Last Updated: 11/27/2012*

Two missile mock-ups gleamed in the Alabama sun on Monday as political leaders, military officials and Raytheon executives cut the ribbon at a factory that will soon play a key role in the U.S. missile defense program.

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William H. Swanson, Raytheon Chairman and CEO, cuts the ribbon at the company’s new missile plant in Huntsville, Ala. on Nov. 26, 2012. He was joined by Vice Admiral James D. Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency; Rep. Mo Brooks; Sen. Richard Shelby; Dr. Taylor Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems President; and Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey.

“This integration center, its employees and the innovative products we build here will indeed be national assets,” said Dr. Taylor W. Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president. “We recognize that countless lives may one day depend on these technologies.”

The new $75 million, 70,000 square-foot facility will produce the Standard Missile-3, a defensive weapon used to destroy short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles. It will also produce the Standard Missile-6, which defends naval vessels against fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and cruise missiles.

The new plant is located on the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., the same legendary rocket-building complex that built the Saturn V rocket that launched astronauts to the moon. Raytheon expects to bring 300 related jobs to ‘Rocket City" over the next two years.

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Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) and Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) models are positioned outside of Raytheon's new, state-of-the-art missile integration facility.

“We appreciate the hours of preparation, positive negotiations and attention to detail throughout the planning and construction phases,” Lawrence said. “Raytheon is proud to be a part of Alabama's Aviation and Aerospace Corridor.”

The new plant features a fleet of laser-guided transport vehicles that silently move missiles around the factory. The robotic, automatic guided vehicles carry up to five tons and use lasers and software to position missiles within 1/10,000 of an inch.

The factory’s machinery can handle future designs as well. Since it was conceived and built for flexibility, it will enable the company to quickly respond to meet production needs of the U.S. military.

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