Defense Business Brief: What Space Will Look Like in 2050; The Pentagon’s largest contractors; B-21 Disclosure Date; and more.


Union Market, the warehouse of trendy restaurants and shops between Washington’s Union Station and Gallaudet University, is a place best known for hipsters, not defense contractors. So you can imagine my surprise and excitement at the email in my inbox inviting me to a Lockheed Martin event in a neighborhood full of retail wholesalers.

After entering the camp through a side alley, visitors walked down a hallway this brought back memories of Star Wars and Space Mountain – a fitting entrance considering the event was dubbed “Destination Space: 2050”.

Inside, on interactive displays, engineers talked about emerging technologies that could become a reality in 30 years. We talk about things like recycling existing satellites, refueling satellites, and even making satellites in space. There was even artificial intelligence to help find ways to protect satellites from missiles, jamming, or other types of attacks. Then it handed out the stuff right away For all mankindlike lunar bases.

The engineers behind the technology—not business development salespeople—told policymakers and reporters what they think is possible three decades from now.

While the event was designed to showcase military, civilian and commercial space technology, a major benefit – for me at least – was that much of the technology is dual-purpose. For example, an infrared satellite could detect an enemy missile launch and track a forest fire.

All in all, it was very different from the types of events defense contractors typically hold.

The Pentagon released its annual list of top contractors by contract for fiscal year 2021, topped as usual by Lockheed. Boeing, Raytheon Technologies, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman round out the top 5. L3 Technologies was No. 7 and Huntington Ingalls Industries No. 9. The remaining three companies: COVID-19 vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna, and health insurance company Humana. Remember that the Department of Defense closed the contracts for the US stockpile of COVID vaccines and treatments. The top three states receiving defense contracts: Virginia, California, and Texas. Read the full country report here.

My colleague Patrick Tucker examines “why the Pentagon’s crush on Elon Musk is bad for democracy”. ICYMI, Musk’s SpaceX, is at odds with the Pentagon over who should foot the bill for the Starlink communications satellites used by Ukraine’s armed forces. Read Patrick’s attitude here.

The Commander of the US Transport Command says commercial airlines and ships will have a large role to play in transporting troops and supplies as the United States goes to war in the Pacific. To facilitate this and other possible scenarios, US officials are looking at ways to give companies more access to military information and technology that would allow them to fly and sail in areas where civilian networks and navigation satellites are blocked. Read more here.

Here is a recent report from the Quincy Institute’s Bill Hartung list policy recommendations for US arms sales overseas. Among them: Restriction of the so-called “revolving door” between the state and companies; to make it so that Congress must approve individual large arms sales; increasing the transparency of arms deals; and calls for better risk assessments by the Departments of State and Defense. Some lawmakers have called for blocking arms sales to Saudi Arabia after OPEC announced it would cut oil production, a move that would benefit Russia and push up prices at the pump.

mark your calendars, the B-21 bomber is revealed unveiled to the public on December 2nd in Palmdale, California. In September we have predicted The big unveiling would take place in conjunction with the Reagan National Defense Forum being held in Simi Valley on December 3rd.

Lockheed announced its third quarter results in which executives said supply chain problems are expected to continue into 2023. “We continue to expect long-term growth, but given the ongoing pandemic impact and ongoing supply chain challenges, we now expect to get back to growth in 2024,” CEO Jim Taiclet said on Tuesday at the company’s quarterly earnings call.

After the win call Speaking on CNBC, CFO Jay Malave said the computer chip acquisition was a “watch item,” but the company hasn’t “really seen any significant impact” due to electronic component shortages. Where there have been supply chain showdowns, they have been “more of [the] Structural parts of the aircraft.”

Even when calling Taiclet announced that the company has formed an internal group to partner with mid-sized defense, commercial and space companies.

On tap: Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing, Northrop and L3Harris Technologies will all report their third-quarter results next week.

Palantir added four new members to its Federal Advisory Board, including Dr. Deborah Birx, the former White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator; Will Hurd, former Republican congressman from Texas; Gustave Perna, the retired Army general who was the chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed; and Greg Simon, former executive director of the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force and the Biden Cancer Initiative.


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