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JTRS Ground Radio Takes Budget Axe

Boeing (BA) formally received word from the U.S. Department of Defense that the proposed new radio for use in vehicles and by ground troops would be terminated. Boeing was performing on a contract to develop the system for production and qualify potential vendors for this part of the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) which will also have ship and air based versions. JTRS has been in development for several years to replace the U.S. and it’s Allies SINCGARS radio.

The decision was made due to concerns that the procurement costs the system would be much higher then originally thought. At this time as part of the overall budget plans the U.S. is making to try and reduce not only their annual deficits but the total of over $14 trillion in existing debt the Defense Department and the Services are under pressure to come up with a large amount of cuts. Some estimates are as high as $100 billion a year.

While a lot of work had gone into JTRS the program was at an easy stage to end. The contract with Boeing was set to end early next year as it transitioned to production. This means termination costs will be limited. It also means that a great deal of the work already done may be used by the new radio program already announced. That means the DOD will get some return for their investment.

Reportedly the Army had recommended termination as part of their budget proposal as the JTRS recently tested in a large exercise had many issues. These were not necessarily related to the design or construction but did indicate that the radio might have future issues when it went into service.

Canceling production of this program will save billions each year but there is still a requirement for a new radio and a new effort is part of the plan. Money from the current JTRS effort will be transferred to a new line to begin again. The new plan focuses on designing capabilities and then asking manufacturers to make systems that can work with the software rather then building a whole new hardware piece.

In order to make the kind of cuts being talked about the U.S. military will lose many more new programs as well as soldiers, ships, aircraft and support personnel. The example of the U.K. comes to mind which if the U.S. is similar will see the loss of a great deal of capability.

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Backers of Two Tanker Contracts Want To Stay Anonymous

The Wichita Eagle reports that the a group backing building both the Boeing and EADs tankers, doesn’t want to reveal its backers:
The investors backing a campaign asking the government to split its contract for aerial refueling tankers between Boeing and Northrop Grumman want to remain anonymous for now. The campaign is called Build Them Both. “We are funded by a group of investors who have asked to remain nameless at this time,” said the effort’s campaign manager, Carrie Giddens. The group is not union sponsored and does not have ties to either Northrop or Boeing, Giddens said in an e-mail exchange. However, “we have sought out funding from both companies, their suppliers and unions who would be impacted by building them both.” The requests went out in the past two weeks. On Monday, Giddens called Northrop’s decision to pull out of the bidding process “bad news for American workers, our men and women in uniform, and for the taxpayer.” With only one company seeking a contract, 50,000 jobs that would have been created won’t be, Giddens said in the statement. “Without an ongoing competition there is no way to control costs, to the detriment of our military and taxpayer.”

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