Sioux Manufacturing to build armor for vehicles in Iraq

Bismarck, North Dakota (AP) 11-07

A Fort Totten-based American Indian-owned company has been awarded a contract to build protective armor for bomb-resistant vehicles for troops in Iraq, the company’s president says.

Sioux Manufacturing Corp. was one of three companies selected to build armor for the mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, called MRAPs, said Carl McKay, the company’s president and chief executive officer. McKay would not disclose the terms of the contract, saying “it’s competition sensitive.”

In May, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made the MRAP the Pentagon’s top acquisition priority. John Young, the Defense Department’s top acquisition official, said more than 560 vehicles have been fielded, and monthly production will top 1,000 by the end of the year.

Sioux Manufacturing is owned by the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe, on the Spirit Lake reservation in northeastern North Dakota.

Federal agents raided the armor plant in June 2006, confiscating boxes of company records under a search warrant. The Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s office said at the time that the raid centered on “alleged contract irregularities” but would not elaborate.

McKay said the company has done nothing wrong. He said the federal investigation centers on the strength and density of Kevlar weave used in military helmets.

Sioux Manufacturing uses a loom to weave Kevlar fibers in helmets and armor for vehicles. The company also makes breast plates for ballistic vests, or flak jackets. Composite tiles made at the factory are pieced together to line interiors of military vehicles, ships and aircraft.