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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) -- The defense firm Northrop Grumman plans to hire 500 more engineers in the Huntsville area to support America's new Air Force-led defense against foreign nuclear missile attack.

Company officials on Monday discussed their Huntsville operation, which involves command and control systems used to operate missile defenses, Al.com reported.

The Virginia-based company won a contract in 2020 worth nearly $14 billion to replace the country's 60-year-old Minute Man missile defense system. The system is prepared 24/7 to launch missiles against an attack immediately on the president's command.

The contract involves development of the new missile, the new launch systems and the silos, launch centers and around-the-clock crews to staff them, Greg Manuel of Northrop said Monday. Manuel is vice president and general manager of Northrop's Space Systems Strategic Deterrent Systems.

In Huntsville, Northrop is looking to hire software developers, system engineers, cyber engineers, workers in data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence. They also need business managers and mechanics.

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