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Tucson is the center of Arizona’s defense activity

Tucson plays a huge part in the thriving Arizona defense industry and is a city that site selectors are looking into for leases and investments in commercial real estate.

Tucson serves as Arizona’s center for defense activity. The Tucson metropolitan area is where most of the state’s defense contract spending happens, as well as most of the spending for defense personnel, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

That makes Southern Arizona attractive for companies to secure a Tucson aerospace and defense lease or investment of commercial real estate.

By sheer numbers, Pima County, where Tucson is located, also is home to the most active duty military and civilian defense personnel in the state, says the department’s Office of Economic Adjustment in its “Defense Spending by State, FY 2017” report.

Arizona defense activity ranks 10th among states’ defense contract spending, according to the report that was released in early 2019.

Defense spending in Tucson has sparked a community of related and support businesses, including large segments in OPTICS, computer systems design, software products and R&D services. Couple that with a concentration of companies with Tucson aerospace leases and building ownership and you’ve got a thriving industry.

A&D Industry Deep Dive

  • My recently updated WHITE PAPER ON TUCSON’S AEROSPACE AND DEFENSE activity shows the depth of the local industry:
  • Over 25,000 people in Tucson and Southern Arizona are employed in A&D, working in over 200 companies. 
  • Tucson has 8.35 LOCATION QUOTIENT for aerospace products and parts manufacturing. That means it has over eight times more concentration of this market than the average of the U.S. metropolitan areas.
  • The University of Arizona’s Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering brings together 19 research laboratories focused on cutting-edge A&D research.
  • The developing 500-acre aerospace research campus is home to space commercialization companies World View Enterprises and Vector Space Systems. There is room to grow for firms that focus on the aerospace and microelectronics industries.

Recent A&D Developments

Raytheon Missile Systems, which is the largest private employer in Pima County, also is the top Arizona defense contractor, according to the Defense Department report. Raytheon recently announced that its system to shoot down drones can now be used by soldiers in the field.

What’s called the Howler system by the Defense Department combines Raytheon’s new tracking system with Coyote unmanned aircraft, a technology developed in Tucson.

It’s one of several recent developments in Tucson’s aerospace and defense realm. Here are some others:

  • Nasa has funded the Dragonfly Mission by the Planetary Science Institute. It involves using a drone-like rotocraft lander that will explore Saturn’s moon, Titan, to examine its geology and prebiotic chemistry to determin habitability.
  • NASA has also issued a contract to Tucson-based Paragon Space Development Corporation and its parner Giner Inc. to develop and test a system to purify water and generate oxygen and hydrogen. The system can provide the necessary support for long-term space exploration and colonization.
  • Funding from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency will allow the University of Arizona to create the country’s first Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Intelligence and Information Operations. The program will focus on graduating students with knowledge in cybersecurity and intelligence gathering.

Be part of Tucson’s hot A&D ecosystem that’s the best in the state. Contact me to start your search for a TUCSON AEROSPACE AND DEFENSE LEASE OR PURCHASE of commercial real estate.


In his 25-plus years as a commercial real estate tenant representative, Coretz picked up a wealth of information and expertise. He’s passionate about making sure that corporate users, tenants and buyers like you get a fair deal and the best solution for your business’s bottom line. COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GROUP OF TUCSON specializes in representing tenants and corporate users across the United States, Latin America, Europe and Asia. For more information, call 520-299-3400.

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