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Lockheed Martin's prototype Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV).

[CORRECTED data on competitor Oshkosh] LOCKHEED MARTIN “LIGHTHOUSE,” SUFFOLK, VA: “We’re in a really tough competition…a knife fight in [a] phone booth,” said Tom Kelly, who runs Lockheed Martin’s government relations for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program. In the defense contracting world writ large, Lockheed is the 800-pound gorilla. In the three-way competition to replace… Keep reading →

Brad Carson, Under Secretary of the Army, talks to solders in Afghanistan.

WASHINGTON: This hurts us more than it hurts you. That’s the essence of the regular Army’s message to the National Guard about the Aviation Restructure Initiative (ARI), a controversial cost-cutting plan that — among other things – strips the Guard of all its AH-64 Apache attack helicopters. Pain is on its way for all of… Keep reading →

Reaping the Benefits of a Global Defense Industry

Greg Sanders CSIS photo

  As the Defense Department’s budget goes down, the number of contracts awarded without competitive bids is going up. The share of contracts awarded without competition has risen from 39 percent in 2009 to 42 percent in 2012, according to a report I co-authored with Jesse Ellman and Rhys McCormick on DoD Contracting Trends. The news for… Keep reading →

Sikorsky Boeing Joint MultiRole JMR-FVL

WASHINGTON: Want to see an advanced helicopter fly faster than 230 knots? Well, don’t get out your binoculars and cameras yet, aircraft-watchers. What may be the next great leap forward in rotorcraft technology begins a month from now with a baby step. By early August, the Army-run Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator program is to choose… Keep reading →

Amtank landing at Peleliu on D-Day

WASHINGTON: Tarawa. Saipan. Iwo Jima. Peleliu. Okinawa, Inchon. These are among the most sacred names in Marine Corps history. They define the sea-borne warriors’ in so many ways: sacrifice, grit, honor, competence. To most Americans, and to many Marines, those amphibious assaults are the soul of the Corps. But those bloody and costly frontal assaults are… Keep reading →

Most Apache units, both active-duty and Guard, have spent the last decade operating in two-gunship teams like this one, not the larger formations required for conventional wars.

WASHINGTON: In the emotionally charged debate over the Army National Guard, the “don’t cut our Guard!” side has been much louder than the pro-cuts camp. That’s why it’s interesting to read this pretty low-key letter from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel defending the cuts. The simple fact it’s Hagel’s signature on the letter speaks to the… Keep reading →

Joint MultiRole Bell Valor

WASHINGTON: What is Future Vertical Lift? There is no one answer, but rather a range of possibilities. At one extreme is a single mega-program, building four variants for the four services to replace a host of existing helicopters, a vision in some ways even more ambitious than the long-troubled tri-service Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). At the… Keep reading →

A BAE Systems prototype of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) ambulance variant.

General Dynamics said today it will not bid for the Army’s largest combat vehicle program, the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle. Nor will GD take the government to court to try to change the terms of the competition, despite having denounced them as intolerably tilted towards competitor BAE Systems and protested, unsuccessfully, to the Army. With bids… Keep reading →

An unmanned TerraMax mine-clearing vehicle, followed by equally unmanned TerraMax cargo trucks.

The future of military robotics may not look much like a robot. It may just be a truck that drives itself. That’s the simple, pragmatic approach pursued by Oshkosh — a company better known for trucks than Terminators — with its TerraMax Unmanned Ground Vehicle. But after eight years of experiments for three different military… Keep reading →

A Marine Captain and a BAE contractor with DARPA's prototype ULTRA-Vis helmet display.

PENTAGON: After 20 years of unsuccessful efforts to produce a wearable display to provide foot troops digital data without blocking their view of the real world around them, DARPA has invented one called ULTRA-Vis. “The prototype was completed within the past several months. The breakthrough [was] the holographic wave guide” program manager Yiftach Eisenberg told me as he… Keep reading →

A Marine F-35B in vertical landing mode.

For the valedictory wargame of the Marine Corps’s Infantry Officer Course, young second lieutenants launched an airborne raid on San Clemente Island off the California coast to try out new tactics and techniques with V-22s and F-35s. Their mission: fly in on V-22 Ospreys, wipe out simulated missile launch sites so US warships could move… Keep reading →

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