November 30, 2011 § Leave a comment
About 400 Sandia National Laboratories employees retired in Fiscal Year 2011 – 150 more than normal, but far fewer than some had feared as a result of a change in retiree benefits, labs human resources director Karen Gardner said Tuesday.
Sandia expects more retirements between now and the end of December, when the benefits changes kick in, according to Gardner. But current estimates suggest the total number of excess retirements will be far below worst-case scenarios of a mass exodus as a result of the benefit changes.
Sandia hired 1,130 new employees in FY 2011, which ended Sept. 30, Gardner said. That compares with 400 retirees and another 160-plus voluntary departures.
The effect was a net growth in Sandia’s roughly 10,000-person work force, Gardner said. That resulted in net growth of nearly 600 in Sandia’s employment levels, but in the long run Sandia expects that growth to be reduced by future retirement, she said. The idea was to bring in new researchers so they could work alongside and learn from veterans before they retire.
In 2009, Sandia announced that it was capping its generous retiree health benefit program. For retirees with 30 years service, for example, Sandia currently pays 90 percent of their health care costs between the date of their retirement and when they become eligible for Medicare. The change puts a cap on those payments for people who retire after Jan. 1, 2012. If premiums rise after that, Sandia will not pay the increased costs.
The health benefit change was followed in 2010 by a change in the way retirement benefits are calculated that had the effect of reducing money received by employees who retire after Jan. 1, 2012. For example, under the changes, an employee retiring in 2015 after 28 years of service with a final salary of $111,000 would see his or her retirement drop from $52,200 a year to $48,600 a year, according to Sandia.
Gardner noted that Sandia continues to have an extremely low rate of employee turnover – nonretirement departures – of just 1.6 percent.
“Sandia’s such a great place to work,” she said.
— This article appeared on page C01 of the Albuquerque Journal
By John Fleck
October 26, 2011
ABQ Journal l No Retirement Exodus at Sandia
November 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
Kratos Partners With AlienVault to Enhance Cyber Security and Situational Awareness in Satellite Communications
Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc., a leading National Security Solutions provider, announced today that its RT Logic subsidiary has entered into an exclusive partnership with AlienVault to design, develop and deliver new cyber security solutions for the Satellite Communications (SATCOM) industry. The goal is to help defense, government and commercial satellite operators significantly improve their cyber situational awareness, threat management, incident response and to more readily comply with DIACAP, SEC and other government regulations.
Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies will integrate their respective technologies to develop products and solutions targeting the SATCOM sector. The disparate nature of many SATCOM systems and devices presents unique security challenges for mission and network specialists. The two companies will combine their expertise to address these challenges and to ease the burden of compliance requirements that are proliferating in an increasingly hostile cyber environment. RT Logic will exclusively market those solutions within the SATCOM industry.
“RT Logic’s commercial-based signal processing systems combined with AlienVault’s Unified SIEM address a critical hole in the SATCOM sector associated with threat management and compliance issues,” said John Monahan, President of RT Logic. “This partnership reinforces Kratos’ commitment to providing our defense, government and commercial customers with the systems and solutions they need to meet their situational awareness and risk mitigation requirements.”
“We are excited about the opportunity to partner with RT Logic to offer joint customers a solution that enhances their security posture,” said Dominique Karg, AlienVault’s CTO. “AlienVault and RT Logic are both leaders in our respective markets and together we will work to develop solutions that will act as the strategic points of control to add security and optimize services as customers scale their overall IT infrastructure. AlienVault’s collaboration with RT Logic will help us expand the capabilities of our solutions and deliver enhanced value for the satellite industry.”
RT Logic, a subsidiary of Kratos, is a world leader in the design, engineering, manufacturing and deployment of systems and subsystems supporting ground-to-space and ground-to-air communication links. RT Logic’s primary customers include leading defense contractors, the U.S. military and its allies. RT Logic products have supported over 80 percent of the nation’s space missions from factory test, to launch, to on-orbit operation.
Kratos is a leading provider of IT infrastructure management and situational awareness solutions that assure the availability, reliability and security of mission-critical information technology (IT), network and communications infrastructure.
AlienVault is the developer of advanced cyber security products including the AlienVault Unified SIEM Solution, a complete Security Integration and Event Management (SIEM) platform that unifies management of critical security systems and processes across the network, including Vulnerability Scanning for Asset Management as well as Wireless, Network and Host IDS for attack detection. AlienVault products are used by customers including the U.S. Army, NASA, AT&T, Telefonica, Citi Bank and many other security-conscious organizations across all sectors.
November 29, 2011
November 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
Bloomberg’s Tony Capaccio delivers good news and bad news for Boeing’s new KC-46A tanker program.
First, the good news: According to the latest information from DoD and Big B, development is “progressing well with no significant technical issues,” as of Sunday, with everything more or less on track.
Now, the bad news: Boeing’s cost estimates for this program have gone up again, and there’s a chance, Capaccio writes, that Boeing could hit its head on the cost ceiling it negotiated with the feds as part of its fixed-price deal. Here’s how it broke down:
The program manager’s most likely estimated price at completion is $5.3 billion and the contractor’s most likely is $5.1 billion,’’ according to the document obtained by Bloomberg News. “The government’s estimate is higher than the contractor’s due to the inclusion of schedule risk associated with the remainder of development,’’ it said. “The government’s liability is limited to $4.8 billion.’’
Program manager Brig. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said of Boeing in July that “if they get to $4.9 billion, they get zero profit.’’
Pentagon officials have insisted there’s no way for Boeing to wriggle out of this arrangement and bill the taxpayers for one dime above the cost ceiling, but stranger things have happened. Just the history of the tanker saga itself — so tawdry and convoluted it would embarrass the screenwriter of a Lifetime Original Movie — suggests that there are many more twists and turns in the road ahead.
By Philip Ewing
November 28th, 2011
Rockwell Collins l U.S. Army selects Rockwell Collins to provide additional Transportable Black Hawk Operations Simulators and services
November 28, 2011 § Leave a comment
U.S. Army selects Rockwell Collins to provide additional Transportable Black Hawk Operations Simulators and services
Underscoring the growing need to bring training solutions to where soldiers are located, the U.S. Army has selected Rockwell Collins to provide additional Transportable Black Hawk Operations Simulators (T-BOS). The contract, valued at $35 million, calls for deliveries to be complete by September 2015.
“Rockwell Collins has developed a strong track record of delivering the T-BOS on-time and on-budget with the kind of capability that has made it the U.S. Army’s standard deployable training device for the Black Hawk helicopter,” said LeAnn Ridgeway, vice president and general manager of Simulation & Training Solutions for Rockwell Collins. “Its mobile nature saves time and resources by taking the training to pilots in the field and it is the only U.S. Army accredited flight training device for the UH-60M aircraft.”
T-BOS is a high-fidelity flight simulator capable of being deployed to forward operating bases. It is air, land and sea transportable and can be ready for training within eight hours of arrival due to its own integral power and environmental control unit. The T-BOS is equipped with UH-60M avionics including Rockwell Collins’ cockpit displays.
November 28th, 2011
November 28, 2011 § 1 Comment
Today at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC), the world’s largest military simulation show, CAE announced that Boeing has ordered six additional P-8A Poseidon operational flight trainers (OFTs) for the United States Navy.
The order was booked in CAE’s second quarter ending September 30, 2011 and included in the value of military contracts announced by CAE on October 17, 2011. Boeing, prime contractor for the U.S. Navy P-8A program, is the undisclosed United States customer referenced in that press release.
CAE will manufacture the simulators as well as develop a suite of P-8A Aircraft Equipment enhanced Desktop Environment (AeDTE) trainers, which will be used as role playing stations during training of P-8A aircrews. The P-8A OFTs and AeDTEs are part of a recent contract awarded to Boeing to support low rate initial production lot two (LRIP-II) of the P-8A multi-mission maritime aircraft.
“As the United States Navy continues planning for initial operating capability of the P-8A, CAE is pleased to be working closely with Boeing to deliver the training systems required,” said John Lenyo, President and General Manager, CAE USA. “The Navy expects to increase the amount of synthetic training used for aircrew training so the fleet of P-8A operational flight trainers we deliver will play a key role in preparing crews to effectively operate and employ this state-of-the-art aircraft.”
The P-8A Poseidon is a new long-range anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare aircraft currently being developed for the U.S. Navy by prime contractor Boeing. The P-8A is a derivative of Boeing’s next-generation 737-800 aircraft and will be used for maritime and littoral operations. The U.S. Navy plans to acquire 117 P-8A aircraft to replace its current fleet of P-3C Orion aircraft. The Indian Navy, the first international customer for the P-8, has ordered eight P-8I aircraft.
CAE is already under contract from Boeing to design and manufacture four P-8A OFTs, so this order brings the total number of P-8A OFTs that CAE will develop to ten. CAE designs and manufactures the P-8A OFT hardware to Level D standards, the highest qualification for flight simulators. CAE also provides the 737-800 OFT software baseline and simulation-based software lab environment that is used for P-8A OFT development and integration tasks. CAE then delivers the P-8A OFTs to Boeing, who installs and integrates software specific to the P-8A aircraft and completes delivery to the U.S. Navy.
November 28, 2011
November 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
Budget cuts must not be allowed to undermine the US military’s industrial base, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday during a visit to a shipyard that builds attack submarines.
Panetta used his stop at the Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, Connecticut to underline the importance of preserving the know-how of the country’s defense industry that he said was jeopardized by potential sweeping cuts in military spending.
“We cannot have a strong defense for the United States without protecting this industrial base,” Panetta told a crowd of about 200 workers in hard hats.
“I need to be able in this country to produce our ships, to produce our submarines, to produce our planes, to produce our fighter planes, to produce our tanks, to produce what we need for the military.
“I don’t need to rely on another country. We’ve got rely on the United States to do that,” he said to cheers, with an imposing Virginia-class submarine behind him.
The defense chief said the specialized skills of those building submarines or other weapons could not be easily replaced and might be lost permanently if deeper cuts go forward due to political deadlock in Congress.
“You too are the patriots that I need to depend on. Your skills, your capabilities, what you’re able to do, that is an important resource that we have to protect for the future,” he said.
Before he spoke, Panetta got a tour of the soon-to-be commissioned Mississippi fast attack submarine, which manufacturer General Dynamics says has been produced a year ahead of schedule and under budget.
The US Navy has eight of the nuclear-powered Virginia-class vessels and plans to build at least 30.
The submarines, which cost more than $2 billion each, are designed to strike enemy subs, launch Tomahawk cruise missiles, gather intelligence and deliver special operations forces.
While commanders see the Virginia-class submarines as an important counterweight to anti-ship missiles being developed by China and other states, the Navy faces budget pressures that could mean scaling back plans for the future fleet of fast attack subs.
The Pentagon is already preparing for more than $450 billion in cuts over the next decade, but political stalemate in Congress could mean roughly another $600 billion in additional reductions.
Panetta this week warned that if Congress fails to prevent deep defense budget cuts, the US military will be left weaker, slower and smaller.
He outlined on Monday the potential effects of automatic cutbacks should a congressional “supercommittee” fail this month to reach a deal to reduce the country’s deficit, painting a dire picture.
Panetta, a former lawmaker and White House budget chief under former president Bill Clinton, said at the shipyard on Thursday that members of Congress needed to “suck it up” and show leadership on the deficit, saying the problem could not be solved without tackling mushrooming spending on so-called entitlement programs as well as raising tax revenues.
“You want to fix these deficits, you got to make the same damn decisions” that were made in budget deals in the past, he said.
“So I really urge leaders in Congress, I urge this (super) committee — suck it up, do what’s right for the country,” he said.
“That’s why we elect people, to govern. Not to just survive in office.”
By Dan De Luce (AFP)
November 17th, 2011
November 18, 2011 § Leave a comment
Defense-industry stocks such as General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin may suffer a double whammy if Congress fails to pass a budget for the Department of Defense and the so-called Super Committee trims costs.
FBR analyst Patrick McCarthy said there’s a chance the Department of Defense may operate under a “continuing resolution” next year, meaning funding would remain little changed or fall. That’s never happened before.
The Super Committee is preparing to unveil a plan next week to cut government spending, which has been weighing on defense stocks. Since the start of June, the S&P 500 Aerospace & Defense Index, a proxy for the stock performance of the defense industry, has declined 8%.
According to McCarthy, the Department of Defense has never operated under a continuing resolution, but at the same time no budget for the department has been provided. He wrote in a note that “some services are entirely unprepared to alter budgets in fiscal 2012 if a [continuing resolution] is in place for the entire year.”
There’s no clear sign which contracts would be hurt most if the Super Committee cuts costs or a continuing resolution is put in place, making it hard to determine which companies would be affected. Thus, investing in the defense sector should be avoided — despite attractively valued stocks — until a budget is passed.
Companies such as General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon(RTN_) and Northrup Grumman(NOC_) receive a big slice of their revenue from the Department of Defense (see chart below). Investors would be wise to steer clear of those companies.
Lockheed Martin, a maker of satellites, aircraft and missile-defense systems, was the No. 1 supplier to the U.S. Department of Defense in 2010 and is on track to claim that title again this year based on data from USASpending.gov. In fact, the government has paid more than $8 billion to Lockheed in 2011 for aircraft. About 60% of revenue was derived from the Department of Defense in 2010.
The other company largely reliant on contracts from the Department of Defense is Raytheon, which manufactures air-, marine- and missile-defense systems. The government’s top awards to Raytheon have been for guided missiles, with contracts worth $2.8 billion so far in 2011. For Raytheon, things could get even worse if President Obama pulls troops from locations overseas.
By Lindsey Bell