The Latest Word On Trends And Developments In Aerospace And Defense

Murray Might. SAC-D member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will return to Congress for a fourth term in January, after being declared the winner of her close reelection battle on Nov. 4, following two days of ballot counting following the Nov. 2 elections. Murray, a member of Senate leadership and outspoken Boeing supporter, beat Republican challenger Dino Rossi, a real estate executive and former state lawmaker. Boeing donated $69,000 to Murray during the 2009-2010 election cycle, making her the top recipient of contributions from the company. Votes still were being tallied for Rep. Rick Larsen’s (D-Wash.) reelection bid as of press time last Friday. Larsen, a HASC member and Boeing booster, was fighting for his seat against Republican John Koster.

Module Making. Northrop Grumman will start production of mission packages for the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) under a $29 million contract announced Nov. 4. The company in 2012 will deliver one mission-module package for mine countermeasures and two for surface warfare under the contract. The initial mission packages were designed by and built at the Navy’s Warfare Centers in Panama City, Fla., Dahlgren, Va., and San Diego. Northrop Grumman has been the Naval Sea Systems Command’s mission package integrator. The plug-and- play packages, contained in shipping containers, include an array of mission-specific systems and vehicles. Additional mission modules are expected to be designed and produced in the future.

Hunter Caucus. Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.), who was elected to a second House term on Nov. 2, will serve as the Republican co-chair of the bipartisan National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus starting in January. The caucus was created 18 years ago and now has over 230 congressional members. It advocates for maintaining the readiness of the nation’s Guard and Reserve forces. Hunter, a 33-year-old HASC member who served in Afghanistan and Iraq with the Marines, will replace Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) as the caucus co- chair. “I hope to incorporate many of my own experiences serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan when advocating for the issues that are most important to the men and women of the Guard and Reserve, as well as their families,” Hunter says in a statement. Buyer did not run for reelection this year.

Space Race. NASA is seeking proposals from U.S. companies for advancing commercial-crew space transportation concepts and maturing the design and development of system elements, such as launch vehicles and spacecraft. The space agency expects by March to award multiple contracts for terms of up to 14 months. While $200 million in contracts are expected, the exact amount of money available won’t be known until Congress passes NASA’s FY ’11 appropriations legislation. Once developed, the crew-transportation capabilities could become available to commercial and government customers. “The agreements are expected to generate significant progress toward maturing the design and development of commercial crew systems elements that also ensure crew and passenger safety,” NASA says in an Oct. 25 announcement. The overall objective is to accelerate the availability of U.S. commercial crew transportation capabilities and reduce the gap in U.S. human spaceflight capability. Through this activity, NASA also may be able to spur economic growth as potential new space markets are created.”

The Eagles Have Landed. Installation and acceptance testing of Raytheon’s APG-63(V)3 Active Electronically Scanned Array radar on 10 Air Force F-15C aircraft is now complete. Four of these aircraft recently transitioned from Langley AFB, Va., to Kadena Air Base, Japan. The APG-63(V)3 gives the Air Force’s F-15 variant an affordable, high-performance AESA radar system that combines elements of Raytheon’s APG-63(V)2 and APG-79 AESA radar technology, according to the company. The APG-63(V)3 is an all weather, multimode radar.

Silent Eagles. Boeing enters into a Memorandum of Agreement with Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI) for KAI to design, develop and manufacture the Conformal Weapons Bay (CWB) for the F-15 Silent Eagle. The CWB is an internal carriage that will minimize the F-15SE’s radar signature. The F-15SE is equipped with two internal bays–one on each side– and is designed for multiple carriage configurations, including air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions. The CWB is an option for any potential customer that requires the capability, according to Boeing, and can be installed on either new-build or existing F-15 series aircraft. The modular CWB also can be removed from the F-15 when it is not required, enabling the aircraft to transform to an external configuration within a matter of hours.

Good Fences. Raytheon has completed a successful system design review for the Space Fence program, the company says. The SDR included the prototyping of critical system elements to demonstrate increased technical and manufacturing readiness levels. The Space Fence program is a multiphase acquisition leading to the delivery of up to three globally positioned S-band radars capable of interoperation with the Space Surveillance Network. The Air Force’s Electronic Systems Center awarded three separate $30-million contracts to Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon in June 2009. In the next phase, ESC will award up to two preliminary design contracts worth up to a total of $214 million. During the following 18 months, the contractor or contractors will develop preliminary system designs, radar performance analyses, evaluations and prototypes. In 2012, ESC officials expect to award a production contract that will lead to final system development and fielding. The entire Space Fence program, including all development phases, is estimated to be worth some $3.5 million, according to industry sources.

GPS OCX A-OK. Raytheon successfully completes a key design review of the Global Positioning System (GPS) Advanced Control Segment (OCX), signaling the team’s readiness to proceed with the next phase of the program, the company says. Nearly 70 government and industry personnel recently completed a three-day software specification review at Raytheon’s Intelligence and Information Systems facility in Aurora, Colo. During the review, the team detailed its architecture and software requirements for GPS OCX, which will deliver the advanced control segment designed to provide navigation and timing information to military, commercial and civil users. Raytheon is the prime contractor for the $886 million program.

Cybercom Up. The Pentagon announced last week that U.S. Cyber Command has achieved full operational capability. The milestone involves U.S. Cyber Command completing a number of critical tasks to ensure it was capable of accomplishing its mission. The command is responsible for directing activities to operate and defend U.S. military networks. “Cyberspace is essential to our way of life and U.S. Cyber Command synchronizes our efforts in the defense of DoD networks,” says Army Gen. Keith Alexander, commander of U.S. Cyber Command. “We also work closely with our interagency partners to assist them in accomplishing their critical missions.” Thus far, the command has created a Joint Operations Center and transitioned personnel and functions from two existing organizations–the Joint Task Force for Global Network Operations and the Joint Functional Component Command for Network Warfare. Cyber Command is a sub-unified command under U.S. Strategic Command. It reached its initial operational capability in May.

Flare-Up. ATK was awarded a $71 million Defense Department contract to provide LUU-2D/B and LUU-19B/B illuminating flares, the company says. The contract includes production and delivery of flares for three years, with the first deliveries coming next year. The primary end user will be the Air Force. The LUU flares are aircraft-deployed and provide illumination for battlefield operations, search and rescue, ground targeting, and other missions. The LUU-2D/B provides visible light illumination, while the LUU-19B/B provides infrared energy.

Slinging 6,000. Whichever unmanned helicopter prevails in the Marine Corps’ Cargo UAS competition, the winner about one year from now will have to deliver 6,000 pounds of supplies a day for about six months, industry sources familiar with the contest say. Either Lockheed Martin’s K-MAX or Boeing’s A160T, the leading and presumed only contenders, will have to sling multiple loads of cargo to and from various operating bases in rugged Afghanistan terrain, hoping to demonstrate under real combat conditions a solution to help get some Marines out of convoys and off IED-laden roads for routine resupply missions.

Optionally Manned Helos. Manned, unmanned, and mobility Army aviation program managers have been discussing whether optionally piloting existing or future rotorcraft could be a good idea from a cost-benefit standpoint, Col. Rob Sova, TRADOC Capabilities Manager at the Army Aviation Warfighting Center, says. “The discussions that we’ve had, certainly without spending millions of dollars in doing a study, is that the concept makes sense.” Air cavalry commanders in the field are confirming that they are not materiel limited, but crew limited, he says. Sikorsky and other firms are spending lots of their own money on remote-piloting technology options. “The concept is sound, now we’ll study that and determine if there is a validated requirement,” Sova adds.

First Day. Today marks the first day on the job for Heidi Shyu, recently appointed as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology), in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (ALT). The appointment is effective Nov. 8. Shyu, a former chairman of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, joins the service from Raytheon, where she was vice president of technology strategy.

Energy Not Explosives. Lockheed Martin receives a $230,000 Air Force contract to define requirements for a weapon that uses high-power microwave energy beams instead of explosives to take out enemy electronic systems. The Non-Kinetic Counter Electronics Capability (NKCE) contract will lead to a new type of weapon that will destroy electronic equipment without endangering personnel. The work is to develop an operations concept for the NKCE system, along with a mission planning strategy. Lockheed Martin will deliver its findings to the Air Force during the first quarter of 2011.

Power Modernization. Hamilton Sundstrand, a United Technologies subsidiary, is tapped by General Dynamics Land Systems for the Stryker Modernization Generator Subsystem Engineering and Manufacturing Development verification and validation program. The company’s generator subsystem will deliver 125kW/600vdc output power to meet the current and future needs of the vehicle and the Stryker Brigade Combat Team. The increased power generated is required to support future communication and control suites and enhanced mission packages that will enable increased interoperability across the future combat system network.

Stopping Power. General Dynamics displays Israel Military Industries (IMI) active protection system at the AUSA conference and exhibit in Washington. The system is likely to go on the Armored Personnel Carriers GD will be building for Israel, according to the Jerusalem Post. Karl Johnson, director of external communications for GD Armament and Technical Products, says General Dynamics would like to be IMI’s partner in the United States and field the system “on a U.S. ground combat vehicle in the future–whatever that might be.” The active protection system has two sensors and two wepaons for hard kill and soft kill options.

Highest Award. Tim Owings, deputy project manager for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, has received the highest award bestowed to a Defense Department civilian, the Army says. He is the only Army civilian to receive the award in 2010. Owings was among seven recipients Nov. 4 of the DoD Distinguished Civilian Service Award, presented each year to a small number of civilian employees whose careers reflect exceptional devotion to duty and significant contribution of broad scope in policy, scientific, technical or administrative fields of endeavor that have led to increased effectiveness in DoD operations. Owings was recognized for excellence as the top civilian responsible for the development, production, fielding and sustainment of more than 1,400 unmanned aircraft systems, demonstrating “visionary leadership and unwavering determination in leading and managing the rapidly growing capability that provides commanders with immediate and responsive support in theater.”

Million Combat Hour Mark. The Army’s unmanned aircraft fleet surpassed the one million combat flight hours mark on Oct. 27, the Program Executive Office Aviation says Nov. 4. Earlier in the year, the Army’s unmanned aircraft fleet achieved a historic milestone of 1 million flight hours, of which roughly 89 percent of those hours flown were “combat flight hours” or approximately 884,000 hours. Since that date the Army’s unmanned aircraft have continued to provide unwavering support to the warfighter. Most notable, of all Army unmanned aircraft, is AAI Corp.’s Shadow, accounting for approximately 505,000 combat flight hours, in direct support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.