Innovation Slump: Aerospace and defense industry innovation is down, as the number of reported patents dropped to 179 last year from 478 the year prior, according to a Hitachi Consulting survey.
Budget Blitzkrieg: Former German military officials blast the German defense minister’s proposal to eliminate mandatory conscription and reduce the Bundeswehr by a 3rd to cut EUR 8.2 billion from the defense budget.
Frost and Sullivan: The European market for networked unmanned ground vehicles is expected to experience steady growth, with annual revenues of $311 million by 2016.
Significant progress at AVI Biopharma? (Aug 22/10)
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency at Fort Belvoir, VA is awarding contracts to find new anti-viral compounds that are effective against hemorrhagic fever viruses, a class that includes Ebola and other diseases.
Drug development is a long and expensive process ($100 million is often mentioned as the table stakes to get a drug through approvals), and promising therapies do not all make it through the research and testing stages. Even so, the research is interesting:
Aug 23/10: The U.S. Coast Guard awards EADS North America a $117 million contract for 3 more HC-144A Ocean Sentry Maritime Patrol Aircraft, with additional options for up to 6 more aircraft over the next 4 years. The USCG already operates 10 HC-144As as the Deepwater program’s Medium Range Surveillance Aircraft, and will receive an 11th in 2010. Deliveries under this latest contract will begin in 2011, and current plans call for an eventual total of 36 Ocean Sentries to replace the aging fleet of HU-25 Guardian Falcon jets, whose 4-hour mission endurance contrasts with the twin-turboprop HC-114A’s 9 hours.
The HC-144A is based on Airbus Military’s CN235 MPA, which is in service with a number of countries. The first HC-144A was delivered on Dec 21/06, and achieved initial operational capability in April 2009. Roles include maritime patrol, intelligence/ surveillance/ reconnaissance, cargo and personnel transport, and disaster relief. The plane’s Mission System Pallet (MSP) is a roll-on, roll-off suite of electronic equipment that collects, compiles, interprets and disseminates data from the aircraft’s sensors and electronic surveillance equipment, and is also capable of transmitting and receiving Secret-level information via the Department of Defense’s Secure Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNET). EADS.
Guild Associates in Dublin, OH, was awarded on Aug. 16 a $16.4 million firm-fixed-price contract for 43 “mobile integrated remains systems” (MIRCS). Which is to say, portable morgues. Not a pleasant subject, or something you think of when you think of “technology artisans,” but it comes with the nature of battle – and if it was your loved one, you’d want those remains seen to quickly, and with honor.
MIRCS is based off Guilds’ Expandable Shelter Platform (ESP) design, a modified shipping container with sides that lower and fabric soft walls. Guilds’ patent pending design allows for storage of 16 remains at between 34 and 36°F, to mortuary air quality standards, in addition to space for processing and administrative work. In transport mode, the MIRCS dimensions are nominally 20′ x 8′ x 8′ with corner fitting, to meet ISO standards for container shipment. It can also be mounted on a HEMTT heavy truck.
Sounds like an immediate delivery order – work is to be performed in Dublin, OH, with an estimated completion date of Aug 20/10. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web, with 6 bids received by U.S. Army Research Development & Engineering Contracting Center in Natick Contracting Division, Natick, MA (W911QY-05-C-0091).
As the Marines themselves note, “body armor can be traced back to before the Roman Empire, when war was waged with sword and spear and the battlefield rang with the clash of steel on steel.” In time, its protection became so formidable that an armored, mounted warrior feared few enemies. A string of reverses from Crecy on into the age of gunpowder led to a growing offensive ascendancy, however, creating several centuries where warriors headed into battle without any armor at all.
That began to change in the late 20th century, and the pendulum is swinging back. The Interceptor Outer Tactical Vest became the US military’s standard equipment around the dawn of the 21st century. It’s credited with saving numerous lives, but the US Marines were less impressed. In the wake of negative After-Action Reviews, they turned to Protective Products International in Sunrise, FL to produce the Modular Tactical Vest (MTV) instead, designed by an ex-Marine.
In February 2008, the Marines put a hold on further MTV orders, following complaints from the field. That hold has been lifted with the awarding of 2 contracts worth up to $794.7 million for the Improved MTVs.