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Cedar Rapids Companies Play Global Roles

From spacesuit development to national security, Cedar Rapids companies fulfill vital tasks.

By Kim Madlom on January 23, 2023

Collins Aerospace has played a key role in spacesuit development over the years.
Collins Aerospace

Cedar Rapids plays a leading role in national security, with innovative companies developing new products and technologies to keep the U.S. safe and running efficiently.

The region is home to industries in the defense and security sector, including BAE Systems, Skyworks Solutions Inc., Crystal Group Inc. and Collins Aerospace.

BAE Systems, located in more than 40 countries, provides advanced, technology-led defense, aerospace and security solutions. The company develops and delivers products and systems that protect national security, while also securing critical information and infrastructure.

BAE Systems’ state-of-the-art facility in Cedar Rapids
BAE Systems

Growing in Cedar Rapids

With an already strong presence in the city, BAE Systems plans to open its new $139 million facility on the west side of Interstate 380. As an innovation hub for the company’s military global positioning system sector, the factory and research center will be home to 700 GPS experts.

BAE Systems’ Navigation and Sensor Systems business focuses on designing, developing and manufacturing military GPS devices – some as small as postage stamps for use in handheld radios and others the size of laptop computers for use on aircraft, boats or other military vehicles.

“Cedar Rapids has an excellent local talent pool with skilled engineers and microelectronics production experts to support our workforce.”

Greg Wild, BAE Systems

Expansion in Cedar Rapids was a natural next step for the company. “We knew a key to success was retaining the experienced and talented Cedar Rapids workforce when we acquired the military GPS business in 2020,” says Greg Wild, BAE Systems director of navigation and sensor systems.

In June, BAE Systems unveiled its newest advanced M-Code GPS receiver for guided weapons and other small applications, enabling precise geolocation and strike capabilities in highly contested battle spaces. The Strategic Anti-jam Beamforming Receiver – M-Code (SABR-M) delivers accurate position, velocity, altitude and timing data, as well as strong protection against GPS signal jamming and spoofing.

These are all critical capabilities for unmanned aerial vehicles, precision-guided munitions and missiles in threat environments, which enable secure and precise guidance of weapons and equipment.

Moving Forward

Skyworks Solutions, a national semiconductor design and manufacturing company, is expanding its presence in Cedar Rapids with a new facility. The expansion will add 22 new positions, bringing the total jobs to approximately 170.

Skyworks conducts research and development for semiconductors for mobile devices and produces prototype samples that are sent abroad for manufacture. The company offers a broad portfolio of products, supporting aerospace and defense applications – all designed with high reliability and quality to ensure they work day-in and day-out without fail.

Out of this World

The astronauts who first stepped on the moon’s surface wore spacesuits crafted by Collins Aerospace. “Collins was there when the first man walked on the moon, and we’ll be there when humankind goes back,” says Phil Jasper, president of mission systems.

Collins’ latest innovation started when NASA asked the company to create the next-generation spacesuit, which offers enhanced mobility and lighter weight, allowing for increased mission times. The suits are designed to accommodate nearly every astronaut’s body type and can rapidly incorporate new technologies.

“Astronauts returning to the moon and venturing beyond need a spacesuit that’s as modern as their new missions,” says Dan Burbank, senior technical fellow at Collins and a former NASA astronaut. “The next-gen spacesuit is lighter, more modular, a better fit and easily adaptable, which means that wherever the journey into space may lead, our crew will be ready.”

Collins has also secured an agreement to support the E-3 airborne early warning and control system.

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