The Latest Word On Trends And Developments In Aerospace And Defense

Appropriations Action. Congress has kicked off consideration of the FY ’11 defense appropriations bill, with the HAC-D’s markup last week of its version of the legislation, but no more action is expected until six weeks from now at the earliest. Though the full SAC considered marking up the defense bill this week, before it leaves for August recess next week, it opted against scheduling the bill-writing session until after Congress resumes the week of Sept. 12. The full HAC will have to wait until then as well to take up the HAC-D’s bill, because the House now is in recess. Lawmakers will have only three weeks to finish the defense budget if they want it completed by the start of FY ’11 on Oct. 1. The Senate also is expected to debate the FY ’11 defense authorization bill in mid-to-late September.

SASC Musical Chairs. Sen. Carte Goodwin (D-W.Va.), who is temporarily serving as the junior senator from his state following the death of longtime Democratic senator Robert Byrd, is the newest member of the SASC. He serves on three subcommittees: Strategic Forces, Readiness and Management Support, and Emerging Threats and Capabilities. The Democratic membership of the SASC’s six subpanels was rejiggered to make room for Goodwin.

NDAA Backlash. A trade group charges acquisition-policy language in the House and SASC’s versions of the FY ’11 defense authorization bill could increase costs, delay programs, and stifle innovation. The Professional Services Council, the trade association for the federal government’s professional and technical services industry, points to industry comments the Acquisition Reform Working Group, of which it is a member, submitted to lawmakers on July 28. Among PSC’s concerns: provisions in the House bill requiring the Pentagon make cost at least 50 percent of contract proposal evaluations. “This would arbitrarily restrict an agency’s ability to establish proper evaluation criteria and make best-value decisions, which could hurt government performance and ability to obtain the best, most innovative solutions,” PSC says.

Clapper Cleared. James Clapper’s nomination to be the next director of national intelligence is now before the full Senate, after the Senate Intelligence Committee’s unanimous vote of approval on July 29. The Senate is expected to consider the nomination this week, before the chamber’s August recess starts. Clapper, a retired Air Force lieutenant general, is the under secretary of defense for intelligence. President Barack Obama nominated him in June to be DNI, replacing Dennis Blair. Intelligence Committee heads Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Kit Bond (R-Mo.) initially expressed reservations about Clapper’s nomination, pointing to his strong Pentagon ties and questioning his ability to handle the job. The position overseeing 16 agencies and offices was created in 2004 in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

In The Good Old Summer Time. The Navy says the much anticipated LCS contract award should occur no later than Sept. 22, the official end to the summer. Many in industry were anticipating a contract award within the first two weeks of August. The Navy says there is no delay in making the decision. The plan had always been to select a winner during the summer.

We’re Number One. The Navy ranks number one 1 in the world for newly patented discoveries and inventions in the 2010 Patent Power report published by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence, NAVSEA reports. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Vice Commander Rear Adm. David Lewis told attendees at last month’s National Conference of Standards Laboratories International how new, Navy-patented ideas in measurement science have helped save the Navy millions and significantly increased technical capability. “The Navy is leading the world in patents for innovation and has the strongest government patent portfolio in the world,” Lewis says. “And NAVSEA’s warfare centers account for nearly half of the Navy’s patents. If the warfare centers were evaluated separately, they alone would rank with the best in the world.”

Power Meeting. Energy and power stakeholders from across DoD, industry and academia gather at the first-ever High Energy Density Systems (HEDS) Technology Workshop, hosted by NSWC Crane, Ind., to develop strategies to improve energy and power technologies for naval systems, NAVSEA says. The HEDS Technology Workshop focuses on creating a plan for future strategic technology capabilities and aiding in the architecture of new platforms and systems, such as batteries, fuel cells and advanced energy conversion systems. The need to plan improvements in high energy density systems came from a direct request by NAVSEA Commander Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy at a recent Commanders Forum for NAVSEA leadership, NAVSEA adds. The result of the workshop will be a collective living document of recommendations to safely apply new power source technologies to fulfill platform requirements Navy-wide. Follow-up sessions will be scheduled to continuously improve the document and provide the highest, most accurate level of input, NAVSEA says.

Customer Service. The first In-Service Engineering Activity (ISEA) Forum was held at NSWC Carderock, Ship Systems Engineering Station. As a result of a Surface Warfare Enterprise In-Service Support Team’s recommendation, the forum brought all in-service engineers together for the first time to engage in an open discussion of ideas, carefully evaluate how engineering support is provided to the fleet and discuss ways to improve processes and better align support. In-service engineers are responsible for system life- cycle strategies and support, design and systems engineering, providing fleet support, project management, program performance reporting, and integrating logistics support functions for systems and equipment, NAVSEA says.

Show Me The Sub. The Navy’s newest attack submarine, Missouri, was scheduled for commissioning on July 31 in Groton, Conn. Missouri is named to honor the people of the “Show Me State” and its leaders for their continuous support of the military. Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and CNO Adm. Gary Roughead will also deliver remarks. Becky Gates, wife of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, will serve as the ship’s sponsor. Missouri was built at General Dynamics’ Electric Boat operations in Groton. It was delivered to the Navy in a record 65 months and eight percent under target cost, General Dynamics says.

SBIRS GEO-1 C2. Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center’s Space Based Infrared Systems program office successfully completed a major system level test of the interfaces between all SBIRS ground facilities and the GEO-1 satellite on June 30, the Air Force says. The test successfully demonstrated the command and control capability of the GEO-1 satellite using the Tri-band Antenna/Modem Suite modem. This test demonstrated the ability to perform the process of transmitting and receiving data between the ground system and the satellite using rapidly changing frequencies known as frequency hopping. Twelve individual objectives were tested, which subsequently demonstrated critical operational functions and capabilities of the SBIRS GEO-1 ground and space system. Prime contractor Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, the Aerospace Corporation and Air Force personnel conducted the tests over two days.

Deadline. The congressionally-mandated deadline requiring that 100 percent screening for explosives of air cargo shipped on passenger planes departing from airports in the United States went into effect yesterday, Aug. 1. Sundays are typically light in terms of air cargo and so is the month of August, although as this week progresses Transportation Security Administration and industry officials expect the occasional problem to arise where a shipper’s product doesn’t make a flight because it hasn’t been screened in time. The agency has over 900 entities enrolled in its Certified Cargo Screening Program (CCSP) and a large pipeline of additional entities that have begun the application process to become certified.

….Next Test. Once TSA clears the month of August, the next test of how well the CCSP program is functioning could come this fall as retailers prepare for the holiday shopping season and business travel picks up again, particularly if the economy continues improving. Air freight has already been trending up and, if the economy picks up, there could be pressure on the air cargo screening system this fall, Brandon Fried, executive director of the Air Forwarders Association, tells Defense Daily. Air forwarders typically take product from shippers, aggregate it, and then deliver it to the airlines. While airlines are ultimately responsible for ensuring that freight is screened, CCSP is TSA’s voluntary program to push screening into the supply chain by having forwarders and shippers do more of it to avoid bottlenecks–which could lead to missed flights for cargo- -at the airlines.

Environmental Design. Holston Army Ammunition Plant in Kingsport,Tenn., the largest capacity supplier of high performance explosives in the country, considers the environmental impact of what they produce, Jerry Hammonds, vice president and general manager of ordnance solutions for BAE Systems, tells Defense Daily. BAE operates the government- owned plant. “We always keep environmental impact at the forefront” at Holston, which has “a great environmental team,” Hammonds says. Environmental effects are considered as products are designed and manufactured, for instance, how to deal with wastewater streams, which are not an issue at the plant, he says. Safety and environmental issues are why TNT is no longer manufactured in the United States, he says.

Island Assignment. Four Army UH-72A Lakotas, produced by EADS North America, are now at Kwajalein Atoll in the Central Pacific. The light utility helicopters are used for transport and support missions at the Army’s Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, replacing aging UH-1 helicopters. Painted high-visibility orange, the Lakotas are equipped with skid-mounted floats with integrated life rafts and jettisonable cockpit doors. “The UH-72A Lakota is uniquely suited for forward basing in a remote location like the Kwajalein Atoll due to the aircraft’s superior reliability, maintainability and operational availability rate,” says Col. Neil Thurgood, U.S. Army Utility Helicopter project manager. The four UH-72As were transported by a U.S. Air Force C-17 airlifter to Kwajalein from Mississippi where the Lakota is produced by American Eurocopter, an operating company of EADS North America.

More Vehicles. Marine Systems Command (MCSC) awards General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada a $33.2 million delivery order to produce 21 RG-31 Mk5EM and six RG-31 Mk5E vehicles for its MRAP program. The vehicles will be produced at BAE Systems Land Systems OMC of Benoni, South Africa. Deliveries will be completed by April 2011. In total, General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada will have delivered 1,679 RG-31 vehicles under the MRAP program upon completion of this order.

Successful Demonstration. ITT Corp. says it again successfully demonstrated advanced Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) capabilities, maturity and operational readiness during recently completed testing at the C4ISR-on-the-Move exercise conducted at Fort Dix, N.J. The SRW is a Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) software defined waveform that will operate on Joint Tactical Radio (JTR) sets to provide the soldier on the battlefield with networked voice, data and video communications capabilities. The tests included a 36-node flat network scenario representing one of the most demanding communications situations for dismounted soldiers. The primary purpose of the demonstration is to assess SRW’s ability to maintain a 36-node network reliably and to pass situational awareness information and scripted Push-to-Talk voice traffic in a relevant operational environment. These tests were performed with ITT’s Wearable Soldier Radio Terminal equipment, which has been used in SRW field and qualification tests for the past five years.

Annual Gathering. The 13th Annual Space and Missile Defense Conference and Exhibition will take place Aug. 16-19, at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Ala. This year’s theme is “Space & Missile Defense…Enabling Regional Warfighters.” Confirmed speakers include Malcolm O’Neill, assistant secretary to the Army, Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology; Gen. Robert Kehler, commander, Air Force Space Command; Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, director, Missile Defense Agency; Lt. Gen. John Gardner, deputy commander, U.S. European Command; retired Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege, commander, Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations; Maj. Gen. Abraham Turner, chief of staff, U.S. Strategic Command; and representatives from the Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command and the National Security Agency.

Roll Out The Red Carpet. Navy Under Secretary Robert Work has agreed to deliver the keynote address at Defense Daily‘s 2010 Open Architecture summit planned for Nov. 18 at the Marriott Metro Center in Washington, D.C.