Innovation Labs Help Profits Soar Like a Missile at Lockheed Grand Prairie Unit

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control’s Grand Prairie headquarters accounts for only 16 percent of Lockheed's business, but has recently won major defense contracts worth a combined $5B. In Q1, operating profit took off like one of its rockets: up 60 percent.


In a cluster of innovation labs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control’s Grand Prairie headquarters, engineers creatively find ways to better build missiles, rockets, and sensors the company sells to governments—all in an effort to enforce peace around the world.


Frank St. John

Missiles and Fire Control Executive Vice President Frank St. Johns calls the innovation labs “sand boxes,” according to a report in The Dallas Morning News. In those small rooms, engineers work with Raspberry Pi devices, 3d printers, and reels of raw plastics that can be melted and transformed into models.

The Morning News described the innovation labs on the company’s seven-building campus as places where engineers can escape their traditionally secure environment to get creative. They use the latest in commercial technology in their endeavors.

The division makes some of the most advanced missile defense systems in the world. You may have heard of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 or the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), for example.

St. Johns took the top job at Missiles and Fire Control in January 2018, and he recently relocated to Grand Prairie from Orlando.

“It was important for me to relocate and keep the headquarters here in Grand Prairie and get to know the people,” St. Johns told The Morning News.

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Missiles and Fire Control is the smaller of Lockheed Martin’s two business units headquartered in Dallas-Fort Worth. The company’s Lockheed Martin Aeronautics division is based in Fort Worth, where the company manufactures the F-35 fighter jet for the United States and other nations.

Lockheed Missiles and Fire Controls Unit shows sales boost

The Grand Prairie division accounts for 16 percent of Lockheed Martin’s business. In recent months, it has won major defense contracts worth a combined $5 billion.

Company-wide, Lockheed posted more than $14 billion in sales in the first quarter, up from $11.6 billion in Q1 of 2018, The Defense Post reported.

In 2019’s first quarter, Missiles and Fire Control’s sales rose 40 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Operating profit soared like one of its rockets: up 60 percent.

The division hired 800 people last year to meet the rising demand from foreign governments for its weaponry, the Morning News said. Sales jumped by 16 percent last year to $8.5 billion.

Most of Missiles and Fire Control’s roughly 15,000 employees are spread between its locations in Grand Prairie and Orlando. In Lufkin, several hundred employees produce the transport vehicles and electronics systems needed for its products, while the missiles themselves are made in Camden, Arkansas.

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