Boeing hopes to land SBInet contract

Published 21 August 2006

Boeing assembles impressive team to put itself in strong position to win the $2 billion SBInet contract, to be awarded in September; and a good thing, too, as company prepares to shut down C-17 production line; hard to believe, but the C-17 factory is the last major airplane factory left in Southern California

Ask people what they think of when they hear the name “Boeing,” and they will likely say “airplanes.” Boeing, however, is a more diversified company, and it wants to increase its non-airplane portfolio by pursuing a slice of the U.S. government border protection project.

Boeing’s St. Louis, Missouri-based defense division has developed a plan — combining radar and laser technology, sensors and cameras, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), other surveillance equipment, and rapid communications tools — to keep illegal immigrants, drug smugglers, potential terrorists, and gun runners from entering the United States. The company is hoping to be picked by DHS as part of the agency’s Secure Border Initiative (SBInet) program. A few months ago Boeing asked companies with expertise in systems integration to provide it with ideas and technological know-how which would place it in a better position to bid on the DHS program. In late May Boeing announced its SBInet team:

* Palm Bay, Florida-based-DRS Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group — DRS Technologies, headquartered in Parsippany, New Jersey, is a supplier of integrated products, services, and support to military forces, intelligence agencies, and prime contractors

* Merrimack, New Hampshire-based Kollsman — Kollsman is an Elbit Systems of America company; it is a multi-disciplined research, development, manufacturing, and support organization which provides advanced electro-optical and avionics systems to U.S. and foreign commercial and military markets

* New York-based L-3 Communications — L-3 Government Services is a provider of advanced integrated security suites designed to counter criminal and terrorist threats facing our nation. L-3 Communication Systems-West is located in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is a leader in communication systems for intelligence collection, imagery processing, and satellite communications

* Plano, Texas-based Perot Systems — Perot Systems is a provider of information technology services and business solutions

* Reston, Virginia-based Unisys Global Public Sector — Unisys Global Public Sector is a specialist in homeland security and law enforcement information systems and information technology infrastructure, engineering, operations, and maintenance

The SBInet contract is expected to be awarded in September 2006.

-read more in this report; and see the news release


An end of an era

Boeing said Friday it would begin shutting down production of its C-17 cargo plane, the last to be built in Southern California, because Congress has not funded new purchases. The Chicago-based company said it has told its suppliers and subcontractors to stop work on planes beyond those already on order. Boeing said it has enough orders to continue production through the middle of 2009.

The move could affect 5,500 Boeing employees in California, Missouri, Georgia, and Arizona who are directly tied to the C-17 program. Thousands more work to support existing planes. The decision will first hit the 25,000 employees of the nearly 700 companies in 42 states which supply parts and systems for the plane, Boeing said.

The giant cargo plane, nicknamed the Globemaster III, has been used since 1991 to airlift heavy equipment and transport troops. Supporters say its ability to land on short dirt runways has helped take the load off supply trucks that come under heavy fire in Iraq and Afghanistan. The C-17 costs about $154 million each.

This is also bad news for California, as the C-17 plant is the last major airplane factory left in Southern California, once a center for aircraft production. Earlier this year, Boeing delivered its last 717 passenger jet, also built in Long Beach.

-read more in this report