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AeroVironment Wins Drone Order

AeroVironment Inc. has won a contract that could be valued as much as $200 million to provide small unmanned spy planes to the U.S. Special Operations Command.

The U.S. Defense Department included the award in a listing of several contracts posted Tuesday on the U.S. Government’s Federal Business Opportunities Web site. The release didn’t identify what aircraft will be supplied, and Monrovia-based AeroVironment has not yet released that information.

An initial one-year order for 10 aircraft, valued at $6 million, has the option to be extended four years. Work will be done at a plant in Simi Valley, according to the government release.

Interest in AeroVironment’s drones has grown as the U.S. military has turned to using more unmanned aircraft to survey battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chief Executive Officer Tim Conver told Bloomberg News last week that his company expects to grow sales by as much as 25 percent annually through at least 2011. Last year’s total revenue was $216 million.

AeroVironment shares were up $1.27, or 4.6 percent, to $29.10 in midday trading on the Nasdaq. The stock price is up 15 percent so far this year.

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