Arizona Defense Contractors Land Body Armor Deals

Phoenix-area manufacturers ArmorWorks Enterprises and BAE Systems could pick up as much as $42 million in new military body-armor plate orders from U.S. Department of Defense.

PHOENIX (AP) -- Two Phoenix-area manufacturers could pick up as much as $42 million in new military body-armor plate orders from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The Pentagon announced this week it will buy hard-armor plates that fit inside soldiers' vests from Chandler-based ArmorWorks Enterprises and Rockville, Md.-based BAE Systems.

BAE makes its plates at facilities in Phoenix.

If the military exercises all options, ArmorWorks' contract could bring in $21.6 million and BAE's contract could reach $20.3 million.

BAE and ArmorWorks are among the military's biggest body-armor suppliers.

President Barack Obama's orders sending an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan by next summer could increase the need for armor plating. The demand for armor and other protective gear has surged in recent years because of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The orders were made under existing contracts the Army awarded to BAE and ArmorWorks between December 2007 and January 2008, according to Dena Selkow, spokeswoman for the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia. The center is in charge of procuring equipment and supplies for troops and oversees the contracts.

More than 700,000 small-arms protective inserts and the enhanced version of the plates have been manufactured at BAE's Phoenix facilities since 2005, spokeswoman Jennifer Robinson said.

"Right now, we are currently in production, we're delivering on contract, and we expect to produce and deliver through 2010 and beyond," Robinson said.

Mark Phillips, ArmorWorks' vice president of sales and marketing, said demand for armor has been steady because wear and tear in the field requires plates to continually be replaced.

"It's a significant sized contract for us, and we're honored to get such contracts that help us improve the survivability and protection of our fighting men and women," Phillips said.