BY MIKE BOYER
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Xetron Corp., a West Chester-based supplier of sophisticated radio equipment, has won the largest development contract in its history.
The contract from Elmer S.p.A., an Italian communications company, was valued at up to $22 million. Xetron is to do the engineering and manufacturing development to tailor existing UHF satellite and full-spectrum VHF radio equipment for the modernization of NATO AWACS aircraft.
Xetron, a unit of Northrop Grumman Corp., is a subcontractor to Elmer for the communications equipment. Elmer is a subcontractor to Boeing Co., which builds the AWACS planes.
Xetron, which employs about 300, makes equipment that lessens the interference between the satellite communications and VHF radio systems.
Bob Watson, Xetron president, said the company has added more than 100 jobs in the last year and expects to add another 25 engineers and production people in the coming months.
Last year, Xetron received a $23 million order from the Army for radio frequency hopping equipment that is expected to grow to more than $100 million by the end of this year, Mr. Watson said. After the AWACS development contract is completed, Xetron should receive a NATO production contract worth about the same amount sometime after the turn of the century, Mr. Watson said. Xetron's largest single contract was a $100 million, six-year award from the Air Force to upgrade the communications equipment for AWACS aircraft.