Published: Thursday, 11 July 2013
Mike Fulton

Hann Powerboats, a boat builder from Manatee County, Florida, has received a 5-year, $4.5-million contract from the US Air Force. They want powerboats that will be primarily used for target practice. 

Florida Builder Get 45m For Target Boats 1

"Finding a small boat in a big ocean is not easy," said Kevin McLaughlin, Vice President of Hann. "Once you find the boat and determine it’s a bad guy, then you have to take offensive action against it. That could either mean strafing it with .50-caliber machine guns or dropping a bomb on it," he added. 

Hann was awarded the contract, said McLaughlin, partly because its boats can be towed at 35 knots, giving the Air Force a target that mimics a real-life scenario. Most other boats can not be towed at such speed. 

The company builds both recreational and military or police boats, ranging from 4 to 15 metres. Its clients include the Lee County Sheriff's Office, the US Navy and US Customs and Border Patrol. The Air Force contract allows it to order boats of different sizes. 

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McLaughlin said the company is capable of a quick turnaround on the contract. “In the last two months we delivered 30 boats to the Air Force and built those boats in 50 days," he said. "That was quite an achievement and is one of the reasons why we were awarded the contract — we do have the ability to produce boats fast." 

The Hann contract is also notable because it was awarded during the government’s sequestration period. 

Kevin Connelly, a board member of the Sarasota Manatee Manufacturers' Association, said he expects government contracts to be steady through until the end of September when the federal fiscal year ends. "During this time period, many federal agencies are under pressure to spend money left in their budgets. If they don't, odds are that they lose it for next year,” he added.