The Latest Word On Trends And Developments In Aerospace And Defense
Taxing Wars. HAC-D Chairman John Murtha (D-Pa.) thinks Congress should consider raising taxes to pay for the war costs, including a potential U.S. troop increase in Afghanistan. “We’ve got to pay for the cost some way; I don’t know how else you do it,” he tells reporters Nov. 5. The powerful defense appropriator notes he voted for reinstituting the military draft and against former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts, because he believes “everybody ought to be participating” in the war. He adds: “I’m doing some studies with (the Congressional Research Service) CRS right now trying to figure out how much of the inflation during the Reagan administration came from the Vietnam War. We’ve got to start thinking of paying for this stuff. We just can’t keep (passing war-funding) supplementals and passing bills that aren’t paid for.”
…Supplemental Speculation. Murtha grins when asked about comments from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen that a war-funding supplemental bill will probably be needed this fiscal year. “How long have I said that?” Murtha says. Regardless of whether President Barack Obama decides to send more troops to Afghanistan, the supplemental is inevitable, Murtha says. And he doesn’t expect a big political fight in Congress over the funding. “I think people are resigned to the fact that we’re going to have to have a supplemental,” he says. “We’re going to give troops whatever they need, that’s what it amounts to.”
NASA Bucks. The Senate passes on Nov. 5 the FY ’10 Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill, which calls for giving NASA $3.94 billion for space exploration efforts, close to the amount the White House requested. The exploration budget includes the Constellation program, which includes ATK and Boeing’s Ares I launch vehicle, Lockheed Martin’s Orion capsule, and the longer-term Ares V heavy-lift rocket and Altair lunar lander. Senate and House appropriations must reconcile their NASA funding bills, and the House version includes a $670 million exploration reduction. The White House, which requested $3.96 billion for exploration, objects to the House cut. Lawmakers await President Barack Obama’s response to a blue-ribbon panel’s report, which lays out options for future manned spaceflight that require a NASA budget increase.
When Hogs Fly. Lockheed Martin receives three contracts from the Air Force for the continued modernization and sustainment of the A-10 close air support fighter jet, the company says. The contracts, worth $7.7 million, are for: a trade study to look for a new, more cost-efficient fuel system tester aimed at increasing maintenance effectiveness; integration of the Fuel Quantity Intermediate Device to help pilots better manage onboard fuel reserves; and support of the Aircraft Structural Integrity Program to support safe flight operations. The three task orders are part of the Thunderbolt Lifecycle Program Support (TLPS), an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract that allows the Air Force to authorize up to $1.6 billion of aircraft support activity during an initial four-year order period followed by three two-year optional contract periods. Lockheed Martin was named as one of three associate prime contractors for TLPS in June 2009. TLPS is the follow-on to the A-10 Prime Contract competitively awarded to Lockheed Martin in 1997. Much of the work to upgrade the aircraft to A-10C configuration with modern avionics, situational awareness and precision weapons capabilities was performed under a modification contract called Precision Engagement. Lockheed Martin will remain under contract to complete efforts that are under way, including work to provide Precision Engagement modification kits through 2011.
When Rhinos Fly. Boeing last week announced delivery to the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) of its third F/A-18F Block II Super Hornet three months ahead of schedule on Sept. 30. Each of the three completed aircraft has been delivered three months ahead of schedule, according to the company. The remaining RAAF Super Hornets, each equipped with the Raytheon-built APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array radar, will be delivered through 2011. Australia became the first international Super Hornet customer in March 2007, when the Australian government announced its intent to acquire 24 of the fighters.
Maintaining the Minuteman. Boeing also says it has delivered upgraded cryptography devices to Northrop Grumman and the Air Force for the ICBM system. The devices provide additional communications security between the missile system’s launch control centers and launch facilities. The new devices are part of the ICBM Cryptography Upgrade (ICU) program for ICBM missile wings at Air Force bases F.E. Warren in Wyo., Malmstrom in Mont. and Minot in N.D. Boeing designed, developed and delivered the replacement units and supporting technical data, trainers, support equipment, and code processing system modifications. ICU is one element of the ICBM Prime Integration Contract led by Northrop Grumman. The program sustains and modernizes the United States’ Minuteman III weapon system, extending its service life well into the future. Boeing has been a teammate on the Northrop Grumman-led ICBM team since 1998 and has been involved in ICBM development, design, production and maintenance since Minuteman I was conceptualized in 1958.
Rocket Science. Lockheed Martin successfully fired an Army Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System rocket 92 kilometers in a recent test at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The test highlighted recent product improvements of the precision rocket to give it a longer reach. Firing crews for the launch were from the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery from Fort Lewis, Wash. This test firing of a unitary GMLRS met all mission objectives, according to a Lockheed Martin statement. GMLRS is a family of rockets that has been used frequently in both Iraq and Afghanistan, where more than 1,200 have been fired by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps and the British Army artillery. The system has maintained a reliability rating of over 98 percent in combat, according to Lockheed Martin. The GMLRS rocket used in last week’s test was fired from a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launcher.
BMD OA. Bringing BMD capability in with ACB 12 will be one of the biggest undertakings the Navy has embarked upon and the complexity of building that integrated air and missile defense capability into ACB 12 is quite complex, Capt. Terry Mosher, combat systems integration branch head, tells Defense Daily. “Again, it is recognized that in this ACB environment it’s the only way we can do that affordably.” The Navy is also looking at future spirals of enhanced BMD capability beyond ACB 12, Mosher adds. “I think it is well understood and well appreciated that the only way to field that capability quickly and have it propagate quickly throughout the Aegis fleet is to do that on this modernization, ACB type of strategy,” he adds. “The old baseline world we know is unaffordable, and that’s in our rear view mirror now and we are looking forward with ACB 12 and ACB 14. So we are committed to this OA future.”
…Road Map. While the acquisition community has a its own OA guidebook, Mosher notes the requirements side is working on a guidebook for requirements officers who have their own language, he adds. “So rather than N87, N88, or N85 having to reinvent the wheel on a solid set of requirement language, we’ve got essentially a requirements officers handbook that has that common language in it. It’s in draft…not published yet…still going through review.”
Reorg Concerns. Last week, the Navy finalized the reorganization of the Director of Naval intelligence (N2) and Deputy CNO Communications Networks (N6) into the new director of Information Dominance (N26). The new directorate will oversee a multitude of programs including sensors and unmanned systems. Moving many of those systems has been a cause of concern for some in the Navy and Marine Corps. During a briefing at the Brookings Institute last week, CNO Adm. Gary Roughead was questioned about the impact of the reorganization. “One of the concerns is that some of the operational capabilities of those platforms may be moved more toward information, intelligence and network-centric and we lose some of those operational capabilities such as the delivery of kinetic and non-kinetic fighters, asks Lt.Col. Brad Beech, Headquarters, Marine Corps Aviation Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Roughead notes it comes down to the CONOPS that the services employ and being able to make the trade-offs as to what is the most effective platform that the services have.
…Enhancing Capabilities. “The fact that they are being moved under N26 I think has the potential to enhance their capabilities because we can make more coherent decisions on how the information is going to be moving on and off, how the control systems will be robust enough to ensure that they give us the level of confidence to employ kinetic effects…,” Roughead says. “And so I think that it actually allows us to make better investments and better decisions in that regard, and it will be a question of do we need a manned or an unmanned system to go in and do something kinetically and if the desire is for the unmanned system to do that because of the CONOPS, then are we moving in the right direction with the investments that we have to make there?”
Now Hiring. NAVSEA returned last month to Livonia, Mich., to continue recruiting efforts among displaced automotive professionals. Following a successful Detroit recruiting event in April where NAVSEA hired 55 mid- to senior-level professionals, the command returned to the automotive industry hub to lead an expanded outreach effort that included three other systems commands: SPAWAR; NAVAIR and MARCORSYSCOM, the Navy says. More than 700 candidates attended two Navy introductory sessions.
Going Under. Boeing delivers the RAAF’s third F/A-18F Block II Super Hornet three months ahead of schedule. It publicly debuted the first of the RAAF’s 24 Super Hornets in St. Louis, Mo., on July 8, the company reports. Each of the three completed aircraft has been delivered three months ahead of schedule. The remaining RAAF Super Hornets, each equipped with the Raytheon-built APG-79 AESA radar, will be delivered through 2011.
…That’s All Folks. Boeing delivers the last T-45C Goshawk to the Navy in October, the company says. The aircraft was the 221st T-45 training jet delivered by the company to the Navy. The T-45 is the only jet training aircraft in the U.S. military’s inventory that enables undergraduate pilots to land on and takeoff from an aircraft carrier. The T-45 will continue to serve the Navy through 2035, Boeing adds.
Gun Systems For GD. General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products is awarded a $17 million contract to produce gun systems for the Phalanx Block 1B Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) and the Centurion Land-Based Phalanx Weapon System by Raytheon Missile Systems, General Dynamics reports. The Phalanx Block 1B CIWS is the most recent upgrade of the Phalanx CIWS. Phalanx is a fully autonomous, radar-directed, rapid-fire 20mm Gatling-gun system that provides naval ships with the last line of defense against a variety of threats including anti-ship missiles, aircraft, high-speed watercraft and other air and surface threats. The upgrade adds enhanced fire-control capability, optimized gun barrels and an integrated Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) system, General Dynamics says. In the Centurion configuration, a Phalanx Block 1B CIWS is mounted on a stabilized wheeled platform to protect ground forces and high-value sites against rocket, artillery and mortar threats. Currently deployed by the United States in overseas contingency operations, Centurion has successfully intercepted and destroyed more than 100 threats, General Dynamics adds.
Official Honor. CENTCOM commander Army Gen. David Petraeus is an Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia after a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 4. The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, nominated Petraeus for the award in recognition of his distinguished service to the International Coalition Against Terrorism as Commanding General, Multi-National Force Iraq. Minister for Defence Sen. John Faulkner, representing the Governor-General, presented the insignia to Petraeus in the presence of Air Chief Marshal Houston and Secretary of Defence Ian Watt. Houston said Petraeus’ appointment to the Order of Australia recognized his outstanding contribution to the increased safety and security of Australian forces in Iraq during 2007 and 2008. “This award is the highest honor in our system and I can think of no one more deserving of this recognition than General Petraeus,” Houston says.
Positive Reinforcement. Australian Minister for Defence Sen. John Faulkner meets with U.S. Defense Secretary Gates Nov. 5 in a meeting that “was very positive, reflecting the strength of our relationship with the United States,” Faulkner says. “I have reinforced to Secretary Gates that Australia is strongly committed to our mission in Afghanistan. Our efforts are directed to training and mentoring the Afghan National Army’s 4th Brigade in Oruzgan province.” The two defense leaders also discussed shared security interests, including Asia-Pacific stability and the progress of the Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty.
New Blog. The Army launches a new blog to shed some light on vital behind the scenes work on improving soldier safety and effectiveness. The Army Research, Development and Engineering Command launched Army Technology Live Nov. 2. It joins the growing family of Army blogs hosted by the Department of Defense’s DoDLive blog hosting service. Check it out at: http://armytechnology.armylive.dodlive.mil/.