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December 17 Weekly Defense Industry Roundup

Posted by Fred Wellman

Drone-Makers Push Feds on Test Flights

Kevin Bogardus and Keith Laing, The Hill (Hat tip to Mike Reilly at Edelman). Lobbyists for the Association of Unmanned Vehicles Systems International (AUVSI) are ramping up their pressure on the Federal Aviation Administration to select test sites for allowing unmanned aircraft in the federal airspace. In legislation passed this year by Congress the FAA was supposed to have already designated some six test sites around the country but has yet to do so having most recently announced delays associated with privacy concerns. The problem with that argument is that privacy is not in the FAA’s mandate of providing safety in the nation’s skies causing legislators, states anxious for the designations and industry members to cry foul over the foot dragging. The ACLU has been a major detractor of adding UAV’s to the national airspace citing concerns on spying which AUVSI points out is no more likely than the already flying manned aircraft used by civilians, government agencies and public safety organizations. The U.S. is far behind other developed countries in allowing the use of low level, relatively low-tech drones for uses ranging from police safety to cattle management and real estate photography.

Three Companies Drop Bids for USAF Combat Rescue Helicopter

Aaron Mehta, Defense News. Just as quickly as it ramped up the competition for the new Air Force rescue helicopter has shed competitors with over a month to go still before bids are due. In a situation reminiscent of other recent competitions the government has built an RFP with very specific requirements that excludes some of the off the shelf aircraft that don’t fit the specific parameters of the guidance. In light of those specifics EADS North America, Boeing and Northrop Grumman all confirmed they are dropping out of the competition virtually ensuring that Sikorsky will land the nearly $7 billion project to replace the aging fleet of Pavehawk HH-60 helicopters currently in use and also built by Sikorsky. The service plans to buy some 112 of the new helicopters and has capped the entire effort at $6.8 billion with a likely award to be announced in the fourth quarter of FY 2013.

Pentagon Warns: ‘Pervasive” Industrial Spying Targets U.S. Space Tech

Robert Beckhusen, Wired.com Danger Room. The Defense Security Service issued a report recently that points to a growing number of military and space technology espionage cases in recent years directed at gathering U.S. technology for foreign use or export. While very different than the usual spying situations these approaches often involve simple requests for information, hacking of industry computers or other methods designed to seem innocuous until taken into a larger context of lost tech. More often than not puppet companies in Asia do nothing more than ask for info on a program or pretend to be seeking business partners to spirit out the information they need. Increasing vigilance is key and a healthy dose of skepticism for those in the industry when sharing classified information with unknown actors.

Hagel Said to Top Obama’s List to Take Over at Pentagon

Hans Nichols, Bloomberg. DC was aflutter last week with rumors of pending changes to the Obama Administration national security team. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice dropped out of the vetting for Secretary of State clearing the way in many people’s eyes for Vietnam veteran Senator John Kerry to take the post. Over at the Pentagon, former GOP Senator and Vietnam infantry veteran Chuck Hagel is rumored to be the early favorite to take over for outgoing secretary Leon Panetta. Hagel has long been a supporter of President Obama’s, bucking his party, and now seems poised to join the Cabinet as another Republican member joining Transportation Secretary Roy LaHood. His name has many veterans happy but it remains to be seen if he will take up the cause of the budget battle on DoD’s side or, as many envision, be a manager of the drawdown of the massive department.

The week ahead:

Tradeshows and Conferences:  No major defense tradeshows or conferences this week that we are aware of nationally. There won’t be any until the first week of January when the Student Veterans of American hold their annual conference. ScoutComms team members will be attending.

Congress: The full Congress is in session this week. The shootings Friday have taken the intense media focus off of the Fiscal Cliff negotiations but the urgency remains. It will be almost the complete focus this week as rumors swirl that the Congress may stay in town through Christmas in hopes of finding a compromise.

Senate

Senate Foreign Affairs Committee – Hearing (9:00 AM, Thurs, 20 Dec) Full Committee Hearing: Benghazi, focusing on the attacks and the lessons learned. Witnesses: To be announced as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has notified the committee she will be unable to appear due to concussion suffered in a fall Friday. Location: 216 Hart Senate Office Building

Think tanks and other news events: 

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: The World in 2013, Washington, DC (12:30 PM, Mon 17 Dec) Description: How will President Obama use American power in 2013? Will the United States ever restore its fiscal health? And how can Obama ensure the U.S. rebalance toward Asia succeeds? Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen will discuss. RSVP online. Participants: Admiral Mike Mullen (Ret.), former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Location: 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20036

American Security Project: A Conversation with Ellen Tauscher: Missile Defense and Strategic Stability, Washington, DC (12:30 PM, Tues 18 Dec) Description: Ongoing tensions between the U.S. and Russia have brought negotiations on nuclear issues to a standstill. U.S. plans for a missile defense shield in Europe is a particularly contentious issue. Making progress on the missile defense issue could be the key to promoting strategic stability between the two nuclear powers. RSVP to [email protected]. Participants: Ellen Tauscher, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Location: 1100 New York Avenue, NW · Suite 710W, Washington, DC

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.

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This entry was posted on Monday, December 17, 2012 8:31 am

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