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BAE’s Warrior Integration Program Called a ‘Lifesaver’

Tom Block was at a crossroads.

Front Row, Left to Right: Marine Corps Master Sgt. Andrew Desmond; Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Sean Madison; Marine Corps Staff Sgt Peter Boisvert; Army Sgt. 1st Class Pat Cornell. Back Row, Left to Right: Army Sgt. Alan Kenneally; Navy Chief Petty Officer Steve Westcott; Army Staff Sgt. Chris Chouramanis; Marine Corps Sgt. Tim Cunha; Army Sgt. Tom Block; Service Dog Csar

After leaving the Army, he was working for the Department of Homeland Security investigating child exploitation. The job gave him financial security, but he said he was covering “pretty rough material’’ and he wanted to look around.

He found what he now calls “home’’ as a member of the Warrior Integration Program (WIP), an 11-year old initiative operating within defense contractor BAE Systems. The giant defense contractor, which is currently looking to fill a WIP opening in Huntsville, opened a $50 million, 3,000-square foot campus in Cummings Research Park in September.

The WIP aids post-9/11 wounded warriors seeking jobs once they leave the military. Block, a member of the 3rd Ranger Battalion out of Fort Benning, was wounded in 2013 by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.

“It’s been, honestly, a lifesaver for me,’’ said Block, who is now a subcontract administrator II for BAE. “It was a very, very hard time for me (at DHS). I was definitely looking for other options.

“I have a friend who works with Systems and he told me about WIP.’’

Alan Kenneally, a native of Ireland who emigrated to the United States in 1995, is the WIP’s program director. He was injured in an ambush while on his second tour in Iraq as an Army sergeant.

“We bring the individual on and set them up in different parts of the company,’’ he said. “Then, after maybe 12 to 15 months, they switch into a new role. There are more responsibilities, more tasks.

“We have senior leadership and managers who mentor and speak up for them and sponsor them in trying to get better opportunities. The only requirement to get into the program is honorable service and, unfortunately, have suffered some form of injury.’’

A formal education is not required for WIP applicants.

“It’s very, very accepting of individuals that have that lack of educational experience and drives home the fact that, yeah, we don’t have a degree or diploma but what we do have is years of training and experience and high stress,’’ Block said. “We have tools that can help us handle those types of situations.’’

Joe Wasley, the director of BAE’s Huntsville Business Center and the site director, said while BAE is looking to hire one person now, the goal is to have 250-275 employees within two to three years.

The current opening will be filled through the WIP.

“It would be a career in manufacturing, starting manufacturing and an opportunity to expand their career and sign on with a large international company,’’ he said. “We have 85,000 employees across the world, and we’re the fourth-largest defense contractor in the world.

“It’s a very large company with lots of opportunities to grow and expand your career here. We are really looking forward to landing a candidate for the program.’’

Applicants don’t have to live in the area but would have to relocate if hired.

“We’re looking at folks that are interested in things like manufacturing, production and what it takes to run a manufacturing operation,’’ said Bob Langell, director of Strategic Operations for the Huntsville Business Center. “There’s a lot of testing in diagnostics and working with engineers as technicians and assistance, anything along that realm of possibilities. Someone who’s interested in that kind of activity we’d be interested in talking to.’’

According to BAE External Communications’ Mark Daly, the WIP allows members to support those in combat.

“They still have a lot of friends that are out there, buddies that are still fighting,’’ Daly said. “This is one of the ways they get to continue to contribute even though they were discharged because they were injured.”

U.S. Army Awards BAE Systems $179M for Next-Generation Missile Warning Systems

BAE Systems recently received $179 million in total awards from the Army as part of the Limited Interim Missile Warning System Quick Reaction Capability program.

This award includes orders for the first two production lots and funding to enable fielding of the next-generation Missile Warning System. The MWS provides crews with advanced threat detection capabilities, improving survivability and mission effectiveness in contested environments.

The new warning system is designed to protect aircraft in “high-clutter environments.” (Photo/BAE Systems)

“Threats are evolving and proliferating at a rapid pace and our aircrews who fly into harm’s way need the most advanced protection systems available,” said Chris Austin, director of Threat Detection Solutions at BAE Systems. “These orders follow an intensive two-year development and qualification program, made possible by a strong industry-government partnership focused on achieving an aggressive schedule.”

The foundation of LIMWS is BAE Systems’ 2-Color Advanced Warning System processor which will allow the Army to outpace the threat. 2CAWS builds upon BAE Systems’ experience in fielding systems for the rotary-wing environment. Optimized for size, weight, and power, 2CAWS features an open system processor, two-color infrared sensors for increased range, and a fiber optic A-kit for faster data transmission.

Work on the LIMWS program will be conducted in BAE Systems’ facilities in Merrimack, N.H., and Huntsville, where the company is building a state-of-the-art facility in Cummings Research Park.

The  Common Missile Warning System is currently fielded on thousands of Army platforms and has saved dozens of aircraft and their crews since it was first fielded in 2005.

BAE Systems to Purchase Collins Aerospace’s Military GPS, Raytheon’s Radio Businesses

BAE Systems said it intends to buy Collins Aerospace’s military Global Positioning System business  and Raytheon’s Airborne Tactical Radios business for a combined $2.2 billion.

The two high-performing businesses are being sold in connection with obtaining the required antitrust clearances for the previously announced pending merger between Raytheon and United Technologies Corp, BAE Systems said in a news release.

According to BAE, the asset purchase agreement for the Collins military GPS business calls for cash of $1.925 billion, with an expected tax benefit of approximately $365 million. For Raytheon’s ATR business, the purchase agreement calls for cash of $275 million, with an expected tax benefit of approximately $50 million.

“As militaries around the world increasingly operate in contested environments, the industry-leading, battle-tested products of these two businesses will complement and extend our existing portfolio of solutions we offer our customers,” said Jerry DeMuro, CEO of BAE Systems. “This unique opportunity to acquire critical radio and GPS capabilities strengthens our position as a leading provider of defense electronics and communications systems, and further supports our alignment with the modernization priorities of the U.S. military and its partners.”

These proposed acquisitions are subject to the successful closure of the Raytheon-UTC transaction and other customary closing conditions. Upon closure, both business lines would be integrated into the company’s Electronic Systems sector.

BAE Systems, Collins Aerospace and Raytheon have facilities in Huntsville.

“These are strong businesses with talented employees who share our focus on quality and technology innovation,” said Tom Arseneault, President and COO of BAE Systems. “We are confident of a smooth transition that will accelerate our future together and look forward to welcoming these new employees to the BAE Systems team once the transactions are approved.”

Pruning Cummings Research Park Infuses Vibrancy, Marketability

Any good gardener knows a first-class park requires long-term planning and seasonal pruning to ensure its vibrancy.

In 1962, Teledyne Brown Engineering (then Brown Engineering) lay deep roots on 100 acres off a dirt road that later became Sparkman Drive.

IBM, Lockheed Martin, Northrop-Grumman, and the University of Alabama-Huntsville quickly followed. Since then, Cummings Research Park’s 3,843 acres of prime Huntsville real estate has been a focal point of a 50-year master plan.

Cummings Research Park, with a 92 percent occupancy rate and 240 untouched acres to spare, is the second-largest research park in the nation and fourth largest in the world.

But to better understand the growth strategy at work in the park, it is best to differentiate between Research Park East and Research Park West.

“When we talk about current growth, we mean business growth from companies within the park, especially on the west side,” said Erin Koshut, the executive director of Cummings Research Park. “On the east side, market studies show we need to redevelop that area to create greater density and to replace 1960s and 1970s buildings with properties that align with today’s economy. That will infuse the older section with new vibrancy.

“By doing that, we won’t have to look at physical land expansion per se for a very long time.”

Within the master plan are five-year work plans. The city is currently working off a plan finalized in 2016; a new plan begins in 2021. The plan acknowledges that some of the original buildings and key properties in the oldest sections of Research Park East are no longer viable in the market.

“Without the revitalization, if a company wants to go in and invest in that part of the park, they wouldn’t get their return on investment,” said Koshut. “That is why the zoning ordinances were changed for Research Park East – to give back some of the land to the park and to reduce economic setbacks.”

Cummings Research Park East

Rendering of Bradford Crossing

One such property is at Bradford and Wynn drives on the former site of the St. John Paul II Catholic High School. Driven Capital Partners in California purchased the four-acre site and plans to redevelop it into a mixed-use site called Bradford Crossing.

“Article 55 of the new zoning ordinance is very specific and says if you have a retail element on the ground floor, there has to be two or more uses,” said Koshut. “We cannot build a standalone gas station or drop a superstore in there, but a multistory building with ground floor retail will create density on a small but efficient parcel of land.

“No decision has been made on what other uses will be included, but it could be office space, multi-family residences, a hotel, or a mixture of all three on upper floors.”

There are four big red circles marking areas of Cummings Research Park East targeted for potential mixed-use redevelopment. Currently, no groundbreaking date is set for Bradford Crossing.

“This is not just the (Huntsville-Madison County) Chamber or the city calling for these changes,” said Koshut. “We have landowners like the Olin King family at Crown Leasing who own property on Bradford Drive. They demolished the building that was on it and now have the land for sale. Business and landowners understand the flavor of changes happening in the older section of the park.”

Other planned redevelopments include converting Executive Plaza off Sparkman Drive into a multi-use facility, including an arena for the UAH hockey team and convocations; and Huntsville’s plans to donate up to $1.8 million in land to Alabama’s third magnet school, the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering. It has a temporary home at the Tom Bevill Center on UAH’s campus, but plans are to build a permanent location in Cummings Research Park East by 2022.

“This will give the whole park along the outskirts of UAH, a big infusion of vibrancy and marketability,” said Koshut.

Cummings Research Park West

The new Radiance Technologies facility will consolidate operations and employees.

Over in Cummings Research Park West, it is not about redevelopment but about taking what is there, making it better, and expanding the footprint. In fact, Cummings Research Park West will see three major projects and numerous moderate but significant business expansions this year.

By the end of the year, Radiance Technologies will be moving into a 100,000-square-foot facility at 310 Bob Heath Drive. The new facility will consolidate operations and employees, but with significant growth, Radiance will keep its 38,000-square-foot facility on Wynn Drive in Cummings Research Park East for a while.

The new $45.5 million, 83,000-square-foot BAE Systems building is sprouting from a 20-acre site at Old Madison Pike and Jan Davis Drive. It is scheduled to open in 2020.

The $45.5 million, 83,000-square-foot BAE Systems building is scheduled to open next year.

“BAE Systems has a long history with Huntsville dating back many years when they had only a couple of employees,” said Koshut. “We are proud to see them bringing in 200 employees, many new hires, and some recruited to Huntsville from the Northeast.”

Fifty-four-foot walls are up around the $200 million Blue Origin rocket engine production facility on Explorer Drive. Expected to open its doors in March 2020, Blue Origin is estimated to bring up to 300 jobs to the local economy.

Dynetics just expanded its footprint with the 78,000 square-foot Dr. Stephen M. Gilbert Advanced Manufacturing Facility; and IronMountain Solutions found a new home on Voyager Way.

“We have the first apartments, Watermark at Bridge Street Town Centre, built in Research Park,” said Koshut. “They consist of two four-story buildings and 240 apartments. Over half already leased before they open and of course a majority of those people work in Research Park.”

She said they would like to see an extension of Bridge Street Town Centre or at least retail that is congruent to Bridge Street grow into the commercial retail corridor between Bridge Street’s outdoor shopping promenade and Lake 4.

It’s All for the Employees

“There is a key component of all this expansion and redevelopment,” said Koshut. “It is driven by the wants and needs of employees.

“These companies want to recruit top talent to Huntsville, and they want to retain them. They require conveniences, activities, and amenities that have been available to them in cities where they are recruited from, many bigger than Huntsville.”

This includes access luxury apartments and single-family homes in or surrounding the park; creating a sense of vibrancy and community with activities such as the Food Truck Fest that draws some 300 people a month; free monthly happy hours in the park; and free Suzy’s Pops or Steel City Pops during the summer.

Later this summer or early fall, Koshut said the city will launch a pilot Bike Share project in Cummings Research Park West with three bike-share stations.

“As the city continues to invest in that program, we hope to connect many bike-share systems across the city so, at any time, an employee can hop on a bike and ride out to lunch,” said Koshut. “Young people enjoy being outside and easily get tired of being stuck in an office all day. Huntsville companies are recruiting people from cities that offer a quality lifestyle amenity.”

So, as new buildings are sprouting up all over Cumming Research Park, it always helps to keep the park neatly clipped and pruned to inspire growth and opportunities among the older, well-established buildings alongside the new and flourishing.