ATK employees Kirk Kennedy, left, and Francis Goh with their company’s MK777 rocket launcher at last year’s Association of the U.S. Army convention. (Jeffrey MacMillan/For Capital Business)

Minneapolis-based ATK, a major defense contractor best known for producing ammunition and rockets, said last week that it is relocating its headquarters to Arlington in a bid to have a closer relationship with the government.

The company becomes just the latest to make the Washington area home. Northrop Grumman, formerly of Los Angeles, is still settling into its new headquarters in Falls Church, while the U.S. division of Munich-based global conglomerate Siemens only opened its D.C. headquarters this spring. As government budgets tighten, contractors say it is all the more important to have a major presence nearby.

“D.C. is obviously home to some of our largest customers,” including the Pentagon and NASA, said Bryce Hallowell, an ATK spokesman. Additionally, “we’re competitors and we are providers to a number of the companies that are already located in the area from [General Dynamics], Northrop, Orbital [Sciences], Lockheed [Martin] — the list goes on and on.”

The relocation will expand ATK’s existing Washington operations office in Rosslyn, which is home to about 50 employees. Hallowell said it’s premature to say how many employees will move to the office, but that the company is expanding onto an additional floor. He said the company’s executives will work from the office as of Oct. 1.

In Minnesota, where the company today has about 2,700 people, ATK said it would maintain a strong presence, including more than 200 corporate employees.

ATK already has facilities in Virginia and Maryland, including a satellite manufacturing site in Beltsville, a missile products group headquarters in Baltimore and an Army ammunition plant in Radford, Va.

The company, which has about 18,000 employees and reported $4.8 billion in sales last year, joins a long list of others that have moved to the area in recent years. Fairfax County alone has welcomed Volkswagen Group of America, Hilton Worldwide and Science Applications International Corp. in recent years.

Government contractors in particular have said they need to maintain a headquarters in the area to interact more with federal agency leaders as well as peer companies and Congress.