The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 27, 2013

Defense contractor takes drones to new heights

JOHNSTOWN — Like the products it is developing, one of the region’s newest defense contractors has remained under the radar since opening a plant near John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport.

Navmar Applied Sciences Corp. is already expanding to step up production of its unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones.

About 25 to 30 people are working in the former Pro Courier Service facility, 1770 Frankstown Road in Conemaugh Township, company spokesman Franz Bohn said from Navmar’s headquarters in Warminster, outside Philadelphia.

Bohn said he could not discuss the specific work going on at the local plant, referring to the Defense Department’s public announcements.

“It is all Defense Department contracts,” Bohn said.

The Defense contracting website shows Navmar has been awarded three contracts totaling more than $190 million for projects that include work in Johnstown.

Contracts valued at up to $73,952,510 and $74,878,971 were awarded in July 2011 for the development and use of surveillance unmanned aerial systems and Helios unmanned air systems. The contracts show 5 percent of each project to be done in Johnstown.

That could mean about $7.4 million for the local economy.

The newest contract, although slightly smaller, calls for 55 percent of the work to be done here on 21 TigerShark persistent surveillance unmanned aerial systems, and options for 30 more. The $41,463,854 contract includes ground control stations, research and engineering support, and deployment training in support of systems deployed outside the U.S.

That works out to another $22.8 million here.

Construction is under way on a 10,000-square-foot addition to the plant. There will be some more office space, but the bulk of the structure is for manufacturing, Bohn said.

“It’s good for Johnstown,” he said.

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