Procurement Good News: DMSP, MaxxPro MRAPs
The American military procurement system faces a number of challenges at the moment, and the news isn’t very good on many fronts. There are success stories in the field – some larger, some smaller. but every one the product of dedication and planning by the workers, firms, and government officials involved. This article highlights 2 recent “good news” items:
DMSP: Built Better. The DMSP constellation has been collecting weather data for U.S. military operations for almost 40 years, and 2 operational satellites are in a 101 minute, sun-synchronous near-polar orbit at all times. The primary weather sensor on DMSP is the Operational Linescan System, which provides continuous visual and infrared imagery of cloud cover over an area 1,600 nautical miles wide. Additional satellite sensors based on microwaves, infrared, sounders, et. al. measure atmospheric vertical profiles of moisture and temperature, detect developing patterns of weather and track existing weather systems over remote areas – including severe thunderstorms, hurricanes, and typhoons. They also measure local charged particles and electromagnetic fields to assess the impact of the ionosphere on ballistic-missile early warning radar systems and long-range communications, monitor global auroral activity, and predict the effects of “space weather” on satellite operations.
Nov 6/08: Lockheed Martin announces that its Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 16 (F16 DMSP) Block 5D-3 satellite has surpassed 5 years of on-orbit operations and continues to provide critical weather data one year beyond its 4 year design life. As a result of its performance, the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA has elected to postpone the planned November 2008 launch of the replacement F18 DMSP spacecraft, preserving future launch options and extending the time required before replacements become critical.
Dash to Field the Dash. In September 2008, Navistar Defense LLC won a $752 million contract for 822 of its lighter MaxxPro Dash MRAP blast-resistant vehicles, whose design has been lightened and modified for the Afghan front. On Nov 6/08, they announced that by working around the clock, they were able to meet the military’s request to deliver all vehicles one month ahead of schedule. Originally scheduled to be completed by the end of February 2009, the company has leveraged its extensive relationships with its supply base to provide deliver all units by the end of January 2009. The firm delivered 70 vehicles on Nov 4/08 – 2 weeks in advance of its already aggressive delivery schedule.
That extra commitment isn’t free; the MRAP contract is structured to compensate manufacturers for their extra costs if the government needs vehicles faster. A DX rating for the MRAP program, which gives it national supply priority for raw materials and components, also helps. On Nov 7/08, DefenseLINK announced that Navistar Defense LLC in Warrenville, IL would receive another $24.8 million for 2 firm-fixed-priced delivery order modifications under previously awarded contract (M67854-07-D-5032) The modifications would add gunner restraints, and cover funding costs associated with accelerated MRAP Category I production. Work will be performed in WestPoint, MS. The Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, VA manages the MRAP program.