The first public jobs announcement from a summer trade show in Paris has been made. RTX, formerly Raytheon Corp., said Thursday (Oct. 26) it will locate a $33 million missile production facility in the East Camden Industrial Park that will add 30 new jobs initially.
The new facility was the result of talks from this summer’s Paris Air Show, where Gov. Sarah Sanders and state economic leaders attended to advance potential jobs projects related to the aerospace and defense industry.
“It is an honor to be here to make the first of hopefully several jobs announcements to come out of this summer’s trip to the Paris Air Show. This past June, we brought our administration to Europe to meet with the aerospace and defense leaders at the largest air show in the world,” Sanders said in a press conference at the state capitol.
“Aerospace is Arkansas’ largest export – a $1 billion industry that employs people from Northwest Arkansas to Little Rock to the Golden Triangle of South Arkansas,” she added.
Noting that since the last Paris Air Show in 2019, Russia had invaded Ukraine, China had raised tensions with Taiwan, and Hamas terrorists attacked Israel, Sanders said the world was “a lot more dangerous than it used to be.”
“Our enemies are on the march, and they have their target set squarely on the backs of Americans and our allies. Because of that, my job was as much about touting Arkansas’ economy as it was about touting Arkansas’ spirit. We don’t shy away from being America’s arsenal,” Sanders said.
The Tamir missiles to be produced in East Camden will be used as part of Israel’s Iron Dome defense system and the U.S. Skyhunter defense system. A representative for RTX, which is working in partnership with Israeli defense contractor Rafael, said the goal is to begin production by 2025.
Jeff Shockey, head of Global Government Relations for RTX, highlighted that the project in Arkansas would eventually create missiles used to defend Israel and other countries that have air defense capabilities.
He thanked U.S. Reps. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, and Steve Womack, R-Rogers, as well as U.S. Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark.,, for their assistance in advancing the project.
Eventually, there will be 1,000 to 2,000 missiles produced annually at the plant, he said. RTX is the world’s largest aerospace and defense company. It employs more than 180,000 workers globally and had sales of $67 billion in 2022.
State leaders said a combination of state and local incentives were provided for the project, including an infrastructure grant, performance-based incentives, sales tax rebates and property tax rebates.
Camden is already home to two defense industry companies that produce rockets, rocket parts and other advanced munitions.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has more than 1,100 employees in Camden’s Highland Industrial Park. The Camden site produces more than 75,000 solid rocket motors a year, mostly for Lockheed Martin. Its operations are spread over 2,000 acres and more than 150 buildings, not including bunkers. The company has about 26 product lines in Camden. One supplies products to the government while the rest go to customers such as Lockheed Martin, which also employs more than 1,000 at the Highland Industrial Park.
Lockheed occupies a combined manufacturing and support function floor space exceeding 1.9 million square feet spread out over more than 1,800 acres. Lockheed’s Camden facility produces components for the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), the Tactical Missile System (TACMS) missile, the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launcher, and the PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE).
The press conference turned testy when Gov. Sanders addressed a question from a reporter regarding a lawsuit filed by Blue Hog Report blogger and attorney Matt Campbell related to a Freedom of Information Act request to the governor’s office.
Sanders said the media needed to find a new business plan.
“At this point, I think you guys [media] are at a decision point, and I’m not trying to be rude, but I think you have to decide whether you want to be actual journalists or whether you want to chase tabloid gossip. And right now, our focus is on actually building up industry and focusing on bringing jobs in and doing things that matter and help Arkansans, while the press continues to chase down rabbit holes and go down ridiculous stories from people who are actually just left-wing activists. All of the business in this state, under my leadership, seems to be doing pretty well except for the media. So you guys may want to look at a different business plan,” Sanders said.