Briefing Paper - Special report
April 23, 2008
...For the second time in less than two months, the Gulf Coast region will wind up
benefiting from a major military contract that will bring more high-paying jobs and
reinforce a growing, regional aerospace corridor.
...The Navy on Tuesday chose Northrop Grumman Corp. for a $1.6 billion
contract to develop an unmanned surveillance system using the battle-tested, long
endurance Global Hawk UAV. Northrop beat Lockheed Martin and Boeing for the
...While the contract is for the initial development of the Broad Area Maritime
Surveillance System (BAMS), the ultimate value will be several billion dollars. The
Navy is expected to buy about 40 aircraft. In addition, the Australian government,
which has also invested in the project, is expected to be a customer for the RQ4N.
...For the Mississippi Gulf Coast the contract represented an important win. Some
of the work will be done at the Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Center at
the Trent Lott Aviation Technology Park in Moss Point, Miss. The workload of
that facility has been growing since it first opened in 2006.
...George Freeland, executive director of the Jackson County Economic
Development Foundation, had been waiting for the decision for weeks and was
happy about the Northrop win. He was an early advocate of the value of building
a UAV center in Moss Point, in part because he saw UAVs as a growth field with
implications down the road.
...He apparently was on target. Just this Monday in a speech at the Air University
at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., Secretary of Defense Robert Gates pushed for
even more unmanned aircraft. He complained that the military is stuck in old ways
and not moving aggressively enough to meet battlefield needs for UAVs.
...That push for more military UAVs would only fuel an already hot market. Just
this month a Forecast International analyst predicted the UAV market – include air
vehicles, ground control equipment and payloads – will be worth $13.6 billion
...Military and Aerospace Electronics quoted analyst Larry Dickerson as saying
that U.S. companies have a value share of 50 percent, and could gain another 5
percent to 10 percent over the next decade.
...“The value of Global Hawk production over the next 10 years could reach $3.5
billion,” Dickerson said. Northrop Grumman believes that sales of the Global
Hawk air vehicles could exceed 200 units.
The BAMS competition
...The System Development and Demonstration (SDD) announced Tuesday for
BAMS is the culmination of a year-long competition between the largest defense
contractors in the nation. The Navy received industry proposals in May 2007.
...“This announcement represents the Navy’s largest investment in unmanned
aircraft systems to date,” said Capt. Bob Dishman, program manager for the
...Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems proposed the Global Hawk, Boeing the
Gulfstream G550 and the Lockheed Martin-General Atomics Aeronautical
Systems a larger version of the Predator, the MQ 9 Reaper/Mariner.
...The BAMS program is designed to provide persistent maritime surveillance
capability by 2014. It will involve building between 15 and 48 UAVs that will be
based at five stations worldwide. Each UAV is required to have a 50,000-foot
ceiling and be able to penetrate cloud cover.
...Global Hawk, powered by a Rolls-Royce engine, can fly above 60,000 feet for a
maximum 36 hours over a target. It was used in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and has
an ongoing role.
...The BAMS system will serve as an adjunct to the retiring Lockheed P-3 Orion
fleet before eventually working with the P-3 replacement, the Boeing P-8
Poseidon. System development and demonstration is scheduled for FY 2008, with
low rate initial production set for FY 2012 and initial operational capability in FY
...The Navy’s program is designed for persistent maritime intelligence, surveillance
and reconnaissance (ISR) data collection and dissemination capability to provide
continuous battle-space awareness.
...With a Northrop Grumman win, the Global Hawk portion of the workforce in
Moss Point will more than double to 37 positions, while sales related to activities
at Moss Point will increase by 40 percent – up to $14 million, according to
Northrop Grumman officials. While that may not sound like a particularly large
number, that’s just the start.
...Jim Stratford, manager of communications at Northrop Grumman in Melbourne,
Fla., has said that for the Navy BAMS program, 14 airframes would be built
between 2013 and 2014. He also has pointed out that a BAMS win would likely
lead to additional international sales of Global Hawks, which will have a direct
impact on Moss Point’s future.
...The 101,000 square-foot facility north of Trent Lott International Airport
officially opened in April 2006 and is the first tenant of the 300-acre Trent Lott
Aviation Technology Park.
...While the facility originally was designed to perform finishing work on the Fire
Scout unmanned helicopter, the decision was made to also provide work on the
Global Hawk fuselage and the size of the facility was increased dramatically.
...Northrop Grumman officials said from the start that the company would bring
more work to the facility. Within its first year, the plant also did work on the
Hunter UAV. Northrop Grumman has first rights to another 30 areas directly
north of the unmanned systems center.
...Another program that would bring eight more Global Hawks to Moss Point is
the NATO AGS (alliance ground surveillance) program. It envisions using Global
Hawks equipped with Multi-Platform Radar Technology sensors to provide the
kind of surveillance for NATO that’s performed for the U.S. military by Joint
Growth of the corridor
...Northrop Grumman, third largest U.S. defense contractor after Lockheed
Martin and Boeing, is fresh from a victory over Boeing Co. for an aerial refueling
tanker contract. The company and partner EADS (European Aeronautic Defence
and Space Co.) plan to assemble the tankers in nearby Mobile, Ala.
...The past few months have brought some major projects to the region. The
National Aeronautics and Space Administration was the first bit of major news
when it decided to make Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans a key
location to build portions of the next generation of space vehicles.
...That was followed by the tanker contract announcement. Even before that
announcement, EADS opened an Airbus engineering center in Mobile at the
Brookley Industrial Complex.
...“The BAMS project, coupled with the KC-45 refueling tanker contract in
Mobile, will serve to accelerate the development of a robust, internationally
recognized aerospace corridor in South Mississippi,” said Freeland.
...Larry Barnett, executive director of the Harrison County Development
Commission, said that what’s happened over the past few years – aerospace
companies investing in this region – will, like in the financial field, have a
...“A lot of times you see a project lands and then down the road you get other
projects as a result of the initial project,” said Barnett, whose county stands to
benefit from the NASA-related aerospace activity in Hancock County and the
military-related activity in Jackson County.
...He points out that Columbus, Miss., which landed the EADS Eurocopter plant
several years ago, ended up with additional aerospace operations. The same thing
is going to happen because of the Mobile, Ala., tanker project. He said EADS has
already said it expects to move other production to the region.
S. Miss. lands spy plane work
Some of the work on new Navy spy planes will be done in South
Mississippi as the region begins to benefit from a field that’s getting
hotter all the time...