Innovation is a crucial driver for any industry, but, when it comes to aerospace, it is undeniable that advancing technology is key in strengthening aviation. The aerospace defense supply chain is critical in facilitating the continued growth of the aviation industry. Since the 1910s, aerospace has seen rapid development in an effort to strengthen global security and innovate aircraft.

 In this article, we’ll focus on:

  1. The history of innovation in the aerospace industry
  2. Continued modernization through the defense supply chain
  3. Greenwood Aerospace’s contribution to aerospace defense

For the last four decades, Greenwood Aerospace has been a trusted supplier for government agencies and defense contractors. We specialize in aerospace procurement services that keep critical missions operationally ready and support the aerospace defense supply chain with our extensive range of services. Our team of industry experts offers knowledge across all of aerospace contracting, logistics, distribution, and more. Check out our wide range of procurement services and how we can assist you on your next mission. 

Let’s look closer at how innovation started in aircraft and the role suppliers have played.

A Beechcraft UC-45F in flight
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A Brief History of Innovation and Aerospace Defense

Aerospace defense has experienced consistent waves of innovation since the First World War. Ongoing efforts to modernize aircraft, improve aerospace technologies, and enhance global security via aviation programs all depend on the aerospace defense supply chain. 

In this section, we’ll look back on aerospace advancements in World War I, and see how international conflict and the increasing need for interoperability between allied nations informed the current role of the aerospace defense supply chain.

World War I Aerospace Advancements

World War I saw a rapid evolution in aircraft technology. Initially, aircraft were primarily used for reconnaissance missions but their roles expanded to include aerial combat and bombing as the war progressed. Both sides developed various types of aircraft, including:

  1. Fighter planes
  2. Bombers
  3. Reconnaissance planes

The development of these aircraft was largely possible due to the defense supply chain. The emergence of aircraft was a significant military asset. New aerial warfare tactics were quickly developed and focused on maintaining air superiority and supporting ground attack missions. 

The First World War witnessed the introduction of machine guns and synchronized guns on aircraft. This allowed machine guns to fire through the spinning propeller arc without damaging them and significantly enhanced the offensive capabilities of aircraft. World War I also marked the first use of strategic bombing by aircraft. Both sides deployed bombers that targeted enemy infrastructure, industrial centers, and military institutions.

Aerial defense also included real-time intelligence gathering through aerial reconnaissance. Aircraft were used to photograph enemy positions, observe troop movements, and provide valuable information to ground forces.

World War I accelerated the development of aviation infrastructure, including airfields, aircraft factories, maintenance facilities, and pilot training schools. These advancements laid the groundwork for the subsequent expansion of aviation during the interwar period and beyond. The defense supply chain’s procurement services facilitated the needs of government aviation programs and made industry expansion possible.

World War II Aircraft Developments

By World War II, aviation was revolutionized by the introduction of jet propulsion. The German Messerschmitt Me 262 became the world's first operational jet-powered fighter aircraft, providing increased speed and maneuverability compared to propeller-driven planes.

Other advances included radar technology which allowed for improved detection and tracking of aircraft. Radar systems played a crucial role in air defense, early warning systems, and guiding aircraft during operations.

The aerospace defense supply chain had the enormous responsibility of facilitating ongoing advancements in aircraft technology, engineering, and tactics. Key innovations in defense that utilized aircraft in the Second World War included:

  1. Rockets and Missiles: The development of rockets and guided missiles accelerated during WWII. This marked the beginning of modern missile technology after Wernher von Braun designed the world’s first long-range guided ballistic missile.
  2. Electronic Warfare: Electronic warfare systems, such as electronic countermeasures and radar jamming, were developed during the war. These technologies aimed to disrupt enemy radar systems and communications, providing a tactical advantage in aerial combat.
  3. Strategic Bombing: Throughout the Second World War, strategic bombing continued to advance. Both Allied and Axis powers extensively employed strategic bombing campaigns during the war. Long-range bombers carried heavy bomb loads to target industrial centers, infrastructure, and military installations.
  4. Aircraft Carriers: During World War II, aircraft carriers played a pivotal role in naval operations, serving as mobile airbases and projection platforms for naval aviation. The development of carrier-based aircraft, such as the American Grumman F6F Hellcat, allowed for greater reach and flexibility in naval warfare.

Airborne operations advanced rapidly during the second world war. Paratrooper drops and glider landings were introduced, and airborne forces were used for strategic missions, such as the Allied D-Day landings and the German airborne assault on Crete.

The aerospace defense supply chain played a critical role in allocating resources that enabled aviation program success throughout WWII. 

Modern Warfare and Aerospace Defense

The aerospace industry has seen significant developments in advanced defense technologies over the last century. Jet propulsion has become commonplace and enables faster, more maneuverable, fighter aircraft. Stealth technology has been incorporated into aircraft designs which allow reduced radar visibility. Modern fighter jets incorporate cutting-edge avionics systems, sensor systems, and network-centric capabilities. 

Some of the modern developments we’ll focus on that continue to affect aerospace defense include:

  1. Cybersecurity
  2. Aerospace and defense research
  3. Supply chain challenges


A newer development that has come with the rise of digital technology is the increasing threat to cybersecurity. Protecting critical defense infrastructure, networks, and communication systems from cyber threats has become a priority. Advanced cybersecurity measures and technologies are continuously being developed to ensure the integrity and security of aerospace defense systems. 

Global aviation programs have streamlined communication efforts to join forces in handling cybersecurity threats. A greater level of transparency has been created among allied countries to ensure that any aerial and cyber security risks are handled swiftly.

Aerospace Defense Research and Development

Extensive research and development (R&D) efforts continue to drive aerospace defense advancements. Government agencies, defense agencies, and defense contractors invest in R&D to explore and develop new technologies, materials, and systems. Collaboration between defense organizations and the private sector fosters innovation and accelerates technological advancements.

The Aerospace Defense Supply Chain

The defense supply chain plays a crucial role in supporting aerospace defense efforts. It involves the manufacturing, sourcing, and logistics of defense equipment, systems, and components. The defense supply chain ensures the availability of critical resources, materials, and technologies required for the development and sustainment of aerospace defense capabilities. 

Authorities such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are key influencers of aerospace priorities. In more recent years, sustainability and global security have become more pressing matters addressed through effective aerospace procurement.

The ongoing supply chain challenges in defense procurement take a toll on the advancement of aerospace technology and aircraft advancement. Utilizing reliable aerospace suppliers is one of many ways that the aerospace defense supply chain mitigates problems and maintains a reliable output. As a result, the U.S. is able to keep up with Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contracts and provide global aerospace support.

Four U.S. Air Force Beechcraft T-34 aircraft flying in formation
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Further Modernization and the Aerospace Defense Supply Chain

The aerospace defense supply chain supports the further modernization of aircraft in a variety of ways. From aircraft design to global aircraft leasing contracts, the defense supply chain facilitates a significant number of opportunities for aerospace exports and technological advancements.

The key areas we’ll be focusing on include:

  1. Increased global security efforts
  2. Artificial intelligence
  3. Part procurement intelligence

Increased Global Security Efforts

A huge factor in further modernization and the aerospace defense supply chain is global security. As we briefly mentioned on cybersecurity, increasing transparency between nations contributes to an ongoing effort to maintain global security. As geopolitical shifts unfurl and technological capabilities continue to increase, the effort to ensure interoperability between countries keeps information and technology accessible to allied forces. 

The key ways the U.S. assists in international collaboration include:

  • The Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program: The FMS program enables the sale of U.S. aircraft, aerospace technology, services, and training to foreign countries and international organizations. FMS contracts are essential in supplying ally countries with military aircraft and critical in providing ongoing maintenance and support. The U.S. builds reliable relationships through foreign military sales.
  • Aircraft Leasing: Aircraft leasing is a flexible way for allied governments to respond swiftly to emerging security challenges without the long-term commitment of aircraft ownership. There is a wide range of aircraft types that appeal to government agencies when considering leasing. Aircraft leasing also includes comprehensive maintenance and support services. The lessor of the aircraft is responsible for the upkeep of leased aircraft to ensure operational readiness. 
  • International partnerships: Through aviation contracts and sales, the U.S. builds reliable international partnerships that foster strengthened global security. Through sharing information, joint exercises, and collaborative research initiatives defense capabilities are enhanced and interoperability is promoted. Common security challenges are addressed as a result of the U.S.’s commitment to international partnerships.

Artificial Intelligence Technology and Other Advancements

Artificial intelligence (AI) offers endless potential for advancements in aerospace technology. From autonomous systems to predictive maintenance, artificial intelligence streamlines a number of laborious procedures that would otherwise have to be handled manually. We’ll focus on:

  1. How the defense supply chain supports AI for aerospace
  2. How AI impacts aerospace systems
  3. How AI improves aircraft maintenance
  4. How AI is integrated into aerospace systems for defense

The Aerospace Defense Supply Chain and AI

The defense supply chain is critical in implementing AI technology into the aerospace industry. Defense manufacturing and procurement work closely with AI technology providers to integrate AI systems into military aircraft, drones, and other essential equipment. The defense supply chain ensures the availability of AI-enabled components, software, and systems, while addressing security and reliability concerns. 

Autonomous Systems in Aircraft

AI plays a crucial role in developing autonomous systems for aerospace applications. Unmanned aerial systems (UAS), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and drones utilize AI algorithms to navigate, make real-time decisions, and perform complex tasks. This includes surveillance, reconnaissance, and cargo delivery. AI-based autopilot systems also enhance the capabilities of manned aircraft, providing features like autonomous takeoff and landing, collision avoidance, and advanced flight control.

Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Maintenance

AI enables modern advances in aircraft sustainment by analyzing large amounts of sensor data collected from aircraft components. Machine learning algorithms can identify patterns and anomalies in the data to predict when maintenance or component replacement is necessary. This proactive approach to maintenance reduces downtime, increases aircraft availability, and enhances safety. 

Aircraft Design and Defense Applications

AI algorithms can assist in designing and optimizing aircraft structures, propulsion systems, and aerodynamics. AI-based simulation tools help engineers predict and analyze the performance of aircraft components, reducing the need for physical prototypes and shortening the design cycle. These advancements improve efficiency, reduce costs, and enable the creation of more sophisticated and fuel-efficient aircraft.

Greenwood Parts Intelligence (GPIQ)

Our GPIQ Part Procurement Intelligence software focuses on market intelligence and value enhancement. GPIQ ensures that suppliers have taken rigorous onboarding and qualifications tests and provided important information about their prior performance.

GPIQ simplifies and improves labor-intensive activities, making the supply chain process more effective and fast. Using predictive analytics, we forecast future demands and manage supplier risk. Accurate forecasts result in a more efficient supply chain with fewer costs for all involved. GPIQ is your strategic partner in procurement that provides long-term management and cost-effective solutions.

A U.S. Marines Gulfstream C-20G on a the tarmac
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Greenwood Aerospace and the Defense Supply Chain

At Greenwood Aerospace, we have over forty years of experience mastering aerospace procurement and assisting the defense supply chain. Our services cover everything from contracting and logistics to storage and distribution. We make it our mission to get you the right parts at the right price.

Let’s dive into how we can assist your mission with:

  • Defense procurement
  • Contracting solutions
  • Storage and distribution

Defense Procurement for Aerospace

At Greenwood Aerospace, we assist government agencies, branches of the military, and private defense contractors in being mission ready through our procurement services.

We mitigate supply chain pressures and deliver essential equipment fast with our extensive stock of proprietary and aftermarket aviation parts. As aircraft parts suppliers, we prioritize cost-effective solutions that utilize our existing network, allowing us to source off-site parts rapidly through our connections. Our procurement team specializes in:

From advanced military packaging solutions to supporting aircraft inventory management, our procurement services offer in-depth industry knowledge and quality assurance. 

Aerospace Defense Supply Chain Contracting Solutions

As an award-winning, Native American-owned HUBZone small business, we have developed a strong reputation using our qualifications to provide crucial support in contracting services.

We offer government and defense contracting services that support agencies in being mission-ready. Our extensive industry knowledge allows us to support foreign military sales and continue the United State’s strong relationship in supplying our allies with essential aircraft.

Our contract services assist government agencies in using their Operations & Maintenance funds effectively. We offer aircraft leasing options to support federal agencies in equipping their missions with high-quality, serviced aircraft that are reliable and budget-friendly.

Greenwood Aerospace’s contracting services include:

  1. Aircraft leasing
  2. FMS sales and support
  3. Government contracting
  4. Military and defense contracting

Storage and Distribution Services for Aerospace

We assess all factors of the procurement, storage, and distribution process to ensure contracts are filled on spec and on time. Our primary focus is our clients, and our partnerships with these corporations streamline the aerospace parts storage and distribution process to benefit our valued customers.

Our expertise in military standard packaging ensures that your shipment meets every MIL-SPEC code requirement and your every specification.

Conveniently situated in Ponca City, OK, our warehouse provides a centralized location for customers across the United States. We host a large inventory of aviation parts, shop supplies, and ground support equipment to make shipping coast-to-coast more convenient and cost-effective. 

Our key competencies in storage and distribution include:

Conveniently situated in Ponca City, OK, our warehouse provides a centralized location for customers across the United States. We host a large inventory of aviation parts, aerospace supplies, and ground support equipment to make shipping coast-to-coast more convenient and cost-effective. 

Trust Greenwood Aerospace with Your Defense Supply Chain Management Needs

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