After Randy Bradley took the helm at the local Northrop Grumman facility in January, he quickly found himself working to keep things running despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As it turned out, there were no layoffs at the St. Augustine Aircraft Integration Center of Excellence where Bradley is vice president and site leader.
“I would say our company did a great job with getting me prepared,” he said in a presentation Friday, Aug. 28, during a virtual meeting of the Economic Development Council hosted by the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce.
Indeed, before Bradley moved into his new position he had time to develop under his predecessor and came to the job with an extensive background, two things that no doubt contributed to his effectiveness.
The former U.S. Marine earned his degree at Southern Illinois University and joined Northrop Aircraft in 1990, four years before it merged with Grumman Aerospace. After a five-year stint with the Honeywell Corp., he returned to Northrop Grumman and worked in various capacities leading up to his current role.
He has been involved with a number of aircraft and spacecraft projects, including environmental control systems for the International Space Station. In 2013, he came to St. Augustine where he has been involved in work on the Navy’s E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and other projects.
“If you look at the movie ‘Top Gun’ you will see a lot of Grumman products,” Bradley said. “A lot of those products were modified here in St. Augustine.”
The E-2D is the main focus at the local facility, which is one of the largest employers in the county. It’s a big job. The aircraft has tens of thousands of parts. In fact, during the process of assembling one, workers drill more than a million holes.
“The E2 is probably one of the longest running programs that the Navy has,” Bradley said. “It started in the ‘50s and here we are in 2020 still talking about E-2Ds. That goes to show the evolution and the growth of that product and the need for it.”
Another project the local plant has been working on is modifying aircraft to add air-refueling, which extends flying time.
“We’re very excited about that,” said Bradley.
This spring, the facility will start building conformal fuel tanks for the F-18, which extend the endurance of the aircraft.
Bradley said Northrop Grumman has a great relationship with the community and is involved with STEM classes at local high schools.
On a more personal note, he enjoys living in the Nation’s Oldest City.
“My wife and I really make this a home now,” he said. “We’ve gotten to love this community. We talk about it all the time. This is where we want to settle down — in St. Augustine.”