Monthly Archives: September 2009

A-T Solutions Awarded $198.9 Million U.S. Army Training Contract

A-T Solutions has been awarded a five-year contract valued at $198,920,794 to support the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), Joint Center of Excellence (JCOE) with its Joint Asymmetric Threat Awareness and Counter (JATAC) Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Training Program.

“We are honored to be a committed partner of JIEDDO’s JCOE,” said Ken Falke, A-T Solutions CEO. “I believe that JATAC is the most sophisticated Counter-IED training program in the Department of Defense, and I am confident that our people, products and services will ensure that JCOE meets or exceeds the JATAC III mission and goals and remains current and relevant to this fight.”

A-T Solutions will provide the JCOE, deploying and deployed forces, with highly specialized training focused on countering IEDs. A-T Solutions employees are former military Master Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), Master Training Specialists (MTS), Intelligence Professionals, and Special Operations personnel with unmatched backgrounds in training, technology and intelligence services.

“Our superior technical Counter-IED knowledge and exceptional employee performance will aid us in meeting or exceeding training program goals,” said Falke. “The people and culture in this company are driven by an ethos ‘They Fight for Us, We Work for Them.’ The entire company is looking forward to our continued work and great relationship with the JIEDDO’s JCOE.”

SpaceX’s DragonEye Navigation Sensor Successfully Demonstrated on Space Shuttle

SpaceX announced this past week the successful demonstration of a proximity sensor, called DragonEye, on NASA’s STS-127 shuttle mission. DragonEye launched aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on July 15th, 2009, and was tested in proximity of the International Space Station (ISS) in preparation for future visits by SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft.

With the help of NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office, DragonEye, a Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensor, has undergone flight system trials aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour in preparation for guiding the Dragon spacecraft as it approaches the ISS. The DragonEye LIDAR system provides three-dimensional images based on the amount of time it takes for a single laser pulse from the sensor to the reach a target and bounce back, providing range and bearing information from the Dragon spacecraft to the ISS.

DragonEye will make its operational debut on the final flight of the Dragon spacecraft under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, where the spacecraft will demonstrate the ability to berth with the ISS.

Developed in just 10 months from concept to final hardware, DragonEye was delivered to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on February 16th, 2009, for integration with the Space Shuttle Endeavour, successfully completing all of NASA’s payload safety milestones.

Using flight data gathered onboard Space Shuttle Endeavour, DragonEye was able to detect the ISS and track it through various approach and departure maneuvers. Upon Endeavour’s return, the DragonEye system was returned to SpaceX, where flight data from the sensor was retrieved and is currently under evaluation.

“The verification and functionality of SpaceX’s DragonEye are a testament to the unique government-commercial partnership created by NASA’s COTS program,” said Gwynne Shotwell, President, SpaceX. “SpaceX appreciates NASA’s support with DragonEye and is proud to be a part of a program that is shaping the future of American spaceflight.”

Together with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle, the Dragon spacecraft is under contract with NASA to provide cargo resupply to the ISS when the Space Shuttle retires. This contract includes 12 flights between 2010 and 2015, with a guaranteed minimum of 20,000 kg of pressurized and unpressurized cargo to be carried to the ISS. SpaceX is the only COTS contender that has the capability to return cargo to Earth.

Aviation Week's Survey to Discuss Aerospace and Defense Industry Workforce Issues

Expected increases in retirement eligibility rates of existing workers, and documented increases in voluntary attrition rates of younger workers, combined with weak demand for future contracts (work) has Aerospace and Defense companies facing the most challenging business environment in recent history, according to a new workforce survey by Aviation Week and sponsored by Hitachi.

Not since the historical drop-off in defense spending after the Cold War has the industry experienced this kind of workforce uncertainty, according to Aviation Week Business Editor Madhu Unnikrishnan, in an article detailing responses from A&D companies employing more than half a million employees – approximately 82 percent of the industry’s workforce. According to the 2009 Workforce Study, and data from the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), findings suggest that “United States A&D companies had cut about 30,000 jobs as of June 1, or just 4.5 percent of the total workforce,” according to Unnikrishnan. “The layoffs will almost certainly continue into 2010, [but] total job losses during this downturn might be limited to 10 percent of the A&D workforce — far below the 40 percent eliminated in 1990-96 as the end of the Cold War … The industry is being much more strategic in reducing the workforce.”

The right strategies are needed at this time to smartly adjust the industry’s workforce for the future, according to Lee Palmer, Hitachi Consulting Aerospace and Defense. “There isn’t much that can be done to keep an aging workforce on the job when it’s ready to move on to retirement, but there’s plenty that companies need to be doing to transition institutional knowledge to the up-and-coming generations, who by the way have got to believe the industry will provide opportunities for them, along with stability and an engaging work environment.”

Some of the industry’s workforce woes, such as a shortage of U.S.-born science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) college graduates, Palmer said, have been evolving over many years, and although efforts to bolster the ranks of students with these skills have been successful, more work is needed.

“We’ve seen amazing successes from STEM programs, but we need a larger commitment to math, engineering and science education, a commitment that includes more federal and state support of goals and standards to give schools and education systems something to work toward,” said Palmer, who has been involved in STEM education efforts in North Texas and nationally for more than 20 years.

BAE Systems Completes 1st Real-Time Test of Improved Military Wireless Communication Technology

BAE Systems has completed the first real-time mobile tests of new wireless military radio technology designed to help warfighters dispense critical communications without interruption during battle. The technology allows more traffic on more networking systems, giving users an advantage during air-to-air, air-to-ground, and soldier-to-soldier communications.

Under a $15.5 million Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract, the company is developing wireless radios that can untangle interfering digital communications signals. The DARPA Interface Multiple Access, or DIMA, program aims to greatly increase network capacity and performance in highly congested mobile networks. The radios will allow multiple transmissions to occur simultaneously on one frequency and can support as many as five simultaneous conversations into the same time and frequency slot, even in the presence of severe near-far interference.

“With current technology, bandwidth is shared through assignment of unique time slots, frequency slots, or code words for each user, significantly limiting network performance,” said Dr. Brian Pierce of DARPA. “DIMA buys back the capacity loss caused by those limitations with technology that separates multiple, interfering digital signals.”

Known as multi-user detection, BAE Systems’ real-time technology enables users to communicate simultaneously on the same channel without centralized control or infrastructure. Recent experiments validated the technology in a mobile, ad-hoc network environment and demonstrated the vehicle-mounted DIMA radio’s ability to receive up to five simultaneous transmissions from different users while traveling at 15 mph.

“By next March, we expect to operate at speeds greater than 30 mph in highly interfering scenarios, and may even operate as high as 60 mph,” said Joshua Niedzwiecki, manager of BAE Systems’ communications and signal exploitation research group. “This would further validate the technology in more operational scenarios. If fielded in Iraq, for example, it could prove vital in areas where interfering electronic transmissions reduce the amount of transmittable military communications.”

Two Wales, U.K., Firms Secure U.S. Defense Contracts

International Business Wales announced today that Wales, U.K., manufacturers have secured U.S. defense contracts on the heels of the country’s largest-ever international trade mission to America in June 2009.  Another trade mission is coming to the Association of the United States Army annual meeting in October in Washington, D.C., three companies that were on the June mission.

Contract announcements include:

  • Aircraft maintenance manufacturer CAVE Systems Logistic Containers has won an order for phase one of a contract with a potential value of $5 million. The initial $500,000 order from the Pennsylvania National Guard is for aircraft maintenance equipment required by troops in Iraq.
  • Teddington Engineered Solutions, based in Llanelli, Wales, has secured a contract worth over $800,000 from the U.S. Navy for bellows designed to allow rescued submariners to pass from a rescue vessel into a compression chamber on-board a ship – regardless of weather conditions.

Over 80 Welsh companies from the technology, aerospace, defense, life sciences, security and engineering industries visited the U.S. in June to foster international corporate partnerships and promote international trade.

“We’re thrilled that we’re already seeing excellent results from our trade mission this summer, and we expect the good news to continue, given the strong interest from the American companies and organizations we met,” said Geraint Jones, CEO, Americas for International Business Wales, the economic development and trade arm of the Welsh Assembly Government.

Cave Systems, Faun Municipal Vehicles Ltd., AB Connectors/TTElectronics, were all part of the June trade mission, and will attend the AUSA meeting. The other companies on the new mission will be Digital Surface Research, Dytecna Systems Engineering, Spectrum Technologies and Concrete Canvas.

AeroMechanical Announces 1st Business Aircraft Installation

AeroMechanical Services announced that it has completed its first installation of afirs UpTime on a business aircraft and conducted a flawless flight test on a Hawker Beechcraft business jet in Europe. The aircraft, operated by a large fleet operator, will now enter an in-service evaluation of afirs UpTime flight watch, real time event reporting, UpTime Fuel and Emissions Management, flight data monitoring support, and emergency mode data streaming. The certifications (by Transport Canada, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”), and European Aviation Safety Agency (“EASA”)) that result from the flight test will supplement previously-granted certifications for the installation provisions. These activation approvals, normally expected within a period of several weeks, will apply to the Hawker Beechcraft 750, 800XP, 850XP and 900XP models, of which over 700 are in service or on order.

Richard Hayden, President of AMA, stated, “We are delighted, but not surprised, with the successful integration and testing of afirs on this popular business aircraft series. This represents a key milestone in AMA’s long term strategy to expand our customer base into the business aviation market, where our capabilities will be highly valued. We believe that the scope of services that we have now deployed is unrivaled in the business aviation sector. Thanks to all involved for the tremendous team effort to make this day possible”.

Atlas Air Selected to Train Air Force One (VC-25) and E4-B Flight Crews

Atlas Air announced that the U.S. Air Force will be extending its contract with Atlas Air for the flight training of Air Force pilots and flight engineers who fly the VC-25, also known as Air Force One, and the E-4B National Airborne Operations Center through 2010. Atlas Air has been the incumbent sole source provider of this training to the Air Force One since 2007.

“Atlas Air is very pleased to continue providing training for the Air Force’s 747 aircrews who support our national command authorities, performing flight duties around the globe. We are very proud to play a role in this mission-critical effort,” said William J. Flynn, President & CEO of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc.

This year, the entire pilot and flight engineer crew force of the Presidential Airlift Group (PAG) and the E-4B National Airborne Operations Center will update and enhance their Boeing 747 skills at Atlas’ state-of-the-art facility in Miami, Florida. These dedicated aviators receive the most up-to-date systems and safety training from an experienced and highly qualified cadre of flight instructors. Atlas instructors provide tailored training to crew members to help ensure mission success.

L-3 Awarded Army Technology Contract for Bradley Fighting Vehicles

L-3 Communications announced this past week that its Combat Propulsion Systems and Magnet Motors divisions have been awarded a development contract by the U.S. Army to provide high power electrical generation for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The first phase for the Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) is underway, and L-3 will provide 10 system prototypes in the next two years.

Under this program, L-3 will integrate a permanent magnet starter generator and the associated power electronics with its 800 horsepower transmission. The L-3 ISG will be an integral component of the hydro-mechanical power transmission (HMPT), providing all needed vehicle electrical power, as well as the transmission disconnect clutch and auxiliary pump drive system.

“Our unique system will enable the Army to increase the power levels for its combat vehicle electrical systems, which will enhance the capability of the Bradley Fighting Vehicles,” said Charles J. Schafer, senior vice president and president of L-3’s Products Group. “We are very pleased to have successfully applied this technology for use on military vehicles.”

The L-3 HMPT-800-EG system will provide substantial electrical power generation for increasing mission loads and additional integration options for high capacity auxiliary loads for the Bradley Family of Fighting Vehicles. The Bradley G40 ISG is sized for power output of 70 to 160kW between 800 and 2800 rpm.

Headquartered in New York City, L-3 Communications employs over 66,000 people worldwide and is a prime contractor in aircraft modernization and maintenance, C3ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) systems and government services. L-3 is also a leading provider of high technology products, subsystems and systems. The company reported 2008 sales of $14.9 billion.

iRobot Receives $35.3 Million Order from Army

iRobot announced that it received an order for $35.3 million from the U.S. Army TACOM Contracting Center in MI.  This order falls under the $286 million Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) xBot contract and calls for the delivery of 486 iRobot PackBot 510 with FasTac Kit robots prior to March 31, 2010. The total contract value to date under this IDIQ is approximately $125 million.

“This order is truly a significant milestone for iRobot,” said Joe Dyer, president of iRobot Government and Industrial Robots. “Not only is it the single largest order we have ever received from the military, but it also proves that there is strong and continuing support for our PackBot FasTac platform that was introduced just last year. One of the robot’s strengths is its adaptability. It is well-suited for use by combat engineers, route clearance companies and infantry brigades. This is important as our troops continue to fight wars on multiple fronts, each possessing its own unique mission types and challenges.”

The PackBot 510 with FasTac Kit provides warfighters with the ability to see and assess dangerous areas from safe standoff distances and to clear routes while on the move. The robot is controlled through a ruggedized laptop with game-style controller, operates at speeds of up to 5.8 miles per hour and provides up to four hours of mission run time. In addition, the PackBot 510 with FasTac Kit’s compact arm and precise gripper allow warfighters to safely pick up and identify suspicious objects.

iRobot has delivered more than 2,500 PackBot robots that make a difference every day by conducting dangerous missions that keep warfighters out of harm’s way.

Boeing Goes through Management Shuffle

This past week marked the end of an era, when 38 year Aerospace industry veteran, Scott Carson, retired from Boeing’s commercial division. Carson had a remarkable career, however the past few years have been highly stressful at the company, mainly due to the many delays for the 787 jetliner. Surprisingly, Boeing has decided to give Carson’s position to Jim Albaugh, formerly the head of Boeing’s defense business.

Investors have been calling for a change to the commercial division’s structure since the 787 aircraft has been forced to go through several costly delays, however by moving Albaugh from the Defense Contract position, one wonders if Boeing’s market share will decrease in the highly competitive defense landscape.

Several investor analysts were perplexed at the timing of Albaugh’s job change. Considering that it was under Albaugh’s leadership that Boeing became of the leaders in the defense contract industry, it would stand to reason that Boeing’s competitors may take advantage of the situation.

Considering that Boeing’s defense business now makes up for roughly 50% of the company’s annual revenues, investors became wary of the management shuffle, causing the stock to drop 2.7% after the announcement.

Dennis Muilenburg, currently the president of military support and services business will take over for Albaugh’s defense position at Integrated Defense Systems.