Reed gets down to nuts and bolts of defense industry

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Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee and ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, got a warm welcome and an inside glimpse of the defense industry from Jade Manufacturing Company in Warwick last Friday. Jade specializes in making parts for military technology. Some of the projects they supply parts for include the cutting edge SPY-6 radar, several types of missiles such as the Tomahawk and MOAB, the Aegis Cruiser, and the Patriot Air & Missile Defense System.

The company has been part of the Rhode Island economy since 1945, when Arthur Boyle founded it. Back then it was a simple metal shop, manufacturing all of the parts they supplied in-house. When Arthur’s son, Don Boyle, became president in 1980, the company began expanding and changing. As Boyle said in his presentation, “We are a real Rhode Island company…Back before Jade was founded my father worked at the torpedo station…We make a real effort to do the job right.” Over the course of 50 years, Jade became a key part of a much larger supply chain of manufacturers.”

The SPY-6, being developed by Raytheon, is a particularly impressive product. The technology is an array of several radars working together to get an incredibly precise picture. Jade’s director of manufacturing, Steve Gruner, compared the SPY-6 to “a fly’s eye, multiple data inputs gets the bigger picture.” This radar array is said to be 30 times more sensitive than the current technology.

When asked about the effect Trump tariffs have had on their company Gruner said, “In terms of material pricing, yes, but that’s throughout the manufacturing sector…Raw materials aluminum, copper, steel [for example]…everything is going up. If Mexico gets hit with tariffs I’m sure it’s going to go up even more.”

Representatives from manufacturing organizations that Jade is a part of, as well as representatives from others of the supply chain, were present for the senator’s visit. Senator Reed has held his position since 1996. In that time, he has become a top member of the Armed Services committee. Reed has secured billions of dollars in defense spending for Rhode Island. On Friday, he was able to match just a few faces to the 16,000 defense jobs his work has secured for the state.

Reed’s experience in the military gave him knowledge of what the manufacturing industry needs. Boyle and Reed talked about changes in the industry over time.

“We had a lot of Rhode Island vendors working at the old mill building the old 6-88’s [Virginia class submarines]. They needed a lot of workers but then they shrunk…And then we had that big fight over Seawolf [submarines], when I started in the ’90s. We were on the verge of extinction; sectors had changed. They wanted to cancel the Seawolf…but we saved them. We got three of them built.”

Senator Reed continued to show his expertise when the two got on the topic of cyber-security, “Our opponents, they’re looking for the back door…information security is expensive.”

Asked why the senator visited Jade, Gruner said, “Well, we invited him. [Reed] has always been a great friend to the military…and he has always been good about prudent military spending.”

Jade is looking to expand into new sectors of manufacturing, both military and non-military.

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