Slashing sustainment costs; Hypersonic contracts; Army picks vehicle prototypers; and more...

Up to 70 cents of every dollar the Pentagon spends on a weapon goes toward sustainment. Will Roper wants to change that by paying companies more money up-front for cutting-edge designs.

“We have allowed this business model to be created where industry loses money designing things for us,” the Air Force acquisition chief said Wednesday at the Defense News Conference. “We gotta own that. That’s a horrible business model if you want to have a world-class, cutting-edge Air Force.”

What ends up happening, as Pentagon sustainment chief Ellen Lord likes to note, is that the military pays companies even more to maintain and buy spare parts for its arms. 

It’s hard to change the buying structure on existing projects, so Roper wants to change things up with new projects. One candidate is Next-Generation Air Dominance, essentially the Air Force’s future- warplane project. The goal is “to pay for cutting-edge design and not ask industry to take a loss,” he said.

Roper’s looking into other ideas as well. General Electric has offered the Air Force a licensing agreement allowing the military to 3D-print engine parts. It’s “similar to downloading something on iTunes and you pay the fee for that license,” he said.

“If we put it into our printer queue, then we pay the fee to print that part. I think that’s a great idea,” Roper said. “It’s something that we probably don’t want to do for lots or hundreds of thousands [of parts], but if we need a few things that are currently not available, I think that’s great to up our readiness and lower cost.”

Another example is Leidos’ decision to loosen its grip on the intellectual property rights of its software, he said. “I think that’s a pretty bold statement to say, ‘We’re going to view ourselves as providing software as a service while you, the Air Force, are saying you use software as a service’,” Roper said. “That just simplifies our model of working together.”


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Dynetics Wins Hypersonic Weapon Work

The U.S. Army has choses Dynetics and Lockheed Martin to build components of the Long Range Hypersonic Weapon, a ground-launched hypersonic weapon prototype it hopes to field by 2023. On Aug. 29, the Army awarded Dynetics $352 million; Lockheed, $347 million. “The two contract awards mark an important step in transitioning the development of Army hypersonic capabilities out of the government laboratories and into commercial production,” the Army said in a statement.

What is the prototype? It will be a battery made up of four trucks with launchers, the hypersonic missile rounds and a command-and-control system. The contracts include design, integration and production work that will culminate in a “series of flight tests beginning next year.”

What will each company do? Dynetics will “produce the first commercially manufactured set of prototype Common-Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) systems,” according to the Army. “As the prime contractor for the C-HGB, DTS will provide program and supplier management; procurement; assembly, integration and testing; electrical and mechanical manufacturing; and systems engineering for the C-HGB,” the company said in a statement. Raytheon, a Dynetics subcontractor, “will build and deliver the control, actuation and power-conditioning subassemblies that control flight,” the company said. Lockheed Martin will be the “LRHW prototype system integrator,” the Army said.

What next? “Additional future awards are expected in order to increase production of the C-HGB and to establish an industrial base for hypersonics within the United States.” 

Airbus Drops Out of Canada Fighter Jet Contest 

The European company said it would not pitch the Eurofighter Typhoon to Canada, leaving the Lockheed Martin F-35, Boeing F/A-18, and Saab Gripen to compete for a $14.4 billion, 88-plane order. “Airbus decided to withdraw after looking at the NORAD intelligence security requirements and the cost it imposes on companies outside of North America,” the CBC reports. “It also said it was convinced that the industrial benefits regime, as written in the tender, ‘does not sufficiently value the binding commitments the Typhoon Canada package was willing to make.’”

National Defense Industrial Association Turns 100

The dinner speaker at its October birthday party will be veteran Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward. It’s the latest move by a trade association to bring in outside, non-defense speakers. The Aerospace Industries Association, under the leadership of former Army secretary Eric Fanning has added a much more diverse set of speakers to its internal events with defense industry CEOs. 

Air Force Wants Companies to Pitch Space Ideas

Following successful “pitch days” in which it awarded start-ups contracts in a matter of minutes, the U.S. Air Force will host a space-focused pitch day in San Francisco on Nov. 6 and 7. The Air Force is seeking ideas for: launch systems, data mining, space visualization and space communications.

Army: 3 Teams Will Build Vehicle Prototype

The U.S. Army has chosen three teams — Oshkosh/Flyer, GM Defense, and SAIC/Polaris — to build prototypes of an infantry squad vehicle. It plans to choose a winner in the second quarter of fiscal 2020. Each team received $1 million to build two prototypes. Each vehicle must carry nine soldiers and up to 5,000 pounds, according to the Army. The vehicle must also fit inside a helicopter. Flyer “is the design authority and leads the build team for the two prototype ISVs which will be submitted to the government for testing,” Oshkosh said. SAIC and Polaris are pitching the DAGOR. GM’s entrant is based on the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 pickup.

Navy Expanding Innovation Offices

The U.S. Navy is expanding its NavalX innovation support office, setting up five regional hubs, in Crane, Indiana; Orlando, Florida; San Diego; Keyport, Washington; and Newport, Rhode Island, USNI News reports.

Making Moves

  • Timothy Betts has been appointed principal deputy assistant secretary of state as of Oct. 7, according to a State Department official. Betts, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, in recent years has concurrently served as acting deputy assistant secretary and senior advisor for security negotiations and agreements.
  • Retired Air Force Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski has been named Judge Widney Professor at the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering. 
  • Retired Adm. James “Sandy” Winnefeld has been named an advisor to IT firm Expanse.
  • Jo-Anne Sears has been named a partner at Velocity Government Relations where she “will be responsible for supporting national security and civil space clients with strategic guidance and communications efforts within the executive and legislative branches.” She was previously at LinQuest, where she served as senior strategic communications advisor on national security space for the Secretary of the Air Force and the principal advisor to the Secretary of the Air Force for Space.

Correction: Last week’s Global Business Brief said that Lisa Hershman had not yet been nominated as the Pentagon chief management officer. She was nominated on July 22.