Chris Bogdan spent the first third of his military career as an Air Force test pilot and most of the remaining two decades running programs. He’s best known for taking charge of the over-budget F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, talking tough about defense firms, and holding them accountable for their performance.
These days, the retired 3-star is senior vice president of aerospace business at Booz Allen Hamilton, where he and fellow executives are trying to change the public perception of their company as largely a consulting firm. On Wednesday, Bogdan chatted with me about some of the technology programs he now oversees.
For example, he’s leading Booz Allen’s attempt to beat Raytheon and BAE Systems and win an Air Force contract to build ground data stations for its next-generation missile warning satellites.
“We don’t build rockets and satellites and missiles and hardware like that,” Bogdan said Wednesday. “So we feel like we have a chip on our shoulder, but nonetheless we’re going toe to toe with these bigger OEMs because we think we have the right technologies and the right vision for what systems like this need to be.”
Booz Allen’s strategic shift began about eight years ago, Bogdan said. The company invested hundreds of millions of dollars in technology areas like cyber, machine intelligence, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and directed energy for weapons and communications.
“We want to become a company that has much more technical breadth and depth and we want to combine our management and consulting experience and understanding how to listen to our clients and understanding how to…solve the problems that our clients have,” he said.
Don’t expect this to be the last time you see Booz Allen competing for military space work.
“When other big space projects come out, we’re probably not going to bid to build satellites, we are not going to bid to build rocket launchers, but I will guarantee you there’s a part of that that includes the data ground systems, the command-and-control systems, the cyber security piece of the satellites and the supporting systems, all the machine intelligence, and artificial intelligence, the networks that are going to command and control those mesh satellites — all of that stuff,” he said. “Booz Allen wants to be a major OEM provider of solutions in that space and we think we’re well positioned to do that. Although we’ve got more work to do, because the biggest thing we have to overcome is our branding — that folks have seen us as a consulting firm.”
But by combining its new tech endeavors with its consulting and management experience, Bogdan said, the company is well positioned to help clients make the organizational changes that come along with using new technology.
“We like to present ourselves today to our clients and to folks as someone who can help you do both transform your organization and integrate the technologies that you need that will underpin that transformation and make you a better performing organization,” he said.
The company’s strong pursuit of the ground system for the new missile warning satellites, combined with recent wins for cybersecurity work for the Treasury Department and other federal agencies, “is starting to put us in a more favorable light when it comes to a technology firm that actually can provide solutions and products,” Bogdan said.
“But it’s a journey, it’s not going to happen overnight and we have to prove ourselves,” he said. The only way to prove ourselves is by performing and building those things and fielding those things and backing that up then with the marketing and the story behind it that we’re a different company.”
You’ve reached the Defense One Global Business Brief by Marcus Weisgerber. Send along your tips and feedback to email@example.com or @MarcusReports. Check out the Global Business Brief archive here, and tell your friends to subscribe!
From Defense One
3-Star General: Tomorrow’s Troops Need Controversial JEDI Cloud // Patrick Tucker
Days after the new SecDef put a hold on the massive cloud program, two Pentagon leaders went on the record to defend it.
The remote servers that power thousands of popular apps harbor a rats’ nest of vulnerabilities.
Esper’s broad Pentagon review; Prices fall on two weapons; Counter-drone lasers and more. // Marcus Weisgerber
Japan’s Old Air Force One is For Sale
The Boeing 747-400 “shows like new” and has “been maintained to the highest possible standard, according to its for-sale listing. Japan recently replaced its prime minister’s transport planes with two new twin-engine Boeing 777-300 jetliners. Aircraft tracking data shows that two 747-400s were flown from Japan to an Arizona aircraft storage facility between Tucson and Phoenix in July. The planes now have the American registrations N7474C and N7477C.
More about the old planes: Japan’s twin Air Force Ones were delivered in 1991, one year after America’s current presidential transports. The Japanese bought the newer 400 series, while the U.S. Air Force purchased the very last two passenger 747-200s built by Boeing. Unlike the Japanese, the U.S. is replacing its planes with the larger, four-engine 747-8.
Speaking of the U.S. Air Force One: The 89th Airlift Wing, the unit that flies the presidential planes, needs a new emergency escape slide/raft for training airmen how to properly evacuate the 747 after a water landing, according to a government contracting solicitation. But apparently the slides used on the 747 are too big to fit inside the training pool. “The training slide raft we need to purchase needs to be a one third scale version of the C-32/VC-25 slide raft,” the solicitation states. “This item will be reinforced for training use to increase the life cycle of the raft.” The Air Force calls the 747 a VC-25. Occasionally the president flies on a Boeing 757, calleda C-32, to airfields that cannot fit the larger 747.
Blue Origin Protests Space Launch Competition
Jeff Bezos’ rocket company Blue Origin has protested the U.S. Air Force’s upcoming competition to select two companies to launch national security satellites into orbit. The company, which is competing against United Launch Alliance, Northrop Grumman and Elon Musk’s SpaceX, field the protest on Monday. Blue Origin said the competition favors incumbents ULA and SpaceX, according to a document obtained by Defense News. In October 2018, the Air Force awarded Blue Origin a $500 million contract to help develop its New Glenn rocket. Similar contracts were awarded to ULA and Northrop to develop the Vulcan and OmegA.
Marine JLTV Enters Operation
The Marine Corps has deemed battle ready its version of the Army’s Oshkosh-made Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, about one year ahead of schedule. The truck will replace the Corps’ Humvees. In late June, the Army greenlit the JLTV for full-rate production. Initial operational capability “is more than just saying that the schoolhouses and an infantry battalion all have their trucks,” Eugene Morin, product manager for JLTV at the Marines’ PEO Land Systems, said in a statement. “All of the tools and parts required to support the system need to be in place, the units must have had received sufficient training and each unit commander needs to declare that he is combat-ready.”
Bahrain Becomes 17th Patriot Customer
Bahrain has “signed an agreement to purchase” Patriot aircraft and missile interceptors making it the 17th country to buy the system, according to manufacturer Raytheon. “This letter of offer and acceptance allows the U.S. government to begin contract negotiations with Raytheon for production of an undisclosed quantity of systems and missiles,” the company said in a statement. Back in May, the State Department cleared a $2.5 billion Patriot sale to Bahrain that included both Raytheon GEM-T and Lockheed Martin-made PAC-3 interceptors. Bahrain joins neighbors Qatar, UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia who have Patriot.
Anti-Huawei, ZTE Rule Takes Effect
The provisions, which band U.S. firms doing business with the Chinese companies went into effect on Tuesday. “Unlike other initiatives driven by the Administration’s trade policy, this interim rule implements a congressional mandate to address national security concerns related to the integration of Chinese telecommunications technology in the USG supply chain,” law firm Morrison & Foerster said in a brief about the new law.
Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Premo Sabbatini has been promoted to vice president of central planning and process excellence at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi. He’s currently runs the Ingalls’ LHA amphibious assault ship program. Sabbatini succeeds Rick Spaulding, who has been named vice president of business process standardization at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.