Looking for Budget Certainty in Uncertain Times

Five aerospace leaders pleaded Tuesday for greater budget certainty, clarity of requirements, and easing of export restrictions to help the industry get through the current budget downturn. Speaking during a panel discussion at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sikorsky President Mick Maurer said the military’s desire for unrestricted use of industry’s intellectual property or data makes it harder to bring innovation from the private sector. Darryl Davis, president of Boeing’s Phantom Works, said the export restrictions also make it hard to “leverage technology on a global scale.” Christopher Jones, President of Northrop Grumman Technical Solutions, said they need “more clarity in what [the Defense Department] and the services really need.” Robert Weiss, general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, also said it was difficult to shape investment in new technologies without knowing that the Air Force’s future requirements. Aerospace Industries Association President Marion Blakey said “the current budget is simply unacceptable,” given threats from ISIS terrorists, Russia, and China. “Now, more than ever, we need a strong aerospace industry,” said Blakey, who urged other industry representatives in the audience to join AIA’s “Second to None” campaign to repeal sequestration so the defense budget can better support aerospace.