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Pentagon purchases armor for Iraqi forces

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Friday, April 23, 2004

The United States has decided to provide Iraqi security forces with body armor.

The Defense Department has awarded an Iraqi company a contract for the production and supply of body armor vests for the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps. The $10.3 million contract for Al Hashimite Co, based in Baghdad, was awarded on Feb. 18 and marks the first U.S. major deal with an Iraqi defense contractor.

Under the contract, Al Hashimite will provide 25,200 Level III body armor vests and ceramic plate sets for the Iraq Civil Defense Corps. A Pentagon statement said work will be performed in Britain and was expected to be completed by June 25, 2004.

The statement said contract funds will not expire at the end of fiscal 2004. The Pentagon said an unspecified number of bids were solicited in November and in all 59 bids were received.

The Pentagon said the Coalition Provisional Authority Contracting Activity will oversee the contract. The award came after U.S. combat soldiers in Iraq received body armor.

In a related development, an Israeli defense firm has won a contract to supply armor to the U.S. military in Iraq. MDT Armor has won a $1.1 million contract for supplying armored vehicles for U.S. operations in Iraq.

The company, a subsidiary of Arotech Corp., will provide armor for the Land Rover Defender SUVs. "These vehicles join the other armored vehicles that we have already delivered to Iraq," Arotech chairman Robert Ehrlich said. "It is clear that those serving and working in Iraq continue to need armored protection, and we are working diligently and proudly to serve them."

MDT armor was said to protect against assault rifles and bomb blasts. The company has installed armor on vans, buses, ambulances and a range of jeeps.

Earlier, MDT Armor won a contract to supply four armored vehicles for clients in Iraq as well as a five-year contract for armoring vehicles for the U.S. government. MDT, based in Lod, Israel, was said to be a major supplier in the armored vehicle market in Isrel. The company has supplied armor to vehicles in contracts awarded by Israel's Defense Ministry for both civilian and military applications in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The company has sought to introduce its light armor technology to the U.S. market. It has already established a factory in Auburn, Ala.

In December 2003, Arotech announced that it was awarded a contract by the U.S. Army Communications Electronic Command for the supply of zinc-air non-rechargeable batteries. The order was estimated at $5.2 million.

Industry sources said Israeli companies were expected to sell $100 million in products in Iraq during 2004. They said that almost all of the sales would be through U.S. prime contractors.


Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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