WASHINGTON: “I’m optimistic,” said the new president of the powerful Aerospace Industries Association, David Melcher, looking ahead to 2016. That statement in itself is a departure from the often dire warnings of his predecessor, long-time AIA president (and former Breaking Defense contributor) Marion Blakey. “Who would have thought four months ago that Ex-Im bank would be reauthorized?”… Keep reading →
UPDATED: SMC Clarifies That Certification Is Not Indefinite. PENTAGON: Word from the Air Force is that SpaceX “remains certified” to launch the nation’s most expensive and heaviest intelligence and Air Force satellites. It took a few days, which is not surprising how politically and legally sensitive everything involving Elon Musk and SpaceX national security launch certification… Keep reading →
UPDATED: Corrects Cost Per Plane To $3.8M; Holmes “Misspoke;” Adds Enhanced Mode S Upgrade CAPITOL HILL: The law is the law. But the law must be written and it must then be interpreted in practice. Ay, there’s the rub. Add the National Guard, local politics, aging C-130s, and a wobbly defense budget in which hard choices must… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: We love being able to say “we told you so,” and today we can. During a 30-minute conference call with reporters Monday, the president of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), Michael Toscano, used the word “drone” four times. Not too long ago, Toscano might have washed his own mouth out with… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: Those hyperventilating at the specter of drones flooding U.S. skies because Congress has told the Federal Aviation Administration to achieve “the safe integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system as soon as practicable, but not later than September 30, 2015,” can now take a deep breath. Those in industry panting… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: As the crisis over China’s self-declared “air defense identification zone” hits its tenth day with no signs of de-escalation, leading Republican lawmaker Rep. Randy Forbes questioned an apparent concession by the administration over commercial flights. Meanwhile, South Korea is contemplating expanding its own long-standing ADIZ to challenge China’s — but it might do so in a… Keep reading →
GILLIAM COUNTY, OREGON: This isolated test site in rural Oregon is where Boeing subsidiary Insitu takes its drones “to torture them,” said site manager Jerry McWithey. Temperates soar to 110 degrees in summer and plummet to 10 degrees — with 50-knot winds — in winter. The hot-and-cold ordeal the drones go through is a microcosm of the problems facing the company as a whole as the defense spending boom goes bust.
The era of exponential growth is over. When Insitu was founded back in 1998, it had just four people and a plan to build small numbers of small unmanned air vehicles for weather research. Shortly after 9/11, in February 2002, the start-up partnered with aerospace behemoth Boeing to develop military recon UAVs, and its ScanEagle drone (click here for video) first saw action over Fallujah in 2004. Keep reading →