The U.S. Army has selected a Long Island company to compete to supply $1.3 billion in body-conforming batteries to power soldiers' augmented reality goggles and other electronics.
Privately held Bren-Tronics Inc. is one of four companies that will compete for each order of the "conformal wearable batteries."
Funding for the flexible batteries about the size of a laptop is estimated to run through May 10, 2030. The contract was awarded on Thursday.
Kyle Roelofs, vice president of business development at Commack-based Bren-Tronics, said he expects the Army to order the batteries, which can slide into a soldier's vest pocket, from multiple vendors.
A prime use of the batteries will be to power augmented reality headsets, known as Integrated Visual Augmentation System, supplied by Microsoft Corp., he said.
A deal worth up to $21.9 billion to supply 120,000 of those devices to the Army was announced in March. The Army's IVAS is based on technology developed for Microsoft's HoloLens system that is sold to businesses.
Augmented, or mixed, reality devices let users view the world around them, but layer digital information on top of it.
HoloLens devices are being adapted in design, manufacturing, maintenance, training and medical uses.
In 2013, Bren-Tronics opened a 32,000-square-foot plant in Commack, allowing the company to manufacture lithium-ion batteries instead of importing from Asia.
Roelofs said the IVAS system provides "situational awareness," identifying soldiers in their proximity as friend or foe, providing location data and other information.
Bren-Tronics, which specializes in manufacturing military battery and charging systems, already has been supplying the Army with chargers for the conformal wearable batteries under a separate contract.
Roelofs said Bren-Tronics' 250-person workforce would manufacture the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries on Long Island.
"We've been preparing for this for several years," he said.
The other companies named by the Army to compete as suppliers of the batteries are: Inventus Power LLC of Woodridge, Illinois; Navitas Advanced Solutions Group LLC of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Ultralife Corp. of Newark, New York.
Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) said the selection of Bren-Tronics to supply wearable batteries is a step in advancing the region's I-495 research corridor.
"Long Island has a long and proud history and currently employs over 10,000 workers in the aerospace and defense industries," he said.
Batteries produced by 48-year-old Bren-Tronics are used in a wide variety of military devices, including radios, sensors and jammers.
In February, Bren-Tronics sold its UltraCell LLC fuel cell unit based in Livermore, California, to Boston-based Advent Technologies Holdings Inc.