May 31, 2023
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Our View: Cutting edge of warfare is coming from Ventura County


Back when Mad Magazine was being printed, one of its popular Cold War features was a cartoon called Spy vs. Spy.

The 21st century version of that face-off is not a laughing matter, and it is being played out in part in Ventura County, where sensors versus sensors have replaced the black vs. white spy caricatures.

As previously reported in the Business Times, AeroVironment’s new generation of drones, known as Switchblade, are changing battlefield dynamics, and their introduction by the Ukraine armed forces may be one reason why the battered Russians are playing for time to regroup.

They are designed, built and tested in a sprawling facility in Simi Valley. They can hover unseen over a target then dive bomb it, detonating explosives.

But drones, which have dominated the battlefield over Kyiv and elsewhere, are getting some competition. Teledyne Technologies, based in Thousand Oaks, announced March 29 that its Teledyne Flir Defense unit, which has a large operation in Goleta, has produced a pickup truck-mounted surveillance system that can locate and “mitigate” small drones and can track up to 500 targets in a swarm.

Just in case you needed to know, the truck-mounted surveillance system has built-in cybersecurity tools to detect hacking. In other words, it has already anticipated the next threat to drone surveillance superiority.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict may not become World War III. But it certainly is deploying a new generation of technology that gives it all the trappings of a new Cold War. And the sensor technology that was has been pioneered at AeroVironment, Teledyne and its recently acquired FLIR subsidiary, is making a big mark on the stealthier parts of the confrontation.


MacKenzie Scott has made another norm-breaking gift to a tri-county institution. Her $3.2 million donation to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme caps previous large donations to Santa Barbara City College, CSU Channel Islands and Direct Relief.

Her team has now made donations that will help reshape educational opportunities for kids from kindergarten through community college and undergraduate degree programs.

Her choice of BGCOP, as it is called, is a particularly wise one. The club has a regional perspective and it has benefited from philanthropy from leading employers including Haas Automation, SoCalGas and McCarthy Companies. It has superb management in Erin Antrim, who can leverage this gift to provide opportunities for thousands of young people in West Ventura County.


Speaking of philanthropy, a newly formed Paula Early Childhood Education Steering Committee is hoping to bring no-cost, high-quality early childhood education to 1,000 young children in Santa Paula each year. The Ventura County Community Foundation is helping to lead the effort with the Ventura County Office of Education, CSUCI’s education faculty, the Santa Paula Unified School District and longtime community leader Gabino Aguirre, a 2021 recipient of our Latino Business Awards. This is an effort with vast implications for the future of the workforce on the Central Coast. We will keep you updated on its progress.