A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter flies over the city's center as a memorial service to mark the end of Britain's combat operations is held at St Paul's Cathedral in central London on March 13, 2015.

A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter flies over the city's center as a memorial service to mark the end of Britain's combat operations is held at St Paul's Cathedral in central London on March 13, 2015. CARL COURT/AFP via Getty Images

Defense Business Brief: In-person networking is back; Turkey builds largest wind tunnel; 3D printing advancements and more.

After 14 months in which most of my human interaction with colleagues occurred over webcams, this past month has been, dare I say, a lot more normal. I’ve met sources for lunch, drinks, attended a work-related dinner and, just this week, attended a cocktail party. 

With pandemic restrictions easing in the Washington-area, many within the national security establishment, thirsty for human interaction (and professionally made cocktails), are networking again.

While it’s been exciting, I’ll admit it was a little terrifying at first. What do I do when I greet someone? Do we shake hands? Elbow bump? Nod at one another? It feels a little bit like dating in high school. (I’m specifically recalling an awkward hug at the end of one such evening while each of our moms stood nearby waiting to drive us home.)  

As with friends and family, everyone has their own comfort levels with work-related human interaction right now. (Do what makes you comfortable.) But what’s amazing is how people are reinvigorated and eager to get out there. It’s made for good and productive conversation. And if the past few weeks are prelude, expect the upcoming, in-person trade shows and conventions to be the hot ticket in town.

The Royal Air Force has ordered 14 Chinook helicopters from Boeing. The $578 million deal is for an extended-range version of the helicopter “gives the RAF fleet more versatility to execute the domestic and international heavy-lift missions,” according to Boeing.

Microsoft has joined the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a group of companies and organizations that share threat data with one another. The company said it was joining the consortium “to advance the protection of space-based critical assets vital to government agencies and the global economy.” More from our sister publication NextGov here.

The U.S. State Department has approved a nearly $2.6 billion deal that would allow The Philippines to buy 12 F-16 fighters and air-to-air and anti-ship missiles. The Philippines is deciding between the Lockheed Martin-made F-16 and the Saab Gripen fighter. The U.S. approval of the sale comes as Manilla has threatened to cancel an agreement that allows U.S, forces to operate from the country.

Turkish Aerospace said it is building Turkey’s largest subsonic wind tunnel that will aide in development of indgionous weapons projects including a new fighter jet. “The tunnel will have three different test sections, large, small and open,” Turkish Aerospace said in an emailed statement. “The test specimens will be positioned in these sections and will be equipped with state of the art technology measurement and sensing devices for advanced testing.”

The largest version in Boeing’s 737 Max family flew for the first time late last week. The narrow-body plane can carry up to 230 passengers and flies more efficiently than the prior “next-gen” version of the 737. The U.S. military flies 737s for VIP transport and the Navy’s P-8 submarine hunter is based on the 737-800.

Weekend reading: Andrew Hunter from the Center for Strategic and International Studies has a deep dive into 3D printing in the aerospace and defense sector. The technology “has penetrated multiple industries, especially aerospace and defense, medical devices, and tooling, where it is primarily used to improve existing systems,” he writes. “This approach has led to impressive growth but has not generated the widespread adoption that characterizes a true breakthrough.” Read the report here.

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