ST. IGNATIUS – S&K Technologies had somewhere between 40 million and a billion reasons to celebrate Friday.

One of the firm’s seven companies, S&K Aerospace, landed a U.S. Air Force contract worth almost $1 billion, CEO Tom Acevedo confirmed.

While the bulk of the money will go to purchasing and repairing military equipment for more than 80 nations around the world, the contract will be worth $40 million to $50 million to S&K Aerospace to oversee the program for the next five years.

The $975 million contract is triple that of any previous contract S&K, owned by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, has been awarded.

“What’s more exciting is that it was a full and open competition,” Acevedo said. “It means we can go up against any company of any size, and compete for and get these types of contracts.”

This one is believed to be the largest of its kind in the world.

URS Corp., headquartered in San Francisco, has held the federal contract for the past 10 years.

James Schaan, S&K Aerospace vice president for business development, said the Parts and Repair Ordering Services Program supplies and repairs military equipment for the armies, navies and air forces of 83 nations.

Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Jordan, Japan, Poland, Turkey, Libya, Morocco, Thailand, the Czech Republic – it’s a long list of U.S. foreign military sales customers around the globe, Schaan said.

“There are hundreds of sources of repair and supply,” Schaan said. “We’ll manage the process.”

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S&K Aerospace is the prime contractor, and will partner with Parts and Repair Technical Services of Stockbridge, Ga., and General Dynamics Information Technology of Fairfax, Va., to provide equipment, maintenance, logistical, technical and support services for the military hardware.

Schaan said the contract could create 24 to 36 new jobs at S&K Aerospace, although most would be located outside Montana, nearer where the contract’s work is carried out. Acevedo said many jobs would be located in Dayton, Ohio, home of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and one of many cities where S&K Technologies, headquartered here in St. Ignatius, maintains offices.

Begun with $150,000 in seed money from the tribes and incorporated in 1999, Acevedo said S&K Technologies has returned more than $14 million to the tribal government since.

S&K Aerospace’s previous record contract, worth $325 million, was with the Royal Saudi Air Force in 2001.

“It’s the only other contract in the world comparable to this one,” Schaan said, and the new contract comes as Saudi Arabia moves to turn its F-15-based work over to a Saudi-owned company by decree of the King, he added.

Through its seven subsidiaries, S&K Technologies performs work ranging from robotics research to environmental restoration.

In addition to its headquarters in St. Ignatius and Montana offices in Missoula, Polson and Arlee, the company maintains offices in Washington, D.C.; Houston; Anchorage; Dayton, Ohio; Bremerton, Wash.; Grand Junction, Colo.; Warner Robins and Byron, Ga.; Franklin, Tenn.; and Baghdad, Iraq.

“We’re very proud we could pull this down,” Schaan said of the contract. “It’s great for the tribes, great for Montana, and great for us.”

Reporter Vince Devlin can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or at vdevlin@missoulian.com.