HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Officials say a new Northrop Grumman facility being built at Hill Air Force Base will bring 2,500 new jobs to Northern Utah.
The aerospace and defense company held a groundbreaking ceremony for the facility Tuesday, an event that featured members of Utah's congressional delelegation and a large crowd of local elected officials.
The space, which is being called the Northrop Grumman Roy Innovation Center, will serve as future headquarters for Northrop's work supporting the Department of Defense's Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program. The center will be located just south of the Hill Aerospace Museum, near Hill's border with Roy.
The United States’ current land-based ballistic missile force is currently made up of some 400 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Air Force is upgrading the missiles, their rocket motors and other components, but plans to replace them through the GBSD program by about 2030.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the entire program will cost more than $60 billion and run for 30 years. The total cost includes the acquisition of missiles, new command and control systems, and large-scale renovations of launch control centers.
Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said while the projected number of jobs the Northrop facility will bring is significant, the work being completed there is even more important. The congressman said the program is a key cog in fortifying the U.S.'s nuclear triad, which consists of nuclear missiles launched from the land, submarines and aircraft.
"The idea that we're going to maintain a strong triad is going to significant 50 years into the future," Bishop said.
Republican Utah Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee, along with Republican Congressman Chris Stewart, also spoke at the groundbreaking Tuesday. They each stressed the GBSD program's important role in global security. Romney said "bad people are constantly looking at ways to oppress and overwhelm others" and that the mere presence of a strongly maintained nuclear program deters evil around the world.
The Northrop headquarters building will operate inside the Falcon Hill National Aerospace Research Park on base.
The 550-acre public-private development is being built under an Air Force Enhanced Use Lease, which allows Hill to convey land to other entities and use the lease money for new office space and the demolition of some decrepit World War II-era buildings.
The development will feature over 2 million square feet of commercial space in its first phase, with additional phases planned. Officials have touted the plan for its potential to bring additional jobs and revitalized infrastructure in and around Hill, including new buildings, roads and utilities.
The project includes buildings owned by Hill, which are situated behind a security gate, and buildings that are owned by different tenants and are located outside of the gate and open to the general public.
Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, who was once chairman of the Military Installation Development Authority that helped moved the Falcon Hill project forward, said the endeavor has created thousands of new jobs in Northern Utah and will continue to do so for several decades.