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Northrop Grumman Corp. stands to gain an even higher profile in San Diego if the company completes its $9.2 billion acquisition of Orbital ATK.
Orbital ATK operates the former Composite Optics factory in San Diego’s Miramar neighborhood. The factory makes satellite bus structures, or chassis, including those at the core of the latest GPS satellites. The business makes other structures out of composite materials, including parts for major unmanned aircraft programs.
A second location, Orbital ATK’s radio frequency test facility in Rancho Bernardo,CA. holds a 96-foot-high chamber for testing antennas and radar domes.
Buyer Northrop Grumman already has a big presence in San Diego County. Its unmanned systems center of excellence in Rancho Bernardo, CA runs unmanned aircraft programs including the Global Hawk family of high-altitude surveillance planes, and the Fire Scout helicopter used by the U.S. Navy. The business also has a good shot at getting the contract for the Navy’s first unmanned, fixed-wing plane to operate from an aircraft carrier.
ATK opened a 60,000-square-foot facility to build spacecraft buses near Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in 2011, increasing its local footprint by 40 percent. The building is optimized for lean manufacturing.