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Sikorsky Adds Potential Australian Supplier to Support Naval Helicopter Bid

Sikorsky, a United Technologies Company (UTX), has signed a MOU with Australian materials company Quickstep Holdings Limited (QHL:ASX) so that it may begin providing support to the American helicopter manufacturer. The MOU will allow Quickstep to be a supplier to Sikorsky global supply chain and will also allow development of Quickstep manufacturing technology in support of Sikorsky.

The deal helps supports Sikorsky bid for a new helicopter for the Australian Navy. Sikorsky has submitted a proposal based on a version of the MH-60R SeaHawk that they currently provide to the U.S. Navy.

If Sikorsky does win the contract which may be awarded before the end of this year having an Australian partner only helps as it means some of the contract cost remains in Australia. Some nations require a percentage of any new contract to be invested in their economy by the foreign winner. These offsets vary by government but right now Australia does not have such a policy. In some places such as India there large offset requirement has been a barrier for Western companies especially to sell to them and as part of their plans to modernize their military they have had to adjust them.

It only makes good business sense for a company to include domestic ones in support of their programs. It makes the government feel better that some of the money spent on the system remains in their economy. All of the teams bidding on the new armored vehicle for Australia for instance have teamed with a domestic provider in a move to aid their proposals.

Sikorsky will also gain by having a local supplier in Asia that will support their other efforts to win business including selling commercial products. This might speed up replacement parts and repairs while also reducing their costs meaning a better price for their customers. It does mean though less work in the long run for their U.S. support contractors and that consideration must balance any efforts to expand overseas.

Photo from Stephen Edmonds’ flickr photostream.

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All Good Things Must Come to An End: Boeing Begins Winding Down C-17 Workforce

The Boeing (BA) C-17 Globemaster III has been one of the most successful military transport aircraft of recent time. Originally designed and manufactured by McDonnell Douglas in the early Nineties as a replacement for the C-141 Cold War era aircraft when Boeing merged with the California aerospace giant they took over production of this key aircraft. The U.S. Air Force has taken delivery of over 200 C-17 and there are several more in production at the Long Beach facility.

Unfortunately one of the areas that the Obama Administration targeted for cuts as part of their defense spending reforms was the C-17 program. They were not the first to do this as the Air Force had an acquisition objective of less then 200. Congress against the wishes of different defense secretaries consistently added C-17 aircraft production and support to the budget to get to the current planned quantity of around 220. Critics said this was only due to the fact that up to 50,000 people worked on the program across the United States and the additional aircraft were pure pork. Supporters countered that strategic airlift was critical to support U.S. operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and world wide.

This was continued in the 2009 defense supplemental and 2010 budget but with the 2011 budget this ended. There were no more C-17 aircraft to be ordered by the U.S. military.

Boeing has been able to sell the aircraft to some overseas customers. Currently the aircraft is operated by the United Kingdom, Australia, NATO and Qatar. The United Arab Emirates has entered into a contract to buy six aircraft and Kuwait one. India is considering the aircraft to supplement its fleet of Russian made IL-76 transports but right now that is the only major contract pending.

Because the future number of aircraft is limited right now Boeing announced yesterday that over one thousand employees would begin losing their jobs. Workers in Long Beach; St. Louis; Mesa, Arizona and Macon, Georgia will be affected.

In their press release Boeing said: “as the company moves to a new production rate of 10 C-17s per year. Boeing will reduce the production program’s work force by approximately 1,100 jobs through the end of 2012. The company delivered 14 C-17s in 2010.

The move to the new production rate, announced in February 2010, will be completed this summer and result in the elimination of the second shift at the C-17 final assembly facility in Long Beach. The lower production rate is designed to extend the line as Boeing works to capture additional international orders.”

Boeing hopes that new orders will materialize while they slow the production line down to continue it for several months. If the orders do occur they can adjust the speed of line to meet their obligations. If they do not the production rate will slow to zero and thousands more workers will lose their jobs.

Boeing has made it clear in the past that the Long Beach plant which is a legacy of McDonnell Douglas will be closed and not transferred to other Boeing aircraft projects.

All military acquisition programs have a definitive objective for how many systems will be purchased. The C-17 is no different then any other and eventually that number would be reached. Then production will stop.

Without any new major transport program on the horizon for at least the next several years there is no new system for Boeing to bid on and utilize their work force and production capacity.

The C-17 will remain a key system for the Air Force and Boeing will continue some business supporting it but large scale production is finished.

Photo from tony.evans flickr photostream

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Navy Wastes No Time and Gives New LCS Contracts to Lockheed, Austal

With the split buy acquisition strategy approved by Congress the U.S. Navy wasted no time and ordered up to twenty more of the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) from its two suppliers.

This week both the teams led by Lockheed Martin (LMT) and Austal America (ASB:AUS) received contracts for one ship plus up to nine more options. As Congress allowed the Navy went out and bought up to twenty ships. Each contract is worth between $460 and $500 million for the first ships. If all twenty are built the two teams will received close to $5 billion each.

While each team is building a dissimilar hull shape the two designs carry similar weapon loads. Lockheed is partnered with Marinette Marine’s yard in Wisconsin. Austal America is building their ships at their facility in Mobile, AL. The ships are designed to be built at smaller yards allowing more rapid construction.

So far the Navy has received three LCS ships. USS Freedom (LCS 1) and USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) were built by Lockheed Martin and USS Independence (LCS 2) by Austal America. The USS Coronado (LCS 4) is under construction in Mobile and is expected to be commissioned in 2012.

If all twenty ships are ordered and delivered under these contracts the LCS class will quickly become one of the largest in the current Navy. Ultimately up to fifty or more of the LCS could be acquired.

The decision to allow the split contracts in line with the original acquisition strategy for the ship rather then just using one source as the Navy had proposed when it restructured the program in 2009 is a boon to Austal and Marinette. Both companies had been planning layoffs and restructuring if they had not one the contract. Now they both will have to ramp up their capabilities to support the Navy’s program.

Photo from avhell’s flickr photostream.

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More C-RAM Work for Northrop Grumman

The U.S. and its Allies faced attacks from mortars and rockets on their fixed installations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This threat has been commonplace since World War II as the Soviet Union and its allies provided “liberation” movements across the world with these cheap, simple offensive systems. Different countermeasures have been developed against this threat but the U.S. need a rapid reaction short ranged system. This led to the development of the Counter-Rocket, Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM) system.

This is an adaption of the Navy’s Close In Weapon System (CIWS) which uses a 20mm gatling gun and on mount radar systems to counter act anti-ship missiles. The CWIS is made by Raytheon (RTN) but C-RAM is managed by Northrop Grumman (NOC) who make the radar and fire control software. The system was developed quickly and deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan where it has been used to protect bases from indirect fire.

Northrop now continues to receive contracts to support C-RAM as it remains deployed at U.S. and Allied bases across the combat zone.

Yesterday they were awarded two. One worth $30 million is to support systems sold to Australia as part of Foreign Military Sales. The other to support U.S. systems worth about $17 million.

These contracts demonstrate once again that companies are able to make money not just on the development and production of weapon systems but also in their support once fielded. The C-RAM is an important weapon that has proved capable in protecting U.S. troops, their allies and contractors.

A video of C-RAM in action is below.

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Austal USA Continues Work on JHSV

The U.S. Department of Defense awarded Austal USA (ASB:AU), the U.S. subsidiary of Australia’s Austal, a contract for two more Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV). These represent the fourth and fifth ships of the class being built for the U.S. Navy and Army. The JHSV will be used to move supplies and equipment to an area where they are needed. As there name implies they are much faster then traditional merchant shipping.

This order follows one for the advanced procurement items issued four months ago worth $100 million. This contract has a value of about twice that. Austal is building as many as ten under the contract but ultimately the U.S. would like to buy over fifty. Austal would be one of the sources considered for the follow on contracts.

Austal is known for making high speed ferries but their U.S. subsidiary based in Mobile, AL has branched out into military projects. They have teamed with General Dynamics (GD) to build one of the designs accepted for the original Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program. The Navy was going to have this team along with Lockheed Martin (LMT) build the ships but has now changed their minds after the first three were started to have a competition for the remaining ships. Austal will most likely be one of the bidders for that contract.

The first JHSV will be delivered at the end of next year. The first of many ships that the company will build for the U.S. Navy Austal hopes.

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Department of Defense Awards Several UAV Related Contracts

For the last month the United States’ Department of Defense has been awarding a variety of contracts to support development, testing and operations of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) systems. These have played a major role in the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to provide Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) missions as well as attacking enemy personnel and assets.

The U.S. Air Force also operates the long range, high endurance Global Hawk from Northrop Grumman (NOC) that provides strategic collection capability. The system is being developed as well for the U.S. Navy and Australia for their Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) mission.

The U.S. continues to invest in these systems through a variety of contracts including a recent development effort to Boeing (BA) for a solar powered, high altitude, long endurance system. The $89 million contract to the company and its partner QinetiQ is part of the Defense Advanced Research Products Agency (DARPA) Vulture program. The goal of this effort is to build a system that could remain airborne for up to five years providing reconnaissance and communication relay capability. In a way to fly an airplane rather then a satellite to provide some capability at a lower cost.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) won a Navy contract to support test and design efforts for future UAV systems. The school along with its partners operates a test facility that would provide harsh environments for these efforts. The contract could be worth up to $47 million if all options are exercised. The vehicle will allow the Navy to task the school to quickly react to requirements or efforts.

In another contract that supports existing systems the U.S. Air Force gave General Atomics a contract for six more MQ-9 Reaper systems. General Atomics makes the heavily used Predator and Reaper systems. The Predator was originally designed for ISR but has been armed with Hellfire missiles and provides precision strike for the Air Force and C.I.A. The Reaper is a bigger, more capable evolution of the Predator. This contract has a value of over $38 million.

These contracts indicate the U.S. commitment to unmanned programs. The different services will continue to develop and increase the capability of them as well as use their existing systems. The UAV market will see growth in the near future even as the defense budget declines and more traditional weapons see less investment. Right now there are limitations on these type of aircraft but as they are developed further these will be reduced. They do offer advantages over manned aviation assets chiefly because they do not put any crew at risk. They also may be smaller and more stealthy and have high endurance. They also have the possibility of offering more bang for the buck.

The UAV market continues to be one where small companies as well as large will focus on developing systems, sensors and the data lins necessary to control them.

Photo from Rob Shenk flickr photostream.

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Australian AEGIS Support for Lockheed Martin

The Australian government has awarded Lockheed Martin (LMT) a contract to provide engineering services for their AEGIS weapons systems for their new anti-air warfare destroyers. The AEGIS weapon system has been in use with the U.S. Navy and Japan since the late 1970’s. It is an integrated suite of search and fire control radars, other sensors, data links and software used to detect, track and identify targets and engage them with missiles, guns and other ship based weapons. The contract is worth almost $200 million.

The AEGIS system was originally developed by part of RCA which was acquired by General Electric (GE). Ultimately this business unit was sold to Martin Marietta who merged with Lockheed in the 1990’s. The system has been installed on CG 47 and DDG 51 class surface warships. The system has been further modified to conduct anti-ballistic missile missions using variants of the STANDARD Missile originally designed for anti-air missions.

The new SEA 4000 Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyers will be made by Spain’s Navantia in a contract valued at around $8 billion (AUS). They will represent a significant upgrade to the Australian Navy’s existing air defense assets. They will be manufactured in Australia and are part of a general investment in upgrading the Australian military that includes the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and new armored vehicles. The design is based on the F100 platform already in use by Spain with the American SPY-1D (V) radar and AEGIS Weapon System.

As the U.S. defense budget declines American contractors are going to look for contracts like this overseas. U.S. Allies will remain a potent source of work although this system like many other new investments shows the diversity of the world’s defense industry. In the past it would have been difficult to put a system like AEGIS on a non-U.S. ship but it has already been installed on Spain’s F100 class ships making integration and the sale to Australia easier.

Certainly Lockheed Martin will hope that other countries invest in the system.

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Boeing Completes Operational Testing of Australia’s Network Centric Command and Control System

July 20, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, Boeing, Syndicated Industry News 
Boeing Completes Operational Testing of Australia's Network Centric Command and Control System
July 21, 2010

BRISBANE, - Boeing Defence Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA], announced today that it has completed operational testing of its Vigilare network-centric command-and-control system (NC3S) for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

RAAF operators conducted the test at the Northern Regional Operations Centre (NROC) located at RAAF Base Tindal, Northern Territory. It demonstrated Vigilare's ability to connect a large number of assets -- including F/A-18 Hornets, AP3C Orions, Navy frigates, and sensors and data sources located across the Australian continent -- into the system simultaneously, while satisfying operational load demands.

This was the final acceptance test of the Vigilare system at NROC, and verifies the system as ready for battlespace management, training and surveillance mission operations. The RAAF now plans to use Vigilare for a multinational air defense exercise later this month.

"This milestone is the culmination of six years of hard work by the Commonwealth, Boeing and our supplier networks, and we continue to be on target to deliver Vigilare's full network-centric-warfare capability to the RAAF by mid-2011," said Arthur Mamalis, Boeing Defence Australia program director for Project Vigilare.

Boeing Defence Australia expects to receive Conditional Acceptance of the system from the Commonwealth later this month. The company will begin installation and testing at the Eastern Regional Operations Centre (EROC) at RAAF Base Williamtown, New South Wales, in late September.

Developed by Boeing Defence Australia, NC3S integrates advanced technologies that combine data from land, sea, air and space platforms, sensors, data links and intelligence agencies to provide tactical- and strategic-level surveillance and battlespace management operations across wide geographic regions.

Boeing Defence Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company and a business unit of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, is a leading Australian aerospace enterprise. With a world-class team of more than 1,500 employees at 14 locations throughout Australia and two international sites, Boeing Defence Australia supports some of the largest and most complex defense projects in Australia.

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Reports Canada to Commit to F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

The U.S. led Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program has seen its struggles over the last few years. It has had test, schedule and cost issues that have increased the total cost of the program and stretched out its planned development and production. Designed to replace the aging fleet of F-16, F/A-18 and AV-8 aircraft used by the U.S. and its Allies its has been developed by Lockheed Martin (LMT) and funded by the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia and other countries that ultimately will receive it.

Due to the cost increases some of the countries in the joint program have been reconsidering their commitment. Holland’s legislature has made noises about delaying their further investment due to the lower quantities that their budgeted money will buy. The problem the Allies face is that they based their budgets on the lower estimated costs and now either have to find more money or face a smaller fleet of the new F-35.

Due to the program’s delays all of the planned users face a “fighter gap” as their current fleet ages and the JSF is not there to replace them. This means that more money must be spent to maintain the older aircraft or capability will be diminished. The U.S. Navy is planning to extend the production of their F/A-18 to help fill the gap.

Canada is expected to announce today that they are keeping their commitment to the program by awarding Lockheed a contract for up to sixty-five of the aircraft at a cost of over $15 billion. This plan has raised objection from the opposition Liberal party who would like to wait and possibly hold a competition to buy a replacement for the countries CF-18 aircraft.

Certainly there is an argument for delaying the contract award and perhaps looking at other aircraft already in production. The counter would be that these would not be as capable or last as long as the F-35 which is expected to be in service well past the mid-point of the current century.

The U.S. Department of Defense despite all of the cost and schedule issues has remained committed to getting the F-35 into production and in the last year the program has seen quite a bit of progress. The problem may be in a few years when the Federal budget and defense spending may have to be cut. The JSF is the largest procurement program in that budget and might seem attractive to cuts.

Even small cuts around the edges may cause long term problems as they would stretch out production increasing the total cost of the program.

Canada may be wise to award their contract now if they structure it correctly to protect against further delays and cost increases. Of course they may have limited options to do that.

The decision by Canada to support the program will aid it in keeping on track and keeping its funding. Canada may help the JSF get done.

Photo from Rob Shenk’s flickr photostream.

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Boeing Completes Modernised High Frequency Communications System for Australia

Boeing Completes Modernised High Frequency Communications System for Australia
July 8, 2010

BRISBANE, Queensland, - Boeing Defence Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA], has announced the completion of Joint Project 2043's High Frequency Modernisation (HFMod) Project. The formal letter of completion for the project was delivered on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia on June 16 from the HFMod Project Authority.

"This final milestone indicates all system requirements have been met and the Commonwealth is confident this Modernised High Frequency Communications System (MHFCS) is providing the Australian Defence Force with a secure, cost-effective, strategic high-frequency communications capability," said Steve Hudson, Boeing project manager, HFMod Project.

MHFCS is a managed long-range communications system that offers Australia the secure exchange of information between fixed and mobile stations using one integrated system.

"Boeing's HFMod team has developed, built and now delivered the most advanced high-frequency system in the world," said Charles Toups, vice president and general manager, Boeing Network & Tactical Systems. "This is an outstanding achievement and a true indication of Boeing's commitment to developing advanced technology solutions globally for our customers."

Boeing is currently marketing the MHFCS internationally and is discussing the system with several potential customers.

Boeing Defence Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company and a business unit of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, is a leading Australian aerospace enterprise. With a world-class team of more than 1,500 employees at 14 locations throughout Australia and two international sites, Boeing Defence Australia supports some of the largest and most complex defense projects in Australia.

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6 New Boeing Super Hornets Join Royal Australian Air Force Fleet

6 New Boeing Super Hornets Join Royal Australian Air Force Fleet
July 7, 2010

RAAF BASE AMBERLEY, Queensland, - Six new Boeing [NYSE: BA] F/A-18F Super Hornets arrived at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Amberley on July 6, expanding the RAAF's fleet to 11 next-generation, multi-role air combat aircraft.

The RAAF's first five Super Hornets arrived in Australia on March 26.

"With the arrival of these six new Super Hornets, we will continue to broaden our training as we prepare to achieve Initial Operational Capability later this year," said Group Capt. Steve Roberton, Officer Commanding 82 Wing, which includes the Super Hornet and F-111 aircraft. "Our aircrews and support teams continue to be very impressed with the Super Hornet's remarkable capabilities, performance and reliability."

Australia announced in March 2007 that it would acquire 24 of the advanced Block II versions of the Super Hornet, all of which are equipped with the Raytheon-built APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. Boeing will deliver Australia's 24th Super Hornet in 2011. The first 11 were delivered ahead of schedule and on budget.

"The Super Hornet's proven technologies -- including its fully integrated AESA radar, advanced sensors, two-engine design and network-centric data-sharing environment -- are providing the RAAF with a broad spectrum of new capabilities," said Carolyn Nichols, Australian Super Hornet program manager for Boeing. "The RAAF Super Hornets enable the two crew members to conduct simultaneous air and ground operations with unprecedented situational awareness."

The Boeing Super Hornet is a multirole aircraft, able to perform virtually every mission in the tactical spectrum, including air superiority, day/night strike with precision-guided weapons, fighter escort, close air support, suppression of enemy air defenses, maritime strike, reconnaissance, forward air control and tanker missions. Boeing has delivered more than 430 F/A-18E/Fs to the U.S. Navy. Every Super Hornet produced has been delivered on or ahead of schedule and on budget.

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BAE Systems Continues Nulka Decoy System for Australia and Allies

BAE Systems (BA:LSE) along with the Australian Defense Science and Technology Organization makes the Nulka anti-missile system for use on ships. This consists of a rocket carrying an electronic warfare payload launched from the deck to decoy cruise missiles. The system has been in production for several years and is in service on several different nation’s naval vessels.

The team which includes Lockheed Martin (LMT) for the EW package and Aeroject (GY) for the motor was awarded an extension to their current production contract worth over $40 million (Australian).

The system will be installed on new Australian warships currently under construction as well as on those used by Allies. The system has brought in over $800 million worth of foreign sales for Australia and its defense establishment. This makes it one of their most successful programs.

Photo from Royal Australian Navy via mashleymorgan flickr photostream.

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Australia Continues Targeted Investment in Military Modernization

Australia has announced a series of contracts to upgrade parts of their military. Some of this has been in response to the fighting in Afghanistan since 9/11 and others due to the expanding ability of the Chinese and other Asian states military. These contracts include updated naval combat ships as well as the major commitment to the struggling F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). When at all possible Australia is awarding these to companies based in the country to maximize the stimulus effect of the contract. As all nations Australia has been affected by the global economic downturn of the last two years and is trying to spend its defense dollars judiciously to help its own domestic suppliers.

The next major contract announced is one for light armored vehicles that will be used to upgrade both troops in Australia and those deployed in Afghanistan. The U.S. and its Allies have seen the need for better systems with more maneuverability and protection against the mine and Improvised Explosive Device (IED) threat.

The contract could be worth up to $1 billion (Aus) and several different teams will be bidding for it. One of these will be Thales Australia based in Victoria. As it names indicates this is part of the Thales, French based, aerospace and defense company. The company has about a $1 billion (Aus) business already in Australia so winning this contract will be a major coup and increase in their business.

The Australian government plans to conduct the contract in the same manner as the U.S. Department of Defense’s recent MRAP-ATV contest. Here companies were paid to build prototypes that were tested and then one or more of the designs were chosen. Australia is giving Thales and General Dynamics Land Systems, part of the U.S. General Dynamics (GD) defense giant, as well as a company headed up by the U.S. Force Protection (FRPT) MRAP maker contracts to deliver prototypes.

The choice of a new vehicle will be a major upgrade to the Australian defense capabilities and the decision to use an Australian based company to do the development and production will aid the county’s economy.

Photo from ISAF media flickr photostream.

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ESCO Announces Strategic Australian Acquisition — Press Release

ESCO Announces Strategic Australian Acquisition

PORTLAND, Ore., June 1 /PRNewswire/ — ESCO Corporation (USA), a leading global provider of wear parts and attachments for the mining and construction industry, has accelerated its expansion into Australia with the pending acquisition of the Service/Engineering and Mining Product divisions of Swift Group. This is a key development in ESCO’s plan to establish a national customer service, supply chain, and manufacturing network in Australia.

“This is an exciting step for ESCO,” said Jeff Kershaw, Managing Director for ESCO’s Asia Pacific region. “The reputation and expertise that Swift and its employees have developed over the last 30 years provides a solid platform for ESCO to expand its network of sales and service centers – known as ESCOSupply – throughout Australia’s key mining regions. By integrating Swift Group with the ESCOSupply model, we will provide an exceptional level of service to our Australian customers.”

ESCO anticipates the acquisition will be finalized in the coming weeks. Upon completion, Swift Group will operate as ESCOSupply and will continue to provide site services, as well as fabrication and refurbishment services via facilities in Mackay and Kingaroy in Queensland. Plans are currently underway to establish additional ESCOSupply locations and independent distributors in other regions of Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea. ESCO does not intend to acquire the Cooling division of Swift, which will continue to operate under present management.

ESCO is currently selling crusher wear parts, and bi-metallic buttons and blocks in Australia. As part of the Swift acquisition, the ESCO product offering will now include truck bodies. The majority of ESCO’s other products are distributed in Australia through Bradken under a license agreement which is set to expire in June 2011. Upon expiration of the agreement, ESCO will directly supply the Australian market with its complete line of ground engaging tools (GET), wear parts, buckets, and attachments – including ESCO’s Profill(TM) dragline buckets, as well as the SV2(TM), Posilok® Plus, and Ultralok® tooth systems.

About ESCO Corporation:

ESCO (www.escocorp.com) is a leading provider of highly engineered consumable products and solutions for mining, construction, recycling, and aerospace applications. Founded in Portland, Oregon (USA) in 1913, ESCO has operations across North America, Latin America, China, Japan, SE Asia, Europe, and Australia with over 3500 employees, supplying ESCO branded products through a global distribution network, delivering superior quality, value and speed.

Source: ESCO Corporation

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Canada Considering Entering New Fighter Sweepstakes

Right now two of the biggest military aviation contracts out there are new fighters for Brazil and India. Both of these contracts have attracted bids from United States and European defense contractors. In Brazil the contest seems to be between the Boeing (BA) F/A-18 and the French Rafael. In India there have been offers from Boeing, Lockheed Martin (LMT), MiG of Russia, Rafael. Eurofighter and SAAB of Sweden. These contracts are interesting as all of these companies face declining markets at home due to budget difficulties and the decision by the U.S. and many of its Allies to focus on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) headed up by Lockheed.

Canada currently operates a force of older F/A-18 aircraft and is planning a potential buy of more modern aircraft worth about $9 billion (Canadian). Canada has put some money into the development of the JSF as have countries like Great Britain, the Netherlands, Australia and Japan but is not committed to buy the aircraft. They certainly could do that when the aircraft is ready in the 2015 – 2017 time frame or they could conduct a new competition. If they did this they would certainly draw a diverse group of suitors similar to what India has. The market for new fighters was supposed to stagnate as thousands of F-35 replace the F-16 aircraft of numerous U.S. Allies. Now with the delays and cost increases to that program some countries are having second thoughts.

A third major competition would be good for the industry and would allow some production lines like the SAAB Gripen to remain hot as the JSF program tries to get itself sorted out. If countries like Holland do decide to go a different path the market for current in production aircraft will increase greatly.

More fallout as the JSF program struggles with its cost and schedule may be expected as current customers re-think their commitments. This will increase the cost to the U.S. military while reducing Lockheed’s chances of making up some of their losses on the development piece of the contract. Canada if they choose to not buy the JSF may be the start of some bad news for the program and its prime contractor.

Photo from TMWolf flickr photostream.

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Boeing Wedgetail Aircraft Accepted Into Royal Australian Air Force Fleet

Boeing Wedgetail Aircraft Accepted Into Royal Australian Air Force Fleet
May 5, 2010

RAAF BASE WILLIAMTOWN, New South Wales, -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] today announced that the Commonwealth of Australia has accepted the first two Project Wedgetail 737 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft into the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fleet.

The aircraft were accepted during a ceremony today at RAAF Base Williamtown, the main operating base for the Wedgetail fleet.

"This major milestone demonstrates that the 737 AEW&C system is ready for operational training and use. It also represents the culmination of years of design, development, modification and testing by the Boeing-led team to bring this complex system -- the first of its type -- to our first AEW&C customer," said Maureen Dougherty, Boeing vice president, AEW&C Program.

Acceptance of the two Wedgetail aircraft means ground and flight operations and maintenance of the aircraft are now fully under RAAF control. Boeing delivered the two aircraft last year and has been supporting RAAF familiarization training on the AEW&C system, which includes the aircraft as well as the Operational Flight Trainer, Operational Mission Simulator and Mission Support System.

Boeing will deliver three more Wedgetail aircraft to the RAAF by the end of this year, including one upgraded in the final AEW&C configuration with Electronic Support Measures. All aircraft in the Wedgetail fleet will be upgraded to the final configuration in early 2011.

Project Wedgetail includes six 737 AEW&C aircraft, plus ground support segments for mission crew training, mission support and system maintenance. Based on the Boeing Next-Generation 737-700 commercial airplane, the 737 AEW&C aircraft is designed to provide airborne battle-management capability with an advanced multirole electronically scanned radar and 10 state-of-the-art mission crew consoles that are able to track airborne and maritime targets simultaneously. The mission crew can direct offensive and defensive forces while maintaining continuous surveillance of the operational area.

Boeing also has AEW&C systems in production for Turkey and the Republic of Korea.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world’s largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world’s largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.

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Boeing Marks 10 Years of Communications Support for Australian Navy Collins-class Submarines

Boeing Marks 10 Years of Communications Support for Australian Navy Collins-class Submarines
May 4, 2010

BRISBANE, Queensland, -- Boeing Defence Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA], has successfully supported communications systems aboard the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Collins-class submarine fleet for a decade.

Since 2000, Boeing has provided through-life engineering support services for Boeing-produced Internal External Communications (IEC) systems on the RAN's six Collins-class submarines.

Used to communicate critical safety and operational procedures to crew members, RAN authorities and other naval assets, the IEC system is installed, reviewed and updated by Boeing during each submarine's 18-month docking maintenance period in accordance with the refurbishment cycle.

Subcontracted to Australian Submarine Co. and Raytheon Australia under the Commonwealth of Australia's In-Service Support contract, Boeing will continue to deliver Collins-class IEC system support services until 2012, when the system will be replaced under the Sea 1439 Communications and Electronic Warfare Improvement program.

Boeing intends to respond to the Commonwealth of Australia's Request for Tender for Sea 1439, which is expected to be released later this year.

"Boeing's proven track record supporting the RAN's Collins-class submarine fleet is a testament to our capability to support the future communications requirements under Sea 1439," said Scott Marosek, Boeing Defence Australia senior manager, Technical Support, Global Services & Support – Australia. "Our highly skilled and experienced team will endeavor to continue working with the RAN to maintain a world-class submarine capability."

Boeing Defence Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company and a business unit of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, is a leading Australian aerospace enterprise. With a world-class team of nearly 2,000 employees at 14 locations throughout Australia and two international sites, Boeing Defence Australia supports some of the largest and most complex defense projects in Australia.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.

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Boeing Awarded Additional Contract for F/A-18 Technical Publication Services

April 14, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, Boeing, Syndicated Industry News 
Boeing Awarded Additional Contract for F/A-18 Technical Publication Services
April 14, 2010

BRISBANE, -- Boeing Defence Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA], has signed a three-year contract worth AU$4.5 million to provide the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) with support for F/A-18 Hornet aircraft technical publications.

Boeing Defence Australia has provided F/A-18 technical publication services including management, production of amendments and additional support tasks as required to the RAAF for the past five years.

"By working in partnership with the RAAF's Tactical Fighter Systems Project Office (TFSPO), Boeing Defence Australia has been able to deliver responsive and innovative solutions," said Scott Marosek, Boeing Defence Australia senior manager for Global Services & Support – Australia Technical Support. "Our highly skilled and supportive team is committed to delivering the best outcome for TFSPO. We look forward to continuously improving our working relationship to ensure world-class technical publication services for the RAAF's F/A-18 fleet over the next three years."

TFSPO Engineering Support Manager David Martinek said the effectiveness of technical publication support for the F/A-18 fleet provided by Boeing Defence Australia to date is mainly due to their expertise with managing the configuration of instructions for continued airworthiness within a common source database environment.

"At the end of the day, we share the common goal of delivering highly responsive and reliable technical publication support to ensure the safety and availability of the F/A-18 fleet," said Martinek. "The commitment and sound knowledge of the F/A-18 that Boeing Defence Australia offers enable optimum solutions to be developed. We look forward to working with Boeing Defence Australia as a partner over the next three years."

Other services Boeing Defence Australia provides to support the F/A-18 fleet include platform maintenance, modifications and upgrades at RAAF Base Williamtown, as well as supply chain services such as spares manufacturing and repairs from Brisbane.

Boeing Defence Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company and a business unit of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, is a leading Australian aerospace enterprise. With a world-class team of nearly 2,000 employees at 13 locations throughout Australia and two international sites, Boeing Defence Australia supports some of the largest and most complex defense projects in Australia.

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Boeing Completes Site Acceptance Testing of Australia’s Network Centric Command and Control System

April 12, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, Boeing, Syndicated Industry News 
Boeing Completes Site Acceptance Testing of Australia's Network Centric Command and Control System
April 12, 2010

BRISBANE, Queensland, -- Boeing Defence Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA], today announced that Project Vigilare, a Network Centric Command and Control System (NC3S) solution for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), has passed Site Acceptance Testing at the Northern Regional Operational Centre (NROC) located at RAAF Base Tindal, Northern Territory.

"The Site Acceptance Test verifies Vigilare, as installed at the NROC site, is able to interface with all the relevant external systems and is ready for operational testing," said Arthur Mamalis, Boeing Defence Australia program director for Project Vigilare. "This shows that we continue to make significant strides toward delivering Vigilare's full operational capability to our RAAF customer."

The system successfully demonstrated its ability to manage multiple datalinks concurrently from the site by using assets deployed over a vast geographic area, both in the Northern Territory and the East Coast of Australia. These datalinks connected test assets as well as operational assets such as RAAF F/A-18 Hornet aircraft.

"With data feeds from more than 45 different sensors and agencies using an enhanced Department of Defence communications network, the Vigilare Site Acceptance Test demonstrated an integrated, high-fidelity command and control system capability," said Tim Malone, Defence Materiel Organisation project director for Project Air 5333 Vigilare. "This is the culmination of many years of hard work by operational specialists, engineers and logisticians to build a system that arguably will be the benchmark for Network Centric Warfare systems in the Australian Defence Force for some time."

Operational testing with the RAAF is scheduled to begin in June, before Vigilare is accepted at NROC by the Commonwealth of Australia.

"This milestone was a direct result of the commitment and dedication of our employees, our program partners and the customer," said Steve Parker, Boeing vice president and general manager of Network and Space Systems - Australia. "The overriding success of the test demonstrated the advanced capabilities Vigilare provides and allows the team to prepare for operational testing."

Developed by Boeing Defence Australia, NC3S integrates advanced technologies that combine data from land, sea, air and space platforms, sensors, data links and intelligence agencies to provide tactical and strategic-level surveillance and battlespace management operations across wide geographic regions.

Boeing Defence Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company and a business unit of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, is a leading Australian aerospace enterprise. With a world-class team of nearly 2,000 employees at 13 locations throughout Australia and two international sites, Boeing Defence Australia supports some of the largest and most complex defense projects in Australia.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.

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Australia To Buy Radios From Harris Corp.

The Australian Defence Department awarded a contract to Harris Corp. for tactical radios. The $112 million (US) contract will purchase Falcon III hand held systems. These have proved popular with the U.S. military seeing heavy use in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Australian government has plans to invest several hundred million dollars in upgrades for its armed forces. These includes new ships and vehicles as well as general upgrades to their equipment. Australia has been an active ally of the United States in Afghanistan and also is concerned about other issues in Asia. The biggest system they are purchasing is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter but the program extends to all facets of their military.

Upgrading C3I equipment is important especially if they plan to operate with U.S. forces in the future.

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Boeing, RAAF Welcome Super Hornets to Australia

Boeing, RAAF Welcome Super Hornets to Australia
March 28, 2010

AMBERLEY, Queensland, -- The first five Boeing [NYSE: BA] F/A-18F Super Hornets for Australia landed at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Amberley on March 26, bringing the next generation in air combat capability to the multirole fighter's first international customer.

The Super Hornets, piloted by RAAF aircrews, departed U.S. Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., on March 18 and made scheduled stops in Hawaii, Pago Pago and New Zealand on the way to Amberley.

The Australian Minister for Defence, Senator John Faulkner, welcomed the RAAF Super Hornets to Australia at a ceremony on the base. Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, joined Faulkner at the event.

"The men and women of Boeing are honored to provide the next generation in air combat capability to the Royal Australian Air Force and proud to deliver it on time and on budget for all Australians," said Muilenburg. "The arrival of these Super Hornets marks a new chapter in a partnership between Boeing and Australia that has endured for more than 80 years. The exceptional collaboration and teamwork between Australia's Defence Materiel Organisation, the Royal Australian Air Force, the U.S. Navy and the Hornet Industry Team was the foundation that ensured these new Super Hornets are now ready to begin their RAAF service."

Among the other officials attending the event were Australian Defence Secretary Ian Watt; Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, Chief of the Defence Force; Air Marshal Mark Binskin, Chief of Air Force; and U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Mark Skinner.

Australia announced its intent to acquire 24 Super Hornets in March 2007. The remaining 19 aircraft, each equipped with the Raytheon-built APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, will arrive in Australia throughout 2010 and 2011.

"The on-schedule arrival of the new Australian Super Hornets marks the beginning of a new generation of air power for the RAAF," said Group Captain Steven Roberton, Officer Commanding the Super Hornet Wing. "The multirole Super Hornet is an advanced, networked weapons system that provides a major leap in capability for the RAAF.

"We are looking forward to the new operational capability," Roberton continued. "The Super Hornet employs advanced networked sensors that provide its two aircrew with total situational awareness, enabling them to conduct simultaneous air-to-air and air-to-ground operations."

The Boeing Super Hornet is a multirole aircraft, able to perform virtually every mission in the tactical spectrum, including air superiority, day/night strike with precision-guided weapons, fighter escort, close air support, suppression of enemy air defenses, maritime strike, reconnaissance, forward air control and tanker missions. Boeing has delivered more than 420 F/A-18E/Fs to the U.S. Navy. Every Super Hornet produced has been delivered on or ahead of schedule and on budget.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.

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Australia To Buy New CH-47 Chinooks

The Australian government has signed a contract with Boeing to provide seven new CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopters. These will replace existing CH-47D aircraft.

The Chinook due to its size and power has proved instrumental in Afghanistan due to the high-and-hot environment. The United States, Canada and Great Britain have invested in more and better versions of Boeing’s venerable helicopter. Now Australia joins them in using the new CH-47F version. The aircraft are basically similar to those being made for the U.S. Army with some user modifications.

The demand for lift in Afghanistan has seen heavy use of Russian helicopters being operated by civilian companies. These provide logistical support for the allied units operating in that country.

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Boeing Wins Contract To Support F/A-18 Fighters

The Australian government invested in F/A-18 “Hornet” fighter and attack aircraft as an interim solution while waiting for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) to be delivered. The Boeing built aircraft have seen heavy use by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps over the last twenty years and represented a good investment for the Pacific country. It has now been reported that Boeing (BA) will receive a contract to provide further maintenance support for the aircraft. This contract is worth about $1.5 million.

This six year contract will see Boeing advising the Tactical Fighter Systems Program Office with maintenance and upgrade planning and execution.

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Australia Continues Project To Automate Logistics

Australia’s Ministry of Defence awarded a follow on contract to Mincom to continue developing an automated, integrated logistics system. There was no value given for the contract. The contract is continue the work done so far for the Joint Project 2077.

This contract is for Phase 2B.2 which builds on the Phase 2B.1 where Mincom delivered the Military Integrated Logistics Information System (MILIS). The goal is for the Australian Defense Force (ADF) to have an system that supports all three services when they deploy for contingency operations overseas. Phase 2B.2 will complete in 2011 and will allow better control and tracking of supporting assets and build upon Phase 2B.1.

Automated logistics systems are becoming more-and-more sophisticated and allow better control, less waste and higher rates of supply and maintenance. For armed forces that are consistently deploying away from their central bases the better logistics control the higher the operational availability of equipment and the higher the capability.

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Australian AEW Aircraft To Be Supported By Manufacturer: Boeing

It was announced that Australia had awarded a contract to Boeing (BA) to provide service and support to the new Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft being purchased by the Pacific nation. The new aircraft is based on the 737 airliner and is fitted with a variety of radars and communications gear. The five year contract is worth over $600 million if all options are exercised. Boeing has been building these aircraft for the last few years and the six when delivered will provide a significant upgrade to the Royal Australian Air Force’s capabilities.

The contract will be executed by Boeing’s subsidiary in Australia and will lead to the creation of a few hundred jobs. The contract is a Performance Based Logistics (PBL) contract similar to what the U.S. military has been using recently. The program not only includes the aircraft, but training and mission planning elements as well. Two aircraft have been delivered to date.

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