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700 of 900 New Jobs in S.D. : General Dynamics Wins Major AF Rocket Contract

San Diego County Business Editor

General Dynamics’ Space Systems Division was awarded a contract by the Air Force on Tuesday to build 11 Atlas rockets to launch the new Defense Satellite Communications System and another defense satellite.

According to an Air Force announcement, the contract is expected to create 900 jobs during the next year, 700 of them in San Diego, where the General Dynamics division is based. In addition to the 11 launch vehicles, the contract includes a follow-on provision that could call for 20 more Atlas rockets, company spokesman Jack Isabel said Tuesday.

General Dynamics did not disclose the dollar value of the contract, and Air Force officials in Los Angeles were not available for comment Tuesday afternoon. General Dynamics beat out a competing team headed by McDonnell Douglas for the project, officially known as the Medium Launch Vehicle II, or MLV II.

The new satellite system will be a worldwide network designed to supply secure voice and data transmission services to agencies of the Defense and State departments and other U.S. government agencies, Isabel said.

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The lead contractor for the communications system is General Electric.

The Space Systems Division, which already employs 3,300 people in San Diego, will provide the rocket boosters over a six-year period beginning in 1991, Isabel said.

400 Engineers

As soon as Congress releases the already-appropriated funds for MLV II, the company will begin hiring 400 engineers and, at a more gradual rate, 500 production-support workers.

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Of the 900 jobs to be generated by the contract, about 200 will be at Vandenberg Air Force Base, north of Santa Barbara, and at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.

The rockets to be built for the Air Force are a member of the Atlas Centaur family but with more payload capacity than previous models.


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