Only days after Gov. Asa Hutchinson returned from a European trade mission where Lockheed Martin announced a multimillion-dollar deal to expand its operations in Camden, the Pentagon awarded the defense giant another blockbuster contract to manufacture warheads at its South Arkansas military industrial complex.
On Tuesday, Lockheed Martin announced it received a $561.8 million production contract for the U.S. Army’s MGM-14O Tactical Missile System (ATacMS) missiles for the so-called Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. The two-year contract calls for new production of the Army’s tactical guided missile systems, as well as upgrading older ATacMS variants as part of the Pentagon’s so-called Service Life Extension Program.
Both the extension program and new missile systems will be produced at Lockheed Martin’s Precision Fires Production Center of Excellence in Camden, Ark., company officials said. To meet the increased demand for ATacMS production, the defense contracting conglomerate said it is already expanding its Camden manufacturing facilities to include the capability to produce ATacMS and other upcoming missiles.
“The new-build ATacMS rounds under this contract will include sensor technology that provides the recently qualified Height-of-Burst capability,” said Gaylia Campbell, vice president of Precision Fires & Combat Maneuver Systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “This new feature will allow soldiers to address area targets at depth on the battlefield.”
In the bid award specifications released by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) on Monday, the hybrid contract notes that the Army’s long-range missile system will be sold under the Pentagon’s foreign military sales program to allies in Bahrain, Poland and Romania. The newest version of the surface-to-surface missile system has a range of over 150 miles and can be fired from multiple rocket launchers.
Besides Camden, production work on the contract will also be done at Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control headquarters in Grand Prairie, Texas, as well as other company manufacturing facilities in St. Louis, Mo., Boulder, Colo., Clearwater, Fla., Lufkin, Texas, Windsor Locks, Conn., and Williston, Vt. The production end date for the contract is June 20, 2022, and funds for the program were obligated at the time of award, according to the DoD.
The new Pentagon contract comes just one week after Lockheed Martin and Gov. Hutchinson announced at the Paris Air show that the company was investing $142 million to expand its industrial facilities in Camden. That project in South Arkansas will add another 326 new workers to the company’s industrial site in Calhoun County that already has about 700 employees on payroll.
STATE AMMUNITION EXPORTS JUMP NEARLY 500%
In May, Talk Business & Politics first reported that export sales of sales of bombs, mines and munitions in Arkansas jumped an astronomical 487% in 2018, largely due to the several Lockheed Martin arms deal and other related activity at the growing military industrial complex in Calhoun County that also includes Aerojet Rocketdyne and American Rheinmetall Defense.
According to the Census Bureau export data on Arkansas, arms sales only represented a 1.3% share of total Arkansas exports in 2017 but jumped to 7.2% in 2019. In total dollars, sales of Arkansas-made bombs and other military-grade munitions jumped 486% from $79 million in 2017 to $463 million in 2018.
That same data shows that oil- and cash-rich Saudi Arabia leapfrogged reliable U.S. trading partners in Europe and Asia such as France, China, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom to land among the top three purchasers of Arkansas-made goods. In 2018, the Middle Eastern country bought $397 million of Arkansas commodities, which represents 6.1% of the state’s global export market.
The stark increase in exports to Saudi Arabia is directly attributed to the Middle Eastern nation’s long-term relationship with U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin. In 2017, Saudi Arabia expressed its intent to procure more than $28 billion in integrated air and missile defense, combat ships, tactical aircraft and rotary wing technologies and programs with the Bethesda, Md.-based defense contractor.