Defense Business Brief: Paris Air Show no-shows; US warns Iran on drones; JLTV protest denied; and more.
It finally feels like air show season! The first biennial Paris Air Show since the pre-pandemic 2019 edition is expected to draw more than 100,000 exhibitors and more than 300,000 total visitors. Still, some high-profile U.S. officials are sending regrets—but more on that later.
Expect much discussion about the war in Ukraine, where battle rages some 1,600 miles due east of Paris. We’ll be listening to hear how NATO allies plan to support Kyiv in the months and years ahead, and how U.S. and European weapons makers are planning to increase production of key munitions.
“To be in Europe, when there's a land war in Europe, I think gets people's attention,” said Eric Fanning, the CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, which is a big convener of industry and government officials at overseas trade shows. “I think that Ukraine and making sure that we're doing everything we can to deter a Taiwan situation are going to be what's on everybody's mind.”
Another likely topic: how European allies are progressing with ambitious development programs touted at this air show for years. And, as always, we’ll be on the lookout for the ways supply chain, inflation, and workforce issues are affecting weapons manufacturing.
"The Europeans are kicking up their budgets. What are they going to buy? I think that there's going to be lots of conversations to try and tee up some of these things," Fanning said.
There’s a sizable U.S. delegation this year, but it’s not as flush with senior officials as we came to expect late in the Obama administration and during the Trump administration. It rekindles memories of a decade ago, when the Pentagon scaled back its presence at overseas trade shows following reports of lavish spending at a 2010 General Services Administration conference in Las Vegas.
The airshow comes at a unique time for the aerospace and defense sector. Traditionally, when aerospace is high, defense is low—and vice versa. But this time around, both sectors are on upswings amid record-level defense spending and a commercial aerospace sector booming after record lows during the pandemic-driven reduction in travel.
There’s occasional debate about the value of these events, where in many cases people fly across the Atlantic to have meetings with people who may work in their home cities or states. But advocates say they are able to accomplish a lot more in person at these events than at home.
Who’s going from the Pentagon: We don’t have the full list yet, but the following Defense Department officials are expected to attend: Jim Hursch, Defense Security Cooperation Agency director; Air Force acquisition chief Andrew Hunter; Army acquisition chief Doug Bush; Kelli Seybolt, the head of Air Force international affairs; Laura Taylor-Kale, assistant secretary for industrial base policy; and Justin McFarlin, deputy assistant secretary for industrial base development and international engagement.
Who is going from State: Stan Brown, deputy assistant secretary of State for political-military affairs; Laura Cressey, director of the Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers; and Sarah Heidema, policy director of the Defense Trade Controls.
Congress: Nearly two dozen lawmakers are expected to attend, led by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Reps. Sam Graves, R-Mo., and Rick Larsen, D-Wash.
Who’s not going: Top Air Force leaders, including Secretary Frank Kendall; Gen. CQ Brown, chief of staff and nominee for chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Bill LaPlante, undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment.
American military aircraft that’ll be there: Helicopters: Black Hawk, Apache, Chinook; Bomber: B-1B; Cargo planes: C-130J and C-17; Fighters: F-15E, F-16, and F-35; Others: P-8A sub hunter and KC-46 tanker.
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In a new effort to boost microchip manufacturing, Lockheed Martin is collaborating with GlobalFoundries, a New York State-based semiconductor maker, to “increase the security, reliability, and resiliency of domestic supply chains for national security systems.”
“It means more than [the] chips that Lockheed Martin needs for their systems that keep our country safe, keep our troops safe, will be stamped Made in New York by Global Foundries and Capital Region workers,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. said Monday at an event at Global Foundries.
For perspective, weapons like the Lockheed-Raytheon-made Javelin have 250 chips, while a CH-53K heavy lift helicopter has more than 2,000 chips, Lockheed CEO Jim Taiclet said at the event.
The Government Accountability Office has rejected Oshkosh’s protest of the Army’s choice of rival AM General to build thousands of Joint Light Tactical Vehicles. Oshkosh recently built its 20,000th JLTV.
Also, GAO released its annual assessment of dozens of weapons programs; the assessment found the Pentagon “continues to face challenges quickly developing innovative new weapons. These challenges persist even with recent reforms to its acquisition process intended to help deliver systems to the warfighter in a timelier manner.”
The Justice Department is warning companies that Iran is trying to acquire parts to grow its drone fleet. “The advisory…provides recommendations to exporters, manufacturers, distributors, and financial institutions on implementing effective due diligence and internal controls—specifically, relevant to Iran’s UAV-related activities—to ensure compliance with legal requirements across the entire supply chain and to avoid unintentionally contributing to Iran’s UAV programs,” Justice said in a statement. Russia has used Iranian-made drones on the battlefield in Ukraine.
Purdue University recently opened a $41 million, 65,000-square foot Hypersonics and Applied Research Facility. The facility “will help solve some of the most challenging and relevant problems in the field of high-speed flight while also building the future workforce,” said Purdue Applied Research Institute CEO Mark Lewis, a former Pentagon official.
- General Dynamics has elected Charles Hooper, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general who most recently led the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, to its board of directors.
- Draper has named Julia MacDonough vice president and general manager of Space Systems.