A Ukrainian serviceman holds a Javelin during large-scale military exercises in Ukraine, Feb. 20, 2023.

A Ukrainian serviceman holds a Javelin during large-scale military exercises in Ukraine, Feb. 20, 2023. Kaniuka Ruslan / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Pentagon Gives Aerojet Rocketdyne $216M to Boost Production of Weapons Used in Ukraine

The deal will help speed up manufacturing of Javelin, Stinger, and GMLRS rockets.

The Pentagon will invest $216 million to expand and modernize Aerojet Rocketdyne manufacturing facilities in Arkansas, Alabama, and Virginia in an attempt to boost production of rocket motors used in a host of missiles given to Ukraine.

The investment, announced Friday afternoon, comes amid a Pentagon effort to replenish depleted weapon stockpiles. 

“This critical investment will modernize rocket propellant and motor production in the United States, in addition to creating technical and skilled labor jobs at multiple domestic facilities," Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said in a statement.

The deal was brokered by the Pentagon’s Office of Manufacturing Capability Expansion and Investment Prioritization. Pentagon acquisition Chief Bill LaPlante and Doug Bush, the Army’s top weapons buyer, visited Aerojet’s Camden, Arkansas facility, one of the sites slated to benefit from the investment, in August.

“These funds will build upon our own significant investments in modern, efficient facilities and innovative technologies and processes to design and develop advanced propulsion systems to support the defense missions of tomorrow,” Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO Eileen Drake said in a statement.

Aerojet is a critical supplier of solid rocket motors to Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies. Its motors power the thousands of Javelins, Stingers, and GMLRS rockets given to Ukraine.

But the company has struggled to deliver. Late last year, Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes called Aerojet “the weak link” in its supply chain.

The investment comes also as U.S. regulators decide whether to allow L3Harris Technologies to buy Aerojet for $4.7 billion. The Federal Trade Commission in early 2022 blocked Lockheed Martin’s attempt at buying Aerojet. L3Harris says it plans to invest in Aerojet to improve its performance.

Lockheed, which makes the GMLRS rockets, said it is adding machine tooling and testing equipment to boost production.  

Aerojet has been working to modernize its factories and automate manufacturing processes. It has built a new 51,000 square-foot factory in Camden “that consolidates solid rocket motor manufacturing activities, improving both efficiency and safety, increasing production capacity, and reducing costs,” the company said. It also leased a 379,000 square-foot facility to expand manufacturing in Huntsville, Alabama, where it builds “inert components to support solid rocket motors for a range of defense programs.”