Inside the Pentagon: Guess Who Won $1.4 Billion in Defense Contracts Yesterday?

For many investors, the U.S. government seems a black box. Taxes go in, spending comes out — but with the exception of the occasional headline-grabbing megacontract, where the spending goes, and how much is going to whom, remains very much a mystery.

But if you look very carefully (and know where to look), you can sometimes get a glimpse at where the money is going. Believe it or not, one of the easiest places to get a peek at how the U.S. government spends its money is at… the U.S. Pentagon.

Every day of the week, the Department of Defense publishes a detailed list of every contract it’s awarded that day, larger than $6.5 million in size. In today’s column, we’ll take a look at a few of the more interesting ones.

Thursday’s 3 most interesting Pentagon contracts
The Department of Defense awarded a whopping 28 contracts worth a combined $1.4 billion on Thursday. Many of them would bore you to tears to read about, however (“technical and in-service engineering support services,” anyone? How about an order for “interface boards, adapter module and cables, peripherals replacement systems”)? So skipping past those, we’ll highlight just these three:

ViaSat (NASDAQ:VSAT), a $3 billion smallcap that specializes in — you guessed it, satellite technology — will get $479 million to supply the U.S. Navy with an unspecified number of Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) Joint Tactical Radio Systems (JTRS) terminals. According to Defense Industry Daily, the JTRS system is designed to give commanders on the ground the ability to securely via voice, video and data links on a line-of-sight, jam-resistant channel that can be accessed by all U.S. ground, air and naval assets.

Oshkosh (NYSE:OSK), the heavy vehicles manufacturer formerly known as “Oshkosh Truck,” was awarded $38 million to reset and upgrade 1,800 “MRAP” mine-resistant, ambush protected armored trucks.

Finally, defense and space tech contractor Orbital ATK (NYSE:OA) will receive $26 million to supply the Lebanese military with “one commercial-off-the-shelf Cessna 208B Caravan” airplane. This plane, which is popular in both civilian and military roles around the globe, will be tricked out with “an AN/ALE-47 countermeasures dispenser system, Terma aircraft survivability equipment suite missile warning system, electro-optical infrared imaging system MX-15D, broadcast microwave system data link system,” and also hard points on each wing to carry Hellfire Missiles, before being delivered to the Lebanese.

Insider trading notes
According to our database, more insiders have been selling shares of both ViaSat and Orbital ATK over the past three months, than have been buying. Trading volume at both firms is similarly negative. Insiders at Oshkosh also didn’t make any open market insider purchases since the end of 2012.


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