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News From Washington
Milstar II Launched
The Milstar II US Air Force military communications satellite built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. at facilities in Sunnyvale, CA and Denver, CO, was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Station, FL, in late February.
Milstar II is the Defense Department's most technologically advanced telecommunications satellite and is the first to carry the Medium Data Rate (MDR) payload which can process data at speeds of 1.5 megabits per second. Two Milstar I satellites currently on-orbit carry a UHF and Low Data Rate payload which transmits data at rates between 75 and 2400 bps. Lockheed Martin is under contract to build two more Milstar II spacecraft.
The new MDR payload represents a transition to the new Block II configuration which offers a variety of enhanced communications features to the US military, including added security through the use of new antennas and faster data rates for all applications. The Milstar constellation provides secure, global communications links for the exchange of voice, data and imagery, in addition to video teleconferencing capabilities. Milstar II is specifically intended to provide capabilities particularly suited to regional conflicts.
Milstar's "switchboard-in-space" concept provides adaptable, secure and survivable communications between fixed-site, mobile and hand-portable terminals. The system accomplishes its mission through the use of on-board signal processing and signal routing, on-board resource control, crossbanding (receiving signals at one frequency, processing them and relaying them at a different frequency) and satellite cross-links which exchange signals between satellites without the use of ground station relays.
Milstar is used for communications among ships, submarines and land-based Naval stations via Navy EHF Satellite Communications terminals. The Army uses the system with Secure Mobile Anti-Jam Reliable Tactical Terminals mounted on vehicles and Single Channel Anti-Jam Man-Portable terminals for individual troops. The system also provides links for Air Force airborne command posts.
Conference Calls for Extensive Changes in Defense Budgeting and Acquisition
Defense and Industry leaders meeting during the Defense Reform 2001 conference identified instability in defense budgets and procurement programs as important challenges to the US ability to provide its war-fighters with the advanced systems and weapons required for the changing nature of warfare. The conference, organized jointly by the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics and a number of defense contractors, was attended by officials from defense and aerospace companies as well as current and former Department of Defense (DoD) officials.
The attendees recommended a series of specific reforms that would radically improve the manner in which DoD budgets for and buys leading edge weapons and would help preserve a vital defense industrial base.
Specifically, it was recommended that Congress and DoD agree to adopt a two-year appropriations cycle matching DoD's present two-year programming to reduce disruptive swings in program funding. DoD is urged to take more advantage of multi-year procurements and try multi-year R&D contracts to make them more cost-effective. It was recommended that Congress and DoD examine the means to preserve procurement and R&D budgets so that they are used to develop and buy systems needed by our forces instead of funding shortfalls in operating accounts.
The conference further recommended that there be greater incentives for consolidating manufacturing and development facilities. It also suggested that the progress payment system be reviewed. Noting that the current practice of paying incurred approved costs with 25 percent withheld for contingencies strains corporate cash flow, it recommended that the contingency portion be dropped to 10 or 15 percent. Next, the export control process was characterized as imposing unique and inadvertent penalties on American companies. The controls frequently deny US companies opportunities to export military technologies which are readily available from other sources. Finally, the conference session recommended reforms that would encourage a wider use of commercial technologies to produce low cost components for defense systems. Such reforms would include reducing the DoD-unique specifications governing defense systems, moving away from DoD-unique cost accounting standards and placing more emphasis on holding contractors responsible for total system performance rather than for specific system details.
Penn State Scientists Demonstrate Nano-wires with Nano-gaps
In an effort funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Office of Naval Research, scientists at Pennsylvania State University have developed a method for making closely spaced nanometer-sized wires. Fabricated wires ranging in size from 15 to 70 nanometers wide, a few micrometers long and spaced 10 to 40 nanometers apart have been produced.
The work involved the use of organic molecules as "molecular rulers." These were expanded into nano-scale structures with precise spacing between structures, which then served as molds for the production of gold wires. The ability to create precisely sized, parallel nano-wires is expected to be useful in the development of molecular electronics in which molecules connected by such wires will serve as transistors, switches and other electronic devices.
The work was carried out at one of NSF's National Nanofabrication Users Network facilities located at Penn State. The user's network provides research and industrial communities with infrastructure and equipment to make nano-scale devices in small quantities. For additional information, contact: Amber Jones, (703) 292-8070 or Guebre Tessema, Program contact, (703) 292-4943.
US Defense Electronics Market Overview
The Forecast International /DMS Overview of the US Defense Electronics Market examines the years 2001 through 2010 and forecasts a minimum total value for that market of $128 B over the 10-year period.
Based on the systems and R&D efforts presently in progress, a 2001 market value of $13.6 B is predicted to drop by $2.7 B, roughly 20 percent, to $10.9 B in 2010. The 20 percent drop is considered encouraging and indicative of the fact that the newest generation systems and products will have a good life span. The probability that the emphasis will shift away from production to research and development of next generation systems by 2010 is expected to start a continued decrease in the total market at that time.
The report notes that systems evolved from the late 1990s R&D efforts are now in production and forecasts a slight downturn as the production runs are completed. The market is expected to surge to $13.9 B as the newest versions of military electronic systems begin to be fielded in 2005. 2006 and 2007 are expected to be the peak years of the 10-year cycle.
The report discusses the companies involved in the market, it notes the major impact of the mergers and acquisitions which have take place and, using data for 65 leading US defense electronic market companies, forecasts the market shares of those expected to become the five market leaders over the next 10 years. On that list are: Raytheon with an estimated market share of 20.7 percent; Lockheed Martin with 11.6 percent; Northrop Grumman at 3.2 percent; Rockwell International, 1.48 percent; and ITT with a 1.34 percent share.
Technological areas expected to be of principal interest over the ten years are discussed as are the growing importance of commercial off-the-shelf items in the market and the potential for increased use of the Internet by the military. For additional information, contact: Forecast International/DMS Inc., Tel: (203) 426-0800. *