April 2 Weekly Defense Industry Roundup

Posted by Fred Wellman

Risk and Reward at the Dawn of Civilian Drone Age

Joan Lowy (@AP_Joan_Lowy), Associated Press. This piece offers a great overview of what many see as the dawn of a new era of development of civilian unmanned aerial vehicles, drones as they are called these days. Lost in the news on privacy violations and air strikes are the incredible opportunities that these systems can offer to a range of industries according to representatives from groups as varied as police chiefs to organic farmers to realtors. But since January it’s been a tide of negative backlash as the anti-drone forces have been making their cases in towns like Seattle where the mayor simply canceled the police program before it got off the ground and the odd decision in Charlottesville, Va. to ban them from the city. No sentence says it better than this one: “Our lack of success in educating the public about unmanned aircraft is coming back to bite us,” said Robert Fitzgerald, CEO of the BOSH Group of Newport News, Va. That is an understatement of epic proportions. It will be interesting to see if the industry can get their act together any time soon.

Lockheed’s Troubled F-35 Unscathed in Pentagon’s Budget

Tony Capaccio (@ACapaccio), Bloomberg. According to budget documents obtained by Bloomberg last week the F-35’s supporters have nothing to fear from these annoying budget cuts. The Pentagon wants to spend about $8.4 billion next fiscal year including funds of $6.36 billion for all 29 aircraft previously planned for 2014. Those will include 19 of the F-35A for the Air Force, six B-models for the Marines, and four C-models for the Navy. With suppliers in 48 states, the estimated cost for the total planned fleet of 2,443 aircraft has climbed to $395.7 billion, representing a 70% increase since 2001. The most expensive weapons system ever built is on course as far as the Department of Defense is concerned and we’ve seen little to suggest Congress plans to change their mind.

Defense Dept. Employee Arrested for Extortion

Joan Lowy (@AP_Joan_Lowy), Associated Press. It’s been a tough few weeks for military and civilian defense employee ethics and corruption cases. Last month we saw cases out of Afghanistan like the Ft. Bragg soldier who smuggled a million dollars in cash home in VCR cases (Editor’s note: those still exist?) and the defense contractor in Hawaii passing secrets to his Chinese girlfriend. This week, in a brazen case out of Camp Pendleton where the civilian in charge of construction on the base was caught demanding bribes for contracts and calling himself the “godfather of Pendleton”. It’s disturbing to see so much corruption occurring and the irony can’t be lost on any of us who have worked in Iraq or Afghanistan and seen Congress and pundits rail about the corruption inherent in their government officials. Hopefully more continue to get caught and put away.

Contractors Taking Diversification Seriously as Defense Spending Shrinks

Marjorie Censer (@CommonCenser), Washington Post. There has been a lot of talk about defense contractors diversifying since the budget battles began some two years ago and now those efforts are appearing to bear fruit. Censer highlights a number of new efforts that are starting to pay off like Lockheed’s recent patent for a product called Perforene which will make water potable by removing sodium, chlorine, and other ions with a filter that has holes the size of nanometers so it can actually stop molecules. BAE is now producing tankers for the chemical and petroleum businesses after translating their military building experience into workable commercial designs after buying Atlantic Marine in 2010. The successes from these efforts will need to grow as the defense industry continues to tighten the belts. Last week Raytheon announced it is reorganizing into four business units down from five and letting go another 200 employees in a move that will save some $85 million a year. The path forward in the industry is going to be littered with change.

Fixing the Failed Elevator Pitch: Translating Military Skills for Civilian Employers

James Dao (@jimdao), New York Times’ At War blog. Despite recent debates about whether or not a veteran unemployment crisis exists, groups like Hiring Our Heroes are working on ways to better connect veterans with job opportunities. Their latest resume-building tool was developed in conjunction with civilian human resources managers in order to translate military jobs into civilian skills. Job seekers can enter their MOS, military schools attended, and awards received into the program and get a usable resume in return.  It’s a welcome shift to see the language and culture gap in civil-military relations highlighted as a main focus in veteran hiring initiatives rather than purely job fairs. Any job hunt takes skills like resume writing, interviewing, and networking, not simply showing up.

The week ahead:

Tradeshows and Conferences: There are no major tradeshows or conferences we are aware of this week. Next week: The Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Conference at National Harbor in Maryland and AUSA’s LANPAC Symposium in Honolulu, HI.

Congress: Both chambers are in recess and only meeting for pro forma sessions this week.

Think tanks and other news events: 

American Security Project: Nation Branding and Global Politics: A Conversation with Sir Martin Sorrell, Washington, DC (1:30 PM, Wed 3 Apr) Description: In the era of 24/7 news cycles and growing communication sources, managing a country’s image has become imperative for governments worldwide to achieve their goals. In the 21st century, how to build, manage and measure a country’s brand amidst changing political environments has proven to be a challenge for many nations. RSVP to [email protected] Participants: Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and CEO of WPP Location: 1100 New York Ave NW, 7th Floor West Tower, Washington, DC 20005

Center for National Policy: #CleanAndMean: DoD’s Tactical and Operational Energy Innovations, Washington, DC (3:00 PM, Web 3 Apr) Description: As DoD looks to the future, one of the key challenges for the Department is how it increases energy security for our military forces. All too often in Iraq and Afghanistan, our Armed Forces have measured the costs of fuel in casualties associated with guarding and moving fuel across the battlefield. In the future, adversaries may be even more capable of targeting military supply lines. Because military operations depend on a significant and steady supply of energy, it is clear that our warfighters need better energy options. RSVP online. Participants: Sharon E. Burke, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs Location: One Massachusetts Avenue, NW Suite 333, Washington, DC 20001

Nextgov and INSA: Mitigating the National Security Impact of Cost Cutting: How to Ensure Innovation & Development in Lean Times, Washington, DC (7:30 AM, Thu 4 Apr) Description: The U.S. Government plays a pivotal role in advancing our nation’s capabilities and leveraging technology, innovation and discovery to be the global leader through investments in our future. Ever increasing global threats coupled with the financial constraints our nation is addressing make it imperative that agencies and private sector stakeholders have the resources and path forward for a critical component to ensuring national security. RSVP online. Participants: Darrell G. Herd, Senior Research Scientist, Defense Intelligence Agency, Dr. Peter Highnam, Director, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), Allan Sonsteby, Associate Director of the Applied Research Laboratory, Penn State University
Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Rotunda, Washington, DC 20004

Cato Institute: The War in Afghanistan: What Went Wrong?, Washington, DC (12:00 PM, Fri 5 Apr) Description: The mission to build an effective Afghan state and eradicate indigenous militants has resulted in a costly, time-intensive, and troop-heavy campaign, even though the United States accomplished the limited goal of incapacitating al Qaeda and punishing the Taliban only months after 9/11. What went wrong? RSVP online. Participants: Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Senior Correspondent and Associate Editor, Washington Post, author of the book Little America: The War within the War for Afghanistan, Ambassador James Dobbins, Director, International Security and Defense Policy Center, RAND Corporation, Colonel Gian P. Gentile, Professor, U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Visiting Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, author of the forthcoming book Wrong Turn: America’s Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency Location: 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20001 

Fred Wellman, President ScoutComms, brings us his weekly review of defense industry news via The Scout Report. Fred served over twenty years as an Army officer in both aviation and public affairs. You can follow Fred on Twitter @ScoutComms.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 02, 2013 8:27 am

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