By Jerry Underwood
San Diego-based Kratos Defense & Security Solutions Inc. announced plans Tuesday to expand its newly established business unit in Birmingham.
With the support of critical enhancement programs provided by the state, Jefferson County and the city of Birmingham, Kratos expects to add 76 jobs and make approximately $8.6 million in capital investments in its Birmingham facility over the next five years.
Kratos acquired the engineering division of Birmingham-based Southern Research in an $80 million asset transaction in May. The acquisition establishes Kratos SRE, an advanced concept group within Kratos’ Defense & Rocket Support Services (KDRSS) Division.
SRE employs about 140 engineers, technicians and program support professionals conducting work in the space community, the Department of Defense and with other national security customers.
The Kratos SRE Birmingham growth plan is part of the company’s overall strategy to expand leading-edge technology capabilities in areas related to hypersonics. The new positions, with an average annual salary of $95,000, will be a mixture of engineers, technicians and support staff.
“We appreciate the support that Kratos has received from the state of Alabama and the Birmingham local government,” said Dave Carter, president of KDRSS. “Training grants and other key incentives allow us to accelerate our capabilities’ expansion and enhance the already impressive workforce at Kratos SRE.
“The Birmingham advanced concepts business unit is a key enabler to expanding Kratos’ leadership in hypersonics and other technology areas.”
The growth plans for Kratos’ Birmingham advanced concepts business unit were announced in conjunction with the 2022 Farnborough International Airshow, held near London. Company representatives met with the Alabama team at the Made in Alabama booth on the opening day of the high-profile trade event.
“Over many decades, the talented workforce in the Southern Research Engineering Division has made many important contributions to the nation’s space program and critical national defense programs,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“I look forward to seeing the Birmingham Kratos SRE business unit continue their record of amazing accomplishments, as Kratos makes investments in advanced concepts and expands their technical capabilities,” Canfield said.
Kratos plans to continue enhancing SRE’s industry-leading expertise in the testing and evaluation of how advanced materials behave in extreme environments to ensure the nation’s industrial base is prepared to address the challenges associated with space, hypersonics, missiles and propulsion systems.
Kratos SRE also specializes in intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) sensor development, electromechanical systems design, aerospace engineering and other technical disciplines.
“Kratos is the perfect home for my engineering team,” said Michael Johns, former Southern Research Engineering Division vice president and now Kratos SRE senior vice president. “From hypersonics to ISR applications, Kratos brings tremendous synergies across all of our technical platforms.”
“We have long been the leader in understanding materials in extreme environments for applications, including hypersonics, but now as part of Kratos, we are able to support programs all the way through flight test and beyond, substantially increasing our total addressable market opportunity.”
Local officials welcomed Kratos’ expansion plans for the Birmingham facility.
“As Birmingham and Jefferson County continues to expand its aerospace and defense industry footprint, we welcome Kratos and its plans for new jobs and investment,” Jefferson County Commissioner Steve Ammons said. “Southern Research’s Engineering Division was a powerful leader in defense and strategic deterrence system development, and we will continue to support Kratos in its new and innovative solutions.”
Emily Jerkins Hall, president and chief operating officer of the Birmingham Business Alliance, said the organization is grateful that Kratos not only committed to staying in the city but also to growing there.
“Our team enjoyed working with Southern Research and the project team to help Kratos establish and scale their operations here,” she said. “Their investment in our community will continue to make the greater Birmingham region an attractive destination for top engineering talent from around the globe.”
This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.