Strategic Weapons Systems Ashore project to start this year
By Meagan McGone
BREVARD -- The U.S. Navy, Space Florida, the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast and Florida Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll recently broke ground on a new Strategic Weapons System Ashore facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Space Florida and the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast estimate that 100 jobs - annual salaries of $90,000 - may be created within three years as a result of the project.
Additionally, 85 percent of the projected workforce would be obtained by reaching out to local contractors, including former shuttle workers, officials said.
"Florida has a uniquely skilled workforce for aerospace research and development projects," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in a news release. "I'm proud to see this community will be the centerpiece of this project."
Stationary, inert missiles, outfitted with electronic monitoring equipment, will be used at the testing site. The test facility is not intended for use of actual missile launches.
The groundbreaking ceremony took place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complexes No. 25 and No. 29, which will be converted into the new missile test complex, replacing the previous 1950s-era facility.
The new complex will give the U.S. Navy a single, land-based facility to test submarine missile systems.
Previously, the U.S. Navy tested missile launch systems, fire control, guidance and navigation, as well as the missiles themselves, across the nation by use of computer simulation.
With the new facility, the U.S. Navy will be able to test interactions between system components using the same hardware and software found on the submarines.
Space Florida has committed to providing $5 in capital improvements throughout three years for the demolition and rebuild of the site. Construction is expected to begin later this year and should be completed in 2015.
"The Strategic Weapons System Ashore facility will ensure maximum utilization of excess launch facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, a key goal for the state of Florida," said Frank DiBello, president of Space Florida. "We are pleased to see such a critical Navy program base its operations are here on Florida's Space Coast. We look forward to supporting the build-out efforts in the coming months."
Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast, said that organizations in the community have been building a business case for the U.S. Navy to bring the project to Brevard since 2010.
"The Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast has worked for years to build our relationship with (and highlight the importance of) the military on the Space Coast, including annual trips to D.C. for the last nine consecutive years to talk with our political and military leaders, as well as our successful 2005 effort to get the Naval Ordnance Test Unit -- where this new project is based -- off the Base Realignment and Closure list. So this SWS Ashore project allowed us to once again demonstrate to military leadership how the Space Coast is perfectly equipped for their current and future needs, from our skilled workforce and infrastructure to our competitive advantages and quality of life."