Sponsored by TCI International Inc.
19 Jan 23. Space startups funding halved in 2022 as investors shift to safer bets. Investments in space startups more than halved to $21.9bn in 2022 as their venture-capital backers sought safer avenues in the face of a grim economic outlook, VC firm Space Capital said, adding that it expects more pain for the sector this year.
Last year, which saw a sharp reversal from a record 2021 with $45.7bn in funding, marked the toughest period for space startups since the economic crisis in 2008.
“As the economy recovered from the COVID pandemic, central banks unleashed the fastest rate hike cycle since 1988. Market momentum hit the brakes and asset prices fell across the board,” Space Capital said in its quarterly report.
The difficult environment has prompted leading space companies to prioritize proven business models, revenue and government contracts, the report added.
“Companies that serve U.S. government and defense needs are best positioned to maintain growth and profitability over the next year,” Managing Partner Chad Anderson told Reuters.
Lately, satellite-based analytics, imagery and data companies have come under the limelight, especially after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Sino-U.S. geopolitical tensions. For instance, private equity firm Advent International in December acquired satellite-imaging firm Maxar Technologies (MAXR.N) for $4bn.
Private companies in the segment have also benefited, attracting total investments of $2.5bn in the fourth quarter – nearly half the figure for the entire industry. Startups developing hardware for space, however, have not been so lucky, as their capital-intensive business models discouraged investors, analysts said.
Still, such startups that are exposed to government contracts are seen as more resilient because they have access to a steady stream of income in the tough environment.
“There has been greater investor interest surrounding anything associated with government smallsat manufacturing, as it is generally viewed that the defense budget should be more recession-resilient,” Canaccord Genuity analyst Austin Moeller said. (Source: Reuters)
19 Jan 23. Astronics Corporation Announces Preliminary Sales for Fourth Quarter 2022 of $155m to $160m; Completes $205m Debt Refinancing.
Astronics Corporation (Nasdaq: ATRO), a leading provider of advanced technologies for global aerospace, defense and other mission critical industries, today announced preliminary revenue and orders and announced the completion of the refinancing of its debt.
Preliminary Revenue and Bookings for Fourth Quarter 2022
Astronics Corporation announced today that unaudited preliminary fourth quarter sales are expected to be in the range of $155m to $160m, exceeding the Company’s earlier guidance of $140m to $150m. The midpoint of the preliminary range represents a sequential increase in sales of 20% over the third quarter of 2022 and 35% increase over the comparator quarter of 2021.
Preliminary bookings in the fourth quarter are expected be in the range of $175m to $180m.
Peter J. Gundermann, Chairman, President and CEO, commented, “We continued to see strong order flow in the fourth quarter, as we have since the middle of 2021. We expect to report another positive book-to-bill quarter and another record ending backlog. More importantly, however, we finally saw the beginning of the sales ramp required to satisfy high demand as our supply chain continues to show improvement. We expect the sales ramp to endure as we move into 2023, consistent with our earlier revenue guidance for the year of $640m to $680m.”
Refinancing Provides Greater Financial Flexibility
Astronics also announced that it has completed a financing transaction totaling $205m, which refinanced its previous revolving credit facility that was scheduled to mature in November 2023. The new financing consists of a $90m asset-based term loan and a $115m asset-based revolving credit facility. The term loan has a scheduled maturity of January 19, 2027, an interest rate of SOFR plus 8.75% and is collateralized primarily by real estate, fixed assets and intellectual property. The revolving credit facility has a scheduled maturity of January 19, 2026, an interest rate of SOFR plus 2.25% to 2.75% and is collateralized primarily by inventory and accounts receivable.
Amortization of the term loan principal will begin in April with a monthly amortization rate of 0.292% of the outstanding term loan principal balance for the period April 1, 2023 through June 1, 2023, increasing to 0.542% per month for the period July 1, 2023 through September 1, 2023 then increasing to 0.833% thereafter.
The new capitalization will provide post-closing available liquidity of approximately $35m, net of required minimum liquidity of $20 m through the date of delivery of the compliance certificate for the quarter ended March 31, 2024, which will revert to $10m thereafter. The Company expects to be cash flow positive for 2023.
The weighted average cash interest rate for the new debt facility is approximately 10% at closing. Select financial covenants include restrictions on additional indebtedness and share repurchases, minimum EBITDA covenant, excess cash flow repayment provisions, limitation on capital expenditures and a minimum fixed charge coverage ratio beginning with the first quarter of 2024.Terms used, but not defined in this news release are as defined in the Credit Agreements as filed on Form 8-k with the Securities and Exchange Commission. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
18 Jan 23. Kopin Corporation Provides Restructuring Update.
Kopin® Corporation (Nasdaq:KOPN), a leading provider of application-specific optical solutions for defense, enterprise, industrial, and consumer products, today provided an update on its restructuring activities.
“On January 5, 2023, we announced a restructuring, which included the partial spinout of our OLED development unit and a reduction in force,” said Michael Murray, Kopin’s Chief Executive Officer. “This week, we informed our employees that to accelerate application understanding, drive efficiencies and increase focus, we have reorganized the Company. We are confident these changes, along with the steps taken in the prior quarter, will lead to improved functional expertise, focus, and leadership.”
“One of the key changes is separating business and program capture from program management. This will ensure focus on filling our pipeline with opportunities that align with our strategic plan, whilst we deliver to our customers ‘on time and in full,’ which is critical for profitability. To this end, we have been performing program reviews with our customers, and in some cases slowing deliveries to ensure we are delivering the highest quality products. In addition, in select situations, we are negotiating potential exits from non-profitable endeavors, if they cannot be rectified. These actions had some impact on revenue in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022 and we expect revenue for the fourth quarter will be approximately $11.0 to 11.5m. In addition, we anticipate these actions will lead to less revenue in the first quarter of fiscal 2023 and for the remainder of fiscal year 2023.
“Although these decisions are difficult and impactful, they are critical to align with our renewed focus on quality, on time delivery and operational excellence while driving towards our goals of long term, sustainable and profitable growth,” concluded Mr. Murray.
Kopin Corporation is a leading developer and provider of innovative application-specific optical solutions for integration into defense, enterprise, industrial, and consumer products. Kopin’s technology portfolio includes ultra-small microdisplays (AMLCD, OLED, FLCOS and MicroLED displays) and optics. For more information, please visit Kopin’s website at www.kopin.com. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
18 Jan 23. Vannevar Labs Announces $75m Series B Funding Round.
Vannevar Labs, which provides state-of -the-art technology to overcome critical national security problems, today announced a $75m Series B. The investment was led by Felicis with new investors DFJ Growth and Aloft VC and existing General Catalyst, Point72 Ventures, Costanoa Ventures, and Shield Capital. This brings Vannevar’s total funding to over $90M raised. The company plans to use new capital to fund development of new products and win the company’s first multi-year program from Decrypt.
Vannevar’s flagship product, Decrypt, helps public servants working on military and foreign policy decisions understand, target, and respond to foreign actors in ways previously not possible. Decrypt, has been deployed across 15 of the most important agencies in the government since launching in January of 2021 and has reached $25M in sales. The company launched two additional products in new mission areas in late 2022.
“We exist to bring the best engineering and product talent to the most important national security problems,” said Brett Granberg, CEO at Vannevar Labs. “This funding will allow us to much more aggressively invest in R&D for the products we’re fielding with the government.”
“We’ve been investing in frontier AI for over a decade and there are few applications of AI as important as defense technology,” said Aydin Senkut, Founder and Managing Partner of Felicis. “Vannevar Labs has already demonstrated a strong ability to get innovative tech into the hands of the defense community. We’re proud to support this talented team as they continue their mission to increase national security.”
“Vannevar has quickly emerged as an invaluable partner to the national security community, providing unique data, insights and real-time intelligence that surfaces the growing landscape of emerging threats,” said Jocelyn Kinsey, partner at DFJ Growth. “We are excited to leverage our experience in the defense sector to help Vannevar deliver technological innovation and mission critical information that helps secure and protect our nation.”
About Vannevar Labs
Vannevar Labs was founded in 2019 in Palo Alto, CA. The team is made up of operators and intelligence analysts from the national security world and top performing engineers and Silicon Valley product innovators. The company uses this combined expertise to works side by side with the government to development technology for the country’s most important mission problems.
Founded in 2006, Felicis is a venture capital firm investing in companies reinventing core markets, as well as those creating frontier technologies. Felicis focuses on early-stage investments and currently manages over $2.1B in capital across 8 funds. The firm is an early backer of more than 47 companies valued at $1B+. More than 100 of its portfolio companies have been acquired or gone public, including Adyen (IPO), Credit Karma (acq by Intuit), Cruise (acq by General Motors), Fitbit (IPO), Guardant Health (IPO), Meraki (acq by Cisco), Ring (acq by Amazon), and Shopify (IPO). The firm is based in Menlo Park, CA. Learn more at www.felicis.com.
About DFJ Growth
DFJ Growth is a venture capital firm that partners with extraordinary entrepreneurs that set out to change the world. Our investments include Anaplan, Anduril, Box, Cohesity, Coinbase, Patreon, Ring (Amazon), SpaceX, Stripe, Sumo Logic, Tesla, Twitter, and Unity. The firm works with companies at the growth stage, with the goal of creating iconic and lasting businesses in consumer, enterprise, and disruptive technologies. Learn more at www.dfjgrowth.com. (Source: PR Newswire)
19 Jan 23. Seraphim produce Space Economy trends. Seraphim Space, the leading global space investor, has today published its Space Ecosystem Map – highlighting which sectors in the industry are experiencing the highest level of growth across services and infrastructure supporting satellites in space, to the lunar (i.e. moon) economy, space exploration and mining, to space R&D and manufacturing.
- Seraphim is seeing a very large number of established space companies, from SpaceX to Lockheed Martin to Northrop Grumman participating in these sectors. Given the size of these companies and their insider knowledge of the space industry, Seraphim consider this to be a great indicator that there are really large market opportunities in these sectors, and the time is right to invest. Seraphim often exclude the traditional, public “Primes” from its ecosystem map as they are not raising VC funding. However, they are such important participants in this sector that to exclude them would give a distorted view of the market.
- Sectors with the most players: orbital tugs (used to deliver satellites to the right orbit), in-space communications (communication between satellites), lunar landers, and space life sciences.
- In-Space Services, (companies that services others in the space environment) are now a very large market with many players. In particular orbital tugs, space debris, and in-space communications. This has been cused by the explosion in the number of satellites launched recently, many of which will need services.
- The high number of established companies in an area is likely indicative of large markets. Orbital tugs, lunar lander, and in-space communications (mostly for TDRS replacement) are big markets.
- TDRS is NASA’s deep space communications network. As they have with the launch, NASA now plans to procure communications services from commercial operators. The established players are chasing large (in the bns of dollars) and long-term contracts.
19 Jan 23. Melrose Trading Update & Capital Markets Event. Ahead of the DemergerCo1 Capital Markets Event later today, Melrose Industries PLC (“Melrose”) is pleased to announce the unaudited2 anticipated result for the DemergerCo1 businesses for the year ended 31 December 2022.
Melrose will announce its full audited results for 2022 on Thursday 2 March 2023. The Aerospace division traded in line with expectations in 2022 and is experiencing continued strong momentum into 2023.
Unaudited anticipated result for DemergerCo1 for the year ended 31 December 2022
The unaudited2 anticipated combined adjusted result for the DemergerCo1 businesses is ahead of expectations in 2022, with a 6% year-on-year rise in revenue and a 21% increase in operating profit. This is due to a better operational performance, successfully offsetting the full inflation headwinds in 2022 and achieving the planned benefits on restructuring projects.
Capital Markets Event
A Capital Markets Event for the DemergerCo1 businesses will take place in London this afternoon for institutional investors and analysts. The event will include comprehensive presentations on Automotive and Powder Metallurgy, and information on other aspects of the DemergerCo Group. A video recording and Q&A transcript will be available after the event on the Melrose website. The presentation will be available from 1.45pm, before the event starts.
The demerger timetable is progressing well with the intention to seek shareholder approval at the end of March 2023, with a view to completing the demerger shortly thereafter.
Simon Peckham, Chief Executive of Melrose Industries PLC, said: “We are proud of what has been achieved at DemergerCo1 during our ownership and are sure that with its excellent management team it will have a successful future as an independent group. We look forward to the Capital Markets Event later today, for DemergerCo, outlining the impressive positioning and prospects that it holds.”
17 Jan 23. Bombardier raises 2022 revenue and free cash flow outlook, shares rise. Canadian business jet maker Bombardier Inc (BBDb.TO) on Tuesday raised its 2022 forecast for revenue and free cash flow above analysts’ expectations, helped by robust demand for private planes.
Montreal-based Bombardier, which also took steps to reduce the cost of its debt, now expects full-year revenue to come in at about $6.9 bn, up from a prior outlook of about $6.5 bn. Analysts on average expected the company to post annual revenue of $6.56 bn, according to Refinitiv data.
Bombardier’s shares rose 4% in morning trade in Toronto following the announcement, which precedes the company’s fourth-quarter and full-year 2022 results on February 9.
Corporate jet makers have reported swelling order backlogs on persistent strong demand for private flying, especially in the United States, the world’s largest market for business aviation.
That trend has benefited Bombardier, whose stock has risen about 31% in the past year, along with rivals Gulfstream business jet maker General Dynamics Corp (GD.N) and Cessna jet maker Textron Inc (TXT.N), which report earnings on January 25.
But industry consultancies like WINGX forecast private flying in North America to moderate in 2023, after two years of record highs, and expect softening in the charter market.
Private planemakers also face pressure from supply chain and labor disruptions as well as soaring inflation and broader concerns over a softening global economy.
Bombardier, which faced a cash crunch in 2015, is focused on lowering its debt, which dropped by $100 m during the third quarter.
The company on Tuesday also launched a process to push out debt payments at a lower rate.
Bombardier, which has a worldwide fleet of about 5,000 aircraft in service, said it expects its full-year free cash flow to be about $735 m, compared with its prior estimate of $515 m. (Source: Reuters)
17 Jan 23. AE Industrial Partners-backed AIM MRO Acquires Tribologix. AIM MRO Holdings, LLC (“AIM MRO” or the “Company”), a leading manufacturer and supply chain manager of highly engineered consumable repair products and materials used primarily in the aerospace aftermarket, announced today that it has acquired Tribologix, a leading provider of engineered surface coatings solutions which reduce friction and wear in extreme environments where conventional lubricants do not work. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
This strategic addition marks AIM MRO’s first acquisition since becoming a portfolio company of AE Industrial Partners, LP (“AEI”), a private equity firm specializing in aerospace, defense & government services, space, power & utility services, and specialty industrial markets. Ben Ehrens, CEO and President of Tribologix, will be staying on with the Company as a consultant.
AIM MRO is a leading manufacturer and supply chain manager of highly engineered consumable repair products and materials used primarily in the aerospace aftermarket. For almost 30 years, the Company has cultivated a reputation as a trusted provider of unique proprietary products and material management services with highly responsive customer service.
Founded in 2004 and headquartered in Golden, Colorado, Tribologix develops and supports dry film lubricants for extreme environments. These are solid materials that provide low frictional resistance between surfaces operating in a vacuum, or the atomic oxygen of low earth orbit (LEO), as well as extreme temperatures from -130°C to 350°C. Tribologix provides its friction and wear-reducing technologies to aerospace, defense and energy customers.
“Tribologix’s high-tech, cutting-edge coatings and extensive testing have made it a trusted name in surface engineering for extreme environment applications, where the elimination of friction and wear is a mission-critical factor for non-serviceable mechanical components. We’re excited to add these products to our suite of state-of-the-art offerings,” said AIM MRO CEO Scott Wandtke. “We look forward to working with Ben and his dedicated team to better serve our new and existing customers.”
“Since inception, Tribologix has made significant investments in new technology to further improve the performance of our coatings. We take exceptional pride in our work and are committed to pushing the limits of materials science,” said Mr. Ehrens. “We are confident that AIM MRO is the right partner to help us grow our business to reach our full potential and keep innovating to meet our customers’ evolving needs.”
Akerman served as legal advisor to AIM MRO. Linden Law Partners served as legal advisor to Tribologix.
Tribologix was established in 2004 to develop and support engineered surface coatings solutions to reduce friction and wear in extreme environments where conventional lubricants do not work. The Tribologix team represents a successful collaboration of proven scientists and leaders from diverse technical and business backgrounds. Its i-Kote and other dry film lubricants outperform competitors by orders of magnitude, and have been the subject of white papers produced by NASA and others. For more information, please visit www.tribologix.com
About AIM MRO
AIM MRO is a leading manufacturer and supply chain manager of highly engineered consumable repair products and materials used primarily in the aerospace aftermarket. For almost 30 years, the Company has cultivated a reputation as a trusted provider of unique proprietary products and material management services with highly responsive customer service. The Company has differentiated itself by offering a “one-stop shop” for component repair materials and utilizing its engineering group to offer customized component solutions. AIM MRO takes an analytical approach to integrating the multi-site material spend for global component repair operations to deliver significant value. For more information, please visit http://www.aimmro.com.
About AE Industrial Partners
AE Industrial Partners is a private equity firm specializing in aerospace, defense & government services, space, power & utility services, and specialty industrial markets. AE Industrial Partners invests in market-leading companies that can benefit from its deep industry knowledge, operating experience, and relationships throughout its target markets. AE Industrial Partners is a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment and the ILPA Diversity in Action initiative. Learn more at www.aeroequity.com. (Source: PR Newswire)
18 Jan 23. QinetiQ Group plc Third Quarter Trading Update.
QinetiQ Group plc (“QinetiQ” or “the Group”) today issues a trading update covering its third quarter of trading to 31 December 2022.
Good third quarter performance – on track to deliver expectations
The Group has continued to deliver good operational performance in Q3. Order intake has continued to remain strong, with orders and revenue year-to-date now at more than £1bn, and with profit and cash performance in line with expectations. We remain on track to deliver in line with expectations for FY23, as outlined at our interim results on 10 November 2022.
With the successful completion of both the Air Affairs and Avantus acquisitions in October and November 2022 respectively, we are focused on integration of both businesses, to create opportunities for our customers and employees. Both businesses have continued to perform consistently and we are progressing well with early stages of our integration plan.
We have seen good progress across both EMEA Services and Global Products. Overall, the Group is showing good growth and profitability in-line with our expectations, both in the short and medium term.
Our strategy to build an integrated global defence and security company with revenues of more than £2.3bn is on track. Building on our successful six year track record of growth, we are continuing to deliver for our customers and on our promises. We are committed to enhancing our six distinctive offerings, with a particular focus on growth in the UK, US and Australia. We remain active in driving both strong organic growth as well as executing on our inorganic growth strategy. In the third quarter, we achieved a number of successes that demonstrate delivery of our strategic objectives:
Successful delivery of Robotic Combat Vehicle Light (RCV-L) platforms in the US – we have recently delivered four additional RCV-L prototype vehicles to the US Army for expanded testing. This enables the customer to collect soldier feedback and demonstrate improved capabilities to define and validate final user requirements for the next phase of procurement. The multi-year selection process is expected to begin in FY24, with selection in FY25, and completion of testing and outcome determination in FY27.
Won £80m mission data programme in the UK – we have won a 10 year contract with the UK MOD, worth
£80m for mission data services. The contract will provide expertise, training and support to accelerate and transform mission data production; this will enable military platforms and personnel, from the UK and its allies, to be better protected in a rapidly changing threat landscape and enhance the performance of our advanced military systems. This win is a great example of our cyber and information advantage distinctive offering and the strength of our partnering across industry, bringing together extensive experience of electronic warfare, mission data analysis, communication and information services and data-led transformation to achieve operational advantage over our adversaries.
Secured A$13m directed energy laser weapon development contract in Australia – we have won a three year contract to develop and manufacture a high energy defensive laser weapon system prototype, to establish a sovereign in-country High Energy Laser manufacturing capability for Australia. This win is a great example of global leverage of our technology across our home countries, deploying our UK directed energy expertise into Australia to support the development of this critical sovereign industrial capability for the Australian Department of Defence.
QinetiQ Target Systems (QTS) delivers on Dutch and German training exercise – led by Royal Netherlands Army, QTS provided products and services to support a bi-national Tactical Firing event with Germany at the NATO Missile Firing Installation on Crete. The event enabled training of the combined bi-national air defence task force in a live environment with multiple targets simultaneously airborne, providing realistic threats that tested end-to-end processes including the launch of weapons.
QinetiQ (QQ.L) is a leading science and engineering company operating primarily in the defence and security markets. We work in partnership with our customers to solve real world problems through innovative solutions delivering operational and competitive advantage. Visit our website www.QinetiQ.com. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter @QinetiQ. Visit our blog www.QinetiQ-blogs.com.
18 Jan 23. Qinetiq fails to meet expectations but remains undervalued.
Full-year growth and profitability guidance reiterated
- Order book up 10 per cent to £1bn
- New £80mn, 10-year contract won from MoD
The muted reaction to Qinetiq’s (QQ.) third-quarter trading update is understandable, given the loftier expectations of growth in a sector where valuations have re-rated following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February.
On the one hand, the company reported that its order book stood at £1bn – a 10 per cent uplift on the same level last year. On the other, this is only a £200mn increase on the £800mn of orders secured in the first half.
The gains made in European defence stocks over the past 12 months have been selective. The strongest performers have been German tank maker Rheinmetall (DE:RHM) and detection systems provider Hensoldt (DE:HAG) – both of which have doubled in value as the country lifted defence spending to meet NATO commitments.
On the London Stock Exchange, however, there have been almost as many losers as winners – shares in Babcock International (BAB) and Avon Protection (AVON) are in negative territory, weighed down by company-specific issues, while Chemring (CHG) and Cohort (CHRT) shares are largely flat. In fact, it is only Qinetiq and BAE Systems (BA) shares that have made major gains – up 20 per cent and 41 per cent, respectively.
The reason for this is that increases in defence budgets can take years to feed through in terms of contracts for new tanks, boats or planes. BAE Systems’ more immediate gains can be attributed to the fact that it first provided artillery to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), which in turn supplied the Ukrainian army. Now the MoD is providing BAE-made Challenger 2 tanks.
Qinetiq, too, is more fleet-footed, given the nature of many of its services – cyber security support doesn’t need as long a lead time as a programme to build new aircraft carriers. Earlier this week, the company announced an £80mn, 10-year contract with the MoD “to accelerate and transform mission data protection”.
Although orders were lower in the three months to December, “we think it would be unfair to judge Qinetiq on a quarterly basis” given the lumpiness of contract awards, broker Jefferies said.
Qinetiq maintained its full-year guidance of “high single-digit” organic growth and an underlying profit margin of between 11-12 per cent.
Despite the recent run-up, Qinetiq shares still trade at under 13 times FactSet consensus forecast earnings of 27p a share. This is below both their five-year average of around 15 times, and their peer group. Given the robustness of demand in defence spending, we maintain our buy rating.
(Source: Investors Chronicle)
17 Jan 23. Austal Diversifies Revenue Base and Unlocks Significant Growth Opportunities With Multiple New Contracts.
Austal Limited (Austal) (ASX: ASB) is pleased to provide an update about a number of contracts that the Company has secured. While not necessarily material on an individual commercial basis, the contracts further diversify Austal’s near-term revenue base, whilst providing the Company with enhanced exposure to significant long-term growth opportunities.
These future growth opportunities include emerging autonomous vessel market and non-prime module projects, which leverage Austal’s core shipbuilding, support, and advanced technologies expertise. Austal has entered into agreements for a number of strategic developments, with a potential combined value of approximately US$75 m (approximately A$108 m), with some early stage contracts providing a pathway for potential, future awards.
Further details appear below, however these agreements include;
- An ‘undefinitised contract action’ (UCA) with the US Navy to resolve the detail design for three fully funded Emergency Medical Ships (EMS) – with these ships to be valued at over US$900m
- Partnership with L3Harris Technologies to construct and modify autonomous capabilities in support of the US Navy’s Overlord Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) Program
- Concept design for the US Navy’s Large Unmanned Surface Vessels (LUSV), involving a prototype of an unmanned ship that is capable of autonomous operation
- Appointment as the exclusive manufacturer of Saildrone, Inc.’s wind and solar-powered Surveyor USV, with discussions continuing as to the number of vehicles to be produced
- A trial with the Royal Australian Navy to develop ‘PBAT Sentinel’; a patrol boat modified with autonomous systems for autonomous operation
- Partnership with General Dynamics Electric Boat to train Austal personnel in the manufacture of Command and Control Systems Modules and Electronic Deck Modules for US Navy nuclear submarines
- A contract with Newport News Shipbuilding in the USA to fabricate aluminium aircraft elevators for two US Navy Ford-class aircraft carriers being constructed by Newport News Shipbuilding
Austal Chief Executive Officer Paddy Gregg said: “The new contracts and partnerships demonstrate our growing capabilities across a broad range of naval shipbuilding and support programs in Australia and the US, as we increasingly diversify our revenue base and expand our future growth pathways.
“This is all underpinned by our modern and agile shipyards that can build in steel and aluminium, small to large vessels, and conventional crewing or autonomous capability. Our shipbuilding capacity is complemented by our expanded advanced technology efforts in autonomy and additive manufacturing.
“Over the longer-term, our expanding and diversified shipbuilding pipeline has the strong potential to cascade through to our support business, taking us another step forward towards our annual revenue target of $500 m from the support segment by FY2027. Buoyed by a robust cash balance, we have the financial muscle to continue to invest in the future and achieve long-term profitable growth.”
New agreements with US Navy for Expeditionary Medical Ship design definition
In the 2023 US Defense budget approved by US President Joe Biden, US$975 m was allocated and funded for the US Navy for the detail design and construction of three Expeditionary Medical Ships (EMS).
The ~US$900m EMS construction contract has yet to be awarded. However, Austal has entered into a undefinitized contract action (UCA) with the US Navy to finalize the design requirements for the EMS. The UCA is a binding agreement however its precise scope is deliberately undefined, allowing the parties to develop and explore the design proposal together in a less constrained scope of work.
The design definitisation and detail design work is a small component of the allocated funding for EMS, and there is no guarantee Austal will be awarded the contract for construction of its design, however Austal is the sole Company contracted to define the design for these vessels.
The proposed EMS is a 110-metre-long catamaran and will be a dedicated medical ship optimized to provide a hospital-level care. Following completion of the UCA, design work is planned to be completed in 2023.
Autonomous Vessel Contracts
Austal has partnered with L3Harris Technologies in the United States to deliver autonomous capabilities in support of the US Navy’s Overlord Unmanned Surface Vehicle (OUSV) program, which includes the 60-metre modified crewboat design Vanguard OUSV and Mariner OUSVs. Austal is constructing the L3Harris-awarded Vanguard (OUSV 3) in its Mobile, Alabama facility. Additionally, Austal USA will upgrade L3’s Mariner (OUSV 4) with its Machinery Control System that will interface with L3Harris’ ASViewTM. Construction and delivery of OUSV 3 is scheduled to complete in December 2023 while the work program on OUSV 4 is set to be finalised in February 2023.
Austal is also one of six of US Defense contractors who have been engaged to undertake the concept design for the US Navy’s Large Unmanned Surface Vessels (LUSV), involving a prototype of an unmanned ship that is capable of semi-autonomous operation. The LUSV design contract is expected to lead to a competitive tendering of a construction contract as the program develops.
Austal’s EPF-13, the largest US Navy ship to have been successfully operated autonomously, provides the concept of a large autonomous platform capable of executing autonomy missions such as logistics, tendering and adjunct magazine mission profiles and will form the basis of Austal’s design proposal.
Additionally, in the US, Austal is commencing production under a partnership with Saildrone, Inc. to be the exclusive manufacturer of the company’s ‘Surveyor’ uncrewed surface vehicle (USV). The 65-foot autonomous USVs are designed for deep ocean mapping and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) applications, above and below the surface. The USVs are wind and solar-powered, aligning with Austal’s growing focus on sustainability.
In Australia, Austal is modifying a de-commissioned Armidale-class Patrol Boat (ACPB) to modify, test and evaluate autonomous and remotely operated systems for the Royal Australian Navy. The transformed ACPB will be re-named Patrol Boat Autonomous (PBAT) ‘Sentinel’ and is expected to commence sea trials in October 2023.
Non-Prime Module Contracts
The Company has also recently secured and substantially progressed two packages of work as a sub-contractor to prime contractors producing modules for critical US Navy programs.
Austal and General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) have partnered on production work to support the US Navy’s Virginia-class and Columbia-class nuclear-powered submarine fleet. Under this partnership, Austal personnel will be trained up to enable them to construct and outfit electronic deck modules and command and control systems at its Mobile, Alabama facility. Austal and GDEB have commenced a training program whereby Austal employees conduct on-the job training at GDEB facilities so that Austal is able to manufacture the modules at its Alabama facility in due course.
Austal has also received a contract from Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding to fabricate the aluminium aircraft elevators for two US Navy Ford-class aircraft carriers, CVN 80 and CVN 81, the future USS Enterprise and USS Doris Miller. Austal will fabricate two shipsets of aluminium elevators, three elevators per ship, in its state-of-the-art module manufacturing facility located in Mobile, Alabama.
Update and Resubmission of tender on T-AGOS Project
The Company is resubmitting its proposal for the design finalisation and manufacture of up to 6 x T-AGOS vessels (ocean surveillance steel catamarans) to the US Navy, in accordance with requests from the US Navy to all tenderers to resubmit their proposals. While the Company took the opportunity to make some modifications as appropriate, this will likely delay announcement of any award of this project to around the end of the 2023 financial year. (Source: ASD Network)
17 Jan 23. NIOA announces acquisition of Barrett Firearms. The Australian company has announced a 100 per cent acquisition of US manufacturer Barrett Firearms, expanding the company’s global foot print.
Robert Nioa, chief executive officer of NIOA Group, explained that the company would still operate under the Barrett brand as a separate division. It will operate alongside other NIOA Group divisions, including NIOA Australia, NIOA New Zealand, the Australian Missile Corporation and the joint venture Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions.
Barrett products are in use by the United States military, law enforcement agencies and 75 US Department of State-approved countries around the world.
Production at Barrett’s Murfreesboro facility will continue as normal with future growth projected. All staff have been retained.
The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
Nioa said that the companies shared the same mission.
“NIOA’s association with Barrett dates back to 2008. We have been inspired by the story of Barrett and admire what Ronnie, Chris and the family have built over more than four decades,” he said.
“It’s been a story of hard work, perseverance, and purpose culminating in the delivery of critical capability for the men and women of the US military and its allies around the world as well as exceptional products to law enforcement agencies and civilian markets.
“Together we share the same mission — combining our expertise and family business values will ensure Barrett carries on building the finest products in the world.’’
In a release from the company, current Barrett president Sam Shallenberger had been promoted to chief executive officer, and Bryan James has been appointed president having served as chief operating officer.
“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the Barrett story. Rob and the NIOA team have great respect for the legacy Barrett has created as the leader in long-range precision rifles. It’s reassuring to know Barrett will be in good hands with a family-owned company that is focused on manufacturing and delivering world-class firearms and munitions to a global network,” Barrett founder Ronnie Barrett said. (Source: Defence Connect)
16 Jan 23. Rheinmetall takes up a stake in IT hardware specialist Incooling B.V. of the Netherlands. The Düsseldorf-based technology enterprise Rheinmetall is entering a strategic partnership with Incooling B.V., a Dutch specialist for IT server solutions. Under the arrangement, Rheinmetall is acquiring a share in the company. This investment not only constitutes a further important step in the strategic transformation of Rheinmetall’s Sensors and Actuators division in the field of digitalization. Taking up a share in the Eindhoven-based company also supports the marketing of its next-generation server solutions. Moreover, in addition to digitalization, the investment augments Rheinmetall’s expertise base in four other technology clusters: automation, sensors, alternative mobility, and artificial intelligence. Because virtual services are playing an ever-larger role in corporate and private life, computer centres now face the major challenge of reducing their CO2 footprint. At the same time, the energy input, which often derives from own municipal powers grids, needs to be optimized while simultaneously maintaining a stable supply of electricity. Incooling is developing next-generation two-phase cooled servers that deliver outstanding performance while requiring substantially less power. Incooling server systems feature phase change cooling technology and AI-based control systems designed to reduce the temperature that CPUs currently operate at. As a result, Incooling servers attain the fastest processing speeds with significantly lower power consumption compared with server systems now on the market. This is especially advantageous for advanced applications such as artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, elaborate R&D simulations and high-frequency transactions for banking solutions.
As Rene Gansauge, CEO of Rheinmetall’s Sensors and Actuators division, explains, “For us this is an important, future-oriented partnership and an investment in our strategic transformation. Incooling’s cutting-edge technology perfectly complements Rheinmetall’s existing capabilities. Rheinmetall brings to the partnership its expertise in thermal management and industrialization and all the strength of a technology powerhouse. Together, we will achieve a sustainable footprint in the digital domain.”
Incooling notes that both parties pursued the partnership with equal energy. As Rudie Verweij, cofounder and CEO of Incooling, points out, “Accessing capital isn’t easy for hardware companies, especially in the semiconductor industry. We’re very happy to be working with a company now that can provide us with capital as well as support in creating first-class supply chains. Moreover, Rheinmetall possesses unsurpassed expertise in putting together extremely reliable high-tech systems. We look forward to making our solutions available to pilot customers.”
Besides its financial participation, Rheinmetall will be supporting its new partner Incooling with know-how in high-quality fabrication and assembly processes. In this context, Rheinmetall will be drawing on its operational expertise to reinforce Incooling’s innovative excellence.
Incooling was founded following a joint initiative of the Eindhoven Start-up Alliance, supported by ASML and Philips and led by the Deep-Tech Venture Building Programme from HighTechXL, to create strategically important ventures that strengthen the region’s position in the deep-tech start-up ecosystem. With the mission of making the planet more climate-neutral, server by server, Incooling has adapted the unique characteristics of phase change cooling, developing next-generation cooling systems capable of exploiting the full potential of the computer centre sector.
Incooling has already won several awards, including the Costa and Enabling Tech Award from XTC, and was a finalist at Tech Crunch Disrupt 20 in San Francisco.
08 Jan 23. European Space Agency and Euroconsult to support space startups and entrepreneurs. ESA has announced a partnership with Euroconsult to empower entrepreneurship and the development of innovative space solutions. Focusing on European space start-ups incubated in the ESA BIC network, the collaboration will provide incubated companies and alumni with an exclusive rate for market intelligence and insight …
The European Space Agency has signed a letter of intent on behalf of its network of business incubation centers to boost its offering for space start-ups with high growth potential, through the provision of market analysis and networking opportunities. Leading global strategy consulting and market intelligence firm Euroconsult, who specializes in the space sector and satellite-enabled verticals, has signed this letter of intent to supply dedicated insight and connection opportunities that aim to enhance knowledge and access to business opportunities for the incubated companies.
ESA Business Incubation Centers (ESA BICs), an initiative launched in 2003 by the European Space Agency’s Technology Transfer Program Office, have grown to become the largest network of space incubators in Europe. More than 25 Centers have been established to date in some 80 locations across all the ESA Member States, each hosting a selection of young, local companies working within the space sector value chain. Incubated companies can remain on the program for up to two years before graduating and benefit from funding, coaching, technical advice and a global network of industry and research contacts, with more than 1,200 companies making up the prestigious list of alumni/ incubated companies to date.
Euroconsult is set to augment the ESA BIC benefits for both incubated companies and alumni, through a new collaboration that will offer access to industry leading market intelligence reports at a preferred rate. Furthermore, Euroconsult will also deliver a series of webinars, offering valuable insight into multiple segments across the global space value chain, beginning with a dedicated showcase of their much anticipated 2022 Space Economy report.
Additionally, the collaboration will provide prominent space sector entrepreneurs with networking opportunities at all of Euroconsult’s events, including the chance to rub shoulders with top level executives from major established space companies at Euroconsult’s flagship annual conference, World Satellite Business Week in Paris.
ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher stated, “This partnership between Euroconsult and our Business Incubation Centers emphasizes the priority we give to space commercialization and to the development of high-potential space startups. Through this partnership, we will complement the technical and market intelligence support we already provide to our BIC startups with additional intelligence and networking opportunities, further supporting them in their journey to scaling-up. This partnership is to be seen in the frame of our ScaleUp program proposed to European Ministers for subscription in ESA’s next Ministerial Council this November.”
The main objective of the ESA BIC program is to support entrepreneurs with space-based business ideas, catalyzing regional clusters of space related start-ups across Europe. Each ESA BIC is managed locally by organizations that connect the ESA BICs to private industry, academia, research bodies and investment communities within the homegrown space ecosystem, while ensuring links to the wider national and international business landscape.
Pacôme Révillon, Chief Executive Officer of Euroconsult, said, “We are delighted to announce this exciting partnership and look forward to supporting the European Space Agency and leading space entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Euroconsult’s specialist brand of market intelligence, analysis and insight into the latest trends and opportunities will help to empower entrepreneurship and contribute to the development of innovative commercial space solutions for an industry that continues to go from strength to strength.”
The collaboration between ESA BIC and Euroconsult is set to commence with immediate effect, with the first webinar and the exclusive preview of the 2022 Space Economy report on January 19th. (Source: Satnews)
TCI International, Inc., is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SPX Corporation. TCI provides turn-key solutions for spectrum management and monitoring, direction finding, geolocation and communications intelligence to civilian, government, military and intelligence agencies as well as antennas for communications and high-power radio broadcasting. TCI is headquartered in Fremont, California, USA. For more information, visit www.tcibr.com.