Looking for sky high potential?

Think Kentucky for Aerospace and Defense.


The Aerospace/Defense Industry

Is Soaring in Kentucky

Kentucky is located within a day’s drive of 2/3 of the US population
Some of the nation’s largest cities are located within a two-hour fl ight of Kentucky
Kentucky is located at the center of a 34-state distribution area in the Eastern US

Logistics Map

Globally Connected
  • Amazon Prime
  • Bechtel Parsons Bluegrass
  • Belcan
  • Boeing
  • DHL
  • GE Aviation
  • Humana
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Mazak
  • Meggitt
  • Raytheon
  • Safran
  • UPS
"My goal is for Kentucky to become the hub of engineering and manufacturing excellence in America"

- Governor Matt Bevin -

Aerospace Companies in Kentucky

Located throughout the commonwealth, nearly 80 aerospace companies provide products and services used globally and employ 18,500 Kentuckians.

Many prestigious companies serve worldwide industries from Kentucky's central location. Overnight logistics options and massive transportation infrastructure.

Aerospace Companies in Kentucky

Kentucky’s Expertise in Aerospace and Defense Is Drawing the World's Elite

Kentucky, long known for horses, bourbon and automotive products, is strengthening its reputation in the aerospace and defense industry. Investments in manufacturing and distribution and an explosion in exports have powered Kentucky’s growth.

Companies such as Safran Landing Systems, GE Aviation, Lockheed Martin and Mazak, plus worldwide shippers DHL and UPS, have found a home here, due in large part to Kentucky's expertise, which includes:

  • Aircraft brakes and brake components
  • Jet engine manufacturing
  • Satellite production
  • Control systems
  • Composites manufacturing
  • Panel fabrication
  • Aerospace engineering
  • Starting systems
  • Aerospace composite manufacturing
  • Plastics manufacturing
  • Powder coatings
  • Blades
  • Maintenance and ground support
  • Aerostructure components
  • Engineered thermal spray coating
  • Turbines
  • Phosphor coatings
  • Weapons systems
  • GPS systems
  • Helicopter repair
  • Systems wire harnesses
  • Drone video and mapping support

Quick Facts:

  • Kentucky is part of the supply chain for the Virginia Class Submarine, the Patriot Missile System, the Super Hercules C130-J military transport aircraft, the Boeing KC- 135 Stratotanker and the Minuteman II Missile System (the largest aerospace system in the Kentucky defense supply chain).
  • The Kentucky Aerospace Industry Consortium (KAIC) assists Kentucky companies complete AS9100 certifi cation, including pre-audit checks and gaps analyses for qualifi ed companies, to increase the number even higher.
  • The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) contracted for about $22.3 billion with just over 1,300 Kentucky companies in 505 diff erent industries between FY12 and FY15. However, more than 90 percent of that amount was awarded to just 24 companies.
  • The cyber security industry has an estimated economic impact of $730 million in Kentucky
Kentucky Aerospace Spotlight

Space Tango has two labs on the International Space Station testing micro-gravity manufacturing and biomedical solutions.

Morehead State University is sending a “Lunar Ice Cube” small satellite to the moon to look for ice crystals.

Rajant in Morehead is developing packet-to-packet communication systems for drones, small satellites and other equipment.

Phoenix Products develops high-quality containers for a variety of aerospace parts to include the engine and fan blade for the Joint Strike Fighter.

Summit Aviation does assembly work for major aerospace companies across the world.

GE Aviation builds engines in two Kentucky cities Safran and Meggitt produce many of the top airlines’ commercial aerospace brake systems.

Enerblu (under construction) will provide battery technology to electric autonomous vehicles in the near future.

Kentucky’s Manufacturing Strengths

Kentucky’s expertise, workforce and personalized service are major factors in our ability to maintain and grow a prominent position in the aerospace/defense industry. Our new rightto- work status is another bonus. In addition, our business costs can help a company’s profi ts skyrocket.

Global companies have discovered the value of locating in Kentucky. Currently, some 500 Kentucky manufacturing, service and technology-related businesses are internationally owned, representing 34 countries.

Kentucky's overall manufacturing GDP has greatly outpaced the national average over the past eight years. A recent nationwide state-by-state comparison by Ball State University gives Kentucky an “A” ranking for both manufacturing and logistics industry health.

A Powerful Comparison

Kentucky’s power costs also play a signifi cant role in corporate growth. Our industrial electricity rates are the lowest in the eastern US and among the lowest in the country.

Industrial Electricity Average Price
Energy Information Admin., average price by state, released 2018

Industrial Electricity Average Price

Kentucky gets an "A" grade in manufacturing and logistics health
Center for Business and Economic Research
Labor costs are 18% below the U.S. average
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
18.9% GROWTH
Kentucky’s manufacturing share of total GDP (18.9%) has grown nearly twice the national average (11.7%) since 2010
U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis
Cost of living is the 2nd lowest in the nation
U.S. News & World Report
"The state's willingness to partner closely with private industry makes this a prime location to found and grow our world-class and cuttingedge rolling mill."

Craig Bouchard
Chairman & CEO, Braidy

Making Materials That Fly

Kentucky offers abundant resources for aerospace and defense manufacturers. Our aluminum reserves are among the greatest in the region, and the 250 primary metal facilities in Kentucky stand ready to make products of all types.

Several aluminum producers recently announced plans to build new or expanded facilities in Kentucky. Among those are:

  • Novelis Corporation (new)
    $305 million | 125 jobs
  • Century Aluminum (expanding)
    $116.5 million | 250 jobs
  • Owl's Head Alloys Inc. (expanding)
    $2.6 million | 17 jobs
  • Braidy Industries (new)
    $1.5 billion | 600 jobs
  • Nucor Gallatin Steel (expanding)
    $176 million | 75 jobs
  • Tri-Arrows Aluminum Inc. (expanding)
    $125 million | 60 jobs

In addition, Kentucky offers a variety of other primary metal manufacturers, as well as hundreds of plastics, rubber and composites makers; ensuring an adequate supply of materials needed to keep the aerospace/defense industry sky high.

Industries Supporting Aerospace/Defense in Kentucky

Industries Supporting Aerospace

Growing to Meet Demand

Kentucky has hundreds of companies that make the products that businesses need. Below are examples of industry sectors that have grown in the past five years.

Industry New Companies New Jobs
Aluminum Production 47 2,877
Primary Metals 81 4,308
Rubber & Plastics 135 4,153

Kentucky’s Workforce


Aerospace and defense companies have found a talented workforce available in Kentucky.

A manufacturing workforce of 250,000, including more than 18,500 industry-specifi c workers, creates products ranging from satellites to aircraft engines and brakes. Related industries provide engineering services, maintenance and ground support, plus repair and logistics assistance.

Kentucky is revolutionizing its workforce delivery system, investing more than $200 million in new and expanded workforce training centers. In addition, the state has greatly expanded its apprenticeship programs and has created a phenomenally successful work-study program for young adults.

The state also off ers a variety of workforce services, including recruitment, training and customized training incentives at little to no cost.

Our goal is simple: To provide skills training that is unsurpassed.

Did You Know?
  • Kentucky workers are being trained on AS9100 certification requirements.
  • The Career Skills Program is off ered at all installations to assist some 6,000 transitioning military members each year.

Future aerospace and defense workers also are being trained early. Nearly 30 Kentucky high schools off er an aerospace training curriculum. Students in our apprentice programs are off ered access to impressive engineering programs, as well as professional fl ight, aerospace management and aerospace technology degrees. Aviation and aerospace classes are taught in dozens of our high schools and universities.

Kentucky brings together the skilled workers, training and recruitment resources, and the professional degree programs that give aerospace companies the advantages they need for success.

Kentucky's communities have been taking unprecedented steps to ensure that its workforce is trained and ready to work
75% of Kentucky's counties are certifi ed–either Work Ready or Work Ready in Progress. This means the community is ready to accommodate companies looking for a new or expanded location
In certain regions of the state, companies can save up to 30% in labor costs compared to other aerospace-clustered regions
Eastern Kentucky has been certifi ed Aero Ready. The region was certifi ed due to its existing labor force and ongoing educational programs
Eastern Kentucky University off ers the new FAA restricted Airline Transport Pilot (R-ATP) authorization as part of their commercial pilot curriculum
The Aerospace Alliance of East Kentucky is training unemployed coal miners to qualify them for high-tech, aerospace-related jobs
The Kentucky Community and Technical College system off ers Advanced Manufacturing Training Programs in aviation maintenance
Kentucky has three Centers for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense
Talent Base

Talent Base


Aerospace and defense companies in Kentucky have access to a supply of qualified workers in many fields at costs below the national average. Below is a list of relevant job classifications, along with Kentucky’s average hourly rate compared with the average U.S. rate.

Aerospace Engineers $53.85 $49.75 $57.40 $57.56 $53.60
Electrical Engineers $47.41 $42.13 $55.43 $51.23 $50.03
Industrial Engineers $42.56 $37.94 $50.35 $49.99 $49.21
Materials Engineers $46.66 $38.54 $54.39 $49.87 $46.81
Mechanical Engineers $43.17 $39.97 $49.35 $44.75 $49.55
Aerospace Engineering & Operations Technicians $34.17 $29.97 $34.53 $36.52 $30.54
Electro-Mechanical Technicians $27.82 $23.86 $29.22 $29.73 $28.87
Avionics Technicians $29.51 $27.53 $32.09 $34.62 $27.79
Aircraft Structure, Surfaces, Rigging and Systems Assemblers $25.25 $25.75 $23.28 $29.09 $25.08
Architectural & Engineering Managers $69.17 $54.27 $80.09 $72.36 $80.40
Computer Systems Analysts $44.05 $35.79 $48.77 $45.09 $45.00
Software Developers, Systems Software $53.17 $41.26 $61.92 $54.96 $51.10
Industrial Machinery Mechanics $24.95 $24.02 $27.26 $28.01 $25.42
Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers $25.75 $21.70 $30.05 $43.37 $28.34
Aircraft Cargo Handling $24.95 $19.76 $23.95 $23.49 $25.69
Airfield Operations Specialists $25.19 $26.53 $31.04 $29.93 $29.43

Sources: U.S. News & World Report and Chmura Economics & Analytics / JobsEQ, 2016 (Q3) Average per hour based on 40 hrs/week.

Kentucky's Global Reach

Logistics Leads The Way

In addition to our central US location, part of our logistics success lies in our ability to ship products anywhere in the world virtually overnight. Kentucky hosts global shipping hubs for three logistics giants - DHL, UPS and Amazon Prime – plus several FedEx ground facilities. In addition, our extensive shipping network of interstates, rail and waterways guarantee fast shipping anywhere in the US.



100+ Airplanes


$1.5B Global Air Hub



300+ Airplanes


2M Packages



80+ Airplanes


160K Packages


Highways & Byways
10 interstates + 10
state parkways

UPS, DHL and Amazon

5 commercial, including
2 international and 60+
general aviation

Over 1,980 miles
of commercially
navigable waterways
12 active/developing

3,200 miles of railroad
track including 2,600
miles of freight rail

559 million tons
move across Kentucky
roadways each week

Skyrocketing Exports

Kentucky’s No. 1 export for the past few years has been products for the aerospace and defense industries. Aerospace exports have grown by 207 percent in the past fi ve years, and in 2017, stood at $11.7 billion.

Kentucky’s exports don’t just go to other countries. They go into outer space. Many micro and nanosatellites and experiments are orbiting the earth. Some are part of the International Space Station.

However, most of Kentucky’s products stay a little closer to earth. What may be surprising to some, Kentucky’s aerospace products are its No. 1 export category, with $11.7 billion in 2017, and a fi ve-year growth rate of 207 percent. Such products as engines and turbines, brakes and electrical systems, coatings and components are shipped overseas.

Top 10 Export Destinations for Kentucky-made aerospace and defense products

Export Destinations Map

Aerospace producs are Kentucky's

in aerospace exports

increase in aerospace exports in the last five years

Top Aerospace Products Exported:

Civilian aircraft, engines and parts

Parts for spacecraft, aircraft, etc.

Aircraft launch gear and deck arresting gear


Conducting Research That is Out of this World

Kentucky’s colleges and universities are conducting unprecedented research and training students on the latest advances in aerospace technology. This is leading to groundbreaking progress on products that are being used worldwide. Here are a few examples of their contributions to the aerospace industry.

Morehead State University is one of the leaders in CubeSat and other small satellite technologies, and is also now part of the NASA Deep Space Network (DSN). Six satellites have been launched to date.

Western Kentucky University and UofL are also conducting International Space Station (ISS) experiments to understand colloid material behavior to enhance solar cell performance.

The University of Kentucky (UK) has led the development of Next-Generation Entry Thermal Protection. UK also runs NASA Kentucky and has done extensive research in UAVs and Drones.

Eastern Kentucky University is a national leader in pilot training through its aviation program.

The University of Louisville (UofL) supports research in micro and nanotechnology and supports a nationally known rocketry program.

Murray State University has developed an Aerospace Engineering track, focusing on the physics of the discipline.

Kentucky Provides Your Support System

Not only do we pledge in Kentucky to be your support system, we pledge support from a variety of other sources as well.

Kentucky has invested nearly $800 million in supporting infrastructure, transportation and local incentives to support aerospace and defense industries.


The Kentucky Commission on Military Aff airs (KCMA) is strengthening the defense industry in Kentucky by working with the state and private sector to increase military and defense industries’ presence in Kentucky. In addition, the Kentucky Aerospace Industry Consortium (KAIC) unifi es members of the aerospace and defense companies, working alongside companies and in collaboration with state government.

Together, the two organizations cater to the needs of the aerospace and defense industries considering Kentucky as a new location as well as those already here. KCMA has recently joined with local military community groups to build a “Fort Kentucky” campaign. This initiative is tasked with promoting growth in both defense mission and industry.

Kentucky has a strong history of support for national defense, and this is still true today. Both Fort Knox and Fort Campbell have won dozens of Department of Defense community awards, and the local communities have won national awards for installation support in 2017 and 2018.

Great America Defense Communities Army Communities Fort Kentucky
4th Highest Army Personnel

A Grounded Approach

Companies looking to locate in Kentucky have hundreds of sites and buildings from which to choose. This includes many Build-Ready sites where all preconstruction work, including permitting and zoning has been completed. There also are a number of available buildings of all sizes that are move-in ready.

Do you need to be near a military operation? Fort Knox has 5,000+ buildable acres, and Fort Campbell off ers 3,000 buildable acres on post.

In addition, Kentucky is one of the fi rst states to adopt the federal government’s Opportunity Zone program. 144 sites in Kentucky have been certifi ed, meaning companies interested in locating or expanding in those specifi c areas have access to federal tax breaks.

Added Incentive

In business, there is no “one size fi ts all” approach. For that reason, we work personally with each company to help lower the cost of doing business.

First, we listen to the challenges and needs of your company and then collaborate to fi nd ways for you to grow and expand in the commonwealth. We have available a variety of customizable solutions.

  • Sales and usage tax rebates
  • Corporate income tax credits
  • Wage assessments
  • Fixed asset financing
  • Industrial revenue bonds
  • Low interest loans
  • Environmental stewardship assistance
  • Workforce training grants
  • Recruitment and other job services at no cost

Your future–filled with sky high potential–awaits you in Kentucky

To grow Kentucky's business community, the state strives to partner with each company and mutually find ways to meet your needs. That includes providing assistance during location or expansion plans, as well as every step along the way.

We offer resources to help you strengthen your business with workforce development assistance, export help, access to capital and new markets, and so much more.

Kentucky is emerging as a hub of manufacturing and engineering excellence in North America. We always have space for you to grow with us.

"Every time we've invested here, the community and state have reaffirmed this is the right location for future growth."

Luke Durudogan
President, Meggitt Aircraft Braking Systems