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Marshall Wright
Aerospace & Defense Cluster Director
801-538-8710

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Aerospace & Defense

Utah has a rich history in the Aviation & Aerospace industries and is one of the top states in the nation in the concentration of aerospace employment. Utah’s core aerospace and aviation competencies include composites and advanced materials, propulsion systems, avionics, and control systems. Aerospace and aviation companies within the State include the full-spectrum of the industry; from design and manufacturing to advanced space systems and regional air service, from repair and maintenance to software and control systems.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, the Aerospace and Defense cluster (as defined by GOED) represents 105 companies employing more than 21,000 people. Average wages top $66,960 a year, or 157% of Utah average wages.

Aerospace and aviation companies located in Utah employ over 10,000 people. Some of the leading companies in Utah include ATK, L3 Communications, Northrop-Grumman, The Boeing Company, Lockheed-Martin, Thiokol Propulsion Corporation, Moog Aircraft, Parker-Hannifin, Rocky Mountain Composites, ITT Integrated Systems, Barnes Aerospace, FMC Jetway Systems, Triumph Gear Systems Inc, Williams International and Million Air, and Hexcel, one of the three largest carbon fiber manufacturers in the nation, located in Magna. Sky West Airlines, the nation’s largest regional airline, calls St.George, Utah home.

The largest single site employer in Utah is the U.S. Air Force’s Hill Air Force Base, located between Salt Lake City and Ogden. Over 22,000 military, defense civilians and contractors pass through Hill AFB’s gates on a daily basis, performing a myriad of tasks for the Ogden Air Logistics Center. The center provides worldwide engineering and logistics management for the F-16 Fighting Falcon, A-10 Thunderbolt II, and Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. The base performs depot maintenance of the F-16, A-10 and C-130 Hercules aircraft.

Seven colleges and universities across the state offer specialized programs in the aerospace field, including Utah State University, which has put more experiments into flight on-board shuttle and satellite missions than any other institution in the country.

Hill Air Force Base (HAFB) recently picked up additional workload related to A-10 refurbishment and designation as a primary maintainer for the F-35 (Joint Strike Fighter) as it comes on-line to replace the F-16 fighter, which has been a primary source of employment at the HAFB for many years.

The Office of the Governor, Hill Air Force Base, the Utah Defense Alliance, Utah Congressional delegation, State Legislature and many others have partnered with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and submitted a proposal to the U.S. Air Force, to have the service’s newest command, Cyber Command, stationed at HAFB. If selected, Cyber Command could bring 550 to 2,500 military and federal employees to the Base as well as hundreds, or even thousands of related civilian support contractor personnel. Utah and Hill Air Force Base have unique attributes and capabilities for Cyber Command to be very successful. The Air Force expects to make a stationing decision by September 2009.

Aerospace Systems

Autonomous Systems

A targeted industry activity as part of the Defense and Homeland Security “cluster” is better known as “unmanned vehicle systems” or “robotics”. Key to the growth of this industry is the DoD’s mandate to have one third of its vehicle fleet, unmanned (or autonomous) by 2015. This will mean that making autonomous air, ground and marine vehicles, of all types will provide opportunities for providers of platforms, communications, sensors and control systems. Additonally, the extensive use of autonomous systems by the military for a variety of missions, has made the application of autonomous systems technologies to civil and commercial venues a given. An industry and market segment will grow outside of the military market.

Utah has long been involved in this nascent industry of “unmanned vehicle or robotics systems”. The three Utah Universities, (Utah State University, University of Utah and Bringham Young University) have exhibited excellence in the basic research in the enabling technologies for this industry and have participated in and won many competitions associated with autonomous systems and robotics.

A number of Utah companies (Sarcos and Autonomous Systems Incorporated (now a division of Raytheon) are examples) have been spawned from these University programs and are a vital part of this growing industry cluster. Kairos Autonomi, has been developing ground robotics systems and supported the Utah Universities (U of U and BYU) entries into the DARPA Urban Challenge. It has fielded Unmanned Ground Vehicles for the DoD but is exploring opportunities in the commercial and industrial market. See link to Kairos Videos

Another Utah company, Flying Sensors Inc is exploring the surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of unmanned aircraft deployed for military applications to the commercial and industrial markets. Other Utah companies, such as L-3 Communications and the Space Dynamics Laboratory of Utah State University will supply communications, command and sensor systems which will be key to this industry.

Exciting opportunities exist at both Utah military installations, Dugway Proving Ground and Hill Air Force Base to extend their missions to support unmanned systems test, evaluation and logistics activities as the military moves to realize the mandate to have one third of its vehicle fleet autonomous in the 2015 timeframe.

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development has fostered and supported Utah’s Autonomous Systems cluster to establish membership in the Association of Unmanned Systems International and participates as the Mountain West Chapter of AUVSI.

Electronics and Communications Systems

Utah has a rich legacy in the technologies, innovations and developments in Electronics and Communications Systems. Electronics and communications developments by Utahns or in Utah are recognized in the consumer and entertainment industry; first electronic hearing aid, first computer game, and it is well know that developments in television were led by an Utah innovator, Philo Farnsworth who was born in Beaver Utah and attended Brigham Young University. But Utah companies like L-3 Communications and Evans & Sutherland are recognized as leaders in the technologies that are key to the Defense and Homeland Security Cluster. The engineering departments of the Utah Universities (University of Utah, Utah State University and Brigham Young University) provide some of the most innovative research in these areas and support the development of new capabilities for Defense and Homeland Security. Fairchild USTAR and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development’s COE programs ensure that Utah will maintain a lead in providing research and innovation to this sector.

Utah companies operate over the full spectrum of Electronics and Communications Systems supply chain, from basic electronic componentsParvous (Fairchild Semi Conductors & IM Flash), to small integrated packaged computer systems (Parvus, Inc), L3to electronics contract manufacturing (Wolf Electronix and Kitco) to full scale integrated systems development and manufacture (L-3 Communications, Northrup Grumann and USU’s Space Dynamics Laboratory).