McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Breaking News

Opinion

May 21, 2014

Congress faces risky decision on National Security, local aerospace jobs

When you’re in the middle of errands and your fuel gauge hits the red zone, what do you do? Skip the gas station and try to make it back home on ‘E’? Even if you make it home, what will you do the next time you need to drive your car? It’s not worth the ten minutes saved. Who wants to be stranded on the side of the road, forced to walk to the nearest filling station or wait for a tow?

Policy-makers in Washington are facing a similar decision about the Navy’s fleet of electronic attack aircraft, known as the EA-18G Growler. The Navy needs more of these aircraft, but the Pentagon didn’t include any more in next year’s budget. If Congress fails to purchase more now, supply of these aircraft will hit ‘E’ – the manufacturing line will shut down before it delivers the number of Growlers the Navy and Joint Forces need to deal with emerging security threats. One need only read the headlines regarding world events to know we live in a world where we must defend our national security and support those who would seek to live in a democratic society. The Growler is a critical component of the U.S. defensive capabilities.

Closing this production line would be bad news for my Stillwater-based company, Frontier Electronic Systems, which designed and now manufactures the engine fuel displays for this aircraft. Our highly-skilled work force continues to innovate to ensure our warfighters have the latest capabilities. In fact, we’re currently designing a next generation engine fuel cockpit display that accommodates technology advancements and alleviates obsolescence issues. FES pulls from our local engineering and technology talent pools, leveraging the excellent engineering disciplines taught at Oklahoma State University and the specialized technology skills taught at the Career Tech centers — we’re keeping science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers right here in our state.

At a national level, shutting down the Growler production line would leave the Pentagon with only one prime contractor for building fighter jets. We all know that competition is the key to getting the very best capabilities for the best price. As a taxpayer, I want to see competition in the marketplace. It would be disastrous for us to throw away the benefits of competition for one of our most critical defense assets.

Most importantly, prematurely ending this program goes against sound military strategy. Just like you know you’ll need gas in your car tomorrow, the U.S. military will need more Growlers in the coming decades to jam enemy radar and sensors that are becoming much more powerful as computing power increases. A stealthy aircraft used to be capable of hiding from a single radar. But today, lightning fast broadband networks are linking together numerous sensors and radar that can triangulate the location of even the stealthiest aircraft using powerful computers doing super-fast calculations.

This is where the strategic significance of the Growler becomes critical. The Growler fights back by jamming those sensors, effectively creating a data white-out that conceals American aircraft. Escorted by a Growler, American aircraft can slip across enemy lines and complete their missions without fear of being shot out of the sky by surface-to-air missiles. We need this electronic attack capability now more than ever because nearly every country is networking their sensors and radar to be able to detect stealth aircraft. Rather than try to match us in air-to-air combat, our enemies will simply try to deny American jets access to their airspace.

That’s why Growlers are must-have escorts for nearly every risky mission. They’re among the most requested aircraft in our fleet. And America is at the cutting edge of this technology, being the only country to have integrated electronic attack into the airframe of a supersonic fighter jet capable of escorting even the fastest jets in the world.

If we need Growlers now and for the future, why let supply of them run to ‘E’? From a national security perspective, this obviously doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make fiscal sense either: it could cost hundreds of millions of dollars to restart the mothballed Growler production line if the Pentagon realizes it made a mistake by closing it. That would waste taxpayer dollars instead of saving them.

Just like our engineers designed engine fuel displays to warn Growler pilots when they’re running low, we’re doing everything we can to alert taxpayers and our elected officials about the dangers of shutting down the critical Growler program. Congress shouldn’t try to run our national security on ‘E.’ It should fully fund the Growler aircraft that the Navy needs.

Brenda Rolls is the President and CEO of Frontier Electronic Systems, based in

Stillwater.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Saundra Kaye Offill

    Saundra Kaye Offill, 67, lost her 7 year battle with Alzhiemer’s on Thursday, July 10, 2014. She was born in McAlester, Oklahoma on March 11, 1947, to Louis and the late Melba Vanlandingham.

    July 16, 2014

  • Square logo.jpg ‘Is anything sacred anymore?’

    Editor:
    What do we know about the “The Star Spangled Banner” ?

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Square logo.jpg Any hope in new MPD facility?

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • ent_taylorswift.jpg There's less good music now — here's why

    Taylor Swift, the seven-time Grammy winner, is known for her articulate lyrics, so there was nothing surprising about her writing a long column for The Wall Street Journal about the future of the music industry. Yet there's reason to doubt the optimism of what she had to say.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Donald Sterling needs to go away

    Whether it happens due to a quick settlement or a likely longer trial, Clippers owner Donald Sterling just needs to go away.

    June 19, 2014

  • CHRIS-MORRIS-2.jpg Prescription drug abuse

    Tip of the Week
    You can be arrested for driving under the influence of prescription medication, so follow your recommended dosage or don’t get behind the wheel.

    June 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kevin Durant Kevin Durant’s grace period will end soon

    After his 7th season ended Saturday with the Thunder’s Game 6 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, the grace period for Oklahoma City superstar Kevin Durant may soon be drawing to a close.

    June 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Billy Guy Ferrell

    Billy Guy Ferrell, died Saturday, May 24, 2014, at a nursing home in McAlester.

    May 30, 2014

  • Square logo.jpg Congress faces risky decision on National Security, local aerospace jobs

    When you’re in the middle of errands and your fuel gauge hits the red zone, what do you do? Skip the gas station and try to make it back home on ‘E’? Even if you make it home, what will you do the next time you need to drive your car? It’s not worth the ten minutes saved. Who wants to be stranded on the side of the road, forced to walk to the nearest filling station or wait for a tow?

    May 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Todd Lamb From the Capitol: Staycation in Oklahoma

    With the summer travel season quickly approaching, many Oklahomans are making plans for their summer vacations. I would encourage Oklahomans to look in our own backyard and explore all that Oklahoma has to offer this summer. All ages and all travel enthusiasts can find something of interest here at home.

    May 21, 2014 1 Photo

Seasonal Content
AP Video
Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways
NDN Video
Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.