Business

February 25, 2013

Military contractors look for commercial uses

The world watched earlier this month as President Barack Obama announced at the State of the Union address plans to withdraw 34,000 of the 66,000 troops remaining in Afghanistan by next year. Also this month, Skydex Technologies released its new footwear for commercial use from a quiet Centennial business park.

The two events may seem entirely unrelated, but as the United States continues drawing down troop levels in volatile regions abroad, private U.S. companies such as Skydex that have depended on military engagement for revenues are looking for new commercial applications.

Deployment levels of U.S. troops in Afghanistan have consistently dropped from a peak of 100,000 troops in 2011 and are expected to range from zero to a maximum of 15,000 by the end of 2014. This comes on the heels of a full withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 after peaking at 168,000 in 2007.

Skydex, makers of blast-absorbing floor decking in mine-resistant personnel carriers, relies on military contracts for about 90 percent of its income and the commercial market for the remaining 10 percent. By mid-2014, the company projects a 50-50 split. Its new shoe, designed for bootcamp-style workouts is the first step in this evolution.

“It’s very much in the state of shift this year,” said Peter Foley, chief product officer at Skydex. “There are so many places you could put the technology, and our decision is where to put it.”

The company created its trademark twin-hemisphere padding in the late 1970s for sporting goods but was immediately solicited by the military. Skydex then licensed its plastic cushion system to Nike, which the well-known shoe company used for its Nike Air technology.

Now, the 31-employee company is feverishly innovating and testing new uses for its technology.

Foley said the company was successful because of its primary benefit – slowing down the impact of explosive land devices, which protected soldiers’ limbs and lives. But, “The second and third benefit are really what makes us successful in the commercial market,” Foley said.

Those benefits include reusability, durability and lightness that its foam competitors can’t provide.

Vic Ahmed, founder CEO of the new Denver-based incubator Innovation Pavilion believes there is a plethora of opportunities from wartime that are like this but are not capitalized.

“I think it is pretty incredible how much technology has developed for military purposes. When those projects are over, they just sit on the shelves and are not used,” Ahmed said. “I think that is a wasted national asset.”

Michael Locatis resigned two weeks ago as U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications and moved back to Colorado. Having worked in the private sector before nine years in government, Locatis said that the crossover from military to commercial applications is a growing trend.

“There is a lot more, especially in the Obama administration, around leveraging the private sector for commercializing cybersecurity solutions … by moving to more private companies,” Locatis said.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines March 2, 2015

News: Israel lobbies for more missile defense funds than Obama sought - For the second consecutive year, Israeli officials have asked the U.S. Congress to add more than $300 million to President Barack Obama’s budget request for their nation’s missile-defense programs.   Business: Inside one of the most intense, and unusual, Pentagon contracting wars - The much-anticipated...
 
 

News Briefs March 2, 2015

Italy resumes Navy exercise amid new tensions over Libya The Italian Navy is resuming exercises in the Mediterranean Sea, including near the coast of Libya, amid concerns about rapidly deteriorating security in the North African nation. The exercise began March 2 and includes anti-submarine, anti-aircraft and anti-ship training operations. The exercise was suspended for a...
 
 
LM-AEHF

Ingenuity drives Lockheed’s AEHF program to production milestone early

Lockheed Martin has successfully integrated the propulsion core and payload module for the fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite nearly five months ahead of schedule. Reaching this critical milestone early a...
 

 

First all-electric propulsion satellites send first on-orbit signals

Two Boeing 702SP (small platform) satellites, the first all-electric propulsion satellites to launch, have sent initial signals from space, marking the first step toward ABS, based in Bermuda, and Eutelsat, based in Paris, being able to provide enhanced communication services to their customers. Whatís more, the satellites were launched as a conjoined stack on a...
 
 

GA-ASI, Sener team to offer Predator B to Spain

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. and SENER, a leading Spanish engineering company, announced March 2 that they have signed a teaming agreement that promotes the use of the multi-mission Predator B® RPA to support Spain’s airborne surveillance and reconnaissance requirements.  GAASI is a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft systems, radars, and electro-optic and relate...
 
 
raytheon-satellite

Raytheon’s ‘Blue Marble’ imaging sensor delivered on schedule

Raytheon has delivered a second Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite instrument to support the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Joint Polar Satellite System mission. The second VIIRS unit will fly ab...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>