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Defense Department Reiterates Stand on C-17 Production

The C-17 transport has been in production now for almost twenty years and forms the backbone of the U.S. Air Force’s strategic lift. It replaced the Cold War era C-141 aircraft and has been built by Boeing (CA) at their plants in Long Beach, CA and St. Louis, MO. The Air Force actually possesses more C-17’s then originally planned because Congress has been adding them to the budget for the last few years. In 2010 the new Obama Administration did not request any further production of the system but Congress added them and the President did not follow through with a veto.

The 2011 defense budget also contained no C-17 procurement and this has been met with a better reception by Congress in general. There are still those Senators and Representatives from California, Missouri and Kansas who would like to see more aircraft built. They are certainly being used, but the Air Force and DoD argue that the money could be spent on more important parts of the defense budget. There are also concerns that when the Congress adds aircraft they do not necessarily fund the support which takes money out of the budget as well.

The Long Beach plant will close when production of the aircraft ends which would be a big blow to the local economy.

Despite Congress’ better attitude this year the Department must have some concerns as they released a strongly worded article yesterday detailing the reasons why no more aircraft are needed. This reads in part “..defense officials agreed with the subcommittee’s leaders, Sens. Thomas Carper and John McCain, that the C-17, in addition to the C-5, has been critical to airlift in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan. However, they said, the military’s current fleet of 223 C-17s and 111 C-5s is more than enough airlift capability for years to come.” It also contains a threat as last year that the President “.. has promised to veto any legislation that provides for more C-17s.”.

Does that mean there will be no more U.S. orders for the C-17? It might, and it might not. Congress is loathe to end programs like this that are not only successful, used and provide several hundred jobs across the U.S. Boeing certainly would like to keep the line going. The defense budget looks like it may make it to the floor of the Senate and House without C-17. That allows floor amendments and the conference committee to add the transports. If the Congressional leadership is disciplined it may end up without additions.

The other concern is how well Congress believes Obama will veto the bill over a few billion spent on the C-17. If they don’t think he will in the end as happened last year then the aircraft quantity may increase.

Photo from TMWolf Flickr photostream.

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Boeing Subcontracts With Ducommun For F/A-18 Upgrade Parts

The Boeing Company (BA) awarded a sub-contract to Ducommun (DCO) to provide new caution and warning lights as part of an upgrade to the F/A-18 fighter’s cockpit. This is a follow on order to a previous contract. Already three hundred of the Navy and Marine Corp’s advanced aircraft have received this U.S. Navy Caution Panel Warning System (CPWS) Upgrade Initiative.

The F/A-18 has been in service now for over twenty years and due to the delays in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) F-35 program may have to have a longer life then planned. Continuous modifications and upgrades like the CPWS will make the aircraft perform better, more reliably and longer as parts are replaced and upgraded.

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India To Invest In U.S. Towed Artillery Pieces

The U.S. military uses three primary artillery systems for its fire support. These are the M109 Paladin self propelled 155mm howitzer, the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) in tracked and wheeled versions; and the M777 lightweight 155mm towed howitzer. All three of these systems have seen a great deal of use over the last twenty years and performed effectively. It was announced yesterday that India’s government intends to buy 145 of the M177 systems.

This contract will be worth over $600 million if fully executed. The M777 is made by BAE Systems and due to its weight and mobility is ideal to support Indian forces in mountainous regions and represents a significant technological upgrade to their existing inventory of Swedish, Russian and British systems.

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U.S. Allies Move In Different Directions On Missile Defense

December 25, 2009 by · Comment
Filed under: BNET, Syndicated Industry News 

The U.S. and its Allies have made significant investments in missile defense over the last twenty years. Changes in policies and leadership though…

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U.S. Allies Move In Different Directions On Missile Defens

December 24, 2009 by · Comment
Filed under: BNET, Syndicated Industry News 

The U.S. and its Allies have made significant investments in missile defense over the last twenty years. Changes in policies and leadership though…

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Albania Buys Eurocopters

The former Eastern European satellite countries of the Soviet Union have made a hodgepodge of strides over the last twenty years to a more modern military. Some of the more Western ones like Czech Republic and Hungary have begun buying NATO standard weapons and equipment. Others due to their poor economies and situations have not been able to do much.

It was announced yesterday that Albania which is one of the poorest countries in Europe will spend what must be a significant portion of their defense budget on five Eurocopter aircraft. The Cougar medium transports will be delivered in about three years at a cost of almost $100 million. They will represent a major upgrade over what old and less capable Russian Mil aircraft.

The market in this part of Europe had been hoped to be a big one for U.S. and European defense contractors. Unfortunately the global recession along with economic and political problems has limited the amount of funds available to be spent on new weapons. Perhaps as NATO continues its expansion and the world’s economy picks up there will be more orders like this.

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Marine Corps Buys Swords

In another edition of our continuing series the U.S. Defense Department buys a lot of different things the United States Marine Corps placed an order with Atlanta Cutlery for Non-Commissioned Officer ceremonial swords. The contract is an extension of one previously awarded with no value given. The company has been making swords for the U.S. military for almost twenty years but has supplied other world armed forces with knives for much longer then that.

The company markets swords for all of the services available for sale by individual personnel. The company also makes militaria and collectibles.

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Defense Department Awards Further RFID Contract

Continuing their investment in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) the United States’ Defense Department awarded an Indefinite Quantity/Indefinite Delivery (ID/IQ) contract for RFID equipment. Intermec, Inc. was one of the winners. If all options on the contract are awarded it could be for nine years with a value up to $418 million.

Intermec has been making equipment for the electronic tracking of goods for over twenty years and has received significant contracts from DoD in the past. RFID has made it easier and more efficient to track and ship materiel by providing quick means to identify cargo and route it. Under the Automatic Identification Technology (AIT) – IV contract not only DoD entities but the U.S. Coast Guard, NATO and other allies as well as foreign countries may purchase this technology. Intermec like with all ID/IQ contracts is not necessarily guaranteed any work from it depending on how the U.S. wants to exercise the contract.

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ARH’s first try is cancelled

After the close of the stock market this evening the Department of Defense announced that they are canceling the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) contract with Bell. The ARH-70 was to be a replacement for the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior aircraft that has been in service for over twenty years. ARH was one of the programs created out of the end of the RAH-66 Comanche program. Bell had run into cost and schedule growth issues with the program, much of it probably due to an overly optimistic US Army estimate on the program. The program had suffered a Nunn-McCurdy cost breach and that required DoD to either certify to Congress on the necessity of the program, or cancel it. Now the Army will start over.

See The Wall Street Journal for more.

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