Starkville site chosen for new unmanned aircraft plant

For complete coverage of the announcement, see Thursday's Daily Journal.

In today's Daily Journal: Starkville may be site of new industry

Daily Journal, Wire Reports

STARKVILLE – A Virginia-based supplier of unmanned air vehicles will build a production facility in north Mississippi.

As reported in today's Daily Journal, Aurora Flight Sciences of Manassas, Va., a leading supplier of unmanned air vehicle designs, components, metal and composite structures, will locate at temporary facility at the Raspet Flight Research Laboratory. The company will build a 65,000-square-foot manufacturing plant at Golden Triangle Regional Airport.

The company plans to hire 30 people initially to a high of 300. The first aircraft is expected to be flown by mid-2005, officials said. Officials said the UAVs manufactured by Aurora will be based on a design from Israel Aircraft Industries, a company recognized as a leader in UAV development.

The formal announcement came Wednesday at a news conference at Mississippi State University.

The Raspet Flight Research Laboratory is located at the Starkville Municipal Airport.

Founded in 1989, Aurora began developing high-altitude aircraft. The company offers four product lines to industry and government customers. Aurora also has a facility at Bridgeport, W.Va.

The aircraft are capable of conducting reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition, according to the company.

On Monday, defense contractor Northrop Grumman said it will use an upgraded version of its Hunter II unmanned aerial vehicle for the U.S. Army's new Extended-Range/Multi-purpose UAV System.

The Raspet lab is part of Mississippi State University's Department of Aerospace Engineering, the lab is the largest university flight research facility in the country.