OKLAHOMA CITY — An aerospace manufacturer that produces unmanned aircraft plans to locate its operations center in Oklahoma City and create more than 350 jobs over the next five years, Gov. Mary Fallin said Tuesday.
Nevada-based Valkyrie Systems Aerospace has formed a partnership with the state to operate manufacturing facilities as well as flight operations and training in the Oklahoma City area, Fallin said.
The governor said creation of an aircraft manufacturing facility will help diversify the state’s economy and expand its role as a leader in the aerospace and unmanned aircraft systems industries.
“Our talented workforce and low cost of doing business along with a good quality of life makes Oklahoma very attractive for growing companies like Valkyrie,” Fallin said.
The Oklahoma Department of Commerce worked with Valkyrie for nine months to secure the project. Commerce officials said the company has been awarded a 21st Century Quality Jobs Program incentive contract, which is issued to qualifying businesses with a highly skilled, high-paid, knowledge-based workforce.
Valkyrie CEO Glenn Dawson said some of the top aviation companies in the world are already located in the state. The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber’s website says more than 230 aerospace firms are located in the Oklahoma City area alone.
“The state of Oklahoma is well on its way to become the leader in unmanned aerospace development and manufacturing,” Dawson said.
Valkyrie’s HoverJets are unmanned and optionally piloted aircraft that support such missions as medical evacuations, extraction of personnel and equipment, threat detection and firefighting. The HoverJets’ unique heavy-lift vertical takeoff and landing abilities allow them to operate in any environment.
Valkyrie officials said the chance to integrate the company with the University of Oklahoma’s aviation and aerospace engineering program and Oklahoma State University’s autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles program was one of the reasons it partnered with the state.
“Valkyrie’s goal is to create and maintain partnerships with the higher education system in Oklahoma, all the while developing and retaining students with the goal of moving them into the aerospace workforce as supported by Valkyrie Systems Aerospace,” said Steve Tafoya, managing partner of Valkyrie.
Dr. Jamey D. Jacob, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at OSU and a leader of the university’s unmanned aerial vehicles program, said OSU has developed a national reputation for designing, building and testing unmanned aircraft and autonomous systems, and offers unique opportunities for students and the aerospace industry.
“OSU’s Unmanned Systems Research Institute brings together interdisciplinary expertise from across OSU and beyond to provide specialized resources and assets to support Oklahoma’s already robust aerospace industry, as well as the vital agriculture and oil and gas sectors,” Jacob said.