BAE modernizes the boom

Hank Hayes • Jan 15, 2018 at 8:30 AM

KINGSPORT – The big boom is getting an upgrade.

BAE Systems Ordnance Systems Inc., as the operating contractor for the Holston Army Ammunition Plant (HSAAP), says it has completed 60 major modernization projects at HSAAP.

The plant celebrated its 75th year in Kingsport last year. HSAAP began as the Wexler Bend Pilot Plant in 1942 with 50 Tennessee Eastman company employees. In June of 1942, the U.S. Government authorized Tennessee Eastman Company to design and operate Holston Ordnance Works (HOW). By January 1944, HOW produced and shipped 1.1 million pounds of explosives per day. Decommissioned at the end of World War II, HOW was reactivated for the Korean Conflict and was renamed Holston Army Ammunition Plant.

The company responded to the following questions.

What’s the reason for the modernization?

The reason for all our modernization efforts is to ensure the long-term viability of the HSAAP in its strategic support of the Warfighter. Modernization efforts can include infrastructure and process updates, technology insertion, and safety and environmental enhancements.

What’s the timeline for the modernization? When did it start and when will it end?

Modernization is an ongoing process that will be executed over the life of the Holston facility.

What’s involved in the modernization? Does it involve production lines/buildings/etc.?

Modernization includes the design, construction, and commissioning of all facets of the Holston facility operations. The efforts are highly varied and encompass large and small scale projects. Everything from updating infrastructure to technology insertion to safety and environmental enhancements is included in our modernization plan.

Are you going to be adding employees as a result of the modernization? What’s your employee count there now?

Currently, BAE Systems employs roughly 900 people at the HSAAP. Yes, we are always seeking qualified employees to support modernization and other efforts. BAE Systems also utilizes multiple subcontractors in support of our modernization efforts.

When did the last modernization happen?

Modernization has been a continual and ongoing focus for HSAAP since its inception. BAE Systems has been focusing on modernizing the facility since becoming the operating contractor in 1999.

Can you say how much the company will spend on the modernization?

We are unable to disclose total modernization investment funding for the facility.

What types of explosives are produced there now?

Our products include: RDX and RDX Formulations, HMX and HMX Formulations, IMX and IMX Formulations and other critical energetic materials.

Will the modernization add other product lines?

Yes, the modernization will enhance production capabilities of our current product base and will allow for future product requirements as needed by the U.S. Department of Defense. Modernization works in concert with our Research and Development team, and we are always striving for safer, more effective product to support our Warfighter.

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