Finmeccanica recently announced about EUR 180 million (about $234 million) in contracts from Panama to its subsidiaries SELEX Sistemi Integrati, AgustaWestland, and Telespazio. They will combine to offer Panama a one-stop cartography and coastal surveillance system.
Cartography seems trivial, but surveillance and control systems need to start with accurate mapping. Telespazio’s subsidiary Telespazio Argentina will provide the digital cartography for the whole country to the Tommy Guardia National Geographic Institute. With digitized cartography in place, SELEX Sistemi Integrati will integrate and install the coastal monitoring system, building on integrated coastal surveillance and border control work with Italy, Jordan, Libya, and others. The final element will involve 6 AW139 medium twin helicopters “in various configurations” for the Panamanian National Aeronaval Service.
The orders grew out of a June 2010 bilateral framework agreement for security collaboration around organized crime and drug-trafficking, signed at the SICA(trans. Central American Integration System) summit by Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli. Finmeccanica Chairman and CEO Pier Francesco Guarguaglini believes this contract will create a showpiece example for the Central and South American region. Contracts for comprehensive border surveillance and security systems are becoming more lucrative, and competitors like Thales, EADS, and Boeing are working hard to establish those beachheads.
On July 5/10, Australia’s DoD signed a new 3 year, A$ 136 million (about $114.3 million) contract with Qantas Defence Services for ongoing maintenance and support of the RAAF’s 12 C-130H Hercules tactical transport aircraft, including its T56 turboprop engines. The RAAF’s new C-130J-30s use a different engine from Rolls Royce, and they are covered by a separate maintenance contract; but the RAAF’s 18 AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft also use the T56 engine. AP-3C engine work will be covered under this C-130H accord, as an ancillary contract outside the AP-3C TLS program.
The new contract continues an arrangement that has been in place since 1999, and will support 200 jobs based at RAAF Base Richmond. There will be some change, however – Gerry Roberts is about to retire from his C-130 program manager role at Qantas Defence Services, a branch of Australia’s national airline. Australia DoD.
In Washington, knowing “who” is usually more important than knowing “what.” Roll Call magazine offers a valuable feature for industry and government personnel alike, as it covers “Defense: 10 Staffers to Know“:
“The world of defense encompasses a range of related issues, from procurement to personnel to weapons systems – and their respective price tags. This week, the Senate Armed Services Committee marks up its 2010 defense authorization act; last week, the House Armed Services Committee marked up its 2010 legislation. Here are 10 Hill staffers who play important roles in establishing the nation’s defense policy and priorities.”
The feature offers short descriptions of the staffers’ backgrounds, and some entries also note particular foci. Contrary to public perceptions, these staffers aren’t young 20 or 30 somethings; they’re generally people with decades of experience in the field.
Rep. Gene Taylor [D-MS-4] Chairs the US House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Expeditionary Forces subcommittee. He has represented the 4th district for almost 20 years now, despite the fact that it hasn’t voted for his party’s presidential candidate since 1956. Taylor is a vocal critic of the US Navy’s current shipbuilding strategy, while remaining one of Congress’ strongest advocates for a larger shipbuilding budget and a larger Navy. On Feb 4/09, he released his statement on the future of US Navy shipbuilding:
“For far too many years I have watched as the size of the Navy fleet has decreased… In particular, the failure of the [Littoral Combat Ship] program to deliver on the promise of an affordable, capable, and reconfigurable warship only puts the exclamation point on a Bush administration’s strategy that was neither well envisioned nor properly executed. As for the DDG 1000, we will not know the true cost of that program for a number of years but significant cost growth on that vessel will require diverting funding from other new construction projects to pay the over-run.
Lacking the expectation of increased funding available for ship procurement, it is more important than ever to set the Navy on an affordable strategy for ship procurement… To achieve an affordable, stable shipbuilding plan I recommend the following to the new administration…”
On the face of it, Thielert AG of Hamburg appeared to be a well-positioned company, leveraging respected German engineering to modify a Daimler diesel engine for use in aircraft. The ability to use “heavy” fuel offers light civilian aircraft a convenient, less-expensive option, and can also be an important asset for armies who want a single fuel supply chain for land vehicles and UAVs. That commonality offers lifetime cost savings of its own, less operational risk, and more operational flexibility – which is why the US Army’s flagship MQ-1C SkyWarrior UAV uses Thielert’s 135 hp Centurion engine. By many accounts, the engine itself performs well, though some reports say the engines have some reliability issues and suffer from poor field support. The aero-diesel niche has few competitors at the moment, but several new competitors are expected to unveil products over the next year.
Those alternative options have now become a more urgent matter, given recent developments in Germany. In brief, Thielert is facing advanced stage criminal investigations for serious accounting fraud, providing false evidence, and more. The alternative explanation is that a long list of firms including General Atomics, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin each left millions of dollars in supplier invoices unpaid for over a year.
Regardless of which explanation is true, Thielert faced financing needs that the firm’s own April 10/08 release described as “an urgent liquidity crisis.” As a first step, the founder tried to sell his entire stake to a Russian hedge fund. Even so, the firm’s own statements confirm that much more cash will be needed, and shareholder lawsuits enabled by German court rulings that have voided their financial reports could drive that figure higher.
The latest developments are three-fold: the dismissal of the CEO and CFO for cause in light of criminal investigations, the collapse of the new investors consortium, and the firm’s filing for bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the US Army says it was unaware of the situation at Thielert, which raises questions concerning its contractor General Atomics’ communications and program risk transparency with the US military.
What sort of a presence have you built online? If a recruiter had the perfect opportunity for you, and typed in all of the keywords in a search on LinkedIn, would your profile show up in the results? If a potential customer searched for terms related to your specialties or services on LinkedIn, would you get noticed near the top of the list of results?
Inside The LinkedIn Personal Trainer, I present a program that teaches readers how to use LinkedIn to find, get found, and network your way to success. That middle component – Get Found – is significant!
When Mike Turner ascended to the position of BAE Systems CEO in March 2002, shares were at 115p and the firm’s profitability depended heavily on British and Saudi government contracts, plus Airbus. By June 2007, when Turner told a British newspaper that he wished to remain as CEO until he was 65 (about 2013), BAE had become a diversified transatlantic defense giant that no longer owned a stake in Airbus, bit did own a share price up around 450p. So it came as something of a shock when BAE announced on Oct 16/07 that Turner would be stepping down in August 2008 at age 60, with the unanimous approval of the Board. He isn’t going away empty-handed, though – Turner will receive a payout of GBP 2.36 million (about $4.8 million) about evenly divided between shares and cash, provided he meets performance targets that include an orderly handover, continues the successful implementation of the Company’s business strategy, and meets the leadership objectives set by BAE’s Remuneration Committee.
Speculation concerning the situation at BAE is rife. The surprise of the announcement after more than 40 years as a BAE employee, the timing that will forgo a 2008 grant under BAE’s Executive Share Option Plan or Performance Share Plan, and the Board’s unanimous approval, naturally led to rumors of a Board/CEO split. Especially in an environment that has featured recent Saudi corruption controversies, a US Department of Justice Investigation, et. al. Turner himself offers an amusingly straightforward explanation of his June to October u-turn in statements to the press:
Australia’s Defence Materiel Organization’s Land Systems Division is hiring quite a few positions at the moment. “We will soon be offering a range of exciting career opportunities for highly motivated people to be part of a challenging and unique work environment.”
Packages from A$ 57,000 to around A$ 125,000 are available for various roles, which includes efforts beyond Project Overlander. Application dates are Oct 18/07 – Oct 25/07. See the DMO’s Careers page for more.
The Spring 2007 issue of Crosslink Magazine focuses on the state of the US Aerospace industry’s technical workforce – but many of its articles’ topics and conclusions could easily apply to the defense industry as a whole:
“As aerospace systems grow in complexity and interdependence, there is an increasing need for engineering professionals who can successfully plan, develop, manage, and evolve these systems. Yet, the national security space community is facing a growing shortage of senior systems engineers, as the number of systems positions increase and older workers leave the workforce. Organizations commonly lure skilled systems engineers away from each other or try to fill these roles with junior personnel who lack the requisite skills and/or experience, but these efforts fail to address the underlying problem. The question is, how can the national security space community expedite the development of the next generation of senior systems engineers? The type of thinking required by systems professionals is sometimes referred to as “systems thinking…”
A recent study sheds light on what it takes to grow senior systems engineers – and suggests some ways to accelerate that process in today’s engineering population. Key takeaways include…
For Labour Day on Monday, DID salutes all of the people who work every day with their tools, in order to give the people on the front lines the tools they need to do a difficult and dangerous job. The late Dr. Paul MacCready (1925-2007) was one such individual, who pushed the frontiers of science and design in pursuit of his love of flight and discovery. From the Gossamer Albatross to the hand-held RQ-11 Raven UAV, the things he helped create made a difference in our world. He will be missed.