U.S. weapons makers, military bet on innovation as funds shrivel

By Andrea Shalal HUNTSVILLE, Alabama (Reuters) – Building missiles used to be back-breaking, strenuous work, and dangerous too, given the high level of explosives involved. But U.S. weapons maker Raytheon Co has revolutionized that process at a sprawling, classified facility in Huntsville, Alabama, where automated transporters ferry missile parts to gleaming assembly stations, and even tuck themselves away for charging when their batteries run low. The $75 million facility at the U.S. military’s Redstone Arsenal reflects a new spirit of innovation pulsing through the U.S. defense industry, which is scrambling to maintain revenues despite declining military budgets after the end of the war in Iraq and the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan. “This is what we call the ‘factory of the future’,” said Randy Stevenson, director of Raytheon’s Weapon Integration Center.

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