The Latest Word On Trends And Developments In Aerospace And Defense

Maverick Budgeting. SASC Ranking Member John McCain (R-Ariz.) may have praised Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ April 6 recommendations to restructure several troubled defense programs, but the former GOP White House hopeful tells Defense Daily he has “concerns” with Gates’ proposed cuts. “That’s why I’d love to have him come over as soon as possible and testify before the committee, particularly on some of the missile defense issues,” McCain says, alluding to Gates’ proposed $1.4 billion cut to the Missile Defense Agency. “But I certainly agree with him 90 percent. I’m grateful he’s taken such a strong stance.” McCain adds: “I don’t support cuts in defense spending, but I do support the specifics, almost all the specifics of (Gates’) proposal.” McCain says he wants to grow the Army and Marine Corps more than Gates does, which the senator acknowledges won’t be cheap. “I’m more worried about our nation’s security and our ability to cope with the challenges we face around the world” than the cost, he says.

Refund This. HASC’s new ranking member, Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.), has continued the tradition of his predecessor, former Republican congressman Duncan Hunter, in asking military brass to detail their “unfunded requirements” in the Pentagon’s official budget proposal. “We understand the fiscal year 2010 defense budget will not include full funding for several of the programs and priorities in each of the services,” McHugh says in April 21 letters to Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, Special Operations Command leader Adm. Eric Olson, and Joint Forces Command head Gen. James Mattis. McHugh requests the unfunded-requirements lists be sent to the HASC at the same time President Obama’s budget request is delivered.

Supp’s Up. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are scheduled to testify this Thursday before the Senate Appropriations Committee about the Obama’s administration’s first supplemental war-funding request. The spending proposal–which includes $75.5 billion in monies for war-related costs in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, along with additional non-military funding–is not moving through Congress as fast as lawmakers previously predicted. House Appropriations Defense subcommittee leaders John Murtha (D-Pa.) and Bill Young (R-Fla.) predicted last week at least a one week delay to a previous schedule that called for a House Appropriations Committee markup this week. Several lawmakers and aides predict the supplemental will not pass Congress by Memorial Day, the Pentagon’s requested deadline for the measure intended to fund war costs through the end of fiscal year 2009. Some lawmakers have concerns about approving the Obama administration’s new war plans via the funding measure, and grilled U.S. Central Command head Army Gen. David Petraeus during two House appropriations subcommittee hearings last week.

Stryker Medical Vehicle Support. An effort to drum up support for the medical version of the Stryker Medical Evacuation Vehicle (MEV) is gaining steam. A dear colleague letter seeking to add funding in the FY ’09 supplemental for Stryker has gained 118 signatures as of late last week. Unlike many similar dear colleague letters for other programs, many of the signatories do not have Stryker suppliers in their districts. “Providing the survivability and lifesaving capabilities of the Stryker MEV to our troops is so critical we are writing…in support of the request…As was the case with survivability equipment like body armor and mine resistant vehicles, this is an urgent need that Congress must step in and address,” the letter says. Eleven state adjutant generals also wrote to lawmakers seeking additional funding for the MEV.

An EPIC Venture. Under the EPIC contract, BAE Systems is working to install C4I systems on almost all of the Navy’s surface and amphibious ships, with the exception of DDG-51s and LCS. Kelly Baldwin, program manager for EPIC, tells Defense Daily there was some debate on extending EPIC to LCS. “At one point [the Navy] had me submit an OCI mitigation plan to separate myself from the rest of the company to help the government come up with a government solution, vice the two contractor furnished solutions,” he says. “But that fell off, and I am not actually involved in LCS right now.” But, Baldwin adds, the Navy has told him that down the road the service might do something different.

…No Sub Effort. EPIC does not extend to the submarine fleet either, although at one time it was considered, Baldwin notes. “Originally they were part of the draft proposal for the EPIC contract from PMW-770…they pulled that out. They are going to address that separately.”

International Interest In AARGM. As the Navy begins to move forward on transitioning HARM to the new AARGM configuration, there are currently no international buyers looking to modify their HARM inventories, Capt. Larry Egbert, PMA-242 direct and time sensitive strike, tells Defense Daily. There are seven FMS customers that have HARM, he notes. “At this point in time we don’t have any FMS sales with AARGM. We have had a lot of interest from certain countries. Obviously, the ones that would make the most sense from our view would be our existing HARM customers or existing counties that have the F-18, because that is what we are integrating on,” Egbert says. “We have had interest, but no confirmed FMS case yet.”

…Italian Job. AARGM is a cooperative development formed by ATK, the Italian Air Force and the U.S. Navy, Egbert says. “They are not a true FMS customer, but they are partners in development, and they are a current existing legacy HARM country. And their intent is to modify their inventory with AARGM as well,” he adds.

…AARGM Mods. The Navy has a piece of equipment called the Common Munitions Built-in-Test Reprogramming Equipment (CMBRE). It provides the ability to reprogram missiles in the field, Egbert explains. “If you have software upgrades, the ability to reprogram our inventory is easier with that piece of gear.” PMA-242 is looking at some potential spiral upgrades for AARGM, he adds. “We are looking at a two-way data link. We have some early S&T work going on there to look at that potential of adding a two-way data link. That would add capability to our weapon.” The program office is also looking at new propulsion technologies for improving the rocket motor systems. “We always have to make provisions for new threats that would emerge in the future, and the design of the missile allows us to reprogram new targets, new signals…to be able to address [new threats] in the future,” Jim McEvoy, deputy program manager PMA-242, tells Defense Daily. “We have always had a long-term program for HARM to look at emerging threats on the battlefield and be able to make software adjustments to handle them.”

Navy Demos Counter Mine Tool. The Navy has successfully launched a new counter-mine tool to protect its fleet at sea, using a high-temperature technology developed by ONR, the Navy reports. The high temperature superconducting (HTS) degaussing coil produced a “full coil effect” April 1 as the USS Higgins (DDG-76) completed a pass over the Navy Magnetic Silencing Range in San Diego. This was the first-ever measurement of an HTS degaussing loop installed on a naval combatant, the Navy says. In short, a future HTS degaussing coil system can act like a cloaking device to eliminate the magnetic signature of the ship, interfering with undersea mines’ ability to detect and detonate when a large magnetic field–like the one created by a ship–comes within close proximity, the Navy adds. The technology was installed aboard the Higgins in July 2008. ONR and NSWC Carderock Ship Engineering Station Philadelphia developed the system.

Forging Ahead. DoD’s newest collaborative software development tool,, is now at IOC for unclassified use, says DISA. enables collaborative software development and cross-program sharing of software, system components, and services in support of net-centric operations and warfare. It capitalizes on concepts proven in open source software development that have already reaped tremendous benefits for software and technology development communities, DISA adds. The IOC decision coincides with release 2 of SoftwareForge, providing significant performance improvements. SoftwareForge, the initial capability, enables sharing and collaborative development of open source and community source software within DoD software development community, DISA says. Along with DISA’s Rapid Access Computing Environment, provides a key component of DISA’s move to provide cloud computing services, the agency adds.

Ready For Action. The Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) mine detection system passed its Milestone C decision, the Navy reports. COBRA Block I achieved Milestone C March 31. Milestone C signifies that the design is mature enough to enter the production phase of development. COBRA is the ISR Technology (ISRT) component of the Assault Breaching Systems (ABS), making it one piece in a system-of-systems, the Navy adds. COBRA detects and precisely locates mine fields and obstacles. Other systems within ABS are then used to guide service members and their equipment safely ashore, the Navy says. COBRA is designed to be part of the mine countermeasures mission package on LCS. The COBRA airborne payload will be flown as one of the missions assigned to the Fire Scout VTUAV. The next steps for COBRA Block I are to determine the best way to provide the immediately-requested units to the fleet and to put a Block I production contract in place for additional units., the Navy adds.

Big Credit. Raytheon received accreditation from The Open Group for its Raytheon Certified Architect Program (RCAP), an enterprise-wide initiative designed to foster specialized expertise required to support customer mission success, according to The Open Group, Raytheon reports. Raytheon is the fourth company in the world and first in its industry to receive this recognition from The Open Group, a vendor-and technology-neutral consortium focused on open standards and global interoperability within and between enterprises, the company adds.

Busy Bombers. As the Air Force prepares to transfer responsibility for its nuclear-tipped ICBMs and nuclear-capable bomber aircraft to a new Global Strike Command, the ICBMs are expected to come under the umbrella first, according to Maj. Gen. Donald Alston, the Air Force’s assistant chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration. “I see ICBMs coming in first, but not until closer to the end of the year, and I see bombers coming in soon after that,” Alston says during an April 24 breakfast in Washington. He says negotiating with Air Combat Command on the bombers’ new relationship with Global Strike Command is the key reason for a longer timetable on the transfer of those platforms. “There are challenges on the bomber side that we need to make sure we get right,” he says. “It’s critical to our Air Force that the conventional capabilities of America’s bomber force are preserved at the levels that they are operating at today.” Alston explains that bombers are being used in a variety of roles and cannot be pulled from key mission areas. “Our men and women downrange depend on the persistence and the contribution to irregular warfare that the bomber community is bringing every day,” he says. “So we’re using our bombers in a most extraordinary way today that we might not have imagined 30 years ago. That capability is vital, we’ve got to keep it going.”

Airborne. Boeing says that the Airborne Laser (ABL) has begun flight tests with the entire weapon system integrated aboard the ABL aircraft. A heavily modified Boeing 747-400F, the aircraft completed its functional check flight April 21 from Edwards AFB, Calif., with the beam control/fire control system and the high-energy laser onboard confirming the aircraft is airworthy and and “on track for its missile-intercept demonstration this year,” according to a company press statement. ABL is a Missile Defense Agency development program intended to destroy all classes of ballistic missiles in their boost phase of flight. Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates recommended that the department purchase only one prototype of the system while it continues extended development and design maturation. Boeing is the prime contractor and overall systems integrator for ABL, while subcontractors Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin supply the high-energy laser and the beam control/fire control system, respectively.

MRAP-ATV Trekking. Oshkosh Defense says its MRAP All Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) has successfully undergone more than 3,000 miles of durability testing, including more than 1,000 miles of accelerated off-road testing. Oshkosh Defense is conducting the testing at the Nevada Automotive Test Center independent of current government testing. “We are putting the Oshkosh M-ATV to the test in on- and off-road environments using our own time and resources to ensure it is the best vehicle for the Warfighter,” Andy Hove, Oshkosh Corporation executive vice president and president, Defense, says in a statement. “This vehicle features mission-proven components and technologies, including our TAK-4r independent suspension system, and can go the distance in even the most difficult terrains.” Oshkosh Defense delivered two production-ready vehicles on Feb. 23 for government testing.

MAC-Packing. The Army Joint Munitions and Lethality Contracting Center awards General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products a $35 million, multi-year contract for the Load, Assemble and Pack of the M231 and M232A1 Modular Artillery Charge System (MACS). Deliveries begin this fall. MACS provides propelling charges with combustible cartridge cases for 155mm artillery. The charges are compatible with new and existing howitzer systems and offer enhanced precision, increased range and a significant reduction in logistics. The M231 system is used primarily for training, and the M232A1 is designed for use with service rounds. “The MACS program is a valuable munitions system for U.S. warfighters because it eliminates the need to measure artillery powder and dispose of unused charges,” Russ Klein, vice president and general manager of weapon systems for General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, says in a statement. “Over the past nine years, our Camden [Ark.] workforce has produced more than four million highly reliable charges, and we are proud to provide the necessary tools for success on the battlefield.”

New Job. Rockwell Collins says Bobby Sturgell, who served as acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has joined the company as a senior vice president of its Washington Operations. Sturgell succeeds Woody Hogle, who will be leading Rockwell Collins’ international operations. In his new role, Sturgell is responsible for developing and implementing the company’s governmental, regulatory, legislative and industrial affairs strategies, and for maintaining relationships with congressional members, staff and other administration officials. A former naval aviator, Sturgell was an instructor at Top Gun, the Navy’s Fighter Weapons School. He has flown the F-14, F-16, F-18 and A-4 aircraft, and retired from the Navy as a commander. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Virginia School of Law.

How Much? “There has been already a precipitous drop in defense spending in the U.K. and across a number of European countries,” says Linda Hudson, president of BAE Systems Land & Armaments unit. “I don’t know anyone who’s projecting anything other than the U.S. defense budget is going to decline,” she tells Defense Daily in a recent interview. “None of us quite yet know how much or how fast. I think everyone expects it to go down, though it’s my view that as long as there is conflict, whether there in Iraq, Afghanistan or some other place, there will still be a reasonably robust defense budget and there will be demand for what we do and what we can do as requirements emerge.”

Train Online. Army trainers and educators can now use the Army Training Network (ATN), the online tool to provide best practices, a database of training solutions and collaborative tools such as a Blog and Battle Command Knowledge System forum. Accessible through the secure Army Knowledge Online (AKO), ATN will be an important source of information about the many Army training resources available. The Army last week launched an initial operating capability for ATN

Recruiting. U.K-based Nimrod Group Ltd. is looking for personnel who have served in the British armed forces and emergency services. The new company, led by Frank Strang MBE, has a team with a combined history of military service spanning some 144 years. Personnel who have served are probably the best-trained workforce in the country and have an enormous amount to contribute to any organization, the company says. Nimrod offers a traditional recruitment service providing permanent placement or temporary staffing on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, individually or as a structured team. They also offer a complete project based service, selecting the best team, assisting with planning and can even manage the project for a client. Strang says: “We understand that the men and women of our Armed Forces–both regular and reserve–and our emergency services have highly transferable skills and the ability to make things happen. We know this because most of us have been there.”