Defense Contracting Opportunities in Military Vehicle Refurbishment

Point Roberts, WA (PressExposure) August 17, 2009 --, a leading global investor and industry portal for the defense and security sector, within, presents, a defense industry overview, ‘Defense Contracting Opportunities in Military Vehicle Refurbishment’, by Lisa Springer, CFA.

Defense Contracting Opportunities in Military Vehicle Refurbishment

Defense Stocks Covered : Raytheon (NYSE:RTN), Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC), Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), Boeing (NYSE:BA), AeroVironment (NASDAQ:AVAV), General Dynamics (NYSE:GD), Optex Systems (OTCBB: OPXS)

Defense Contracting Opportunities in Military Vehicle Refurbishment

Consistent with the changes signaled in the 2010 defense budget back in April, the Pentagon has begun cancelling contracts on a number of big ticket programs covering untested technologies. A case in point is the Kinetic Energy Interceptor program. Work contracts on the KEI laser, a technology for shooting down missiles in mid-flight, have been canceled by the Pentagon. Raytheon (NYSE:RTN), a contractor on the KEI program, lost $2.4 billion from backlog because of the cancellation while backlog for lead contractor Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) fell by $5.1 billion as a result.

Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) experienced a $2.6 billion reduction in backlog because of the cancellation of its contracts for high-tech helicopters and Transformational Satellite Communications systems. Boeing (NYSE:BA) received a partial termination order covering the manned ground vehicle component of the Future Combat Systems (FCS) program and subsequently reduced its FCS program workforce by 30%. FCS program cuts were cited as a reason Standard and Poor’s downgraded Boeing’s debt rating in July.

Massive spending cuts in the Army’s $200 billion FCS program were a major change in the 2010 defense budget but came as a surprise to few defense industry insiders. The intent of the FCS program, with its eight ground vehicles, was to design, test and produce the next-generation of tanks, cannons and infantry carriers to augment the U.S. military’s existing fleet of Abrams tanks and Bradley and Stryker ground vehicles. Proponents argued that FCS high-tech combat vehicles would be lighter, more maneuverable and better-suited to 21st century warfare than their predecessors. When the new vehicles were tested under actual combat conditions, however, the results were disappointing. The new vehicles were indeed faster and more maneuverable, but their light armor made them too fragile. Many were quickly destroyed or severely damaged by road-side bombs. Some pieces of the FSC program, such as ground robots and unmanned drones, did perform well in combat and continue to be funded. This was good news for AeroVironment (NASDAQ:AVAV), a supplier of unmanned military drones, which was able to beat analyst estimates in fiscal 2009 and projects at least 18% revenue growth in fiscal 2010.

General Dynamics (NYSE:GD) and a few other defense contractors that support existing military vehicle platforms are emerging as winners from the 2010 defense budget.. With the development of new platforms on-hold, Abrams tanks and Bradley and Stryker ground vehicles are likely to remain in use by the U.S. military for many more years. General Dynamics designed the Abrams tank and has produced more than 8,800 M1 and M1A1 Abrams tanks since the program’s inception in the early 1980s. General Dynamics also supplies Stryker combat vehicles and to-date has delivered 2,852 of these vehicles to seven separate Army Stryker brigades. British defense contractor BAE Systems developed the Bradley ground vehicle and has supplied more than 6,700 Bradley vehicles to the U.S. military since the early 1980s.

Instead of new vehicles, the U.S. Army is investing in upgrades and refurbishments to its aging military vehicle fleet. In July, the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Command (TACOM) awarded General Dynamics a contract potentially valued at $55.2 million to refurbish 330 Stryker infantry combat vehicles. Under the terms of the contract, General Dynamics will service, repair and upgrade Stryker vehicles returning from Iraq, restore them to like-new condition and prepare them in advance of their next deployment. This refurbishment work is long overdue; the Army’s fleet of Stryker vehicles has accumulated more than six million miles of use since 2003. The July refurbishment contract covers less than 15% of the Stryker fleet, suggesting more refurbishment contacts are likely to be awarded in the future.

Defense contractor Optex Systems (OTCBB: OPXS) should also benefit from refurbishment contract awards since it supplies General Dynamics with weapon optical sighting systems. The company provides optical sighting systems for Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles and its optical systems have been selected for installation on Stryker vehicles. In July, a General Dynamics business unit awarded Optex a $3.4 million contract to supply high-tech ICWS (Improved Commander’s Weapon Station) periscopes for Abrams tanks. Optex will begin delivering the periscopes in 2011 with delivery continuing through 2012.

Its strong relationships with major defense contractors such as General Dynamics provides Optex with high visibility in the defense contracting market, as evidenced by the company’s recent invitation to participate in the 2nd Annual Heavy Vehicle Summit this September. This event is the leading forum for developers of new technologies for heavy military vehicles such as the Abrams and Bradley. New contracts such as the one awarded in July improve Optex’s order flow and backlog and helped support a greater than 50% year-over-year improvement in revenues during the fiscal nine-month period that ended this June.

Lisa Springer Bio/ Disclaimer:

Additional Defense articles by Lisa Springer:

Defense Budget Winners and Losers:

How Defense Companies Boeing (NYSE:BA), Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC), General Dynamics (NYSE:GD), Optex Systems Holdings, Inc. (OTCBB:OPXS) and others are Impacted

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Press Release Submitted On: August 17, 2009 at 10:44 am
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