Defense and Aerospace Reaching New Frontiers in NEI

In Focus with Stéphane Frijia

Friends of NEI,

As we continue to execute our 2024 Action Plan, our team continues to focus on strategic initiatives designed to elevate and expand industry clusters where Northeast Indiana boasts a competitive advantage. Following our recent highlights on the MedTech and Specialty Insurance sectors, this week I want to highlight our Defense and Aerospace industry and how it’s extending its bounds further into space.


This is an important economic driver for our region. Since 2020 Northeast Indiana’s companies performed more than $2.4 billion in contracting work with the U.S. Department of Defense, supporting our region’s competency and talent development forces to ensure the safety and advancement of the nation.


Some of the more notable work and specialties include manufacturing underwater sound equipment for communication and detection purposes, developing electronics and communication equipment, tactical data systems, cryptology, airborne navigation equipment, cutting-edge missile defense satellites and more.


Our defense and aerospace sector is anchored by global defense and aerospace powerhouses like BAE SystemsRaytheon Technologies and L3Harris TechnologiesUltra Maritime, and others like C&A Tool Engineering Inc., Trelleborg AB and Total Control Systems employs over 10,000 people across the region. Their history of repeat investments underscores NEI’s attraction to Defense and Aerospace companies, attributed to its skilled workforce and a culture that fosters innovation.


L3Harris recently made the news with their missile defense satellite programs at their new classified facility in Fort Wayne. The facility successfully crafted five cutting-edge space satellites, which were launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. This marks a significant milestone in both the Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) program and the Space Development Agency’s (SDA) Tranche 0 Tracking Layer program.


These events exemplify the opportunity for NEI to expand and become a key player in the space race. By leveraging technological advances, strategic partnerships and an acute understanding of emerging market trends, NEI can position itself for success and contribute significantly to collective efforts of exploring the infinite potential of space.


Northeast Indiana is primed for continued growth and success thanks to an educated workforce of more than 38,000 engineers, 46% higher than the national average, a strong manufacturing culture and a very competitive cost of doing business that allows our companies to compete for defense contracts. PwC ranks Indiana overall as the 5th most attractive state for aerospace manufacturing.


The region’s talent pipeline is reinforced by esteemed engineering programs at Purdue University Fort Wayne and Trine University. These institutions not only equip students with the necessary skills but also foster innovation. For example, recently Trine University in Angola and Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division have teamed up on an initiative to develop autonomous low-profile vessels, or LPVs, putting Indiana students at the forefront of research and development, thanks to the support of federal delegation and in particular the work of Congressman Jim Banks, R-3.


The region also plays a pivotal role in global aviation, providing engine controls and flight control systems that are being utilized in fleets worldwide.


Among our many National Guard and Reserve units in our region, Fort Wayne is home to the 122nd Fighter Wing, which not only bolsters our nation’s defense but also contributes significantly to our local economy, employing approximately 1,000 individuals and generating over $77 million in economic impact.


Northeast Indiana has a thriving defense and aerospace sector, and at NEI we are firmly committed to finding more opportunities where the convergence of high-quality talent and industry leaders will propel the advancement of our nation’s safety and security, as well as our region’s economy.


Warm regards,
Stéphane Frijia

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