One of the major reasons that Orlando is recognized as the Modeling, Simulation & Training (MS&T) capital of the world is because its companies secure billions in military and defense contracts involving these technologies. On an annual basis, $6 billion in modeling, training and simulation contracts flow through the region – many commissioned for the Army, Air Force and Navy simulation command centers, which are stationed in Orlando.
Due to the cluster in simulation and defense, the region is home to top players including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman, just to name a few. And thanks to organizations like the National Center for Simulation and TEAM Orlando, the region is an ambitious playground for collaboration between academic institutions, business partners and military defense organizations.
Pictured: A Lockheed Martin F-35 Full Mission Simulator.
Some significant highlights of MS&T contracts in the Orlando region include:
- Between January and April, Lockheed Martin’s three Central Florida branches were awarded 10 U.S. Department of Defense contracts with a combined value of $992 million.
- The U.S. Navy awarded Lockheed Martin Corporation three contracts worth $182.6 million according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
- The U.S. Navy also awarded Northrop Grumman, the Virginia-based defense giant, a $3.2 billion, seven-year deal to build dozens of its E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Aircraft. Most of the work will happen in Central Florida’s own Melbourne, where Northrop has more than 4,000 employees.
- Lockheed Martin's Rotary & Mission Systems scored a $13.4 million, two-year contract with the U.S. Navy. Services will create Machinery Control System (MCS) consoles and cabinets for the DDG 51 new construction ship program, and 90 percent of the work will be done at Lockheed Martin's Rotary & Mission Systems' east Orlando campus.
- DRS Network & Imaging Systems LLC, and DRS Systems Inc. — both companies based in Melbourne and subsidiaries of Arlington, Virginia-based Leonardo DRS — each received contracts from the U.S. Navy totaling $26.8 million.
- Orlando-based National Air Cargo Group Inc. provided a three-year, $285 million work order for the U.S. Transportation Command. This contract provides heavyweight delivery services for domestic and international shipment and work will be performed internationally and domestically.
- Palm Bay-based AAR Airlift Group Inc. won a one-year, $34 million contract with the U.S. Transportation Command. The company will provide dedicated rotary wing air transportation to move passengers and cargo, and it will also provide casualty evacuations in support of the Afghan Air Force.
- The U.S. Army awarded Orlando-based Applied Visual Technology Inc., or AVT Simulation, a $10 million, one-year contract to perform system engineering and software support.
- The U.S. Navy awarded a $19.7 million, one year contract to Melbourne-based Space Ground Systems Solutions LLC for spacecraft engineering, software, research and development services to the Naval Center for Space Technology.
Another reason that many simulation and training companies choose to operate in Orlando is the proximity to the University of Central Florida (UCF), the one of the nation's largest universities that houses a top ranked engineering school. In addition, UCF’s Institute for Simulation and Training works closely with Orlando’s defense cluster and military partners, providing a steady talent pool necessary for companies taking on large government contracts.
The world’s largest MS&T conference I/ITSEC chooses Orlando to host nearly 15,000 industry, academia and government attendees each year. Over 400 companies will exhibit at I/ITSEC, over 20 percent of which have a business presence in Orlando.