Curtiss-Wright eyes greater military comms tech presence

Industrial component maker Curtiss-Wright is continuing its push into more government business, this time through a $400 million deal to buy military communications technology firm PacStar.

Curtiss-Wright, the North Carolina-based industrial component maker, is seeking to expand its defense technology portfolio through an agreement to acquire tactical equipment provider Pacific Star Communications for $400 million in cash.

Known as PacStar, they will become part of Curtiss-Wright’s defense segment and is anticipated to generate $120 million in revenue this year. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter and add nearly 145 employees including 30 years to Curtiss-Wright, the companies said Thursday.

Portland, Oregon-based PacStar was founded in 2000 as a networking and communication equipment reseller but has gradually shifted to manufacturing systems on its own.

PacStar now specializes in making small-form equipment and has notched a series of defense contract wins amid its transition, including the largest one secured last year at $300 million to supply wireless command post networking equipment to the Army for between five and seven years.

That change in approach PacStar CEO Peggy Miller described to us earlier this year coincides with how the Defense Department has done the same for its acquisitions of communications networks and supporting technologies.

“They realize the old tractor trailer trucks and having a lot of (service representatives) in the field is not going to work,” Miller said then. “With this new expeditionary approach to being out in the battlefield, they see that they have to have things that are smaller, more portable.”

A pair of Curtiss-Wright’s acquisitions in recent years have eyed more of a government footprint, including a $212.5 million deal closed in April 2018 to buy the former Dresser-Rand Government Business from Siemens Corp.

One year later, Curtiss-Wright purchased Tactical Communications Group for $50 million to add more tactical data link and software offerings for defense agencies and larger prime contractors.