Northrop Grumman Corporation broke ground this week on a weapons of the future Hypersonics Center of Excellence at its Elkton site about nine miles southwest of Newark.
The goal of the facility is to support the U.S. military and its allies in the fight against evolving threats, a release stated.
The site will provide full lifecycle production for hypersonic weapons, from design and development to production and integration.
Hypersonic missiles fly at low at several times the speed of sound. China, Russia and India are all engaged in development of the weapons system. The technology is now seen as a threat to U.S. warships and other equipment.
“Hypersonic weapons protect our warfighters by offering higher speeds, longer ranges, optimal performance and the ability to combat a threat with as much distance in between them and the threat as possible,” said Rebecca Torzone, vice president, missile products, Northrop Grumman. “Our new hypersonics production facility will optimize our development efficiency, drive affordability, and ultimately deliver weapons to our warfighters faster.”
The new 60,000-square foot facility will feature the latest production technology and will implement digital engineering best practices aimed at increasing agility and the ability to respond to changes in technology or customer mission needs, according to the release.
Northrop Grumman plans to automate case preparation and non-destructive inspection (X-Ray) technology, as well as deploy autonomous guided vehicles to improve safety and reliability. These new offerings will also drive demand for additional technically skilled high-wage jobs, engineers and other professional roles at the Elkton facility.
Construction is expected to be wrapped up by 2023.
The Elkton facility dates back to 1948, with mergers and acquisitions in the defense industry bringing it under a number of owners.
Many employees, including technical staff, have resided in Delaware during its long history.
With its aerothermal research and testing facility, the Elkton site designs and manufactures systems and controls for complex defense and space systems.
Northrop Grumman has more than 90,000 employees.
In 2019, the company announced it would add jobs in an expansion of the Elkton site.