The Army likes contractors who are on time and on budget

By John McHale

Posted by John McHale
The headline for this blog may state the obvious, but unfortunately defense prime contractors are not always able to meet those lofty goals -- on time and on budget. Note the cancellations of programs such as Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) -- cancelled in 2008 for what the Army said were cost overruns and other issues.

However, there are some contractors who do hit their targets, and the Army is not shy about issuing their praise for these efforts such as the Security & Support Mission Equipment Package (MEP) modification to the UH-72A Lakota, led by EADS North America in Arlington, Va. This MEP included new avionics systems and other equipment.

"EADS North America has never missed a delivery to the Army on this program," Lt. Col. Dave Bristol, product manager for Lakota helicopters at Redstone Arsenal told me during an interview I was doing on helicopter avionics upgrades . "They've done a great job of being on time if not early, which is unheard of in a program."

For more on the Lakota upgrade read "Army looks to helicopter avionics upgrades and technology insertion in the absence of new rotorcraft programs ."

In addition to EADS North America Bristol also noted the "hard work" of the National Guard Bureau, Project Executive Office Aviation, American Eurocopter, and other suppliers.

Bristol's enthusiasm for EADS North America made me think back to 2008, when I was at the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) annual meeting in Washington. It was right around when the ARH was cancelled and you could sense the frustration and disappointment of Army Aviation officials over the program's failures.

That's why it was nice to hear Bristol's comments. I hope it's a recurring trend. The country could use a new helicopter platform -- even though it will take ten years at least from start to finish.

The Lakota's success certainly bodes well for EADS North America too.

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The Mil & Aero Bloggers

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Ernesto Burden is the publisher of PennWell’s Aerospace & Defense Media Group, including Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence and Avionics Europe.  He’s a father of four, a runner, and an avid digital media enthusiast with a deep background in the intersection of media publishing, digital technology, and social media. He can be reached at and on Twitter @aero_ernesto.

Courtney E. Howard, as executive editor, enjoys writing about all things electronics and avionics in PennWell’s burgeoning Aerospace and Defense Group, which encompasses Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence, the Avionics Europe conference, and much more. She’s also a self-proclaimed social-media maven, mil-aero nerd, and avid avionics geek. Connect with Courtney at, @coho on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

Mil & Aero Magazine

February 2014
Volume 25, Issue 2

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