20 novembre 2023 | International, Terrestre

Rocket Lab to open spacecraft parts manufacturing facility in Maryland

The 113,000 square foot complex — a former Lockheed Martin launch facility in Middle River — will help the company establish a long-term supply line.


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  • How Republicans might accept a smaller defense budget

    12 février 2021 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité

    How Republicans might accept a smaller defense budget

    By: Joe Gould WASHINGTON ― California Republican Rep. Ken Calvert is willing to meet Democratic lawmakers partway in their reported plans to trim the defense budget: cut back on civilian employees, not equipment and modernization. “Like everything else in government, personnel is your biggest cost, and the civilian-to-uniform ratio ... is at an all-time high,” Calvert, the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee's defense subpanel, said in an interview Wednesday. “Our inability to correct that trend is eating away at our military, our procurement, our readiness, all the above, and so we need to do this.” President Joe Biden is expected to release his federal budget plan in April, but battle lines are being drawn on Capitol Hill ahead of what is expected to be a tighter military budget than in recent years. While some key Republicans want to protect the military budget increases that came under then-President Donald Trump, or even build upon them, Calvert said he is open to “responsible reductions.” He is offering civilian cuts as an alternative to cutting end strength and weapons platforms. “Rather than reducing [personnel in] uniforms ― and I think there's some talk about doing that, especially in the Army ― we need to look at the civilian workforce, which is at the highest ratio to uniformed service members than it has ever been,” Calvert said. “If you're going to cut defense, are you going to cut procurement? People are arguing we need to build the Columbia-class submarine and Virginia-class submarine ― and I agree ― that we [keep the] Space Force, and [that] our satellite program is woefully behind ― and I agree. Where do you make your reductions when your overwhelming cost is personnel?” Under Calvert's bill, the Rebalance for an Effective Defense Uniform and Civilian Employees Act, or Reduce Act, a 15 percent cut to the civilian workforce overall and a cap for the Defense Department's Senior Executive Service at 1,000 employees would have to be in place by fiscal 2025 and remain through 2029. The defense secretary would be empowered to use voluntary-separation and early-retirement incentives toward the reduction. The legislation, which has been introduced several times before, was inspired by a 2015 study by the Defense Business Board that illustrated how the Department of Defense could save $125 billion over five years by slashing overhead. Still, the proposal to cut civilians would face new optics this year. As civilian voices were muted in favor of uniformed leaders under the Trump administration, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a former general, committed under bipartisan pressure to “rebalance” Pentagon decision- and policy-making in favor of civilian leaders. It's also a different tact than that of the House Armed Services Committee's new top Republican, Rep. Mike Rogers, who plans to guard against cuts and would prefer a 3-5 percent increase in defense spending ― which Pentagon leaders say is required to carry out the 2018 National Defense Strategy. It's still early in the budgeting cycle, and the two may align. But in meantime, Calvert's approach offers something to fiscal conservatives, and it tracks with past efforts from Rogers' predecessor, former Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas. Even if Republicans can fend off a top-line cut or win an adjustment for inflation to keep shipbuilding and aircraft procurement on track, Calvert said he supports cutting the Defense Department's civilian workforce. “Hey, I hope Mike's right. I mean, he is a good friend, but I think he's a realist too,” Calvert said. “I worked with his predecessor on procurement reform, I'm trying to do some personnel reform, and we need those reforms on both sides.” For their part, Democrats swiftly rejected Calvert's legislation, making it one of the first skirmishes of the annual battle over the defense budget. The defense subpanel's new chairwoman, Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., said she discussed the matter with Calvert and disagrees with him. “His proposal could lead to some of the most talented and committed DOD public servants losing their jobs,” McCollum said in a statement. “While we agree there is excess defense spending, my focus is on making smart investments that yield demonstrable outcomes by cutting waste and ending subsidies for outdated and unnecessary programs and facilities. In my view, the existing Department of Defense civilian workforce is mission critical to ensuring our national security.” The American Federation of Government Employees has historically opposed the bill, and a spokesman said funding and defense policy legislation passed last year prohibit civilian workforce cuts “without regard to impacts on readiness, lethality, military force structure, stress of the force, operational effectiveness and fully burdened costs.” With 768,000 federal employees working across all Defense Department components, the proposed cut amounts to 100,000 employees. Between 2015 and 2019, an average of just under 82,000 employees left DoD jobs each year. Calvert contends his 15 percent cut could be accomplished through attrition, not firings, and target “growth in middle management,” not the supply depots scattered around the country that have political backing. Previous cuts of civilian personnel have fueled increases in contracting costs ― and Calvert said he is open to cutting those too, in partnership with McCollum. “There would be discretion on the part of the people running the Pentagon; there are people you don't want to lose, they're in a special category, I get it,” Calvert said. “There are probably a lot of people you wouldn't miss, people up for retirement.” Democrats are more apt to take on nuclear modernization, which is projected to cost the Pentagon more than $240 billion in taxpayer dollars through 2028. In the balance is the contract for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, awarded to Northrop Grumman last year, to replace aging, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles. Politico reports that progressive lawmakers and disarmament advocates are lobbying allies in the Biden administration for a pause in the GBSD program, while the Air Force and its allies in Congress, think tanks, and defense contractors are sharpening their arguments to preserve the program. Calvert acknowledged criticism of nuclear spending from House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., but said big cuts to the nuclear triad lack the backing to succeed. (The panel rejected a funding cut for GBSD last year.) “I know Adam has been critical of that, but there's absolute support for redundancy of the deterrent within the Republican ranks, and so I don't see that going away. What I'm hearing so far out of the administration is that they feel the same way, so I don't think that's going to happen,” Calvert said. Austin and Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks have voiced support for nuclear modernization broadly but stopped short of pledging to uphold the current nuclear modernization strategy in its entirety. Nuclear modernization cutbacks would “weaken the United States,” Calvert argued. “We're not just thinking about Russia; we've got China, who's rapidly militarizing space, and their missile capability is improving. Obviously we've got countries like North Korea or Iran that are building their own missile capability, so we have to have a strong deterrent to make sure we are ready for any contingency.” Jessie Bur of Federal Times and Leo Shane III of Military Times contributed to this report. https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2021/02/11/how-republicans-might-accept-a-smaller-defense-budget/

  • Latvia relaunches ground vehicle competition following industry complaints

    3 octobre 2019 | International, Terrestre

    Latvia relaunches ground vehicle competition following industry complaints

    By: Aaron Mehta WASHINGTON — In recent years, the Baltic nation of Latvia has gone on a modernization spending spree, putting down cash for new Black Hawk helicopters, self-propelled howitzers, reconnaissance vehicles and anti-tank weapons. But there's another platform competition on the horizon, with officials in Riga having relaunched a stalled contest for tactical wheeled vehicles. In 2018, Latvia's Ministry of Defence awarded to Finland's Sisu Auto a €181 million (U.S. $197 million) deal for four-wheel drive armored vehicles. But the contract was overturned in early 2019 by a government watchdog after two bidders — AM General from the United States, and South Africa's Paramount Group — filed complaints over the process. Turkish firm Otokar had also bid on the program at the time. The recompete has seen offers from more than 10 companies for what will be a government-to-government agreement for a final contract. The price for the new contract will depend on the eventual winner and is not locked in at the Sisu contract level. Speaking to Defense News in September, Janis Garisons, state secretary for the MoD, said it's unlikely the government will reach a decision on the winner of the competition in the short term. “What we have to do, we will test the vehicles, because we want to ensure we are looking at vehicles fit for our terrain, that can drive into our forests and we are not [getting] stuck on the roads,” said Garisons, who is the No. 2 official at the ministry. “We will look also at the industrial part because we very much interested to have [the] ability to maintain those vehicles.” The last point is key, as Latvia is concerned about the ability to maintain its new purchases, something the country has struggled with, according to Garisons. “We don't want to be in that situation anymore.” The country is also focused on building up its domestic industrial base so that much of the maintenance on its new equipment can be done in-country, in case of conflict. Along those lines, the competition for a four-wheel drive vehicle is likely be the last big platform purchase for a while, as the ministry is turning its attention toward procurement efforts to benefit training and sustainment. “Now we face trying to implement everything and put [them] into service. This takes time, and of course all logistical tails, which goes with that,” he said. “Therefore, we now have to concentrate more on — it's not very fancy things, but basically the training is going on already on all those capabilities that [have been bought], but now we have to ensure all the logistical issues are solved and maintained and sustainment is ensured.” Regarding research and development, Latvia is working on a joint effort with Estonia to produce unmanned ground vehicles. “That is something for the future capabilities. The goal is to understand our limits and how to engage our companies, also, coming up with solutions for autonomous systems,” Garisons said. “Because I think the biggest issue right now is how to ensure that those unmanned vehicles can operate autonomously and not need the soldier operating, as that doesn't add much value.” https://www.defensenews.com/2019/10/02/latvia-relaunch-ground-vehicle-competition-following-industry-complaints

  • Oshkosh agrees to buy Pratt Miller for $115M

    17 décembre 2020 | International, Terrestre

    Oshkosh agrees to buy Pratt Miller for $115M

    By: Jen Judson WASHINGTON — Joint Light Tactical Vehicle-maker Oshkosh Defense announced it has agreed to buy engineering company Pratt Miller, which brings with it artificial intelligence, autonomy and robotics expertise. Oshkosh said in a Dec. 15 news release that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Pratt Miller in a cash-free, debt-free purchase price of $115 million. The New Hudson, Michigan-based Pratt Miller will keep its name, team, facilities and branding, according to the statement. The engineering company was founded in 1989 and is becoming known for its robotics capabilities. The firm recently won a U.S. Army contract in a partnership with QinetiQ to provide prototypes of the light variant of its Robotic Combat Vehicle for evaluation. Pratt Miller also won a contract to develop a design to integrate a new weapon system onto a Stryker combat vehicle under the Stryker Medium Caliber Weapons System lethality program. It is partnered with Rafael in the competition in which government testing of offerings is ongoing. The Israeli government recently expressed enthusiastic interest in mating Oshkosh vehicles with Rafael's Iron Dome missile defense system. In addition, Pratt Miller was one of six companies chosen by Army Futures Command to work on ways to improve the currently cumbersome, taxing and sometimes risky munitions resupply system for field artillery units operating M109 Paladin howitzers. “Pratt Miller has made significant advances in dynamic growth areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous and connected systems and electrification,” which puts Oshkosh more into the robotics game than ever before. “We believe combining Pratt Miller's engineering expertise with Oshkosh's innovation and operational strengths will enable us to better serve customers and position our Company for growth,” John Pfeifer, Oshkosh Corporation president and chief operating officer, said in the statement. “Pratt Miller's motorsports heritage has created a culture of speed and agility that has defined our success,” added Matt Carroll, the company's CEO. “Oshkosh is an ideal partner for us to apply that mindset to some of the most significant challenges facing customers today. Together, we expect to grow our decade-long partnership and expand our pipeline of new business opportunities. We look forward to learning from one another and continuing to innovate to bring market-leading products to our customers.” The buy, which is subject to customary closing conditions, should be complete in the first quarter of calendar year 2021, the statement noted. The acquisition also could give Oshkosh more leverage in competitions like JLTV re-compete effort which has recently kicked off and the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle program to replace the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle. A request for proposals for the OMFV program is expected to drop by the end of the week. https://www.defensenews.com/land/2020/12/15/oshkosh-buys-pratt-miller-for-115m/

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