NUAIR Alliance UAS Research bring SAAB Business and Jobs to NY

February 3, 2017

Workers at Saab Defense and Security USA work on a trailer that will hold a military radar system being made at the company's headquarters on Enterprise Parkway in DeWitt. The company expects to create about 260 new jobs at the facility over the next five years. Photo by Dennis Nett, dnett@syracuse.com
Photo by Dennis Nett, dnett@syracuse.com
In Dewitt, New York, Swedish aerospace and defense firm, Saab, is ramping up its product offerings in the U.S., and the Syracuse area is set to benefit.

Saab Defense and Security USA, the company's U.S. subsidiary, is moving its headquarters from Ashburn, Va., to its office on Enterprise Parkway in DeWitt as part of an agreement under which New York will provide the company with a $10 million grant and $20 million in tax credits.

Saab Defense and Security USA, the company's U.S. subsidiary, is moving its headquarters from Ashburn, Va., to its office on Enterprise Parkway in DeWitt as part of an agreement under which New York will provide the company with a $10 million grant and $20 million in tax credits.

Saab Defense and Security USA, the company's U.S. subsidiary, is moving its headquarters from Ashburn, Va., to its office on Enterprise Parkway in DeWitt as part of an agreement under which New York will provide the company with a $10 million grant and $20 million in tax credits.

The company said it will create 260 jobs in DeWitt over the next five years under the agreement, more than doubling the size of its 240-person workforce already here. Only a few of those jobs will be relocating from Ashburn, however.

Erik Smith, president and CEO of Saab Defense and Security USA, said the
Erik Smith, president and CEO of SAAB Defense and Security USA, points to a photo of a military radar made by the company in DeWitt.
Photo by Dennis Nett, dnett@syracuse.com
company plans to significantly expand its defense business in the U.S. and most of the new jobs will be created as a result of that growth.

"We are going to grow our U.S. footprint through Syracuse, New York," he said.

In DeWitt, the company designs and makes radars for the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Navy and is in the early stages of bringing its portfolio of electronic warfare systems to the facility.

Saab plans to continue operating its facility in Ashburn, where it provides after-market logistics support for the aviation industry. It also will continue to operate facilities in Lillington, N.C., where it makes camouflage netting for the Army, and in Orlando, Fla., where it makes training systems for the Army. As their businesses grow, more headquarters staff will be needed in DeWitt to support them, Smith said.

The growth in DeWitt has already started. Smith said 120 people have been hired at the facility in the last 18 months to support the growth. The new jobs include positions in engineering, assembly, finance, program management and human resources.

"We're hiring across the board," he said.

Saab AB bought DeWitt-based Sensis Corp., a maker of radars and air traffic management systems, for $170 million in 2011. Saab, which split its automobile business from its aerospace business in 1989, broke Sensis into two companies -- Saab Defense and Security, and Saab Sensis. Smith said Saab is bringing some of the radar and other technologies it developed in Sweden to the U.S. Workers in DeWitt are modifying the technologies for sale to the U.S. military, he said.

Saab Sensis, located at Collamer Crossing off Interstate 481, employs approximately 240 people and serves at the hub of Saab's global air traffic management business.

Saab Sensis, shortly after Saab's acquisition of Sensis in 2011, laid off another 30 people in 2014. But Saab Sensis President and CEO Mike Gerry said the company's air traffic management business has begun to grow modestly in the last two years and has started to hire again.

Gerry said the business is positioned to benefit from the rapid growth in the use of unmanned aircraft systems. Saab Sensis is a member of the NUAIR Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 private and public entities and academic institutions working to operate UAS test ranges in New York, Massachusetts and Michigan. The coalition is headquartered at Griffiss International Airport in Oneida County city of Rome, one of seven FAA-designated UAS test sites
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The FAA is encouraging companies to develop ways to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into the nation's air traffic system. Gerry said that's one area where Saab Sensis will be working together with Saab Defense and Security because both have expertise and products that can accomplish the kind of integration sought by the FAA.

"It has the potential to be the most disruptive thing to happen in my business in my lifetime," he said.

By Rick Moriarty | rmoriarty@syracuse.com