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October 2 Defense Industry Weekly Roundup

Posted by Fred Wellman

Pentagon Spending Shouldn’t Slow Before Cuts, Carter Says

Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg. The Defense Department’s number two leader took the unusual step of issuing a memo to the contracting force of DoD urging them not to start cutting programs before sequestration takes effect. Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter is likely reacting to continuing anecdotes of a slow down in contracts and hiring at the department in light of possible massive cuts due to Congresses ill advised sequestration directive that will find some $500 billion being slashed from the defense budget if it goes into effect on January, 2nd of next year. For now Carter is urging contracting officials to proceed with normal spending as per the approved budget guidance. It remains to be seen if Congress can get their act together in time to stop the precipitous cuts.

Cheap Smart Weapons: Rockets Galore

The Economist. Precision weapons have changed the warfare in unimaginable ways however the cost of these weapons has been staggering in proportion to the targets they are used against in Iraq and Afghanistan. A Hellfire missile from a UAV costs $115,000 to often destroy a target as small as a pick-up truck with some guys in the back with rifles. A number of companies are working to reduce that costs with substantially reduced size and cost versions including BAE/Northrop Grumman’s new guided 70mm rocket that drops the cost down to $18,000 and a host of other new systems being fielded. They offer a cost savings but also will make even the smallest unmanned system a lethal killing option against even the smallest targets.

Questions Raised Over Marine Personnel Carrier’s Future

Michael Hoffman, DoDBuzz. Modern Day Marine was held at Quantico this past week and a number of defense manufacturers were displaying potential competitors for a number of the Marine’s vehicle programs including the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, Amphibious Combat Vehicle and lesser talked about Marine Personnel Carrier. This last program has gotten less chatter as the Corps tries to ensure its major needs are met with the JLTV replacing many aging Humvees and the ACV to replace the failed EFV program. Many wonder if the vehicle that will arrive behind the amphibious assault can survive budgetarily in tough economic times but technology development contracts went out recently to Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, BAE Systems and SAIC. The service will have a tough road ahead to modernize its fleet.

The Next Wave in U.S. Robotic War: Drones on Their Own

Agence France Presse. U.S. defense research for unmanned aerial systems is increasingly focused on making them more autonomous and able to carry out simple missions without human intervention.  As one scientist puts it the role of pilots will shift from being “in the loop” to “on the loop” and only intervening for specific tasks. It is a logical change as many missions involve incredibly long loiter missions with little but patterns of flight scanning for intelligence and rarely direct targeting. While this research is still in its earliest stages we can only hope no contractors named Cyberdyne Systems and a backbone called Skynet becomes involved because we are digging a bunker in the backyard at that point.

The week ahead:

Tradeshows and Conferences:  No major defense related tradeshows or conferences we are aware of this week.

Next big event:  Association of the U.S. Army Annual Conference, Washington D.C., 22-24 October.

Congress:   The full Congress is not session this week.

Think tanks and other news events: 

National Bureau of Asian Research: Strategic Asia 2012-13: China’s Military Challenge, Washington, D.C. (8:30 AM, Wed 3 Oct) Description: Select contributors from Strategic Asia 2012-13: China’s Military Challenge will present research findings that assess China’s growing military capabilities, regional responses to China’s increasing military strength, and the implications for U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific. RSVP online. Participants: Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter, Ashley J. Tellis, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Dan Blumenthal, American Enterprise Institute, Andrew S. Erickson, U.S. Naval War College, Roy Kamphausen, The National Bureau of Asian Research, Kevin Pollpeter, Defense Group Inc., and Mark A. Stokes, Project 2049 Institute Location: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Flom Auditorium, 6th Floor, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C.

New America Foundation: Kill or Capture, Washington, D.C. (12:15 PM, Fri 5 Oct) Description: Daniel Klaidman and National Security Studies Program Director Peter Bergen will discuss the factors driving many of the Obama administration’s biggest decisions, and the impact those decisions have had on the nation’s effort to defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates. RSVP online. Participants: Daniel Klaidman, author, Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency Location: New America Foundation, 1899 L Street NW Suite 400, Washington, DC 2003

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 Tuesday, October 02, 2012 8:18 am

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