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Hewson: Stronger relationship with industry is key

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The key to more productive work between the Army and industry during the coming era of budget cuts is a closer relationship built on trust, Marillyn Hewson, executive vice president, electronic systems, Lockheed Martin Electronic Systems, said.

Hewson, speaking at the Association of the United States Army Winter Symposium and Exposition in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., emphasized three key ideas for the future of industry’s relationship with the Army: better communication, more rationalization in contracting, and working together to bring down costs.

Regarding communication, Hewson called on industry and the Army to talk with each other earlier, clearer and more constantly.

In addition, she said there should be more rationalization in the way contracts come together, including developing clearer, more specific, requirements and eliminating unnecessary scope.

"The traditional acquisition process is not well-suited for speed," Hewson said, adding that the Army was already working to improve this process.

With better communication and more rationalization in contracts, Hewson stated industry and the Army can better bring down costs – a goal, she said, that must be achieved via closer cooperation between the two parties.

Hewson also stressed that the most current technology must be made readily available to the Army.

As examples of recent cutting-edge technological availability, Hewson cited the introduction of the KMAX unmanned-helicopter, used for external load operations; the unmanned Squad Mission Support System (SMSS), used to provide autonomous load support to a single squad over rough as well as amphibious terrains; the PackBot, used to get soldiers out of harm’s way during dangerous missions such as bomb disposal; and the Wellbot, used to explore wells in place of a repelling a soldier.

"Supporting the warfighter is a mission that must constantly adapt," Hewson said.