Industrial Base Dominos

The Defense Department believes that prime contractors are generally healthy in the space and air-launched munitions sectors of the industrial base, according to DOD’s newly issued annual report to Congress on US industrial capabilities. (see above) However, in space programs, “lower tier suppliers are struggling due to insufficient demand, qualification requirements that limit the adoption of new technologies, and aggressive foreign competition,” states the report. This lack of demand has also shrunk the space supplier base to one company in “a number of key components and materials,” and frequently, that company isn’t an American firm, the report warns. Space manufacturing capabilities at risk are the ability to build large-scale solar power arrays; cast large solid rocket motors and ICBM guidance and reentry components; and maintain “state-of-the-art radiation-hardened electronics fabrication facilities,” the report states. The Pentagon expects further consolidation among makers of missile parts, and, according to the report, “increased dependency on sole sources and foreign suppliers could cause bottlenecks affecting multiple production lines.” (Full report; caution large file)