HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Ogden, UT — Construction will soon begin on a new Lockheed Martin facility at Hill Air Force Base, an operation Utah’s governor says will create a major upsurge in the state’s aerospace industry.
Sunset Ridge Development broke ground Friday on what will be a 75,000-square-foot building at Hill’s Falcon Hill National Aerospace Research Park. The building will be leased by defense contractor Lockheed Martin and other tenants, and is expected to bring up to 500 new jobs into Utah, according to the governor’s office and officials from Hill and Sunset Ridge.
The new building will serve as a program management office as Lockheed works to develop a replacement for the Air Force’s fleet of Minuteman III nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles under the agency’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program. The defense contractor is competing for a multi-billion dollar contract to replace the ground portion of the country’s nuclear triad.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States’ land-based ballistic missile force is now stocked with 440 Minuteman III ICBMs. The fleet will eventually be cut to 400 missiles to meet the terms of the New START arms control treaty with Russia. The Air Force is upgrading the missiles, their rocket motors and other components, but plans to replace them through the GBSD program by about 2030, according to the CRS.
Earlier this year, the Air Force chose Lockheed, Boeing and Northrop Grumman to compete for a contract that will deliver the first set of new missiles. According the the CRS, the program will cost $62.3 billion and run for 30 years. The total cost includes $48.5 billion to acquire 642 missiles, $6.9 billion for command and control systems, and another $6.9 billion to renovate launch control centers.
During Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony, Utah Governor Gary Herbert said the Lockheed operation, combined with other aerospace jobs that will support it, could ultimately bring 2,000 jobs to the Northern Utah area during the next decade, if the contract is secured.
Herbert said Lockheed already has around 250 supply chain partners in Utah right now.
“There is great reason to be optimistic about the future,” the governor said. Herbert said Utah currently has more than 1,000 aerospace companies that pay an average individual wage of $78,000.
John Karas, vice president of Lockheed’s GBSD program, said the company will look to pull engineering students from local universities, including Weber State University, to fill positions in the program.
Karas said the new facility should be open by the summer of 2017.
The Falcon Hill project is a 550-acre private development, built under an Air Force Enhanced Use Lease, and will feature over 2 million square feet of commercial space in its first phase, with additional phases planned.
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