The Latest Word On Trends And Developments In Aerospace And Defense

Back In Action. The House Armed Services Committee is planning several hearings this week, when lawmakers will return to Washington following the August recess. The full committee will meet Thursday to receive testimony on the future of national defense and the military 10 years after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. The witnesses will be two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired Air Force Gen. Richard Myers and Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, along with former vice chairman retired Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani. Also, the committee’s new Panel on Defense Financial Management and Auditability Reform, which was created in July, will meet Thursday to hear about “Department of Defense component audit efforts” from service-level financial officials.

Inouye’s Missiles. Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), the powerful chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, attends on Aug. 29 the site-dedication ceremony for the Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) Aegis Ashore Test Complex at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii. The Aegis complex will be a test-and-evaluation center for the Obama administration’s sea-based Phased Adaptive Approach to European missile defense. “This is a testing ground for a defense mechanism,” Inouye tweets on his Twitter page. “A mechanism to defend our democracy, defend our people, and defend this world.” He adds: “I pray the product of this testing need not be used.” The test complex “is essential for verifying requirements and validating design capability prior to deployment at the first of two planned sites in Europe in 2015,” the MDA says in a statement.

Petraeus Warning. David Petraeus, the now-former Army general slated to start working as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, warns against major defense budget cuts at his Aug. 31 retirement ceremony in Arlington, Va. He says “it will be imperative to maintain a force that not only capitalizes on the extraordinary experience and expertise in our ranks today, but also maintains the versatility and flexibility that have been developed over the past decade in particular.” At the Fort Myer event he notes the Counterinsurgency Field Manual he helped craft, saying he believes “that we have relearned since 9/11 the timeless lesson that we don’t always get to fight the wars for which we are most prepared or most inclined.” He adds: “Given that reality, we will need to maintain the full-spectrum capability that we have developed over this last decade of conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.”

Biofuel Nation. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus says in an Aug. 30 conference call that a new request for information (RFI) to industry for creating advanced biofuels is intended to yield specific ideas for “how to leverage private capital markets for establishing a commercially viable drop-in biofuel national market.” The Navy, Department of Energy, and Department of Agriculture are forging a public-private partnership to develop such drop-in advance biofuels. “This request for information is industry’s first chance to tell us what sort of technology, what sort of financing, what sort of geographical dispersion, what sort of job creation they would envision,” Mabus says in a conference call. The government is using the power of the Defense Production Act to help create this industry, which Maubs dubs “crucial to national security.” The RFI will be open for a month, and the Navy will have at least one industry day. 

SAC HS Mark. The Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee today marks-up the Obama Administration’s $43.6 billion request to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), several months after House appropriators cut 7 percent from the request in their mark-up. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), chairman of the Senate subcommittee, has already decried the House bill for draconian cuts it makes to the DHS Science and Technology branch and for significant cuts–on the order of 60 percent–to homeland security grants administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The mark-up begins at 3 p.m. in room 138 of the Dirksen building.

…9/11 Anniversary. As the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, will host a hearing on Sept. 8 to explore how well the country has responded in the years since. Witnesses include former 9/11 Commission Vice-Chairman Lee Hamilton, who also served for years in the House as a Democrat representing Indiana, and the country’s first Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, who served as the Republican Governor of Pennsylvania.

Turkey Opts In. The State Department Friday lauds Turkey’s decision to host a missile defense radar in support of NATO’s common missile defense efforts. State says in a statement it appreciates “this significant Turkish contribution to a vital NATO mission.” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says, “‘I welcome Turkey’s announcement to host a radar which will be an important element of NATO’s missile defense capability, which was agreed at the Lisbon summit last November. At that summit, NATO allies agreed to develop a missile defense capability for full coverage and protection of all NATO European populations, territory and forces against ballistic missiles. The NATO chief adds that the move represents a “critical contribution” to the alliance’s overall defense.

Showing Off biofuel. The Navy’s Blue Angels planned to perform their weekend Labor Day show using a mixture of biofuel, which would mark the first time an entire unit has flown with the blend, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus says. The show was scheduled to take place Saturday and Sunday at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. All six of the F/A-18 Hornets were to use a 50/50 mixture of conventional JP-5 jet fuel and camelina-based biofuel.

Helping Industry. Australia is helping its defense industry break into new markets, says Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare. Australian companies that demonstrate the ability to deliver high quality products to high standards to the defense force will now receive an official Letter of Recognized Supply. Clare says the companies can use the letter when they bid on new work, particularly with non-defense companies. “This is a demonstration that the Australian Defence Organisation has confidence in the supplier, which can be a powerful tool for companies bidding for other work,” Clare says. “It means that companies can promote their products and services to both local and international markets with the benefit of recognition from their Defence customer.”

New VTOL Introduced.  AeroVironment Inc. introduces its lightweight and man-portable Shrike VTOL™ unmanned aircraft system. In August 2008 AeroVironment received a DARPA contract to develop a portable, stealthy, persistent perch and stare (SP2S) unmanned aircraft system. Shrike VTOL represents the conclusion of this development effort, the company says. “Not only does Shrike VTOL hover for more than 40 minutes with a high resolution video camera, but its innovative design also allows for the transmission of several hours of live video as a remotely emplaced perch and stare sensor,” says Tom Herring, senior vice president and general manager of AeroVironment’s UAS business segment. “This new solution adds an important set of new capabilities to our existing and battle-proven family of small unmanned aircraft systems that are saving lives in theater today.” Shrike weighs approximately five pounds and is small enough to fit in a backpack.

…New Missile. AeroVironment says it is working under a $4.9 million contract for rapid fielding to deployed forces of its Switchblade agile munition. The contract issued June 29 from the Army Close Combat Weapons Systems (CCWS), Program Executive Office Missiles and Space (PEO MS) represents the culmination of years of development, testing, demonstrations and customer evaluations, the company says. The Switchblade launches from a small tube that can be carried in a backpack and transmits live color video wirelessly for display on AeroVironment’s standard small UAS ground control unit. Upon confirming the target using the live video feed, the operator sends a command to the air vehicle to arm it and lock its trajectory to the target. Flying quietly at high speed, Switchblade delivers its onboard explosive payload with precision. With the ability to call off a strike even after the air vehicle is armed, Switchblade provides a level of control not available in other weapon systems.

Say What. General Dynamics Information Technology is one of six awardees selected by the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) for the Foreign Language Training and Training Support Services contract. The five-year, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract has a potential value of $96.3 million to all awardees if all options are exercised. General Dynamics will provide foreign language instruction; curriculum development and documentation; infrastructure support for individual, small-group classes and instructors; as well as long-distance support and instructor-quality control for Mobile Training Teams. Also, General Dynamics will provide state-of-the-art language training facilities equipped with Wi-Fi, classrooms and lounge areas in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

Newly Appointed. ITT’s Defense and Information Solutions segment says Anne Eisele has been appointed global head of external affairs for the $6 billion business soon to be spun off as ITT Exelis, based in McLean, Va. Eisele will report to David Albritton, vice president of communications. Previously Eisele worked as financial communications director at GE and did similar work at Boeing. She also worked at the Washington Post and Space News.

New Job. Boeing names Tim Peters vice president and general manager of Surveillance and Engagement, a division of Boeing Defense, Space & Security’s Boeing Military Aircraft unit. Peters succeeds Bob Feldmann, who moves to a post at Boeing Commercial Airplanes to lead the effort to develop the 737 MAX. In his new position, Peters is responsible for ensuring delivery of the Airborne Early Warning and Control and P-8 programs, and for developing and expanding Surveillance and Engagement capabilities in the United States and internationally. “Tim is a high-performing executive who has shown an ability to manage through times of rapid change and unexpected challenges in a tough competitive landscape,” says Chris Chadwick, president of Boeing Military Aircraft. “Surveillance and Engagement is an important part of Boeing’s future, and Tim is the right person to help us realize that future.” Peters has been with Boeing for 25 years. He joins Boeing Military Aircraft from Network and Space Systems, where, since 2009, he served as vice president of Global Security Systems within the Information Solutions division.

Want A Helo? Australia has released the Request for Tender for the sale of its Navy’s remaining Sea King Helicopters. The request includes five complete helicopters, three airframes, a simulator and associated unique equipment and parts. “The Sea Kings will be withdrawn from service in December 2011,” Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare says. “They’ve been the workhorse of the Navy, having flown in excess of 60,000 hours in operations in Australia and overseas…This is a really versatile helicopter and a proven capability. The Sea Kings could be used for a range of things like firefighting, disaster relief, search and rescue, by another Navy or commercially,” he says. The sale of the Sea Kings will be marketed across the world including major Defence expos in the United Kingdom and Canada in September. Submissions close Nov. 1.