The Latest Word On Trends And Developments In Aerospace And Defense

Fightin’ Words. Some lawmakers backing Boeing’s bid for the Air Force tanker contract are throwing barbs after the Pentagon briefed them last Thursday on the new draft request for proposals (RFP). Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) wants the RFP to reflect European government support rival team Northrop Grumman-European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. received, which the World Trade Organization is reviewing. “Consideration should be given in the RFP to rectify this injustice” of allegedly “illegal subsidies,” he says. Pro- Boeing lawmakers also want more consideration of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and U.S. International Trafficking in Arms Regulations. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) says she will examine “how this RFP was constructed, how clearly it lays out what the Air Force wants, how requirements will be weighted, and why the consideration of illegal trade subsidies was left out,” along with “whether this RFP finally brings clarity to how bids will be evaluated.” Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) says “additional work is needed to clarify the draft request for proposals,” citing questions about “the proposed price adjustment system.”

Cybersecurity Science. A bill requiring federal agencies to develop, update, and implement a strategic plan for cybersecurity research and development has cleared a subpanel of the House Science and Technology Committee. Approved Sept. 23, the bill calls for a roadmap detailing each agency’s role and the level of funding required to fulfill research objectives. Multiple cybersecurity bills are floating around Capitol Hill, including one from Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.). Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman (I/D-Conn.) and Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-Maine) both are working on legislation that will touch on how the federal government can help businesses defend themselves against cyber-attacks.

Sign Up Complete. The 15 nations in NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) program complete the signature process of the Program Memorandum of Understanding (PMOU), in a significant step towards the essential operational capability for NATO. The PMOU, along with the AGS Charter, sets the legal, organizational, and budgetary framework for the program and launches both the NATO AGS Management Organization (NAGSMO) and NATO AGS Management Agency (NAGSMA). AGS will be ready as of 2012. The AGS Core capability will consist of an air segment based on the U.S. Block 40 version of the RQ-4B Global Hawk with the multi-platform radar technology insertion program (MP-RTIP) ground surveillance sensor. The ground segment, which will be developed by Canadian-European industry, will provide data to multiple deployed and non-deployed operational users and is seen as an interoperable interface between the AGS Core and a wide range of national and NATO Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance systems. Northrop Grumman is the AGS prime contractor with a transatlantic team.

New CROWS. General Dynamics Land Systems wins a $24 million contract to supply Commanders Remote Operated Weapons Stations, version two, (CROWS II) kits to the Army TACOM Lifecycle Management Command. CROWS II is a remote-control weapon system that provides the soldier with the ability to acquire and engage targets from inside an armored vehicle. It is designed to mount on a variety of military platforms. GD will supply a total of 468 CROW II kits–370 will be used for M1A2 System Enhancement Program Version 2 (SEPv2) upgrade vehicles. The work is expected to be complete in 2012. The CROWS’ laser range finder improves accuracy and the sensor suite permits target engagements in all conditions. The system can hold five times as many .50-cal. machine gun rounds as other older systems.

New Executive. General Dynamics Land Systems appoints Michael Cannon senior vice president–ground combat systems reporting to the president, Mark Roualet. Cannon joined General Dynamics in September 2007 as vice president–ground combat systems, responsible for program management of the Abrams tank and derivatives, Stryker vehicles, and specialized wheeled vehicles businesses. Also, he is responsible for identifying, developing and securing new business opportunities, strategic planning, executing capture plans, the management of new business funds and coordinating business development activities with the company’s process centers. Cannon is a retired Army brigadier general, with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology and a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University and a Master of Science from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

AM General Hires Former CHINFO. AM General has hired Frank Thorp, a retired rear admiral and former CHINFO, as Vice President, Communications and Washington Operations. The company builds the venerable Humvee and is teamed with General Dynamics on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. Thorp starts Oct. 15.

The Heavy Weight. Raytheon is in production build for the FY ’07 and FY ’08 procurement of its heavy weight torpedo, for both the U.S. and Australia, Lloyd Beckett, director for undersea weapon systems, tells Defense Daily in a recent interview. “We also have a bid out for Brazil and are working on pursuit of another country,” he says. “Because the Mk 48 has a long history…we do have relationships with a number of countries that have them, but a smaller set of countries than the Mk 54 (light weight torpedo), because they have to have submarines.” The new production Mk 48s come with the Common Broadband Acoustic Sensor Suite (CBASS) configuration, Beckett says. “The last year’s deliveries were to CBASS configuration. The Mk 48 is an old weapon. Our last production build was the CBASS upgrade. We changed the acoustic sensor processing on the front end, made it more capable, particularly in the littorals,” Beckett explains. “That’s a pretty significant capability upgrade on the weapon and a lot of the countries that have Mk 48s in their inventory have the older version. So the real growth potential is upgraded capability, and bringing in the old rounds, doing the upgraded equipment and then giving them back more capable ones. Raytheon is working with Australia and talking to a few other countries about how to do these upgrades, he adds.

No Speedos Needed. NAVSEA completed a week-long test of the second Integrated Swimmer Defense (ISD) User Operational Evaluation System (UOES2) on Sept.18. The system is currently in the final stages of development, NAVSEA says. The test was the second of three integration tests of the UOES2. The system is scheduled to be delivered to the Maritime Expeditionary Security Forces (MESF) for evaluation in early spring 2010, NAVSEA adds. The ISD team is setting the stage for the acquisition of an end-to-end detect-to-engage anti-swimmer capability for the (MESF) community based on current commercial technology. The mission of the MESF is to protect strategic port facilities, strategic commercial shipping and naval ships operating within the shallow waters, at anchorages and in harbors, from bare beach to sophisticated port facilities, to ensure the uninterrupted flow of cargo and units to the combatant commander. This mission has the added requirement of protecting critical assets along the littorals of the United States and its territories from terrorist attacks, NAVSEA says.