The Latest Word On Trends And Developments In Aerospace And Defense

Try, Try Again. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said last week that Republicans thwarted the Democrats’ efforts last year to limit troop deployments abroad. But he vowed to try again to pass legislation championed by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) to ensure that soldiers spend at least 12 months at home for every 12 months deployed. Reid was providing comments about the Democratic view of the state of the union. President Bush will give his state of the union address tonight.

Draft Denied. During last week’s Republican presidential debate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was asked how the Army can double in size, as retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey has recommended, without a draft. Romney said that he is recommending providing more educational incentives to reach his goal–increasing the active duty force by 100,000.

Export Directives. Last week President Bush signed a package of export control directives that the White House says will maintain proper security controls while making the export licensing process more efficient and open. The package includes the pledge of more money and intelligence support for trade license issues, according to a State Dept. fact sheet. The Aerospace Industries Association issued a statement in support of the new package. "Making improvements to the export control system will increase our ability to fight shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies and friends around the world," said Marion Blakey, president and CEO of AIA.

Maintenance Overhaul. GAO last week took the Army to task for its management of contractors helping to repair Humvees, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and armored personnel carriers in Kuwait. A study of the service’s Global Maintenance and Supply Services task order there worth millions of dollars uncovered enormous potential for waste. As such, GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense review the Army’s management of maintenance operations in Kuwait and that the Army devise a strategy to implement better performance. GAO also recommended that the Defense Contract Management Agency step in to meet current shortfalls, a suggestion the Pentagon said it would accept within DCMA’s ability to support the order.

Back To School. Australia’s air force moves toward the future, with the Jan. 24 initiation of the first Air Combat Officer (ACO) course and the transition from the School of Air Navigation to the School of Air Warfare (SAW). Air Marshal Geoff Shepherd says, "In the next decade, almost every Air Force platform will be replaced. Air Force is moving to a fully networked force. As a result, Air Force is re-designing its workforce and training programs, so personnel can maximise the benefits of the new capabilities and technologies." The SAW has a new curriculum designed to graduate Air Combat Officers rather than Navigators. The new course runs for 26 weeks of common training, followed by 14 weeks of specialist training at RAAF Base East Sale. ACOs will direct the air mission, commanding airborne missions and will be responsible for directing weapons and other weapon systems onto targets. They will be tactical experts and will be groomed throughout their career to lead entire air battles and become experts in air campaign planning.

Smart Tanks. The Army awards General Dynamics two contracts valued at $30.4 million to upgrade Abrams tanks. The first contract, provides initial funding of $12.4 million for parts to upgrade 435 M1A1 Abrams tanks to the M1A2 Systems Enhancement Package Version Two (SEP V2) configuration. The M1A2 SEP V2 is the most technologically advanced digital tank. It includes improved displays, sights, power and a tank-infantry phone, and is compatible with the U.S. Army’s Future Combat Systems, the company says. The second contract provides $18 million in additional funds to purchase long-lead materials for the reset of 204 M1A1 Abrams Integrated Management tanks. Reset restores used equipment to combat-level capability. The upgraded tanks will feature technology that improves crew situational awareness, including second-generation Forward-Looking Infrared, Far Target Locate, a tank-infantry phone and driver’s vision enhancement. The modifications increase the M1A1 Abrams tank’s fighting capability by providing soldiers with an electronic graphic of the battlefield that features icons identifying friendly and enemy forces and provides a tank commander’s thermal sight for the .50 caliber machine gun.

Sign Up. Companies that want to do business with NATO have until Feb. 22 to register for the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency’s (NC3A) 2008 industry conference, on a first come, first serve basis. The conference will be held at the Bedford Hotel in Brussels, 3-5 March 2008. "This is a unique opportunity for industry to find out in detail how procurement processes work, as well as about key upcoming projects," Rita Lewis, the Agency’s director of Acquisition, says. The NC3A is the lead NATO body for the acquisition and development of Consultation, Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities in support of NATO missions and operations. In 2007, the Agency’s procurement for the Alliance and on behalf of nations amounted to more than $514 million.

New CIO. Lockheed Martin Jan. 25 announces Sondra Barbour is the new Chief Information Officer and Vice President of Enterprise Services–a newly created organization that combines several of the corporation’s internal shared services groups. Barbour currently leads the corporation’s Shared Services operations. In her CIO role, Barbour succeeds Joseph Cleveland, who will retire in April. As Vice President of Enterprise Services, Barbour will be responsible for the organization that will provide an array of internal services to the corporation, including information technology; financial and human resources services; energy, environment, safety and health; global supply chain management; and records management.

Going For Gold. The Documentary feature "Operation Homecoming," a film based on the National Endowment of the Arts’ (NEA) anthology on wartime writing, is among five finalists for an Academy Award. The film was produced by The Documentary Group and directed by Richard Robbins. The film brings to life the letters, journals, poems, and essays featured in Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front, in the words of U.S. Troops and Their Families, an anthology published by Random House in September 2006. The Academy Awards will be broadcast live on Feb. 24, 2008. With support from Boeing, the NEA Operation Homecoming program brought 59 writing workshops to troops at 27 domestic and overseas military installations from Camp Pendleton, Calif., to the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) in the Persian Gulf to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. Boeing also supported the production of the Oscarr-nominated documentary.

The Big D. The Navy and Northrop Grumman Ship Systems christened the newest Arleigh Burke-class destroyer the USS George Dewey (DDG-105) Saturday at Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. On hand were Rear Adm. Charles Goddard, PEO Ships, Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England and Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.). Deborah Mullen is the ship’s sponsor. More than 1,000 guests attended the christening at Ingalls shipyard.

Firing Up Fire Scout. Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems facility in Moss Point, Miss., will conduct its first Fire Scout VTOL engine run next week. The Navy had been conducting those events at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. Later this year, officials at the Moss Point operations hope to begin their first flight tests of Fire Scout in Mississippi. Those flights were also done at Pax River.

Coalition Interoperability. The Maritime Missile Theater Defense forum completed its first major milestone in mid-November during the Coalition Distributed Engineering Plant (CDEP) Proof of Concept Event, the Navy says. The purpose of the forum is to facilitate naval coalition theater missile and air defense. The forum meets annually and consists of eight navies: Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States. The CDEP is a network of combat systems hardware and software that serves as a testbed to evaluate coalition missile defense interoperability, the Navy adds.

…Success. The purpose of the CDEP Proof of Concept Event was to evaluate the testbed, processes and procedures developed to assess coalition interoperability in a hardware-in-the-loop environment, in support of the MTMD Forum vision, the Navy says. The test resulted in 14 completed runs during the three-day period. Seven of the eight nations participated in the event; Canada does not currently have the Halifax-class combat system suite available for testing, the Navy adds. All nations participating in the event successfully contributed to Link 11 and/or Link 16 communications-based scenarios, and engagements were conducted by both planned procedures and doctrine, the Navy notes.

Thinking Smaller. Lockheed Martin says it completed a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for the Replacement Human Occupied Vehicle (RHOV), a next generation three-person Deep Submergence Vehicle (DSV) that will be used by the U.S. scientific community. The successful three-day review was conducted in mid-November, as scheduled, the company adds.

…Big Step. Lockheed Martin was awarded a $2.8 million contract in August ’07, for the initial design of the RHOV, which is intended to replace the DSV Alvin, the human-occupied deep submergence vehicle currently operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). The initial contract, funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF), includes an option for subsequent construction of the RHOV once the detailed design work is complete and WHOI and NSF approve the final design.