Lockheed Martin opens ‘digital’ hypersonic factory in rural Lawrence County


At a WWII Air Force base in rural Lawrence County, defense contractor Lockheed Martin this month opened one of the smartest factories in the country, where workers will bring futuristic technologies to life to protect the United States.

Lockheed Martin said the 65,000 square foot structure in Courtland – known as Missile Assembly Building 4 (MAB4) – is not a typical factory.

Rather, it is a “digital first” center for the development of hypersonic strike technologies, bringing together the best advanced production processes from across the company.

“This latest digital factory in Lockheed Martin’s infrastructure means we can take the best advantage of digital engineering practices to revolutionize the way we develop and manufacture U.S.-made hypersonic systems efficiently and affordably,” said Sarah Hiza, vice president and general manager of Strategic and Missile Defense Systems at Lockheed Martin Space.

Lockheed Martin said the grand opening of MAB4 on Oct. 4 was a significant milestone in its strategic commitment to make northern Alabama the “hotbed of hypersonic strike production.”

“This project is the result of a lot of hard work by our federal delegation, our valued local leaders and a great business partner that our state has in Lockheed Martin,” Governor Kay Ivey said.

In addition, the company is expanding its presence in Huntsville, where it has operated since 1963, to develop hypersonic technologies.

The US government has identified hypersonic strike capabilities as essential for defense against adversaries. The weapons, flying at five times the speed of sound, can intercept and destroy ultra-fast enemy missiles.

Lockheed Martin said hypersonic strike weapons, capable of flying at speeds above Mach 5, are a key aspect of the effort to modernize long-range marksmanship to make national security strategy match threats. potential and exceeds them. (Lockheed Martin)

Game-changing technologies

Lockheed Martin said the qualified MAB4 team will use cutting-edge technologies, including robotics, foam electronic boards, smart torque tools, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and model-based data consumption. .

MAB4’s fabrication shop will feed a “digital thread” – a data-rich communication network – that will deliver unprecedented insights so the team can optimize production with maximum efficiency.

Using these advanced capabilities, Lockheed Martin implements multi-service hypersonic strike programs, including Conventional Rapid Strike (CPS), Long Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW), and Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW). .

“Hypersonic weapons play a critical role in deterring threats close to our nation’s peers, and we are proud to partner with our nation’s military for the success of the mission,” said Hiza.

Lockheed Martin has been manufacturing defense systems in Courtland since 1994. The company has started construction on nine buildings on the 660-acre campus, the former site of a WWII US Army Air Corps base.

Over the past two years, the Courtland plant has grown by a total of 117,000 square feet of manufacturing space. With this growth, the team will bring approximately 70 new jobs to Courtland and 200 more to Huntsville, home of the company’s hypersonic program management and engineering functions.

Lockheed Martin employs approximately 2,600 people in Alabama.

“Lockheed Martin’s partnership with the State of Alabama dates back decades and includes research and development in rockets, tactical missiles, space exploration and more,” said Greg Canfield, department secretary. of Alabama Commerce.

“I am proud to see this relationship grow stronger as society makes our state the focal point of its hypersonic programs. “

Workforce Development

Continuing to train a skilled workforce for its growing programs is a priority for Lockheed Martin and its state, academic and military partners in Alabama.

One of the key examples of this commitment is the Advanced Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship Program (AMTAP), which has seen 40 graduates join the Courtland team full-time.

Lockheed Martin said every dollar invested in this training program turns into $ 6.62 in Alabama’s economy.

“Like many businesses around the world, Lockheed Martin found the workforce and all the other ingredients it needed to be successful in rural Alabama,” said Brenda Tuck, rural development manager for the Department of Alabama Commerce.

“Lockheed Martin’s digital factory in Courtland is another reminder that incredible things are being done in rural communities across the state.”

Lockheed Martin, based in Bethesda, Maryland, has a strong presence in rural Pike County, where it operates a missile assembly plant and a Sikorsky aircraft manufacturing site.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.


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