One of the many defense contractors who have their operations in New Mexico is Honeywell. They have their Defense and Electronics Systems facility located in Albuquerque. Starting in 2004 they received a contract for the Army’s Future Combat Systems.
Honeywell in 2004 build a 16,000 square foot war games center at their Northeast Heights complex, called the Simulation and Modeling for Acquisition, Requirements and Training facility, or SMARTlab. This was part of the U.S. Army’s Future Combat Systems program, which aimed to replace their present combat vehicles with “faster, lighter military tanks and personnel carriers that trade bulky armor for better information.”(1)
The FCS program was about network-centric warfare, using networks of sensors and cameras, many deployed on unmanned aerial and surface vehicles, that would communicate with troops on the ground, many who would have their own mobile computers.
One of the existing contracts Honeywell had with this program included the development of a 13 inch wide UAV, held aloft by a helicopter like blade, containing cameras and sensors. A continuation of the drone program that became popular after the War on Terror.
Honeywell received a $40 million dollar contract for the SMARTlab facility. It already received $240 million in military contracts for the Future Combat Systems initiative. The estimated cost on 2004 for the FCS was $100 billion, later modified to $200 billion in 2007, with estimated costs increasing after this.
The program involed over 550 contractors and subcontractors in 41 states and 220 congressional districts, which is a common way the defense industry keeps programs like this going, making it nearly impossible to kill because of the vast costs spread over many voting districts in Congress. (2)
Alas, the program was canceled in 2009 due to costs and feasibilities. Honeywell itself, and its facilities in Albuquerque, still received other contracts, as cited here. (3)
This Honeywell contract for the Future Combat systems is just another example of the military presence in New Mexico. Despite the large amount of poverty in the state, military contracts are feted out here, creating an undue influence over the state economy and its environment.
1. Webb, Andrew. “Computer Combat.” Albuquerque Journal. August 11, 2004. p. 1-2.
2. Klein, Alec.
“The Army’s $200 Billion Makeover: March to Modernize Proves Ambitious and Controversial.” Washington Post. December 7, 2007, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/06/AR2007120602836_pf.html. (Accessed November 22, 2015).
3. “RQ-16: Future Combat Systems’ Last UAV Survivor Falls.” September 19, 2012. Defense Industry Daily. http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/one-small-step-for-a-uav-one-big-step-for-fcs-class-i-01372/. (Accessed November 22, 2015)