CHELMSFORD -- Lockheed Martin is expanding in more ways than one.

The defense company's Missiles and Fire Control division is experiencing tremendous growth this year, and with that comes a need for a larger facility and more employees, according to new Chelmsford Site Director Colin Sterling.

Starting later this month, the company will begin to build a two-story, 14,000-square-foot addition to the southeast side of its Maple Road facility, he said.

"For the community in particular, what the expansion represents is bringing on additional, high-paying careers with competitive benefits to the area," Sterling said.

The project received approvals from the Planning Board and Conservation Commission in December.

The existing 68,000-square-foot facility is currently at 98 percent capacity, Sterling said. He said the addition will allow for greater efficiency and provide capacity for growth.

The Chelmsford location is an engineering design and manufacturing site for Lockheed Martin's air and missile defense systems. About 260 employees design and produce components for two of the company's premier combat-proven missile systems: the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Weapon System and the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile.

Lockheed Martin has had much to celebrate in recent months, with many new lucrative contracts in the U.S. and abroad.

One such win that directly affects the Chelmsford location is a $524 million contract, announced Feb.


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8, that will provide PAC-3 and PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement interceptors to the U.S. and allied military forces. This contract modification was in addition to a $944 million contract for PAC-3 and PAC-3 MSE production and delivery awarded Dec. 21.

Another was a $459 million THAAD interceptor contract with the U.S. Department of Defense Missile Defense Agency, announced Jan. 26, to support U.S. Army THAAD units and growing operational requirements. The contract modification brought the total contract value to $1.28 billion with funding provided in 2017 and 2018.

The Missiles and Fire Control Division will add about 1,000 new employees overall, 35 of whom will be in Chelmsford, Sterling said. Positions targeted for the local facility include radio-frequency, electrical, mechanical and test engineers, production technicians and supervisors, he said.

Sterling said he expects other employees will be hired throughout the year to account for normal attrition.

The first floor of the addition will include 6,000 square feet of manufacturing clean room space, he said. The remaining 8,000 square feet will be office and cafeteria space on the second floor, Sterling said. He said the existing cafeteria space in the main building will be converted to expanded manufacturing space.

Sterling said there is a lot of excitement among employees about the expansion.

"To them it's sort of a physical representation of the increased work and the longevity that will be had here in Chelmsford," he said.

Because the new construction will take up a significant amount of the current parking lot, the first part of the project will be to create parking on another part of the property, Sterling said. He expects the entire project to be completed by spring 2019.

Sterling, who relocated to Massachusetts about six months ago, previously oversaw Lockheed Martin's leading manufacturing facility in Camden, Arkansas.

He said he's passionate about education, especially in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. Sterling said he was engaged in student STEM activities in his last assignment, and hopes to do this same here, in underserved communities if possible.

"As an engineer, I see a tremendous value in STEM degrees and careers," he said. "There are tremendous opportunities for youth in America today to really expand their abilities to create fantastic careers for themselves."

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