SPAWAR names 2 for major contract
Two of the region's largest defense businesses will share an estimated $698 million contract to engineer, install and support vehicle communications electronics in North Charleston over the next five years.
The locally based Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, or SPAWAR, recently picked BAE Systems and Science Applications International Corp. for the work.
The two companies will now vie for individual task orders that fall under the contract. The work will be done by their Lowcountry offices, which should provide a boost to the local economy.
"We're pretty confident this will lead to additional jobs, but we just don't know when or how many at this point," said Neil Franz, a spokesman for BAE Systems.
The British-owned defense company now has about 400 employees in North Charleston and 39,000 nationwide, Franz said Thursday.
According to the award announcement, SPAWAR received three bids for the vehicle contract. The initial term is through February 2013, but options can be extended through February 2017.
Franz and SPAWAR spokesman Lonnie Cowart provided few specifics about what systems would be installed on what vehicles.
Franz said the communications networks could be vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-facilities, closed or wide open, depending on the needs of the customer. As for the kinds of vehicles, Franz would only say "the MRAP is one of several that could be included here." MRAP is an acronym for "mine-resistant, ambush-protected" vehicles, which are heavy-duty troop transports made by locally based Force Protection Inc. and several other companies.
Whatever the contract involves, the potential for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of work for an extended period is welcome news for any defense contractor as the U.S. military community braces for significant downsizing.
"There's less emphasis now on building new products and more emphasis on sustaining and modernizing the existing products," Franz said. "This work falls into that type of category."
He added: "It's a great win for the team there in Charleston."
SAIC could not be reached for comment Thursday.