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Scott Aviation in Lancaster has won a $175 million contract from the Defense Department to supply protective masks for crews on all U.S. military aircraft.

The masks will protect the crews from biological and chemical threats while providing them with oxygen and anti-gravity protection, said Russ Kamis, vice president and general manager.

Scott is developing the product, known as the Joint Service Aircrew Mask, and plans to start producing it in 2006.

The first four years of the nine-year contract are valued at a total of $21 million. The program's value then increases to about $30 million per year for the remaining five years, ending in 2011.

Scott Aviation expects to make a total of 76,000 masks for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

The mask is designed to connect to an aircraft's existing oxygen and communications systems, and flight helmets, without requiring any modifications. It will also reduce the heat stress on air crews caused by existing systems.

Kamis said it's difficult to say whether Scott's contract will increase employment at its Lancaster plant, since production of the masks won't begin until 2006. The company employs about 350 people locally.

Scott Aviation is a subsidiary of Ohio-based Scott Technologies, which is owned by Tyco International.

Scott Aviation is working with QinetiQ, based in England, and Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego, Calif. The partners for the past three years have worked together on the program's initial design phase.

Company officials credited Rep. Jack Quinn, R-Hamburg, with helping nudge the Defense Department's selection process along.

Quinn last month wrote to a Pentagon official saying he had learned there was a "potential significant delay" in the selection of a team for the project, and asked for an explanation.


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