U.S. Navy, Florida Break Ground on New Missile Test Facility on Cape Canaveral

Florida Gov. Rick Scott

Cape Canaveral, FL, November 8, 2012 (Space Florida PR) –Today, the U.S. Navy, Florida Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll, Space Florida, and the Economic Development Commission (EDC) of Florida’s Space Coast – broke ground on the new Strategic Weapons System Ashore (SWS Ashore) facility at Cape Canaveral AFS. Space Florida and the EDC anticipate 100 jobs may be created within three years as a result of the project, with average annual salaries of $90,000 and approximately 85% of the projected workforce from civilian contractors, including former Space Shuttle workers sourced locally.

Governor Rick Scott said, “Florida has a uniquely skilled workforce for aerospace research and development projects – and I’m proud to see this community will be the centerpiece of this project. I’ve made job creation my number one priority, and while our work isn’t done this is a step in the right direction.”

Lt. Gov. and Space Florida Board Chair Jennifer Carroll said, “This effort to enhance military technologies here in Florida was the result of the incredible partnership between the Navy and Space Florida. No doubt, this facility will be used to keep our brave men and women safe. It also means more jobs for our communities – and the continued presence of modern military infrastructure here in Florida.”

Stationary, inert missiles, outfitted with electronic monitoring equipment will be used for the testing, and the test facility is not intended to be used for actual missile launches.

The groundbreaking took place at CCAFS Launch Complexes 25 and 29, which will be converted into the new missile test complex, replacing the 1950s-era facility that previously existed on the grounds. The new complex will provide the U.S. Navy with a single, land-based facility for testing submarine missile systems.

To date, missile launch systems, fire control, guidance and navigation, and the missiles themselves, were all tested separately by the Navy at various locations across the U.S. through computer simulation. By bringing systems together in one location, the Navy will be able to test interactions between system components using the same hardware and software found on the submarines.

Space Florida has committed to providing $5 million in capital improvements over three years to the demolition and rebuild of the site.

“The combination of this area’s workforce and infrastructure capabilities lend itself perfectly to the testing needs of NOTU at this time,” said Capt. J.P. Heatherington, Commander, Naval Ordnance Test Unit. “We look forward to working with the State of Florida to build out this capability at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.”

“The SWS Ashore facility will ensure maximum utilization of excess launch facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, a key goal for the State of Florida,” noted Space Florida President Frank DiBello. “We are pleased to see such a critical Navy program base its operations here on Florida’s Space Coast, and look forward to supporting the build-out efforts in the coming months.”

“With its presence on the Space Coast for the next 70-plus years, the SWS Ashore facility solidifies NOTU’s footprint here and shows we have created an environment in which the Navy knows we can meet — and exceed — its needs now and for many years to come,” said Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast. “That commitment means the Space Coast will benefit not just from this program, but from the potential business expansion and attraction opportunities that can arise from it.”

Construction is expected to begin later this year on the project and should be completed in 2015. The Ohio systems are projected to be operational in 2017 and the Ohio replacement systems will be operational in 2020.

In addition to maintaining the current Ohio-class fleet, the Navy is scheduled to begin building a replacement to the Ohio-class submarine later this decade in order to replace the retiring fleet. Once commissioned, the Ohio-replacement submarines are projected to be in service to the 2080s. Systems for the new submarine will be installed and tested in the SWS Ashore as part of the initial build program.

The Navy considered several locations for the SWS-Ashore facility. The Navy ultimately chose CCAFS as a result of its unique capabilities and suitability for the proposed facility operations.

The Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) program remains a crucial element of the strategic deterrent capabilities for the United States and is under the purview of the Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs office headquartered in Washington, D.C. The SWS Ashore facility will enhance NOTU’s capability to carry out its current mission to support FBM operations. The Cape Canaveral division of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. will be responsible for SWS Ashore facility design and construction, along with infrastructure support.

CCAFS Launch Complexes 25 and 29 were originally constructed for the first Fleet Ballistic Missile test launches in the 1950s, and use of the locations was discontinued in the 1970s. When proposed new work is finished, the complexes will support testing systems found in the current Ohio-class submarine as well as systems under development for the Ohio replacement submarine.

About Space Florida: Space Florida was created to strengthen Florida’s position as a global leader in aerospace research, investment, exploration and commerce. As Florida’s spaceport authority and aerospace development organization, we are committed to attracting and expanding the next generation of space industry businesses. With its highly trained workforce, proven infrastructure and unparalleled record of achievement, Florida is the ideal location for aerospace businesses to thrive – and Space Florida is the perfect partner to help them succeed. www.spaceflorida.gov

About the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast: The Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast is dedicated to attracting new business and investment and expanding existing industry throughout the Space Coast, influencing change on government laws and regulations affecting economic development, promoting the Space Coast to encourage new investment, supporting efforts of Space Coast military installations, and relaying new programs and procedures to assist manufacturing and high tech companies.  The EDC is a private, not-for-profit coalition whose stakeholders are business leaders committed to the economic growth and stability of Florida’s Space Coast. Visit www.SpaceCoastEDC.org.