By Dr. Scott Fish
With this article, Access AL&T is introducing a regular column by Dr. Scott Fish, Army Chief Scientist, on activities in the Army science and technology (S&T) community and their potential impact on Army acquisition programs.
Earlier this month, I accompanied the Army Acquisition Executive (AAE), Ms. Heidi Shyu, on a visit to Israel, where we met with senior Israeli military officials. We received briefings on the country’s defense products and technologies that have potential application and significant interest to the U.S. Army and its acquisition programs.
Among our stops was the Merkava Tank Program Management Office (MANTAK), where the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) manufactures both the Merkava Tank and the Namer Armored Personnel Carrier. We toured the manufacturing and assembly facilities, which resulted in good dialogue on the current level of automation, quality control, design strategies, workforce structure, and the plans and implications for manufacturing with U.S. industry partners in the near term. In this case, the Israeli government will be subcontracting major hull structure to General Dynamics Land Systems in the United States.
Ms. Shyu and I also conducted office calls at the American Embassy and with senior military officials in the Israel Ministry of Defense and IDF. The discussions centered on current events and historical drivers for Israel’s national and defense culture that influence the streamlining of its acquisition process. We also participated in a roundtable of presentations on a variety of Israeli systems, including the Iron Dome missile defense system, counter-improvised explosive device technology, Future Soldier System, unmanned aerial vehicles, and other defensive systems.
We also attended the 2011 Latrun Conference, where Ms. Shyu presented U.S. acquisition trends in a rapidly changing environment. The conference featured Israel’s leading defense industries and a wide range of weapon systems, command and control, and logistics support hardware. The theme for the conference was “War’s Changing Environment.” We toured the exhibits and talked with manufacturers between presentations.
The trip was highly successful. It reaffirmed the close partnership and spirit of cooperation that exists between our two countries in Army research and development, and highlighted the possibility for further acquisition collaboration. We expect follow-up discussions to develop when some of these same people come to the United States for the fall Association of the United States Army conference in October.