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Comptek Research Inc. has won a $3.6 million subcontract to provide mission planning software for a new air-launched cruise missile, the West Seneca-based defense electronics company announced Tuesday.

Comptek's software unit in Hollywood, Md., will develop the system for Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems under a contract that runs through February 2001.

"We're essentially providing software and expertise for the (missile) guidance system," said Christopher Head, Comptek's executive vice president.

Mission planning, a speciality of Comptek PRB Associates in Maryland, involves calculating air war tradeoffs like fuel and explosives under different weather conditions and mission targets.

"That's a capability we picked up as a result of that (PRB) acquisition and they're very good at it," Head said. Comptek acquired PRB Associates in 1998.

The air-launched weapon, the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM), will let Navy and Air Force pilots shoot at targets on the ground from 100 miles away, presumably out of range of air defense systems. Lockheed Martin Corp. is scheduled to build 2,400 of the missiles under a $2 billion contract, with production starting in mid-2000.

Comptek may receive follow-on work after the initial performance period expires, Head said.

Comptek stock got little bounce from the announcement, rising 1/1 6 Tuesday to close at 8 3/1 6.

The award comes amid good times for Comptek, which reported a 52 percent increase in profits during the quarter that ended on July 2, boosted by targeting systems used in Kosovo.

In July, the company announced it won a $11.1 million engineering services contract from the U.S. Navy to evaluate shipboard combat direction systems.

In March, Comptek completed a $30 million acquisition of fellow defense electronics maker Amherst Systems Inc., giving the company about 1,200 employees nationwide and annual sales of $140 million.

On the next frontier, Comptek hopes to parlay its experience with U.S. weapons systems into sales to U.S. allies, Head said. The many U.S.-built F-15s, F-16s and F-18s in use worldwide represent a potential market for Comptek target and mission planning systems, he said.

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