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Interview INFODEFENSA

R. Vandiver (AirTronic): "China or Rusia do a better job than USA promotiong their military industries"

Richard Vandiver CEO AirTronic USA

Richard Vandiver CEO AirTronic USA

17/05/2017 | Florida, USA

Gabriel Porfilio

AirTronic USA is a small business located in Texas, USA that surprisingly is the main provider of M203 grenade launchers for the US Government and its allies. More recently the firm has started development and production of the only American made RPG-7, denominated PSRL and is currently planning to start production in 2018 of a full range of ammunition for the system. To chat about that and other projects Infodefensa.com interviewed its CEO, Richard Vandiver.

Who is AirTronic USA and what you do?

AirTronic USA is a privately owned leading U.S. based electro-mechanical engineering design and manufacturing company that specializes in the design, development and manufacture of high-grade, weapons systems renowned for their reliability and dependability. AirTronic offers multiple global defense products to serve both government and commercial clients, and specializes in cutting-edge designs required to meet emerging customer and market demands.

What Defense areas are your currently focused on?

Founded in 1990, AirTronic initially focused its services in electro-mechanical engineering design and manufacturing, specializing in a product line of small arms, avionics, medical and telecommunications equipment. Since that time, the company’s capabilities have been extended to the engineering and manufacturing of advanced weapons systems and a full suite of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Geospatial Intelligence Systems (GIS).
Considered an engineering trailblazer for advanced weapon’s systems required by the U.S. Government and foreign allied governments, AirTronic has continuously been entrusted to enhance our platforms and develop new systems to meet customer’s unique needs. AirTronic’s RPG-7 (PSRL) is a prime example of how we leverage our broad company capabilities to custom-manufacture and ensure the timely delivery of our unique systems. We have been awarded contracts by the governments of Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Georgia, Ukraine and the Republic of Yemen, with additional awards pending by the Philippine government, for the RPG-7 (PSRL).
AirTronic works closely with government clearing labs to ensure the timely approval of our weapon’s systems. We perform testing in safe, secure environments, such as our company-owned testing range in southcentral Texas, in close proximity to our full-scale engineering and manufacturing plant.

What are your main operating areas?

Headquartered in Spring Branch, Texas, AirTronic, through its foreign distribution channels, operates in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East/North Africa with the capabilities to deliver our quality weapon’s systems to foreign allied governments in some of the most austere regions around the world.

What is currently your main market?

Currently, our primary market is foreign military, followed closely by U.S. domestic military, and we are now introducing to the domestic law enforcement market our 40mm less-than-lethal standalone model of Grenade Launcher – the SONIS™.

The Latin American market, once fully dominated by US and European manufactured armament, slowly has switched to other providers, including China and Russia. What do you think is needed for the US to be again a source of armament for those countries?

Obviously, I am biased, but I believe that U.S. weaponry is far superior in every aspect to like Chinese and Russian systems.  However, in my opinion those countries do a better job than the U.S. government in promoting their industries to foreign markets.  I believe that as a country we must be more effective in representing U.S. weapons platforms, particularly in this category of systems, which albeit are not technologically complex, but are ubiquitous and well-regarded operationally among many foreign militaries.

 Your company has sold the PSRL and M203 launchers to some countries in Latin America, can you tell us something about future projects in the area?

AirTronic USA intends to become increasingly more pro-active in the very important Latin American market to support our friends and military allies for their defense requirements.  Since our weapons are very competively priced, and well-recognized in these markets we hope to be increasingly more successful in promoting the AirTronic USA brand in Latin America.

Two of the most valued assets by Latin American countries are offsets and aftermarket services. What has your company to offer in that regard?

Our company services extend beyond the manufacturing and secured delivery of our high-quality weapon’s systems. AirTronic delivers a suite of sustained services to include maintenance, training and Quality Control tests. Working collaboratively with the governments we support, these services ensure our weapon’s systems are used in conformance with U.S. and foreign government engagement restrictions and requirements.
Over the course of our 27-year history, we have successfully met the needs of our customers, delivering high-quality, high-grade weapons systems and intelligence collection platforms. We diligently uphold our tradition of excellence and integrate our quality standards to the systems and programs supporting our valued customers. All of AirTronic’s products are manufactured in conformance with the ISO 9001:2015 international standard for a Quality Management System.

Of the suit of products you manufacture, can you please tell us which are your main ones?

AirTronic USA is currently focused on the production of shoulder-fired systems, including lightweight models and grenade launchers in the 40mm caliber space.  We produce the only American-made RPG-7 rocket launcher – the PSRL, which received a U.S. Army safety release in 2014.  For the M203 Grenade Launcher, AirTronic USA is the “go-to” manufacturer for the U.S. Government.

What new products are you developing?

AirTronic USA will continue to focus on our core competencies in the 40 mm weapons space, continuing to innovate products and accessories which will make those weapons system safer, more reliable and accurate, while maintaining great value for our customers.  Our philosophy is to produce weapons which are lightweight, simple to use, tactically superior and cost effective.  We also want to continue to differentiate our product sets from that of our competitors’, emphasizing innovation and superior quality.  As cited above, the primary development goal for 2017 is the production of an AirTronic USA RPG-7 round which will complete the PSRL weapon system.

Your company manufactured the first American made RPG-7, the PSRL. This product has been procured in different countries, can you tell us more about that?

Considered an engineering trailblazer for advanced weapon’s systems required by the U.S. Government and foreign allied governments, AirTronic has continuously been entrusted to enhance our platforms and develop new systems to meet customer’s unique needs. AirTronic’s RPG-7 (PSRL) is a prime example of how we leverage our broad company capabilities to custom-manufacture and ensure the timely delivery of our unique systems. We have been awarded contracts by the governments of Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Georgia, Ukraine and the Republic of Yemen, with additional awards pending by the Philippine government, for the RPG-7 (PSRL).

What makes your product different from the original RPG-7?

Our version, which is manufactured from 4140 and 4150 barrel-grade steel alloy, is lighter, more accurate and more reliable, and has a much greater life cycle than the legacy launchers in the same weapons category.  Our launcher, which will fire all warhead types of RPG-7 rounds, is married to an optical sight system, which is also lighter and simpler to use than the Russian-designed PGO sight.  Using a typical PG-7V HEAT round the effective range of our system is 850 meters – approximately 500 meters greater than what the legacy systems can produce.  The AirTronic PSRL launcher is outfitted with 1913 Std Picatinny rails, and is left and right-hand fired.  In sum, tighter tolerances yield more accuracy and reliability.

How you see AirTronic USA in the future? What would be your main goals to achieve?

AirTronic USA is a small business and we intend to follow our current business model emphasizing the innovation and production of superior quality weapons which the warfighter finds operationally effective and the military commands know is a great value for their tight defense budgets.  Our goal is for our customers to become our greatest marketing asset.

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