Breaking into the American defense market can be lucrative, but it can be scary for firms based outside the USA. At AUSA 2013, DID Editor Joe Katzman sat down with RAFAEL’s consultant Lt. Gen. William H. Forster, PhD (ret.), and other RAFAEL personnel, to discuss some of the reasons for their success with products as diverse as the LITENING surveillance and targeting pod for jets, and the door-busting SIMON/GREM grenade.
Rather than present the interviews and discussions verbatim, we’ll focus on key takeaways.
HIMARS is designed to be a more transportable counterpart to the tracked M270 MLRS system that can roll off a C-130 to deliver long-range artillery support. The HIMARS systems will complement Singapore’s own air-transportable Pegasus semi-mobile 155mm howitzers, providing longer range precision strike just as they complement the USMC’s M777A2 howitzers. But the 2007 request was just the beginning.
Pentagon contracts occasionally refer to the Global Broadcast Services (GBS), a system linked to the Wideband SATCOM program. A variant was first fielded in Bosnia during 1996, and special nodes were also set up in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It sounds almost like a form of global satellite TV – which is close, but not quite right. GBS is not intended to replace existing MILSATCOM (MILitary SATellite COMmunications) systems in any way. Instead, GBS uses a form of “push and store” to distribute high-bandwidth information for local relay, thereby saving critical two-way military satellite communications systems from having to handle every field request.
The other thing that makes GBS so attractive is the ability to provide high-volume data directly into 18-inch antennas, allowing streaming to and storage in devices that can move with units in the field. The GBS “pushes” a high volume of packaged data to these widely dispersed, low-cost receive terminals, whose function resembles the set-top smart cable TV storage box or TiVO used at home.
Intelligence oversight is likely to be one of the points of contention as the Senate attempts to finalize its FY14 defense authorization bill.
Revenue Down, Profit Up, Cost Pinching
Harris Corporation reported Q1 FY14 sales down 5.5% to $1.19B. Among their 3 divisions, Government Communications Systems lost the most ground. Still, they’re more profitable than a year ago thanks to some restructuring. Financial statements [PDF].
The US Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will stop printing lithographic nautical charts, effective April 2014. They still offer print-on-demand, and have started a trial with PDF downloads.