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Business Briefcase for June

Team Dynetics wins $130M contract for Army’s first 100kW-class laser weapon system

Dynetics, along with its partners Lockheed Martin, Rolls-Royce and MZA Associates, has been awarded a $130 million contract to build and test the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command’s High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator program, a 100-kilowatt class laser weapon system. 

“High energy laser weapons have been a system that the United States has wanted to add into their defense portfolio since the invention of the laser,” said Ronnie Chronister, Dynetics senior vice president of contracts. “We are glad to be selected to build this new and safe weapon system that will provide a simple, yet cost-effective approach in theater.”

Team Dynetics is bringing together more than 70 years of directed energy experience. As the prime contractor, Dynetics will be responsible for final assembly and integration and testing of the system. Lockheed Martin, the laser weapon system integrator, will provide the laser weapon subsystem and Rolls-Royce LibertyWorks will design the integrated power and thermal management system.

The team will build and integrate the laser weapon system onto an Army medium tactical vehicle platform and conduct field testing at White Sands Missile Range.

Stovehouse To Welcome Locally Owned Coffee Shop—Charlie Foster’s

A new, locally owned coffee shop will be serving up espresso, lattes, cold brew, matcha and much more at the Stovehouse mixed-use development on Governors Drive.

Charlie Foster’s, founded by Huntsville natives Austin Jenkins and Hollie Jenkins, will offer high-quality coffee drinks while providing employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The 1,850-square-foot space will be adjacent to the food garden and include a private 500-square-foot outdoor patio for patrons. Charlie Foster’s is slated to open this fall.

“My parents, Debra and Alan Jenkins, founded Merrimack Hall in 2006 to give people with special needs a venue to practice the performing arts,” said Austin. “I’ve been lucky enough to see the impact they have made first hand, and I want to do something similar with Charlie Foster’s. We believe more businesses can offer employment to people with intellectual and physical disabilities.

“Our goal is to create an environment of inclusion and encouragement for our special needs community. All the while, we will be serving outstanding coffee in a very hip, industrial space.”

Classifying itself as a “multi-roaster” coffee shop, Charlie Foster’s will serve a variety of beans from roasters around the country, so guests can experience an array of options and flavors. There will also be plenty of cold and hot teas and pastries to choose from.

Visit charliefosters.com

Abaco Systems to move to 8800 Redstone Gateway

Abaco Systems, a manufacturer of rugged embedded computing solutions for military, defense, aerospace and industrial applications, has leased 37,400 square feet in 8800 Redstone Gateway.

“We’re delighted to have identified Redstone Gateway as the location of our new headquarters,” said Rich Sorelle, president/CEO at Abaco Systems. “This new facility will provide us with much- needed additional space and will be vital in ensuring that we can fulfill our commitments to our customers as our business continues to grow.”

Redstone Gateway is a mixed-use, class-A office park being developed by Corporate Office Properties Trust and Jim Wilson & Associates. As a result of this transaction, the building is 100 percent pre-leased. Abaco intends to occupy its space late this year.

“Abaco Systems has had a strong presence in Huntsville for over 30 years,” said COPT’s Chief Operating Officer Paul Adkins. “We’re thrilled that they have decided to make Redstone Gateway their home to be closer to their U.S. government contracting customers, to have access to walkable amenities, and to use new facilities as a recruiting tool.

“Their lease, along with other recent leases, highlights the value proposition of Redstone Gateway.”

CFD Research Awarded $50M SBIR Phase III Project

CFD Research has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research Phase III contract from the U.S. Army Contracting Command, to develop environment analysis tools, models, and test capabilities to characterize weather environment effects on the performance of weapon systems and sensors. The five-year contract has a ceiling value of $49.6 million.

Under this contract, the CFD Research team will evaluate environment and weather effects on weapon systems, sensors, and hypersonic vehicles. Huntsville-based companies Integration Innovation Inc. (i3) and IERUS Technologies join CFD Research as subcontractors for this award.

“CFD Research and our partners, through this contract, will expand the knowledge base of effects on flight vehicles and sensors and provide critical insight into the design and performance of next-generation weapon systems,” said Steve Cayson, CFD Research chief operating officer.

Mcmullan Named Huntsville Market Executive

SmartBank has named long-time banker John McMullan as market executive.

McMullan has more than 30 years of banking experience in the Huntsville area, most recently as executive vice president and market president for Southern States Bank. 

He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Alabama-Huntsville and is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin’s BAI Graduate School of Banking. He is also a graduate of the Alabama School of Banking at the University of South Alabama.

An active member of the Huntsville community, he is a member of the Downtown Huntsville Rotary Club and the Huntsville Committee of 100. McMullan also serves on the City of Huntsville’s Planning Commission Board.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to join this team and excited to work together to provide SmartBank clients with a first-class banking experience,” said McMullan. “SmartBank has been a great addition to the Huntsville region with a team that is talented, efficient and committed to putting the client first.”

Great Harvest Bread Co. Opening at Merchants Square

Great Harvest Bread Co. is launching its second Alabama location at the The Shops at Merchants Square,  RCP Companies announced.

Each Great Harvest bakery and café creates its own menu which may include gourmet sandwiches (including vegetarian options), espresso and coffee bar, artisan bread and other locally sourced specialties.

Great Harvest uses wheat from farms in Montana and bakes its breads every day from scratch.

“With our locally curated menu, you know you’ll be getting real food that tastes great,” said Sangeetha Bathala, owner of Great Harvest Huntsville, “We plan to source coffee and produce from local farmers and vendor and make our food the right way, with wholesome ingredients and from scratch, so you can feel good about eating our treats.”

Mercury Systems Dedicates Expanded Advanced Microelectronics Center

A Massachusetts-based aerospace and defense company is increasing its operations in Alabama.

Mercury Systems expanded its Advanced Microelectronics Center in Huntsville with a 24,000-square-foot facility for RF and digital processing technology, including 5,000 square feet of lab space with secure production capabilities.

“Our AS9100D-certified Huntsville facility now has even more capability, enabling us to continue providing very advanced, leading mixed-signal processing solutions that support our prime customers in the development of the next-generation radar, electronic warfare and ELINT systems critical to maintaining dominance of the electromagnetic spectrum,” said Neil Austin, vice president and general manager of Mercury’s Embedded Sensor Processing group.

Mercury Systems provides secure sensor and safety-critical processing subsystems to a wide variety of defense and intelligence programs.

Adtran Platform Provides Disruption-free Ultra-Broadband Wi-Fi Services

Adtran has extended its SmartOS-enabled portfolio of broadband access solutions with a new residential and small business gateway.

Operators can now expedite the delivery of ultra-fast internet services — leveraging recent investments in building multi-Gigabit access networks so that customers can have the richest broadband experience independent of location, device or infrastructure.

Huntsville-based Adtran is the leading provider of next-generation open networking and subscriber experience solutions

The new carrier-grade, SmartOS-enabled residential and small business gateway provides the ability to deliver highly competitive broadband—up to 700Mbps—without service or customer disruptions.

“The design philosophy with SmartOS is to give service providers a single, open source-based, secure software framework so that providers gain consistency and commonality to reduce testing or qualification cycles and increase speed to market for new and innovative services,” said Adtran Senior Vice President of Subscriber Solutions & Experience Jeff McInnis. “We can significantly reduce the cost and resources required to introduce new solutions into a network and help our customers bring better services to their subscribers through our feature-rich, SmartOS platform—enhancing the experience for everyone.”

CFD Research Awarded $24M NASA Contract

CFD Research has been awarded a small business prime contract for the Vertical Lift Technology Development program at NASA Ames Research Center. It is the company’s first major service prime NASA contract.

The five-year Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity contract has a ceiling value of $24 million.

CFD Research and its team of subcontractors will provide aeronautical engineering, research, and development for vertical lift technology development. Air traffic management development is also included to assess and integrate new operating procedures for efficiency and safety.

“The VLTD award marks a major milestone for CFD Research on two key fronts: it is our first major service prime contract for NASA and our first major service prime contract outside of Huntsville,” said COO/Vice President Steve Cayson. “It emphasizes our strategic goal to leverage our core research and development capabilities into on-site support for government customers.”

Huntsville-based CFD Research was founded in 1987 and provides work for government and commercial customers.

“CFD Research is honored to be selected for this highly competitive award and looks forward to continuing and growing our long and successful partnership with NASA’s prestigious Ames Research Center,” said President/CEO Sameer Singhal. “The award builds on CFD Research’s services growth of the last few years and provides opportunities to increase that growth significantly.”

Going Hypersonic in the Back Rooms of SMD Symposium

The X-15 Hypersonic Research Program flew more than 200 flights and set unofficial world speed and altitude records. (NASA Photo)

They may not be a lead topic on the 21st Annual Space & Missile Defense Symposium agenda this week, but out in the hallways of the Von Braun Center, among exhibitors on the show floor, and over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres before every meal, people will be talking about current hypersonic missile threats from Hypersonic Glide Vehicles, sometimes referred to as Boost Glide Vehicles.

“Our near-peer adversaries and our own nation have been working on technology that will enable us, but hypersonics are not really in the mainstream of our military arsenal at this point,” said retired Air Force Brig, Gen. Kenneth Todorov, vice president of Missile Defense Solutions at Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. “They are potentially a very dangerous weapon and something that we need to take very seriously.

“The challenge for the defense industry is two-fold. One is the offensive side, that is, our nation’s capability to develop a hypersonic weapon of our own, which would help deter others from attacking us; but what will be a hot topic at SMD is the defensive hypersonic aspects we’re calling counter hypersonics.”

Todorov said that what makes hypersonic weaponry difficult for this nation’s current missile defense architecture is they fly at very fast speeds, they have very long ranges, they have maneuverability, and they are capable of looking like a traditional ballistic missile.

“A ballistic missile has a predictable trajectory and our current system can discern where an incoming missile might be headed, making it possible to intercept it or shoot it down,” he said. “A hypersonic threat could maneuver so fast and so rapidly that it outpaces our systems ability to see it, to detect it, and to intercept it.

“So that’s the real concern I think for the nation and for us as an industry as we work to come up with answers to that.”

A Quick History

Hypersonics are not new. In fact, they go back 50 years.

“We haven’t had constant focus in this area because, in the past, the U.S. was leading in that technology while, today, other countries have made breakthroughs,” said Ragini Acharya, Hypersonic Lead at CFD Research Corp. Her company is just one of several Huntsville-based companies pioneering the offensive and defensive sides of hypersonic boost glide vehicles using their expertise in modeling and simulation.

In 1967, NASA, the Air Force, Navy, and North American Aviation Inc., joined forces to create a manned hypersonic mission called the X-15 Hypersonic Research Program. Over a 10-year period, they flew more than 200 flights and set the world’s unofficial speed and altitude records flying at 354,200 feet and at more than 4,520 mph – nearly Mach 7.

The purpose of that program was to investigate all aspects of piloted hypersonic flight, which was instrumental in the development of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs, as well as the Space Shuttle program.

“The space shuttle and re-entry methods all use hypersonics,” Acharya said. “It’s not that the older work is not valid, but we just have a lot more challenges today. For instance, those missiles were rocket-powered but, today, companies like Aerojet Rocketdyne work tirelessly on different propulsion systems to replace it.

“Also, it has to be an unmanned vehicle, and we need longer duration because they went into space and came back from space, they couldn’t work in Earth’s atmosphere for very long. We need something that can operate in Earth’s atmosphere, and that can travel from one point to another. That is where most of our challenges lie.”

Todorov said there is a lot of work remaining from the anti-missile features.

“On the defensive side, there’s a lot of hard work yet to do,” he said. “A boost glide vehicle that rides a rocket into space and then re-enters the atmosphere and glides to its target at Mach 5 to Mach 10 speeds needs an answer – that is, a defensive capability to defeat them.

“It’s going to take a wide swathe of expertise across multiple disciplines to find that answer because they are so fast, so hard to detect, and they maneuver so rapidly. The first piece of the equation is, ‘Are you able to detect them?’, ‘Are you able to quickly identify them as a hypersonic threat?’, and ‘Are you able to see them not only through their launch, but through its flightpath, so that you can then affect the defensive solution and be able to counter them.”

Todorov is concerned that many people think developing an interceptor is the answer but although that is true and necessary in part, it will not be sufficient.

“It’s going to take an end-to-end solution that starts before they are launched, follows them through their launch window, and is able to detect, see, track, and monitor them,” he said. “That is likely to require a space layer.

“Whenever we talk counter-hypersonics, we really have to ask, ‘what are the assets we may already have, or that we may have to supplement in the space layer, to be able to look down and see these things – to be able to detect them?’

“In talking about counter-hypersonics, it’s much, much more than an interceptor.”

Space, huh? That Space Force idea begins to come a little bit more into focus does it not?