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January 17 Weekly Defense Industry Roundup

Posted by Fred Wellman

F-35 Showed ‘Mixed Results’ in Tests, Pentagon Report Says

Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg. The Pentagon’s Director of Operation Test and Evaluation, Michael Gilmore, released his annual report to Congress this week with reports on all of the various military systems tested in the past year. Bloomberg got an early copy of the report and highlighted the challenges facing the F-35 program. The testing program has actually made fair progress this year, though significant operational challenges are yet to be overcome as the challenging operational tests are scheduled for this year.

Defense Contracts Don’t Always Add Up

Robert McCabe, The Virginian-Pilot. The Pilot is a great source for military insight that is often overlooked down in Hampton Roads and Virginia Beach. But with a circulation region that has a larger concentration of military than any other region in the nation, it makes sense. This article looks at the often-confusing contract awards from DoD that seem to offer massive windfalls to contractors, but in the end are usually substantially smaller and unlikely to reach maximum revenue return. Interesting insight into the obscure world of Indefinite Delivery-Indefinite Quantity contracts.

Air Force Concerns Stall Launch of 4G Network

Jessica Wehrman, Dayton Daily News. The paper that includes Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in its region takes a close look at the controversy surrounding Reston, Virginia based LightSquared, and their efforts to launch a satellite constellation providing 4G wireless coverage to the entire country. The program is being delayed by an outcry concerning the close bandwidth the network will use to Global Positioning System and the belief that their broadcasts could jam or degrade the network that has become the backbone of navigation for everything from smart phones to airliners. Initial tests conducted by the company are showing interference of varying degrees though they insist it can be mitigated and is minor in the goal to provide broadband access to the entire nation. This issue will be bubbling for a while.

Failure to Communicate: Inside the Army’s Doomed Quest for the ‘Perfect’ Radio

David Axe, Center for Public Integrity, iWatchNews.org. Axe takes an in-depth look at the Army’s Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program. JTRS was designed to develop a family of compatible “universal” radios to replace the massive family of radios currently in use that don’t necessarily talk to each other, or work in most combat environments. The story is one of 15 years of effort and over $17 billion in research and development that failed to produce the hoped for system, and may leave taxpayers on the hook for another $12 billion to find a suitable improvement in existing systems. It’s a great read to get a picture on the many flaws and missteps in acquisition programs run by the Army over the last two decades. The money quote says it all: “I feel sorry for the Army,” said Thomas Christie, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester from 2001 to 2005. “Everything they’ve touched has turned to crap.” This is a good read for your time.

Real Cuts, Real Jobs, Real Danger: The Defense Budget Crisis

Marion Blakey, AOL Defense. Blakey is the CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association and offers an impassioned take on the disastrous cuts being forced on the DoD by the failure of the various Congressional committees to manage the budget. She disassembles a number of claims that the cuts in the defense budget are not only no big deal but actually better for the jobs market and won’t hurt the economy. No matter where you stand on the issue, to try and say that somehow defense jobs and military research and development are not good for the nation defies common sense.

Fort Meade Acts as Warehouse Site for ‘eBay for the Pentagon’

Marjorie Censer, Washington Post Capital Business. Marjorie takes a look at one of the secrets many in the military already know about, the many scrap yards on posts where you can pick up cast off equipment and items at rock bottom prices. They are now online and being managed by a company called Government Liquidation, and run like an eBay where you can bid on items.  The unusual portal offers everything from old 5-ton trucks to generators and hospital beds for pennies on the dollar. It’s an interesting place and could be pretty useful for a lot of small businesses.

Live music at Fresno’s VA hospital makes a big difference

Diana Marcum, Los Angeles Times. This is an interesting story that shows how the administrators at the VA hospital in Fresno, CA introduced live musicians to their main waiting room as way to distract patients during long waits. They stumbled upon a calming influence in a stressful environment. Doctors are reporting that patients, especially those with PTSD and TBI, are coming to the treatment rooms noticeably more relaxed and calm than before the music was introduced. This could serve as a model at other facilities around the country.

Medical schools pledge to help vets and troops

Patricia Kime, Military Times. First Lady Michelle Obama announced a new initiative last week as part of her Joining Forces program that will see 130 of the nations top medical schools add courses and research programs on caring for patients with PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury and other combat related injuries such as amputations. The schools are members of the Association of Medical Colleges and the American Association of Osteopathic Medicine, and aims to improve training, develop research and launch more clinical trials on treatments for the most serious issues facing our nation’s veterans community in partnership with the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense.

Idea to Take the ‘D’ out of PTSD Studied

Lindsay Wise, Houston Chronical. The President of the American Psychiatric Association has said he is open to renaming Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or more likely adding a sub-category to it perhaps called Post Traumatic Stress Injury, at the urging of the U.S. Army. The services Vice Chief of Staff, General Peter Chiarelli, has been pushing for a while to get the name changed to better recognize the issue as one of stress, and take away the stigma of the ‘disorder’ name. He is frustrated at the resistance to the idea from the psychiatric community as the newest manual from APA isn’t even due until May, 2013. For many veterans symptoms of PTSD or forms of it are fairly common but underreported due to the fear of career damage or stigma.

The week ahead:

Themes: The defense media will likely be dominated by efforts to get a read on what the new strategic guidance means for the future as well as more fallout from the Marine’s peeing video. The House of Representatives has a short work week, but some discussions on the challenges of doing business with DoD will come up.

Tradeshows:

The SHOT Show:  The National Shooting Sports Foundation Annual Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show (Mon-Wed, 17-20 Jan) Sands Expo & Convention Center, Las Vegas. The SHOT Show is not a purely defense-related tradeshow but is well attended by a large segment of the defense industry with products that have both a civilian and military market, such as small arms, weapon accessories, camping gear and law enforcement products. It is well attended by military enthusiasts and representatives of law enforcement and Homeland Security organizations.

Congress: The Senate is in recess this week, however, the House returns to work Tuesday and Wednesday only for short sessions and a few committee hearings.

House Armed Services Committee – Hearing (3:00, Tues, 17 January) Business Challenges within the Defense Industry Panel Subcommittee hearing on “Doing Business with DOD (Defense Department): Unique Challenges Faced by Small and Mid-Sized Businesses.” Witnesses: TBD Location: 2118 Rayburn House Office Building

Think tanks and other news events: No major think tank or news events we recommend this week.

Fred Wellman with General Petraeus in Iraq

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, January 17, 2012 8:14 am

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