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Aerospace and defense contractor Orbital ATK closing Clearwater facility

Published Sep. 1, 2015

Orbital ATK, a Virginia-based aerospace and defense firm, plans to close a Clearwater manufacturing facility by spring, a decision based at least in part on lessened U.S. defense spending, the company said Monday.

The closure of the facility at 13133 34th St. N is expected to be completed by April and could result in up to 99 job losses, the company said. Employees were notified in July.

The facility makes missile- and laser-warning systems for aircraft used by the U.S. military and other nations around the world. Orbital's Clearwater site also makes testing equipment for a variety of weapons systems.

Nancy Stoehr-Campbell, an Orbital ATK spokeswoman, said the company is relocating its Pinellas County operations to Northridge, Calif., which is in the greater Los Angeles area. She said some of the company's Clearwater employees would be offered positions there, though she could not say how many.

She said the firm's primary reason for closing its facility was a desire to consolidate manufacturing "to give the best value to customers." But she said a secondary reason is the decline in U.S. defense spending now that the nation has removed troops from Iraq and the withdrawal of most combat forces in Afghanistan.

"It's certainly a factor," Stoehr-Campbell said. "The defense industry has changed considerably in the last few years."

It is not immediately clear how much the company contracts with the U.S. military. One of Orbital ATK's most recent military contracts is a $30 million award to provide ammunition for several of the nation's services and U.S. allies, the company announced in August.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce reported last year that big defense contractors in the state had seen a $3 billion drop in revenue to $11.2 billion from the peak of military spending in 2010.

Orbital ATK also has a $1.9 billion contract with NASA to resupply the International Space Station.

Stoehr-Campbell could not say how long the Clearwater facility has been in operation. Orbital ATK was created in the merger, finalized earlier this year, of Orbital Sciences Corp. and Alliant Techsystems Inc.

Contact William R. Levesque at levesque@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3432. Follow @Times_Levesque.