Aerojet Rocketdyne: New Alabama manufacturing site ready for production

Aerojet Rocketdyne: New Alabama manufacturing site ready for production
Aerojet Rocketdyne's new Advanced Manufacturing Facility has installed a machine capable of producing motor cases up to 72 inches in diameter and 22 feet long, large enough to support strategic missile programs. (contributed)

Aerojet Rocketdyne said it is ready to begin producing large solid rocket motor carbon fiber cases in Alabama’s Rocket City following installation and calibration of a key machine at its new Advanced Manufacturing Facility (AMF).

The state-of-the-art machine will be used to wind the carbon fibers that form the structural case of large solid rocket motors. It is capable of producing motor cases up to 72 inches in diameter and 22 feet long, which is large enough to support strategic missile programs.

“The successful transfer of this important capability from Sacramento, California, to Huntsville, Alabama, is part of our ongoing efforts to increase efficiencies and decrease product costs to our customers,” said Eileen Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president.

“Expanding support of missile programs at the Advanced Manufacturing Facility is a major component of our ongoing growth in the Rocket City.”

The carbon fiber-winding machine will begin producing large solid rocket motor cases for missile defense target vehicles built by Aerojet Rocketdyne Coleman Aerospace starting in early 2020.

“This capability also positions our Advanced Manufacturing Facility and Huntsville Defense Headquarters to support new U.S. national security priorities, such as the Air Force’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program,” Drake said.

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s motor carbon fiber-winding machine will begin producing large solid rocket motor cases in Huntsville starting in early 2020. (Aerojet Rocketdyne)

Supporting key programs

The 136,000-square-foot AMF was designed to manufacture motor cases for a variety of missile, missile defense and hypersonic systems. The company officially opened the Huntsville facility in June.

Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO Eileen Drake speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the company’s Advanced Manufacturing Facility in June. (Hal Yeager/Governor’s Office)

“Huntsville’s legacy as the cradle of the nation’s missile program and a hotbed for the development of rocket propulsion systems makes it the perfect home for Aerojet Rocketdyne’s new advanced manufacturing facility,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“The cutting-edge activities that will be conducted at the company’s new facility will solidify the Rocket City’s reputation for innovation and technical capability.”

Among the existing production programs the facility supports are the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense and Standard Missile-3 interceptors. Both the THAAD and SM-3 systems are assembled at facilities in Alabama.

Aerojet Rocketdyne, which has provided propulsion on every U.S. ICBM to date, was recently selected by Northrop Grumman to be an integral part of its nationwide GBSD team working to develop the nation’s next-generation ICBM.

Aerojet Rocketdyne has made significant investments in new, agile manufacturing capabilities, infrastructure, processes, tooling and people in its Huntsville; Camden, Arkansas; and Orange County, Virginia sites.

Earlier this year, it opened a 122,000-square-foot Defense Unit Headquarters building in Huntsville. The company’s workforce tops 400 in the Rocket City and is expected to grow as the AMF ramps up production.

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

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