Tuesday, October 20, 2009

AOC International Symposium & Convention

I am at the 46th annual AOC International Symposium & Convention in DC and saw most of the microwave companies serving the EW world yesterday. The top priority is still IED defeat systems and the AOC show daily stated that more than 36,000 devices have been fielded (that number surprised me as IEDs continue to be the biggest challenge to saving lives in Iraq and Afghanistan). An estimated $628 million is expected to be spent on the JCREW program alone over the next 10 years. Battlefield SIGINT is also important but does not seem to have as much priority as IED defeat along with EW systems for UAVs. There is also a significant emphasis to update legacy protection on existing systems.

Many of the high performance component and test companies are represented here. Rohde & Schwarz, Agilent, Anritsu and Aeroflex were represented as well as components manufacturers such as Anaren, Empower, Aethercomm, Miteq, Microsemi, CPI, e2V, Werlatone, TRU/Sage, Teledyne, etc. Of course, the system/sub-systems companies such as Cobham, BAE, Northrup Grumman, Selex, Elt, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, DRS, EADS, ITT, Raytheon, etc. are the largest booths at AOC although Rohde & Schwarz also had a large prescence.

I am impressed at the increases in processing speed, bandwidth, memory, etc. that are achieved in the hardware/software each year improving the capabilities of the systems. Real time video, spectrum capture/analysis and data processing speeds are achieving unprecedented levels. Several systems we saw can capture radar signals, analyze them and send out countermeasures in real time.

I have to mention my friend Jim Fallon as he is receiving the Life Achievement Award at the AOC Annual Awards Luncheon. He ran the AOC Convention a few years ago and did a fantastic job. He has dedicated his career to bringing EW technology to the field to save lives. At M/A-COM he was instrumental in getting some of the first mobile IED defeat devices (Warlock Blue) manufactured and delivered to the field in record time to save more lives in the Iraqi War.

Monday, October 19, 2009

MILCOM 2009 Kicks Off in Boston

MILCOM kicked off today starting with Plenary speaker Mr. David Gergen (Editor-at-large, U.S. News & World Report and Commentator, CNN) who discussed his views on how various presidents related to the military. He stated how past presidents from JFK to Bush Sr. all had military experience so they were familiar with the military where as more recent presidents since Bush Sr. did not have such experience so there was a learning curve as they got to know each other.

He said the Obama is off to a good start with his strategic appointments from the military and Michelle Obama's support for military families. He stated that Gates is a decisive person and has the freedom and trust of the president. The Pentagon has had to make tough budget decisions and that will continue for a while as we have the lowest revenue and the highest deficit ever. He said he thinks Iraq was handled well toward the end and sees hope that the same will hold true for Afghanistan.

The exhibition was fairly well attended but traffic could be a little stronger so hopefully that happens tomorrow. The Microwave Journal had several people meeting with various companies today as we are local and a media partner this year. Our Oct issue is available in all of the publication areas.

One thing I noticed was a number of companies were touting the OpenVPX platform as the US Department of Defense and other users are mandating improved implementation of open standards and interoperability. The VPX Systems Specification, according to their web site, defines an architecture that manages and constrains module and backplane designs and sets interoperability points within VPX while maintaining full compliance with VPX. This specification, developed by VITA members and other companies working together outside of VITA, shall be introduced into the VITA Standards Organization (VSO) in October 2009 as VITA 65 for final comment, ballot, and ratification as a standard.

We will have a wrap up summarizing what we saw at the show toward the end of the week or early next week. I am off to DC tomorrow to cover AOC and will post my experiences from that show in the next day or two.