The Holston Army Ammunition Plant (HSAAP) has been a place for 80 years where local residents have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to contribute to our national defense and serve those who serve our nation in uniform.
Their work has supported the U.S. Armed Forces in every major conflict since World War II, and they represent more than three generations of dedicated Americans who have run the Holston site. Providing critical services to the warfighters to help them carry out their missions and come home safely to their families is what the employees of BAE Systems at Holston do. Much of that begins with the highly skilled and talented Research and Development team, which pushes the envelope toward cutting edge capabilities.
Johnson City native Brian Alexander serves as a Research & Development (R&D) Sr. Principal Chemist and Safety Officer for BAE Systems at HSAAP. As he approaches his 20-year work anniversary this coming August, he reflects on what it means to innovate:
“All we want is for our men and women in uniform, our warfighters on the frontlines of defense, to come home at the end of the day. I’m incredibly proud of what I do. I’m proud of what we do. In R&D, we are at the tip of the spear of accomplishing HSAAP’s mission, and that’s what brings me to work every day.”
Starting his career at HSAAP shortly after graduating from college, Brian leads the R&D team responsible for developing new energetic materials that are safer for BAE Systems employees and the warfighters.
“There are not many people in the world that can do what the R&D team does at HSAAP – we are not just conducting research. We are creating a reliable product, and we’ve been very successful at pushing innovation and providing safe products for the warfighters.”
Thanks to Brian and the innovation of BAE Systems, the U.S. Army has phased out using the explosive TNT in artillery. Its replacement is called IMX-101, and it is much safer to handle and store than TNT, and a lot less volatile, yet equally effective on the battlefield. The IMX-101 explosive represents a key technological advancement for the U.S. military.
Brian and the BAE Systems R&D team have been globally recognized for their technical achievements. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization recognized the team with a MSIAC Award for Technical Achievement in 2010 and again in 2012 for contributions in research and engineering in the field of munition safety.
“For our small team located in East Tennessee to be recognized globally by NATO, that was very a proud achievement.”
And for Brian, the Holston team is family, and Kingsport is home:
“As an only child, HSAAP is as close to having an extended family that I’ve ever had. East Tennessee is big on family and there are quite a few treasures here between the mountains and the atmosphere that make East Tennessee feel so much like home.”
As a leading expert on providing safe products for the warfighter, Brian could certainly be considered a hometown hero. However, he wouldn’t describe himself as that and gives credit to others.
“The real heroes are the ones in white overalls, making sure the plant is running. We also have a quite a few veterans on-site at HSAAP, and they have continued to serve their country in a different way and that’s very honorable. Those are the real Holston Heroes of the facility.”
As far as looking ahead to the future, Brian hopes to continue innovation at HSAAP.
“Innovation is moving to the next generation of everything: the technology, the product, and the people. We develop, implement, and provide dependable products that are going to work effectively, and we know there’s someone relying on us for the product to work like it’s intended to work. It’s an honor to innovate.”
When asked, what’s your greatest innovation? Brian responds: “The next one.”