Steve Oswald

Vice President, Boeing Intelligence and Security Systems

Boeing Co. created its Intelligence and Security Systems division in December 2007, largely by moving the ground-system segment out of its Space and Intelligence Systems division and adding some other defense- and security-related information technology work.

Since then the company has been positioning the unit to compete for contracts for satellite ground systems and classified intelligence programs expected to be awarded in 2009.

The majority of the Arlington, Va.-based division’s 2,000 employees work in the mission systems area, flying military and intelligence satellites and developing ground systems for data exploitation for customers such as the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and CIA. Also under the division’s purview is a major border security demonstration program called SBInet.

Boeing Intelligence and Security Systems recently added a group to focus on the emerging cyber security market. It purchased high-end information technology firm RavenWing of Herndon,
, and is close to finalizing deals with two other companies in the intelligence business. The unit, part of Boeing’s $12 billion Network and Space Systems division, is poised to close out the year up slightly with around $1.3 billion in revenue.

One of the top contracting prizes on the horizon is the NGA’s Information Management Systems program, the follow-on to the agency’s troubled and truncated GeoScout program that is intended to facilitate the tasking, processing, exploitation and dissemination of intelligence data. That program could be worth more than $1 billion. However, a request for proposals has not yet been issued as the program is on hold pending a review of future requirements, NGA spokesman Marshall Hudson said.

Intelligence and Security Systems is also on the Raytheon team competing to build the U.S. Air Force’s GPS 3 ground-control segment, GPS OCX.

Few opportunities have emerged so far on the cyber security front; all eyes are on the intelligence community, which was assigned by presidential directive to lead efforts to protect government computer networks.

Leading the new Boeing unit through its first major competitions is Steve Oswald, a retired U.S. Navy rear admiral and former NASA space shuttle commander. He most recently was head of Boeing’s space shuttle program that supports NASA and United Space Alliance, the Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture that operates the orbiter fleet.

Oswald spoke recently with Space News staff writer Turner Brinton.

What is your assessment of your accomplishments in the past year?

We haven’t won any major programs and that’s something we need to fix. We haven’t actually had that many opportunities this year; we’re hoping for more next year. We’ve had a couple of program execution challenges; those are turning around. But we’ve got over 50 programs, the vast majority of which are performing very well. I think we’ve come a long way in the organizational aspects of team cohesiveness and I’m pretty happy with the way that’s coming together. We’ve got a ways to go, but the kind of stuff we do is technically difficult, and we have a very demanding group of customers. They have critical missions, and we’re happy to be a part of their plans going forward.

What satellite command and control systems are you competing for next year?

We’re a subcontractor to Raytheon on GPS OCX, and it’s going to be interesting to see what the customer decides to do with that program. We hope they continue down the path that they’re on. I think the customer is eventually going to want to evolve into flying multiple constellations out of a single facility, and that makes sense from an efficiency standpoint. So I don’t know whether there’s an opportunity to do that as they transition in the GPS ground segment or whether it will be down the road with other systems. I’m just speculating. As far as we know right now, OCX is continuing down the road to a decision sometime in 2009. There are also a couple of pretty major programs coming up in the classified world.

Tell me about your pursuit of the NGA’s Information Management Systems prime contract.

That’s a big one for us. The NGA has been struggling a bit with GeoScout, and they need to have a way of processing data so that they can get significantly more efficient. The agency has had a huge increase in the amount of information that it’s processing, and their ability to get useful information to war fighters is not keeping up with the collection.

Should the

military and intelligence community be focused less on collection platforms and more on data exploitation?

I think the answer is going to depend on who you talk to. War fighters in theater will tell you they want near-term imagery of targets they care about today. A lot of what NGA does is comparing new imagery with older imagery of the same area, although they’re doing a lot of stuff near-real time as well. I think the number of collectors is being driven by folks in theater, and having more sensors, whether they’re air breathing or other, is always good for those guys. But it is frustrating to some people that we end up leaving so many ‘ones and zeros’ on the cutting-room floor because the information is not immediately relevant. So if the government and industry can end up doing a better job of processing that data in a timeframe that matters, that would be good.

What work have you done in the cyber protection area, and what opportunities do you see in the future?

We’ve done some things in cyber for a long time for various customers, and we’ve done a lot of work in information assurance as a company just because Boeing has one of the largest private networks in the world, and like every other company today, we are very dependent on that network.

Some of what we have done internally could be useful to other customers, and there is an awful lot of discussion going on between all of industry and various pieces of government. There’s going to be a significant market we believe within the intelligence community, and then it could possibly migrate over to the Department of Homeland Security. So far there haven’t really been any major opportunities out there to go compete for. I think everybody, government and industry, is trying to understand where that market is going and exactly how the government is going to buy a pound of cyber security.

As someone who has worked for a long time with the space shuttle, what do you think of NASA’s current plans to retire the orbiter fleet in 2010?

I think the space shuttle is a marvelous machine that is more vulnerable than we would like or than any of us thought. We learned a lot with
. But it’s what we’ve got to fly humans into space, and we’ve got a $100 billion investment in the space station, so it doesn’t make sense to me to limit your options on getting crew back and forth to your space station by retiring shuttle. So in my opinion, the right thing to do for the country is to increase the NASA budget to enable the shuttle to fly until you have at least a better understanding of when Ares and Orion are going to be available, because right now all you’ve got is a triangle on a chart. That’s my personal opinion; it is not the opinion of the Boeing Co.