Saturday, July 08, 2006

military-industrial-complex geek

Don should be studying for his certification and whatnot - but as a distraction he is also our resident military-industrial-complex geek - with a speciality in helicopters - thank goodness. he is only weeks away from delivering his manifesto on Lockheed and Finmeccanica

his latest interim statement:
Per a Bell press release:

More than 200 suppliers in 41 states support Team US101. Suppliers include some of America's leading aerospace companies, such as General Electric, ITT, Northrop Grumman, Kaman Aerospace and Palomar Products.

So there are a number of potential bottlenecks in the pipeline, not including final systems integration. Integration of the GE engines shouldn't be an issue as Italy's and Canada's EH101s already fly with a variant of the engine selected for the US101. Need to dig for more information on the others' exact participation, but I do know that AgustaWestland has a successful cooperative history with Bell of over 30 years.

However, one more sentence from the release should put it in perspective:
AgustaWestlandBell will act as a subcontractor to Lockheed Martin, which, as prime contractor and systems integrator, will have overall responsibility for the program and delivery of the US101 helicopter to the customer.
... but then, a politician on the HASC can't be knocking the biggest dealer of death and destruction in the USA in the middle of a campaign. Much easier to criticize the foreign company that, for all it's flaws, had the helicopter operating successfully in 3 nations for 6 years before LockMart entered the picture.
Random factoid:
The engine selected for the US101, the GE CT7-8E turboshaft, from the same family of engine as the -8C selected for the H-92 Sikorsky proposed for Marine One, according to its GE page, "co-developed and co-produced by GE and Avio SpA of Italy.

According to WikiPedia, Avio S.p.A. is owned by Finmeccanica (30%) and The Carlyle Group (70%).
and if i can predict the future, kathleen will jump in with a comment about Sikorsky, Rep. Rob Simmons and CT, with a MarineOne twist, a brief reference to Calipari, and a double Fitz dismount.


Don said...

The clipping loses a little without noting it's a shot at Rob Simmons criticizing Finmecc (specifically its AgustaWestland division) for the issues with the presidential chopper instead of targetting the prime contractor on the project (Lockheed Martin), but thanks.

Personal note: at no point in time is anything intended as a shot at Sikorsky. To their credit, their S-92/H-92 won a recent competition for a long overdue replacement of the Sea King maritime helicopter (also a Sikorsky product and the current presidential chopper) in Canada, agreeing to penalties for failure to meet commitments.

Whether that's a statement on Sikorsky's principles or the MoD/Canadian Forces' negotiators, I'll leave open to debate, although certain nations' political defence establishments have a reputation for cleaner, tighter dealings than others (Australia's among them, at least as late as '97).

Still, if other nations can strike such procurement agreements favourable to their interests vis a vis costs and commitments, why has no one questioned the US defence establishment on their apparent inability to do the same?

lukery said...


snipping is as snipping does.

australian procurement is a DISASTER

i dont really follow it - but there was some recent bruohaha regarding some failed helicopter procurement - and i have some (distant) family interests in the $6bn (?) submarine debacle which appears to rival the missile defence system in terms of delivery (and it apparently kills whales and baby jesus as well)

Don said...

I was thinking back to a Roy Braybrook OpEd in Air International (a UK pub, less rah-rah, more hard info) several years back noting (at the time) that "Whenever the RAAF buys aircraft, it takes on a significance out of all proportion to the cash value of the sale, because that service's officers go about the task of selection very seriously and are known for not taking bribes."

The article was from '95 (not '97). Braybrook is a former Hawker-Siddley engineer who still writes for several publication, so he knows the biz.

Apparently, politics is once more trumping the interests of the services.

Kathleen said...

Hi Don:
That was timely. I just came from the newly opened Ned Lamont headquarters here and personally handed him the Alternet stories on Marine One. He hadn't been aware. I had sent it to him months ago, but it got lost in the blogosphere.

I want him to ask Joe Lieberman why that contract went to a foreign company, etc. when he talks about bringing jobs to CT. and what he thinks of Italy's investigation into it, the yellow cake etc. I'll give him your updates.


Don said...

Then that'll be two items to bring up:

1. Why did the contract go to a foreign design? (somewhat problematic as LockMart and Bell are making it for the US and, with their 200 hundred suppliers in 41 states, making jobs. They're just not going to be in CT.)

2. Why are there issues with specs with the machine if the original EH101 is working successfully in several roles elsewhere? (the issues seem just to be with the Team US101 implementation, for which LockMart is ultimately responsible)


rimone said...

you go Kathleen! good luck w/Lamont. :-)

lukery said...

kathleen met with lamont today...

um -does she rock?

Kathleen said...

Don, thanxxxx and hmmmm, still amounts to jobs out of CT. But why the delay, if the implementation is Team US101? I'll be tracking that between Joe L and Rob Simmons, but Simmons will probably be the most forthcoming on this, since he opposed it in the first place. I'll stay on this.

Thanks for my cheering squad kids!!!

Don said...

Delays in delivery in this instance would result from one of 3 events:

1. Supplier delay in delivery of components
2. Issues in the construction or integration of systems
3. Contractual issues or modification

Hard to guess which applies without a more information, whether on the suppliers, components, rooting through HASC or SASC debates on procurement, or access to Pentagon machinations (little hope on that last one).

Scanning through the Team US101 news archives produces articles naming 169 suppliers, including 14 in CT. Those 14 include Kaman Aerospace of Bloomfield, once an airframe manufacturer in their own right, also a supplier of components to Sikorsky.

Initial instinct has me thinking something on LockMart's end, either in integration or on the contract itself.

With integration, they're incorporating a raft of new electronics into the machine that AgustaWestland hadn't previously used in the EH101, so a delay there is certainly possible.

OTOH, it could be contractual 'renegotiation'/arm-twisting. As an example, the Pentagon's been pushing for the Lockheed F-22 Raptor contract to be 'modified' for 'multi-year procurement', producing fewer aircraft per year than originally planned, ostensibly at a savings of $225M. Reduced production rate "would mean a cost increase for each individual jet, one that would be mitigated, in part, by the savings realized with multi-year procurement." IOW, juggling figures, the Pentagon paints a 'savings' picture when LockMart will actually be paid more and in advance for the aircraft purchased.

With LockMart's penetration into the procurement process, it's not inconceivable something similar is going on with the US101 in the Pentagon, outside the view of the HASC/SASC.

Of course, none of this addresses any hinkiness in the selection of the FinMecc machine over the Sikorsky proposal, but looking at the list of LockMart's people in the Pentagon, cross-referencing against influence in/from FinMecc, and throwing in a NeoCon twist, it's not too difficult to draw a line.

More digging to do... ;)

Kathleen said...

I'm gonna print this all out and make marginal notes, like Cheney.

lukery said...

the cool kids call it 'marginalia'