MOSS POINT -- Jackson County has reached an agreement with Northrop Grumman to extend the lease for the Moss Point Unmanned Systems Center for eight years.
The plant, at Trent Lott International Airport north of Moss Point, produces portions of the Navy Fire Scout unmanned helicopter; wiring for the Air Force Global Hawk; a high-flying surveillance aircraft; and the unmanned Navy Triton.
Northrop Grumman is considered a front-runner in the high-tech field with a worldwide market expected to increase by billions of dollars in the next few years.
The Moss Point plant has seen a steady stream of work over the past decade.
In a press release Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran said he and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker worked with Gov. Phil Bryant, the county Board of Supervisors, the Port Authority and the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation to secure the lease.
They put in the work to "help preserve defense-related jobs in South Mississippi and strengthen Mississippi's position as a leader in unmanned aerial systems."
With final approval, the Moss Point plant's lease will extend to 2023, the press release said.
"The presence of Northrop Grumman in Jackson County builds on the reputation of South Mississippi as a friendly region for business and defense manufacturing," Cochran said.
Cochran, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Defense, said he hopes the new lease creates opportunities for the company to expand its Mississippi workforce.
Wicker called Northrop Grumman an important partner for Jackson County that helps Mississippi play a leading role in aerospace and defense.
Barry Cumbest, president of the Jackson County Board of Supervisors, said the agreement validates Jackson County's reputation as a prime location for globally recognized aerospace companies.
The agreement was approved Wednesday morning by the Jackson County Port Authority and will go before the Board of Supervisors on Dec. 7.
The Moss Point Unmanned Systems Center, which employs about 70 people, began unmanned aircraft production in 2006.