If you don’t think the defense industry is vital to the future of North Texas, here are some enlightening numbers: the largest defense contractors in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, those with total contracts in excess of $20 million, employ nearly 100,000 people in this area. The total value of these companies’ contracts with the U.S. government exceeds $25 billion, and their 1986 corporate revenues surpassed $60 billion. And that’s just the big defense contractors. In this highly specialized industry, small suppliers-like the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind, which makes vinyl eyeglass cases for the military-account for more than two-thirds of the defense contractors in Texas.
Three of the top five employers in the Dallas area are defense contractors-Texas Instruments, this city’s biggest employer; General Dynamics Corporation, number two; and LTV Corporation, number five.
Texas is second only to California in defense department dollar awards, and industry analysts predict that Texas could quickly jump ahead of California if North Texas lands the $4.4 billion Superconducting Super Collider. Companies that would spin off from the super collider research would be geared to the future of the defense industry-high technology.
The defense industry has always tended to be on the leading edge of technology, bringing nonmilitary consumers jet-powered commercial aircraft, satellite communications, and high-powered micro-computers, to name just a few civilian applications of technology initially created for defense. But analysts indicate that as Pentagon budgets get tighter, future defense dollars will be even more concentrated on high-tech weapons systems. Dallas is poised to capture this market. Following are a few amazing weapons systems developed in our back yard.
LTV/Texas Instruments-Hypervelocity Missile. In December, LTV Missiles and Electronics Group and Texas Instruments Inc. teamed up to compete for a portion of the U.S. Army’s advanced anti-tank weapon system-heavy or AAWS-H contracts. The weapons system uses LTV’s Hypervelocity Missile or HVM, a “hit-to-kill” weapon that LTV has been working on since 1981. What’s different about this missile? It has ho explosive warhead. Instead, it uses the kinetic energy of direct impact to destroy its target. “HVM relies on a blistering 5,000-feet-per-second speed to blast a penetrator rod through heavy, multiplate armor,” marketing material for the weapon claims, and “provides lethality plus extended range. . .and afford ability.” TI will contribute from its electro-optics area a target acquisition system that allows the weapons operator to automatically lock on to a target and a sophisticated guidance control system that steers the missile.
BE1 Defense Systems-HYDRA 70 Rocket. BEI Defense Systems Company has produced more than 30 million 2.75-inch rocket motors, warheads, and fuses in its thirty-seven-year history. The 2.75-inch rocket debuted in the Korean War and was called Mighty Mouse “for its combination of punch and small size.” But since Korea, Mighty Mouse has been modernized. Now called the HYDRA 70 Rocket System, the high-velocity rockets are more stable, more accurate, and have greater range than their predecessors. HYDRA 70s are used on the AH-1S Cobra and AH-64 Apache front-line Army helicopters. Last fall, the rockets were the “weapons of choice” of the U.S. helicopters that disabled an Iranian minelayer and destroyed three gunboats in the Strait of Hormuz.
Varo-Night Vision Target Tracking Equipment. In a joint venture with ITT Corporation, Varo Incorporated signed in 1986 the largest night visions systems contract ever awarded-valued at more than $600 million. Night vision equipment uses “image inten-sifier tubes” that work with faint starlight to literally allow people to see in the dark. Varo equipment also had a part in the U.S. attack on the Iranian ships, helping to locate targets during the nighttime mission.
Bell Helicopter Textron-V-22 Ospray Tilt Rotor Aircraft. Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. and Boeing Vertol Co. as fifty-fifty partners have been awarded a S1.7 billion contract to develop six flyable and three non-flyable (for testing) V-22 Ospray tilt rotor aircraft. The V-22 Ospray takes off and lands like a helicopter and has hovering capabilities, but with the tilt rotor, it also flies like a turbo-prop at approximately 300 miles per hour. The aircraft is said to be twice as fast as a helicopter and can travel twice as far on the same amount of gas. This is the first aircraft to be designed for all four military services at the same time. Plans call for the Marine Corps to purchase 552 V-22 Osprays for combat assault. The Army plans to buy 231 for combat troop support and paramedical evacuation. The Navy will need fifty for combat search and rescue and tentatively plans to purchase another 300 for anti-submarine warfare, The Air Force will buy eighty Osprays for special forces teams. In this capacity, the Ospray is billed as a “new antiterrorism tool” of strategic use in “hostile environments, day or night, and in adverse weather.”
General Dynamics-Advanced Tactical Aircraft. In mid-January, General Dynamics Corporation and McDonnell Douglas Corporation were awarded a $4.38 billion contract to develop the top-secret Advanced Tactical Aircraft-the attack aircraft that will take U.S. forces into the twenty-first century. The ATA is expected to be filled with the most sensitive new electronics. Few other details about the plane are disclosed. Since the Fort Worth Division of General Dynamics opened in 1942, more than 5,000 military aircraft have been produced on its mile-long assembly line.
Texas lnstruments-420 Position/Navigation System. TI has developed a hand-held satellite receiver that can tell a soldier exactly where he is in the world in 1.5 minutes. Using the NAVSTAR Global Positioning System satellite constellation, the TI 420 can be used worldwide on land, at sea. and in the air. No more getting lost in the jungle and stumbling unsuspecting on the enemy. The system weighs less than ten pounds and can fit easily into a small backpack.