Lockheed Martin inaugurated a new facility on October 4, 2021, intended to enhance the production of advanced hypersonic weapons.
The Alabama-based plant will include a new 65,000 square foot (6,038 square meters) facility called the Hypersonic Missile Assembly Building – 4 (MAB-4).
The MAB-4 “is built on the digital foundation that Lockheed Martin has prioritized through mission-driven transformation efforts across the enterprise to meet customer needs with speed and agility while bolstering US manufacturing capability.”
Lockheed has integrated critical digital transformation tools at its facility, including robotic thermal protection application, innovative torque machinery, and mixed-reality capabilities for training and virtual inspections. The hypersonic programs on-site will include the US Navy’s Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS), the Army’s Long Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW), and the Air Force’s Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW).
“Lockheed Martin has manufactured defense systems in Courtland since 1994, providing increasingly sophisticated capabilities to protect our nation, allies, and security partners,” stated Sarah Hiza, vice president and general manager of strategic and missile defense systems at Lockheed Martin Space.
The facility’s machinery will be connected to Lockheed’s intelligent factory framework in 2022, which will digitally link the company’s production activity and assets to a common source for insights into the health, status, and optimization of operations.
“Our long-time partnerships with Alabama, the Department of Defense, and academic researchers have paved the way to develop the most advanced hypersonic strike capabilities using the best-of-the-best digital technologies from across our enterprise,” added Hiza in the statement.
Lockheed is reportedly making significant investments in hypersonic weapon systems to “counter rapidly emerging threats from near-peer adversaries” of the United States.
Programs such as the CPS, LRHW, and the ARRW produced at the new facility are intended to support several US military branches, as well the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
“Hypersonic strike capabilities are critical to combat evolving threats, giving our warfighters the tools they need to complete complex missions,” said Jay Pitman, vice president of air dominance and strike weapons at Lockheed Martin missiles and fire control.
The MAB-4 is estimated to create 70 jobs in the area, adding to the already 26,000 employee workforce based in Alabama.
The US has successfully tested its Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) on September 27, 2021, after its Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) failed twice in April and July 2021.
Countries such as the US, Russia, and China have prioritized the development of hypersonic weapon systems over the past few years as a means of global deterrence.