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By Debbie Gregory.

Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan believes that increased communication with defense contractors is a step in the right direction in order to optimize the Pentagon’s relationships with industry. The Defense Department’s No. 2 civilian, Shanahan manages the Pentagon and oversees the acquisition and budget efforts.

In a March 2 memorandum entitled “Engaging With Industry” Shanahan wrote: “Conducting effective, responsible and efficient procurement of supplies and services while properly managing the resultant contracts requires department personnel to engage in early, frequent and clear communications with suppliers.”

As the Trump administration sought to deepen relations between private industry and government, last April Defense Secretary Jim Mattis encouraged expanded Pentagon-industry relations.

The push for more Pentagon-industry communications comes after other top leaders have ordered restrictions on talking with the public and the press. Most recently, on March 1, U.S. Air Force leaders suspended all interviews, embeds, and base visits for media organizations “until further notice.”

Prior to that, in March 2017, the Chief of Naval Operations cautioned his people to be more careful in what they say in public, saying that he did not want to give adversaries useful information.

“Industry is often the best source of information concerning market conditions and technological capabilities,” Shanahan wrote. “This information is crucial to determining whether and how the industry can support the Department’s mission and goals.”

Shanahan believes that complying with ethical and legal limits “should not” cause defense and service officials to be reluctant to engage industry.

“The department’s policy continues to be that representatives at all levels of the department have frequent, fair, even and with industry on matters of mutual interest, as appropriate, in a manner that protects sensitive information, operations, sources, methods and technologies,” Shanahan wrote.

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By Debbie Gregory.

We previously wrote about the deal for two new Air Force One airplanes that President Trump was trying to negotiate with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg. After talks stalled, the president stepped in to push through a fixed-price deal that would require Boeing to buy the planes at an agreed price. Boeing would then be responsible to absorb any cost overruns.

The list price for one of Boeing’s 747-8s is $351.4 million, but the stock jumbo jets require significant and timely modifications before they will be ready to transport a president.

The president asked for the new planes to be done by 2021, the beginning of what would be a second term, which is three years sooner than the original plan of 2024. The two 747s are in California now, and although Boeing will be done upgrading the planes by then, but the Air Force testing requirements could take an additional three years.

And upon closer investigation, it now looks like that “informal” $3.9 billion deal for the two planes may not be such a deal.

It appears that a “fixed-price contract” is not the same thing as a “firm, fixed-price” contract. And that could be a problem.

Boeing officials have always been and remain adamantly opposed to a firm, fixed-price deal. Given that Boeing has had to absorb more than $2 billion in cost overruns while developing the Air Force’s new refueling tanker, it is no wonder that the company is trying to avoid the same situation with refitting the two commercial 747s for presidential use.

The current Air Force One planes began service in 1990 under former President George H.W. Bush and they are reaching near the end of their planned life.

By Debbie Gregory.

The first time a U.S. president flew in an airplane, it was a Boeing airplane. That was in January, 1943, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt flew to Casablanca aboard a Boeing model 314 Clipper.

Boeing airplanes have transported U.S. presidents, from Roosevelt to Trump, around the world. The U.S. Air Force wants to continue the Boeing tradition with the 747-8, which will replace the two 747-200s that serve as the presidential Air Force One fleet. That is, if they can negotiate a deal with Boeing.

President Trump and Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg are working together to try to re-kick-start the stalled multibillion-dollar deal for two new Air Force One airplanes which will fly future presidents for decades to come.

The two planes were initially built for a Russian airline that has since gone bankrupt. Air Force leaders and Boeing have been negotiating the terms of the modifications since last summer, but keep getting stuck at the type of contract that will be signed.

The Air Force wants to sign a fixed-price deal that would require Boeing to buy the planes at an agreed price. Boeing would then be responsible to absorb any cost overruns.

The project made headlines when before taking office, then president-elect Trump attacked Boeing for the $4 billion price tag, calling the costs “out of control” and demanded the order be canceled.  But Trump changed his tune last year after visiting a Boeing 787 Dreamliner factory in South Carolina. His parting words were: “God bless Boeing.”

As one of the largest defense contractors in the world, Boeing does a lot of business with the U.S. government.

The newer airplanes are larger than the current 747-200 airliners that were put into presidential service in the early 1990s.

The new planes will need to be modified with conference rooms, a presidential office, and secure military communications

By Debbie Gregory.

In today’s battlefield environment, it is critical for soldiers to be able to quickly locate and identify targets, especially during nighttime operations or when visibility is poor.

Currently soldiers use two different devices – basic night-vision PVS-14, and Enhanced Night Vision Goggle (ENVG.)  Both are single-tube, monocular style NVGs.

The Army began fielding the first generation of the ENVG in 2009 and has since fielded about 20,000 of the slightly improved ENVG II. The new ENVG III weighs about two pounds and features a wireless video interface between the weapon sight and goggle, so imagery from the weapon sight can be transmitted to the goggle and viewed via the goggle display in real time.

Now the U.S. Army is looking to develop new, double-tubed night vision goggles.

Maj. Gen. Paul Chamberlain, Director of the Army Budget office said that the double-tubed goggles will mean enhanced performance for soldiers.

“Primarily what it does is it provides additional granularity; it allows for quicker, easier movement when it’s being worn,” Chamberlain said. “It is just going to provide that ability to really speed up soldier movements and actions and it does help with depth perception.”

It’s still early days in the development process.

Currently, Infra-Red and thermal, or a combination of both can be used at the same time for night moves or anytime visibility is reduced.

The funds for the project will come out of the Army’s Army’s $10.2 billion Research, Development, Technology and Engineering account.

The first military night vision devices were introduced by the German Army as early as 1939, and were used in World War II.

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