Military contractor Anduril Industries Inc., boosted by a huge financing round, was one of the big winners among top OC defense and aerospace companies, growing its headcount by over 50% this year.
Anduril landed a nearly $1.5 billion investment in 2022, bringing the company’s valuation to $8.5 billion, while its business wins range from the purchase of a rocket motor company to coming a step closer to helping to develop a new tank for the U.S. Army.
While Anduril accelerates its growth, founder Palmer Luckey says his goal is to make the giant U.S. military spending more efficient and effective.
“With the right technology we can spend less and still do more, be safer and keep our partners and allies around the world safer as well,” Luckey told an interviewer in May.
The local Anduril headcount grew from 586 in 2022 to 888 as of last month, according to the annual Business Journal’s list of Aerospace and Defense Contractors, and more growth at its expansive, and expanding, Costa Mesa headquarters on the way.
Anduril was advertising for about 250 positions on its website on Aug. 28, including prototype R&D engineer/pilot, principal software engineer and rocket motor chief engineer.
The 6-year-old startup rose three spots on the Business Journal list, which ranks defense and aerospace companies by local headcount, to No. 9.
The aerospace and defense sector’s overall local headcount rose 10% to 21,039 last month, as the economy moves further away from the COVID-19 slump.
Companies are benefiting from both civilian and military orders.
Aircraft components maker Ducommun Inc. (NYSE: DCO) participated at the Paris Air Show in June “which further validated the commercial aerospace recovery has exceeded expectations with plenty of runway ahead,” according to Ducommun President, Chairman and CEO Stephen Oswald.
The Santa Ana-based company ranks No. 24 with 85 area employees as of last month.
Of the 26 defense and aerospace companies surveyed by the Business Journal, only three reported a lower headcount this year.
The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) kept the No. 1 place as its local headcount, centered around Seal Beach, jumped to an estimated 5,280 from an estimated 4,800 last year.
The company didn’t break down its local employment figures but said its employment in the state increased 10% to 13,615. The Business Journal upped its local estimate by a corresponding amount.
“Increases were driven primarily by hiring in engineering and manufacturing,” a Boeing spokesperson told the Business Journal on Aug. 28. The company says it sees “increased demand for our products and services.”
Defense giant Raytheon Technologies Corp. remained steady at an estimated 2,000 local employees to keep the No. 2 slot.
Parker Aerospace in Irvine grew 57% to 1,946 employees to take the No. 3 spot, after parent company Parker Hannifin Corp. (NYSE: PH) of Cleveland acquired U.K. aerospace company Meggitt for $7.7 billion.
Meggitt has long counted a sizeable local presence.
The acquisition “provides a unique opportunity to expand our complementary product portfolios and develop new products and services,” Barry Draskovich, group vice president of program and contact management in Irvine, told the Business Journal.
Parker Aerospace’s recent gains include a $222 million contract for support work on the U.S. Army’s UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.
Rapidly growing satellite maker Terran Orbital Corp. (NYSE: LLAP) in Irvine registered a 63% jump in headcount to 510 and had about 60 job postings on its website as of last week.
“We just added a fourth facility in Irvine. Groundbreaking was a couple of months ago and is planned to be finalized in 2024,” Senior VP and Chief HR Officer Santina Michel told the Business Journal.
The Business Journal’s Yuika Yoshida and Raymond Dinh contributed to this article.