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Newsday November 15, 2005

Telephonics wins anti-bombs project

By James Bernstein

Telephonics Corp. said Monday it has been awarded a contract that could add as many as 100 new jobs and more than $150 million in sales to help develop a device that will combat roadside bombs, the prime weapon of insurgents in Iraq.

The Farmingdale-based defense electronics contractor said that it has been awarded the contract from Syracuse Research Corp., a nonprofit organization upstate in Syracuse.

Telephonics did not name or describe the device, saying it is classified, but said the initial release of the award could exceed $20 million, and that under the agreement with Syracuse Research, Telephonics' share of all production could exceed $150 million.

Joe Battaglia, president of Telephonics, said that the company will hire at least 60 people, and perhaps as many as 100. Telephonics, a unit of Jericho-based Griffon Corp., is one of Long Island's larger military contractors, with about 1,100 employees.

The Army has awarded a $550.5 million contract to Syracuse Research to "produce, field and support" a device to defeat Remote Controlled Improvised Explosive Devices, or roadside bombs.

Battaglia said only that Telephonics is doing "production work" on the project. The first system is to be delivered next month, Telephonics said.

In its announcement, the Army said that roadside bombs "are the number one killer used by enemy insurgents in Iraq today."

A spokesman for a Pentagon agency that deals with roadside bomb issues said Monday that 50 percent of deaths and injuries in Iraq since the war began in March 2003 are attributed to roadside bombs. Such bombs became a major problem in the fall of 2003, when insurgents began attacking convoys with hand-made devices.

John Pike, who follows security issues for the Web site Globalsecurity.org, said the Pentagon has become desperate for a solution to the roadside bomb problem.

"They appear to be giving money to anybody who is not a charlatan," Pike said.

The Defense Department last year awarded a $6.8 million contract to EDO Corp. of Manhattan to develop a device called the Warlock, which emits a radio frequency that jams communications signals that detonate roadside bombs. EDO has a major facility in North Amityville, but the Warlock work is being done at a company facility in California. Some Warlock work might be located in North Amityville if orders are large enough, EDO officials have said.

Pike said that the Warlocks had been successful, but added, "The problem is that there are thousands of Warlocks and tens of thousands of vehicles. While it is fairly successful against radio-controlled bombs, it is not successful against all of them, and there are a lot of ways to detonate" roadside bombs.

 


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