Jan 08, 2008 14:43 UTC
Over the Christmas holidays, the NY Times ran an interesting story that talked about experts and innovation – especially the paradox that more experts can produce less innovation. The results of the following experiment may provide a clue, and offer a useful reminder to our industry as a whole as it attempts to communicate with the broader public:
“Elizabeth Newton, a psychologist, conducted an experiment on the curse of knowledge while working on her doctorate at Stanford in 1990. She gave one set of people, called “tappers,” a list of commonly known songs from which to choose. Their task was to rap their knuckles on a tabletop to the rhythm of the chosen tune as they thought about it in their heads. A second set of people, called “listeners,” were asked to name the songs.
Before the experiment began, the tappers were asked how often they believed that the listeners would name the songs correctly. On average, tappers expected listeners to get it right about half the time. In the end, however, listeners guessed only 3 of 120 songs tapped out, or 2.5 percent. The tappers were astounded. The song was so clear in their minds; how could the listeners not “hear” it in their taps?”
Jan 07, 2008 21:45 UTC
Readers may note a slight slowdown in publication; the widespread storms that have hit the US West Coast have left our critical Silicon Valley office without power. Publication is continuing at a slower pace until power is restored.
Jan 03, 2008 16:01 UTC
Jacobs Technology, Inc. in Tullahoma, TN won a $197.9 million cost-plus-award-fee, firm-fixed-price contract for the services and materials necessary to support the analysis, design, development, test, integration, deployment, and operations of information technology systems and services at the noted weapons test centers of China Lake, CA (90%) and Point Mugu, CA (10%).
Work is expected to be complete in March 2013. This contract was competitively procured via an electronic request for proposals, and 7 offers were received by the Naval Air Warfare Center (NAVAIR) Weapons Division at China Lake, CA (N68936-08-D-0016).
Jan 02, 2008 16:57 UTC
As part of its Defense Industrial Strategy, the UK looked at the missile sector in 2007 and concluded that a 50% reduction in “complex weapons” funding was expected over the next 5 years. In response, they set up a joint MOD-industry team, including MBDA (UK), Thales, BAES Underwater Systems Ltd and QinetiQ; and talked to lower tier suppliers such as Roxel, SELEX and Ultra. When the song and dance ended, Raytheon was left without a seat, as “Team Complex Weapons” (MBDA UK, Thales, Roxel, and QinetiQ) was set up to provide for the UK’s future needs. A GBP 500+ million contract for a Loitering Munition Demonstration and Manufacture program would follow, conditionally single-sourced to Team CW.
As a next step, Britain and France have launched a multi-million pound Innovation and Technology Partnership (ITP) focused on materials and components for missiles. The ITP will be jointly funded by the British and French governments and an industry and academic consortium led by arms company MBDA. Total funding is expected to be GBP 10.3 million (about $23.5 million): GBP 2.5 million from the UK MoD, GBP 2.65 million equivalent from the French DGA Armament Procurement Agency, plus matching contributions from industry over the ITP’s 3 year period. In the words of the UK MoD release:
“The ITP has been set up to fulfil joint research needs of UK and France for missile technology, identifying common capability and technology needs and examining emerging technologies for future equipment. The ITP aims to consolidate a future European guided weapon capability by building the technological base and allowing a better understanding of common future needs, and prepare for future cooperative programmes.”
Jan 02, 2008 15:59 UTC
Marine w. M16A4
The US Army has run into controversy over its plan to replace its existing rifles with M4 carbines, without competition, and despite recent test results that show significant improvements from other 5.56mm weapons and even an M4 variant in use by US special forces. The US Marines and Navy have been known to use M4s, but it is not their primary battle rifle. The M16A3 is a fully automatic version of the M16A2, and is used by the US Navy. The M16A4 is the standard rifle of the US Marine Corps. Its biggest innovation is replacement of the M-16 family’s the well known carrying handle/sight with the MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail that lets troops mount and remove a carrying handle, sights, and other useful attachments without specialized tools. Other MIL-STD-1913 rails can be found on the front grips et. al. of the A3s and A4s, where they mount useful items like flashlights, laser pointers, grip pods, et. al.
Unlike the M4 Carbine, which is procured as a sole-source item proprietary to Colt, M-16 production is competed. Contracts are issued based on bid prices from qualifying vendors, with better pricing resulting in proportionately more contracts. This kind of competition may also be part of the reason that the longer, heavier replacement barrels for the M16 cost $100, while spare M4 carbine barrels cost $240.
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Jan 02, 2008 11:52 UTC
The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, Specialty Center Contracts Core in Port Hueneme, CA issued a combined total of $39.95 million under a previously awarded firm-fixed-price multiple award contracts, exercising option year 3 for waterfront barrier maintenance and repair worldwide. Work to be performed provides for logistical support, installation, inspection, repair, maintenance and field supervision/operation of waterfront barriers, moorings, at marine facilities throughout the world. The current total contract amount after exercise of this option will be $158.5 million.
Work will be performed at various installations under NAVFAC Southwest’s area of responsibility worldwide, and is expected to be complete December 2008. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Winners included small business qualifiers:
- Epsilon Systems Solutions, Inc. in Portsmouth, VA (N68711-05-D-0018)
- GPA Technologies, Inc. in Ventura, CA (N68711-05-D-0019)
- Harbor Offshore, Inc. in Ventura, CA (N68711-05-D-0017)
Jan 01, 2008 19:32 UTC
FORTUNE Magazine has released its annual list of America’s Most Admired Companies, and a number of defense-related firms find themselves noted in the data. To quote FORTUNE re: their methodology:
“The Most Admired list is the definitive report card on corporate reputations. Our survey partners at Hay Group started with the FORTUNE 1,000 – the 1,000 largest U.S. companies ranked by revenue – and the top foreign ones operating in the U.S. Hay sorted them by industry and selected the ten largest in each. To create the 63 industry lists, Hay asked executives, directors, and analysts to rate companies in their own industry on eight criteria, from investment value to social responsibility. Only the best are listed as most admired: A company’s score must rank in the top half of its industry survey. Ranks for the rest of the contenders are available online only.”
The criteria evidently managed to completely exclude key global defense & aerospace players with notable US businesses/revenues, including BAE Systems and EADS (which includes Airbus & Eurocopter). This is a major pair of omissions, to say the least. Methodology flaws aside, firms that made the cut in their sectors and do a lot of work in our industry – or were on the receiving end of cutting ratings – included:
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Jan 01, 2008 11:13 UTC
While the USA prepares to field the next-generation E-2D Hawkeye as its next-generation naval AWACS, existing Hawkeye customers continue to rely on the E-2C. In some cases, this means aircraft purchase requests (q.v. Egypt, UAE), which will become even more attractive as the US Navy’s E-2C fleet becomes available for resale. In other cases (France, Japan, some Egyptian, 2/6 in Taiwan), it has meant upgrades to the Hawkeye 2000 standard. All fleets, however, will require ongoing sustaining support, i.e. technical expertise and spares. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Bethpage, NY recently picked up a couple of awards along those lines from foreign customers, channeled through US NAVAIR (Naval Air Systems Command) in Patuxent River, MD:
Dec 28/07: An $8.6 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order against a previously awarded basic ordering agreement (N00421-05-G-0001) for calendar year 2008 and 2009 sustaining support for the Egypt Foreign Military Sales E-2C aircraft program. Work will be performed in Bethpage, N.Y., and is expected to be complete in December 2009.
Dec 28/07: A $5.9 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order against a previously awarded basic ordering agreement (N00421-05-G-0001) for sustaining support for the Taiwan Foreign Military Sales E-2C aircraft program (actually known as E-2T) through calendar year 2008.
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