Company leaders were on site in Huntsville, Ala., on Dec. 12 as MBDA Inc., the wholly owned U.S. subsidiary of European missile giant MBDA, had its first business day as owner of the Viper Strike missile program.
Closing the deal to purchase the business from Northrop Grumman at midnight Dec. 9, the acquisition is a first for MBDA Inc., which has been operating in California for more than 20 years but has not had a major production center.
Production of the Viper Strike missile, a 44-pound guided weapon designed to be carried on a variety of platforms including UAVs, at its major manufacturing plant in Huntsville is not expected to be interrupted, the company said.
"This was the first acquisition, but it's not the first time that we had been looking at something," said MBDA Inc. CEO Jerry Agee.
The purchase is part of a strategy dating back two years, Agee said, as MBDA looks to grow its footprint in the U.S., despite the uncertainty surrounding the defense budget.
"When we have a very small market share now, any growth is significant for us," he said.
The first day of operations saw Agee and others touring the Viper Strike production plant.
"The employees here are very positive," Agee said. "I think they see the benefit of being inside a company that really focuses on missiles."
As MBDA Inc. looks to increase its U.S. business and production, Agee said overseas sales would not be a part of the equation.
"Right now, we're absolutely focused on the U.S. market," he said. "We've got a much bigger part of the company that's focused on the international market. We try to let them do their business, and we're focusing on where we've been tasked to grow, which is in the U.S. marketplace."