Defense Business Brief: Boeing’s new R&D hub; Anduril to build drone subs for Australia; Harrison to leave CSIS; and a bit more
Lost in Boeing’s announcement that it would move its corporate headquarters from Chicago to the Washington area is the company’s decision to “develop a research & technology hub in the area to harness and attract engineering and technical capabilities.”
Given the competition for engineers within aerospace and defense, commercial tech, and a bunch of other sectors, it’s not unusual for companies to stand up potential feeders like this.
“The hub will focus on developing innovations in the areas of cyber security, autonomous operations, quantum sciences, and software and systems engineering,” Boeing said.
The competition for science and engineering talent in Northern Virginia, a region with a significant tech corridor, has been on the rise in recent years. Amazon’s 2018 decision to open a second headquarters, dubbed HQ2, in the same Arlington neighborhood that will now become Boeing’s home base only increased that competition for tech workers. Amazon is expected to bring tens of thousands of jobs. Virginia Tech is building an “Innovation Campus” in the neighborhood as well.
"Focusing our R&D and talent development in areas that support digital innovation will fuel the introduction of cutting-edge capabilities,” said Greg Hyslop, Boeing's chief engineer and executive vice president of engineering, test, and technology. “This new hub in Northern Virginia will follow the successful implementation of this technology strategy in other regions."
Boeing’s decision reminds me of a conversation I had with former SAIC CEO Tony Moraco in early 2019 about attracting engineers to Northern Virginia, not too long after that Amazon decision.
He noted how some workers were co-located near military bases they supported, at the request of the military. But he also talked about how the company, in 2017, opened an Cookeville, Tennessee-based “innovation gateway” to “build a pipeline of talent, and a lower cost area.”
Ironically, Moraco talked about a then-new openness to remote work, something that the pandemic has made a reality for millions of workers.
While the Boeing headquarters exit from Chicago drew the headlines this week, BAE Systems announced the opening of a new Manchester, New Hampshire, facility that “provides additional capacity to support the design and development of electronic warfare systems for the United States and its allies.” Last week, Leidos announced a new San Diego Campus Point facility
One final point on Boeing: The company on May 2 was awarded a $16 million Pentagon deal to conduct “E-3 Replacement Studies and Analysis.” Recall the Air Force really, really wants to retire the E-3 AWACS fleet. Last week, the Air Force said it would replace the E-3 with the newer E-7 Wedgetail, which is flown by Australia’s air force and other U.S. allies.
Staying down under, Australia awarded defense startup Anduril a $100 million contract to develop three extra large autonomous undersea vehicles. “It is modular, customizable, and can be optimized with a variety of payloads for a wide range of military and non-military missions such as advanced intelligence, infrastructure inspection, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting,” the company said. “Anduril’s approach to development of the XL-AUV will deliver the vehicle at a fraction of the cost of existing undersea capabilities in radically lower timeframes.” It’s the latest partnership between the U.S. and Australia following last year’s AUKUS pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
In other startup news, X-Bow Systems, a 3D printed solid rocket motor company, raised $27 million in its Series A investment round. And satellite maker Capella Space raised $97 million in its Series C funding round.
General Dynamics appointed Gulfstream Aerospace executive Charles Krugh as president of General Dynamics Bath Iron Works.
The Stimson Center think tank has named Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, a retired Air Force general, its chairman.
Peraton appointed Andrew Hallman, former ODNI principal executive and former CIA deputy director for digital innovation, as vice president of national security strategy and integration. ”In this new role, Hallman will lead the company’s efforts to build, test, and execute transformative intelligence programs from concept through operations,” the company said.
Todd Harrison, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, announced he is leaving the think tank to become senior vice president and head of research at Meta Aerospace.
Amy Gowder has been named president and CEO of Military Systems Operation for GE Aviation. “In this role, Gowder will be responsible for GE Aviation’s Military Systems Operation portfolio, which includes combat and trainer engines, rotorcraft and turboprop engines, mobility engines, and marine gas turbines, as well as services, sales, and customer support,” the company said.
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