Wednesday, March 31, 2010

NASA Ames' Yuri's Night Landing in the Bay Area April 9 and 10

Featuring Exhibits, Speakers and Performances by the Black Keys, Common, Les Claypool, N.E.R.D. and More

Defense News: SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - 03/30/10) - Ankh Marketing, Symbiosis Events and Lumatech Lighting, in association with NASA Ames Research Center, are proud to announce the return of Yuri's Night, an event celebrating humankind's curiosity with space and technology. The two-day event will be held at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California, Friday, April 9 and Saturday, April 10. Over 10,000 people are anticipated to join astronauts, installation artists, musicians, scientists and engineers for two days of learning, exploring and honoring the stellar achievements in space exploration over the last 50 years. Tickets for the April 10th festival are now on sale at

The first of the two-day extravaganza is an education day free to all Bay Area elementary, high school and college students. With a variety of interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, and guest speakers, the education day boasts a full day of nonstop action and fun, to explore art, space, and the future of the world being built in Silicon Valley.

"This year's free education day is the realization of a vision we've held since the first Bay Area Yuri's Night event at NASA Ames in 2007," noted Karen KoChen of Symbiosis Events. "Our team has brought together some of the Bay Area's leading minds for this unique opportunity to engage and inspire the next generation of scientists."

Day two brings together some of the biggest acts in music to the festival on April 10th. With highly anticipated performances by blues rock duo the Black Keys, hip-hop legend and actor Common, musical visionary Les Claypool (of Primus), chart-topping super group N.E.R.D., along with a host of other live performers, the festival will feature dynamic art installations, flying demonstrations, special guest speakers from NASA and more.

"We're thrilled to be a part of such a progressive and important event that bridges education, entertainment and exploration," said Ankh Marketing's Kamel Jacot-Bell. "We are really excited about the activities and talent lined up for both days and can't wait for people to experience what's in store."

For a complete listing of activities, performers, education day registration, festival tickets and more, please visit Additional press information: Yuri's Night SMR (


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The Corporation for Manufacturing Excellence (Manex) Releases NUMMI Supplier Viability Assessment Report

Manex Report to Alameda County Workforce Investment Board (ACWIB) Indicates Most Suppliers’ Prospects Are Slim Without Immediate Identification and Pursuit of Alternative Markets; Many Lack Resources To Do So

Defense News: SAN RAMON, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Corporation for Manufacturing Excellence (Manex) today released its NUMMI supplier viability assessment report, which recently was undertaken at the request of the Alameda County Workforce Investment Board (ACWIB). ACWIB engaged Manex to assess the continuing viability – in the absence of NUMMI - of a selected group of the County’s 31 manufacturing suppliers to the auto manufacturer scheduled to shut its doors on April 1.

The results of Manex’s assessments, which incorporated strategic, marketing, operational and financial reviews (including benchmarking performance against peer organizations nationwide), revealed that despite high levels of operational excellence in the top 5%-10% of manufacturers nationwide, the majority will not survive the loss of NUMMI’s business that in many cases represents all – or almost all – of the firms’ revenue.

Without any action taken by these companies, the report projects losses of $160 million in revenue, 917 jobs, and $64 million in wages. The result is 75% unemployment among the companies participating in the study.

While the report identified several alternative revenue and market opportunities for many of the suppliers, including aerospace, medical devices, emerging clean tech, alternative energy and high-speed rail initiatives, it also noted that the short-term loss of NUMMI revenue is not the only pressing issue facing many of them.

“Many of the suppliers have had the luxury of significant and recurring revenue from NUMMI, but also succumbed to the resultant risk of being a captive supplier. Despite operational excellence and skilled workforces, several no longer have the innovation, strategy development, marketing or sales skills required to design new marketable products or to identify or penetrate new markets,” said Brent Meyers, President and CEO of Manex. “In many ways, the lack of revenue generation capability is a greater barrier to survival and success than the sudden loss of NUMMI orders,” he continued.

Meyers also stated that the companies with some level of customer and revenue diversification outside of NUMMI, and those that undertook initiatives and made at least some progress towards that goal since the shutdown became likely nine months ago – and certain six months ago – are significantly more likely to survive than others who have not.

According to the study, only two or three of the 13 suppliers are likely to remain viable without taking immediate action to identify and obtain new markets and customers. Six or seven additional suppliers would have a reasonable chance of business continuity if immediate assistance in the areas of strategy, marketing and sales were provided to them, and if they were able to sustain that progress through training and development – or augmentation – of their staff.

Upon receiving the report, the ACWIB indicated it would quickly explore how to move forward with the immediate advisory, training and development assistance for the businesses identified as having a reasonable chance of continued viability.

About Manex

Founded in 1995, The Corporation for Manufacturing Excellence (Manex) provides a broad array of proven advisory and implementation solutions exclusively to manufacturers, distributors and their supply chains, enabling them to increase growth, productivity, quality and profitability. Manex delivers high-impact solutions in four key areas: strategy, people, process and performance. Meaningful, rapid impact and ROI are achieved through a modular-yet-holistic approach encompassing corporate strategy and planning, marketing strategy, training and development, Lean manufacturing, supply chain and logistics, Six Sigma, ISO and performance management systems. Manex is the Northern California affiliate of the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership. For more information, visit


Brent Meyers, 925-807-5111

Sarkozy says EADS will bid for US tanker if fair

* Sarkozy says EADS will bid if process is fair

* Obama assures Sarkozy his trust is justified

* Air Force chief says Pentagon and EADS in discussions (Adds link to analysis regarding EADS nearing decision to bid)

By Andrea Shalal-Esa

Defense News: WASHINGTON, March 30 (Reuters) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Tuesday Europe's EADS would bid for a huge U.S. refueling plane contract if the terms of the competition were fair and open as President Barack Obama has promised.

"I said to him (Obama), I trust you; if you tell me that the tender will be fair and transparent, then EADS will bid and we trust you," Sarkozy told a joint press conference with Obama.

France holds a 15 percent stake in the French-German company, but has no say over its strategy.

Obama told reporters he had assured Sarkozy the process would be fair and that his trust was justified.

He added that U.S. weapons purchases were handled by the Pentagon and presidents did not meddle in these matters.

"So I maintain an arm's length approach, but I have assurances from Secretary of Defense (Robert) Gates that in fact the rebidding process is going to be completely transparent, completely open, and a fair competition," he said.

Obama lauded Gates for reforming other Pentagon programs that were never expected to succeed in Washington: "He's somebody who's willing to call it like it is and make difficult decisions, and he will do so in this situation as well."

French and German officials reacted angrily earlier this month when EADS' former partner, Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N), withdrew from the competition after concluding its terms favored the smaller 767 plane offered by Boeing Co (BA.N).

Pentagon officials then told EADS they would consider the company as a prime contractor if it wanted to bid on its own.

EADS requested several changes, including a 90-day extension to the May 10 bid deadline so it could examine classified material previously only seen by Northrop. That process began on Friday. [ID:nN26145632]


Earlier on Tuesday, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz said the Pentagon needs to know if EADS is serious about bidding to build 179 aerial refueling tankers before granting an extension to the May 10 deadline for bids.

"They have to say they're serious and then the department will decide how much time to allow," Schwartz told Reuters after his remarks at an event hosted by Air Force Association.

Thomas Enders, head of EADS' Airbus unit, told a German newspaper on Monday the company could decide within the next two to three weeks whether it will mount a solo bid.

Schwartz said the requested deadline extension had not been decided and gave no timetable for a possible decision. He said talks with EADS were continuing.

EADS is considering offering its A330-based tanker against the smaller 767-based tanker built by Boeing.

Guy Hicks, a spokesman for EADS' North American unit, had no immediate comment on the Sarkozy-Obama news conference, but said earlier the company was still weighing its options.

"Though there has been no decision by EADS to bid, we appreciate the Department of Defense's expressed commitment to competition," Hicks said. "We are continuing to evaluate our options. An extension of the RFP deadline is essential, but not the only factor in making our decision."

EADS and Northrop won the previous tanker contract from the Air Force in February 2008, but Gates canceled that deal after government auditors faulted the Air Force's procurement process and upheld a Boeing protest.

Northrop announced earlier this month that it would not bid for the work this time around after concluding that revamped rules for the competition favored Boeing's smaller tanker.

Schwartz defended the revised acquisition plan as fairly executed and said he was personally "comfortable that the competition is fundamentally driven by sound and irreducible customer requirements in an equitable and open process." (Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Dave Zimmerman and Andre Grenon)

US report says arms programs face overruns, delays


* Most programs facing changing requirements

* Overall affordability must be addressed

By Andrea Shalal-Esa

Defense News: WASHINGTON, March 30 (Reuters) - The Pentagon and Congress have taken meaningful steps to reform chronic cost overruns and schedule delays on big weapons programs, but the government still needs to downsize existing weapons programs, eliminate them, or both, a new congressional report said on Tuesday.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), the research arm of Congress, said 42 programs it assessed in depth had shown continued improvement in terms of technology, design, and manufacturing processes, but most programs still lacked the levels of knowledge needed for best management practices.

That put them at higher risk for cost growth and schedule delays, the report concluded.

A majority of programs had also seen changes in military requirements, software development challenges, or workforce issues, or a combination -- all factors that could affect program stability and execution.

GAO lauded Defense Secretary Robert Gates for proposing to terminate all or part of seven major acquisition programs with a combined projected cost of at least $126 billion.

But it said pressures on the defense budget continued to build, given the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, rising health care costs and initiatives to modernize military equipment.

"The department must still address the overall affordability of its weapon system investments," GAO said, noting that the number of major weapons programs actually grew by six to 102 last year, despite Gates' cuts.

Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter struck a similar theme in a speech to industry executives on Monday, saying he planned to use more independent cost estimates and step up oversight to identify problems with arms programs sooner.

Using such tools had helped bring to light issues with the Lockheed Martin Corp's (LMT.N) F-35 fighter jet program, and allowed a major restructuring to put the program on a more realistic footing for success, Carter said.

The GAO said it was unable to analyze the overall performance of the Pentagon's weapons portfolio because the department had not issued complete reports on the costs of major acquisition programs for fiscal year 2009.

In previous years, GAO reported cumulative cost growth on weapons programs of $300 billion in fiscal year 2010 dollars. It said it expected to resume that analysis next year.

The GAO report included details on dozens of specific programs, including the F-35, the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship program, several satellites and the Army's canceled Future Combat Systems modernization program. [ID:nN30162613]

GAO warned that even some of the early spinouts from the FCS program, which were supposed to be more advanced than other technologies, faced reliability and performance issues.

For instance, a small unmanned ground vehicle was unable to provide the infrared imagery needed to recognize a person at required distances. And an unattended ground sensor that was supposed to run for 127 hours only ran for five.

It warned that problems that arose during testing could require costly redesigns and retrofits of Northrop Grumman Corp's (NOC.N) Global Hawk unmanned plane, which could lead to further delays in a program that is already more than 3 years behind schedule.

Lockheed's Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite also faced software development issues and hardware defects that could add to cost overruns and schedule delays, it said. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa)

SAIC results disappoint, shares off

* Q4 net 31 cents vs. estimate 32 cents

* Contract delays cited

* Company to focus on higher-growth defense sectors

* Shares fall after bell

Defense News: ATLANTA, March 30 (Reuters) - SAIC Inc (SAI.N), a provider of technical services for defense and homeland security, posted fourth-quarter results that missed Wall Street estimates on Tuesday and said delays in federal contracts in a tough defense spending environment would weigh on performance over the next year, sending its shares down after the bell.

Walt Havenstein, the former BAE Systems Plc executive who was named SAIC chief executive last year, said the company would boost investment in higher growth areas such as cyber security and energy efficiency, as its core federal services business was expected to see flat or declining growth.

He also said SAIC, which noted stiffer competition for federal contracts, would pursue acquisitions that expand its capabilities in sectors that are growing.

"The industry can no longer rely on a rising tide to lift all boats." Havenstein said during a conference call.

Defense companies are looking to focus on in-demand niche technologies as the Obama administration scales back traditional weapons programs and focuses more intensely on containing costs.

A longer federal decision-making process has constrained contract awards in recent quarters. For example, SAIC said decision delays and award protests put off nearly $1 billion of planned bookings it expected to win in the fourth quarter.

SAIC, which provides consulting and technical support for intelligence gathering, homeland security and defense systems, expects diluted per-share profit from continuing operations to rise 8 percent to 14 percent over the next year, while revenue growth excluding acquisitions grows 3 percent to 6 percent.

On Tuesday, the company said its previous long-term performance goals, which called for annual diluted per share earnings growth of 11 percent to 18 percent and internal revenue growth of 6 percent to 9 percent, were no longer appropriate.

Pacific Crest Securities analyst Erik Olbeter said new business awards in the fourth quarter, which totaled $1.6 billion, was short of his expectations and showed the slowdown in government spending in intelligence was "far more acute than anyone expected."

"Clearly 2011 is a reset year for the company," Olbeter said. "They need to make significant reinvestments in a number of business lines" to restart growth in 2012.

Net income was $123 million, or 31 cents a share, for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31, up from $120 million, or 29 cents a share, a year earlier.

Analysts expected profit of 32 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 7 percent to $2.68 billion, compared with $2.69 billion expected by analysts.

The company posted results after markets closed. SAIC shares fell as much as 6 percent after hours from their close of $18.98 on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Karen Jacobs; editing by Andre Grenon)

Congressional report cites problems with LCS ships

* Launch and recovery of smaller boats seen as major risk

* Neither shipyard meeting management system standards

* General Dynamics ship headed for dry dock repairs (Adds responses from General Dynamics, Lockheed)

By Andrea Shalal-Esa

Defense News: WASHINGTON, March 30 (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy sees the launch and recovery of smaller boats as a "major risk" to both competing designs for its new Littoral Combat Ship program, a congressional watchdog agency said on Tuesday.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), the research arm of Congress, said the Navy's risk assessment was troubling, given that watercraft launch and recovery are "essential to complete the LCS antisubmarine warfare and mine countermeasures missions" for the new class of warships.

The systems for launching and recovering smaller ships had not been fully demonstrated for either of the rival designs by Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and General Dynamics Corp (GD.N), the GAO said in its annual report on major weapons systems.

It also cited other problems with both ships designs, including one that will send the General Dynamics ship to dry dock repairs, and noted that neither of the shipyards had met earned value management systems (EVMS) standards set by the Pentagon's Defense Contract Management Agency.

Until they meet those requirements, the companies' cost and schedule data "cannot be considered fully reliable," GAO said.

Lockheed won a contract for LCS-3 based on its steel single hull design on March 23, 2009. General Dynamics won a contract for LCS-4, based on an aluminum trimarin design by Austal (ASB.AX) on May 1, 2009, or 10 months ago.

Austal and General Dynamics have split up for the next competition, with Austal planning to submit a prime bid that includes General Dynamics as a subcontractor for the ship combat system. General Dynamics's shipyards hope to bid separately for follow-on orders in 2012.


The rival teams are due to submit their bids for 10 more ships by April 12, a deal valued at over $5 billion, with Navy officials eyeing a contract award in July. Over time, the Navy plans to buy 55 of the new smaller, more agile warships.

GAO said the total cost of the LCS program so far, including research and development as well as procurement funding, was $5.1 billion, nearly 300 percent more than the $1.3 billion cost projected in 2004.

It said the unit cost per ship was $730 million, up from $331 million in 2004, but analysts said that included the first ship of each design, which generally cost more to produce.

GAO said the Navy was conducting dynamic load testing of Lockheed's LCS-1 ship, but integration with the Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle was not due to happen before the ship's so-called shakedown cruise, although it is a "physically stressing system to launch and recover."

For LCS 2, testing of the crane used to launch and recover smaller boats "revealed performance and reliability concerns that were not fully addressed prior to installation."

Lockheed spokeswoman Kim Martinez said the company's first LCS ship, the USS Freedom, had successfully completed its small boat launch and recovery tests, and had used the capability during Freedom's current deployment to catch drug traffickers.

GAO said the main propulsion diesel engines on the General Dynamics ship had not completed a required endurance test due to corrosion in the engines' intake valves, which had to be replaced so the ship could complete acceptance trials.

The General Dynamics ship had also experienced pitting and corrosion in its waterjet tunnels, an issue that the Navy has temporarily fixed, but which will require welding work during a future dry dock availability, GAO said.

Design changes were also made to the General Dynamics ship to address the corrosion and pitting in its waterjet tunnels by isolating the propulsion shafts from the waterjets, GAO said.

General Dynamics spokesman Rob Doolittle said issues sometimes arose during construction of the first ship of any class, but the company and the Navy had already addressed the concerns raised in the GAO report.

He noted that LCS-2 had passed both builder's and Navy acceptance trials, and was now under way from the shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, headed toward the East Coast.

The GAO report also noted previously reported concerns about the stability of Lockheed's ship if critically damaged, but said the Navy had added external tanks to the rear of the ship to allow it to meet the damage stability requirement.

The design for Lockheed's second ship was also modified to lengthen its transom by four meters to improve stability.

Martinez said Freedom had proven to be very stable, and the tanks were only needed in a severely damaged condition. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Bernard Orr)