After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, former Carrier Corp. engineer Collins White started a company in his living room with a simple idea: He wanted to make blast shields to protect officers at security check points.
Since then, Defenshield has grown into a seven-employee company in East Syracuse, and, on Wednesday, it received its biggest boost yet.
Rep. James Walsh, R-Onondaga, said he secured a $3.5 million defense appropriation for Defenshield, which will result in the single largest order in the company's history.
White said his company will produce about 350 additional bullet- and blast-resistant shields for the U.S. Army to use in Iraq and Afghanistan. The order will allow him to hire an additional three workers.
"I'm very proud of it," White said Wednesday. "We're a little company but we're doing a big job putting armor in front of guys who are in harm's way."
He added, "This will help get more of these mobile defensive fighting positions (shields) in front of people in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Defenshield products are now used by all four branches of the military in Iraq and Afghanistan, White said.
The Army recently ordered 50 more shields for units in three provinces in Iraq, he said. The Marine Corps in Iraq has 500 of the shields.
"This is going to give us a chance to consolidate our research and development efforts," White said of the new contract. "We're looking for a couple of new people to come in so we can put our engineering workers to better use."
The money for Defenshield was among $16.5 million in contract for Central New York businesses approved Wednesday by the House Appropriations Committee's defense appropriations bill. The bill now moves to the full House for a vote.
The other projects secured by Walsh were:
$3 million to Lockheed Martin Corp. in Salina for an ongoing sonar research and development program for anti-submarine warfare.
The project involves building an anti-submarine warfare mission module for the Navy's unmanned littoral combat ship. The ship will be able to tow sonar and receiving arrays.
Lockheed Martin does not expect to add any jobs as a result of the funding.
"It's a big boost for us," said Brad Hines, Lockheed Martin's director of business development for undersea systems in Salina. "It will allow us to retain some of that expertise that we have. It's primarily about retaining the talent that could go somewhere else."
$3 million to Syracuse Research Corp. in North Syracuse.
The money will be used for a project known as RAINCOAT (Reasoning and Assessment of Intelligence for Counter-Narcotics and Anti-Terrorism).
The company is developing a software application that assists the Air Force in the detection, identification and monitoring of insurgent, terrorist and drug activities.
$3 million for a joint research program run by Starfire Systems Inc., of Albany. Its partners include the State University of New York and Syracuse University for the development of "intelligent clothing."
The clothing, designed for soldiers and emergency first-responders, would be able to sense a chemical-biological attack and automatically change the permeability of the clothing for safety.
$2.5 million to Source Sentinel of East Syracuse for a project to develop sensors that detect chemical and biological agents in the water.
The national security project is a partnership of State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry, O'Brien and Gere and Sensis.
$1.5 million for General Electric Industrial, Inspection Technologies and Sensing of Skaneateles.
The project will help General Electric Inspection Technologies develop hardware and software for a Navy interactive inspection reporting system. The system will give inspectors the ability to communicate, in real time via the Internet, with remote experts about the fitness of ship propulsion systems.
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