Three years after the Lockheed Martin plant in suburban Syracuse was nearly closed, the Salina location has received the single largest contract in its history. Changing methods of warfare have paved the way for more production of a special kind of radar made in central New York.
American soldiers have been using the Q-53 radar in the field for the last seven years according to Rick Herodes, director for Q-53 radar at the Salina Lockheed Martin plant. It’s a system developed in response to guerrilla warfare methods, which provides a 360- or 90-degree picture of incoming enemy fire.
"The folks who use the 53 on the battlefield love it. They recognize the difference it provides from what they had before, allows them to come home whole,” said Herodes.
The U.S. Army awarded Lockheed Martin a $1.6 billion contract last week to produce 70 more of these radar units over the next five years. Lockheed Martin employees at four sites, including Syracuse and Owego, manufacture the system.
Herodes says he doesn’t have specifics on how this new contract will impact jobs. He notes there are 50 openings for engineers at the Salina plant right now, and those jobs, while not a direct result of the contract, will be affected by it. And he admits there could be room to grow.
"As the Army recognizes the potential in the system and wants to solve emerging threats, there will be an extra place on the battlefield for additional 53’s. So I think there’s more in the future for the 53’s than what’s represented in this order.”