Ceradyne lands $2.37 billion deal

Ceradyne Inc., which makes body armor in Lexington and California, has landed its biggest military contract ever.

Ceradyne says the order for front and back plates from the U.S. Army is worth $2.37 billion and covers approximately five years.

The order is for what are called XSAPI and ESAPI plates. The contract provides for a minimum of 500 sets a year to a maximum of 240,000 annually, but more specific orders will be placed during the contract.

David Reed, Ceradyne's president of North American operations, said in a news release that the XSAPI plates are "especially required in the field to defeat next-generation armor-piercing projectiles."

Jeff Waldal, Ceradyne's vice president in Lexington, said the company has been working for about a year to land the contract.

Ceradyne employs about 200 people in Lexington. Another division, Semicon Associates, employs 80 more people in Lexington.

Waldal said there are no plans to add employees, but that could change depending on how quickly the Army needs the body armor.

Ceradyne, which also makes armor for vehicles and aircraft, has received two other orders from the U.S. military in the past month for $39.2 million.

The body armor is made by Ceradyne in Lexington and at a plant near its headquarters in Costa Mesa, Calif. Ceradyne's stock (Nasdaq: CRDN) closed yesterday at $31.50, down 54 cents, or 1.69 percent..