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.

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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.

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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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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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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.

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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.

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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!


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