Theme of this year’s SMD Symposium focuses on ‘peer adversaries’

The 21st annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium runs Aug. 7-9 at the Von Braun Center.

What began as a local gathering of enthusiastic space and missile defense professionals more than 20 years ago, has evolved into one of the most anticipated, informative, and influential national public conferences on the defense of our nation.

The 21st Annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium opens Aug. 7 at the Von Braun Center and runs through Aug. 9.

Embraced by the Missile Defense Agency and the Department of Defense, Brig. Gen. Bob McCaleb and Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle will welcome enterprise level professionals from the missile defense community, military leaders, and allies from the United States and abroad.

According to Joe Fitzgerald, an original member of the SMD Symposium’s executive committee and two-time past chairman of the event, the 2018 theme, “Sharpening the Military’s Competitive Edge,” marks a fundamental shift in the way industry professionals have looked at the threats our country faces for many years.

“This year’s Space & Missile Defense Symposium will bring to the forefront the realization that the United States has peer adversaries,” he said. “That is, not just threats from rogue nations like Iran and North Korea, but very real threats from countries across the globe who are our equals.”

He said the symposium will address the important part missile defense plays in the survival and security of our nation.

“You will see a recognition that we face challenges meeting those threats, and that we must put more resources into missile defense technologies associated with those threats to ensure our nation’s future, and to assure the defense of our nation. Victory is not assured,” Fitzgerald said. “therefore, we must work to maintain our competitive edge, and by edge, we mean superiority.”

This year’s SMD Symposium will address all aspects of these challenges.

Conference Opening

Gen. John Hyten is a graduate of Grissom High School

Beginning Tuesday morning, Gen. John Hyten, senior commander of the United States Strategic Command, will open the symposium by outlining Space and Missile Defense Imperatives. USSTRATCOM is one of 10 unified commands in the Department of Defense representing all four unified branches of the military.

Among the topics he is expected to discuss is the importance of innovation related to space and the military’s interdependence on space, national security, and the global economy.

In a December 2017 article in SpaceNews, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy Stephen Kitay said the modernization of missile-warning satellites has been a topic of recent conversations with leaders from U.S. Air Force Space Command, U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Northern Command. So, will Hyten,  a graduate of Huntsville’s Grissom High School, offer any insights into the future of a new Space Force as recently proposed by the current administration?

“I think Space Force is likely to come up given Gen. Hyten’s relationship with the Air Force Space Command,” said Fitzgerald. “Advanced forces surely add flavor to his thought process, and any future Space Force plans are bound to affect Huntsville for sure.”

Lt. Gen. James Dickinson, Commanding General of the United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command follows Hyten with a Space and Missile Defense update and, later, Col. William Darne, the Training & Doctrine Command Capabilities Manager for the Army Air and Missile Defense, will give an update on the AMD’s Cross-Functional Teams.

After lunch Tuesday, Dr. Tom Karako, Senior Fellow and International Security Program Director for the Missile Defense Project, will speak on adapting Joint Air and Missile Defense Operations to the Near Peer Threat. The Missile Defense Project researches innovative means for defeating missile threats and hosts a variety of events to shape the debate about policy, budgets, legislation, and both current and future programs.

Both Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, Technology Track gives a variety of selected candidates an opportunity to present innovative technical ideas, methods, and processes regarding cyber resiliency, testing and development, and weapon system performance testing and validation.

Several moderators will host a Multi-Domain Battle Panel Tuesday afternoon. Created by the Army, Multi-Domain Battle allows U.S. forces to outmaneuver adversaries physically and cognitively by applying combined arms in and across all domains of war – that is, land, sea, air, space and cyberspace – cyber being the newest domain, and with underpinnings in every aspect of strategic warfare.

Wednesday & Thursday Features

The programs Wednesday include the MDA’s Focus For the Future presented by Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, director of the MDA; an Allied Update by Air Commodore Madelein Spit, Assistant Director of NATO Joint Air Power Competence Center; and an update from Brig. Gen. Robert Rasch Jr. on the Programs Executive Office Missiles and Space, which provides centralized management for Army Air and Missile Defense and Tactical Missile Programs, as well as selected Army Space programs to meet warfighter multidomain and full spectrum operation requirements.

There will be two Industry and Technology panels Wednesday focused singularly on missile defense with a variety of guests participating including major original equipment manufacturers  and developers of our nation’s missile defense systems. They will talk about the technology challenges, and what the R&D industry is doing to meet those challenges.

On Wednesday evening, prior to an invitation-only VIP reception, Northrop Grumman will host the “Salute to the Warfighter” at its exhibition space. A presentation recognizing and honoring all U.S. warfighters involves a formal salute followed by a networking social and then dinner.

On Thursday, Holly Haverstick, Chief of Weapons for Defense Support of Civil Authorities, will speak on security cooperation efforts in support of missile defense; followed by Rebeccah Heinrichs, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, who will close out the symposium with a talk concerning Space and Missile Defense Imperatives.

Awards & Recognitions

Throughout the week, various industry groups will present a variety of awards such as the Air, Space and Missile Defense Association Scholarship and the Julian Davidson Award, awarded by the National Space Club to an individual or organization that has shown great achievement in advancing space flight programs, and has contributed to U.S. leadership in the field of rocketry and astronautics.

The John Medaris Award, given to an individual from the Tennessee Valley who has made outstanding contributions to the defense industrial base, will be awarded to Dr. J. Richard (Dick) Fisher, Executive Director of the Missile Defense and Space Technology Center.  

“The entire conference is laid out to be an exposé on meeting the challenges of a peer adversary, while focusing our efforts on ways to give our soldiers a competitive edge that is superior to anyone else in the world,” said Fitzgerald.

 

South Huntsville is open for business! Ribbon cut for South Parkway overpasses

Gov. Kay Ivey, with Mayor Tommy Battle to her right, cuts the ribbon to open the South Memorial Parkway overpasses. State and local officials also joined in the ceremony Tuesday. (Photo by Steve Babin)

After 2 1/2 years and snail’s-pace stop-and-go traffic, the ribbon was cut today for the South Parkway overpasses at Byrd Spring and Lily Flagg roads.

“We’re happy today to be able to open this stretch of South Memorial Parkway,” said Tommy Harris of the Alabama Department of Transportation, that came in a year ahead of schedule.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held atop the Byrd Spring Road overpass and it was attended by Gov. Kaye Ivey, Mayor Tommy Battle and other state and local officials.

Mayor Tommy Battle presents the “Restore our Roads” traffic cone to Gov. Kay Ivey (Photo by Steve Babin)

And it also enables the city to “keep the magic 18-minute commute,” Battle said.

“This is the largest project in the city of Huntsville, totaling $250 million,” Ivey said. “When we work together, we can make infrastructure and economic improvements.”

Battle also recognized the teamwork among state and local government and presented a highway cone commemorating the “Restore Our Roads Project No. 2” to Ivey.

“This road system is probably the best example of governments working together,” he said. “This effort enables our community to grow.

“This is a great day for our city.”

David Harris, vice president of Reed Contracting and representing the joint-venture team with Miller & Miller, was appreciative of the patience shown by merchants, motorists and residents.

And he offered some welcome news.

“I thank all the business owners, residents and travelling public for your patience,” he said. “By the end of the day, traffic should be flowing.”

Trump SBA appointee hosts area Small Business Roundtable

Bruce LeVell addresses the recent Huntsville Small Business Roundtable.

Dozens of Huntsville small business owners had an opportunity to take their concerns, ask questions and provide feedback on a wide variety of topics that affect their businesses directly to the White House, President Trump, federal agencies and Congress – and they did not hold back.

Bruce LeVell, Region 4 advocate for the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, led a small business roundtable at the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce. Based in Atlanta, LeVell’s region includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Mayor Tommy Battle opened the discussions by pointing out that small businesses make up 85 percent of the Huntsville business community.

“We have a very diversified small business community that represents every sector of business in this city, from the service industries to high tech,” he said. “In each of them we face our own separate challenges and those challenges end up being things that we can take nationally to our government.”

Among the topics discussed were deregulation; effects of the North American Industry Classification System codes have on small contractors bidding on large government contracts; federal acquisition regulations; realignment of government agencies; and availability of SBA 504 loans.

“I have experience in the day-to-day grind,” said LeVell, an Atlanta small business owner. “Meeting a quarterly payroll, paying quarterly payroll taxes and federal income taxes.

“I am one of you  – not someone from the government offering to help. I’m with you on this.”

LeVell also discussed what he went through in the 2008 crash.

“I understand what it’s like to have everything you have worked for wiped away because your loans are called for no reason,” he says. “I have a lot of experience in transportation, revitalization, and construction. That experience honestly, is what catapulted me into wanting to serve. I asked myself, what can I do to get out and help advocate for someone else, so it doesn’t happen to them? I wasn’t trying to get appointed to this position, it just happened this way.”

The roundtable attracted small government contractors focusing on IT, cyber, logistics, and engineering services such as Mb Solutions. Company President and CEO Rosalyn Blackwell and Executive Vice President Rod Herron are retired military with a company barely two years old.

“We’re just there to listen and to ask questions as opportunities arise,” Blackwell said.

Kim Lewis, CEO of ProjectXYZ, a woman-owned small business in the engineering, logistics, IT, and alternative energy field said, “I want to know exactly what the SBA’s plans are under this administration; what goals have they set and how are they going to accomplish them.”

Owners such as Greg Franks of Total Quality Systems said he attended the roundtable because he wanted more information and reassurances about expansion.

“Our company is out of Utah and I am a small satellite office here in Huntsville,” Franks said. “We are still a small business with 20 or so people but we have a counterpart in Hopkinsville, Ky., and we want to open in Clarksville, Tenn. I need to know that is sustainable.”

Allison Rand with MJLM Engineering & Technical Services said, “A lot of the time, small businesses run into issues with the NAICS codes small business size standards.

“A lot of times it is based on employee numbers versus revenue. So, you can have 1,500 employees and $1 billion in revenue. How are you still considered a small business? So, in talking about changes to regulation, are you looking at NAICS codes as well?”

Another small business owner asked about a plan to realign many of the government agencies.

“I’ve heard people say you have a chicken, an egg, and an omelet – which government agency oversees that? USDA? FDA? Going forward, is there a streamlining process for lessening regulations? Where do you see that going? Is there any traction or just a buzz saw in Congress to make those sorts of changes to improve efficiencies?”

“In the end, all the (company) president cares about is profits a losses,” said LeVell. “The balance sheet doesn’t have a party affiliation; only a bottom line. The banker wants to see profits. The mayor wants to see profits for the city.

“You are the guys on the battlefront trying to make payroll, trying to pay payroll taxes but you want to see profits. I’m very optimistic!”

 

Nostalgic Goodbye to Old Grissom High & Exciting Hello to New South Huntsville Library

Parents and alumni of Virgil I. Grissom High School gathered at the campus on Bailey Cove Road for a farewell to the building and fundraiser for the new South Huntsville Library.

The “Goodbye Grissom, Hello Library!” community gathering was nostalgic for many guests such as Jim Hillenbrand, a member of the school’s first graduating class in 1971; and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, who played baseball for Grissom, graduating in 1972.

Madison County Commissioner Phil Riddick; former Grissom principal and retired Huntsville City Schools administrator Tom Drake and Brooks unveiled the architectural renderings of the new South Huntsville Library, part of the Sandra Moon Community Complex to be built on the former high school campus.

Hosted by the Huntsville Library Foundation, the South Huntsville Library is projected to cost $8.4 million. The City of Huntsville and Madison County Commission District 5 have each pledged $2 million, leaving the community fundraising goal at $4.4 million.

The proceeds from the event’s prom-style dinner and dance, along with proceeds from selling school locker doors and brick pavers go toward that goal. An alum in Florida sent his parents to the event just to purchase his former school locker door.

The Sandra Moon Community Complex, named for the former city councilwoman who represented the district, will include the library, a reading garden, tennis courts, pickleball courts, a playground, walking and exercise space, and an outdoor performance space. Construction is expected to be completed by March 2020.

The new Grissom High School opened off Haysland Road last July.

Planes, drones, special missions aircraft on display at Sierra Nevada Industry Day

MERIDIANVILLE — A cost-effective solution for retrofitting old Black Hawk helicopters with the most technologically advanced electronics and equipment was unveiled recently by Sierra Nevada. The event was held during Sierra Nevada’s Industry Day at the company’s facility at the Huntsville Executive Airport.

SNC acquired the older model Air Force UH-60L Black Hawk through Huntsville’s Black Hawk Exchange & Sales Team (BEST) program. They removed the outdated analog gages and Marconi strip radar system and replaced it with an all glass cockpit, a fully certified state-of-the-art digital avionics suite, and mission-specific equipment including an external mounted camera, rescue hoists, and a 200-gallon auxiliary fuel tank. Now known as the Sierra Force Rotary-Wing Aircraft, the newly retrofitted helicopter is valued at an estimated $19 million.

“At the end of the day, each Sierra Force aircraft returns a significant portion of the production cost to the U.S. government,” said Bill Morris, vice president of business development for Sierra Nevada. “We make it possible for the U.S. Air Force to acquire the most cost-effective replacement aircraft available.”

Also, on exhibit was a King Air 350ER Mission Enhancement Kit.

King Air 350ER Mission Enhancement Kit with five-blade propellers that enable the aircraft to climb to 30,000 feet in 17 minutes.

“We bought the standard King Air as a green aircraft,” he said. “… using the Independent Research and Development (IR&D) program to determine what modifications were needed, we created a Mission Enhancement Kit that involves installing a new engine, an electronic braking system, and a light weight battery that removes 20 pounds from the aircraft, while increasing the capacity to fly at airspeeds up to 340 knots.”

Morris said Sierra Nevada replaced the four-blade propeller with five blades, which enable the plane to climb to 30,000 feet in 17 minutes instead of 40 minutes. It mitigates a lot of the noise from the engine so passengers can have a reasonable conversation without headsets.

“On an ordinary 90-degree day at 7,000 feet, you would have only about 30 minutes of fuel available,” said Morris. “With our newly designed kit, you can fly for eight hours under the same conditions – a significant increase for our Army forces who fly very long distances on manned surveillance and intelligence missions.”

The King Air and the SNC Scorpion Aircraft are fully-integrated multi-role special mission aircraft whose configurations include a lightweight interior, LED lighting, an extended nose to accommodate camera and sensors that surveil targets on the ocean up to 200 nautical miles; and a Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) satellite communications system on top that transmits data in real time to a ground station.

Also on display during Industry Day was a battery-operated surveillance drone. The aircraft is housed in a case with a Unified Ground Control Station, a hand-held controller and manned and unmanned teaming functions.

Powered by software designed by Kutta Technologies, the unmanned aircraft system can be dropped from an aircraft and deployed remotely from ground or air and has autonomous landing capabilities. It has a payload bay and a powerful camera that can see around corners. The drone can be programmed with waypoints or set to loiter and wait for updates from the controller.

 

‘Main Street Alabama’ designation to make South Huntsville a ‘special place’

Main Street Alabama President Mary Helmer

There may be no specified downtown nor an entertainment district per se.

In fact, South Huntsville’s “main street” is a four-lane divided highway that carries a U.S. route designation.

But, the area that stretches from roughly south of Governors to drive to the Tennessee River is a Main Street Alabama community.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to work with you guys,” Mary Helmer, Main Street Alabama president and state coordinator, said at a news conference Tuesday at the Doubletree Suites. “You’ll know when you arrive, you’re in a special place.”

Helmer said the work will start in early August when a resource team visits to develop a transformation strategy. The team includes Helmer and a group of national experts and the entire process will take place “over the next two or three years,” she said.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle

South Huntsville Business Association President Jerry Cargile

Mayor Tommy Battle said a key to the transformation is the completion of the Parkway overpasses at Byrd Spring Road and Logan Drive/Lily Flagg Road – which he called “disruptive construction.”

“When the Parkway is opened, it bring the market to here,” he said. “All of a sudden, within a 10-minute drive, you have 200,000 people.”

Jerry Cargile, president of the South Huntsville Business Association, is looking forward to the economic growth the “Main Street Alabama” label will bring to the community.

“The journey begins today,” he said. “From a surviving district to one that is thriving.”

 

FBI’s Abbate says cyber threats ‘more complex’ than ever

The associate deputy director of the FBI had an ominous warning Wednesday at the 2018 National Cyber Summit.

“When will a cyber 9/11 occur?” he asked the audience. “… it’s already begun.”

Paul Abbate

Associate Deputy Director Paul Abbate was the keynote speaker in the morning session to open the 10th annual summit at the Von Braun Center in downtown Huntsville.

It is the pre-eminent event for cyber training, education and workforce development aimed at protecting the nation from the ever-evolving cyber threat. The summit attracts government and commercial participants.

“The (cyber) threats we face today are more complex and change more rapidly than we’ve ever seen,” Abbate said. “We have a whole variety of bad guys” who use the Internet to carry out their crimes.

Abbate said the main threat is from nation-states that employ individuals to do their bidding.

“It’s a blended or hybrid threat where nation-states use mercenaries to hack and carry out their (the nation-states’) crimes,” he said. “And we’re committed to bringing cyber criminals to justice no matter where they hide.”

To add a little discomfort to the crowd of private industry and government people, he said some patches can lead to systems being hacked.

“Eighty percent of the hacking is through known and weak patches,” Abbate said. “I’m also talking about legacy systems, if you’re afraid to patch them for fear of the system going down.

“Don’t forget the third-party vendors who touch your system everyday.”

He urged the audience to train the employees from “interns and supply clerks up to the executive suite.”

Abbate said the FBI is constantly sending its personnel through cyber training, including “boot camp-type” classes and he said the agency wants “to know your perceived risks that keep you up at night.”

“The stakes are higher than ever and require all of us to up our game.”

The summit concludes Thursday at the VBC. For information, visit www.nationalcybersummit.com.

 

 

EOS selects Huntsville for flagship manufacturing facility

Electro Optic Systems (EOS), a leading Australian technology company in the aerospace and defense markets, has selected Huntsville for its flagship U.S. manufacturing facility.

The company made the announcement Wednesday, joined by state and city leaders at the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber.

“EOS is very happy to have the opportunity to formally join the Huntsville community,” said Phil Coker, the company’s U.S. president. “North Alabama is an area of incredible people, outstanding institutions and immense potential and we are thrilled to have the chance to establish a business in this area.

“We look forward to working with the Defense Department, federal, state and local government leaders and local businesses to improve the community and serve our country and its citizens.”

Within the first year of operation, EOS will hire up to 100 full-time employees. A state-of-the-art production facility on Wall-Triana Highway has been scaled to grow to at least 250 employees if contract awards continue on the current trajectory.

“EOS is a natural fit for the Huntsville community, and we’re pleased our new Australian partners chose Huntsville as their preferred place to invest and do business,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “This addition continues our momentum to add more manufacturing in support of Huntsville’s excellent research and development capabilities.”

EOS is a leader in the development and production of robotic or remotely controlled weapons systems (“RCWS” or “RWS”) where it has built a strong reputation as a major provider for more than 25 years to the U.S., NATO and ANZUS markets. EOS products currently dominate the global market for next-generation lightweight weapon systems with unprecedented accuracy and firepower.

“EOS’ decision to locate its new manufacturing center in Alabama is a reflection of the state’s attractive business climate and its skilled workers, who prove their capabilities each and every day,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “Huntsville will make a great home for the company because Alabama’s ‘Rocket City’ offers every advantage a business needs to succeed.”

EOS, which is based in Hume, ACT, operates in military space, missile defense and surface warfare sectors. Its products incorporate advanced electro-optic applications based on EOS core technologies in software, lasers, electronics, optronics, gimbals, telescopes, beam directors, stabilization and precision mechanisms.

“Huntsville serves as a critical hub for high-tech defense work, and that makes the city a smart choice for EOS as it develops a flagship U.S. manufacturing facility,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “We look forward to building a strong partnership with the company and seeing it grow both its business and its workforce in coming years.”

More information visit, http://www.eos-aus.com/

 

Wardynski nominated to be an Assistant Secretary of the Army

The White House announced Friday evening President Trump intends to nominate former Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Casey Wardynski to be an Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

Mr. Wardynski most recently served as the CEO for FISH Technologies. Previously, he served as the Superintendent for Huntsville City Schools from July 2011 to September 2016.

During Wardynski’s tenure as superintendent Huntsville City Schools initiated construction of new schools totalling over $279 million and implemented the nation’s largest conversion to digital curriculum for grades Pre-K to twelve.

Mr. Wardynski spent over thirty years as an officer in the U.S. Army where he served as Director of the Army’s Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis and was awarded both the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit. He holds a Ph.D. from the Rand Graduate School, an M.A. from Harvard University, and a B.A. from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

 

Cyber Job Fair to be held during National Cyber Summit in Huntsville

With cybersecurity threatening businesses, large and small, as well as our national security, the demand for cyber security professionals is ever increasing.

A local effort to reduce that employment gap and connect cyber security professionals and students with employers is the National Cyber Summit Cyber Job Fair, held Wednesday, June 6, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is part of the annual National Cyber Summit on June 5-7 in the Von Braun Center in Huntsville.

The job fair is a hiring event for cleared and non-cleared cybersecurity professionals as well as college-level students in a cybersecurity degree program. Hosted by ClearJobs.Net and CyberSecJobs.com, the job fair features national and local employers filling cyber security positions including Decisive Analytics, Deloitte, Fulcrum, IBM, Parsons, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, SAIC, Scientific Research and more.

For more information and to register, visit https://www.nationalcybersummit.com/Program/Cyber-Job-Fair