Airbus reported its 1st quarter [PDF] since it dropped the EADS name, with sales up 2% to 8.9 billion euros ($12.2B). The Defense & Space division grew sales by 3% to €2.7B, though order intake retreated by 4.3% to €2.07B. This helps make the case that regardless of current profitability and a huge commercial aircraft backlog, some sort of restructuring of Airbus’ defense business was necessary, which is the company’s focus this year.
US Special Operation Command’s Mark V fast boats are known for their daring crews and SEAL passengers. They’re also known for back-breaking bumpy rides, and for an occasional tendency to have their entire pilot house collapse when hit by a wave. SOCOM has been interested in a replacement since 2003, and the Combatant Craft, Medium Mark 1 (CCM Mk1) was originally described as that Mk.V replacement – until that iteration was canceled in April 2010. The revised and re-issued program is sold instead as a replacement for current Naval Special Warfare Rigid Inflatable Boats (NSW RIBs), to be accompanied by a future CC-Heavy counterpart that would replace the Mk.V. Until CCH arrives, however, there’s always a a possibility that CCM will wind up being the only delivered program.
The CCM competition is currently in Phase III, with a final design selection for the 10-year, $400 million contract due in 2013.
KyivPost: “Interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov called the separatist referendums in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts – collectively 15% of the nation – a ‘farce’ that ‘will not have any legal consequences except for the prosecution of its organizers.'”
French President Hollande confirmed that for now the Mistral contract with Russia is still being fulfilled. Les Echos [in French].
The B-52 Stratofortress remains the mainstay of the U.S. strategic bomber force, and in-theater combat communications improvements may allow it to make better use of advanced weapons like the JDAM. The B-52H, which went into service in 1961, is the only remaining B-52 model in use by the USAF. It flies slightly faster than a 767, operating at high subsonic speeds and altitudes up to 50,000 feet, and carrying either nuclear or precision-guided conventional weapons. On-going modifications have added global positioning system compatibility for the aircraft and weapons, targeting pods like the LITENING, heavy stores adapter beams for carrying 2,000 pound munitions, and an array of advanced weapons.
Under the B-52 combat network communications technology (CONECT) program, the B-52H fleet will receive new computers and color displays, key datalinks, an advanced wideband satellite terminal, and a series of tie-ins to existing USAF systems that will allow them to receive new missions, or even re-target weapons during flight. The total development contract originally projected $500 million worth of spending, but the Air Force announced an abrupt restructuring in its FY13 budget request. However that lasted all of 3 months, as a Milestone C decision came in May 2012, followed by the first production orders and a FY14 request putting these upgrades back on track, though with less money. A first delivery in April 2014 indicated the program seemed to settle down.
Defense One’s claim that every country will have armed drones within ten years that are capable of firing missiles seems a bit of a stretch, but it’s a safe expectation that at least every significant military power will have UCAVs in 10 years, and so will many 2nd-tier countries.
While discussing their annual Top-Performing Companies (TPC) study, AviationWeek and PWC echo concerns voiced here at DID last month:
“Another troubling sign is that half of the world’s 10 highest-ranked defense-oriented operating units saw defense-related revenues decline. Profit growth in the face of flat or declining revenue is all but unsustainable, and so the issue for prime contractors is where to find – or how to create – a new or improved engine for revenue growth.”
The GAO reminds the rest of the federal government that regardless of its support for alternative jet fuels, “long-term commercial viability hinges on market factors.” The US Department of Defense, mostly through the Air Force and more recently the Navy, is keen to use alternative fuels to increase energy independence. But are they fully factoring in the likely impact on global food prices of mass fuel production from crops, and their second-order effects on global security? This debate seems to have faded away before it was truly settled.
The US Coast Guard is organizing an industry day on June 5 in Washington, DC to discuss a broad range of requirements coming in FY15.
The Idaho National Laboratory awarded contracts to Real Time Logic, L-3 Communications, Cubic, BAE and Rockwell Collins for the first phase of a program to make the Common Data Link (CDL) available for small UAS such as the Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (STUAS).
Night Vision Goggles have provided American troops with important combat advantages, and the technology has continued to advance. The Army has moved to field Enhanced Night Vision Goggles, but soldiers complained about the first 9,000 or so. 2013 saw generation II ENVGs arrive, but the Pentagon is really excited about ENVG III, and that excitement goes beyond improvements in resolution. They’re so excited that they’ve just issued 9-figure contracts to 2 firms…
The international RIMPAC 2014 exercise will take place between June 26 and August 1 and involve 47 surface ships, 6 submarines, 200+ aircraft, and 25,000 people. China will participate for the first time, following an invitation extended by then US SecDef Panetta in 2012, though China’s defense ministry has mentioned this only in passing so far.
Vietnamese officials say that Vietnamese naval ships and Chinese vessels have collided in the South China Sea, while the Philippines detained 11 Chinese fishermen accused of collecting endangered turtles.
Foreign Policy worries that it was a bad idea for the United States to test boost-glide weapons, thus leading China to pursue powerful conventional weapons that could one day threaten the continental US.
India’s Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran has advised the government against blacklisting AgustaWestland, at least for now.
The US Government Accountability Office is trying to figure out why DoD and the services issue so many noncompetitive contracts and task orders. The agency thinks that recently-introduced rules that kick in when only one offer is received apply too late in the acquisition process. GAO notes that:
“DOD’s one-offer rules do not require contracting officials to engage with the vendor community to learn why vendors chose not to submit offers. However, contracting officials chose to do so in two sample cases, and in one case, based on this information, changed the acquisition strategy to allow for recompetition sooner than planned.”
Compete, but not too much! Congressman Michael Michaud [D-ME] was delighted to hear from (now former) acting defense undersecretary Christine Fox that the Pentagon would make sure to procure athletic shoes only from American manufacturers. (Bob Works has just been sworn in as the new defense undersecretary.)
US Secretary of State Chuck Hagel is urging the USA’s NATO partners to renew financial commitments to defense, echoing former SecDef Robert Gates as he was departing the office 3 years ago.
At least 42 people, most of them pro-Russian, died in a fire during clashes with pro-Kiev demonstrators last Friday in Odessa, in southern-eastern Ukraine. Since then the mobrules in the region.
Meanwhile the Russian government is rushing draft laws to the State Duma to integrate Crimea under Russian law, while the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a whole white book [PDF] denouncing violations of human rights in Ukraine, featuring the word “Nazi” no less than 13 times. You have to grant to the Kremlin that once they’ve written their script, they stick to it.