CADILLAC, Mich.—Avon Protection Systems Inc. has won a $6.7 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to develop a modified version of its M53 protective face mask.
There is the potential for follow-up production awards of up to $74 million once the modified system is developed successfully, the company said.
Under the sole source pact, the U.S. manufacturing arm of Melksham, England-based Avon Rubber P.L.C. will develop a rubber chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear protective mask system, along with components, that provides respiratory protection for all U.S. air crews on military fixed-wing non-fast jets, which are non-pressurized aircraft, a company spokeswoman said.
The contract includes a two-year preproduction phase that covers development, testing and user trials of the modified M53 mask system along with logistical support. The project, which was launched in early August, is expected to be finalized in 2017.
"A number of masks will be produced for evaluation to take place, but this is only within the development stage," the spokeswoman said. Production is not covered by the $6.7 million agreement; that would fall under follow-up contracts.
Development of the modified mask system will take place at Avon's Cadillac factory, where many of the firm's respiratory products are made, she said.
Under terms of the contract, the system must provide continuous head, eye and respiratory protection against CBRN and other toxic industrial che-micals and materials, Avon said.