May 21 Defense Industry Weekly Roundup

Posted by Fred Wellman

Army’s Golden Child Loses the Training Wheels

Michael Hoffman, DoD Buzz. The third iteration of the Army’s Network Integration Exercise (NIE) has kicked off and this one promises to bring more sophistication and answers than previous versions as this unique test exercise matures to a level of major influence in acquisitions. This exercise will focus on mobile satellite communications networks and take the tactical radios used in the previous exercises to a more mature capabilities set. It’s a unique approach as actual combat units are given the mission to try out the newest technology in the field without bias, and it has already yielded the killing of several high profile programs. There is hope that this exercise takes this process to its next level of sophistication.

Dispute Brews Over Changes to Commercial Acquisition Process

Zachary Fryer-Biggs, Defense News. The Senate is set to consider a DoD request mentioned here previously that would push more items that are claimed to be commercial for sale to the government to get greater price scrutiny for all federal agencies. The dispute centers on the ability to claim an item as a commercial one thus blocking government contracting officials from getting details on the price structure for an item. The DoD sees this as a tool to ensure they are getting the best price for purchases while industry sees it as a chance to see what their profit margins are and then cut them back even more. Both sides have drawn battle lines in the sand and it remains to be seen if the rules will change.

F-22 Backup Oxygen System Upgrade Not Complete Until Mid-2014

Hugh Lessig, Hampton Roads Daily Press. Secretary of Defense Panetta weighed in on the F-22 oxygen problems that have been lighting up the media when he declared he wanted to expedite installation of backup oxygen systems in the fifth generation fighters. The Air Force has suffered 11 instances of hypoxia since September of last year already, but claims it will be at least 2014 before backup systems can be installed on the 180 total F-22’s and will cost over $44 million to conduct. Once again there is a sort of standoff and disconnect between the Air Force’s official position and the concerns of the pilot community. It will be interesting to see if Panetta puts his foot down and things speed up.

Earmark Puts $17,000 Pans on Army Craft

Eric Lichtblau, New York Times. In a story reminiscent of the most egregious price overruns from the 90’s, the story came out this week that the Army has been forced to purchase $17,000 leak proof drip pans for the engine compartments of the UH-60 Blackhawk via a long standing earmark from a powerful Kentucky Congressman. The pans are effective and do perform to standard, but others believe that similar devices could be built by a competitor for as little as $2,500 per part. Everyone defends their role in the affair. It’s hard to say if it’s malfeasance or otherwise, but it is a cautionary tale in getting Congressional support for your business.

DMV “Troops to Trucks” Program Puts Veterans to Work

Governor Bob McDonnell release, Virginia Governors Office. Virginia announced this week a new program that will adjust the requirements and testing procedures for obtaining a Commercial Drivers License in the commonwealth for those departing the military. A common refrain in veterans’ circles is how a guy who has driven a truck in combat for three tours in day-and-night conditions under fire isn’t qualified for a learners permit in most states. Virginia has built a partnership with the state’s military installations to ease the training process and then partner with professional associations to find at least three job offers per eligible participant. This is a great start to solving the transition issues we hear so much about and it was done at the state level. What else can states and municipalities do?

The week ahead:

Themes:  The Senate is hosting their closed doors version of the NDAA markup, which hides the fireworks of the House process but won’t lack for drama. The House is in recess so it will be a bit quieter in DC as everyone eases out of town for the Memorial Day holiday. Down in Florida the big SOFIC show kicks off focused on Special Operations equipment and issues and the NATO Summit continues in Chicago with major decisions due on the future of Afghanistan while protestors take over the city.


NDIA Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) (Mon-Thurs, 21-24 May) Tampa Convention Center, Tampa, Florida. SOFIC is the premier show in the country focusing on Special Operations forces and their requirements. It serves as the gathering of record for many special operators and is hosted not far from the headquarters of Special Operations Command. Leaders from across the Special Operations community provide updates and acquisition officials present their priorities for the year. Usually not a lot of press comes out of the show beyond “gee whiz” tech pieces and the ever present stories about mysterious men in civilian clothes wandering the show.

NDIA Environment, Energy Security, & Sustainability (E2S2) Symposium (Mon-Thurs, 21-24 May) New Orleans, LA. E2S2 is a premier event focusing on environmental and energy issues in the government agencies. This issue has been a major one in the last year as a focus on the challenge of providing fuels over dangerous roads in combat and rising fuel costs are driving the U.S. military to seek alternatives to continued reliance on fossil fuels and disposable batteries. This year’s theme is about industry and government partnerships in times of fiscal constraint.

Congress:  The Senate is in session this week.  The House of Representatives has a constituent work week and is not in session.


Senate Armed Services Committee – Markup (11:00 AM, Tues, 22 May)

Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2013. Witnesses: N/A Location:  G-50 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee – Hearing (10:00 AM, Wed, 23 May)

Full committee hearing on “Seamless Transition: Review of the Integrated Disability Evaluation System.” Witnesses: TBD Location: 216 Hart Senate Office Building

Think tanks and other news events: 

Cato Institute: The Future of the U.S. Navy Surface Fleet, Washington, D.C. (12:00 PM, Mon 21 May) Description: Naval shipbuilding is under close scrutiny as military spending starts to decline. At the same time, the U.S. Navy is altering the composition of its surface combatant fleet—eliminating cruisers, building more complex destroyers, and introducing a new class of small surface combatants—the littoral combat ship. What effects will these changes have on the future of the surface fleet? Will the mix of cruisers, destroyers, and littoral combat ships planned by the Navy be adequate to fulfill its missions? RSVP online. Participants: Robert O. Work, Under Secretary of the Navy; Eric J. Labs, Senior Analyst for Naval Forces and Weapons, Congressional Budget Office; Ben Freeman, National Security Fellow, Project on Government Oversight; Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute; moderated by Benjamin Friedman, Senior Fellow in Defense and Homeland Security Studies, Cato Institute Location: 1000 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

Stimson Center: Security And Development In Global Politics, Washington, D.C. (2:00 PM, Tue 22 May) Description: A discussion of topics explored in the new book, Security and Development in Global Politics, which looks at seven core international issues from the point of view of security and development: aid, humanitarian assistance, governance, health, poverty, trade and resources, and demography. At no time has security and development been more scrutinized nor of greater importance; this discussion will explore the trends driving a new assessment of these global imperatives. RSVP online. Participants: Richard Cincotta, contributing author and Demographer in Residence, Stimson; Julie Fischer, contributing author and Director of Global Health and Security program, Stimson; Joanna Spear, editor and Associate Professor of International Affairs and Director of the Security Policy Studies Program at George Washington University; Paul D. Williams, editor and Associate Professor of International Affairs and Associate Director of Security Policy Studies Program at George Washington University; Kevin J. Cosgriff, moderator and Vice Admiral USN (Retired) Location: 1111 19th Street NW, Twelfth Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036

Center for Strategic and International Studies: Smarter Defense: The Future of Anglo-American Cooperation and Its Transatlantic Implications, Washington, D.C. (3:30 PM, Wed 23 May) Description: A discussion with General Sir David Richards as he discusses the outcomes of the recent NATO Summit in Chicago as well as future prospects for US-UK defense cooperation and collaboration in light of declining defense budgets.  As a former commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Sir David Richards will also provide insights on NATO’s transition plans for Afghanistan and the Alliance’s desired outcome for the post-2014 period. RSVP online. Participants: General Sir David Richards, Chief of the British Defence Staff Location: B1 A/B Conference Room, CSIS, 1800 K St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20006

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.

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This entry was posted on Monday, May 21, 2012 11:04 am

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