The Latest Word On Trends And Developments In Aerospace And Defense

Out of Line. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz last week took aim at retired military officers now working in the defense industry for what he called an “unfortunate deterioration” in relations between the service and contractors. “My personal view is that military professionals, including those who have retired from active service, have an obligation to refrain from taking sides in public debates on key acquisition programs,” he told a military and industry audience at the Air Force Association’s annual conference in Washington on Sept. 16. Alluding to the recently terminated competition to award a tanker aircraft replacement contract, he said the Pentagon’s acquisition system has been “influenced by interests” outside of military considerations. To avoid the appearance that the “military leadership could be bought,” Schwartz said, generals who take jobs with contractors should not cite their military experience when advocating on behalf of their new employers.

Need A Lift? Boeing has spent “hundreds of millions” of dollars to keep its C-17 production line running, company executives said last week. The company has begun buying long-lead items and materials in anticipation of continued production, Jean Chamberlin, vice president of Boeing global mobility systems, said during a Sept. 16 press briefing at the annual Air Force Association conference in Washington. Boeing’s current contract with the Air Force is for 190 C-17s; another 15 were approved in the fiscal year 2008 war supplemental spending bill. “We will face shutdown if we don’t get additional congressional action for FY ’09,” Chamberlin said. New orders could come following completion of a Pentagon analysis of airlift capability needs and a separate, independent assessment due next summer, according to Chamberlin. Those studies are expected to take into account the projected increase in the size of the Army and Marine Corps, the Army’s need for lift for its fleet of new vehicles and the establishment of an Africa Command this year.

Going Ballistic. The Navy recently kicked-off an AoA for the follow-on to the Ohio-class SSBNs. The program is currently called the Sea Based Strategic Deterrent (SBSD), Allison Stiller, DASN Ships, tells Defense Daily. The ADM was signed June 30, with the report out scheduled for April ’09.

…Getting The Word Out. On Aug. 14, the Navy issued a RFP for its Maritime Landing Platform, a key component of the MPF(F), Stiller adds. “We will go back for a DAB review before we award MLP.”

Options. While the debate continues on both sides of the Potomac over whether to build more DDG-1000s or limit production to three and start back up the DDG-51 line, the Navy has been looking at what it can do with technologies that are specific to DDG-1000 now that the Navy has proposed truncating the program, in particular, BAE Systems’s Advanced Gun System (AGS). Vice Adm. Barry McCullough, Deputy CNO for Integration of Capabilities and Resources (N8), tells a recent gathering of SNA members that the Navy has looked at putting AGS on a DDG-51. McCullough says the large gun could be put on an Arleigh Burke, with some modification. “The issue is the size of magazine. It goes down a third of what is on DDG-1000,” he adds.

Shock And Law. The USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19) completed its third and final shock trial event off the coast of Mayport, Fla., Sept. 13. The ship performed well and is currently returning to Norfolk, Va., for post-trial inspection, the Navy says. The shock trials are part of the congressionally mandated Live Fire Test and Evaluation Program that requires realistic survivability testing on each new class of Navy ships. Mesa Verde is the third of the new San Antonio-class of amphibious transport dock ships.

…The First Shot. Mesa Verde successfully conducted her first shot of the shock trial Aug.16. The second shot was delayed due to Tropical Storm Fay but was successfully executed Aug. 26. Concerns with other hurricane threats and sea conditions delayed the third shot until Sept. 13. During shock trials, ships experience the effects of 10,000-pound explosive charge detonations that occur successively closer to the ship. These trials are critical to the ship and crew’s survivability, and provide the best means to assess the shock response of a manned ship and the interaction of the ship’s systems and components.

Secure Chit Chat With LCAC. NSWC Panama City installed the AN/KSQ-1A Amphibious Assault Direction System (AADS) Gator 7.0 software upgrade last month aboard USS Bataan (LHD-5), the Navy says. The AADS AN/KSQ-1 command and control data system provides real-time information to the Amphibious Command Ship (ACS), Primary Control Ship (PCS), and the Secondary Control Ship (SCS) as well as Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) vehicles on the position and movement of naval surface landing craft in the Amphibious Task Force (ATF). Prior to the AN/KSQ-1A installation, if data had to be transmitted to an LCAC after its launch, external communications would be required. This method would force the operational military units to break external radio silence to transmit mission data to that operational unit. AN/KSQ-1A is a secure means to provide this mission related data to the LCAC without external communications that would enhance mission efficiency without compromising radio silence. The AADS upgrade has also been installed aboard USS Ashland (LSD-48), the Navy adds.

A New Home. Last week, the Navy officially transferred the decommissioned research submarine ex-Dolphin (AGSS-555) to the Maritime Museum of San Diego (MMSD) during a donation contract signing ceremony in the Washington office of Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.). Ex-Dolphin was decommissioned in 2007 after more than 30 years of service supporting naval research activities from her homeport in San Diego, the Navy says. Ex-Dolphin was one of the world’s deepest diving submarines with a maximum operating depth in excess of 3,000 feet. The 65-foot diesel-electric submarine was designed and used for research, development, test, and evaluation and was equipped with an extensive instrumentation suite that supported missions such as acoustic deep-water and littoral research, near-bottom and ocean surveys, weapons launches, sensor trials, and engineering evaluations.

Works For NATO. AAI Corp. says it successfully demonstrated several new technologies to support NATO interoperability for UAV command-and-control of unmanned air and ground vehicles in August at Redstone Arsenal in Ala. These technologies were designed and developed in conjunction with the Navy Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City and the Army’s unmanned aircraft systems program office. The demonstration included a new ground control station compliant with NATO standardization agreement 4586. “The objective of NATO STANAG 4586 is to create interoperability among different unmanned systems utilized by the alliance’s military forces,” says AAI’s Vice President of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Steven Reid. “Our GCS architecture provides command-and-control capability for all compliant UAS, and now for UGV and USV systems, too.”

Recognition. Raytheon Chairman and CEO William Swanson will be recognized with the AUSA John W. Dixon Award for outstanding contributions to national defense by a member of the industrial community. Swanson has been with Raytheon for more than 35 years and has held a wide range of leadership positions within the company. As president, he was responsible for Raytheon’s government and defense operations that included the four strategic areas of missile defense: precision engagement, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and homeland security. Swanson will receive the Dixon Award on Oct. 8 at AUSA’s Annual Meeting and Exposition at the Washington Convention Center.

Safety Certified. The Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company (LHTEC), a 50-50 joint venture between Honeywell and Rolls-Royce, says it’s achieved European Aviation Safety Agency Type Certification for the CTS800-4N engine that will power the U.K.’s Future Lynx helicopter fleet. The U.K. Ministry of Defence has ordered 70 twin-engine Future Lynx tactical and maritime helicopters from AgustaWestland to meet the requirements of the Army Air Corps and the Royal Navy. The first CTS800-4N engine was delivered to AgustaWestland in April 2008. Due to enter service in 2011, the Future Lynx will replace the current Lynx fleet and will be powered by two 1,361 shp CTS800-4N turboshaft engines enabling a cruise speed of 160 knots.

Sharing. This week NATO allies and Swedish civilian and military forces will demonstrate new ways of sharing critical information in emergency situations. The live experiment on Wednesday and Thursday will link Swedish civil-emergency first responders with NATO forces to counter a simulated terrorist attack against a mass public event. Some 400 senior NATO and Swedish officials are expected to attend.

New Interest. Retired Vice Adm. Rodney Rempt is a new member of the Board of Directors at OEwaves, headquartered in Pasadena, Calif. During his 41-year active duty career in the Navy, Rempt oversaw the research, development and deployment of numerous weapons systems, headed up two of the Navy’s prestigious academic institutions, and spent 13 years at sea. “Admiral Rempt is a leader with broad vision, an expert in strategic planning and has the unique ability to conceptualize new capabilities and products,” Lute Maleki, OEwaves president and CEO, says. Oewaves develops and offers state-of-the-art technologies and products in support of radar, communications, and test and measurement systems for military and commercial markets.

Nuclear Corona. Acting Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz hosted a nuclear summit last week at Bolling AFB, Washington, D.C. A highly critical report released earlier this month identified ways the service can reinvigorate efforts in its nuclear enterprise. On Sept. 18, key Air Force, Pentagon and interagency personnel discussed report details, among them the recommendation to centralize the service’s nuclear responsibilities under a revamped Space Command. Donley, meanwhile, has created an Air Force nuclear task force. The members will develop a “strategic roadmap” for rebuilding the service’s nuclear enterprise. The group is expected to address the “cultural, systemic, and institutional challenges” identified in the report, according to a statement released by the Air Force’s public affairs office. About 30 Air Force nuclear experts are involved.

So Urgent. The Pentagon is looking at its varied urgent-needs-response processes “to determine if there are common lessons that we can apply across the department,” William Beasley, director of the Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense, told lawmakers Sept. 16. “We are taking on a project at this moment, (with) a lean Six Sigma-related methodology, to look at the rapid-acquisition processes…within the department, to include the four services, SOCOMs, JIEDDO, and my own JRAC process,” he said. Recommends will be made to Pentagon acquisition czar John Young, he said, adding: “I carry around a letter from…Sens. (Joe) Biden and (Kit) Bond, that starts off with ‘unconscionable bureaucratic delay in the department’ in rapid acquisition.”