RTCA Honors LCS Team Lead Todd R. White for Contributions to the DO-178C Software Standard — Press Release

LDRA Certification Services team lead to be formally recognized in Washington, D.C. as a key member of the RTCA SC-205 Committee.

Wirral, UK, April 30, 2012. LDRA Certification Services (LCS), a division of LDRA committed to providing safety-critical software verification tools and certification services, celebrates RTCA’s decision to honor LCS team lead Todd R. White for his role in advancing the newly ratified DO-178C software certification standard. RTCA wishes to publicly recognize White’s contribution to both DO-178C Software Considerations in Airborne Systems and Equipment Certification and DO-330 Software Tool Qualification Considerations on June 5th by presenting him with a Certificate of Appreciation at its Annual Symposium in Washington, D.C.

White’s expertise in avionics standards rises out of his 30 years of experience as a consultant and FAA Designated Engineering Representative (DER). White has been delegated full Level A authority for all aircraft systems and equipment for both software and airborne electronic hardware. This strong background in development, verification, and avionics certification enabled him to guide the evolution of the avionics standard so that it reliably addressed current software development and design practices of avionics systems.

With White as leader of the team, LCS provides comprehensive support, oversight and guidance for certification applicants through a wide range of aviation standards:

• Aircraft & Systems Development (ARP-4754A)
• Safety Assessment (ARP-4761)
• Integrated Modular Avionics (DO-297)
• Flight Electronic Hardware (DO-254)
• Flight Software (DO-178B/C)
• Ground Systems (DO-278/A)

“For nearly 40 years, LDRA has helped avionics customers address certification concerns and achieve compliance,” noted Ian Hennell, LDRA Operations Director. “With Todd leading the LCS team, our customers can rest assured that their certification plan will map out the most efficient and effective way for them to achieve certification. We are very proud to see Todd honored for the extensive contribution he has made to move the DO-178 standard forward.”

As a DER and certification consultant, White has worked with the largest and best known suppliers of avionics. He is an executive committee member of the DO-178C/DO-278A committee, an executive committee member of the NextGen Task Force, and holds a leadership role in the U.S. DO-254 users group. White is recognized for outstanding DER leadership by key individuals at FAA headquarters in Washington, D.C. and the Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, Denver and Los Angeles Aircraft Certification Offices (ACOs). He has also provided DER oversight on projects through the Fort Worth and Wichita ACOs. With appointments as Organization Designation Authorization administrator, unit member at key OEMs, and Supplier Airworthiness Specialist DER at Airbus, White has become well-known at Transport Canada and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), as well as with US Army and US Air Force facilities.

Joining White and the LCS team is Steve Morton, co-chair of the DO-178C Tools Group. Morton will support the tool qualification and validation efforts of suppliers to avionics, automotive, industrial control, rail, medical and other industries. Morton’s capabilities are complemented by Marty Gasiorowski, a systems, safety, software and complex electronic hardware FAA DER, and Dr. Holly Hildreth, a safety engineer with expertise in a wide range of US and international standards. Together they will provide certification expertise in DO-178/DO-278, DO-254, DO-297, IEC 61508, IEC 62304, ISO 26262, IEEE 1012:2004 and CENELEC EN 50128.

Proficient in both commercial and military airworthiness, LCS addresses critical project requirements that relate to certification, including management, planning, staff training, development, verification and production. While analyzing certification and safety needs from a total aircraft system perspective, LCS ensures that the individual and exacting aviation standards can be met at a fixed price.

White’s Certificate of Appreciation will be awarded at the Awards Luncheon during RTCA’s Annual Symposium on June 5, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

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Telephonics to Make Radars for Navy Helicopters

The Navy recently awarded Lockheed Martin (LMT) a contract to provide avionics and instruments for their Sikorsky, part of United Technologies (UTX), made MH-60 Sea Hawk helicopters. Lockheed in turn has awarded Telephonics a contract to build a radar for the aircraft.

The AN/APS-153 radar performs surface search functions to locate and identify submarine periscopes. The total value of the contract for 160 radars is about $330 million.

The MH-60R is designed to perform a variety of missions and be based on carriers, destroyers and other U.S. and Allied ships. It replaces the previously used SH-60, SH-2 and SH-3 helicopters previously used for ship based Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW).

The contract also illustrates how expensive not only the base aircraft is but also the sub-systems hat go into it. Capability and performance is expensive.

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Lockheed Martin Earnings — Seeking Alpha

This is an exclusive article I wrote for Seeking Alpha about Lockheed Martin’s latest quarterly earnings and the rest of 2012.

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House Begins Markup of 2014 Budget with Add of Submarine

The House and Senate are in the process of considering the President’s 2014 budget request. As often different committees will review it and make changes sometimes based on their own priorities which means adding things or removing items from the original request. The budget has to go through two committees in each the House and Senate. Then it is voted on and a Conference Committee held. This means that often the final budget is not necessarily similar to what was submitted in February.

Not only do different companies lobby Congress for inclusion of their products and projects but sometimes the Services will indirectly. There exist lists of “unfunded priorities” and needs that Congress may address even though they are not part of the budget request.

The House Armed Services Committee as part of its review has reportedly increased the Navy’s buy of U.S.S. Virginia class attack submarines by 1 more then requested. The Navy had originally planned to buy two a year but in order to meet budget cut goals and reduce spending only 1 was asked for in 2014. The HASC has bumped that back up to 2.

Congress also wants the Navy to consider signing a multi-year contract for 10 submarines. Multi-year contracts are normally for five years and done for systems, especially aircraft, in steady state production. This allows efficiencies and better pricing due to stable quantities and funding. Virginia submarines are currently built by two companies – Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) in Virgina and General Dynamics (GD) Electric Boat in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

One of the problems that the Pentagon will face as it tries to cut money required to meet budget goals is that Congress is loathe to reduce programs. There are 435 House members and 100 Senators who see defense spending as a way to bring money and jobs into their districts. The idea of keeping one more submarine in the current budget will do so. It will also require the Navy to cut less money or take it from other budget priorities.

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Growth of Special Operations Command – May 2012

In this podcast, we look at the growth of special operations command, trends in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and the hurdles for drones to fly in national airspace.

U.S. Army Expands Rifle Production to Remington

Update — It has been reported that Colt will protest the Army decision to award this contract to Remington. Protests are normally settled within 100 days and no work may be done until it is resolved.

The U.S. Army and most of the rest of the U.S. military and allied nations have been using the M16 rifle since its introduction almost 50 years ago during Vietnam. During the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan the M4 carbine version of the rifle came into heavy use due to its shorter length and lighter weight. The M4 has been primarily produced by Colt.

The U.S. has tried to develop multiple times a new rifle to replace the M16 but no new weapon has gone into production. The most recent try was the XM8 system that saw only the 25mm “Punisher” variant go into use. Dissatisfaction with the M4’s range and accuracy has also led to Special Forces and other select troops using weapons like Hechler-Koch’s SCAR system. Even so the M4 has soldiered on for the last decade in the dust and heat of South West Asia.

Now the U.S. Army has awarded a production contract to Remington Arms for up to 120,000 M4/M4Aq carbines. There were rumors of this contract award earlier this week and yesterday the company issued a press release confirming it.

The initial buy is for 24,000 of the rifle with another 96,000 if all options are exercised. The contract is an Indefinite Quantity/Indefinite Delivery (ID/IQ) one which allows the Army to pick-and-choose how much and when.

The Army is carrying out trials for a new standard rifle with a potential new contest in the future.

The decision to expand production to include Remington is interesting as Colt has made the M4 for many years.

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Primordial Wins Prestigious Tibbetts Award — Press Release

April 24, 2012 by · Comment
Filed under: Business Line, Companies, Events, IT, Press Releases 

Tibbetts Award Recognizes Primordial’s Ground Guidance® Route Planning Software for Technical Innovation and Warfighter Impact

Saint Paul, MN – April 24, 2012 – Primordial was one of 18 companies to receive the prestigious Tibbetts Award at the White House today. The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) recognized Primordial for its “unique contributions as a model of excellence for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.” The award citation commended Primordial for providing outstanding SBIR leadership and greatly contributing to the SBIR program’s success. The keynote speaker at the ceremony was Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer of the United States.

Established in 1998, the annual Tibbetts Award is a national honor named for Roland Tibbetts–father of the SBIR program. The SBA presents the award to companies that exemplify the best in the SBIR program: those that stimulate technological innovation, meet federal research and development needs, and successfully commercialize the resulting technology.

Becky Aistrup, the SBIR/STTR program director at Minnesota Science & Technology Authority, nominated Primordial for the award. Primordial also received endorsement letters from Senator Amy Klobuchar, Congresswoman Betty McCollum, General Dynamics C4 Systems (GDC4S), and the United States Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering (CERDEC).

The SBIR program has provided $2.6 million in funding for Primordial’s flagship product, Ground Guidance. Ground Guidance is patented software that plans fast and concealed routes for mounted and dismounted soldiers through on- and off-road terrain. Ground Guidance supports planning routes before a mission as well as real-time rerouting during a mission. Primordial has developed Ground Guidance over ten years under contracts with the Army Geospatial Center (AGC); Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center (CERDEC); Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center (NSRDEC); Product Manager (PM) Movement Tracking System (MTS); and others. Primordial has integrated Ground Guidance with several battle command platforms including Falcon View, Land Warrior, and MTS. In 2011, the United States Army approved Ground Guidance for fielding with the Land Warrior.

The Tibbetts Award stemmed from Primordial’s work on a SBIR contract with CERDEC. The project’s goal was to develop real-time route planning software for tactical and logistical vehicles. Primordial received SBIR phase I and II contracts for the effort as well as a Commercialization Pilot Program (CPP) contract to integrate and field Ground Guidance with the Land Warrior soldier system.

“The Tibbetts Award is a great honor,” said Primordial’s president, Randy Milbert. “We are grateful whenever we have a chance to contribute to our soldiers.”
About Primordial

Founded in 2002 and based in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Primordial is a leader in off-route planning and navigation software for the United States military and consumer applications. Primordial’s flagship product, Ground Guidance®, is patented software that determines the best path through off-road terrain by analyzing vegetation, terrain, threats, and man-made features. Primordial’s customers include the United States Army, United States Air Force, United States Marine Corps, DARPA, General Dynamics, Rockwell Collins, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon.

Web Site: http://primordial.com

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More V-22 Engines for Rolls-Royce

Following the second operational crash of a V-22 during exercises in Morocco there was the usual hand wringing about the safety of the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor made by Boeing (BA) and Bell, part of Textron (TXT). Even so the program continues with planned expanded deployment and new missions including support of Presidential movement operations.

It has been reported that as part of the planned reductions in spending starting next year that V-22 quantities will be reduced. The total purchased should remain the same but it will be spread over more years. The next five year multiyear production contract is still being negotiated as the current one ends.

Even so the Pentagon went ahead and place orders for engines to support delivery of over 100 more aircraft with Rolls Royce (RR). The almost $600 million contract for 268 engines will have one base and four options years. The base contract will be for 70 engines.

The company has delivered over 500 engines for the V-22 program.

The V-22 offers unique capabilities compared to traditional rotary wing aviation assets. It has served in Iraq and Afghanistan with no combat losses although an Air Force one crashed in Afghanistan and now a Marine one has crashed as well. It is planned to replace Navy logistics aircraft as well as serve more with the Marines and Air Force Special Operations.

Boeing and Bell are obviously looking for new missions and customers for the aircraft. Certainly there may be pressure as the Pentagon reduces its budget to cut the number of V-22 to buy as they are expensive to buy and operate. The more that are sold, though, drives down the price for every customer.

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McLane Team Awarded Contract by U.S. Army — Press Release

TEMPLE, Texas, April 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — McLane Advanced Technologies (MAT) announced today that as the subcontractor to SAIC, the company was recently awarded a contract by the Software Engineering Center (SEC-Lee) for Property Book Unit Supply Enhanced (PBUSE). PBUSE is the Army’s web-based, state-of-the-art, property accountability system. The team will provide professional and technical services to include sustainment support, software development for product enhancements, help desk support, fielding, and training.

“We are excited that we are part of the SAIC Team on this contract and look forward to working with SAIC and SEC-Lee in this important endeavor,” said James Chambers, Executive Vice President for MAT. “SAIC and MAT have worked together for several years and this collaboration fortifies the relationship. We are especially honored to continue our support to the Soldier by assisting materiel readiness for the US Army through both SAMS-E and PBUSE.”

SAIC was awarded the PBUSE contract in February 2012 and subsequently awarded a sub-contract to MAT in February 2012. MAT’s period of performance is for two years and includes a number of PBUSE IT specialties to meet the customer’s requirements.

About McLane Advanced Technologies
McLane Advanced Technologies is a global logistics and technology solutions company built upon a bedrock of over 100 years of global supply chain, warehouse, distribution, and technology experience. Utilizing our rich history, we have grown into a recognized technology leader in the Distribution and Defense industries. For more information, please visit our website at www.mclaneat.com or call 254-771-6429.

About SAIC SAIC is a FORTUNE 500® scientific, engineering, and technology applications company that uses its deep domain knowledge to solve problems of vital importance to the nation and the world, in national security, energy & environment, health, and cybersecurity. The company’s approximately 41,000 employees serve customers in the U.S. Department of Defense, the intelligence community, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, other U.S. Government civil agencies and selected commercial markets. Headquartered in McLean, Va., SAIC had annual revenues of approximately $10.6 billion for its fiscal year ended January 31, 2012. For more information, visit http://www.saic.com/. SAIC: From Science to Solutions®

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Expectations for Defense Earnings This Quarter — Seeking Alpha

This is an exclusive post I wrote for Seeking Alpha looking at the upcoming earning reports from defense contractors.

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Navy Buys Internet Services for Troop Morale & Welfare

The U.S. military is made up of mainly young men and women who form the bulk of the enlisted members. They have grown up with the internet and instant communications. Over the last ten years they have added such tools as Facebook, Twitter, Skype and other social media applications. The U.S. military recognizes this and in a move to help morale and welfare contracted to set up internet cafe services across the world.

DRS Technical Services (DRS) has been awarded an Indefinite Quantity/Indefinite Delivery (ID/IQ)m contract to provide these kinds of services by the U.S. Navy. The value of this contract if all options are executed would be over $250 million. As with all ID/IQ contracts there is no guarantee that the Navy will order any tasks under this so even though DRS has qualified for the work they may get little or none out of it.

The services will be to set up and maintain logistics support for communications services for DoD and other government agencies internet cafes and site for personnel use. The majority of the work will be done in Iraq and Afghanistan but will also have support in Germany and the U.S. It looks like this task will be used by other Agencies as they are the majority of personnel deployed in Iraq right now.

The need for these kind of services is just a normal growth of the other Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) services provided by the U.S. military. This includes commissary and exchanges for shopping as well as organized sports and tourism and other activities meant to fill time. The internet connection is especially key now to provide troops with family contact beyond the traditional mail.

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CSC Wins British Military Payroll Contract

In a move that surprised some observers the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) awarded the contract to manage their payroll and personnel services to CSC (CSC). The current contract is being executed by Hewlett Packard (HP).

The seven year contract which will begin in late 2012 has an estimated value of almost $1.5 billion. HP has been executing this work since 1997.

CSC was one of two other bidders then HP who had attempted to win the contract alongside Capita.

The decision was somewhat a surprise due to CSC’s recent failure on a contract with the British National Health Service (NHS) for a patient administration IT system. The fallout from this contract is currently under negotiation between CSC and the NHS to reach a settlement. It was recently reported that these negotiations are ongoing and some sort of agreement will be reached by 1 June. CSC has said that they have had to write off their nearly $1.5 billion investment into the system.

The agreement will manage the reduction in CSC’s support and the use of the system.

Despite this past performance the British MOD has clearly stated that CSC submitted the best proposal and believe the contract was evaluated fairly and properly.

As the U.S. military has had the British military also experienced problems in the past paying personnel the right amounts due to the large movement to and number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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MAINGATE Wideband Networking Waveform accepted into Pentagon’s Joint Tactical Radio System library — Press Release

Precedent-setting move follows successful demo of Mobile Ad hoc Interoperability Network GATEway system as an alternative to the Ground Mobile Radio program

MARLBOROUGH, Mass., April 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — The Department of Defense has accepted Raytheon Company’s (NYSE: RTN) Next Generation Mobile Ad hoc Networking Waveform (NMW) into the government’s Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) library, strengthening Raytheon’s position as a provider of wideband Ground Mobile Radio solutions.

“Including our waveform provides easier access for other companies to port our waveform to their radios, fostering competition and supporting the U.S. Army’s Agile Acquisition process,” said Jeff Miller, director of Tactical Communication Systems for Raytheon’s Network Centric Systems business. “A key aspect of the NMW is that it was specifically designed to run on lower cost, reduced size and lower power consumption radios while still delivering needed capability,” he added.

This represents the first time a waveform not developed under JTRS or a legacy program has been accepted into the library.

NMW enables high-speed applications, such as multiple simultaneous live streaming video from drones, real-time situational awareness, and the distribution of vital information to commanders in any environment.

The waveform, which powers the Mobile Ad hoc Interoperability Network GATEway (MAINGATE) radio system, was developed in conjunction with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency over the last 12 years and is used in the MAINGATE family of high-performance radios. MAINGATE was developed to meet the Army’s need for a high capacity backhaul mobile networking radio solution, as well as to enable interoperability with coalition forces.

MAINGATE, with the NMW waveform, has been in operational use with deployed forces for more than two years. As demonstrated during a Network Integration Evaluation exercise at Fort Bliss, Texas, NMW provided significantly higher capacity than other radios. It far exceeded the requirements stated for the upcoming Mid-Tier Networking Vehicular Radio solicitation, and has been demonstrated as a tested, proven, viable replacement for the canceled JTRS Ground Mobile Radio program.

About Raytheon

Raytheon Company, with 2011 sales of $25 billion, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 90 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as a broad range of mission support services. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 71,000 people worldwide. For more about Raytheon, visit us at www.raytheon.com and follow us on Twitter at @raytheon.

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Two More F-35 Added to Most Recent Production Order

April 19, 2012 by · Comment
Filed under: Editorial 

The Department of Defense executed a contract modification with Lockheed Martin (LMT) this week to add 2 more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) to the most recent production buy. This brings the total aircraft on the order to 32. This is consistent with last year’s quantity.

The total value of the modification was about $259 million. This is the fifth production buy.

The program is currently in low rate production while it continues testing and development of the different variants of the aircraft.

The F-35 continues to see cost growth for the total program as recent annual reductions in the buy quantities stretch out production and add billions to the cost. The program is also under fire as some of the foreign partners reconsider their total quantities and commitment to the most expensive defense program in the history of the world.

With this order almost 100 of the aircraft have been ordered out of a planned quantity of 3 to 4,000. Production is supposed to ramp up steadily with a goal of 130 aircraft a year by 2015.

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Joint Venture Formed to Compete for Air Force Range Contract

April 18, 2012 by · Comment
Filed under: Editorial 

Three large defense contractors have formed a new joint venture in order to compete for the U.S. Air Force’s unified range management contract. ITT Exelis (XLS), BAE Systems (BAE:LSE) and L-3 Communications (LLL) have set up IBL JV, LLC (IBL) to hopefully win the work.

The Air Force has previously used separate contracts to run its two main ranges located on either coast of the United States. These provide space launch capability for satellites as well as managing those in orbit. The ranges also launch targets and support testing of systems. All three of these companies have at one-time-or-another been involved in running the ranges in the past.

The decision to combine the contracts has a goal of saving the government money through efficiencies of only having one contract. It would be used to carry out total support for the ranges including program management, maintenance and operations and housekeeping services.

Due to the size of the contract it is expected to attract a lot of attention from large, U.S. defense contractors who have a great deal of experience in this type of work.

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U.S. Continues Investment in AEGIS Ashore

The AEGIS system is the primary ship based anti-air warfare weapon used by the U.S. Navy and some allied Navies. It consists of radars, fire control software, vertical and rail launchers and version of Raytheon’s (RTN) STANDARD missile. It has been in use since the 1970’s and consistently upgraded.

Using modified software and the SM-3 missile it provides ballistic missile defense. The SM-3 has the ability to engage targets at high altitude. More advanced models of the SM-3 are being developed with a new plant being constructed in Huntsville, AL at Redstone Arsenal.

A few years ago the Obama Administration decided to end deployment of the Ground Based Mid-course system in Europe. That Army operated ballistic missile defense program now has interceptors based in Alaska and sensors across the globe. A similar installation of interceptors was planned for Eastern Europe but it was decided to pursue other ways to provide the defense for NATO allies.

Part of this is to take an AEGIS system and base it on the land. This “AEGIS Ashore” will make the majority of the ship installed components and make them transportable. This includes radars, fire control installations, the SM-3 and a version of the Mk 41 Vertical Launch System.

BAE Systems (BAE:LSE) is the manufacturer of the Mk 41 through the acquisition of a U.S. defense contractor several years ago. The just received a further contract for Mk 41 components for both AEGIS ashore and new DDG-51 class destroyers. This contract has a value of about $23 million.

The contract will see Mk 41 components for DDG-116 and parts of the AEGIS Ashore installation. The use of the Navy’s missile system to provide land based missile defense is rather innovative and combined with ship based systems as well as the Army’s shorter ranged PATRIOT and THAAD provide some layer of defense for an area.

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HESCO Introduces New Recoverable Features For 2012 Mil Units — Press Release

Innovative New Design Allows Rapid Recovery

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo., April 16, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — HESCO®, the leader in the design and manufacture of rapidly deployable force protection barriers, today announced a new design feature that allows for rapid recovery of its military and security products. The 2012 range of Mil protective units provide a force protection system with an innovative new design feature that significantly increases the flexibility of the product, allowing it to be rapidly recovered after use.

Employing a quick release pin system that allows the barrier to be quickly emptied and efficiently packaged, the 2012 range of Mil units can be easily removed from its deployed location when no longer required, and disposed of responsibly.

“We developed the 2012 range of Mil units with two of the military’s important goals in mind– to be more cost-effective during the demilitarization stage of the mission, and to be more environmentally responsible ” said Jake McQueen, Sales Manager at HESCO. “Not only is our product now capable of being recovered when the mission requires, its ease of transportation means a fraction of the energy and resources, including the number of personnel and trucks, are needed to remove the previously installed barriers.”

“The ability to quickly empty the barriers and pack them up is a great breakthrough in force protection,” said Jonathan Bird, HESCO Sales Director. “In addition to reducing the time and costs of leaving the conflict zone, the new design denies adversaries use of leftover barriers after the end of the mission.”

HESCO has been the supplier of force protection barriers that protect and defend troops and facilities against enemy attacks since 1991, saving countless lives and mission critical assets. HESCO barriers are well-known and relied on by troops around the world to provide safety and protection in the most difficult locations. Acknowledged as the most significant development in field fortifications since the Second World War, HESCO products have become a key component and the benchmark in force protection throughout the world, and have been used in every major conflict since the first Gulf war. Previous versions of HESCO barrier systems have required more extensive – and expensive – efforts for removal.

About HESCO. HESCO Bastion Ltd is a leader in the design and manufacture of rapidly deployable barrier systems. Established in 1991, HESCO has been developing and manufacturing the innovative Concertainer® units for the purposes of military protection, critical asset protection and flood protection.

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Air Force Will Attempt Second Contest for Light Air Support Aircraft

Following up on its decision to cancel the initial contract to Sierra Nevada and Brazil’s Embraer for the initial order of Light Air Support (LAS) aircraft for use by the Afghan military the U.S. Air Force now plans a new contest. The contract was protested by Hawker Beechcraft whose T-6 based proposal was removed from the competition. After the start of an investigation into the source selection which continues the service’s leadership decided to end the first attempt and begin again.

The Air Force investigation found that there was not sufficient justification for the decisions to remove Hawker and award the $300 million contract to Sierra Nevada. This company teamed with Embraer which would see their Tucano based system assembled in Florida.

Now it is expected that an amended Request for Proposals will be issued in the near future allowing the two companies to compete again.

If the program goes as planned it could be worth up to $1 billion in orders.

With the new proposal process it is hoped that a decision will be made next year.

Hawker is struggling and may face bankruptcy in the near future and the LAS win would be a major boon for the company. Brazil is looking at buying a new fighter and Boeing’s (BA) F/A-18 is one of the major contenders and a win for Embraer is believed to be helpful for that contest.

The Air Force has struggled over the last decade with awarding new contracts. There was the long running KC-X tanker program which took three attempts to award finally to Boeing. The new combat rescue helicopter, CSAR-X, went through two iterations but is now currently on hold. The cornerstone of the new Air Force, Lockheed’s (LMT) Joint Strike Fighter, is facing cost and schedule problems. The Light Air Support program seems to continue that trend.

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Canadian F-35 Controversy Continues

The fall out from the controversial decision by the Canadian government to commit to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter without conducting a competition continues. The execution of the contract with Lockheed Martin (LMT) and the U.S. has been placed on hold as a new group outside the traditional defense procurement organization re-examines the contracting process.

The latest fall out from the Auditor report released earlier this year is that the Government underestimated the total cost of the program by $10 billion. Rather then then fixed costs being in the $15 billion range they are actually close to $25 billion. This is because ten years of operational costs (training, personnel, fuel, etc) were not included in the original estimate.

With the current issues it is not inconceivable that Canada could re-start their procurement process. This may lead to a new competition for the contract to replace the current CF-18 fighters that could include multiple competitors like the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Dassault Rafale and American aircraft like Boeing’s (BA) F/A-18.

The loss of 65 aircraft to the F-35 program is a small part of its over 2,000 planned deliveries but the loss of Canada’s participation would be a blow to the whole concept of the program with its shared development, production and operational cost. If Canada reconsiders then other nations who have hinted they could might follow. This could include Japan and the Netherlands both of whom have questions about the cost increases and schedule delays facing the program as a whole.

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Joint Air to Ground Missile (JAGM) to Remain in Development

With the expected reductions in U.S. planned defense spending there have been different discussions and rumors of programs being cancelled or ended. One of these is the new Joint Air to Ground Missile (JAGM) which is a replacement for the Hellfire and Maverick missiles. These are launched from a variety of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft and had an original mission of destroying enemy armor. Over the last several years different warheads have been developed to attack personnel and buildings.

The JAGM itself was a new program that replaced the earlier Joint Common Missile (JCM) which was cancelled itself a few years ago. The JCM was being developed by Lockheed Martin (LMT). They and a team of Raytheon (RTN) and Boeing (BA) were competing for the JAGM contract.

The Army had demonstrations of the two competing design and last summer received bids for the next phase of the program which was to be Engineering, Manufacturing and Development (EMD). One of the two designs would have been selected to enter this phase and then move on into production. Those proposals were received in June.

The production contract would be worth several billion dollars due to the amount of missiles that needed to be procured.

Now it is being reported that rather then moving out with this phase or cancelling the program the Army will continue to pay for a small amount of continued development and risk reduction. Available R&D funds would be used for this program. This would allow further refinement of the concept and designs and allow a decision to enter the EMD phase at a later date.

Those contracts would be awarded at the end of this summer.

The U.S. is going to be facing a number of situations like this. If there need to be severe cuts to investment programs it makes sense to cancel whole ones before they enter production. This saves the most money. It also means that the technology developed is still available for use if needed. It also continues to support some of the industrial base that might go away if whole sale cuts were made.

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Northrop Grumman Stock Performance — Seeking Alpha

Here is an exclusive article I wrote for Seeking Alpha on Northrop Grumman (NOC) near term stock performance.

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Lockheed Martin to Supply Navy Helicopter Cockpits

The U.S Navy’s standard helicopter is versions of the Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk made by Sikorsky, part of United Technologies (UTX). They operate the MH-60R and MH-60S for different missions including anti-submarine warfare, surveillance, cargo and passenger transfer as well as attack. While the MH-60 and SH-60 are similar to the UH-60 the Navy installs its own unique equipment and electronics.

This includes a digital cockpit made by Lockheed Martin (LMT) for both models of helicopter. As such this week the Navy signed a contract with Lockheed to provide over 200 cockpits and other mission equipment for their MH-60 aircraft. The total value of the contract for 224 sets is just over $1 billion.

Military aircraft are expensive and this contract illustrates one of the reasons why. The cost of the avionics, radios and other systems is quite substantial. Add this to the cost of the airframe, engines, defensive systems and weapons the total become quite high.

This contract is a multi-year one which allows the Navy to place orders across 5 years rather then the normal one year contract. The Black Hawk one is as well. This is normally done with mature systems in full rate production and allows better use of economies of scale and a static supplier base.

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Hamilton Sundstrand A400M Propeller System Certified by European Aviation Safety Agency — Press Release

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn., April 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — The European Aviation Safety Agency granted to Ratier-Figeac, a Hamilton Sundstrand Corporation subsidiary, the FH385/386 propeller system type certificate for the Airbus A400M Military Transport Aircraft on Mar. 22, marking a major milestone in the A400M’s eight-bladed propeller program. Hamilton Sundstrand is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation (NYSE: UTX).

The A400M features a 17.5 ft. diameter propeller system that is all-new, and features eight, all-composite blades. This advanced design propeller system is the largest all-composite propeller in production.

“Hamilton Sundstrand is pleased to celebrate this important certification milestone with Airbus,” said Tom Saxe, vice president and general manager, Actuation & Propeller Systems, Hamilton Sundstrand. “Both design and manufacturing innovations have been essential to our production of this advanced propeller system.”

Driven by an 11,000-horsepower engine, Hamilton Sundstrand’s FH385/386 handles twice the power of any existing in-service propeller and offers a thrust efficiency peak close to 90 percent at high cruise speeds. Each wing features a pair of clockwise and counter-clockwise rotating propellers, which enhance overall aircraft stability and control, and further contribute to overall operating efficiency.

In addition to the propeller system, Hamilton Sundstrand and its subsidiaries supply the A400M’s Secondary Electrical Power Distribution Center (SEPDC), Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), Ram Air Turbine (RAT) emergency power system, Trimmable Horizontal Stabilizer Actuator (THSA), and the Throttle Control Assembly (TCA).

With 2011 sales of $6.2 billion, Hamilton Sundstrand is headquartered in Windsor Locks, Conn. Among the world’s largest suppliers of technologically advanced aerospace and industrial products, the company designs, manufactures and services aerospace systems and provides integrated system solutions for commercial, regional, corporate and military aircraft. It also is a major supplier for international space programs.

United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., is a diversified company that provides high-technology products and services to the aerospace and building industries.

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Canada’s F-35 Contracting Process Criticized

The Government of Canada’s Auditor General released a report this past week looking at how the country came to the decision to invest in Lockheed Martin’s (LMT) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The aircraft as with many other U.S. allies will be used to replace older American aircraft, in this case the CF-18 variant of Boeing’s (BA) F/A-18 fighter.

The report made clear that in the eyes of the Audit the government failed to provide legislators correct or sufficient cost and schedule information to support the decision. The decision made in the summer of 2010 will see Canada by up to 65 of the advance fighters. The estimated costs for acquisition will be about $10 billion and another $15-16 billion on maintenance and modernization.

The reports says that this cost estimate was not properly developed or reviewed and was not properly documented. Continued delays in the schedule for the aircraft which will be purchased in the thousands by the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, Norway, Holland and other countries have already led the U.S. to delay production and caused large price increases. These would also have the potential to affect the price Canada will pay.

The government defended itself by stating that no formal contract has yet to be entered into for the aircraft leaving open either outright cancellation or re-negotiation. The Canadian military like others could look to existing platforms like the F/A-18 Super Hornet or Europe’s Eurofighter and Dassault Rafale.

The F-35 has proved controversial and the current price and schedule issues are not going away anytime soon. Canada like other planned buyers may be reviewing their commitments and plans.

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Lockheed Martin Commemorates 4,500 F-16 Aircraft Deliveries — Press Release

FORT WORTH, Texas, April 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) commemorated the 4,500th F-16 Fighting Falcon delivery today with a ceremony for employees, customers, former executives and elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Kay Granger and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price.

The F-16 is recognized as the world’s most successful modern-day fighter. Since the F-16’s first production orders in 1975, it has been produced in partnership with five countries and has been selected as the front-line fighter for 26 nations. The 4,500th F-16 is an advanced Block 52 aircraft destined for Morocco.

“The F-16 is the world standard for evolutionary fighters today, and it will continue to secure the freedom of the United States and its allies in peace and combat for decades to come. This milestone demonstrates that Lockheed Martin has the finest aerospace workforce, and it is our privilege to serve air forces worldwide,” said Larry Lawson, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Aeronautics business area.

The F-16 program has been characterized by unprecedented international cooperation among governments, air forces and aerospace industries. The current F-16 backlog includes aircraft production for Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, Oman and Iraq.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 123,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2011 were $46.5 billion.

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