L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX) has increased the size of its campus and is adding jobs in Fort Wayne to address the Department of Defense’s growing and urgent need for satellites.
“Our customers face rapidly evolving threats now, not in years,” Ed Zoiss, president, Space and Airborne Systems, L3Harris, said in a news release. “We’ve increased our investment and expanded our capacity prior to receiving program awards so we can help them address threats without hesitancy.”
Weapons have grown from ballistics to hypersonic; “They’re not like a traditional ballistics missile, that comes out in a ballistics trajectory. They’re maneuverable,” Zoiss told congressional leaders and employees gathered on the L3Harris campus at 1919 Cook Road, Fort Wayne, for a ribbon cutting Sept. 16.
So Fort Wayne is creating a whole new class of tracking and sensory satellites that can detect launched missiles, Zoiss said after the event.
L3Harris is working with two new customers: the Space Development Agency and the Missile Defense Agency.
The U.S.’ adversaries “understand where our weaknesses are,” Walt Chai of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency told those gathered, “and they’re always developing new systems to counter what we’re trying to do. If you read the paper, you see our adversaries are developing systems that … (go) around radar, so the solution is to go to space, and that’s what you’re doing here for us at the innovation center.”
The work will be done in L3Harris’ new Farnsworth Innovation Center on the local campus, part of over $50 million invested in missile-defense-related facilities and capital. It is named for Philo Farnsworth, who invented the first electronic television in Fort Wayne and because his technology helped build L3Harris locally, Zoiss said.
The new classified Farnsworth facility provides the space for the company’s missile defense satellite programs. It will support engineering, integration, testing and program management and brings the total size of the L3Harris campus to 150,000 square feet, the company said. By scaling up, the company is set to deliver future missile defense satellite programs.
Congressional leaders were invited Sept. 16 for a ribbon cutting of the new building.
The new work means more jobs. L3Harris, which has over 500 employees locally, is hiring 100 more this year, Zoiss said.
L3Harris Technologies, based in Melbourne, Florida, delivers advanced defense and commercial technologies across air, land, sea, space and cyber domains.
Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., said he was happy to help celebrate “this next chapter in the history of L3Harris. For decades this company has been a world leader in optical and infrared technologies, providing good-paying jobs to the folks right here in northeastern Indiana.” Now its work is becoming essential to national security.
Young, a Marine, has been working on the Endless Frontier Act, an investment in fields that include artificial intelligence and quantum computing to not only provide the Hoosier jobs of tomorrow but also to help ensure that that U.S. military “remains the strongest and most advanced fighting force in the history of mankind.”
“The expansion of the L3Harris Technologies facility in Fort Wayne is a win for the economy of Northeast Indiana, and an example of Hoosiers working hard with fellow Americans to achieve a common goal of protecting the United States,” said Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., in the announcement. He sent a representative of the event. “I’m proud this state-of-the-art defense technology will be developed in Indiana, which will help keep us all safe.”
U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., from Columbia City, said, “At its new facility, L3Harris will develop technology to detect hypersonic missiles and defend against adversaries like Russia and China, track weather patterns around the world and boost our economy. This investment is a victory for America and a victory for Northeast Indiana.”
Banks, an Armed Services Member in the House, told the gathered workers that L3Harris’ work inspired him to start the House Hypersonic Caucus, which he co-chairs.
“Our expertise in electro-optical/infrared technology and our fresh approach to the problem set garnered the trust of the Space Development Agency and the Missile Defense Agency,” Zoiss said.
The Space Development Agency awarded L3Harris its tracking layer prototype program to develop and integrate an end-to-end satellite system in October 2020. The Missile Defense Agency awarded the company a prototype contract to develop the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor in January.
In April, Business Weekly reported on NASA selecting L3Harris Technologies to develop a concept for the next generation of geostationary weather imagers, which will help with future severe storm tracking, weather forecasting, climate and other Earth observations. That work was also reported to be happening at the Fort Wayne location.
L3Harris is also expanding its Palm Bay, Florida, site to increase satellite production capacity.
L3Harris Technologies is the result of a merger in 2018 of Harris Corp. and L3 Technologies. At the time, the U.S. was increasing military spending under President Donald Trump.
Harris, which had the Cook Road location in Fort Wayne after acquiring Exelis — itself a spinoff of ITT Corporation’s defense business into an independent, publicly traded company — made communications systems for battlefield management, as well as for civilian uses such as air-traffic control and wireless network transmission, while L3 Technologies provided communications equipment such as surveillance gear and cockpit electronics as well as night-vision devices, sensor systems and satellite communications. The merger made the company one of the largest in the industry. L3Harris has nearly $18 billion in annual revenue and 47,000 employees, with customers in 130 countries.
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