Lockheed bows to Trump request; Qatar’s big anti-missile radar; Handguns pass Army tests and more.

President Trump has convinced Lockheed Martin to keep open a Sikorsky helicopter plant in Pennsylvania, a potential swing state in the 2020 presidential election. Just six aircraft are under construction at the plant, which was slated for closure amid a slowdown in civil helicopters orders.

Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson announced the move in a Wednesday tweet, and was cheered by Trump on Twitter soon after the two chatted.

For now, the move saves 465 jobs, but the company has not said what the long-term plan is for the facility, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Sikorsky does most of its military helicopter work in Strafford, Connecticut; Owego, New York; and West Palm Beach, Florida.

Lockheed shares slid on Thursday morning after the announcement while the Dow and most major defense firms were posting slight increases in mid-day trading. Lockheed will report second-quarter earnings on July 23. 


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From Defense One

How We Tamed the F-35's Spiraling Costs — and Created a Model for Controlling Waste // Ash Carter

The former defense secretary says defending America means defending taxpayers' dollars.

Fearing Iran, Qatar Continues Building its Missile Defenses // Marcus Weisgerber

The Middle Eastern nation told the White House it would buy NASAMS and add to its Patriot batteries.

The NSA Is Behind Schedule on Surveillance-Abuse Controls // Charles S. Clark

The NSA inspector general also criticized the spy agency's data-security plans.

Boeing Picks Raytheon Radar for B-52

The next targeting and mapping radar on the venerable Buff will be made by Raytheon, not rival bidder Northrop Grumman. “With an AESA radar on board, the B-52 will gain improved navigation reliability to support nuclear and conventional missions,” Raytheon said in a statement. Boeing will install the new radars on its entire fleet of 76 B-52H bombers. The Air Force plans to fly the B-52 into the 2050s.

More About Qatar and Missile Defense

Qatar awarded Raytheon a $2.2 billion deal for Patriot and NASAMS missile interceptors this week — and offered a rare bit of public news about the Middle Eastern nation’s effort to build a massive, 150-foot tall, 360-degree missile tracking radar. In 2017, the U.S. Air Force touted the $1 billion project, which earlier this year gave Raytheon a $425 million payment, the largest installment yet. As for the deals signed this week during Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani’s visit to Washington, they include an undisclosed number of Patriot batteries and the new longer-ranger version of NASAMS. Raytheon, in a statement, said another $800 million in deals with Qatar is also being considered. More here.

White House Threatens to Veto House NDAA

Among the items the Trump administration objects to in the House version of the $733 billion fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act: it’s $17 billion less than the administration’s request, it blocks border wall funding, it cuts missile defense funds, it cuts nuclear-weapons funding, it cuts funds for developing a next-generation fighter jet, and it cuts funds for next-generation missile warning satellites. The administration’s 10-page airing of grievances also says the legislation would delay fielding new Boeing F-15EX fighter jets by two years.

U.S. Clears Taiwan Arms Deal; China Objects

The State Department has OKed selling Taiwan more than 100 Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger missiles. China, which says Taiwan is part of its territory and is in the midst of a trade war with the Washington, immediately called for the U.S. to cancel the order. Since entering the White House, the Trump administration has approved 11 arms deals for Taiwan totaling more than $4.4 billion. This week’s Abrams tank deal accounts for nearly half of that total value.

Companies: Canada Rigged Fighter Contract

Boeing and Airbus said they might pull out of the competition for the new warplane saying the contract favors Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the CBC reports. It’s the latest twist in Canada’s long, largely stalled plans to replace its F/A-18 Hornets. (Some background here and here. Boeing is pitching the F/A-18 Super Hornet and Airbus the Eurofighter Typhoon. Saab is also pitching the Gripen.

Army Pistols Clear Acquisition Milestone

The U.S. Army says Sig Sauer M17 and M18 handguns meet “all operational performance requirements, and is logistically supportable within the environment it is intended to operate,” according to the company. The new 9-millimeter weapons have received what us known as full-material release, an acquisition milestone given to commercial items that are modified for military use.  “Full-Material Release is a significant milestone for the MHS program and is the official determination that the U.S. Army has rigorously tested and evaluated the M17 and M18 handguns, and associated ammunition, to determine it as safe for use when operated within its stated parameters,” Sig Sauer said in a statement.

On Wall Street

Goldman Sachs analyst Noah Poponak added L3Harris Technologies to his “buy” list with a stock price target of $240. L3Harris was trading for $195 midday Thursday.

Making Moves

JUST IN: The Senate Armed Services Committee has scheduled a July 16 confirmation hearing to consider President Trump’s expected nomination of Mark Esper to be defense secretary.

Gen. David Berger, became the 38th commandant of the Marine Corps during a change of command ceremony on Thursday. He takes over for Gen. Robert Neller, the former commandant, is retiring.

Northrop Grumman CEO Kathy Warden will add the title of chairman beginning Aug. 1. She’s also the firm’s president. Wes Bush, the current chairman and former CEO, will retire on July 31, the company said in a statement.

Three new members have been appointed to the board of Thales U.S. defense business.

  • James Jones, the retired U.S. Marine Corps general who was one of President Obama’s national security advisors.
  • Ray Johnson, a former Lockheed Martin chief technology officer.
  • Alan Kessler,  former CEO of Thales’ cybersecurity business & Vormetric CEO.