Weekly Columns

The Senate recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024. This legislation invests in America’s servicemembers, helps secure our homeland, equips America and our allies to deter threats from adversaries and strengthens Arkansas’s role in our national defense.

Camden, Arkansas boasts the production of highly effective weapon systems and munitions, facilitated by companies like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and L3Harris/Aerojet. With the third highest state economic impact valued at $1.3 billion from Ukraine supplementals, these investments have established Camden as the backbone to the arsenal of democracy.

I’m continuing to advocate for policies and funding to build on this foundation by enhancing the domestic small arms industrial base and companies producing munitions in south Arkansas all while creating new jobs. 

We’ve worked with state and local leaders to demonstrate why Camden is the best location to build a modern air defense capability and the industry has taken notice. 

In October, Raytheon, in collaboration with Rafael, announced a $33 million investment to produce the SkyHunter interceptor missile for the Marine Corps’ Medium Range Interceptor Capability program. This facility will also increase production capacity for the Tamir interceptor missile for Israel’s Iron Dome. This expansion will enhance our national defense and strengthen our partnership with Israel.

The Army recently awarded General Dynamics $218 million to expand 155-millimeter artillery production. This includes funding that will build two new production facilities and boost production of 155mm rounds. 

Earlier this year Aerojet Rocketdyne (now in partnership with L3Harris) received $215 million from the Department of Defense for facility upgrades. These improvements will help increase production and delivery speed of short-range solid rocket motors, a critical component to most munitions currently being used by Ukraine and needed in the Pacific as well.

Lockheed Martin has invested $142 million in its Precision Fires center of excellence in Camden which is integral to producing versatile and rapidly deployable systems such as the High Mobility Artillery Rocket, PAC-3 MSE interceptor for the Patriot Missile Battery and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense Interceptor. 

The cumulative impact of these projects positions Arkansas as a strategic influence for national security. As a strong supporter of these initiatives, I am persistently advocating for further investment and growth in our state. Over the last two years, I have fought to secure over $700 million in funding through the Defense Appropriations bill to support Camden's industrial base, boosting its economic vitality.

Camden is just one of many Natural State locations housing military assets, and because of that, I am convinced that Arkansas serves as the backbone of the arsenal of democracy. I remain dedicated to further enhancing Arkansas’s critical role in our nation's defense industrial base. I know a lot will be asked of Arkansans in the coming weeks, months and years as demand for these critical munitions increase, but rest assured, we are ready to take on this challenge. We are deeply committed to fulfilling the needs of our allies, enhancing American deterrence and solidifying our national security.