Oct 21, 2008 12:45 UTC
NUCTECH THSCAN MT1500
Los Angeles is the USA’s second largest port, which makes it a key cog in gthe American economy. In an era where lean inventories are a business norm, disruptions in that port could have massive, cascading ripple effects on the US economy. Improving its security and streamlining its operations are both a national security imperative, and a national commercial imperative. Now, Government Security News notes that the Port of Los Angeles has purchased a sophisticated high-energy X-ray security scanning system from a Chinese manufacturer. Its stated purpose makes it a bit player in the port’s operations: inspect trucks delivering food, groceries and other supplies to cruise ships that dock in LA.
What raised more eyebrows was the identity of the Chinese manufacturer. NUCTECH is run by 37 year old Hu Haifeng, the son of PRC President and Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao. System requirements include the ability to capture, store and transmit 25,000 or more X-ray images and associated documents for remote viewing, and it will be paid for with a $1.7 million port security grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
NUCTECH has won business in Europe, and now in America, by significantly underpricing its competitors. That was also true in Los Angeles, where their $1.9 million bid fronted by DULY Research Inc. in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA beat competitors Smiths GE Detection ($2.7 million) and Rapiscan ($2.9 million). That pricing, and the vendor, have both caused some controversy, but the port is sticking by its guns. Read “Port of L.A. buys Chinese X-ray scanning system with U.S. taxpayer money” for more background and details.
Oct 20, 2008 16:40 UTC
In May 2006, “US Chemical Demilitarization: Expansion and Update” explained the underlying structure of the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency’s programs to safely store and dispose of chemical weapons. The CMA is responsible for a number of locations, each of which has its own prime contractor. Prime contractors hold the design, build, operation and closure portions of the contract, while subcontractors to the prime contractors vary by site. “Nerve Gas Stockpile Destruction at NECD in Newport, IN” shone a spotlight on one site’s efforts and contracts.
The U.S. Army’s Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado is another such site, which currently stores 2,611 tons of mustard agent contained in 155mm and 105mm artillery shells, and 4.5″ mortar shells. Decontamination is supervised by the PM Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA), using a biochemical process rather than incineration; the CMA is still responsible for safe storage until the munitions can be decontaminated. This article discusses mustard agent’s effects and place in the history of warfare, and takes a look at the efforts underway to destroy the Pueblo stockpile between 2015-2023. An effort that recently featured a contract worth over half a billion dollars…
- Mustard Gas: A Quick Primer
- The Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP)
- Contracts and Key Events
- Additional Readings
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Oct 20, 2008 14:40 UTC
(click to view larger)
During the 1960s, the Newport Chemical Depot (NECD) in Indiana produced the nerve agent VX until a unilateral decree halted American (but not Soviet) production and transportation of all chemical weapons. In the aftermath of 9/11, the US Department of Defense re-evaluated their chemical weapons disposal program, looking at where they might accelerate destruction of the USA’s stockpile in order to remove potential targets.
The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency has a number of storage and disposal sites, each of which has its own prime contractor. Prime contractors hold the design, build, operation and closure portions of the contract, while subcontractors to the prime contractors vary by site. This post covers the still-ongoing work at Newport, Indiana. The following is a list of the prime contractors at each CMA disposal site:
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Oct 19, 2008 16:06 UTC
A team led by ITT Corporation recently announced a 5-7 year contract to perform telemetry, tracking and command services for near-Earth missions under NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Space Communications Network Services (SCNS) contract. The contract has a base period of performance of 5 years and 3 months, with 2 one-year option periods, and a maximum potential value of $1.26 billion if all options are exercised.
ITT has provided engineering services for NASA’s near-Earth communications networks for over 25 years, and provided maintenance and operations support services for its Deep Space Network since 2003. The SCNS contract provides for…
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Oct 19, 2008 14:45 UTC
Back from the 70s…
One of war’s costs can be found in those who return from battle alive, but maimed. Crude prosthetics have been around for a long time, but they could only restore a semblance of normal function at best. In the last decade, however, advances in design and materials science are creating passive prosthetics good enough to allow some of their wearers to compete in world-class races – or return to active duty.
The next step is active prosthetics that can approach normal human function, and are controlled by their wearer. The ideal is to exercise that control via the wearer’s own nervous system, just like a biological limb. In 1958, medical doctor and USAF colonel Jack Steele coined the term ‘bionics’ to describe technology that works as part of a human body. In the 1970s, “The Six Million Dollar Man” TV series chronicled the adventures of a man with a super-powered bionic eye, legs, and right arm. Fast forward 30 years, where the twin impellers of technological advances and the pressure of war are making the concept of active prosthetic limbs a viable concept. Even as art imitates life with a revived Bionic Woman TV series.
America’s DARPA specializes in that kind of cutting-edge, “give it a try” research, and they are working with Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, MD to achieve that goal…
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Oct 19, 2008 14:03 UTC
In May 2005, “P-8A MMA Could Become a Multinational Program” said that:
“European nations operating the P-3 may gravitate toward smaller maritime patrol aircraft … Initial designs are even appearing in this class for executive jet aircraft equipped with maritime surveillance radars and related gear. Given that many nations’ maritime surveillance and attack requirements make the P-8’s range and endurance parameters unnecessary, it’s very possible that the EU’s moves will successfully bifurcate the global maritime patrol category into a broad class of nations who buy smaller aircraft, and an elite few with more extensive requirements who buy aircraft in the P-8A [Poseidon] class.”
Greece’s Hellenic Air Force currently operates 4 older P-3B Orion maritime patrol aircraft, which were delivered to the HAF from 1993 – 1996. They are reaching the limits of their airframe life, but options exist. The Orion has upgraded to P-3C designation, and has received a slew of updates since the P-3Bs were fielded. Efforts like Lockheed Martin’s reopening of P-3 wing production are even making it possible for countries like Norway to keep upgraded P-3 aircraft in service.
Greece has reportedly decided not to go this route, and at least EUR 250 million (abut $350 million) has reportedly been set aside for the winner of a 5-aircraft maritime patrol competition. Will the Greeks call on Poseidon once more, in order to protect their seas and mariners?
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Oct 15, 2008 18:17 UTC
Despite its staid sounding name, The Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC has been anything but staid and diplomatic in its recent series of reports on America’s defense procurement plans. “ABANDON SHIPS: The Costly Illusion of Unaffordable Transformation” was indeed a shot across the bow. Lest anyone think that assessment was an aberration, CSIS has now followed it up with its look at the US Air Force: “America’s Self-Destroying Air Power – Becoming Your Own Peer Threat” [Summary | Full report, PDF format]:
“[The] new Burke Chair report… examines the impact of a crisis in aircraft procurement on tactical, strategic, and enabling capabilities of US air power. It draws on recent government and other reports to describe the problems in US aircraft procurement and their impact on US air power and the challenges the next administration will face in force planning and budgeting.
…The problems described in this report must be kept in context. Every service has, to some extent, mortgaged its future by failing to contain equipment costs, and by trading existing equipment and force elements for developing new systems that it may never be able to procure in the numbers planned… US aircraft procurements are no exception. The problems are so severe that the US risks becoming its own peer threat to US airpower… These problems are compounded by the fact that there now are fewer program alternatives if any key aircraft program runs into trouble. They are also compounded by the systematic underestimation of technology risk, growth in performance requirements, the use of failed methods of cost analysis, and the pressure to “sell” programs by understating cost and risk. All have combined to push air modernization to the crisis point.”
Oct 15, 2008 14:44 UTC
On Oct 14/08, India’s Election Commission announced dates for assembly polls in 5 key batleground states of Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Mizoram. The announcement begins the countdown to national Parliamentary elections in 2009, and political positioning has begun. One offshoot of that has hit the defense sector, as DNAIndia reports a new order that changes the status of Israeli firms IAI and RAFAEL within India.
Recent months had seen important progress in India for the 2 Israeli defense firms. In February 2008, RAFAEL signed a long-term joint venture contract with Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL) in Bangalore. In August 2008, India’s MoD got fresh “vigilance clearance” to go ahead with the Barak-derived medium-range naval defense missile and land-based MR-SAM program, despite ongoing political allegations and a CBI investigation asking if bribery was involved in the original 1999-2000 Barak missile deal. Meanwhile, the short range IAI/RAFAEL Barak anti-air missile system now equips a number of Indian Navy ships, and the Navy is looking to replenish its stocks. Earlier in October, India’s government had also contracted to buy Spyder air defense systems for the Indian Air Force.
No indictments have been issued in these matters; nevertheless, under the new government guidance, DNA India reports that the Indian Navy may not purchase additional Barak missiles for the fleet until the new guidance is repealed. The effect on the Spyder deal is less certain, but it is also likely to remain in limbo until the political situation in India sorts itself out after the 2009 elections. Beyond that, the new guidelines specify that neither RAFAEL nor IAI can receive single-vendor RFPs until the cabinet committee on security takes a final decision. Multi-vendor competitions can still issue RFPs to these firms, but eligibility would be withdrawn if the CBI files a chargesheet showing “incriminating evidence” against the companies in the Barak case. A fresh “vigilance approval” will also be required if IAI and/or RAFAEL should win a multi-vendor competition. Existing contracts like MR-SAM will continue, but with their status under periodic review for cancellation if the CBI investigation bears fruit.
UPDATE: A Nov 9/08 India Times article clarifies, noting that the Spyder air defense system purchase is going ahead.
Oct 15, 2008 13:24 UTC
On April 1/07 the Defence Procurement Agency (DPA) and the Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO) merged to form Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), with a GBP 16 billion annual budget. Beginning at 10:30 AM GMT on Nov 18/08, Britain’s Defence Committee will be taking industry input into its examination of the UK MoD’s progress in improving the way it procures and supports defence equipment, the state of key future equipment programs like the A400M aircraft and FRES armored vehicles, and progress and issues associated with Britain’s Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS).
The Committee would welcome attendance or written submissions to the inquiry. Those wishing to attend the meetings should check the exact venue by contacting the House of Commons Public Information Office on 020 7219 4272 on the day before the hearing. Written evidence should be sent to the Clerk of the Defence Committee by Friday Nov 7/08, via to defcom@ within the UK parliament’s domain. Submission should be in .DOC or .RTF format, with numbered paragraphs and an executive summary if the submission is long. The email sending it in must make the submission’s origins and organization behind it clear, and include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. For further details, see the committee’s release.
Oct 14, 2008 15:38 UTC
On June 6/08, Applied Energetics, Inc. in Tucson, AZ received a $9.3 million cost plus fixed fee contract for the continued development and production of 10 anti-mine systems, plus spares, operator training and technical support for an overseas operational assessment. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by June 3/09. One bid was solicited on April 3/08 by the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (ARDEC) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD (W91CRB-08-C-0080). See also the corporate release.
Applied Energetics used to be known as Ionatron, and DID has covered Ionatron-related contracts since May 2005, when the firm was also the subject of scrutiny by Defense Tech regarding its legitimacy. The firm saw its Joint IED Neutralizer (JIN) anti-mine vehicle denied deployment to the front lines in 2006, and in May 2006 they signed a cooperation agreement with DRS to help integrate their energy-beam weapons into a different set of vehicles, and make them more robust. Additional research funds to develop its Laser-Guided Energy (LGE)/ Laser-Induced, Plasma-Channel (LIPC) weapons were provided in April 2007, and this contract appears to be the final development phase before initial fielding.
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