Lockheed Martin wins Army contract worth up to $3B to build next-generation radar
By MARK WEINER | Syracuse Media Group, N.Y. | Published: September 26, 2019
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army picked Lockheed Martin’s plant in suburban Syracuse for a contract worth up to $3 billion to build its next generation of radars for short-range air defenses, Pentagon and government officials told Syracuse.com.
The contract is the largest in the history of Lockheed’s plant at Electronics Park in Salina and helps assure the long-term viability of one of Central New York’s biggest employers.
The Army contract, and potential international sales, will likely protect production at the Salina plant over the next 20 years, according to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, who was briefed about the deal.
The Salina plant has about 1,700 employees and is accepting applications for more than 100 open jobs.
Lockheed Martin beat out rival Raytheon in its bid to produce the Army’s new Sentinel A4 radar systems, an upgraded system intended to better detect cruise missiles, drones and other airborne threats to U.S. forces, Schumer said.
The initial $281 million contract announced by the Army on Wednesday will allow Lockheed Martin to develop and produce the first 18 of the Sentinel A4 radar systems.
The systems will replace the Army’s existing Sentinel A3 missile defense radars with upgraded components that will help detect, classify and identify rocket, artillery and mortar threats.
The Army’s project manager for cruise missile defense systems told Inside Defense in May that the upgraded radars are needed because they can cover a greater range with more efficient identification, tracking and detection of potential threats.
Lockheed Martin officials Wednesday night declined to confirm the long-term value of the contract or say how it would impact employment in Central New York.
The radar deal is the latest in a series of successful bids by the Salina plant for big military contracts since Lockheed Martin came close to shutting down the operation in 2013.
Lockheed had planned to close Lockheed’s Electronics Park campus as part of a nationwide restructuring in which the company shut down four other plants, eliminating 4,000 jobs.
Schumer, D-N.Y., intervened and convinced Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson to keep the Salina plant open.
Since then, the plant has built up a backlog of work. The Army awarded Lockheed Martin a $1.6 billion contract in March 2017 for production of its Q-53 radars that track incoming rocket, mortar and artillery fire. Until now, that was the largest contract in the history of the local plant.
The facility has a rich history dating to when it opened under the ownership of General Electric in 1944. Over the years, GE developed technologies at the plant that included military radars, guidance systems for the Atlas ICBM, and simulators for the Apollo space program.