"There are those that see JSF as the last manned fighter. I'm one that's inclined to believe that."
-- Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff
"The solution to future threats is not something that has a pilot in it."
-- U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
Ah, but who will build this elusive "solution to future threats?" That's the question that bedevils investors. Will it be UAV pioneer and Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation AeroVironment
No, it seems the company that's taken the single greatest lead in unmanned airpower dominance -- at least for now -- is Boeing
According to reports, Boeing has been awarded two low-rate initial production (LRIP) contracts to build one "Integrator" STUAS system each for the Navy, and for the Marine Corps. Losers in the Navy's decision include rival bidders Raytheon, Textron
Now begins a 24-month marathon of engineering, manufacturing and development work as Boeing and its partners attempt to get the Integrator ready for primetime. At the end of it all, according to the analysts, could be a payoff of as much as $450 million on the project.
But if I might make a small, Foolish request? Perhaps given 24 months to work with, Boeing can come up with a better name for its new bird? I mean, seriously, "Integrator" is a name only an engineer could love. Taxpayers deserve something more for their money -- or at least more poetic.
Suggestions, anyone? Drop 'em in the comments section below.