General Dynamics to expand, bring jobs to Woodbridge site

General Dynamics Land Systems is expanding its Worth Avenue facility in Woodbridge — a move that will create 40 new jobs and bring 60 more government workers to the site.

The government contractor, which is building assault vehicles for the U.S. Marine Corps, has been in the facility — formerly the Incredible Universe building near Potomac Mills mall — for about two years.

General Dynamics Land Systems, a subsidiary of General Dynamics, occupies about 120,000 square feet of the building and plans to expand into an additional 58,000 square feet.

The expansion represents an estimated investment of $9 million.

General Dynamics is expanding the facility to support the development and demonstration phase of the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAAV), a land-to-sea combat personnel carrier.

In the works since 1996, the AAAV will replace the Marines’ AAV7 land-to-sea vehicles, developed in the 1970s. The AAAVs can be launched up to 25 miles from shore and can travel close to 30 mph in water and 45 mph on land. Fully loaded, they can carry a crew of three and 17 Marines.

The first prototypes of AAAVs have been built and tested and the $4 billion project is entering the “system development and demonstration” phase, which includes the development and assembly of second-generation prototypes.

This phase, scheduled to last until fiscal year 2005, will mature the final AAAV design and prepare it for production.

Production of AAAVs is slated to start in 2004 and 100 of the vehicles will be produced per year, General Dynamics spokesman Pete Keating said in a past interview. He could not be reached Tuesday afternoon.

The Marine Corps will buy 1,000 AAAVs over the next 10 years.

Prototypes of AAAVs have been developed at the Worth Avenue site and another facility at Annapolis Way in Woodbridge, but the sites are too small for large-scale manufacturing. General Dynamics is working to secure a manufacturing site.

Sean Connaughton, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, said in a written release that General Dynamics has become a leader in the community through its business practices and philanthropy.

Headquartered in Falls Church, General Dynamics employs more than 46,000 people worldwide, specializing in business aviation, ship building, marine systems and land and amphibious-combat systems.

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