Despite the ongoing threat of U.S. government budget cuts, the missile defense business in Alabama keeps churning along with the Raytheon Company and Lockheed Martin leading the way.

The Missile Defense Agency recently awarded Raytheon a $559 million contract for Standard Missile-3Block IBs guided missiles to be used by the U.S. Navy.

Final assembly of the SM-3 Block 1B takes place at Raytheon’s SM-6 and SM-3 production facility at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.

Under terms of the contract, Raytheon will deliver 44 Standard Missile-3 Block 1Bs initially and provide the labor to produce the third stage rocket motor. The Department of Defense expressed its intention to acquire up to 52 missiles.

Deployed at sea for the first time in 2014, the SM-3 Block 1B is slated for land-based deployment in Romania sometime this year in line with the second phase of the Phased Adaptive Approach, the U.S. government’s plan for missile defense in Europe. More than 200 SM-3s had been delivered to the U.S. and Japan as of mid-May.

Lockheed Martin continues to grow its Huntsville and Courtland operations in the north and Pike County operations near Troy in the southeast.

 “Alabama is home to approximately 1,500 Lockheed Martin employees working primarily on air and missile defense systems in support of programs essential to national security,” said Jim Rogers, VP army and missile defense programs, corporate domestic business development.

Approximately 325 of them work at the company’s Pike County Operations facility, located six miles northeast of Troy in southeastern Alabama. The site performs final assembly for a variety of missile programs, including the Javelin anti-armor missile, the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile.

“Lockheed Martin’s industrial expansion projects in Alabama include expanding the THAAD and cruise missile production facilities at our Pike County facility,” said Randy O’Neal, VP of Production Operations at Lockheed Martin. “Recent THAAD orders are driving both missile defense and job growth at the site.”

With this new business, the company recently committed to spending $54.4 million in local capital improvements and hiring over 200 additional workers by 2020. O’Neal says that the expanded THAAD facility enables Lockheed Martin to increase interceptor final assembly by up to 125 percent.

More than a thousand Lockheed Martin employees based in Huntsville and nearby Courtland support missile defense programs. These range from THAAD and the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) to the Command, Control, Battle Management and Communications (C2BMC) system, Unmanned Integrated Systems and the Missile Defense Agency’s Targets and Countermeasures Program.

“With more than 400 local suppliers and over $600 million in local contracts, Lockheed Martin is a significant contributor to Alabama’s economy,” said Rogers.

MEADS, a mobile air and missile defense system, uses the PAC-3 MSE Missile against tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and unmanned aerial systems and aircraft.

Lockheed Martin also has facilities in Huntsville for its Unmanned Integrated Systems, which provides ground control stations for UAS for the U.S. military.