Raytheon opens missile plant in Alabama

New Huntsville facility features laser-guided robotic transport to workstations.


Raytheon Company has opened its new all-up-round Standard Missile production facility in Huntsville, Ala. At the cutting-edge factory, workers will complete final assembly and testing of the company's Standard Missile-3 and SM-6 interceptors. Courtesy: RaRaytheon Company has opened its new all-up-round Standard Missile production facility in Huntsville, Ala. At the cutting-edge factory, workers will complete final assembly and testing of the company's Standard Missile-3 and SM-6 interceptors.

Raytheon executives from around the country joined government customers and elected leaders at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the new 75,000 square-foot facility located on the U.S. Army's Redstone Arsenal.

The new plant features a fleet of laser-guided transport vehicles that silently move missiles around the factory. The robotic, automatic guided vehicles carry up to five tons and use lasers and software to position missiles within 1/10,000th of an inch. The laser-guided vehicles handle all hardware transfers necessary, allowing technicians to concentrate on other aspects of production. Powered by a lithium battery, the transporters use their own internal positioning system for safely and efficiently maneuvering through the facility to the workstations.

William H. Swanson, Raytheon Chairman and CEO, cut the ribbon at the plant on Nov. 26. He was joined by Vice Admiral James D. Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency; U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks; Sen. Richard Shelby; Dr. Taylor Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems President; and Alabama Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey.

"This factory is the most advanced missile integration facility in the world, enabling Raytheon to provide our domestic and international customers with the most effective, reliable and affordable products possible," said Lawrence. "The missiles assembled in this factory will play a critical role in protecting our homeland and defending our allies around the globe."

“This integration center, its employees and the innovative products we build here will indeed be national assets,” Lawrence added. “We recognize that countless lives may one day depend on these technologies.”

"This missile integration facility will create new jobs for Alabama's workers to help bolster our nation's defense," said Shelby. "The facility will further enhance Huntsville's indispensable role in our nation's security and the region's economy."

The first SM-6 missiles are scheduled to be delivered from the new facility to the customer in February 2013; initial SM-3 rounds are scheduled to be delivered the following quarter.

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