Category Archives: Northwest Regional News

So Long, Mr. Secretary, and Welcome Home!

Robert Gates is Stepping Down as Secretary of Defense

After 30 years of public service under eight presidents of both parties, Robert Gates is stepping down as the 22nd Secretary of Defense.   His 4 1/2 year tenure as SecDef under presidents Bush and Obama was arguably one of the most difficult and eventful terms ever served. Leon Panetta, his relief, is another longtime Washington hand, but he has some pretty big shoes to fill.  Gates’ skill on Capitol Hill and inside the byzantine Pentagon bureaucracy will be hard to match.

What’s next for the newly minted “Mister” Gates?  Well, he’s been talking about that house here in the Northwest for a while now, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re bumping around the Kitsap Peninsula.  You never know where he might pop up.

Leave a comment

Filed under News Update, Northwest Regional News, Washington News

Joint Strike Fighter: The Map Says it All

Today’s modern weapons systems possess the most advanced features known to humanity: sophisticated avionics, advanced materials, high performance power plants, and most importantly… extremely well planned supply chains to ensure survivability.  To that end, take a look at Lockheed Martin’s newly released map of supply chain impacts of the F-35 around the United States.

Coming in at almost $150M annually, the 4 Northwest states didn’t do too badly, but given that the total life of the program is valued at $380B, you can imagine that a few states are doing pretty well (I’m looking at you CA, TX and, unexpectedly, NH.)  It doesn’t take a genius to understand how this map affects the political impact of the program.  While the F-35B may be on the proverbial hot seat, this shows you what an uphill battle opponents of the B-variant will have in killing it.

Take some time and enjoy the map in all of its glory here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Northwest Regional News, Politics

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!


Leave a comment

Filed under News Update, Northwest Regional News


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…

Leave a comment

Filed under News Update, Northwest Regional News, Politics


Depending on who you listen to, the agony that has been the Boeing/EADS tanker death match may be finally coming to some sort of conclusion.  The Air Force is making noises that the decision may be made in the next week or two (if you believe the rumors that are coming out of the Air Force Association’s winter meetings this week).  Of course, this means all sides are busy posturing ahead of the decision as to the prospects of protests, but that’s to be expected.  I’m not even going to lay odds on any outcome, but you’re more than welcomed to in the comments box.  In fact, I’ll mail a PNDC coin to anybody who correctly calls the winner of the competition in the comments section.  Extra credit if you correctly predict a protest.

Read more specifics on this mess over at DoD Buzz.

Leave a comment

Filed under Northwest Regional News, Washington News

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

On September 23rd,  PNDC will be hosting our 5th Annual Member Meeting and Social at the Governor Hotel in Portland.  This year is going to be one heckuva good time.

Why do I say this with so much confidence?  Well, this year’s Northwest military update will be given by none other than CSM Frank Grippe, on of the most respected guys in the Army.  Not only does Frank serve as one of the highest ranking soliders in our Army, he’s also quite a comedian.  Check out this clip of Frank last year on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” for a sneak preview of his comic stylings.

Need tickets?  I thought so.  Visit and follow the links to the registration site.  You don’t want to miss this.

Leave a comment

Filed under Northwest Regional News

This Just In… Insitu Wins STUAS Tier II

From a Department of the Navy press release:

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. –The Department of the Navy announced today that Insitu, Inc. has been awarded a $43.7 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) of the Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System.

The STUAS contract award is the culmination of a competitive source selection process supported by personnel from Naval Air Systems Command, Marine Corps Systems Command and the Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical UAS program office (PMA-263) in Patuxent River.

“I’m looking forward to fielding the capabilities of STUAS to our forward deployed forces,” said Capt. JR Brown, PMA-263 Program Manager. “This critical system will greatly increase their intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in theater.”

Insitu will complete a two-year EMD effort to mature its UAS design to meet the STUAS performance-based specification requirements. They will provide land-based and ship-based assets and associated support to complete integrated test and prepare for production.

The contract includes priced options for an Early Operational Capability and Low Rate Initial Production systems and associated support.

STUAS will provide ISR support for Marine Corps land forces, Naval Special Warfare Command and Navy ships, according to Brown. The system will eventually replace the Navy and Marine Corps ISR services contract, under which current ISR missions are being conducted in Iraq, Afghanistan and during shipboard operations.

Wow…. that was out of left field.  Congrats to Insitu and everybody invoved in their supply chain.  This is big news for the Northwest!


1 Comment

Filed under News Update, Northwest Regional News

Pacific Northwest Companies Stand Out at ADS Expo

Pacific Northwest companies were well represented at the recent ADS Expo East. The event was held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center and hosted more than 180 of industry’s leading companies and featured demonstrations and industry related seminars. Proud to be among this group were many companies located in the Pacific Northwest. I spent time with the following companies to learn about growth and innovation: Benchmade Knife Company, Beyond Clothing, Cascade Designs, Crimson Trace, Danner Boots, and Tactical Tailor. Each company had key members of their leadership on hand to talk about and demonstrate new products which really highlight their manufacturing and creative design efforts towards supporting the military and public safety community.

A few of the observations I have about the Northwest Companies follow.

Benchmade Knife Company continues to define their hook knife product line and push tool engineering to meet the Army’s specific operational needs. What began as a compact tool used by Jump Masters to cut away distressed jumpers has now evolved into a full line of multi use safety tools. Thanks in part to placement on the Army’s Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI) product list, the hook knife is now an accepted part of soldiers gear providing additional benefits as part of every Combat Medics Bag. 

The company “Beyond Clothing” might not be a name well-recognized outside of high performance clothing but as I learned at the show, they continue to innovate serving the Special Forces (SF) needs within the Protective Combat Uniform (PCU) program. Beyond meets these requirements in special situations where the mandatory sources cannot. Developed in 2004, the PCU program was designed to specifically to meet SF requirements for cold weather gear when deployed in Afghanistan. The Army followed with the current program called Extended Cold Weather Clothing System (ECWCS) which began fielding in Kuwait in 2006 and Afghanistan in 2007. It’s obvious that the services continue to have a requirement for performance clothing for use in unusually harsh, wet and cold environments.

Cascade Designs demonstrated their line of smartly designed stoves and accessories, sleep pads, water purification and hydration systems. It never ceases to amaze to watch the self inflating sleep pad take shape providing a greater level of insulation for cold weather conditions. When you look at the Cascade designed products two things come immediately to mind (1) the high level of manufacturing quality and excellence; (2) the elegance and creativity of their design.

The latest line of grip based laser aiming devices made an impact for Crimson Trace. The laser sights shown to this audience focused on applications for the AR-15 rifle. Crimson Trace had two demonstration rifles on hand for attendees to show how the three options work. Their newest laser is the MVF-515 Vertical Foregrip Light & Laser Combo. From their website, “this serves as a multi-purpose tactical platform as we develop new modules and capabilities.” Rumor has it Crimson Trace will have a newer version to show at the upcoming Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City the first week in August – don’t miss it.

Standing out among the competition in footwear is a tough requirement but Danner makes it look easy. I spent some time with the Danner Combat Hiker Military Boot. This boot does so well is because it was designed for the mountainous terrain in Afghanistan. Unless you have spent time operating in all three current areas of terrain (Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan) it might be easy to think that one boot can do it all! However, that is not the case and Danner Boots gets that. This is especially true in Afghanistan where loose rock as opposed to sand is the norm. The boot has been so well received that it is now procured as part of the Army RFI product list.

Tactical Tailor is in a crowded and competitive market space. However, when it comes to Tactical Tailor’s business, their stated mission of ‘providing superior products of exceptional value” is not just a corporate platitude. After a few minutes of viewing their latest tactical nylon products it’s easy to see why Tactical Tailor products stand out from the competition.  Mass produced nylon makers don’t understand Soldier requirements like Tactical Tailor. A company founded by a Soldier who focused initially on making rucksacks better and then building better bags and packs remains unique within the industry. Tactical Tailor is successful by staying close and really understanding their end-user – the Soldier.

In addition to providing a forum to demonstrate product lines, the ADS event offered a broad schedule over the two days which included industry demonstrations and break-out sessions. The discussions about supporting Explosive Ordinance Detachments (EOD) in Iraq and Afghanistan, the demonstration by the DuPont THERMO-MAN® showing how thermal protection is measured, and the demonstration on the latest technologies and products available for rapid response to aid in disaster relief efforts where particularly great examples.

Most of the companies specifically mentioned are members of the Pacific Northwest Defense Coalition (PNDC). This coalition is a member funded organization focused on generating regional technology and business opportunities through local, regional, & national government procurement groups. Their primary focus is helping members to develop opportunities within the Department of Defense (DOD) and Homeland Security. To learn more about the PNDC, visit their webpage at

The next opportunity for Pacific Northwest companies to shine will be at the Outdoor Retailer show, Salt Lake City. As members of industry, military procurement officer, requirements developers, and material and product designers descend on Salt Lake, I will be looking for more examples which highlight the depth and creativity of Pacific Northwest companies.

1 Comment

Filed under News Update, Northwest Regional News

Two PNDC Members are Rockin’ the Charts

Two Number 1's for the Northwest

Aviation Week’s 2010 Aerospace and Defense Rankings are out, and look who came out on top?  None other than PNDC members FLIR Systems and Precision Castparts. 

The rankings fall into three categories (basically small, medium and large), and both firms won their respective categories.  In the $5-20B category, PCC bested such heavy hitters as Harris, Goodrich, and Bombardier.  PCC also notched a number 2 spot on the Five Year Most Improved list.  In the $1B-5B category, FLIR came in first place ahead of Cubic and Rockwell Collins.  FLIR was also recognized for their five year performance.  Honorable mention went to several other PNDC members, including Boeing and Meggitt.

For a full rundown of the rankings, head on over to Aviation Week’s Special Section on the 2010 A&D Awards.  Congrats to both firms and their employees for hauling in the hardware!

Need more detail on this story?  For FLIR Systems Public Affairs, contact Angel Bennett at 703.416.1043. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Northwest Regional News

Here We Go (or Don’t Go) Again…

Yet Another Delay for STUAS Tier-II (Photo Courtesy of Insitu)

Well, after the Navy had insisted that the STUAS Tier-II decision would be made this summer, we’re back to mysterious delays yet again.  This time, the Navy says they need another nine months.  From Flightglobal:

Capt J R Brown, STUAS programme manager, credits the latest delay to taking extra vigilance with taxpayer dollars.

“Discussions have been, and continue to be, required to understand and clarify industry’s proposed solutions to meet the warfighter’s requirements,” Brown says.

It’s been three years now, and we’re still clarifying.  This is becoming theater of the absurd.

Read the full article by Stephen Trimble on

Leave a comment

Filed under News Update, Northwest Regional News