Dec 18, 2008 20:53 UTC
Bernard M. “Barney” Oliver was HP’s director of research for 3 decades, from 1952 to 1981. His list of patents, engineering achievements, and science awards was bogglingly large, and included many of the most prestigious awards in these fields. He was also a stickler for the proper use of English; and for clear communication that could move people by answering the “why?” questions, even as it informed them by answering the “what and how?”. That talent was one of many things that set him apart from his peers.
His most lasting achievement is related to that talent. The 1971 Project Cyclops report [PDF format, 14.5 MB | Print version] laid out the basis for theories of intelligent life in the universe, and was instrumental in the creation of NASA’s famous SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) project.
Time may tell us how many of SETI’s premises turn out to be true. Until those verdicts are rendered, Dr. Oliver’s work is offered as a fascinating read – and a gold standard for excellent written communication in the aerospace, engineering, and technical policy fields.
Dec 18, 2008 17:16 UTC
In December 2008, the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault announced that France’s Structure integree de maintien en condition operationnelle des materiels aeronautiques du ministere de la Defense (SIMMAD) had signed a 10-year contract to maintain the 120 Rafale fighters France has ordered to date for its Air Force and Navy.
This contract follows the nascent global trend toward pay for performance in military maintenance. The 10-year “Rafale Care” global contract does use maintenance payments based on operational availability and flying hours, rather than materials and labor. The contract also includes a commitment to reduce those costs per hour over time, in a similar manner to many corporate outsourcing agreements. Unlike Britain’s fully comprehensive “future contracting for availability” model, however, “Rafale Care” covers the aircraft but not the engine (Snecma), radar (Thales), countermeasures and weapon systems.
Costs were not disclosed, but Defense News quotes a Dassault spokesman as saying that the larger twin-engine Rafale costs about 15% more per flight hour than the Mirage 2000 lightweight fighter. The French Armee de l’Air also refused to provide figures, saying that they were heavily dependent on key variables like flight and mission profiles. Dassault Aviation | Defense News.
Dec 18, 2008 16:28 UTC
TRICARE is becoming a lot more expensive for the US Department of Defense, in part because of greater usage, and in part because of benefits increases with long-term cost implications. Military health care costs, which have doubled since 2001, could double again by 2015. See “TRICARE Trials and Tribulations” and “US DoD Trying to Slow Ballooning Prescription Drug Costs” for more background.
One of the factors that makes TRICARE harder to control is its global scope…
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Dec 17, 2008 15:14 UTC
HI, Bye: VP-4 deploys
Boeing received a $136.1 million firm-fixed-price contract from the US Navy for 2 C-40A Clipper aircraft. Work will be performed in Renton, WA (88%); and Wichita, KS (12%) and is expected to be complete in February 2011. This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to FAR 6.302-1. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-09-C-0080).
The Navy’s C-40A is intended to replace its 29 aging DC-9 based C-9 Skytrains with a 737-based aircraft that has longer range, better compliance with environmental and noise regulations, and lower operating and fuel costs. C-40As are certified to operate in an all-passenger (121 passengers), all-cargo (8 standard pallets), or a combination (“combi”) configuration that will accommodate up to 3 cargo pallets and 70 passengers on the main deck. New aircraft will have the same winglet tips found on USAF C-40B/C aircraft, which save on fuel.
To date, the US Navy has ordered and received 9 C-40As, which are based at Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, TX (3), NAS Jacksonville FL (3) and NAS North Island, CA (3). This order will push that total to 11. The USAF also operates a fleet of similar C-40C aircraft, as well as C-40B “office in the sky” aircraft for senior military and government leaders. See DID’s complete coverage at “C-40 Clippers Hitting Their Stride, Despite Past Controversy.”
Dec 17, 2008 13:31 UTC
The F-35 Lightning II is a major multinational program intended to produce an “affordably stealthy” multi-role strike fighter that will have three variants: the F-35A conventional version for the US Air Force et. al.; the F-35B Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing for the US Marines, British Royal Navy, et. al.; and the F-35C conventional carrier-launched version for the US Navy. The aircraft is named after Lockheed’s famous WW2 P-38 Lightning, and the Mach 2, stacked-engine English Electric (now BAE) Lightning jet. System development partners included The USA & Britain (Tier 1), Italy and the Netherlands (Tier 2), and Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Turkey (Tier 3). Now the challenge is agreeing on production phase buys, with initial purchase commitments expected around 2008-2009. Export interest is also beginning to stir in a number of quarters, even though full testing will not be complete until 2014.
This entry covers events until the end of 2008, while a newer article offers continuing coverage of the F-35 program.
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Dec 17, 2008 08:32 UTC
Land Rover Snatch
In the USA, a controversy erupted in early 2008 when USMC whistleblower Franz Gayl’s “The Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle Case Study” [PDF] blamed a slow military procurement system for delays in fielding mine-resistant vehicles. The USMC had actually been an early purchaser, but the vehicles had remained an tiny portion of the total US vehicle fleet in theater until the MRAP competition began in 2006 at the USMC’s urging – over 3 1/2 years into a war that had featured IED land mines as the primary threat since 2003.
Britain has its own long-running controversy around its vulnerable Land Rover Snatch 2 patrol vehicles, which feature even less armor than the USA’s M1114 Hummers. That controversy has now boiled over into a full-scale political row, after senior SAS commanders resigned over inadequate equipment that Maj. Morley of 23 SAS has termed “cavalier at best, criminal at worst.” The issue was recently revived, with a slightly different focus, by the death of Lt. Col. Rupert Thorneloe, the most senior British soldier to be killed in Afghanistan…
- Land Rovers: Weaknesses and Responses
- 23 SAS, Cpl. Bryant, and Maj. Morley’s Resignation
- Updates and Follow-Ons [updated]
- Additional Readings
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Dec 16, 2008 14:48 UTC
USS Bunker Hill, a CG-47 Ticonderoga Class AEGIS cruiser, was launched in 1985. The Ticonderoga Class remains critical to American seapower, functioning as the fleet’s most powerful anti-air defense, and contributing substantial anti-ship and anti-submarine combat power to its assigned naval groups.
The Cruiser Modernization program aims to improve the CG-47 Ticonderoga Class by modernizing the computing and display infrastructure, and the Hull, Mechanical and Electrical (HM&E) systems. Weapons and sensor sets will also be improved, in order to upgrade their anti-submarine capabilities, add short range electro-optical systems that can monitor the ship’s surroundings without telltale radar emissions, and allow new air defense options like the quad-packed RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile. The modernized cruisers are expected to become more cost efficient to operate, as their lives are extended to serve in the fleet through the year 2030. The USS Bunker Hill is just one representative example of the work underway.
With the DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class destroyer program hitting prohibitive $3+ billion cost levels that have effectively terminated the program, and plans for the CG (X) class in flux, modernizing the Ticonderoga ships via planned upgrades and future possibilities like active aray radars will be critical to the USA’s naval and ballistic missile defense security.
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Dec 15, 2008 17:01 UTC
CACI International Inc. recently announced a prime contract with a ceiling value of $452 million, in order to continue providing mission support services to the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) under the GENESIS III contract. the contract is awarded for one base year and 4 option years, and will significantly increase both the size and scope of CACI’s business with INSCOM.
The GENESIS III program includes engineering support for ground and aerial intelligence systems include Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), Imagery Intelligence (IMINT), Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), Human Intelligence (HUMINT), Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT), and Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) systems. The GENESIS program is designed to help the Army control and integrate data from its myriad of collection systems, and ensure that these systems and facilities are developed, deployed, repaired and maintained at the highest state of readiness.
CACI will provide facility engineering and maintenance support for ISR facilities, including relocating and closing sites when required, supporting environmental assessments, and taking care of associated systems like power generation and physical security systems. New work may also be required, including engineering and building portable electronic intelligence systems for ground and airborne use. Work is performed around the world, including “hostile areas.” FBO solicitation | CACI release.
Dec 15, 2008 13:17 UTC
The US military’s DARPA research agency is sponsoring research under the Biofuels-Cellulosic and Algal Feedstock program. Its goal is to develop the technical capability and commercial experience to produce an affordable JP-8 surrogate fuel from algae, in order to create a wider range of options if some of the US Army’s Corps of Engineers’ predictions come true over the next couple of decades. JP-8 is the fuel used by the US Air Force; Army vehicles also use it as an option, which can simplify the supply chain. Bids solicited were via the Broad Agency Announcement and 17 bids were received by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, VA.
Dec 15/08: Science Applications International Corp (SAIC) in San Diego, CA won a $14.9 million cost-plus fixed-price contract. Work will be performed in Vienna, VA; Minnetonka, MN; Albuquerque, NM; Houston, TX; Baltimore, MD; Austin, TX; Irvine, CA; Imperial, TX; Des Plaines, IL; and Grand Forks, ND, and is expected to continue until March 10/10 (HR0011-09-C-0033).
Dec 9/08: A team led by General Atomics in San Diego, CA won a $19.9 million cost-plus fixed-price contract. Work will be performed by General Atomics in San Diego, CA; Scripps Institutions of Oceanography in La Jolla, CA; Arizona State University in Mesa, AZ; Blue Sun Biodiesel in Golden, CO; Texas A&M AgriLIFE in College Station, Texas, UOP LLC in Des Plains, IL; Hawaii Bio Energy in Honolulu; The University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmetal research Center in Grand Forks, ND; and Utah State University in Logan, UT. Work is expected to continue until June 8/10 (HR0011-09-C-0034)
Dec 14, 2008 20:30 UTC
F-35A: Dutch treat?
The Netherlands is a notable player in the multinational F-35 program, as one of only two Tier 2 program partners, and the future site of a European maintenance hub. The government is still deciding whether it will join the Joint Strike Fighter’s IOTE (Initial Operational Test & Evaluation) phase and purchase 2 aircraft. Meanwhile, what was once a slam-dunk to replace RNLAF F-16s has now become a competition of sorts involving Saab’s JAS-39NG Gripen. To this point, the Dutch have invested over EUR 850 million in the F-35’s development phases.
The financing arrangements involved are highly unusual. They have now become a subject of possible legal action, as the government insists that industry players owe it more than EUR 300 million…
- From Fokker’s Crash to the Joint Strike Fighter
- Dutch Treat: Tier 2 – With a Twist
- The Present Dispute: Updates and Key Events
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