The Latest Word On Trends And Developments In Aerospace And Defense

HAC-D To Act? Little birdies tell us the House Appropriations defense subcommittee may mark up its FY ’09 defense bill this Wednesday, before lawmakers take off for a five-week recess. Lots of questions could be answered–including whether the panel will back the Navy’s new plan to stop buying DDG-1000 destroyers and build more DDG-51s, and just how it wants to treat the Air Force’s funding request for its contested aerial refueling tanker. House leaders have pledged to pass the defense-spending bill in time for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1. After the August recess, Congress is slated to be in session only three weeks before adjourning for the year.

Confirmation Consternation. SASC leaders say they “will find it difficult to proceed” with the confirmation of the White House nominees for Air Force chief of staff (Gen. Norton Schwartz) and U.S. Transportation Command (Gen. Duncan McNabb) without two items: a classified report on Air Force nuclear-handling errors and a completed Defense Department Inspector General report on potential illegal service lobbying for C-17 aircraft. It’s not know what, if any, role Schwartz, the current TRANSCOM leader, and McNabb, the Air Force vice chief of staff and past Air Mobility Command head, played in these two controversies, SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member John McCain (R- Ariz.) write in a July 15 letter to David Chu, under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

Nearing The Finish Line. With less than six months left in his tenure as the civilian head of the Navy, Secretary Donald Winter tells Defense Daily that there are a number of things he would like to “tie off and hand over” to the next administration. “I really want to see what we can do to facilitate that transition. In that regard I probably spent more time trying to work through more of the leadership of the Department to get their engagement. First of all, it’s the right thing to do. Second, it is a mechanism to ensure that many of these agenda items carry through.”

…Smooth Transition. “I am hopeful we’ll set up a good way [forward] for shipbuilding, for [the Next Generation Enterprise Network], for aircraft acquisition, the evolution of the Marine Corps…[there are] a lot of concerns about encroachment issues, I have talked to that on a number of occasions,” Winter says. “None of these things are going to get finished. It’s not like you finish something, walk out of here and hand it over, deliver it, and be able to leave. But I am hoping we can transition to the next administration, whatever that may wind up being, a well-running Navy and Marine Corps.”

Waiting On LCS. While the Navy continues to roll out the LCS mission packages well before the first two lead ships begin sea tests, there has been some interest in whether any of the packages: MIW, ASW and SuW could be tested on other platforms. “We’ve actually been doing a study…independent on our own nickel…on alternative platforms and what it would take to put some of these modules or entire package on another ship like a big deck L-class ship,” Mark DeBlasio, LCS Mission Package Integrator program manager for Northrop Grumman, tells Defense Daily. “It is feasible but it would take time though because the other ships are not uniquely designed for the mission package interfaces. There is a specific ICD (interface control document).” He adds the company completed its study around April and briefed the Navy in the late spring. The Navy did its own study, “and came up with the same conclusions we were told,” DeBlasio says,

…Possibilities. Currently, the program of record is LCS, DeBlasio notes. “We are not moving forward with doing any work to integrate a mission package on an alternate platform.” Still, some systems within the mission packages will be tested from other platforms, most notably the Fire Scout VTUAV. The Navy demonstrated Fire Scout from a destroyer earlier this month, and the Coast Guard, which has a requirement for a VTUAV, has offered to operate Fire Scout from its National Security Cutter, once the ship is operational.

On The Move. A source tells Defense Daily that current Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. William Landay will be heading back to NAVSEA to take over as PEO Ships. That move is expected very soon, the source adds. Landay will take over the position last held by Rear Adm. Charles Goddard, who was removed from office earlier this month.

Looking Beyond Surface Ships. Dan Smith, president of Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems, tells Defense Daily there has been interest in looking at using its TSCE/TSCEI, the computing and operating system for DDG-1000, on other platforms. “For example we have hosted Patriot software on the TSCE. I think as we get more time and we get more functionality put into the system, the applications of it or potential applications of it will become more and more investigated.”

…Transition Plan. One platform Raytheon is hoping to transition its TSCE/TSCEI onto to is the Navy’s next-generation cruiser CG(X). “When we competed for DD(X), the Blue and the Gold teams, it was clear to all of us at the time that the winner of the Blue-Gold competition would have a lot to say in the make -up of the CG(X) program, which was down the road some,” Smith says. “In some respects the DD(X) competition had CG(X) ramifications to it way back four to five years ago.”

…Road Ahead. Smith agrees with many of his counterparts at other defense companies, that there is only one affordable way to get to CG(X) in a timely manner, and that is by transitioning technologies from DDG-1000. “While we sort out what radar is required for CG(X)…when the Navy gets through that process…you can get a whole lot more capability, as Mr. [John] Young [USD AT&L) has said, by putting Zumwalts at sea than you are going to get by making more DDG-51s.”

Another First. The end of July will mark the 60th anniversary of VFA-22, the Fighting Redcocks. In its proud history, the Navy squadron has seen a number of firsts, besides being the first Super Hornet squadron to deploy with the advanced AESA radar, Cmdr. Chris Chope, commanding officer VFA-22 tells Defense Daily. “We were the first Navy squadron to deploy with the AMRAAM missile, the first Navy squadron to shoot the HARM missile and JSOW in combat,” he says. “We all recognize what a distinction this is, and that all the eyes of the Navy and different parts of the defense community at large are on us as we do this.”

ERM ADM. Following cancellation of a DAB on the Navy’s ERM program, a paper DAB was held to produce two different ADMs, a source tells Defense Daily. The first ADM was to address the status of the program. The second ADM was to authorize entry into the concept refinement phase of acquisition and start of the AoA for joint expeditionary fires. No final ADM has been issued, the source noted.

Combating Irregular Warfare. To address technology shortfalls in the fight against irregular warfare, ONR initiated an Operational Adaptation program and strategic study that will feed into irregular warfare integrated technology demonstrations and experimentation, the Navy says. Operational Adaptation is a concept that combines hardware, software, remote sensors, and networked communications that create the capability to develop and sustain a decision/action tempo that is beyond an irregular/terrorist adversary’s ability to maintain. This capability is key to seizing and holding the initiative and maintaining a dominant position of power against irregular threats. The first successful simulation exercise for Operational Adaptation took place at the beginning of May 08 at the MITRE Corp. demonstration facility in McLean, Va. The next simulation exercise is scheduled to take place at the same location on Sept. 14-19. A total of five demonstrations are planned through 2015, ONR adds.

McCain’s Fingerprints. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)–the presumptive GOP presidential nominee who’s also the SASC’s ranking Republican–has indeed been working on the FY ’09 Defense Authorization Bill, the panel’s number-two Republican, Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), says. “We’re in contact with him on a daily basis” about the legislation, the Virginia senator tells reporters. Asked if the contact is with McCain or his staff, Warner replies: “A combination, he’s very much hands on.” After the SASC marked up its bill in April, it was Warner who joined Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) in briefing reporters. Warner, who is retiring and once chaired the SASC, says the FY ’09 bill is the 30th one he has worked on. The full Senate likely won’t debate the measure until September, if at all this fiscal year.

McCaskill vs. DCAA. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is demanding DoD hold people accountable in the wake of a Government Accountability Office report that the Defense Contract Audit Agency altered audits in favor of contractors. “This auditing agency has been exposed as being fundamentally corrupt in the way they issue audits,” McCaskill says in a July 24 Senate floor speech. “It calls into question every single audit done by this agency. And if we don’t take it seriously, if we don’t give it our attention, if we don’t demand that the fox get out of the chicken coop and take care of taxpayer dollars, it’s ultimately our national security at stake.” McCaskill wants terminations at the DCAA and congressional hearings. The DCAA disputes the GAO’s findings.

FCS Review. On Wednesday, the Army’s Future Combat System comes under review by senior Pentagon officials for the interim in-process defense acquisition board program review. Earlier this year the program shifted emphasis to fielding mature technologies to the infantry brigade combat teams rather than the heavy BCTs. Discussion is likely to center around the Spin Out 1 technologies as well as the effect of past and potential funding cuts. No specific decisions are expected. The program’s next major decision– Milestone C–will come in FY ’09.

First Cut. Today, the Army Evaluation Task Force, 5th Brigade,1st Armored Division, at Ft. Bliss, Texas, starts putting Future Combat System equipment for Spin Out 1 through a Preliminary–Limited User Test focused on an infantry brigade. Field exercises will take place Tuesday and Wednesday. This will be the first set of evaluations for the tactical and urban sensors, small unmanned ground vehicle, class 1 unmanned aerial vehicle and a networked infantry vehicle. FCS this spring refocused on the infantry from heavy brigades. Results of the P-LUT will support doctrine, organization, training and material development efforts. The formal LUT for the heavy BCT will take place in FY ’09 and be the basis of the Spin Out 1 acquisition decision.

New Defence Staffer. Lt. Gen. Sir Nicholas Houghton will become the next Vice Chief of the Defense Staff in May 2009, the U.K. government announced Friday. Houghton will be promoted to general when he takes over from Gen. Sir Timothy Granville-Chapman. Houghton is currently the chief of joint operations. Previously he was the Senior British Military Representative Iraq and Deputy Commanding General of the Multi-National Force-Iraq.

Helping Thales. Australia will support Thales Australia to about $2.9 million for training activities under the Skilling Australia’s Defence Industry (SADI) program. Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Procurement Greg Combet says, “Thales is one of Australia’s largest defence contractors and is currently contracted to deliver against 28 Defence land, sea and air contracts. This new agreement represents a joint commitment on the part of Defence and Thales to spend over $17.2 million on defense-specific professional and technical training activities. Australian support through SADI will deliver an almost five-fold increase in the level of training Thales Australia undertakes. Under SADI, the government provides financial support for direct training costs, in this case 17 percent of the total. “The Thales agreement is the 47th SADI Agreement to be signed and to date the Australian Government has committed a total of about $25 million.

Turn Off The Lights. DoD will inactivate and return eight communication sites to Italy. The move is part of a modernization initiative to use fiber optic cable wherever possible to streamline communications. No personnel are associated with the sites and returning them to Italy will have no impact on U.S. military operations in Europe. All of the sites will be returned to Italy in 2009.

Nuclear Age. The aging U.S. nuclear arsenal must be modernized, and funding decisions for the weapons should no longer be handled by the energy and water development subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations panels, Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, chief of U.S. Strategic Command, said last week. It may be more logical for the defense subcommittees to take on the task, according to Chilton. He also said the United States should not rule out the possibility of resuming nuclear testing to ensure the reliability of its strategic arsenal. The United States last conducted a nuclear test in 1992, after which President George H.W. Bush called for a moratorium.

Confidence Interval. Problems with the Air Force’s handling of a $35 billion contract for a refueling tanker aircraft were “troubling” and led acting Air Force Secretary Michael Donley to determine the need for two high-level, 90-day reviews of the service’s contract award process. In response to questions during his confirmation hearing last week before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Donley said the Air Force’s procurement system is not “fatally flawed” but certainly needs improvement. “We need to strengthen confidence in the Air Force and the DoD to manage these large, complex competitions,” he said. Donley has been nominated to replace former service Secretary Michael Wynne.

Big Plans. The Defence and Security (D&S) segment of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co (EADS) is aiming for a 20 percent share in the defense market by 2012, Stefan Zoller, CEO of EADS D&S says. One prong of the company’s strategy includes better implementation in the electronic subsystems sector. “We have to sell better on our own platforms…more on our own platforms and more [to] the army than we have in the past,” Zoller tells reporters at a recent EADS media day in England.

…Tranche 3. Another D&S priority focuses on platforms, such as Eurofighter, Zoller says. “Tranche 3 today is in a very crucial phase, we are in discussions with European governments to fix the Tranche 3 contract,” he says. It is not a new contract, but EADS is retooling the third batch of 236 aircraft (out of 620) to keep it in the frame deal. Zoller hopes decisions will be reached soon, as they have to be passed through several different parliaments and decision makers quickly to keep Eurofighter deliveries as planned.

…Advanced UAV. “This is one of the most important things for us,” Zoller says. France, Germany and Spain have requirements for a UAV that is rapidly deployable to long ranges, has lots of power to run the latest radar solutions and is certified to operate in civil airspace, he says. EADS’ jet-powered Advanced UAV is in the risk reduction phase now and Zoller expects a contract for further development next year. The new-horizon program is especially important in the wake of the now defunct Euro-Male (medium-altitude long-endurance) initiative and another company project that recently delivered an interim MALE UAV to the French air force. Zoller calls SIDM, the interim MALE program that substantially modified an Israeli unmanned aircraft, “an awful story.” Advanced UAV will be a different tale, he adds. “We know this will meet the requirements of our customers, it’s the European cross-country program of linked needs.”

…Market Tap. EADS D&S will continue to case markets around the world, with a special eye on North America, Zoller says. “We have to improve in the U.S. market,” he adds. The recent acquisition of PlantCML, the largest emergency services provider in the U.S. and Canada, is a good start, Zoller says. “This is good business on its own and opens the market into the U.S. as a marketing channel for our state of the art solutions.”