The deal is expected to create as many as 60 jobs in Orlando, where Lockheed Martin provides engineering, logistics and program management for the laser-guided missile work. Overall, hundreds of jobs are tied to the Hellfire II in Orlando. The company also produces electronics for the system at an Ocala plant and performs final assembly at an operation in Troy, Ala. Lockheed's latest deal will help strengthen U.S. allies and replenish the 6,800 rounds fired in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Army Aviation & Missiles Command, which awarded the contract. Known as Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control Orlando, the local operation employs about 4,000 in design, engineering and assembly work related to missiles, weapon-targeting, aircraft navigation and other high-tech defense systems. The Orlando unit has now received contracts for more than $1 billion this decade to produce the Hellfire II, the main weapon of the Army Apache helicopter, other combat choppers and unmanned aerial vehicles. Different versions of the missile are equipped to strike enemy tanks, bunkers, mountain strongholds and other targets from miles away. Including contract options, the new Hellfire II deal could keep the Lockheed factory lines busy at least for the next five years, the company said. Terms of the contract call for the company to manufacture as many as 1,200 missiles for the field and another 200 for war-game training, the company said. All branches of the U.S. military and the armed forces of 16 allied countries now have Hellfire missiles in their arsenals, according to Lockheed. Defense experts said lengthy conflicts have taken a toll on the U.S. military gear and weaponry stockpiles. "Replenishing those supplies and getting inventories back up to where they should be is driving a lot of defense contracts these days," said Paul Nisbet, an analyst for JSA Research, an aerospace stock-research firm based in Newport, R.I. "In many cases, the weapons need to be repaired, remanufactured or brought up to date, whether it involves helicopters, tanks or vehicles."

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