Aerospace and defense technology giant BAE Systems is planning a major expansion in Austin with a new $150 million campus that will add about 700 jobs over the next several years, the company said Tuesday.
When completed, BAE Systems’ new campus in the Parmer Austin Business Park will be able to accommodate more than 1,400 employees, the company said. It will include engineering, manufacturing, laboratory and office space to primarily support U.S. Department of Defense customers, including the U.S. Army’s Futures Command, which is based in Austin.
The new campus adds to a growing ecosystem of defense technology in Austin, following the opening of Army Futures Command in 2018.
BAE Systems is working with Karlin Real Estate on construction of the new 390,000-square-foot-facility. Construction will begin this year and is expected to be completed in 2022, the company said.
“This expansion will continue our longstanding legacy of innovation in Austin, while also preparing us for our projected engineering and manufacturing growth,” said Dave Harrold, vice president and general manager of Countermeasure and Electromagnetic Attack Solutions at BAE Systems. “Austin is an ideal location to attract the talent we need to deliver the latest capabilities to our customers.”
BAE Systems currently has about 700 employees in Austin, a spokeswoman said.
The company said it will transition its current Austin operations to the new facility. Work at the site will consist of new programs and existing business, which primarily includes the design, development, and manufacturing of radio frequency and electro-optical/infrared countermeasure systems.
The company said the site is ideal because it is near the U.S. Army’s Futures Command, as well as Austin tech accelerator Capital Factory.
Army Futures Command works with a number of technology companies locally, including BAE Systems, as well as with universities, including the University of Texas and Texas A&M to study and develop new technology. The center, which is headquartered downtown at the UT System building, is focused on modernization projects. It also occupies space on the UT campus and at Capital Factory.
“The Army placed Army Futures Command headquarters in Austin because it offers the best opportunities to partner with a multitude of academia, industry and innovators in the private sector as it leads the Army’s modernization efforts. We look forward to continuing to leverage the innovative spirit of the Austin community with our various partners while contributing to long-lasting economic impacts to the region,” said Col. Chad G. Carroll, a spokesman for Army Futures Command.
BAE Systems is part of Capital Factory’s Innovation Council and collaborates with startups and small businesses to accelerate the development of new defense technology for America’s military.
Half of the site will be dedicated to manufacturing and the campus will include both classified and unclassified manufacturing and office space, as well as a cafe and gym, said Scott Hatch, site director of the new campus.
BAE chose Austin for the expansion because of the company’s deep roots here and because the U.S. Army’s Futures Command is based here, Hatch said.
“The company recognizes Austin as a strategic place to invest,” Hatch said. “We’re super excited about this expansion. I think it speaks to the confidence our company has in the region.”
Amber Gunst, CEO of the Austin Technology Council, said BAE’s expansion adds to Austin’s already strong defense tech ecosystem. She said the company’s expansion will make it one of the area’s biggest defense technology focused campuses.
“This further expands the opportunities for tech driven and defense driven employees to come into the area,” Gunst said. “It’s a pretty significant move and I think it’s a good one.”
Gunst said the location gives potential for a lot of opportunity for growth from a housing and potential workforce standpoint. She said it also further adds to opportunities for people in the tech workforce or considering joining it.
“You’ve got a lot of employees who are looking at ‘what is my next option?’” Gunst said. “If people are looking to make that investment to get education around tech to get tech related jobs, this just gives them the surety that tech can even grow during a pandemic and during a crisis like this. It gives them thought of stability, especially after going through extremely unstable times.”
Charisse Bodisch, senior vice president of economic development for the Austin Chamber, said the organization values BAE System’s presence in the community, and is excited to see them expand in the area.
“As leaders in aerospace and security innovation, they hold a key position in our local industry ecosystem,” Bodisch said in a written statement. “BAE System’s commitment to build a new facility, retain current employees and create new jobs place the Austin region on an upward trajectory of economic recovery.”
BAE Systems is based in Arlington, Va., and is a subsidiary of UK-based BAE Systems plc.