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Astronics Corp., moving to bolster its aircraft electronics business, has acquired a New Hampshire company that makes the antenna systems used to bring satellite and ground-based communications into an airplane.

The move to acquire AeroSat Corp. in a $12 million cash deal expands Astronics’ line of products that help airline passengers use their electronic devices during flights.

A big part of Astronics’ business is making the systems that allow passengers to plug their electronic devices – from iPods to laptop computers – into outlets in their seats.

By adding AeroSat’s line of antenna systems, which are mounted on the fuselage and tail of commercial, business and military jets, Astronics now will make the equipment that brings in the electronic signals that provide content to those devices.

“AeroSat’s capabilities fit in well with our vision for the future,” said Peter J. Gundermann, Astronics’ chief executive officer.

“We have long been involved in helping aircraft passengers remain productive by powering their electronic devices,” Gundermann said. “With AeroSat, we also provide antenna systems that enable broadband connectivity.”

AeroSat, which is based in Nashua, N.H., has about 40 employees and is expected to have about $12 million to $14 million in sales this year, Astronics said. AeroSat’s president, Dennis Ferguson, will continue to run the company’s operations.

Under the terms of the deal, the purchase price for AeroSat could rise if the business meets certain performance targets. AeroSat’s owners would get extra payments if the company’s sales top $30 million next year and exceed $40 million in 2015. The additional payments to AeroSat, which will rise as sales grow, will not increase any further if the company’s revenues top $53 million.

Astronics said it expects AeroSat’s revenues next year to range between $20 million and $40 million, which would yield an additional payment to AeroSat’s owners that could range between nothing and $3 million.

In all, Astronics said it expects the additional payments to total between $5 million and $20 million.

email: drobinson@buffnews.com