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Multiple people injured in explosion at US weapons plant

General Dynamics’ Camden facility built warheads for the Javelin missiles sent to Ukraine

Two people have been injured and one is missing after an explosion at a General Dynamics weapons factory in Camden, Arkansas. The facility produces Javelin and Hellfire warheads, and charges for artillery shells.

The explosion occurred shortly after 8am on Wednesday, company spokeswoman Berkley Whaley told reporters. Whaley initially described the blast as an “incident involving pyrotechnics,” but admitted shortly afterwards that it was an explosion

“At this time, we are working with first responders and can confirm the incident resulted in at least two injuries and one missing individual,” Whaley said in a statement. “We are cooperating fully with the authorities as they conduct their investigation.”

Whaley did not provide any further details about the severity of the injuries, and did not say whether the factory sustained any serious damage. However, Calhoun County Judge Floyd Nutt told the Arkansas Democrat and Gazette that the incident was “major,” and the first of its kind to take place at the Camden plant. 

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The plant produces and tests what General Dynamics calls “energetic products” – the explosive components of missiles, rockets, and other projectiles. According to the company’s website, the 880,000 square foot (81,750 square meter) facility produces Hydra rockets, Hellfire and Javelin warheads, 120mm mortars, and propellant charges for 155mm artillery shells.

The US has sent more than 10,000 single-use Javelin missile launchers to Ukraine, along with more than 3 million 155mm artillery shells and an unspecified number of 120mm mortars, according to the latest fact sheet released by the Pentagon on Wednesday. 

Earlier this year, the Pentagon said that the US will increase production of 155mm shells from 28,000 per month to 70,000 per month by the end of 2024. It is unclear whether the Camden plant recently stepped up production of propellant to match this goal, although the company is currently looking to recruit 19 employees in Arkansas, according to its website.

July 04, 2024 at 02:28AM

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