Category Archives: News Update

Exports: Saving our Bacon?

10 C-17s are heading to India

The budget situation in the United States looks pretty awful for the foreseeable future.  Where the Department of Defense will land in the upcoming slew of red ink is still an open (and much debated) question, but nobody is placing bets on a boom in major defense programs any time soon.

That’s why the recent decision by the Indian government to order 10 C-17’s from Boeing is such a relief to companies up and down the West Coast and around the country.  This win for Boeing guarantees that their Long Beach, CA based production line will be cranking out the Globemaster until 2014.  The effects of this one order can be seen all over the Northwest, including companies like Portland based Precision Castparts Corp, who supplies parts for the cargo plane.

This new order from India highlights a trend of major exports of US defense products.  W.J. Hennigan penned an excellent summary of the export market in today’s Los Angeles Times, and it’s definitely worth a read.   While the future climate for the domestic US defense market could still best be described as lousy, every dark cloud has a silver lining.  Perhaps the export market is just what the doctor ordered.

Update (6/17/11):As if on cue, Australia makes me look awfully smart.


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My Favorite Headline of the Week

Defense Secretary Robert Gates Smacks NATO

Defense Secretary Robert Gates: Enjoying his last few weeks on the job

Well, the outgoing SECDEF is not exactly going quietly into that good night.  Robert Gates’ farewell tour has spanned the globe, and his opinions on a wide range of issues have kicked up dust at just about every stop.  The latest? That grand ‘ol punching bag known as Europe, which leads to my favorite headline of the week: “Gates to NATO: You Guys Suck“.

From DoD Buzz:

Have you ever imagined quitting your job and telling your old cretin of a boss exactly what you think of him? Of course — it’s the American dream. And Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is living it right now, having gone to the doorstep of one of the world’s most ossified, stultifying bureaucracies — NATO — and delivered this message: Get your act together.

Click here to read Philip Ewing’s full article.  It’s a great piece.

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Big Things Coming for the UAV Industry?

The Next Generation Insitu Product: Integrator’s Danger Room has a great piece on the future of the Unmanned Systems business.  Needless to say, if you’re somebody in the supply chain already, this makes you look pretty smart:

But based on current tech trends (everything always gets more expensive), anticipated (that is to say, flat) budgets and projected threats (China and terrorists, as usual), the military believes it can make do for the next three decades with air fleets roughly the same size as today’s — with just one big exception. The robot air force will double in just the next nine years.

Not bad if you’re in the business.  If you’re not, well, you might want to reconsider.  Check out the full piece here.

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Insitu Wins Another One

Another Pickup for Insitu (Photo Courtesy of Insitu)

In case you haven’t heard by now, PNDC member Insitu has racked up another win.  This time they won a contract valued at more than $83M to support the currently fielded Scan Eagle systems, which are also built by Insitu.  While this win isn’t necessarily a big surprise to observers, it is certainly a sign of the Navy’s continued confidence in Insitu to deliver high-quality services to the warfighters in the field.  Congrats to everyone on Team Insitu for the win!


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EFV Following MRAP Acquisition Strategy?

Will the Marine Corps be able to resurrect the ailing EFV buy?

It sounds like the Marine Corps is making some noises that indicate they’re not giving up on the  former Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program without a fight.  Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos is on record as saying he wants to be driving some kind of Amphibious Combat Vehicle before his tour is up.  From Defense Tech:

“I’m trying to pressurize industry, I’m trying to pressurize the acquisition folks, I want the word to get out. If we followed the standard acquisition timeline, which in some cases got us to where we are today, it’ll be 2024.”

To avoid such a fate, the general said the Department of the Navy will be using a model similar to the one it used to quickly buy and field thousands of MRAPs during the height of the Iraq war.

“Something probably that resembles the sense of urgency that we had for the MRAP but probably a little bit more scheduled, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Read the full article from Defense Tech here.

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Late breaking news:  The USAF has awarded the KC-X aerial refueling tanker contract to the Boeing Company.  This is huge news for our friends at Boeing, and a win for the Puget Sound Region’s economy.   I hope everyone takes a moment to celebrate, but it should be tempered.  Nearly everyone expects a protest to be imminent, and we know from experience how poisoned this whole process has been to date.  Stay tuned for more…

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Earmarks are Officially out of the Process (For Now)

Earmarking becomes a temporary thing of the past

Well, it’s been a long time coming, but the likes of Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ) finally got their way.  This week, Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced a two year moratorium on the practice of earmarking in the Senate, bringing both houses of Congress in line with pledges from the White House to veto any earmarked bill that comes before the President.

(In the interest of full disclosure, PNDC has and continues to receive federal funding that was the result of a congressional earmark for our Northwest Connectory project.)

While some observers are calling this a major capitulation by Senate Democrats, it looks to me more like a pragmatic acceptance of the new reality.   President Obama has chosen to side with House Republicans in their quest to end the longstanding practice, and Senator Inouye and the rest of the Senate Democrats would have to pick a politically costly fight to retain their control over the purse strings.

This decision is likely to have a whole host of as-yet-unseen consequences on the system, so it will be interesting to watch what happens over the next few months.  Earmarks not only pay for great organizations like PNDC to do economic development work, they’re also one of the main ways that public works projects get funded in municipalities around the United States.  Plus, there are a few DoD programs out there that got their start as pork barrel projects (I’m looking at you, Predator, Scan Eagle, etc.)

We may not know the full implication of this moratorium, but one thing is for certain: members of Congress must take care of their districts.  In the long run, it’s almost certain they’ll figure out a way to do it.

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