Location and History
The Radford Army Ammunition Plant (RFAAP)
is located in the mountains of southwest Virginia in Pulaski and Montgomery
Counties. RFAAP consists of two noncontiguous units: the Main
Manufacturing Area and the New
River Unit. The Main Manufacturing Area is located approximately
5 miles northeast of the city of Radford, Virginia, which is approximately
10 miles west of Blacksburg and 47 miles southwest of Roanoke. The
New River Unit is located about 6 miles west of the Main Manufacturing
Area, near the town of Dublin.
RFAAP lies in one of a series of narrow
valleys typical of the eastern range of the Appalachian Mountains.
Oriented in a northeast-southwest direction, the valley is approximately
25 miles long, 8 miles in width at southeast end and narrowing to
2 miles in the northeast end. RFAAP lies along the New River in
the relatively narrow northeastern corner of the valley. The New
River divides the Main Manufacturing Area into two sections, with the "Horseshoe
Area" being within the meander of the river.
Construction at the current RFAAP began in 1940, as the U.S. Congress
saw a need to increase ammunition production facilities due to anticipated
involvement in World War II.
initially consisted of two areas—a smokeless powder plant (Radford
Ordinance Works) and a bag manufacturing and loading plant for artillery,
cannon, and mortar projectiles (New River Ordnance Works). Each
operated separately through 1945. That year, the Radford Ordinance
Works was renamed "Radford Arsenal" and assumed New River
Ordnance Works as a subpost. In 1950, New River Ordnance Works (now
known as the New River Unit) became an integral part of the Radford
Arsenal and remained so as the arsenal was renamed "Radford
Ordnance Plant" in 1961, and RFAAP in 1963.
still manufacturing propellants, its primary mission since 1941. The plant has also produced
TNT on an intermittent basis since 1968. RFAAP’s TNT facilities
have been on standby since the mid-1980s. The working population at
RFAAP varies greatly with mission requirements.