,” said Lawrence.
Raytheon used the occasion to honor another group of warriors—teachers. Kevin Byrnes, vice president and center executive, Raytheon Huntsville, handed over a $30,000 check to the Free 2 Teach non-profit that helps stock teachers’ classrooms with much-needed supplies at zero cost.
“You can’t have rocket scientists without great teachers,” said Byrnes. “We want to grow the world’s next-generation of engineers. Supporting this charity is one great way we can help make that possible.”
The missile-making business has already brought more than 100 jobs to Alabama’s Aviation and Aerospace Corridor and will continue to bring 200 more over the next couple of years.
The facility will also produce the Standard Missile-3, a defensive weapon used to destroy short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles. SM-3 deliveries will begin later in the year.