A SpaceX Falcon rocket lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May , 2017 to boost a classified spy satellite into orbit for the U.S. military, then turned around and touched down at a nearby landing pad.
It was the 34th mission for SpaceX, but its first flight for the Department of Defense, a customer long-pursued by company founder Elon Musk. The privately owned SpaceX once sued the Air Force over its exclusive launch services contract with United Launch Alliance (ULA), a partnership of Lockheed-Martin and Boeing.) The liftoff of a classified satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) officially broke ULA’s 10-year monopoly on launching U.S. military and national security satellites.
In addition to the NRO’s business, SpaceX has won two Air Force contracts to launch Global Positioning System satellites in 2018 and 2019. For now, the military’s business is a fraction of more than 70 missions, worth more than $10 billion, slated to fly on SpaceX rockets. But with up to 13 more military satellite launches open for competitive bidding in the next few years and ULA’s lucrative sole-source contract due to end in 2019, SpaceX is angling to become a majo launch service provider to the Department of Defense.
A month ago, SpaceX for the first time launched one of its previously flown rockets to send an SES communications satellite into orbit, a key step in Musk’s quest to demonstrate reusability and slash launch costs.
Excertps, SpaceX Launches US Spy Satellite on Secret Mission, Nails Rocket Landing, Space.com, May 1, 2017
U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 urged NATO allies to develop and make more innovative weapons, and said bold action was needed to stay ahead of rapid weapons development by China, Russia and other countries. Work said the Pentagon has a new plan called “Defense Innovation Initiative” and a separate effort targeting longer-term projects to ensure that the United States continues to have a decisive competitive advantage against potential foes.
Work said concerns about advances by other countries were a key reason that the Pentagon’s fiscal 2016 budget plan to be delivered to Congress will exceed budget caps set by Congress and reverse five years of declines in U.S. military spending. He said the budget would include “significant” investments in nuclear weapons,space control capabilities,advanced sensors, missile defense and cyber, as well as unmanned undersea vehicles, high-speed strike weapons,a new jet engine, high-energy lasers and rail gun technology…..Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing and other key weapons makers have repeatedly urged the Pentagon to step up investments in key technologies….
Kendall said the department would also earmark funds for development and prototyping of a new “next-generation X-plane” that would eventually succeed the F-35 fighter jet, and a new engine.
Excerpts, ANDREA SHALAL, Pentagon official urges NATO to focus on innovative weapons. Jan 28, 2015
Boeing airliners are well known and operated in almost every country of the world, Boeing are more selective as to whom they sell their military products. Up to now, the African activities of Boeing Defence, Space & Security have been restricted to North Africa.This, however, is about to change. Whilst the Middle East and Asia-Pacific are trending, Chris Chadwick, President of Boeing Military Aircraft, has seen an emerging set of needs coming out of Africa, including sub-Sahara countries..“We are looking at ways to Africanise Boeing products,” said Paul Oliver, Vice President, Middle East & Africa. An example would be an AH-6i with certain systems deleted and integrated with local weapons…
Egypt is already a large-scale Boeing military aircraft customer, operating both the CH-47 Chinook and the AH-64 Apache in large numbers. Despite the recent US suspension of some foreign military assistance to Egypt, Boeing is committed to supporting equipment in Egypt.
There are other North African customers that Boeing won’t mention, but Morocco has Boeing weapons integrated onto their F-16s and has ordered additional CH-47s for delivery in 2016….Algeria in particular is interested in acquiring Boeing’s C-17 and evaluated the aircraft earlier this year. The North African country has also expressed interest in transport helicopters and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft.
Excerpts, Dean Wingrin, Boeing sows seeds for African growth, DefenceWeb, Nov. 27, 2013