Force Protection’s CFO Michaek Durski resigned recently, after management “discovered significant accounting errors during its year end review.” The firm has also seen American MRAP vehicle orders for its Force Dynamics joint venture tail off, even as competitors like BAE Systems and Navistar continue to receive large orders. A March 15/08 Bloomberg report claims that the firm has has enough orders to last 8 more months in production, plus ongoing maintenance and support business. Which explains why their new manufacturing facility in Roxboro, NC designed to enhance manufacturing capacity, may shut down before it ever ramps up.
With at least 4 shareholder lawsuits underway, the latest news raises questions concerning the company’s survival, as talk of buyouts and even collapse floats in the air. Force Protection’s management says the firm has the resources to continue. A look at the firm’s difficulties and its resources, however, show a challenging set of business problems ahead…
Now the Slovakian Ministry of Defence has announced that all of its MiG-29 fighter jets will be converted to digital camouflage, using a pattern developed in 2006 by the camouflage design team of Dr. Timothy R. O’Neill and HyperStealth Biotechnology Corp. President/CEO Guy Cramer. As Hyperstealth’s release notes:
“Once the mechanism to apply the camouflage was in place O’Neill and Cramer set out to combine the Symmytry Axis Disruption of current Russian aircraft camouflage with the American aircraft camouflage Blending technique and merge these with a proprietary digital fractal camouflage to enhance the concealment under combat conditions. Optimal pattern, colors, scale were determined and the result was the HyperStealth Digital Thunder Camouflage.”
For the Farnborough 2008 air show, a Slovakian MiG-29 demonstrated the team’s follow-on “Cloud Cam” design. Hyperstealth release.
Ogden Air Logistics Center in Utah and Arizona’s Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Group in Tucson AZ have received authorization to issue up to $98 million in delivery orders under the Depot Onsite Contract Augmentee Team program. The winning teams will support USAF personnel performing maintenance and related tasks at those locations, and the multiple-award structure will put each delivery order up for bid among the winning contractors. This is money well spent – AMRAG in particular is one of the few units of the US federal government that actually makes money. Winning contractors included:
Affordable Engineering Services, LLC of Totowa, NJ (FA8224-08-D-0003-0001)
MI Support Services, LP of Denton, Texas (FA8224-08-D-0003-0010)
Defense Support Services, LLC of Mount Laurel, NJ (FA8224-08-D-0005-0001)
J.K. Hill and Associates, Inc. of Virginia Beach, VA (FA8224-08-D-0006-0001)
L-3 Communication Vertex Aerospace of Madison, MS (FA8224-08-D-0009-0001)
MacAulay-Brown, Inc. of Dayton, Ohio (FA8224-08-D-0011-0001).
Management is its own discipline, and good managers must always be sharpening their own skills. This is true in the defense industry as well, as engineers climb the ladder, officers rotate out into civilian life or into desk rather than field jobs, and globalizing teams need more native management skills within the team to keep them productive. With that said, Dilbert creator Scott Adams is a rich man for a reason. We’ve all seen the firm that promotes an excellent salesperson, or an excellent engineer, or some other kind of high-performing employee – and shoots itself in the foot, twice. Once by losing the expert services of that employee, Twice by promoting someone who may not have management training, and may not be able to perform well in their new role.
DID’s “The Project Management Podcast” discussed the potential usefulness of MP3 podcasts as a training tool that can be used at convenient times. It’s a great tool for new managers, and can be useful for existing managers as well. After all, even major league athletes spend a lot of their practice time working on the fundamentals. Along those lines, the Manager Tools podcasts offers a set of free sessions devoted to practical fundamentals, as well as sessions covering more advanced topics.
Everyone we know hates a lot of the meetings they’re forced to attend. Manager Tools’ 3 sessions on Running Effective Meetings talk about what works at Intel, Google, et. al., and offer a good introduction. This is an MP3 set you’ll want to pass around:
EM Part 1 [20.5 MB]. Includes “how do you handle a boss who is late?”
EM Part 2 [12.5 MB]. Includes continuous improvement, and discussion re: facilitators.
EM Part 3 [16.7 MB]. Includes: “the meetings I must call” and the “no surprises” rule.
General Dynamics Electric Boat Corp. in Groton, CT received a not-to-exceed $324.9 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-03-C-2101) for long lead time material associated with the FY 2009 Virginia Class submarine [SSN 784] and its FY 2011 counterpart [SSN 787)] This contract covers long lead-time material for steam and electric plant components; the main propulsion unit and ship service turbine generator set; components that are critical to maintaining the submarine component industrial base; and miscellaneous Hull, Mechanical and Electrical system components to support ship construction of SSN 784 and SSN 787.
Work will be performed in Groton, CoT and Quonset Point, RI (7%); Newport News, VA (7%); Sunnyvale and South El Monte, CA (50%); Coatesville, York, and Cheswick, PA (5%); Linden, Philipsburg, and Florence, NJ (5%); and at various sites throughout the United States (26%), and is expected to be complete by Mar. 2013. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington Navy Yard, DC issued the contract.
Good car owners take their vehicle in for maintenance after a certain number of months, or a certain number of miles, whichever comes first. Depending on the vehicle’s age and mileage, the dealer’s mechanic will have a list of standard systems to check and/or replace. It’s the same for the military, with the added pressure that vehicle breakdowns in a combat zone are not acceptable. So the inspections and rebuilds take place regularly, and it’s considered better to replace a working part with a new one than risk problems later. Unless, of course, land vehicles included the same sort of proactive diagnostics (“prognostics”) that are making their way into aircraft and helicopters. Maintenance could then take place only when necessary, keeping a higher percentage of vehicles in service, saving some money, and creating faster turnaround time for real problems.
That’s the aim of the US Marine Corps’ Embedded Platform Logistics System…
The USA’s $160+ billion Future Combat Systems program aims to replace at least 1/3 of the USA’s land forces. The program’s original mandate had its components replacing the USA’s heavy armor, but that plan collided with the reality of front-line experience in Iraq. FCS is now slated to be a set of medium forces that are slightly more deployable than a Heavy Brigade Combat Team, but still cannot fit into the C-130s that are expected to make up the USA’s tactical airlifter fleet. The concept of an integrated set of vehicles, robots, sensors, and UAVs, all backed by a high-performance network, remains.
The US Government Accountability Office has been asked to report on the program every year, and its 2008 report suggests that FCS is reaching a critical stage on 2 fronts: system design and development, and software design and development. Their overall 2008 report says that…
The UK Ministry of Defence signed a 5-year, GBP 24.5 million (about $50 million) partnering contract with a team comprised of Lockheed Martin UK Simulation, Training & Support (STS) and BAE Systems, to operate and maintain the Combined Arms Tactical Trainer (CATT) systems in the UK and in Sennelager, Germany. Matt Tovey, CATT programme manager at the UK’s Defence Equipment and Support Organisation, adds that “The high quality of training output will be further enhanced through a partnering approach which provides the basis for exploring further efficiencies.”
Lockheed Martin originally designed and built the simulator system in 2002. Each CATT installation covers an area the size of 3 soccer fields, has 170 vehicle simulators, and can accommodate as many as 700 troops in a simulated battle, either against each other or using computer-generates forces across thousands of kilometres of the Wiltshire and Hampshire countryside. Half of the vehicle simulators have interiors, software, et. al. that replicate specific vehicles such as Challenger II main battle tanks, Warrior armored fighting vehicles, and Scimitar armored reconnaissance vehicles. The remainder are designed to generic standards, and can replicate a variety of vehicles, helicopters and dismounted infantry. The system can replay an exercise for post-exercise analysis and assessment. Lockheed Martin release.
DCS Corp. in Alexandria, VA received a $16.8 million cost-plus-fixed-fee completion, research and development contract for research, development and demonstration efforts in the areas of advanced imaging sensor technologies, imaging techniques, enhanced target recognition methods, and real time processing capabilities. These are seen as critical technology fields given new and continuing Naval requirements for persistent surveillance, improved reconnaissance, rapid targeting and precision strike capabilities.
Work will be performed in Alexandria, VA, and is expected to be complete in March 2013. Contract funds in the amount of $100,000 will expire at end of current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured under Broad Agency Announcement #07-01 by the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC (N00173-08-C-6008).
Tyson Fresh Meats, Incorporated in Dakota Dunes, SD received an indefinite delivery, requirements type contract to provide “as needed, case ready, primal and sub-primal pork products” for resale to the commissary stores located in the DeCA East and West Regions, including Alaska and Hawaii. The estimated award amount is $308.6 million. The contract is for a 2 year base period with performance starting May 4/08 through May 3/10, followed by 3 one-year option periods. If all option periods are exercised, the contract will be completed May 3/13. The US Defense Commissary Agency, Resale Contracting Division, Produce Support Branch in Fort Lee, VA solicited 65 firms, and 5 offers were received (HDEC02-08-D-0005)