2 Local Firms in Line for Defense Contracts

Two Valley defense industry firms soon might provide the federal government with new radar, antenna and minesweeping devices.

The House Appropriations Committee recently approved $8 million for the Air National Guard to purchase a type of air traffic control radar system developed by ITT Gilfillan of Van Nuys.

The committee also approved $4 million for the military to fund development of antennas that transmit reconnaissance information via satellites, a technology that ITT Gilfillan is developing.

The funds are part of the $250-billion defense appropriations bill for fiscal year 1999, a bill that could be considered by the House next week, said Doug Campbell, a spokesman for Rep. Howard Berman (D-Mission Hills).

"We're pretty confident this money will stay in [the bill]," Campbell said.

The bill also calls for $2 million for development of devices that can clear mines from bodies of water with minimal human involvement.

Navy divers often must clear mines underwater, but the Navy wants a device that can locate the mines on its own, said Mike Charley, vice president of business development for L-3 Communications, Ocean Systems of Sylmar.

The firm is the sole American company developing such a device, which makes the company a prime candidate to work with the Navy on the technology, Charley said.

In a statement, Berman said he was pleased with the committee's approval of the funds and their potential: "This money will help preserve good jobs in the Valley and hopefully create some new ones."

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