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New Navy training work could create up to 700 jobs in Orlando

After winning a big Navy simulation-training program last week, Cubic Corp.'s Orlando operation could create as many as 700 jobs over five years in Central Florida, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Monday.

San Diego-based Cubic – which landed the $300 million high-tech training program on Friday – said the jobs created by its work on the Littoral Combat Ship would range between 150 and 700 jobs, depending on how much work the Navy orders over the five-year period, said Nelson, who is on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

He cited briefings from Cubic and the Navy.

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Industry experts said, however, that jobs gained in Central Florida from the new training work may be offset somewhat by the loss of jobs at other companies that lost the competition for the program.

Terms of the deal – which included three contracts for Cubic – call for development of computerized training systems for two versions of the Littoral Combat Ship, built by Lockheed Martin Corp. and General Dynamics Corp., respectively. Cubic will also produce combat mission-specific training for crews of the new warships.

Cubic beat Lockheed, General Dynamics and nearly a dozen other contractors to sweep all three contracts awarded in the competition, which cumulatively involved the biggest deal awarded in years by the Navy's Orlando simulation-training contract agency.

Also critical to Central Florida's simulation training industry – considered the country's largest such industry – was the fact that the Littoral training program cleared approval by the Pentagon, which is in the midst of a major cost-cutting initiative.

"This goes to show how important simualtin is going to be in our military," Nelson said. "And Orlando will play a big role in that."

The Littoral Combat Ship is a high-speed, lightweight battle ship designed for coastal combat operations, including anti-terrorist missions. Though its development has been marred by cost overruns and technical glitches, the Navy insists it is key to the U.S.'s future arsenal. Naval officials have put a top priority on adding 50 Littoral Ships to the fleet – the first of which is set for a March anti-piracy mission in Singapore.

rburnett@tribune.com or 407-420-5256

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