The Latest Word On Trends And Developments In Aerospace And Defense

Budget Bonanza. After Pentagon leaders release the FY ’12 budget proposal today, they will be busy explaining it to audiences around Washington this week. The HASC will kick off the FY ’12 defense budget posture hearings, with one Wednesday featuring Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen. The SASC will have its version of the same hearing Thursday. The HASC on Thursday afternoon then will hold the first FY ’12 Air Force posture hearing, with Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. Pentagon leaders including Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Ashton Carter and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead are slated to address an Aviation Week conference on Wednesday.

Veto Line. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and a bipartisan group of senators have unveiled legislation giving President Barack Obama near-line-item-veto power. The Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act of 2011, unveiled Feb. 8 with 31 co-sponsors, would give the president “enhanced rescission” authority until the end of 2015. The bill would allow the president to propose rescissions of items in spending bills, after which Congress would vote quickly on whether to rescind the funding. If the House or Senate were to vote against a rescission, it would not occur. “We need to reform the authorization and appropriations process, and we must remember that it is ultimately Congress’ authority and responsibility to control spending,” McCain says. “However, granting the president the authority to propose rescissions that must be approved by the Congress would go a long way toward restoring credibility to a system that’s ravaged by congressional waste and special-interest pork.”

Kyl’s Choice. Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) announces Feb. 10 he will not run for reelection next year, joining the ranks of senators preparing to leave the chamber. Kyl is a strong missile-defense advocate who often takes to the Senate floor to defend military spending. “I know I am not irreplaceable and next year will be my 26th year of service in the U.S. Congress,” Kyl, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, says Feb. 10. In addition to Kyl, Sens. Jim Webb (D-Va.). Joseph Lieberman (I/D-Conn.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) have said recently they won’t run for reelection.

Biofueled C-17. The C-17 Globemaster III was recently certified for unlimited usage of hydroprocessed blended biofuels known as hydrotreated renewable jet fuels, according to Air Force officials. “This certification marks the Air Force’s first platform to be fully certified using an HRJ blend,” says Kevin Geiss, the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for energy. The certification for usage of HRJ biofuel blended with petroleum-based JP-8 fuel represents part of ongoing efforts by Air Force officials to certify and test biofuels from non-petroleum sources. Unlike conventional jet fuel, biofuels burn cleaner without compounds like sulfur, according to the Air Force. The certification clears the C-17 to fly on a volumetric blend of up to 50 percent HRJ fuel with 50 percent JP-8, as well as a blend of 25 percent HRJ, 25 percent synthetic paraffinic kerosene fuel, and 50 percent JP-8.

Raptor Mods. Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $726.6 million contract modification for the calendar year 2011 sustainment work on the F-22 Raptor fleet, according to the Pentagon. As of last week’s Defense Department announcement, just over $388 million has been obligated. Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the contracting activity. The company produced 187 of the stealthy, air-superiority fighters before the line was shut down.

First Orion. Prime contractor Lockheed Martin shipped out the first Orion crew module spacecraft structure last week from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, La. The spacecraft is headed to Lockheed Martin’s Denver, Colo., facilities where it will undergo a series of tests to confirm Orion’s ability to safely fly astronauts through deep space. “This is a significant milestone for the Orion project and puts us on the right path toward achieving the President’s objective of Orion’s first crewed mission by 2016,” says Cleon Lacefield, company vice president and Orion program manager. “Orion’s upcoming performance tests will demonstrate how the spacecraft meets the challenges of deep-space mission environments such as ascent, launch abort, on-orbit operations, high-speed return trajectory, parachute deployment, and water landings in a variety of sea states.”

Indian Hercules. The Indian Air Force last week celebrated the induction to service of its first Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules at Hindon Air Force Station, India. The aircraft is the first of six C-130Js ordered under a U.S. Foreign Military Sale in late 2008. Senior representatives from the Indian and U.S. governments and air forces were present for the historic event. “The IAF will fly an American aircraft after a gap of more than two decades after the Super Connie, and it is a historic moment for both countries,” says Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, IAF Chief of Air Staff. The last U.S. aircraft flown by the IAF was a Lockheed Super Constellation, a type retired from the country’s fleet more than two decades ago.

New Hangar. Bell Helicopter officially dedicates their newest flight hangar at the Military Aircraft Assembly and Delivery Center in Amarillo, Texas specifically to support the Army’s OH-58 Kiowa Warrior program. Bell took possession of the hangar ahead of schedule and began working in the building in October. In December, Bell received the first two cabins to begin work on the “A2D” conversion program to replace war time losses. The conversion takes an existing A-model OH-58 and upgrades it a D model. The agreement calls for an initial conversion of eight cabins with an option for a second group of 10. The Army currently needs 39 OH-58D Kiowa Warriors to replace the wartime fleet losses. The new space also will allow Bell to offer additional services. Lt.Col. Scott Rauer, OH-58D Kiowa Warrior product manager, says, “We are hoping for an opportunity to eventually use all brand new components at Bell Helicopter. That is what we see as the future of the program.” Bell is developing an OH-58 Block II fleet representative demonstrator to facilitate prototyping activities in anticipation of a future requirement.

New Underbodies. Oshkosh Defense says it will deliver more than 2,000 MRAP All-Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) underbody improvement kits following an order from Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command. “The Oshkosh M-ATV’s modular design allows for easy integration of these add-on protection kits and is part of our commitment to providing the military with the utmost protection,” says Charlie Szews, Oshkosh Corporation president and CEO. “The protection kits enhance the vehicles’ MRAP-level survivability on the battlefield and help shield troops from IEDs and other threats.” The award has a ceiling price of nearly $102 million. Deliveries under this order are expected to finish by September 2011.

New Presence. Finmeccanica’s Alenia North America says it appointed James Meltsner as vice president, government relations and communications. Meltsner will lead Alenia North America in its interaction with the U.S. Congress and the U.S. media. He will report directly to John Young, CEO of Alenia North America. Meltsner comes to Alenia from Northrop Grumman, where he worked for almost 16 years as a lobbyist, most recently as vice president for congressional affairs.

Joining Up. Aeroject says it has joined the Virginia Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM). CCAM was founded jointly by the University of Virginia and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) as part of a partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia and Rolls-Royce North America to provide transformational improvements in advanced manufacturing technologies for surface engineering and manufacturing systems. “Working with the research team from CCAM, the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech offers great potential for adapting advanced manufacturing approaches from related industries to both Aerojet’s core business and emerging opportunities,” says Aerojet Vice President of Advanced Programs Farid Khadduri.

Site Award. Boeing says its Millville, N.J., Aircraft Modification Center team and site manager, Seb Arrigo, have received the Joseph P. Cribbins Aviation Product Symposium Project Manager/Center Award from the Army Cargo Helicopter Project Office. The award recognizes the team for playing a critical role in the success of Army aviation by modifying 31 CH-47F Chinook helicopters in 2010, enabling new equipment training for three combat aviation brigades. “It’s the results that make the difference to our program and ultimately to the warfighters we serve,” says Col. Bob Marion, Army Cargo Helicopters program manager. “The Boeing team’s results in Millville have been fantastic.” The Millville team performs specialized modifications to the CH-47F Chinook before the aircraft are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. “When you assess what’s behind a successful operation, it usually comes down to people,” says Greg Deiter, vice president for Boeing Defense & Government Services. “At Millville, we have great leadership and a work force that is dedicated to exceeding expectations in support of our customer.”

New Advocate. Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey say Command Sgt. Maj. Raymond Chandler III will become the sergeant major of the Army March 1. Chandler is currently commandant of the Army Sergeants Major Academy, a job that falls under Army Training and Doctrine Command led by Gen. Martin Dempsey, who is nominated as the next Army Chief of Staff. Chandler also was a regimental first sergeant when Dempsey was commander of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment. Chandler succeeds Kenneth Preston, who has served since January 2004 and is the longest serving SMA selected by previous Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker. In his new position, Chandler will serve as the Army chief of staff’s personal adviser on matters affecting the enlisted force.

New Official. Northrop Grumman names Kelley Zelickson vice president of Air and Missile Defense Systems for the Defense Technologies division in the company’s Information Systems sector. Zelickson will lead a team providing integrated air, space and missile defense solutions to the Missile Defense Agency and the Army for the national security of the United States and its allies. Zelickson reports to Karen Williams, vice president and general manager of the Defense Technologies Div. Previously, Zelickson was vice president of programs for Northrop Grumman’s Defense Systems Div.