Daily Briefing: News Snippets


Seeing MCUs’ future in a crystal ball

It seems just about everyone – the neighbor next door, the coworker in the next aisle over, even President Obama’s staff – is trying to figure out the troubled economy. And recent findings from Semico Research Corp. follow suit. Focusing on MCU sales trends, Semico reports that after a rough 2009 featuring “a sharp drop in overall average selling prices compounded with the severe drop in end-use demand,” the second half of 2009 saw a sales resurgence leading to 2010 growth. Predictions include: 1) The 2010 MCU market will end the year at a 36% sales spike; 2) Flash-based MCUs will constitute 65% of 2010 MCU total sales; and 3) 2011 MCU sales will experience a “steady” revenue increase of about 12% (Figure 1). Those wanting a proverbial crystal ball with a much more in-depth forecast of 2011’s MCU destiny can check out Semico’s forthcoming study, “MCU Memory Trends: How Much and What Kind 4Q 2010 Update,” revealing MCU and IC market breakouts and trends and the factors that affect them.

Figure 1: MCU sales jumped about 36% in 2010 as compared to 2009, and 2011 MCU sales will experience about a 12% rise as compared to 2010, Semico reports. Figure 1 data courtesy of Semico Research Corp. and SIA/WSTS
(Click graphic to zoom by 1.7x)


Northrop Grumman: Never too much of a good thing

Though many an Internet surfer’s screen has been populated with news of Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk, the defense realm – and particularly the USAF – apparently just can’t get enough. Accordingly, Global Hawk is about to sport a new Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) sensor, relative to NG’s recent first production delivery of the sensor to Edwards AFB. Specifically, the sensor will be tucked inside the inaugural USAF Block 40 Global Hawk, with MP-RTIP’s maiden voyage slated for early next year. MT-RTIP facilitates Global Hawk’s persistent ISR mission, allowing “vision” even in night skies or adverse weather conditions. The High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAS soars for 30-plus hours per sortie at up to 60,000 feet in altitude at nearly 340 knots.

Trident II D5 continues for 20 years

The year 1990 was chock-full of revolutionary events, including the Soviet election of Mikhail Gorbachev as president, the public-safety closure of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the FBI’s drug arrest of Marion Barry, Washington D.C.’s mayor. On a quieter yet just-as-notable scale, 1990 also saw the first deployment of the U.S. Navy’s Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missile (Figure 2) – which apparently turned into a more longstanding event than the others per a recent $920 million contract. The contract stipulates that prime Lockheed Martin renders (unquantified) production of Trident II (D5) missiles, along with support for deployed systems. Work under the contract is slated to occur at the company’s Cocoa Beach, FL; Kings Bay, GA; Bangor, WA; and Sunnyvale, CA locales by April 2016. The contracting activity is the Strategic Systems Programs in Arlington, VA.

Figure 2: A recent $920 million contract between Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy provides for an (unquantified) production of Trident II (D5) missiles, along with support for deployed systems. U.S. Navy photo


Boeing to incarnate CECOM’s surveillance system

ISR systems are rising in emphasis in the defense arena, and a recent contract between the U.S. Army’s CECOM and The Boeing Co. exemplifies this trend. The $88 million enhanced medium altitude surveillance and reconnaissance system contract specifies that Boeing provides Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) labors for four units. Contract options, if exercised, would enable six low-rate initial production units in all, in addition to interim contractor logistics support. Work is slated for completion in November 2012 if options are not exercised, or the contract’s term will extend to 42 months total if options are activated.

More MRAPs help combat rough terrain

Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain and Iraq’s seemingly endless, open deserts both served as impetus for a recently granted delivery order on an existing contract between Navistar Defense, LLC and the Marine Corps Systems Command, according to the U.S. DoD. To ensure continued operations in these challenging areas, the latter has requested the former provide – for the sum of $123 million: 1) Category 1 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (quantity: 175); 2) DASH Phase I and MaxxPro DASH Phase II Engineer Change Proposals (ECPs); and 3) deprocessing parts kit for the independent suspension system, in addition to collateral items. Contract completion is anticipated for next June, and work occurs at Navistar Defense’s West Point, MS location.

DARPA examines: Two payloads in one?

Why have a duo of payloads in two places, when maybe both can reside in one package? Such a question was clearly on DARPA officials’ minds when they initiated a recent modification to a contract with Frontier Systems, Inc. Indeed, the just-shy-of $13 million modification has Frontier Systems lending its air vehicle improvement, payload integration, and planning expertise to the A160T Hummingbird unmanned rotorcraft (Figure 3). Specifically, the company will render operational-demonstration support as DARPA examines the effectiveness of suiting up A160T with an updated ARGUS-IS pod that could carry the payloads of ARGUS-IS and SIGINT together. Work will commence at Frontier Systems’ Irvine, CA locale and is slated for completion by next May.

Figure 3: A nearly $13 million contract modification has Frontier Systems, Inc. granting its payload integration and other expertise to DARPA’s analysis of the military utility of using a modified ARGUS-IS pod to carry the payloads of ARGUS-IS and SIGINT together. Boeing photo