ROCKET CENTER - 2019 is expected to be a good year for Mineral County's Allegany Ballistics Laboratory.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
ROCKET CENTER - 2019 is expected to be a good year for Mineral County’s Allegany Ballistics Laboratory.
Northrup Grumman, which operates the facility it leases from the U.S. Navy, has announced that a $50 million Large Tactical Motor Manufacturing Facility is currently under construction at the Rocket Center location and is expected to begin production in January.
The facility will bring together manufacturing capabilities from six locations throughout the United States into a single consolidated campus geared toward making the production process more streamlined and enabling the company to better serve its customers.
According to Pat Nolan, vice president and general manager for Northrup Grumman, the expansion will allow the local facility to eliminate transportation and packaging issues created by the previous need to ship parts from the other locations to complete the manufacturing process.
The new facility will also result in teams of employees being cross-trained to work in multiple stages of the manufacturing process, and to enable the product to get to market at a quicker pace.
“It is going to help reduce costs,” agreed Bill Hixon, senior director of operations at Rocket Center.
Northrump Grumman and the Navy have invested more than $100 million in the Rocket Center facility over the past five years, and ground was broken for the latest addition to the 1,600+ acre plant in 2016. The new plant will help meet increased demand for rocket motors, with Insensitive Munitions rocket motors being the main thrust.
Those motors, according to a spokesperson for the company, are designed to enhance warfighter safety and limit unexploded ordnances.
The new addition “gives us the capacity we feel we need for the future,” Nolan said.
ABL currently employs over 1,300 people, and expects to increase that by as many as 200 as the new facility comes on line.
Approximately 51 percent of ABL’s sales are with the U.S. Army, with 20 percent with the Navy and 16 percent with the Air Force. The remaining 13 percent is with international and commercial customers.