Washington (GDC) – Saab says it will expand its East Syracuse plant and add 50 new jobs after the U.S. Navy selected the company to help upgrade its fleet of small, fast combat ships.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said today the Navy will move forward with a plan that could result in the installation of Saab’s radar and sensor systems on all of the Navy’s littoral combat ships.
Littoral combat ships are part of the Navy’s new fleet of small, fast and stealthy ships built to operate in shallow, coastal waters.
Saab’s Ceros 200 system helps ships defend against sea-skimming missiles and other incoming threats by identifying, tracking and locking-on to targets for a ship’s guns and surface-to-air missiles.
Schumer, D-N.Y., secured $7 million in funding for an initial test phase that includes a land-based demonstration program at a Navy testing facility along the Potomac River in Dahlgren, Va.
Saab officials said the initial tests would be followed by sea-based demonstrations that, if successful, could lead to Navy contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars for the plant in East Syracuse.
“This radar will be a tremendous asset for our armed forces and will help create 50 good-paying jobs here in Syracuse, with potential for more jobs in the future,” Schumer said.
Erik Smith, the East Syracuse-based president and CEO of Saab in the U.S., said in a statement that the deal with the Navy could turn into a multi-year partnership that will help grow the company in Central New York.
Saab, Inc., part of the Swedish defense and aerospace firm, employs about 700 people in the United States, including about 500 at its North American headquarters in East Syracuse.
In addition to the 50 new manufacturing jobs, Saab is hiring to fill 35 open positions in East Syracuse, said Chelsea Bishop, a company spokesperson.
The open positions are in engineering, information technology, manufacturing, and production. Saab declined to provide a pay range.
Saab’s missile and fire-control system, the Ceros 200, has already been installed on more than 200 naval ships operated by Canada and countries in Western Europe.
If Saab’s initial testing program with the U.S. Navy is successful, it could replace the Navy’s current air surveillance radar system, Schumer said.
Rep. John Katko, R-Camillus, also helped secure a second round of appropriations for the Navy and Saab to complete the initial testing phase with littoral combat ships.
The Freedom-class of littoral combat ships have been plagued with design flaws in their transmissions, prompting the Navy to temporarily halt deliveries of new ships. All told, the Navy has ordered 35 of the ships from two manufacturers.
During the ship’s development, the Pentagon’s testing office questioned the ship’s cost and potential vulnerability in combat.
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