R2S, a joint venture between Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Raytheon (RTX), has broken ground on a new manufacturing plant in East Camden, Arkansas.

Located at the Highland Industrial Park, the new $63m (NIS229.44m) facility will expand the two companies’ existing production facility and create up to 60 new jobs in the region.

In 2023, Arkansas was home to 144 companies employing more than 8,800 people in the aerospace and defence manufacturing sector. According to a report published by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, aerospace and defence exports reached $890m in goods, or more than 15% of the state’s total exports in 2022.

Commenting on the developments, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: “It is an honour to join R2S for today’s groundbreaking, just as it was an honour to announce this project in October and meet with company representatives last summer at the Paris Air Show.”

RTX is a US aerospace and defence company based in Arlington, Virginia. Its subsidiary, Pratt & Whitney, opened a digital capability centre in India in February this year in a move that is set to bolster collaboration with other RTX business operations in the south Asian country.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems is an Israeli manufacturer and supplier of air, land, sea and space defence systems with 8,000 employees as well as contractors and service suppliers worldwide.

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Pini Yungman, executive vice-president and general manager of the Air & Missile Defense Division at Rafael, said: “Today, we mark a significant milestone in the Iron Dome programme – one of the most important and advanced air defence systems in the world. The establishment of the new facility is the result of strong cooperation between Rafael and Raytheon, who joined forces about 18 years ago.”

Annabel Flores, Raytheon’s deputy president of Land & Air Defense Systems, added that the initial capital investment for the East Camden project doubled from $33m to $63m.

“This increase represents the commitment by both partners to support this critical project for the USMC and to our allies around the world that depend on reliable air defence systems,” she concluded.