Top News in Defense
Headline news affecting Alabama’s defense industry in the last 12 months
The Littoral Combat Ship USS Independence, launched at Austal USA in Mobile in 2008, was the first of five Austal-built LCS vessels that have been launched and commissioned.In July, the Senate Armed Services Committee proposed cutting orders for LCSs to one a year instead of the current three a year.
In May, President Donald Trump unveiled a 2018 defense budget proposal totaling $639.1 billion, including a call for another round of base realignment and closure reviews (BRAC) in 2021.
In September 2016, the U.S. Navy announced plans to restructure the $360 million Littoral Combat Ship program, starting with designating the first four LCS ships as test vessels and limiting their deployment to emergencies. This followed a yearlong series of mechanical failures during sea trials. In July, the Senate Armed Services Committee proposed cutting orders for LCSs to one a year instead of the current three a year. Austal USA, the largest employer in Mobile, has contracts for half the 26 LCSs the Navy originally ordered. Lockheed Martin has a contract for the other half, building ships in Milwaukee. Lockheed has delivered four LCSs and Austal five.
The command and control elements of the Army’s future missile defense system — Integrated Air-and-Missile Defense System (AIAMD) — is “neither mature nor stable,” the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation declared in February. Those elements (Integrated Battle Command System) are designed by Northrop Grumman and are a major segment of the company’s Huntsville work.
Creation of a new branch of the military called the “Space Corps” is called for in the National Defense Authorization Act, passed by the House of Representatives in July. Beginning in 2019, the Space Corps would replace the Air Force’s current space departments, receive more funding and have its own command.
In October, the Army awarded IBM a $62 million contract to transfer much of the data at Redstone Arsenal to private IBM cloud facilities. The contract is the first test of a plan for more extensive cloud storage of military data. See the feature story in this issue on page 18.
Seven Huntsville companies were among 55 selected in May to share a $37.5 billion Pentagon contract to provide knowledge-based professional services to the U.S. Army. The Alabama companies are Teledyne Brown Engineering Inc., Aranea Solutions Inc., Intuitive Research and Technology Corp., Radiance Technologies Inc., Sigmatech Inc., Systems Products and Solutions Inc. and Torch Technologies.
Raytheon received a $199 million contract modification to supply various missiles to the U.S. Navy and several of the branch’s allied armed forces. The contract, awarded in April and extending into 2020, includes the procurement of 317 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder missiles. Alabama is among several states in which the work will be performed.
The Department of Defense in May awarded Boeing Co. a $1.09 billion contract for Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) development. The work, which extends through 2022, will be done at Boeing facilities in Huntsville, as well as Tucson, Arizona and Sunnyvale, California. The RKV is an upgrade to the current Exo-Atmospheric Kill Vehicle, or EKV, and part of a multi-phase missile defense plan.
In August, the Air Force has awarded Boeing Co. a $349 million contract for preliminary design work on a replacement for the Minuteman III ICBM. The work will be performed in Huntsville, as well as Ogden, Utah and Heath, Ohio.
Florida-based CAE USA landed, in January, a $450 million Army contract to provide rotary-wing flight training instructor support services at the Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, in southeast Alabama. In March, CAE opened a new training center for Army aviators at the Dothan Regional Airport.
The Missile Defense Agency awarded, in March, a $273 million contract to Lockheed Martin to build Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) ballistic missile interceptors at the company’s plant in Troy. The award was for the ninth lot of missiles. Lockheed also was awarded an additional $11 million for spare parts for the THAAD system deployed by the United Arab Emirates.
United Launch Alliance received, in December 2016, a $269.2 million contract modification to configure the Delta IV Heavy rocket as part of the U.S. Air Force launch vehicle production requirement for fiscal year 2017. The work extends through 2020 and is being done in Decatur, as well as Centennial, Colorado and Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Aerojet Rocketdyne, in January, chose Huntsville as its final assembly site for the new AR1 rocket engine, creating 100 new jobs in the area. The company is competing against Blue Origin to develop an American engine for the United Launch Alliance Vulcan rocket, a replacement for the Russian-made rocket currently deploying U.S. satellites. Aerojet Rocketdyne in April announced an expansion in Huntsville that will create up to 800 jobs. Many of those jobs will be relocation of workers from company facilities in California.
In July, Lockheed Martin secured a $130.3 million modification to build additional Patriot Advanced Capability-3 air defense missiles for the U.S. Army and government customers under the foreign military sales program. The work will be done through 2020 in Huntsville and seven other company sites in five other states.
The Air Force, in June, awarded Huntsville-based Dynetics a $10.9 million contract to deliver an initial batch of 70 GBU-69B Small Glide Munitions with options for 30 more.
During testimony to Congress in March, the Army’s operations chief placed in the Top 10 modernization initiatives a program to install a newly designed turbine engine in 2,135 Blackhawk and 684 Apache helicopters. Much of the work is to be done at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville.
Chris McFadyen is editorial director for Business Alabama.