The U.S. Air Force released a Justification and Approval notice this past week on FedBizOpps, which indicates its plans to award Northrop Grumman $4 billion in contracts between 2016 and 2020 to sustain and develop the RQ-4 Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. This step solidifies support for the program and ends its tumultuous acquisition history.
Commercial applications of unmanned aerial vehicles (“UAVs” or “drones”) were among the highlights at this past week’s annual AUVSI conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Venture investors continue to plow money into commercial UAVs businesses (noted by Accel Ventures’ investment this week of $75 million into Chinese drone firm DJI, valuing DJI at ~$8 billion).
Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, in their earnings calls earlier this week, reiterated that their stock buyback programs will remain preferred methods of cash deployment.
The House Armed Services Committee (“HASC”) began its markup of the National Defense Authorization Act this week to be completed by April 29th. The HASC is in the process of marking up the following four sections; tactical air and land forces, military personnel, seapower and projection forces, and strategic forces, in that order. There has already been word that the seapower and projection forces section has distinct verbiage demanding oversight of the Air Force’s Long Range Strike-Bomber (“LRS-B”) program.
Earlier this week, the 2015 MRO Americas conference took place in Miami, FL. The conference, which is the aerospace industry’s pre-eminent conference covering all topics related to maintenance, repair, and overhaul (“MRO”), featured Embraer’s Chief Operating Officer, Luis Carlos Affonso, as its opening keynote speaker.
Bombardier’s new Chief Executive Officer, Allain Bellemare, led the next stage in the company makeover with a refresh of the executive team. Pierre Alary, the current Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, will retire while Mike Arcamone, the current head of the commercial aircraft division will depart to pursue other opportunities.
On Tuesday, President Obama lifted a freeze on arms transactions with Egypt, marking a significant step towards repairing relations with the Middle East nation during a period of regional instability. The decision to remove the arms freeze, which had been in place since October 2013, provides an additional source of foreign military sales for American weapons manufacturers that have faced defense spending caps and budget cuts domestically.
RBC Bearings Incorporated demonstrated its commitment to growth this week with its acquisition of Dover’s Sargent Aerospace & Defense business, a precision-engineered manufacturer for commercial aerospace and military programs. The transaction, valued at $500 million, was viewed positively by the market as its stock price jumped significantly since announcement on March 26th.