On Monday, the Department of Defense awarded $150 million to a trio of vendors through a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. The contract, awarded severally to the Physical Science Lab at New Mexico State University, Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC), and Orbital Sciences (NYSE:OA), funds unspecified "theoretical studies and engineering research" work to be performed for U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force research and development programs.

Although not specifically stated in the DOD's contract announcement, the contract appears to be an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract, inasmuch as it specifies that "work ... will be determined with each order." This suggests the DOD's award is actually an umbrella contract under which specified task orders will be put up for bid, at which point NMSU, Northrop, and Orbital will be able to bid to fulfill said task orders.

One curiosity about the contract is that DOD says "four bids were solicited, with four bids received" for the contract. However, only three winners were named.

This contract runs through March 16, 2018.

Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Orbital Sciences and owns shares of Northrop Grumman. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.