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Ceradyne wins military contract

July 04, 2006|By Alicia Robinson

Costa Mesa ceramics maker Ceradyne on Monday announced it won a contract worth up to $611.7 million to make body armor for the U.S. military. The company has sold "hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars" of armor to the military over the past six years, Ceradyne Chief Executive Joel Moskowitz said, but the new order is its largest to date.

"This is very important to Ceradyne and this is very important to the military, since we're saving the lives of soldiers every day," Moskowitz said. "Sometimes they send us e-mails [saying] 'Thank you for saving my life; thank you for saving my captain's life; or thank you for saving my buddy's life.' "

The contract could last up to 60 months. The military can order armor as needed, up to the $611.7-million total, Moskowitz said. The orders will be for a new type of side armor; the company already makes armor that protects the front and back of soldiers.

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The ceramic armor pieces are tough enough to withstand machine gun fire, and they're backed with heavy-duty materials such as Kevlar that catch shrapnel.

Moskowitz founded Ceradyne in 1967 in the San Fernando Valley, and the company has been in Costa Mesa for more than 20 years. Ceradyne has five facilities in California as well as plants in Georgia, Kentucky, France and Germany.

The company in 2003 announced a contract with Lockheed Martin Corp. to make ceramic nosecones for an advanced generation of Patriot missiles, and its products have been used to make engine parts and orthodontic braces. Ceradyne officials have said their ceramics ? made by a process called hot pressing ? are harder than any substance except diamonds.

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