Northrop Grumman Marks Milestone In Aerospace Development

By Patrice Clark - bio | email

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - According to Site Manager Brian Mahoney, "Unmanned vehicles are the future, and it provides security for our troops."

Since Northrop Grumman opened the doors to its Unmanned Aircraft Center in 2006, Mahoney and his 70 member team have been building multi-million dollar aircraft to combat the war on terrorism.

"We have three programs in place - the Fire Scout Program, which is the Army's version of the Fire Scout. The VTUAV, which is the Navy's version. And we also have the Global Hawk program," Mahoney said.

Mahoney happily celebrates the center's success with company and community leaders. He says it's amazing how the Moss Point Center has already made such a big mark on the military world.

"What we have been able to do in a short period of time is put a team together that has been extremely successful."

Another success for the Northrop Grumman is a $2 billion contract from the Navy to build Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Systems, despite a protest from Lockheed Martin.

"Their quality of work helped us win the Navy BAMS contract, which is the Navy version of the Global Hawk. They looked at the statistics and quality of the fuselages built here and that was a very big plus for us," Business Development Director Edward Walby said.

Walby says the unmanned planes will be much needed eyes in the sky.

"One of the things you have to know about is what's going on on the ground. Who are the bad guys? Where are they and what are they doing?"

"This facility sent a very clear voice to the worldwide aerospace industry - Jackson County is an actively recognizable participant in the world of aerospace and aviation technology development," Jackson County Economic Development Director George Freeland said.

Northrop Grumman plans to start flight tests on the Fire Scout Program in 2009 at Trent Lott Airport in Moss Point.