AAR Manufacturing, Inc., doing business as AAR Mobility Systems of Cadillac, MI received a firm-fixed-price contract for a maximum of $138 million to provide depot-level repair of 463L pallets. The contract covers a maximum quantity of 120,000 pallets each year during the 2-year basic period, plus 3 option years with a maximum quantity of 60,000 pallets per year. Work orders will be issued as required. The USAF’s 642 CBSG/GBKBA at Robins AFB, GA issued the contracts (FA8519-08-D-0008).
The 463L cargo system is designed to provide faster intermodal cargo transfer, providing a common size platform for bundling and moving air cargo. Each 463L pallet weighs about 290-355 pounds, depending on attachments, with a 10,000 pound/ 250 pound per square inch load limit. The 463L has aluminum rails on all sides, and an indent locking arrangement that helps the pallet lock down when moved by materials handling equipment or appropriately equipped aircraft. Tie-down rings with 7,500 pound capacity surround the perimeter, giving the platform about 84″ x 104″ of usable space.
Each 463L pallet includes a pallet of metal sandwich construction that uses corrosion-resistant aluminum around a wood or fiberglass core. This arrangement is a compromise that offers lighter weight that all-metal options in exchange for less strength, different repair requirements, and constraints on the pallets’ non-destructive use in the field and in training. GPS-guided parachutes are becoming an important adjunct to these 463L systems, on missions which justify the cost.
In 2003, Thales UK received a 10-year contract to support the Royal Navy’s major sonar systems worth about GBP 100 million over the first 5 years. Over that period, equipment readiness rates have improved, and some overall savings have been achieved in the cost of support. With that kind of initial experience under their belts, the usual process under Britain’s “future contracting for avilability” initiatives has been to extend and broaden the contract, in preparation for a a future contract that features full availability-based contracting for the item in question.
The UK MoD/ Thales UK ‘Integrated Support Team – Sonar’ at Abbey Wood, Bristol have now done exactly that, finalizing a second 5-year term for GBP 134 million, while broadening its scope. The contract now covers the Sonar 2054 systems fitted to the UK’s SSBN Vanguard Class nuclear missile submarines, the Sonar 2074 / 2076 systems fitted to Britain’s SSN Swiftsure Class and Trafalgar Class fast attack submarines, mine-hunting Sonar 2093 / 2193 systems, and the new Sonar 2087 low-frequency active sonar (LFAS) upgrade being fitted to Britain’s Type 23 Duke Class frigates. Note that Britain’s new Type 45 Daring Class air defense destroyers, who will depend on the MFS 7000 sonar array from Ultra Electronics and EDO, remain outside this contract.
The total value of Thales UK’s 10-year sonar support contract is now over GBP 230 million. Thales UK will leverage its 300-perseon facility at Cheadle Heath near Manchester, which designs and builds sonar, as well as the 400-person Templecombe facility in Somerset, which manufactures mine hunting sonar systems and outboard arrays. Thales release.
As Southeast Asia’s growing prosperity and political challenges filter down to it military buys, equipment in the region continues to become more sophisticated. An influx of modern submarines around critical ocean chokepoints has received the most attention, but parallel growth is occurring with fighter aircraft – and with other advanced airplanes as well.
In October 2007, Thailand announced a 2-phase deal to buy both a handful of Saab’s 4.5 generation JAS-39 Gripen fighters, and Saab’s S-1000 Erieye airborne early warning planes. They join Pakistan, which has also ordered Saab’s Erieye, and Singapore, which operates E-2 Hawkeyes and has ordered Israeli G550 Phalcon AEW&C aircraft. India has ordered the larger and more capable IL-76 Phalcon from Russia and Israel, and may be looking to add a medium sized AWACS platform. To the south, Australia’s E-737 “Wedgetail” AWACS has faced delivery delays, but will arrive in the region shortly.
Now Malaysia is now expressing interest of its own.
As India rises to become a key defense market, and a future market player, a number of DID features have examined various aspects of its industry and procurement structure. To become a future market player, however, and to hold pace with rivals like China who are outspending India by ratios around 5:1, India will have to improve a defense industry and acquisition process that have delivered far more spectacular failures over the past 30 years than successes. See esp: “India’s Defense Industrial Base: Personnel“; “India’s Defense Market: Obstacles to Modernization“; and “India’s DRDO Rethinking the Way it Does Business.”
Some backlash has even begun, as demonstrated by the de facto cancellation of the indigenous Arjun tank program. Nevertheless, India’s reform process remains incomplete. On Sept 11/08, Lt. Gen. (Retd) Vinay Shankar, PVSM, AVSM, VSM wrote “Defence Industry” for Indian Defence Review, examining the current state of India’s defense industry, and of ongoing efforts to reform its low productivity:
“Our process of reforms in the management of the Government controlled defence research and production establishments, have regrettably floundered. Many studies have been done, yet-to all intent and purposes-the drift continues. Over the last three to four years the Government has been pushing for public private partnership. The idea being that such association would bring about the desired efficiencies in the public sector. But the problem is that such forced marriages do not really work. Driven by expediency, some private companies, may consider coming to an under-standing with PSUs for the short term, but such arrangements are not likely to be conducive to the real growth of the defence industry…”
Lt. Gen. Shankar outlines what he sees as the strengths and weaknesses of that industry, the efforts and challenges faced by reform efforts to date, the role and effects of foreign firms in India, and the measures he believes will be necessary to make Indian industry a future player in the global defense market.
America’s AH-64 Apache helicopter fleet has seen heavy use in recent years, because it’s one of the few platforms capable of flying slowly enough to escort battlefield helicopters through dangerous areas. American, Dutch, and British AH-64s have played especially important roles over Afghanistan, and US Army Apaches have also played a role in Iraq alongside Italian A129 Mangustas, Polish Mi-24s, and lighter OH-58D Kiowa Warrior scout helicopters. As of November 2006, the American Apache fleet had racked up over 2 million flying hours, with over 25% of that logged since 2001.
Nothing lasts forever, which means decisions must be made regarding the future size of America’s attack helicopter force, and the accompanying reset and recapitalization required. “American AH-64D Apache: War Replacement Contracts” offers a breakdown of Apache production and conversion as of July 2008, but even the forthcoming AH-64D Block III upgrade program will leave some helicopters untouched. One option currently on the table appears to be auctioning some of them off to allies, improving their capabilities while offering industrial opportunities for refurbishment and upgrades…
Israel was the first non-US customer for JDAM kits, which turn ordinary bombs into GPS-guided precision smart weapons. In August 2007, they submitted a request for thousands more JDAMs through official channels. They also build their own GPS-guided weapons, including the dual-guidance Spice bomb. Meanwhile, the USA has been working on a 250 pound integrated JDAM derivative known as the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb. Its aerodynamics, penetration, and warhead design are crafted to punch into slightly hardened targets with the force of a weapon several times its size, while giving it greater glide range than its JDAM counterparts. When facing the right array of targets, from terrorist safe houses to a concrete nuclear reactor shell, the ability to carry 8 GBU-39s in place of 2 JDAM 2,000 pound bombs would halve a fighter’s weapon payload, extend its range, raise its number of potential targets/ impact points/ attempts, and lower collateral damage. It’s a potent combination.
On Sept 9/08, The US DSCA announced [PDF] Israel’s formal request for 1,000 GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs (SDB1), 150 BRU-61/A SDB1 Mounting Carriages (4 GBU-39s each), 30 Guided Test Vehicles, 2 BRU-61/A SDB Instrumented Carriages for testing, 7 Jettison Test Vehicles, 1 Separation Test Vehicle, 2 Reliability and Assessment Vehicles, 12 Common Munitions BIT and Reprogramming Equipment with Test Equipment and Adapters, 3 SDB1 Weapons Simulators, and 2 Load Crew Trainers; plus containers, flight test integration, spare and repair parts, and other forms of support. The estimated cost is $77 million.
Boeing in St. Louis, MO would be the prime contractor. Implementation of this proposed sale will involve multiple trips to Israel by U.S. Government and contractor representatives for one-week intervals, for approximately 3 years.
In May 2008, the U.S. Army’s Communications and Electronics Command (CECOM) chose DRS Technologies, Inc. in Gaithersburg, MD (since acquired by Italy’s Finmeccanica) for the initial phase of the Jordan Border Security Program. The overall system will include Distant Sentry(TM) mobile and fixed surveillance towers that utilize a variety of Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) sensors, communications between the towers and mobile and fixed Command and Control (C2) Centers, and electronic infrastructure, software, and computing systems for the centers themselves. The Iraqi border is reportedly the focus of the JBSP program, but that country’s borders with Syria are also a concern.
A number of other countries are building or have built similar virtual and/or physical systems, from Saudi Arabia along the Iraq border, to India in Kashmir, to Israel along its hostile borders with Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. Note, however, that these systems are not a panacea. Israel’s high-tech systems did not detect or prevent the cross-border Hezbollah kidnappings that led to the 2006 war in Lebanon, however, and the US GAO has been less than complimentary concerning Team Boeing’s SBInet system along the USA’s southern border.
The UH-60M Black Hawk is the US Army’s newest utility helicopter, with a number of upgrades over earlier models. To date, orders have been placed by the US Army, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. On Sept 9/08, the USA’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced Egypt’s formal request for 4 UH-60M helicopters. They would support a newly established military Search and Rescue Operations Center, and assist with border security missions by performing surveillance and observation missions.
The request includes 4 UH-60M helicopters with 8 T-700-GE-701D engines, and 1 spare T-700-GE-701D engine. Each helicopter would also be equipped with FLIR Systems’ Star SAFIRE II/HD surveillance and targeting turret, an APR-39Av2 Radar Signal Detecting Set, an ALQ-144Av1 Infrared Countermeasure Set, an AAR-57 Common Missile Warning System, an AVR-2A Laser Warning Set, M130 Flare and Chaff Dispensers, and AN/ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispenser Systems (CMDS), an Improved Hover Infrared Suppression System (IHIRSS). The contract would also include spare and repair parts, tools and support equipment, and other forms of support.
The principal contractors will be United Technologies’ subsidiary Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, CT, their subsidiary Schweizer Aircraft Company of Horseheads, NY, and General Electric Aircraft Company of Lynn, MA (engines). The estimated cost is $176 million, and the sale will not require the assignment of any additional U. S. Government or contractor personnel since Egypt already operates a handful of S-70/UH-60 helicopters out of the Cairo East base.
On Sept 9/08 The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced [PDF] an official request from Saudi Arabia for 12 AH-64D Block II Apache Longbow Helicopters, and associated items. The request, which could result in $598 million worth of contracts, would be used by the kingdom:
“…for its national security, and protecting its borders and oil infrastructure. The aircraft will provide the Saudi military more advanced targeting and engagement capabilities. The proposed sale will provide for the defense of vital installations and will provide close air support for the Saudi military ground forces. This sale also will increase the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) APACHE sustainability and interoperability with the U.S. Air Force, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and other coalition air forces.”
Saudi Arabia already has 12 AH-64A Apaches, in service with 2 Aviation Battalion at King Khalid Military City, in the country’s northeast near Kuwait. A $400 million August 2006 DSCA request would have upgraded those helicopters to AH-64D status, but DID has seen no follow-on contracts to that effect. This request involves new equipment, including: