Atlantic Council

Defense Industrialist

Three years into an “age of austerity” in Western military spending, expectations are building for a new wave of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the defense industry like the one that followed the Cold War. Just as before, change is resetting customers’ expectations, investors’ outlooks and corporate strategies.

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The recent failure of GLONASS and sightings of Russian navigation jammers in Crimea are cause enough for concern.

If you’re not a space geek, you probably didn’t notice the total failure of the Russian satellite navigation system early this month. And if you’re not an electronic warfare geek, you probably didn’t notice those Russian satellite navigation jammers driving around Crimea either. Both, though, should be a reminder of just how much industry and the armed forces depend on navigation and timing from space, and what should be done about.

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Tiny satellites are diffusing remote sensing capabilities around the world

The Americans have reconnaissance satellites. The French, Belgians, Spanish, and Greeks share some reconnaissance satellites. The Russians have their reconnaissance satellites. The Ukrainians have Google Earth. It’s not the same thing, but right now, it the best they’ve got. But as technology and the market are developing, countries in Ukraine’s position are actually getting their own satellites. They may soon be much better placed to defend themselves, but the builders of ‘big space’ may find themselves scrambling to defend the lower end of their market positions.

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What We Need from General Dynamics in the AMPV Competition

The drama continues in the US Army’s effort to replace its longest-serving armored vehicles, the M113s. General Dynamics is threatening to complain to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) that the mobility standards required and the technical data provided in the competition are inadequate to support its bid. But as incumbent competitor BAE Systems itself knows from experience, neither of these arguments should be allowed to alter policy. What’s needed now is not more legal filings, but some brilliantly competitive engineering.

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Boeing’s latest patrol plane is performing brilliantly in the Indian Ocean

Normally, no good can come to a manufacturer from the crash of an airplane it built. And it’s true that Malaysian Airlines’ missing plane is a Boeing 777. But the tragedy must be put in context, as the 777’s safety record to date has been exemplary, with only one fatal flying accident in nineteen years of operation, and that almost certainly from pilot error. So today, the hunt for Flight 370 across the wide expanse of the Indian Ocean is actually an opportunity for Boeing, as several air arms showcase its latest big jet—the P-8 Poseidon.

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Congressman Garamendi’s plan to ship natural gas to Europe on American-built tankers would be bad industrial policy

On CNN.com last week, Congressman John Garamendi of California argued that the "Russian incursion [into Crimea] may be opportunity for U.S. mariners”. He wants to export American natural gas to Europe, but he wants to mandate that it travel on ships built by and crewed by Americans. While isolating Russia economically may be sound strategy, the congressman’s shipbuilding tack-on would be nothing more than opportunistic protectionism.

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Arms sales to Moscow have been more embarrassing than alarming, but it's time to stop.

Now that Ukraine has surrendered Crimea after the most perfunctory fight, attention has turned to what the Russian Army might invade next. Estonia? Molodova? In the latter case, SACEUR worries that they Russians will just drive through Kyiv on the way. Perhaps even Poland is worried. But there was a time when Poland and much of the rest of NATO were so much less concerned that they were actually selling Russia weapons. And while that hasn’t mattered much, it’s time to stop.

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How Chinese missile marketing poses three very different theses about Chinese strategy


The Hurriyet Daily News reported yesterday that enthusiasm has begun to wane amongst local subcontractors in CPMIEC’s proposed sale of FD-2000 anti-aircraft missile batteries to Turkey. CPMIEC has been blacklisted by the US government under the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act, and Turkish firms are wary of winding up on the wrong side of the world’s biggest customer. As early as last October, Raytheon and Eurosam (MBDA and Thales’s joint venture) were asked to extend their pricing, and the bidding was again extended in January, so this deal is hardly done. Yet unexplained remains the motivation from the Chinese side. Why did Beijing allow CPMIEC to offer an important missile system to a NATO ally of the United States? 

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For the Pentagon, reducing the cost of big systems will be only half the battle.


In technology, as in air-to-air combat, speed can be everything. Yet even as fifth-generation fighters such as the F-22 push the aeronautical envelope, America’s military is struggling to keep up with a disorienting worldwide acceleration of technological development that it has little or no hand in steering.

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Ukraine is the world’s fourth-largest arms exporter. That isn’t useful right now against Russia, but it may be someday.

News from Crimea over the past month has been endlessly surprising, but often missed is a surprising industrial fact: Ukraine currently ranks as the world’s fourth-largest arms exporter. The local industry had a blowout year in 2012 (the latest estimated by SIPRI), selling over $1.3 billion in weapons and related products abroad. All that military-industrial output hasn’t sufficiently encouraged the new government to put up a fight against Russia, the world’s second-largest arms exporter. But with the right encouragement from NATO, it may prove valuable in the long run.

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