Lockheed (LMT) is set to offer non-recurring engineering to develop logistics support products for the Maintenance Task Analysis Phase II of the CH-53K helicopter.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Picking the high point of Juan Carlos I’s reign is easy. In 1981, just a few years after Spain had restored democracy and monarchy in the wake of General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, the king used his authority as commander-in-chief of the armed forces to crush an attempted coup d’etat. The democratic transition process got a fresh boost, as did public support for juancarlismo, in which the monarch served as the constitutional glue keeping a historically divided country together.Sadly, there are several contenders for the low point. His secret safari trip to Botswana in 2012, as Spaniards struggled with a deep recession and record unemployment, ended with a broken hip and a stream of embarrassing revelations about his private life. In 2014, pressure from a landmark corruption probe into the business activities of his son-in-law led to his abdication in favor of his son, Felipe VI.This year, with Spanish and Swiss prosecutors looking into payments allegedly received from Middle Eastern royals and subsequent transfers to a former lover, the 82-year-old former king has been cut off financially from the palace and is now in self-exile — possibly in Abu Dhabi. (Juan Carlos is not under formal investigation and his lawyer has said he will remain available to deal with any requirements from Spain’s public prosecutor.)The legacy of Spain’s first post-Franco royal is unraveling, with pressure growing to remove his name from public buildings and streets, and there are doubts as to whether the monarchy itself can survive. The Bourbon family name may ooze history, but Spain’s constitutional monarchy is only 42 years old and it’s increasingly seen as divisive rather than consensual.Some left-wing politicians, bolstered by popular ire over widespread establishment cronyism and corruption after the financial crisis, are taking pot shots at the crown. So are separatists in Catalonia, who have continued campaigning against the centralizing Spanish state since their illegal 2017 bid for independence was shut down. Some 55% of Spaniards would like a referendum on whether to abolish the monarchy, according to a YouGov poll for the Huffington Post last week.In a bid to survive in his post, King Felipe, who has enjoyed better poll ratings than his father, is undergoing a crash course in 21st-century probity. Shortly after taking the throne, he cut his salary by 20% (to below $270,000 a year) and promised more transparent financial disclosure. Earlier this year, in a bid to protect the royal brand from his father’s legal issues, he renounced his inheritance from his father.It’s entirely possible that the 52-year-old Felipe will see off this latest threat to his reign. The constitution has only been changed twice in its history, and abolishing the monarchy would require a super-majority in two successive parliaments and then a referendum. Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said it was appropriate for Juan Carlos to leave the country and that Spain needs solid institutions. And while his coalition partner and Spain’s most famous left-wing firebrand, Pablo Iglesias of Podemos, has argued in favor of a republic, he has in the past acknowledged that “large sectors” of Spain feel sympathy toward Felipe.Historian Jordi Canal points out that monthly surveys of Spanish public opinion rank the monarchy very low on the list of the country’s current problems, behind the economy, health, politics and immigration. But the anachronism of hereditary privilege (and immunity from prosecution) in the 2020s will continue to rankle in Spain or other monarchies across Europe, especially given the unequal burden of Covid-19. Even in their stripped-down, symbolic format, today’s monarchies can cost their taxpayers anywhere from $10 million (Spain) to $100 million (the U.K.) per year — enough to spur resentment. During lockdown, when Belgian royals filmed themselves waving from beautifully manicured lawns with the words “courage” and “stronger together” spelled out in floral arrangements, Twitter users doctored the footage to add: “Good luck in your twenty-square-meter apartments.” And just as social tensions grow, separatist movements are seizing the opportunity of Covid-19 to push back against the monarchical status quo. Catalonia’s regional government has been using its own public-health policies to bash Madrid’s handling of the virus, which has amplified the blame game over a rebound in cases. In Belgium, where Dutch-speaking Flanders is historically more anti-royal than French-speaking Wallonia, disagreements on Covid-19 policy have sparked Flemish nationalists to push their vision of a Belgian “confederation” with a reduced monarchy. And in the U.K., support for Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon’s handling of Covid-19 has helped bolster her campaign for independence, which has majority backing in polls.Given the general preference for monarchies that are seen and not heard, royals have little choice but to keep shrinking their roles before someone else does it for them. Smaller families that are less of a drain on taxpayers and have clearly-defined roles will become more common, a trend no doubt accelerated by awkward scandals like Prince Andrew’s friendship with convicted child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.For the Spanish, a lot will depend on what’s turned up by the prosecutors. If ever Juan Carlos is found to have taken bribes, he certainly wouldn’t be the first: The late Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands admitted accepting $1 million in bribes from U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. in the 1970s, saying, “I have come to accept that the word Lockheed will be etched on my gravestone.” But it would nonetheless serve as a sad end to juancarlismo — and a moment of grim reflection for monarchies everywhere.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Brussels. He previously worked at Reuters and Forbes.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Covid-19 may have left roads around the globe barren of cars, but it hasn’t stopped China from claiming leadership over the world of navigation and digital mapping. Watch out, GPS.Big plans are in the making. China has launched the final leg of its BeiDou Navigation Satellite system, or BDS, completing the build-out of a network that competes with America’s ubiquitous Global Positioning System and Europe’s Galileo. Regulators have effectively set a framework of standards for intelligent mobility, while separately committing to double down with financial help and incentives for companies that leverage these technologies. Ran Chengqi, director of China’s Satellite Navigation Office, has said the country is set to build a supply chain of chips, modules, boards and other services for BeiDou.As the U.S. puts up national security walls against Chinese companies and Beijing pushes ahead with self-sufficiency goals, the growing satellite network now stands to rival the U.S. version, which began as a military project in the 1970s and has essentially had a monopoly in the navigation and mapping field thus far. The systems are compatible with each other to some extent, meaning there’s room for interoperability and eventual replacement. However, on certain metrics, the latest version of BeiDou is better: Its signals are accurate down to 0.41 meters versus GPS’ 0.5 meters on average, according to Jefferies Financial Group Inc. analysts. China has said that 100% of the key components for the BDS-3 satellite are being domestically produced.Whether China’s system eventually becomes what GPS has been to the world for decades — used in everything from military targeting to unsnarling traffic jams to finding you a nearby Italian restaurant — is less important at this point than the fact that Beijing is focused on getting ahead and creating an ecosystem around it, including supply chains of manufacturers and service providers. The real benefits of BDS could accrue to China’s industrial complex. Stocks have surged in homegrown firms like Guangzhou Haige Communications Group Inc. and Beijing BDStar Navigation Co. that provide relevant products and services. Over the last five years, research and development expenditure amounted to between 10% and 15% of the companies’ revenues. The output value of the satellite navigation industry is expected to exceed 400 billion yuan ($57 billion) this year. Several other companies that once made radio devices and walkie-talkies are now front-runners in the satellite communication space. That’s brought down costs, allowing for wider application in logistics, farms and factories at a time when Beijing needs to boost efficiency and productivity to bolster growth.Already, BeiDou – with 56 satellites – is perceived as “more advanced, and offers higher precision and sophisticated coverage” when compared to its U.S. and Russian rivals, which currently have 35 and 30 orbiters respectively, according to Jefferies. Regulators last week noted that chips that enable devices to tap the navigation system are being mass manufactured, with an output value of almost $50 billion last year. The system is increasingly being utilized; more than 100 countries across Africa, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia now employ it to some extent. Several Belt and Road participants are starting to use China’s “Space Silk Road” for smart port and land charting, for example. At home, mapping services are employed in the machinery and automobile industries, and in taxis, trucks and fishing vessels. Can it go beyond this?Sure, the U.S. system isn’t standing still. Along with government bodies, defense companies like Raytheon Technologies Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. are constantly working on upgrades; billions of dollars are being put to work. Now, though, there’s real competition.Technology and potential aside, replacing GPS comes with another (big) hurdle: trust. Relying on any provider of location data in these increasingly protectionist times could be unsettling. Even if complaints about GPS becoming more outdated are frequent, will users across the world take to a system run by Beijing, no matter how accurate it is? Your guess is as good as mine.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Anjani Trivedi is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies in Asia. She previously worked for the Wall Street Journal. For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.