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Tuesday, Dec 6, 2022
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New, Advanced Arresting Gear for Carriers Gets Its First Jet

Its technology bound for a new generation of aircraft carriers, General Atomics’ advanced arresting gear trapped its first jet on Oct. 13. The contractor and its U.S. Navy partner are still taking baby steps with their new technology, so the trap was on dry land (specifically a runway in Lakehurst, N.J.) rather than the moving deck of a ship at sea. Video released by the Naval Air Systems Command, aka NAVAIR, showed a gray F/A-18E Super Hornet touching down, dragging its tail hook along the ground, catching a cable stretched across the runway, and making a quick stop as the cable — connected to the GA arresting gear — absorbed all the energy of a flying jet.

The trap followed 200 “roll-in” arrestments since March, and 1,300 dead-load arrestments, NAVAIR said.

The advanced arresting gear uses electromagnetic technology and will go on the future aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford. The arresting gear complements an electromagnetic catapult also slated to go on the Ford — which has yet to be commissioned. The electromagnetic catapult replaces legacy steam catapult technology.

General Atomics is privately held.

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And speaking of ships: Two items crossed my desk.

• The Navy commissioned the USS Zumwalt, its futuristic destroyer that will make San Diego its home, on Oct. 15 in Baltimore. The destroyer has an extra stealthy design and generates 78 megawatts of power, which will accommodate advanced combat systems and high performance computing. The Zumwalt is en route to San Diego and will receive its combat systems after it reaches its new home at 32nd Street.

• The Navy awarded a $12 million contract to Austal USA to plan and support post-shakedown repairs to a littoral combat ship to be named after former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The work, awarded Oct. 17, will run through November 2017. One quarter of the work will be performed in San Diego, the rest in Mobile, Ala.

• • •

High Tech Help: San Diego-based Kratos Defense & Security Solutions Inc. said on Oct. 17 that it received a $12.6 million single-award prime contract to integrate sensors into an unmanned aerial vehicle.

The award will also help Kratos (Nasdaq: KTOS) demonstrate the usefulness of its jet-powered UTAP-22 unmanned combat aerial system during a large and complex exercise.

Kratos executive Jerry Beaman spoke of providing pilots and commanders with “an inexpensive force multiplier and unmanned wingman.” Beaman is president of Kratos’ Unmanned Systems Division.

Kratos’ work — to be coordinated with the U.S. Strategic Command and the defense secretary’s Strategic Capabilities Office — will explore the use of high-speed drones in fully autonomous or semi-autonomous roles to support fourth- and fifth-generation fighter aircraft.

Kratos said that as part of its effort, it has partnered with a nontraditional defense contractor (which it did not name). The partners plan to examine new, innovative controls for directing multiple high-performance unmanned aircraft.

The Defense Innovation Unit Experimental awarded the deal as part of $36 million in contracts awarded during the third quarter of the calendar year.

The Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, known for short as DIUx, is a 1-year-old agency of the Defense Department with offices in Silicon Valley, Boston and Austin, Texas. The agency says it exists to “ensure America’s warfighters remain on the cutting-edge of technology.” DIUx borrows a lot of its structure and attitude from Silicon Valley, emphasizing speed to market.

• • •

Looking to Asia: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. is trying to drum up business among Pacific Rim countries. The Poway business exhibited its wares at a Japanese aerospace trade show Oct. 12-15. On display were its ground control station simulator as well as a model of its Guardian Extended Range unmanned aircraft, which is part of the Predator line.

“Guardian ER is equipped with a surface search radar centerline pod and is well-suited to missions of key interest to the Japanese government, including ballistic missile defense and maritime wide-area surveillance,” GA-ASI said in a statement. Civilian applications include Coast Guard work doing disaster relief as well as environmental monitoring, the company added.

• • •

Larry Blumberg

Short Takes: Larry Blumberg has been named executive director of the nonprofit San Diego Fleet Week Foundation, the organization announced Oct. 17. Blumberg is a retired Navy captain and has been chairman of a Fleet Week event, the Coronado Speed Festival, for 19 years. He is also a familiar face to defense contractors. He recently retired as executive director of SDMAC, the San Diego Military Advisory Council, which brings top military and civilian leaders together to talk about topics of mutual interest. … San Diego is getting about $200,000 worth of work over two years on improved signal jammers going to the government of Australia, according to a recent run-down of Pentagon contract awards. Florida-based Harris Corp. (NYSE: HRS) is the prime contractor.

Send San Diego defense contracting news to bradg@sdbj.com.

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