Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

31 March, 2014

Many military and aerospace (mil/aero) industry pundits are expressing concern over the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2015 as it relates to defense spending. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, whose recommendations the President followed in the FY 2015 budget sent to Congress this month, also points out that the new plan is not without its risks.

The last installment discussed Secretary Hagel and President Obama’s recommendations for the Air Force; now this mil/aero geek presents changes planned for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. (Stay tuned for news on the Army, expected to suffer the largest cuts in personnel.)

Under the President’s budget plan, the Navy will reduce acquisitions costs and maximize resources available to buy and build new ships in an effort to grow its ship inventory over the next five years.

Eleven ships, half of the Navy’s cruiser fleet, will be “laid up” and placed in reduced operating status while they are modernized, and eventually returned to service with greater capability and a longer lifespan.

The plan preserves Navy fleet modernization programs and increases ship inventory over the next five years. To that end, the Navy will buy two destroyers and two attack submarines per year, as well as one additional Afloat Staging Base.

No new contract negotiations beyond 32 Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) ships will go forward under the plan.

USS_Independence_LCS-2_at_pierce_(cropped)

The Navy will aim to procure a capable and lethal small surface combatant, generally consistent with the capabilities of a frigate, affirms Hagel, who has directed the Navy to consider a completely new design, existing ship designs, and a modified LCS.

Again, however, if sequestration spending levels return in 2016 and beyond, tougher decisions on the Navy surface fleet will need to be made, such as having six additional ships laid up, halting procurement of the Joint Strike Fighter carrier variant for two years, and slowing the rate of destroyer acquisitions, resulting in 10 fewer large surface combatant ships in the Navy’s operational inventory by 2023.

The Marine Corps will lose 8,000 personnel, in a reduction from 190,000 to 182,000. If sequestration-level cuts are re-imposed in 2016 and beyond, the Marines would shrink to 175,000.

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31 March, 2014

The military and aerospace (mil/aero) community has been talking about dwindling defense budgets in the U.S. and Europe for years. Attentions, especially those of technology companies providing mil/aero solutions, have turned to emerging markets, including BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and MENA (Middle East and North Africa) countries.

President Obama sent his Fiscal Year 2015 Budget to Congress this month, and many in the U.S. are already hotly debating its allotment for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

The budget builds on the “Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative that invests in our economic priorities in a smart way that is fully paid for by making smart spending cuts and closing tax loopholes that right now only benefit the well-off and the well-connected,” President Obama said.

defense-cuts

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel made the following recommendations to President Obama for the Defense Department FY 2015 budget—which he called “the first budget to fully reflect the transition [the] DoD is making after 13 years of war—the longest conflict in our nation’s history.”

The budget calls for a reduction, to pre-World War II levels, of U.S. Army personnel, elimination of the A-10 military aircraft, and increased investment in modern technologies—referred to by Hagel as “an emphasis on capability over capacity.”

Hagel’s recommendations “favor a smaller and more capable force—putting a premium on rapidly deployable, self-sustaining platforms that can defeat more technologically advanced adversaries,” he said.

The DOD’s FY 2015 base budget request is $496 billion, roughly the same as the current year’s budget, and calls for $26 billion for the President’s Opportunity Growth and Security Initiative to improve readiness and modernization.

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27 August, 2013

The world economy has been in the doldrums—both stagnant and sluggish, by all accounts. In turn, military and aerospace (mil/aero) forecasts have indicated steady if not significant decline.

Defense budgets have been reduced in the U.S. and U.K., but bolstered in other locales. Just this year, in fact, a wealth of countries—including, in no particular order, China, India, Iraq, Japan, Russia, and Saudi Arabia—are reported to have growing militaries.

Whereas military investments have waned, commercial aerospace has been (pardon the pun) taking off. This month, NASA officials announced preparations for a 2020 mission to Mars; this singular space exploration mission is expected to translate to $100 million in industry contract awards—a tremendous opportunity for mil/aero businesses, technology advancement, and the aerospace community as a whole.

On 18 July 2013, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) announced that the House Appropriations Committee had passed a Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations package for Fiscal Year 2014 that included $1.315 billion for planetary science within NASA’s budget. The amount of the package is particularly interesting; earlier this year, the Obama Administration submitted a request for a $1.217 billion for planetary science—a full $100 million less than the amount approved for the planetary science budget.

“The NASA portion of the bill that was just passed goes a long way towards plugging the funding shortfall that threatens our leadership in the exploration of the solar system,” says Rep. Schiff.

Things certainly are looking up for space, it seems. This mil/aero geek will stop his use of bad puns, but will continue the budget and Mars mission discussion in the next installment.

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28 October, 2012

If you enter into discussions with anyone in the military/aerospace (mil/aero) community, you’ll likely hear “sequestration” more than once. Conversations among defense professionals today invariably touch on the topic, some even escalate into heated, impromptu debates.

Reactions and predictions on the topic of sequestration vary wildly among mil/aero professionals.

At a recent event in Washington, D.C., this geek purposefully broached the subject with a wide variety of defense folks—including military personnel, ranging from high-level chiefs of staff to lieutenants to recently deployed soldiers (or “boots on the ground” as they are often respectfully referred); mil/aero analysts and consultants; prime contractors and subcontractors; and component vendors, providing software and hardware technology, throughout the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) supply chain.

In general, military personnel were concerned about potential base closures and the threat of program cancellations. In some cases, dismounted soldiers in theater have been anxiously awaiting receipt of modern technologies to aid in their mission and help ensure their safety; mandatory and arbitrary cuts brought on by sequestration threaten “to  effectively eradicate an entire generation of military modernization,” according to Buck McKeon, chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) offers a different outlook in its report pursuant to the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 (P. L. 112–155). The report “makes clear that sequestration would have a devastating impact on important defense and non-defense programs. While the Department of Defense would be able to shift funds to ensure war fighting and critical military readiness capabilities were not degraded, sequestration would result in a reduction in readiness of many non-deployed units, delays in investments in new equipment and facilities, cutbacks in equipment repairs, declines in military research and development efforts, and reductions in base services for military families.”

A majority of political and financial analysts, and even President Obama, predict sequestration will not go into effect; rather, a resolution will be found and implemented by the end of the year. This geek is hopeful that they’re correct.

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27 July, 2011

Wanted: Engineers. Military and aerospace are among many industries concerned about the future availability of skilled workers. This challenge of ensuring a skilled workforce well into the future of the U.S. is ever-present in the minds of many people—heads of technology firms (especially in the mil/aero realm), higher-education faculty, scientists and researchers, economists, patriots, heads of state, the White House Chief of Staff…virtually everyone.

In Nov. 2009, President Obama launched the “Educate to Innovate” campaign out of his dedication to motivating and inspiring students across America to excel in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

“Reaffirming and strengthening America’s role as the world’s engine of scientific discovery and technological innovation is essential to meeting the challenges of this century,” said President Obama. “That’s why I am committed to making the improvement of STEM education over the next decade a national priority.”

In doing so, the president called on the nation—including individual states—to ramp up efforts to advance STEM education and motivate students. Central to the effort are “new and creative methods of generating and maintaining student interest and enthusiasm in science and math, reinvigorating the pipeline of ingenuity and innovation essential to America’s success that has long been at the core of American economic leadership,” according to a White House spokesperson.

Yes, that's a TI-92 Plus! Firepowa!

President Obama also announced high-powered partnerships involving leading companies, foundations, non-profits, and science and engineering societies, as well as commitments from philanthropic organizations and individuals.

Mil/aero technology companies are increasingly investing in educating current and up-and-coming professionals. This geek appreciates innovative, proactive firms dedicated to advancing, teaching, and future-proofing the mil/aero workforce. One such company, Mentor Graphics, is renowned for hosting free and low-cost global events, both online and in person, at the core of which are education, knowledge, and furthering the market. This geek tips his beanie!

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22 April, 2011

Decades ago, the United States and the Soviet Union were in competition, battling for superiority in the space race and demonstrating scientific prowess, technological capabilities, and power. Now fodder for the history books, the space race bred myriad advancements through competition; today, in a time of budget cuts, the U.S. is paying Russia for help when it comes to human spaceflight.

NASA officials have signed a $753 million modification to its current International Space Station (ISS) contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency for crew transportation, rescue, and related services from 2014 through June 2016. The firm fixed price modification calls for Soyuz support, including all necessary training and preparation for launch, flight operations, landing, and crew rescue of long-duration missions for 12 individual space station crew members.

Russian Soyuz launch vehicle

Russian Soyuz launch vehicle

Interestingly, the Soyuz was originally built in the 1960s (in the heat of the space race) as part of the Soviet Manned Lunar Program (although its first mission was unmanned).

NASA engineers are working to develop an American-made commercial capability for crew transportation and rescue services to the station following this year’s retirement of the space shuttle fleet. The goal is to become less dependent, if at all reliant, on foreign support; to this end, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is stressing the importance of and calling for American-made alternatives.

“The president’s 2012 budget request boosts funding for our partnership with the commercial space industry and prioritizes our efforts to ensure that American astronauts and the cargo they need are transported by American companies rather than continuing to outsource this work to foreign governments,” Bolden says. “This new approach in getting our crews and cargo into orbit will create good jobs and expand opportunities for our American economy. If we are to win the future and out build our competitors, it’s essential that we make this program a success.”

This geek hopes the agency puts their money where their mouth is, and invests as significantly (if not more so) in U.S.-based firms, jobs, and R&D.

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19 April, 2011

This geek is in love with the developing private space flight industry. If you haven’t been an avid follower, my previous blogs on the President’s 2012 Budget Request for NASA and the latest announcements from X Prize, SpaceX, and Virgin Galactic can get you up to speed.

It is terribly exciting to witness technological advancements stemming from private investment, commercial successes pioneering research and development, and NASA partnering with industry to keep moving the industry forward.

It is moving forward, but it often seems at a snail’s pace.

One essential aspect of the equation appears to be lacking: a catalyst to speed things up. The President’s 2012 Budget Request reduces the funds available to NASA to 2010 levels, but it directs more funds for collaboration between NASA and commercial industry researchers, scientists, and engineers. Perhaps this move will give the space market a much-needed shot in the arm.

rocketsnail

Vroooom...at a medium pace.

I am often tempted to call it the “space race.” Perhaps it’s because the rhythmic phrase rolls off the tongue, or because it was a phrase commonly heard in my youth. The space race refers to a specific period (1957 through 1975) during which the U.S. and U.S.S.R. (not yet Russia) informally competed to send humans into space.

Times have certainly changed.

When I was small, it never occurred to me that anyone in the U.S., other than NASA officials, could possibly put people in space. Nor could I envision people and companies in the private sector building their own spacecrafts, or a popular competition promoting such a goal.

This geek could not have predicted the level of camaraderie and collaboration taking place between not only federal agencies such as NASA and commercial technology companies, but also the U.S. and Russia. Bravo! (And more on that soon….)

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28 March, 2011

The Obama administration has announced its 2012 budget request; and, if approved, it will reduce spending for NASA in the next fiscal year to $18.7 billion, the same amount the agency gained in 2010 and roughly $300 million less than NASA received in the 2011 budget request.

“The times today are very difficult fiscally, and we’re going to live within a budget,” says NASA administrator Charles Bolden. “What we do has to be affordable, sustainable, and it has to make sense.”

Despite the potential roll back in overall NASA spending, the budget request boosts NASA sectors’ interaction and collaboration with commercial spaceflight companies. In fact, the 2012 request allocates $850 million for NASA to partner with American companies with the singular goal of providing astronauts transportation to/from the International Space Station (ISS).

International Space Station from above.

International Space Station from above.

Also suggested is a full $1 billion for space technology research and development (R&D), and another impressive $5 billion for robotic solar system exploration, including observation programs. Another $2.8 billion is proposed for R&D on a heavy-lift rocket and crew capsule intended to take astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit.

“This new direction extends the life of the International Space Station, supports the growing commercial space industry, and addresses important scientific challenges while continuing our commitment to robust human space exploration, science, and aeronautics programs,” Bolden adds.

The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2012 is available for all to read online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget. NASA also provides an interesting budget overview, which lays out the budget request in detail, at http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/516674main_FY12Budget_Estimates_Overview.pdf. This geek finds both documents to be interesting reads, and is encouraged by increased investment in commercial space endeavors. It’s not all good news, however, as I’ll explain in my blog next week.

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10 January, 2011

The President’s budget request for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in fiscal year 2011, released 1 Feb. 2010, added $6 billion over five years. The $6 billion increase was accompanied by instructions as to how the money should be invested, which was hotly criticized at the time. Looking back nearly a year later, it’s evident that the additional funding has been a boon to the aerospaceTakeindustry (and the spending advice wasn’t too bad either).

The budgetary plan for NASA was criticized extensively, especially for ending the Constellation program started under former President George W. Bush. “An independent panel found that Constellation was years behind schedule and would require large budget increases to land even a handful of astronauts back on the Moon before 2030. Instead, we are launching a bold new effort that invests in American ingenuity for developing more capable and innovative technologies for future space exploration,” read the Budget Highlights of “The Budget for Fiscal Year 2011.” (Budget information and documentation is publicly available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget.)

Artist rendering of the Constellation Main Lander

Artist rendering of the Constellation Main Lander

When NASA essentially halted its efforts to put more men in space, the commercial industry ramped up its efforts in that regard. Billionaires launched into action, in fact. It has been a phenomenal ride so far, and it’s just the beginning. (Be sure to read about Virgin Galactic and SpaceX in my blogs.)

The plan also called for “flagship exploration technology development and demonstration programs of ‘game-changing’ technologies that will increase the reach and reduce the costs of future human space exploration, as well as other NASA, government, and commercial space activities.”

A wealth of technology companies are unveiling aerospace innovations, and it’s a trend this geek hopes will continue well into the future. Don’t count out NASA, however; it isn’t out of the game at all—a claim I plan to support in my next couple blog entries. Stay tuned!

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22 November, 2010

What a difference a year makes in the military and aerospace (mil/aero) market. This time last year, I was listening to market research firms and industry pundits herald the military/defense segment for keeping the aerospace market afloat while the commercial aviation segment took a serious dip.

Despite a woeful world economy, investments were being made at that time in military aircraft–manned and unmanned, and new and old; at the same time, commercial airlines and commercial aircraft manufacturers were witnessing a decline. Today, it appears the reverse is true.

A majority of component and systems manufacturers, not to mention prime contractors (primes) and subcontractors, serving the mil/aero market are taking a “wait and see” approach. That is, they are waiting to see The President’s Budget, particularly with regard to the Department of Defense (DoD). (The last budget, although unveiled by President Obama, was essentially that of former President George W. Bush.) Conversely, the commercial aerospace segment, including everything from airplanes to spacecraft to satellites, is taking off. Investments are out of this world. Unfortunate puns aside, commercial aerospace is a boon for the mil/aero market.   

made-in-china

This geek would venture to guess that about 80% of the products we buy are made in China.

Why is commercial aerospace currently such a bright spot in a bleak economic picture? One reason is: China. Last month, I shared with you tidbits from several conversations with considerable mil/aero industry players and how they were sending parts, components, and systems to China for use in commercial aircraft. This month, I’m pleased to offer up the latest findings (a.k.a., proof) from RNCOS and MarketResearch.com on the growing Chinese aerospace phenomenon, for lack of a better phrase.

 
Aerospace Industry Forecast to 2013″ (by RNCOS and available from MarketResearch.com) reveals:

  • The civil aviation segment emerging as the major contributor towards the growth of the aerospace industry.
  • The US and European countries have been the dominant markets of this industry and are acting as a catalyst for the overall industry growth. 
  •  During tough economical conditions, the aerospace industry has shown an upward trend in line with strong market developments in the US.
  • The aerospace industry has globally emerged as a highly potential market, even after the economic recession.
  • Currently, the US represents the biggest aerospace market. The country registered estimated sales of US$ 215.2 Billion in 2009. The US is followed by the EU, Canada, and Japan. However, developing nations like China, India, Mexico, and Brazil are expected to emerge as potential marketplaces for aerospace products in near future.
  • With 36% of the backlog of large commercial aircraft, the Asia Pacific region is rapidly becoming the largest market for new orders.
  • China, which ranks among the fastest growing industries globally, has seen huge government and private spending in the aerospace industry.
  • It is anticipated that China will purchase more than 3,700 airplanes by the end of 2028, with an estimated value of $390 billion.
  • The air traffic market is expected to grow annually at a rate of 4.9% during the next 20 years.
  • The civil aerospace segment is expected to grow at a faster pace than the defense segment.
  • It is estimated that by the end of 2029, the world’s airlines will take delivery of 29,000 commercial aircrafts with total value of $3.2 trillion to keep pace with the growing demand for air travel.  

(RNCOS’s report, “Aerospace Industry Forecast to 2013,” is available from MarketResearch.com at http://www.marketresearch.com/product/display.asp?ProductID=2849555.)

 

This geek thinks it may not be a bad time to be made in China?

 

Go to Made in China: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

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