Training the Troops

Universal Systems & Technology (UNITECH) (No. 52 on the be industrial/service 100 list with $78.25 million in sales) reported that it received a total of more than $45 million in new Department of Defense orders during September and October, bringing the total value of this Centreville, Virginia-based company’s six active DOD contracts to $225 million through 2010.

UNITECH designs and manufactures battlefield-simulation devices that the Army and Marine Corps use to train troops. From 2006 to 2007, UNITECH’s be 100 ranking rose 20 places. “The growth in the company is being led by the simulation division in Orlando,” says UNITECH CEO Earl Stafford. “We expect a significant revenue increase this year.”

In 2006, improvised explosive devices-homemade bombs-caused half of all U.S. military deaths in Iraq and a quarter in Afghanistan. “Back when we went into Iraq and Afghanistan, we were not fully expecting the IEDs that we confronted,” says Maj. Frank Bridges, project director of IED defeat, detection, and disarmament training at the U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation. “Now we try to make sure that [soldiers] know what to expect.”

UNITECH has produced hundreds of harmless IED look-alikes simulating the real thing in impact, sound, and detonation. Recent UNITECH contracts involve designing and manufacturing thousands of counter radio electronic warfare, jamming devices used by troops to block cell phone and other remote wireless frequencies that detonate IEDs. UNITECH also makes laser-based weapons-training devices.