The Cable | 45 senators tell Obama: Sell Taiwan some F-16s already! | Foreign Policy.com

May 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

>Posted By Josh Rogin   Thursday, May 26, 2011 – 8:11 PM

Unless the United States sells Taiwan some new fighter jets, the military balance between Taiwan and China will continue to spiral out of control to the detriment of both Taiwanese and U.S. security, 45 U.S. senators wrote on Thursday to President Barack Obama.

“Taiwan desperately needs new tactical fighter aircraft,” the senators wrote in the May 26 letter, obtained by The Cable. In light of the fact that China continues to pile up missiles, ships, aircraft, and submarines on its shore opposite Taiwan (which Beijing still considers a breakaway province), the senators want Obama to sell Taiwan 66 new F-16 fighters of the C and D variants.

The letter was spearheaded by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and James Inhofe (R-OK), the two senators who resurrected the Senate Taiwan Caucus in January just in time for the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao. But it was also signed by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), the two leaders of the brand-new China Working Group, which was created to build ties between Congress and Beijing.

The senators admit they have more than one motivation for selling F-16 fighters to Taiwan.

“We are deeply concerned that further delay of the decision to sell F-16s to Taiwan could result in the closure of the F-16 production line, and urge you to expedite this defense export process before the line closes,” they wrote.

Over 4,500 F-16s have been produced and deployed by the U.S. and over a dozen other countries in the last 40 years, but the U.S. air force no longer purchases the plane and producer Lockheed Martin depends on foreign sales to keep the F-16 business going.

But there’s little prospect the Obama administration will approve the sale of F-16s to Taiwan anytime soon. Its decision to sell Taiwan $6.2 billion of arms in early 2010 provoked a reaction from Beijing that scuttled U.S.-China military-to-military cooperation for over a year — and that sale didn’t even include any F-16s.

“United States arms sales to Taiwan seriously damaged China’s core interests and we do not want to see that happen again, neither do we hope that the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan will again and further disrupt our bilateral and military-to-military relationship,” Chinese Minister for National Defense Gen. Liang Guanglie said during a joint press conference with Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Jan. 10.

Gates told the Chinese that the arms sales would continue, as they have for decades, under the Taiwan Relations Act, a U.S. law that mandates that the United States support Taiwan’s self-defense.

“[I]f the relationship between China and Taiwan continued to improve and the security environment for Taiwan changed, then perhaps that would create the conditions for reexamining all of this,” Gates said at a roundtable after the meeting. “But that would be an evolutionary and a long-term process, it seems to me. I don’t think that’s anything that’s going to happen anytime soon.”

Gates and Liang may get a chance to talk it over next week. Both will be in Singapore attending the 10th annual Shangri-La Dialogue hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Also in attendance at the conference in Singapore will be… your humble Cable guy.

45 senators tell Obama: Sell Taiwan some F-16s already! | The Cable.

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Danger Room | Wired.com | Manhunt Inc.: Firm ‘Tags’ Terrorists for Special Ops

May 27, 2011 § 1 Comment

Photos: SOCOM

By Noah Shachtman   May 18, 2011

When trading ended Tuesday night at the New York Stock Exchange, the closing bell wasn’t rung by a titan of finance or an imported celebrity. It was sounded by the CEO of an obscure defense firm with deep ties to the U.S. intelligence and special operations communities. The traders on the floor may not have recognized Mary Margaret “Peggy” Styer. But her company’s products are well known by the small group of commandos and spies who hunt down top terrorists.

Over the last decade Styer’s company, the Virginia-based Blackbird Technologies, has become a leading supplier of equipment for the covert “tagging, tracking and locating” of suspected enemies. Every month, U.S. Special Operations Command spends millions of dollars on Blackbird gear. The U.S. Navy has a contract with Blackbird for $450 million worth of these so-called “TTL” devices. “Tens of thousands” of Blackbird’s devices have been sent to the field, according to a former employee. And TTL is just one part of the Herndon, Virginia firm’s multifaceted relationship with the special operations, intelligence and traditional military services.

“Blackbird has hit the trifecta: They’ve got people to sell, people to perform the job, and people to keep it all secret,” says one well-placed Defense Department contractor. “Everybody keeps their distance.”

Blackbird helps hunt for missing troops, and pries information off the hard drives captured in military raids. The firm counts one of the CIA’s most famous former operatives among its 250 or so employees. Its staff hackers specialize in infiltrating hostile networks without leaving a trace. Interest in the methods commandos and intelligence operatives use to track down leading targets may have spiked since the killing of Osama bin Laden; for Blackbird, it’s old news. The company has spent years at the center of this secretive field.

“Several of my former colleagues were and still are Blackbird employees. They do a lot of recruiting in FBNC,” says a retired special operator, using the acronym for U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s home base of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. “Their business is heavily weighted towards the dark side.”

It’d be an extraordinary role for any midsized company to play in America’s national security apparatus, even in an era of private corporations taking on tasks once reserved for government employees. But what’s particularly remarkable is that, 10 years ago, Blackbird was just another small network-security shop.

Crude tracking devices are widely used by law enforcement agencies to surveil suspects. But Blackbird’s locators aren’t like the retro-gadgets the FBI sticks on kids’ cars. The beacons can hop between cellular, satellite or radio frequencies to report their locations.

“Whatever’s available. If there’s a GSM tower nearby, it can use that. Or it can switch to something else, if it’s closer,” a former employee says. The encrypted signals are cross-checked with GPS position data, to create maps of where a particular target is currently, and has traveled in the past.

The idea is to give U.S. commanders the ability to “identify high-value targets in his sector,” Blackbird vice president and retired Lt. Col. Timur Eads told Danger Room in an interview last year. That commander can also use the tags to trace the routes and attack points used by insurgent bombing networks.

Or, the officer can give the devices to his own troops, keeping track of their whereabouts on a handheld device. The gadgets can also pass encrypted text messages to one another, giving the troops way to communicate silently and over long distances. Today, if the average infantryman wants a capability even remotely similar, he has to be in his vehicle or wearing several pounds of specialized gear.

One U.S. Special Operations Command shopping list for Blackbird’s “close access persistent surveillance equipment,” issued on Sept. 15, 2009, gives a sense of how widespread the company’s gear was used. The list included 363 iBat, iFox and Outlaw tracking devices; 1,355,000 “beacons” from those devices; 110,000 “shots” to the Globalstar communications satellite; 393,000 SMS messages (including 135,000 on Blackbird’s “secure TTL server”); radio frequency transmitters, terminals for the CDMA and GSM 3G cellular networks; and 135 HTC smartphones. Fifteen days later, the Command announced it would spend $3.6 million on the equipment.

Blackbird doesn’t just track targets. Once that person is located, Blackbird specialists also work to unlock the data from his or her computers, discs and drives. “Like, if you found Osama’s laptop,” a former employee says. (The interview was conducted before the raid on bin Laden’s compound. Since then, Blackbird hasn’t responded to multiple requests to comment for this story.)

According to the Washington Post, Blackbird developed “a compact, rugged, powerful, all-in-one kit” to pull out this information. “Its capabilities include detection of chemical and biological agents, extraction from cellphones and PDAs, scanning and translation of documents, computer forensics, collection and transmission of biometric data, and digital photography.”

The company also works to extract information from machines far away, through “network exploitation” and “computer infiltration,” the ex-employee says. “Black-hat-type stuff. Not exactly a benevolent type of business.”

In its early years, Blackbird was a very different kind of company. The firm billed itself as a consulting firm helping organizations “identify and protect against potential sources of hacking, industrial espionage, information theft or sabotage.”

By 2006, however, the firm’s focus had begun to shift. On its website, there were seemingly-benign questions for potential clients about “how will new wireless technologies such as 3G wireless and Bluetooth change the opportunities and risks associated with my firm’s IT infrastructure?” But Blackbird also talked up its “tracking and locating expertise, including experience with technical systems that provide a clear picture of operational assets and targets.”

Blackbird’s sister company, the cybersecurity firm RavenWing, was sold off to Boeing in 2008. Around the same time, Blackbird was temporarily thrust into the spotlight, when Eads was involved in the “Pentagon Pundits” imbroglio — retired military officers who were hired as news analysts for their Pentagon access. Eads opined on military matters for Fox News.

But the spotlight quickly passed. In 2009, the company enlisted the help of powerhouse lobbyist firm Legg, Perkins, and Associates. (.pdf) It recruited Cofer Black, the former director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center and executive at Blackwater, the notorious private security firm.

That same year, the founders of Blackbird set up a separate venture capital firm, Razor’s Edge Fund. By 2010, it had attracted 26 investors and $21 million dollars. One of the planned investments: a 20 percent stake in the security firm HBGary, before the company became infamous for its proposals to smear WikiLeaks and its supporters.

Blackbird also became active in bidding for lucrative Pentagon and intelligence-community research projects; for detecting and reacting to denial-of-service attacks; for spotting the next WikiLeaker; and, of course, for new tagging, tracking and locating tech.

Last month, U.S. officials quietly approved a Blackbird patent for tracking devices, 2 inches wide and a half-inch thick, that could be stuck on a person or vehicle. Sketched out with clip art and crude line drawings, the patent seems to cover a dumbed-down version of the company’s existing gear. Blackbird claims there could be all sorts of uses for the device: “child safety,” for example, or “remote outdoor activities such as hiking and climbing.”

Meanwhile, Blackbird has continued its involvement in one of the armed forces’ most sensitive missions: recovering people who went missing on the battlefield. That’s a job once reserved for elite military units. To outsource even a small part of it is extraordinary, even in this age of privatized security.

“We’re not the guys that go out and kick down doors and bring out the Jessica Lynches of the world,” Eads said. “We’re the guys in the background, assembling the forensic information, bringing all the threads together.”

A second former Blackbird employee, however, tells Danger Room that he repeatedly went “outside the wire” in Iraq to search for the missing. This ex-employee not only claims that he was in on the manhunt for Issa Salome, the Iraq-American contractor kidnapped in January 2010, he also says he was part of the team that eventually recovered the remains of Capt. Scott Speicher, the U.S. Navy pilot shot down in Iraq during the Gulf War. These assertions could not be independently verified.

And that’s the point, a Defense Department contractor says. Companies like Blackbird “aren’t subject to the controls and regulations the government or even quasi-governmental organizations get.”

Getting a clear view of the clandestine worlds of intelligence agencies and special operations has never been easy. Adding a contractor to the mix only obfuscates things further, even when that contractor has an ample online trail, like Blackbird’s. The company may be selling tools for tracking and locating people. But Blackbird’s main purpose may be to make things disappear.

Crude tracking devices are widely used by law enforcement agencies to surveil suspects. But Blackbird’s locators aren’t like the retro-gadgets the FBI sticks on kids’ cars. The beacons can hop between cellular, satellite or radio frequencies to report their locations.

“Whatever’s available. If there’s a GSM tower nearby, it can use that. Or it can switch to something else, if it’s closer,” a former employee says. The encrypted signals are cross-checked with GPS position data, to create maps of where a particular target is currently, and has traveled in the past.

The idea is to give U.S. commanders the ability to “identify high-value targets in his sector,” Blackbird vice president and retired Lt. Col. Timur Eads told Danger Room in an interview last year. That commander can also use the tags to trace the routes and attack points used by insurgent bombing networks.

‘It’s not exactly a benevolent type of business,’ says an ex-employee.

Or, the officer can give the devices to his own troops, keeping track of their whereabouts on a handheld device. The gadgets can also pass encrypted text messages to one another, giving the troops way to communicate silently and over long distances. Today, if the average infantryman wants a capability even remotely similar, he has to be in his vehicle or wearing several pounds of specialized gear.

One U.S. Special Operations Command shopping list for Blackbird’s “close access persistent surveillance equipment,” issued on Sept. 15, 2009, gives a sense of how widespread the company’s gear was used. The list included 363 iBat, iFox and Outlaw tracking devices; 1,355,000 “beacons” from those devices; 110,000 “shots” to the Globalstar communications satellite; 393,000 SMS messages (including 135,000 on Blackbird’s “secure TTL server”); radio frequency transmitters, terminals for the CDMA and GSM 3G cellular networks; and 135 HTC smartphones. Fifteen days later, the Command announced it would spend $3.6 million on the equipment.

Blackbird doesn’t just track targets. Once that person is located, Blackbird specialists also work to unlock the data from his or her computers, discs and drives. “Like, if you found Osama’s laptop,” a former employee says. (The interview was conducted before the raid on bin Laden’s compound. Since then, Blackbird hasn’t responded to multiple requests to comment for this story.)

According to the Washington Post, Blackbird developed “a compact, rugged, powerful, all-in-one kit” to pull out this information. “Its capabilities include detection of chemical and biological agents, extraction from cellphones and PDAs, scanning and translation of documents, computer forensics, collection and transmission of biometric data, and digital photography.”

The company also works to extract information from machines far away, through “network exploitation” and “computer infiltration,” the ex-employee says. “Black-hat-type stuff. Not exactly a benevolent type of business.”

In its early years, Blackbird was a very different kind of company. The firm billed itself as a consulting firm helping organizations “identify and protect against potential sources of hacking, industrial espionage, information theft or sabotage.”

By 2006, however, the firm’s focus had begun to shift. On its website, there were seemingly-benign questions for potential clients about “how will new wireless technologies such as 3G wireless and Bluetooth change the opportunities and risks associated with my firm’s IT infrastructure?” But Blackbird also talked up its “tracking and locating expertise, including experience with technical systems that provide a clear picture of operational assets and targets.”

Blackbird’s sister company, the cybersecurity firm RavenWing, was sold off to Boeing in 2008. Around the same time, Blackbird was temporarily thrust into the spotlight, when Eads was involved in the “Pentagon Pundits” imbroglio — retired military officers who were hired as news analysts for their Pentagon access. Eads opined on military matters for Fox News.

But the spotlight quickly passed. In 2009, the company enlisted the help of powerhouse lobbyist firm Legg, Perkins, and Associates. (.pdf) It recruited Cofer Black, the former director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center and executive at Blackwater, the notorious private security firm.

That same year, the founders of Blackbird set up a separate venture capital firm, Razor’s Edge Fund. By 2010, it had attracted 26 investors and $21 million dollars. One of the planned investments: a 20 percent stake in the security firm HBGary, before the company became infamous for its proposals to smear WikiLeaks and its supporters.

Blackbird also became active in bidding for lucrative Pentagon and intelligence-community research projects; for detecting and reacting to denial-of-service attacks; for spotting the next WikiLeaker; and, of course, for new tagging, tracking and locating tech.

Last month, U.S. officials quietly approved a Blackbird patent for tracking devices, 2 inches wide and a half-inch thick, that could be stuck on a person or vehicle. Sketched out with clip art and crude line drawings, the patent seems to cover a dumbed-down version of the company’s existing gear. Blackbird claims there could be all sorts of uses for the device: “child safety,” for example, or “remote outdoor activities such as hiking and climbing.”

Meanwhile, Blackbird has continued its involvement in one of the armed forces’ most sensitive missions: recovering people who went missing on the battlefield. That’s a job once reserved for elite military units. To outsource even a small part of it is extraordinary, even in this age of privatized security.

“We’re not the guys that go out and kick down doors and bring out the Jessica Lynches of the world,” Eads said. “We’re the guys in the background, assembling the forensic information, bringing all the threads together.”

A second former Blackbird employee, however, tells Danger Room that he repeatedly went “outside the wire” in Iraq to search for the missing. This ex-employee not only claims that he was in on the manhunt for Issa Salome, the Iraq-American contractor kidnapped in January 2010, he also says he was part of the team that eventually recovered the remains of Capt. Scott Speicher, the U.S. Navy pilot shot down in Iraq during the Gulf War. These assertions could not be independently verified.

And that’s the point, a Defense Department contractor says. Companies like Blackbird “aren’t subject to the controls and regulations the government or even quasi-governmental organizations get.”

Getting a clear view of the clandestine worlds of intelligence agencies and special operations has never been easy. Adding a contractor to the mix only obfuscates things further, even when that contractor has an ample online trail, like Blackbird’s. The company may be selling tools for tracking and locating people. But Blackbird’s main purpose may be to make things disappear.

Manhunt Inc.: Firm ‘Tags’ Terrorists for Special Ops | Danger Room | Wired.com.

Hurriyet Daily News | Turkey’s best woman entrepreneur rises from defense sector

May 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Zeynep Rüstemoğlu (R), winner of a women entrepreneurship contest, poses with Ergun Özen, head of Turkey's Garanti Bank, during an award ceremony. AA photo

ISTANBUL, Friday, May 27, 2011

Zeynep Rüstemoğlu from Ankara, owner of Forum Industries offering automatic fire detection and suppression systems, has been selected as “Turkey’s best female entrepreneur” for her successful activities in the defense industry.

The results of the “Turkey’s Women Entrepreneurs Competition” held by Turkey’s Garanti Bank in cooperation with weekly business magazine Ekonomist and the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey, or KAGİDER, were announced late Thursday.

A total of 5,600 female entrepreneurs from different regions of Turkey applied to the competition, which received only 113 applications five years ago. Pınar Akalın from Istanbul, the owner of Sentromer DNA Technologies, received the “Promising woman entrepreneur” award.

Speaking during the award ceremony, Ergun Özen, chief executive officer of Garanti Bank, said they do not prefer to separate jobs as “proper for women or proper for men.”

“Evaluations should be done in the business life according to talent and competency, instead of gender,” Özen said. “In addition to women entrepreneurship, as Garanti Bank, we try to contribute to female employment and boost the number of women in labor force.”

The owner of textile company ONR Moda, Firdevs Serpil Karuserci and Ebru Bayakar Demir, owner of Murat Cercis Konağı restaurant, from the southeastern provinces of Gaziantep and Mardin, respectively, were granted awards as “Woman Entrepreneur who made a difference in her region.”

Lender looks for ways to compensate loss

In a separate event the same day, Garanti’s Özen said the share of fees and commission in banking still remained lower in Turkey compared with global banks.

“The quality of the profit could be attained through fees and commission,” he told the Hürriyet Daily News on Thursday, while speaking on the sidelines of a meeting in Istanbul. The bank, partly owned by Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria of Spain, generates nearly 120 million Turkish Liras from fees and commission annually.

According to him, the banks in the country will increase their fees and commissions eventually to compensate for their losses from a recent rise in the required reserve ratio by the Central Bank. Özen said the total share of fees and commissions in Turkish bank’s revenues floated around 15 percent but could be increased to 25-30 percent soon.

The Turkish Central Bank increased bank reserve requirements three times in the past year to 16 percent from 10 percent in 2010, in an attempt to deter the country’s rapid credit growth and increasing current account deficit.

Turkey’s best woman entrepreneur rises from defense sector – Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review.

Press Release | Raytheon Receives $20 Million Order to Provide Encrypted Identification Technology

May 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., May 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) has received a $20.7 million award to deliver more than 1,900 KIV-77 Mode 4 / 5 cryptographic units that provide secure communications for combat systems force identification.

“Raytheon’s KIV-77 represents the next generation in secured combat identification for U.S. and coalition forces,” said Brian McKeon, vice president, Raytheon Network Centric Systems’ Integrated Communications Systems. “The ultimate goal of this enhanced technology is the prevention of fratricide.

“This significant award reflects confidence in Raytheon to produce this critical, leading technology so vital to protecting the warfighter in battle.”

This U.S. Air Force award brings Raytheon’s orders for the KIV-77 to more than 3,600 units, including the program’s low rate initial production phase under which approximately 1,000 KIV-77 units were delivered ahead of contract schedule.

A premier cryptographic device for combat identification, Raytheon is under contract that allows for KIV-77 additional orders and deliveries into 2014, and the company expects this unit to be in continual production through 2020.

Raytheon Company, with 2010 sales of $25 billion, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 89 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as a broad range of mission support services. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 72,000 people worldwide.

Raytheon Receives $20 Million Order to Provide Encrypted Identification Technology – May 25, 2011.

DoD Buzz | A heavy duty LCS for foreign navies. Maybe.

May 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

By Philip Ewing Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 5:10 pm

Lockheed Martin says its second littoral combat ship, the USS Fort Worth, is 87 percent complete. It’ll start work on its third and fourth ships over the coming year. The U.S. Navy wants at least 55 LCSes. From the defense contractor’s standpoint, Lockheed’s return to shipbuilding looks like a success: It is moving toward steady production of a stable design and will likely be able to book many hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of the program. (Lockheed’s first LCS, the Freedom, didn’t go so smoothly, and it cost much, much more than initially advertised.)

From the Navy’s standpoint, the LCS concept may not look so good anymore, given the murky prospects for the interchangeable mission equipment the sea service is counting on. But commanders at least seem satisfied that the ships work, and Lockheed officials would like to take that and translate it into a version for international navies. The ship that Lockheed could sell to the navy of Saudi Arabia or another foreign client might have many more features and weapons than the ones flying the Stars and Stripes.

Bob Riche, Lockheed’s vice president for seaframe sea-based missile defense, said the company has looked at designing an LCS like the Fort Worth equipped with the Aegis system, including a SPY-1F radar and sets of vertical launch tubes for SM-2, SM-3, Evolved Sea Sparrow or other missiles. (Neither version of the standard U.S. LCS has any of that stuff.) Riche acknowledged that the additional sensors and weapons would require a lot more power, which would probably mean the Aegis-equipped LCS couldn’t shred the ocean at 45 knots like its American counterpart. But a Saudi or other navy wanting a small air and missile defense frigate might not need the high sprint speed that U.S. Navy asked for. And the international LCS probably would not be able to accept the various mission modules built for the American one.

Although Stevens and Paul Lemmo, Lockheed’s vice president of business development, both said the company was interested in foreign military sales on LCS, they also both acknowledged it would be years before it happens — if it ever does. Meanwhile the best way to entice foreign interest is for Lockheed and the U.S. Navy to keep on time and on budget with the Fort Worth and its siblings, Stevens said.

Chicago Tribune | Pentagon buoyed by Wall Street view of defense stocks

May 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Jim Wolf, Reuters, 5:14 p.m. CDT, May 24, 2011

WASHINGTON- The Pentagon is very encouraged by Wall Street’s response to aerospace companies and arms makers, even as defense spending flattens, the top U.S. weapons buyer said on Tuesday.

“We are monitoring the health of our industry as it is seen by the financial community,” said Ashton Carter, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. “And the information there is very encouraging to us.”

Carter made his remarks at a Capitol Hill luncheon co-sponsored by the Senate’s Aerospace Caucus and the Aerospace Industries Association, the arms makers’ chief trade and lobbying group.

He spoke moments before outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in what was billed as a major policy address, said his overarching goal was to preserve a U.S. military “capable of meeting crucial national security priorities, even if fiscal pressure requires reductions in that force’s size.”

Carter said the industry would have to adjust to cope with a projected spending slowdown now that a post-September 11, 2001, spurt — which nearly doubled the Pentagon’s base budget — was ending under fiscal pressure to trim the U.S. deficit.

“A strong, technologically vibrant and financially successful defense industry is in the national interest,” Carter said. “And importantly, the government’s interest is not short term but long-term, like those of long-term investors.”

As a result, the Defense Department will promote policies and actions “that provide for the long-term innovation, efficiency, profitability and productivity growth in our industry.”

President Barack Obama, as part of a deficit reduction drive announced on April 13, set a goal of holding the growth in core national security spending slightly below inflation for the next 12 years to save $400 billion. Gates in his remarks on Tuesday at the American Enterprise Institute said this corresponded to a projected cut of about 5 percent in constant dollars assuming all $400 billion came from the Defense Department.

Carter told his luncheon audience he was looking frequently at the health of the industry “and how it is regarded.”

The median stock price for the top 20 aerospace and defense contractors is about 92.5 percent of their 52-week trading highs, he said.

Trading at this level, Carter said, shows “continuing confidence in the health of our industry that is higher than it is for global information, automotive, steel, energy, telecom and information technology sectors.”

The five-year earnings-per-share consensus forecast for the top 20 aerospace and defense companies’ growth is 11 percent, he added, “which is moderate but … augurs well for the future.”

Top Pentagon suppliers include Lockheed Martin Corp , Boeing Co , Northrop Grumman Corp , General Dynamics Corp , BAE Systems Plc and Raytheon Co .

Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon’s No. 1 supplier by sales, is making cost reduction and affordability a top priority company-wide to deal with the “new reality” of tighter defense budgets, Robert Stevens, Lockheed’s chief executive officer, told reporters earlier on Tuesday.

Lockheed now has 126,000 employees, down from 146,000 two years ago.

“And that number may well continue to decline,” he said, outlining more than $500 million in cost reductions from such measures as executive buy-outs and facilities consolidation.

The Aerospace Industries Association urged in a study released on Tuesday that 35 percent of the core defense budget be devoted to military modernization, including arms purchases, research and development. Currently, such spending tops out at about 22 percent, the study said.

With worldwide missions and a limited number of service members, the United States “must make up in technological capability what we lack in numbers,” Marion Blakey, the group’s president, said in a statement.

Pentagon buoyed by Wall Street view of defense stocks – chicagotribune.com.

DailyTech | Army Wants to Test New Gadgets Every 6 Months

May 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Mark Kurlyandchik – May 24, 2011 8:22 AM

Issuing open invitation to developers, wants to include smartphones in the mix

“The most important thing I’ve learned this last year is that the sooner you get a new capability into the hands of a soldier out in an operating environment along with the engineer who developed it the sooner you can stop a dumb idea or advance a really good idea,” Maj. Gen. Keith Walker, head of Brigade Modernization Command, tells Defense News.

That’s the basic notion behind a push by Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli to start testing new gadgets and technologies every six months, in places like New Mexico rather than the battlefields of Afghanistan.

The Defense News reports Chiarelli has sent an open invitation to the defense industry to send their latest devices to White Sands, New Mexico, where his service will begin testing them during a biannual exercise. The first Network Integration Evaluation, as its called, will be held in June.

Chiarelli isn’t limiting his invitation to large defense contractors and programs of record. Rather, the testing will be more inclusive; the invitation is open to all comers, and Chiarelli wants smartphones in the mix.

Chiarelli said that he was told smartphones shouldn’t be issued to soldiers in the battlefield because they would break. But once it happened, the opposite proved true. “I don’t have a scientific study but I know TRADOC issued 500 of them but the only one that was ever broken was a major who dropped it on a marble floor,” he told Defense News.

Smartphones appear to be on the minds of the U.S. Army lately. Last December, we reported that the Army was working on a program to issue a smartphone to every soldier. Widespread battlefield deployment of that program could occur as soon as this year.

DailyTech – Army Wants to Test New Gadgets Every 6 Months

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