WASHINGTON — There are few industries whose fortunes are so closely tied to government as defense contractors, companies that now provide the military with everything from fighter jets to janitors. And for the past eight years, business has been very good.
But with that government customer now ailing, the boom times are likely to end.
Long-term problems loom for the defense industry — growing Pentagon costs for items other than weapons, calls for defense contracting reform by both men vying for the White House, and uncertainty over how massive government expenditures to prop up the economy will affect defense spending, by far the largest discretionary portion of the federal budget. With the Treasury pouring billions of dollars into rescue plans, there is suspicion that Washington's appetite for expensive defense programs will diminish.
"No one really yet knows when or to what extent defense spending could be affected, but it's unrealistic to think there won't be some measure of impact," Boeing Co. Chief Executive W. James McNerney wrote in an Oct. 2 e-mail to company employees in which he warned the plans could "crowd out" defense funding.
Major military contractors are scheduled to report their quarterly earnings next week, and with defense spending still robust, there are few forecasts of an immediate downturn for the industry that has enjoyed record profits in recent years. But analysts say leaner times are ahead. (cont..)
The idea is to keep society running until a more effective vaccine, tailored to the specific pandemic-causing strain, is produced and distributed on a large scale. And that could take 20 to 23 weeks.
But a key glitch in that plan — which would be carried out by the Health and Human Services Department — is that the government has yet to notify the public of exactly who will receive those initial vaccines and medicines when and if that time arrives, experts said.
Marcia Crosse, the Government Accountability Office’s director of health care, said that’s a problem because the public needs to understand well ahead of time how the limited number of initial vaccines will be distributed, and why, in order to prevent chaos.
The devices, which are part of Raytheon’s Active Denial System, use high-frequency radio beams that make human targets feel like they are catching on fire.
Congress has already approved $25 million to purchase five Raytheon Silent Guardian pain ray devices for “non-lethal defense” against hostile crowds, Shawn Miller, the Raytheon manager overseeing the project, tells Newsmax. The devices weigh about 10,000 pounds and are mounted on ruggedized versions of civilian pickup trucks.
Contrary to published reports that claim the Army will deploy the new weapon, which branch of service to get it first and where it will be deployed has yet to be determined, Miller says.
“It is not necessarily a U.S. Army program. There is a $25 million contract, but it doesn’t specify the system is going to the Army,” Miller says.
In addition to the DOD, the Department of Homeland Security, various police agencies and unnamed “international customers” have displayed interest in acquiring the system, Miller says.