Military aerospace sales remained stagnant in Fiscal 2015, but overall aerospace sales suffered a 32 percent decline due in large part to losses in the civilian sector, according to the Aerospace Industries Association’s annual report. “Clearly there’s a serious mismatch between the national security threat environment and the resources we’re devoting to defense,” AIA President and Chief Executive Officer David Melcher said, speaking in Washington, D.C., Dec. 15. “The massive 10-year Budget Control Act and defense cuts came prior to the rise of ISIS, before Russia’s aggressive moves in Eastern Europe, and China’s heating up tensions in the South China Sea,” he said. He also noted that sequestration came on top of then Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ half-trillion dollar cuts to defense—a measure that was also taken in a totally different threat environment. The industry booked $210.3 billion in new orders for aircraft, parts, and search and navigation equipment in FY15, and $10.7 billion in foreign military sales, according to AIA. Into the future, “we remain concerned that the Pentagon may allocate a smaller share in the FY17 budget request to procurement and research and development,” he said. Melcher praised Congress’ recently passed bipartisan budget deal that “allows for more leeway in making prudent investment in our national security.” (AIA industry research and year-end presentation.)
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.