The Next Generation Insitu Product: Integrator
Wired.com’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.
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.
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 www.pndc.us and follow the links to the registration site. You don’t want to miss this.
Here’s a little good news for your post-holiday work week: Freightliner negotiated a deal with the unions to keep their Portland manufacturing operations around “well into the future” (whatever that means.) Read the full story from The Oregonian here.
This concludes the latest chapter in the strange dance that the City of Portland and Daimler Trucks have been locked in for what seems like an eternity. I know there are some PNDC members out there that are certainly happy with this outcome (like WW Metal Fab, for one.) While this isn’t exactly earth-shattering news, it certainly means quite a bit for the folks who continue to build and supply the military trucks that are a staple out on Swan Island. Looks like manufacturing in Portland isn’t dead yet.
Ashton Carter, the Sheriff of Acquisition at the Pentagon
Ashton Carter, the Pentagon’s acquisition boss, made news today by announcing plans for a detailed “soup to nuts” review of defense spending. Unless you’ve been living in a cave, this shouldn’t be much of a surprise. What is somewhat newsworthy is the way in which the plans were laid out: an invitation only meeting with officials from the major industry players. From Defense News:
“Sources said the acquisition executive told industry brass the review will examine competition for contracts; requirements; specific fees; how to ensure strong small-business participation in the DoD acquisition process; the differences between planning for what programs should and most likely will cost; how to bolster the acquisition work force; and affordability.” (Read the Full Article here)
This announcement tracks pretty well with Secretary Gates’ plans to keep Defense budget growth to 1% per year over the next few years by moving costs from “tail to tooth”. It’s a good sign that the administration is keeping industry at the table, and that (at least for now), industry is playing along. From the perspective of PNDC, it’s good to see some language about small business participation, but I’m still deeply suspicious of phrases like that. I’ve spent a little time in the rarified world of big dollar acquisition, and those folks haven’t got the foggiest clue about how industry actually works at the ground level. Still… platitudes are better than nothing, so we’ll take it.
In the interest of providing some educational content for our members, this post will be the first of an occasional series called How It’s Done. We’ll be keeping an eye out for member companies that notch a win with the government or a big prime. Since the aim of PNDC is to help bring more money back to the Pacific Northwest, it seems like a good idea to make sure we keep you apprised of the best practices that are leading to wins.
First up, a win for Offices by Design. How it was done:
Offices by Design was recently awarded a $185,000 contract to supply and install office furniture to the U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM) near Boston, Massachusetts.
Offices by Design is a small woman owned business based out of Hillsboro. Maureen Greer, the President, began seriously looking into government contracting soon after joining the Pacific Northwest Defense Coalition last summer. She has had a number of initial successes using online bid boards such as FedBid.com and DIBBS (the Defense Logistics Agency’s bid board). These include a $35,000 sale of workstations to the National Science Foundation in Washington D.C. and a win with the Department of State.
Her most recent award of $185,000 from the Army’s RDECOM ended a nine month bid process including a site visit to their facilities in Massachusetts and a presentation to the RDECOM Director. With this win, Offices by Design hopes to become an easy choice for any future RDECOM contracts.
Offices by Design’s effort exemplifies that while government contracting requires an upfront commitment of sweat equity – it can eventually pay off. With experience under her belt, future contracts with the government will become a valuable portion of Maureen’s business.
For more information on OFFICES by Design, please visit their website at: http://www.officesbydesign.net.
For government contracting assistance please contact PNDC: email@example.com
Rep Norm Dicks (D-WA) Addresses a Crowd in 2008
It’s been quite a year for Congressman Norm Dicks. In the span of a few months, the longtime Representative from the Kitsap Peninsula has quickly gone from high profile Democratic leader to highest profile. Dicks had long served on the House’s Appropriations Committee, as Chair of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, as well as serving as the second higherst ranking member of the powerful Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. Earlier this year, Rep. John “Jack” Murtha (D-PA) unexpectedly passed away, which moved Rep. Dicks into the position of Chair of the Defense Subcommittee.
Just as he started to get comfortable in his new role as Chair, another bombshell dropped today. The current chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. David Obey (D-WI) annouced that he will not run for re-election in 2010. This leaves Dicks, the number two ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, as the next most senior member. While seniority isn’t everything in the House, it means quite a lot. If seniority rules (and if the Democrats keep control of the House in 2010), we could see Congressman Dicks ascend to the head of the most powerful committee in Congress. That said, it appears as though Dicks may already have some competition for the spot, so this is nowhere near a done deal.
Some of you who are a little tired of politics (or don’t care at all) may wonder why this matters to us? Here’s the quick and dirty:
The Pacific Northwest has never been synonymous with Defense. That’s why PNDC exists, and why I’m here blogging at 6pm on a Wednesday. Congressman Dicks has been in the House since 1977, and has been championing Defense-related causes for many years. For the first time in a long, LONG time, the Pentagon is going to be paying close attention to what’s happening out here in the Great Northwest. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican… that’s something I could definitely get behind.
Pictured is the "Integrator", Insitu's offering in the STUAS competition
If you haven’t heard, the Navy is hosting a little competition known as Small Tactical Unmanned Air Systems (STUAS), Tier II. At stake are around a billion dollars in business over 10 years, and de facto leadership in the small UAV market segment within DoD. Insitu (a PNDC member) of Bingen, WA has a lot riding on this competition. Here in the Northwest, a boatload of Insitu subcontractors have grown up with the company’s Scan Eagle UAV. Quite a few of them are holding their breath for a long overdue decision from the Navy on the fate of the Integrator, Insitu’s entry in the STUAS Tier II competition. The Navy originally intended to make a final decision in 2007, but the decision has been slipping to the right for what feels like an eternity, with no hint at when a final call will be made. Until now?
One of our eagle-eyed members picked up a quote from Insitu CEO Steve Sliwa, buried in an article in The Oregonian dated 17 April. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“Sliwa said his attention is focused these days on a Pentagon decision, expected within 30 days, about expanding its use of unmanned robotic aircraft.”
Is the Navy preparing to make a decision? I, for one, have no idea. As they say over at Fox News: we report, you decide.
Read the full article from The Oregonian here.
PS: There are also a couple of interesting nuggets about Insitu’s facilities for those of you who follow the company closely.
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