Top 100: Platforms, new technology keep Boeing flying high

Boeing's new normal puts focus on technology, platforms and finding ways to pass cost savings on to its customers.

The new normal for Boeing Co. is staying tightly focused on cost reduction so it can pass savings along to its government customers, says Christopher Raymond, vice president and general manager of the Electronic and Information Solutions group at Boeing Network and Space Systems. 

“Our position is we’re going to be in this more-for-less kind of environment for a long time, so let’s just assume that’s the environment we are going to be in and plan accordingly,” said Raymond.

The Chicago-based aerospace and defense giant also wants to stay well ahead of curve when it comes to development and fielding of advanced systems, he said.

Boeing is ranked No. 3 on the 2015 Washington Technology Top 100 with $5.3 billion in prime IT contracts.

The company has fine-tuned its organizational structure over the past six months to improve management of key development programs. The company announced in February that was consolidating management of key defense and space development programs into a new organization known as Boeing Defense, Space and Security Development in order to boost its performance on pre-production development activities that have a bearing on schedule and cost.

Patterned after the airplane development organization within Boeing Commercial Airplanes, the new unit replaces Boeing Integrated Defense Systems. BDS Development will manage the Air Force’s KC-46 aerial refueling tanker and presidential aircraft programs and the 777X commercial airplane program. The unit also will oversee the CST-100 spacecraft for NASA’s Commercial Crew program, NASA’s Space Launch System rocket program and the small satellite effort.

Another organizational change occurred in May when Boeing established a Data Analytics Group within its Defense Space and Security unit to furnish customers with new offerings for leveraging IT across the company’s products and services. The creation of the group “is a recognition that analytics is something you need to do to run your own business better and more efficiently,” said Raymond.

Boeing’s acquisitions over the past 18 months reflect where the company sees growth and opportunity. The acquisitions focus on enhancing the company’s capabilities in the realms of C4ISR and cybersecurity where growth is expected in the years ahead.

Boeing acquired in June 2014 hardware and software engineering provider Ventura Solutions Inc. of Annapolis, Md., for an undisclosed amount. The purchase was the most recent in a string of purchases to bulk up the company’s information and security capabilities.

Boeing snared Ventura because it was keen on the “key tools and architectures they have around intelligence products that we believe are going to be important going forward,” Raymond said. Ventura is now part of Boeing’s Electronic and Information Systems group.

Boeing also bought in April motion imagery processing company 2d3 Sensing, which was owned by United Kingdom-based OMG plc. The deal is valued at approximately $25 million, according to media reports. Boeing was familiar with 2d3’s capabilities through its work developing and enhancing subsidiary Insitu’s ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle. “We see [2d3] as a key company going forward around aerial imaging to further leverage what comes off the UAVs,” Raymond said.

Raymond noted that the company’s fixed military aircraft and domestic and international rotorcraft remain enduring platforms capable of mission enhancement. He cited the Navy’s selection of the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor to fly future carrier on board delivery missions “as an example where there is mission being added to a platform because of what it can do.”

He also said that Boeing continues to benefit from robust government satellite sales. But perhaps the most jaw-dropping contract wins for the company last year involve future work with NASA. The company announced in July 2014 that it had landed a $2.8 billion contract with NASA to develop the core stage of the Space Launch System. Boeing also was one of two companies selected in September 2014 to build and fly a commercial crew transportation system. Boeing received a $4.2 billion contract for the CST-100 project.

Raymond ticked off as many as a half dozen big-ticket opportunities for the company on the horizon. Among these are the Air Force’s Long Range Strike Bomber and Joint Surveillance Targeting and Attack Radar System programs and Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System program. In more general terms, the company sees space communications, maritime domain awareness and next-generation rotorcraft as equally promising areas of growth.

Regarding space communications architectures and the concept of space superiority, Raymond said, “I believe there’s a lot of game that’s going to get played out over the next couple of years there.”