6 mai 2020 | International, Aérospatial, Terrestre

The Army’s future vertical lift plan may have a supplier problem

By: Aaron Mehta

WASHINGTON — Army rotorcraft programs could net industry an average of $8 billion to 10 billion per year over the next decade — but defense companies can expect major challenges for its lower-tier suppliers, some of whom might choose not to come along for the ride.

Those are the findings of a new study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, released Wednesday. It follows a November report outlining cost concerns about the service's Future Vertical Lift (FVL) plan.

The Army plans to field a future attack reconnaissance aircraft, or FARA, by 2028 and a future long-range assault aircraft, or FLRAA, by 2030. The modernization program is one of the top priorities for the Army.

First, the good news for industry. The study found an annual market of $8 billion to 10 billion for Army rotorcraft programs over the next decade, with a potential dip occurring only in 2026, when the two new programs are spinning up. That's a strong figure that should keep the major defense companies happy.

However, lower-tier companies may find themselves unprepared to actually manufacture FLRAA and FARA parts, given the newer production techniques the Army plans to use — things like additive manufacturing, robotics, artificial intelligence, digital twins, and data analytics. And if that happens, the service could face a supplier problem that could provide a major speed bump for its plans of having the systems ready to go at the end of the decade.

Convincing those suppliers, many of whom lack cash on hand for major internal investments at the best of times, to put money down in the near term to redevelop their facilities and retrain people is going to be an “expensive issue,” said Andrew Hunter, who co-authored the study for CSIS along with Rhys McCormick. “They need a really compelling reason to invest.”

“For a company that is devoted to the defense aviation market, they don't necessarily have a choice to not make the transition,” Hunter told reporters in a Tuesday call. “However, there is a dollars and cents issue, which is you have to be able to access the capital. If you can't, the primes will quickly go somewhere else.”

And some companies with a broader market share in the commercial world may decide investing in modernization isn't worth the effort and simply leave the defense rotorcraft market, leaving the primes to scramble to find replacements. In that case, Hunter said, the primes could potentially look to bring that work in-house.

Companies “are looking at the equation” of the commercial versus defense markets when making these decisions, said Patrick Mason, the Army's top aviation acquisition official. But he noted that the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which his hitting commercial aviation firms particularly hard, may cause some companies to consider the benefits of defense, which is historically smaller but more stable than the commercial aviation world.

Mason also emphasized the importance of keeping suppliers with experience in the unique heat requirements or material aspects as part of the service's rotorcraft supply chain, saying “Those are the ones we remain focused on because those are the ones who could end up as a failure.”


Sur le même sujet

  • Peerless joint venture wins $9 million contract to support nuclear weapons arsenal

    23 septembre 2021 | International, Aérospatial

    Peerless joint venture wins $9 million contract to support nuclear weapons arsenal

    Local joint venture pulls in $9 million contract to support nation's nuclear weapons arsenal

  • Lockheed Martin Awarded Fourth And Fifth Production Lots For Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles

    24 février 2021 | International, Aérospatial

    Lockheed Martin Awarded Fourth And Fifth Production Lots For Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles

    The  combined Lot 4/5 contract continues production of the air-launched variant of LRASM, now operational on the U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F and U.S. Air Force B-1B.

  • GM Defense conducting nationwide search for new president

    20 novembre 2020 | International, Terrestre

    GM Defense conducting nationwide search for new president

    By: Jen Judson WASHINGTON — GM Defense President David Albritton is headed to Amazon so the company is conducting a nationwide search for a new president, according to a GM spokesperson. Albritton is joining Amazon Web Services as the vice president of global communications in the company's public sector and vertical industries. GM Defense's website already reflects the change. Tim Herrick, the company's vice president of global product programs, is serving as the interim president and will be dual-hatted until a permanent replacement is found. Herrick “has been a champion of GM's defense business since its inception and serves on GM Defense's Board of Managers,” a GM Defense spokesperson told Defense News in an emailed statement Nov. 19. GM Defense is conducting a “national search to find a candidate who is qualified to lead GM Defense and will make an announcement when the right person is identified,” according to the spokesperson. The company is coming off a big win with the U.S. Army after being selected to build its new Infantry Squad Vehicle. The first of the vehicles was delivered to the service in a ceremony last month at GM Defense's proving grounds and production facility in Milford, Michigan, just 120 days after being chosen to build the new troop carrier. The Army awarded the company a $214.3 million contract to produce 649 vehicles by the end of fiscal 2024. The service is planning to procure a total of 2,065 ISVs. With the success of the ISV program, GM Defense is setting its sights on other opportunities with the Army and other military services such as the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program. The service is planning to re-compete for the JLTV and for new Humvees to round out the tactical vehicle fleet. And while the company can offer fully integrated vehicles, it is also looking to partner with others for such programs like the Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle for the U.S. Marine Corps or the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, the Army's Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle replacement effort. Such technologies like power and propulsion, lighter weight materials and cybersecurity are all areas in which GM Defense is looking to contribute. GM spent several recent years helping the Army evaluate a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle using a ZH2 Chevy Colorado and the Army is now taking some renewed steps at getting after an electric vehicles in its fleet to include the pursuit of an electric light reconnaissance vehicle. https://www.defensenews.com/land/2020/11/19/gm-defense-conducting-nationwide-search-for-new-president

Toutes les nouvelles