Raytheon Missile Celebration

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - In the years following World War II, it became apparent that ships at sea were sitting ducks.

Armed with heavy guns, they were no match for rockets fired from airplanes.

It took until 1953 to solve the problem.

In that year, the first missile was fired from a U.S. ship at sea.

The standard missile solved the problem of protecting America's fleet.

Raytheon Missile Systems is celebrating the 60th anniversary of that momentous event, one which charged warfare.

Now missiles go far beyond protecting ships to protecting nations.

The fourth generation of the standard missile seeks targets in outer space and there is undoubtedly more to come.

Dr. Taylor Lawrence, Raytheon's president, addressing an international crowd of several hundred in Hanger 845 on the missile makers property, said there is more work to be done.

"Reliability is vital considering the short range ballistic missile threat from nations such as Iran and North Korea," he told the crowd.

And he says there's no predicting where the next challenge will come from.

"Threats around the world are developing quickly and they represent a clear and present danger to our nation and our allies," he said.

During the celebration there was also a ceremonial signing to represent the first missile delivered by the new Raytheon factory in Huntsville, Alabama.

Dr. Lawrence signed a delivery slip in Tucson and by video link, officials in Alabama did the same.

"We're very proud to be delivering our first unit out of this factory," said an executive in Alabama.

But for some in Tucson it was a bitter reminder how Tucson lost the competition for the factory to be built here.

Raytheon officials said it was because it could not expand and test the system's here.

Tucson officials have traveled to Huntsville to observe why they lost and are trying to rectify the problem.

The latest is talk of a tech park and science center bordering the Raytheon property.

"We need to get that done now," Lawrence said. "It gives us room to expand, we're sort of constrained right now."

But he gave local officials reason for optimism.

"I'm really pleased we're making progress in that area," he says.

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