BAE Systems dedicates new Cedar Rapids facility, touts ‘long-term commitment’ to Corridor

$139 million military GPS facility employs 800 workers

Tom Arseneault BAE Sytems facility dedication
BAE Systems president and CEO Tom Arseneault speaks Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022 at a dedication ceremony for BAE Systems' new $139 million military GPS facility in southwest Cedar Rapids. CREDIT RICHARD PRATT

The completion of BAE Systems’ new $139 million manufacturing facility in southwest Cedar Rapids represents the first phase of the company’s economic investment in the Corridor and its residents, officials said Tuesday, Nov. 1 at a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“Today, we celebrate our investment in this new facility, which is dedicated to the customers we innovate for and to the community in which we live and work,” said Luke Bishop, senior product line director for BAE Systems. “This 278,000-square-foot facility represents our long-term commitment to operating and growing our military GPS business here in Cedar Rapids. We are proud of our longstanding legacy in this city and of the partnerships we’ve created with so many organizations.”

BAE Systems president and CEO Tom Arseneault noted that Tuesday’s facility dedication was the culmination of a project that began when BAE acquired Collins Aerospace’s former military GPS business in 2020 and broke ground on the new facility in October 2020.

“We knew we’d be welcoming over 800 industry-leading, hard-working and dedicated employees to the BAE Systems family, and we knew they both needed and deserved a new home, a modern facility suited to our mission and to the people who would carry it out,” Mr. Arseneault said. “It didn’t take us long to figure out that that new home had to be right here in Cedar Rapids. In this building, our design and production teams will come together in a modern manufacturing, engineering and office space designed to be flexible and built with the intent to grow. Decades hence, will marvel at the magic that will be made here, and we will honor the men and women who will make it.”

The ceremony was attended by a host of dignitaries, including Senator Chuck Grassley, Governor Kim Reynolds, Congresswoman Ashley Hinson, Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell and City Manager Jeff Pomeranz, along with a host of BAE Systems employees and local political and economic development officials.

Several speakers also noted Cedar Rapids’ extensive military communication history first established by Collins Radio, and noted that the first-ever GPS signal was transmitted in 1977 from a satellite to a receiver in Cedar Rapids.

BAE Systems, headquartered in the United Kingdom, completed the acquisition of Collins Aerospace’s former military GPS business in July 2020 in a deal valued at just over $1.9 billion. The military GPS sector was previously owned by United Technologies, which had to sell the GPS business in order to clear antitrust regulatory requirements of its April 2020 merger with Raytheon that formed Raytheon Technologies, now the parent company of Collins Aerospace.

After the acquisition, former Collins Aerospace employees who transitioned to BAE Systems had been working in facilities leased from Collins in Cedar Rapids and Coralville, awaiting completion of the new facility.

BAE Systems’ Cedar Rapids operation focuses on designing, developing and manufacturing military GPS devices. Utilizing different sizes, weight and power (SWAP) specifications, some of the devices are as small as a postage stamp for use in a handheld radio. In contrast, others are the size of a laptop computer, which may be deployed on aircraft, boats or other military vehicles.

See the Nov. 21 print edition of the Corridor Business Journal for extended coverage of the new BAE Systems facility in Cedar Rapids.