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LI company gets contract to re-wing Cold War-era Warthog jets

The Pentagon had previously marked the Warthog for

The Pentagon had previously marked the Warthog for retirement, but military campaigns in the Middle East put it back to work. Credit: Associated Press/Larry MacDougal

CPI Aerostructures Inc.'s stock climbed Thursday after the company announced that it had won a contract worth as much as $48 million to re-wing Cold War-era A-10 "Warthog" jets, which the Pentagon previously had marked for retirement.

Vincent Palazzolo, chief financial officer of Edgewood-based CPI Aero, said in an email that the aerospace manufacturer has been seeking to add 10 to 15 employees to its workforce of 305 and that an additional 10 to 15 would be needed when A-10 work ramps up in 2020.

Shares of CPI Aero climbed 2.4 percent Thursday to close at $8.19. The stock was trading at $7.21 12 months ago.

In August 2014, CPI Aero took a $44.7 million noncash charge related to plans by the Pentagon to retire the A-10s, which were manufactured on Long Island.

“This award builds on our decadelong experience in manufacturing wing structures for the A-10 and cements our role as a key supply chain partner to Boeing on this aircraft to 2030 and beyond," Douglas McCrosson, president and chief executive of CPI Aero said in a statement.

In its fiscal 2015 budget, the Air Force had estimated that retiring the A-10 would let it save $4.2 billion over five years.

Military campaigns in the Middle East, however, put the A-10 back to work. The ground-attack jet with a seven-barrel Gatling gun was designed to defeat Soviet tanks in Europe, but also proved adept at providing air support to ground troops seeking to defeat ISIS militants in the Middle East.

Under the new indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity agreement with prime contractor Boeing Co., CPI Aero will deliver structural assemblies and subassemblies for the wings of the A-10. The first delivery is expected in late 2020.

In August, Boeing announced it had won an Air Force contract with a maximum value of $999 million to re-wing up to 112 A-10s.

More than 700 A-10 Thunderbolts were made by Farmingdale-based Republic Aviation Co. (later to become Fairchild-Republic Co.).

The A-10s nickname sprang from an Air Force major who said the jet was "ugly as a warthog," according to an account by Elliot Kazan, who died in August 2018. The Dix Hills aeronautical engineer was the project manager overseeing the jet's production.

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