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Army-Industry Collaboration is the Key to Modernization

Army-Industry Collaboration is the Key to Modernization

The ongoing conflict in Eastern Europe shines a light on the U.S. Army’s strategic focus on readiness and modernization. In its most comprehensive transformation in decades, the Army is simultaneously positioning itself to defeat any potential enemy today and to win on the joint all-domain battlefield of the future.

To achieve these equally important priorities, the Army and other service branches count on the companies comprising America’s military-industrial base. Many defense and space prime contractors and first-tier partners – like Honeywell – have a strong presence in both the military and civilian worlds. This enables us to adapt technologies and solutions originally developed for commercial use to meet the military’s specific needs.

Satellite communications is one good example of successful commercial-to-military migration. In 2021, we introduced a military version of our proven high-speed broadband satellite communications solution. The JetWave MCX is the only SATCOM system that can switch seamlessly between commercial and military satellite networks to provide comparable situational awareness, command and control ability, and access to large amounts of data commanders are used to having on the ground.

As a company that has been providing leading-edge defense and space innovations since before World War II, we’ve seen a significant evolution in the way the military works with its private-sector partners. No longer does the military issue an RFP with exact specifications and wait for bids. Instead, multiple companies are given key performance parameters and are encouraged to come up with innovative approaches that meet the needs of the services, warfighters in the field and American taxpayers.

This new, more collaborative approach to procurement also has changed the way military development programs are funded. In the past, the Pentagon typically paid for research and development. But today, the DoD expects its suppliers to shoulder some of the risk and use their own R&D dollars to help develop new technology solutions and deliver them faster and cheaper.

This process has created a highly competitive environment that encourages innovation, collaboration and risk-sharing by the military and its industry partners. We believe this new procurement framework is ideal because companies are no longer simply responding to government specifications. Instead, we can unleash our world-class engineering teams to develop the best products, services and software solutions today’s technology will enable.

When it launched the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) as part of the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program, the Army established performance requirements for operational attributes like combat radius, cruise speed, internal and external payload, and cost. They left it up to competing teams of defense contractors to figure out how to meet or exceed those requirements for the aircraft and its major systems, like propulsion engines. For example, Team DEFIANT X – led by Lockheed Martin Sikorsky and Boeing – chose Honeywell’s groundbreaking HTS7500 engine to power its entry in the competition because it enables the helicopter to achieve the Army’s desired attributes.

In another example of collaboration, Honeywell is working closely with the Army and Boeing to help extend the service life of the CH-47 Chinook helicopter. Honeywell is now testing the latest version of the T55 turboshaft engine, which could enable the CH-47 to fly farther and carry more weight under challenging operating conditions than at any time in the aircraft’s 60-year history.

As a first-tier supplier on many programs like these, Honeywell sees the value in forming more collaborative partnerships with the military, prime contractors and other partners. Together, we can help the services solve their most vexing technology challenges. We have seen firsthand how this approach can accelerate the development timeline to put the best solution in the hands of American warfighters so they can win now and win in the future.

Ricky Freeman
President of Defense and Space

Ricky Freeman is the President of Defense and Space for Honeywell Aerospace. He is a former US Marine Corps aviator and Program Manager, Weapons Systems. He completed undergraduate studies at the Citadel, Military College of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina and graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton.


Ricky is a member of the Board of Directors for the Red Tails Scholarship Foundation, providing aviation training & licensing for minorities pursuing careers in aerospace. He also serves on several defense, aerospace and social justice advisory councils.