Industry analysis and research firm Frost & Sullivan says the European strategic military communications market is being driven by the need to reduce R&D costs, leading to reliance of militaries on commercial R&D and commercial off-the-shelf technology (COTS). This trend is, also encouraging non-defence firms to step into the European strategic military communications market, while intensifying competition can also be expected from their U.S counterparts via their advanced technology and foothold in areas like Eastern Europe.
The firm believes that European militaries’ increasing focus on expeditionary operations, and network-centric warfare (NCW), and the increasing bandwidth of sensor transmissions, will drive market expansion. The sector’s overall revenues are expected to rise from an estimated $1.91 billion in 2005 to $2.56 billion in 2014. The MILSATCOM segment, which currently represents 50% of market revenues, is projected to grow strongly with estimated earnings of $1.36 billion in 2014.
For more background, including some key projects that went into this forecast, sector technology trends, plus comments regarding the role of software defined radio, see Frost & Sullivan’s corporate release and their European Strategic Military Communications Markets (F233-22) brochure.
Ceradyne Inc in Costa Mesa, CA received a $70 million firm-fixed-price contract for Enhanced Side Ballistics Inserts and Carriers. Work will be performed in Costa Mesa, CA, and is expected to be complete by June 30, 2006. This was a sole source contract initiated on Jan. 11, 2006 by the Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD (W91CRB-06-C-0002). DID has covered the Interceptor OTV body armor that these inserts would fit into. We also noted a recent $14.6 million Ceradyne contract of special ceramic inserts for certain elite U.S. fighting units that are shaped to protect other areas of the body in addition to the chest and back.
There has been a lot of debate about body armor lately, and some soldiers serving on the front lines believe that even more weight and restricted mobility (especially in Hummers) is more likely to get them hurt than protect them. Army Secretary Francis Harvey, on the other hand, believes every GI ought to wear a couple of extra protective panels along the sides of the armor vest. Panels much like the ones in this Ceradyne contract. Ultimately, we hope the decisions will be made by the commanders on the war’s front lines.
Defense Tech reports on BAE Systems’ CORAX Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV), an unmanned fighter with stealth features whose early models look somewhat like the USA’s Darkstar technology demonstrator. DefenseTech offers a quick background that draws on behind-the-wall material at Jane’s, explaining some of the key differences and where CORAX fits into the UK’s long term plans.
Lockheed Martin Corp. in Sunnyvale, CA is being awarded a $48.7 million cost plus award fee contract modification. This will re-baseline the Spacecraft Integration and Test contract for Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellites F17, F18, F19, and F20. The launch dates were changed as a result of the Current Launch Schedule Review Board direction dated Dec. 8, 2005, per Special Contract Requirement SMC-H004. New launch dates as follows: F17 (July 8, 2006), F18 (March 28, 2008), F19 (March 28, 2010), and F20 (March 28, 2012). The Headquarters Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA issued the contract (FO4701-02-C-0003/P00057).
Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems and Solutions in Philadelphia, PA received a $12.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the maintenance, upgrade and development of Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System software. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy ($11.84 million; 99.94%) and the Government of the United Kingdom ($762,012; 0.06%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Valley Forge, PA (no word on whether the British find that bit amusing), and is expected to be complete in January 2007. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River, MD (N00019-06-C-0300).
BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles can be launched from ships or submarines, flying low to the ground at subsonic speeds to deliver a 1,000 pound conventional warhead with extreme accuracy. The Tactical Tomahawk variant adds the capability to reprogram the missile while in-flight to strike any of 15 preprogrammed alternate targets, or redirect the missile to any Global Positioning System (GPS) target coordinates. It also is able to loiter over a target area for some hours, and with its on-board TV camera, would allow the warfighting commanders to assess battle damage of the target, and, if necessary redirect the missile to any other target. The total expected US buy is up to 2,200 missiles over a five-year cycle, for a total cost of $1.6 billion. Each missile will cost about $729,000, down from the $1.4 million each for the previous Block 3 Tomahawks.