Nov 16, 2011 12:47 UTC
Latest updates: Happy endings. Mostly.
LHD 8 construction
USS Makin Island [LHD-8] was built in Pascagoula, MS, as the last ship of America’s Wasp Class amphibious assault carriers. The keel was laid in February 2004, but all of the changes from the LHD-1 Wasp Class meant that about 67% of the previous line drawings, and 75% of the test procedures, needed to be modified for Makin Island. Then Hurricane Katrina hit the in-progress ship. The labor pool also took a hit, with up to 1/3 of the Gulf Coast personnel leaving the area and the company. The pool of electrical professionals was especially hard hit, and 55-60% of the LHD 8’s final labor force was under the 4-5 year threshold to be considered experienced workers.
Even so, Katrina hit back in August 2005. Which is why Northrop Grumman was surprised at the slowness of its integration and testing progress during final construction in 2008, as part of the ship’s preparation for sea trials. That led to a comprehensive review and audit – and a bill of $320-360 million to fix the ship, which was footed by Northrop Grumman:
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Nov 08, 2011 18:07 UTC
The steady rise in the number and variety of electronic systems in military equipment has spawned 2 trends. One has been reduced readiness, as multiplying points of failure consistently push readiness rates down and maintenance costs up, for each successive generation of advanced equipment. The other is a security issue, as equipment “obsoletes itself every 18 months, is made in unsecure locations and [in an industry where] we have absolutely no market share influence [any more].”
The defense industry that played such a big role in building Silicon Valley now grapples with ways to ensure that chips and circuits don’t have hidden design codes in them. They’re also grappling with the issue of counterfeit electronics.
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Nov 07, 2011 13:00 UTC
Bren-Tronics Inc. in Commack, NY recently received a sole source 5-year, $23.1 million fixed price with economic price adjustment, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity, contract from the US Army, for AN/PRQ-7 Combat Survivor Evader Locator radio batteries and adapters. The money will come from FY 2012 Army Working Capital funds, and the contract will run to Nov 1/16. The US Defense Logistics Agency Land at Aberdeen in Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, manages this contract (SPRBL1-12-D-0001).
Statistics indicate that most downed pilots are captured within the first hour. CSEL’s system is designed to provide search and rescue forces with the immediate ability to locate, authenticate and communicate with downed aircrew worldwide, using precision GPS-based geoposition and navigation data, 2-way over-the-horizon (OTH) secure data communication via satellite to Joint Search and Rescue Centers (JSRC), and an OTH beacon. Once rescuers are in range, it uses line-of-sight voice communication, with swept tone beacon capabilities to vector rescuers in. Those technologies tend to bulk up its size compared to the smart phones we’re all used to, and its screen and texting are small and basic. On the other hand, if you’re a pilot deep in enemy territory, the only Angry Birds you want to see are your buddies in helicopters and close-air support jets. Boeing delivered the 50,000th AN/PRQ-7 CSEL handset to the US military in October 2011.
Nov 03, 2011 15:53 UTC
AS-40 & SSN-714, Guam
(click to enlarge)
It’s great to have a fleet of submarines, but even nuclear submarines need some level of at-sea support to improve their effectiveness. Submarine tenders can bring a boat food, fuel, weapons, and other supplies, while carrying a full array of maintenance equipment and personnel. The 664 foot, 23,000 ton USS Frank Cable [AS-40] was commissioned back in 1978, and was supposed to have ended her career in 1996. Unfortunately, the USS Holland [AS-32] needed to be retired that year, after 33 years of service, and the US Navy had no ship to replace her in the Western Pacific. USS Frank Cable was refurbished and reactivated for that role, and reached the 33-year mark herself in 2011. The ship was transferred from the US Navy on Feb 1/10, becoming 1 of only 2 Submarine Tenders in US Military Sealift Command’s 26-vessel Special Mission Ships Program. AS-40’s crews have won a number of commendations, but her most high profile incident took place on Dec 1/06 in Guam, when a steam line ruptured during a safety valve check, killing 2 sailors and injuring 7. A Navy investigation cited the sailors’ heroism during the incident, but there were serious questions afterward concerning some of the command decisions.
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Oct 30, 2011 13:20 UTC
The Turkish and US governments signed a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) on April 26/05 for the $1.1-billion modernization of 117 Turkish Air Force F-16s to a common avionics configuration. December 2006 saw a $635.1 million contract under that framework issued to Lockeed Martin.
The upgrade will create a common avionics configuration for the service’s fleet of F-16 Block 40 and 50 aircraft. More than 200 F-16 aircraft make up the backbone of Turkey’s current fighter fleet. Systems to be integrated on Turkey’s upgraded F-16s include:
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Oct 20, 2011 16:47 UTC
E-2C from FS CdG
Oct 19/11: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces [PDF] France’s official request for up to $180 million in equipment to upgrade the Marine Nationale’s fleet of 4 E-2C Hawkeye-2000 airborne early warning planes, which fly from NAS Lann-Bihoue and FS Charles de Gaulle. The Hawkeye 2000s have already been through one major upgrade cycle, improving their mission computer, electronics throughout the aircraft, satellite communications, and propellers.
This is a less comprehensive upgrade, but it’s still important. France will be improving navigation and avionics. American hardware will include 5 AN/ALQ-217 ESM systems, which help the planes sense and then backtrack radio/radar emitters. The core of their upgrade, however, is Mode 5/S Identification Friend or Foe (IFF), which is also being added to their larger, land-based E-3F AWACS planes.
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Oct 17, 2011 17:24 UTC
In October 2011, US Defense Logistics Agency Document Services in Mechanicsburg, PA issued a 5-year multiple-award, maximum $225 million contract to 4 companies to supply and service digital copiers for the USAF and DLA, with task orders to be issued and paid as needs arise. The 4 firms were Canon USA, Inc. in Arlington, VA (SP7000-12-D-1004); Konica Minolta Business Solutions USA, Inc. in Arlington, VA (SP7000-12-D-1002); Ricoh Corp. in West Caldwell, NJ (SP7000-12-D-1001); and Xerox Corp. in Rosemont, IL (SP7000-12-D-1003).
The DLA issued a different $103 million contract to Xerox in August 2011, for what appears to be the same services, over a very similar timeline. Then again, DLA Document Services’ reach is extensive. Their services ranging from traditional offset printing, through on-demand output, to online document services, where they are the DoD’s catalyst for moving the department toward the use of online documents and services. They even have a website design group. The group currently manages more than 180 service facilities, primarily located on U.S. military bases world-wide in 7 countries.
Oct 11, 2011 15:37 UTC
FBCB2 in HMMWV, Iraq
Finmeccanica subsidiary DRS Tactical Systems, Inc. in Melbourne, FL recently received a $248.3 million firm-fixed-price indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) installation kits, and engineering services to integrate them onto the relevant vehicles, helicopters, etc. Work location will be determined with each task order, with an estimated completion date of Sept 22/14. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 10 bids received by the U.S. Army Contracting Command in Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD (W15P7T-11-D-C601).
FBCB2 is more commonly known to the public as “Blue Force Tracker,” though that is only part of a system designed to enable a diverse array of communications, while showing the positions of friendly forces and detected enemies (hence its popular name). Blue Force Tracker has profound implications for land warfare, and related contracts extend from computers to back-end services. Over the last 16 years, more than 95,000 FBCB2 systems have been deployed worldwide. The latest FBCB2 Joint Capabilities Release was approved for fielding in February 2011, offering bandwidth improvements, faster updates, and a common platform for the US Army and Marine Corps. DRS also supplies the system’s current JV-5 Block II ultra-rugged computer/ display, which runs on the same Intel Core i7 chipset found in high-end Apple machines. Other key participants in the FBCB2 program include Northrop Grumman (prime contractor), and ViaSat (communications component).
Sep 25, 2011 20:34 UTC
Sept 21/11: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces Saudi Arabia’s formal request for up to $886 million of equipment to augment the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s existing light artillery capabilities. The Royal Saudi Land Forces already have towed 155mm and 105mm howitzers and support vehicles and systems, and DSCA says they will have no difficulty absorbing these additional howitzers into their armed forces. If a contract is negotiated, implementation of this sale will not require the assignment of any U.S. Government or contractor representatives to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
As a Foreign Military Sale mode purchase, any contract will be managed by a US Army department, probably the Rock Island Arsenal, IL. The specific items requested include:
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