MBDA Inc. buys Northrop Grumman’s Viper Strike munitions business in Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — MBDA Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of European missile manufacturer MBDA, has purchased Northrop Grumman’s Viper Strike munitions business in Huntsville, and the company plans to grow further here.

“We’re been fortunate to find this opportunity, and extremely fortunate it’s in Huntsville,” said Jerry Agee, the chair, CEO and president of MBDA Inc., after a ribbon-cutting ceremony this afternoon. MBDA has acquired “a good business with wonderful employees” and “a happy customer.”

The 35 employees at the 33,000-square-foot facility at 330 Wynn Drive in Cummings Research Park will remain with MBDA, said Douglas Denneny, a vice president at MBDA Inc.

“Our goal is to grow the business here,” Denneny said.

A 50,000 square-foot facility leased at Redstone Arsenal will provide space to manufacture, assemble, integrate and test explosive devices, Agee said.

The Viper Strike business unit facilities in Research Park and at the arsenal will allow MBDA to design, build and assemble complete precision-guided weapons in one location and bring in new business to the MBDA Huntsville facilities, according to the company.

Terms of the agreement aren’t being disclosed.

“This is a great community,” Agee said, and there’s a strong base of support from customers and local leaders.

The Viper Strike deal is MBDA Inc.’s first acquisition in the United States, according to Charlie Kettle, the chair of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors.

“We’re looking forward to great things from this company in the future,” said Michelle Jordan, the city of Huntsville’s economic development director.

According to the company, the move will help position MBDA as a leading precision munitions firm in the United States and gives it a stronger capability in the growing market to create and produce new weapons for unmanned aerial systems.

Agee said in a release that acquiring the Viper Strike weapon system and facility is “an important step in our strategy to research, design and produce the world’s finest weapons that meet the current and future needs of U.S. armed forces.” The Viper Strike line, Agee said, is “a perfect addition to our portfolio and allows us entrée into the fast-growing armed UAS business segment.”

“I am pleased that MBDA will be joining the robust and growing Huntsville defense community,” said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, in a release. “Viper Strike weapons have been a key asset for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and I am proud that they will continue to be produced in Alabama. MBDA’s plan to grow the business going forward represents a strong vote of confidence in the Alabama workforce and is great news for the local economy.”

With the acquisition, MBDA Inc. owns two design, development and manufacturing locations: The Viper Strike unit here and its original Westlake Village, Calif., operating unit.

Viper Strike is a 44-pound, low-collateral damage, precision-guided weapon designed for manned and unmanned aircraft. It allows Army, Air Force, Special Forces and Marine Corps aircraft to precisely hit targets in urban areas and mountainous terrain.

The missile glides to the target, using GPS-aided navigation and a laser seeker.

MBDA is owned by EADS, Britain’s BAE Systems and Finmeccanica of Italy.

This acquisition demonstrates the company’s commitment to continue to grow in the U.S., said MBDA’s CEO Antoine Bouvier, in a release.

“We are excited by the opportunity this production facility provides us to continue to design, build and deliver first-class missiles to U.S. armed forces,” he said.

“We now have over 60 missile systems fielded, in production or in development and equip over 90 armed forces around the world. We can leverage the economies of scale of this wide customer base and product line to provide excellent missile systems, like Viper Strike, to the U.S. warfighter.”

The deal has received all necessary U.S. government regulatory approvals.

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Gary Mortimer

Founder and Editor of sUAS News | Gary Mortimer has been a commercial balloon pilot for 25 years and also flies full-size helicopters. Prior to that, he made tea and coffee in air traffic control towers across the UK as a member of the Royal Air Force.