ELIZABETH CITY, N.C.

A defense industry company that makes radars for Navy and Coast Guard aircraft and for border security will expand its workforce here more than tenfold.

Telephonics Corporation will hire 75 people with an average salary of about $65,000, the company announced at a ceremony Tuesday with Gov. Roy Cooper in attendance.

Six employees will continue to work at a Telephonics facility that opened in 2010 near the Coast Guard base in Elizabeth City. The additional 75 employees will work out of a renovated 25,000-square-foot building in a business park north of Elizabeth City near U.S. 17.

"We couldn't be happier about what we're doing," said Ron Kramer, chief executive officer for Griffon Corporation, the parent company of Telephonics. Kramer spoke at Tuesday's ceremony at the renovated building.

Telephonics, based in Farmingdale, N.Y., becomes the second largest defense contractor operating in Pasquotank County behind Dyncorp International, which maintains Coast Guard aircraft with 250 employees.

Officials seek to grow the aviation industry in the region as an economic engine. The Coast Guard base is one of the largest in the country. Elizabeth City State University and the College of the Albemarle both offer degrees in aviation-related fields. Military aviation facilities in Hampton Roads are less than an hour's drive away.

"We have become an aeronautics cluster in northeastern North Carolina," Cooper said.

Telephonics makes radar and communications equipment for the military and private sector for weather avoidance, border patrol, search and rescue and maritime surveillance, according to company news releases.

Telephonics radar installed on a large Navy helicopter known as Romeo can detect enemy submarine periscopes at short and long ranges, among other functions. The company makes surveillance systems that distinguish between friendly and enemy aircraft, ships and vehicles, and pinpoints bearing and range.

The company makes radar for ground equipment on the border with Mexico that detects and tracks smaller and slow-moving vehicles, a company news release said.

Five years ago, Telephonics radar on a Navy helicopter located a sailor who survived several hours at night after falling overboard 300 miles off the coast of South Carolina.

Jeff Hampton, 252-491-5272, jeff.hampton@pilotonline.com

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