Governor Mary Fallin announced that a California-based aerospace company, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc., is opening administrative and engineering offices and production facilities in Oklahoma City. The offices and productions facilities will accommodate expected increased demand for high-performance, jet-powered unmanned aerial tactical and target drone systems.
“Oklahoma is one of the world’s premier destinations for the aerospace and defense industry. Kratos’ announcement of a new facility is a testament to the strength of the industry in our state,” said Fallin. “Our skilled aerospace and engineering workforce, combined with the Quality Jobs Program and the Aerospace Engineering Tax Credit incentives along with our proximity to other world-class companies and defense operations, made Oklahoma City the right choice for Kratos.”
Representatives from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce initially met with the company at the Farnborough International Airshow, a weeklong event in the United Kingdom, in 2016. U.S. Rep. Steve Russell, R-OK, had met the company executives earlier that year at a Kratos reception in Washington D.C. These exchanges prompted the company to begin looking at Oklahoma as a potential location for expanded operations for the company’s unmanned systems division.
“All of the pieces in Oklahoma fit what we were looking for,” said Steve Fendley, president of Kratos Unmanned Systems Division. “We wanted a state that is supportive of the business we’re in, supportive of the military, supportive of advancements of our capability testing, have a close proximity to military bases and have the potential for a flight test facility.”
Kratos is initially occupying an 8,800-square-foot facility in Oklahoma City near Tinker Air Force Base, where the focus will be on engineering and production planning. Within six months, the company plans to expand into a 75,000-square-foot facility to support its initial production efforts in Oklahoma. The company expects to employ more than 350 workers in Oklahoma within the next few years.
“We are both honored and privileged to be here today in the great state of Oklahoma,” said Eric DeMarco, president and chief executive officer of Kratos. “Kratos is focused on delivering technology and products for greater effectiveness at an affordable cost for our customers, and our new facility in Oklahoma City is another step forward in the successful execution of that strategy.”
The company is currently negotiating with the Federal Aviation Administration to be able to run flight tests at the Oklahoma Air & Space Port in Burns Flat, Okla.
“We hope to eventually do ground testing and possibly eventually flight testing there,” Fendley said. “If we can do that, Oklahoma is really our center focus for all the development work we do.”
Earlier this month, Kratos announced a $23 million unmanned aerial drone system production award from an unnamed customer and a $93 million contract to supply target drones to the Army. This most recent contract makes Kratos the sole supplier of jet-powered, sub-scale target drones to all branches of the U.S. military. Kratos’ unmanned target drones recently participated in Exercise Formidable Shield 2017, a live-fire integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) exercise conducted by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO on behalf of the U.S. 6th Fleet.
Kratos is also currently under contract to develop and demonstrate high-performance tactical drone systems that act as a loyal wingman to manned fighter aircraft or can operate independently. The company’s Mako tactical unmanned aerial drone system completed its initial successful test flights in 2015 and most recently participated in a major military exercise, with additional flights planned for this year. Kratos is scheduled to deliver its next generation tactical drone, the Valkyrie, in 2018.
Gov. Fallin believes that the Kratos announcement will help the state attract additional businesses.
“When you get a company like Kratos to locate in Oklahoma, they have suppliers that will look at the possibility of coming to Oklahoma because they want to do business with a major supplier of unmanned aerospace and the latest technology,” Fallin said. “It’s great for Tinker and all of our other military installations to be able to partner with a company like this.”
Kratos will continue target drone production from its existing Sacramento, California, facility, with a significant production ramp-up, having already begun at that facility, and expected to increase even more over the next 24 months. Oklahoma will be the site for new tactical drone production and excess demand requirements related to target drone production.
About Kratos Defense & Security Solutions
Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ:KTOS) develops transformative, affordable technology for the U.S. Department of Defense and commercial customers. Kratos is changing the way breakthrough technology for these industries are brought to market through proactive research and a streamlined development process. Kratos specializes in unmanned systems, satellite communications, cyber security/warfare, microwave electronics, missile defense, and training and combat systems. For more information go to www.kratosdefense.com
Header photo courtesy of Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc.