“Future Contracting for Availability” involves the removal of traditional “parts and hours” maintenance contracts in favor of fixed-price long-term support for vehicles throughout their service lives, plus performance awards based on number of vehicles available. It has become a fixture in the British defense industry, and a pillar of British procurement policy going forward. As our in-depth coverage of the ATTAC Tornado support contract shows, however, it isn’t a “big bang” process. Smaller contracts are signed for sub-components, trust and knowledge are built up, and the contracts become more comprehensive over time.
BAE Systems has won a number of these contracts, and back in January 2006, they were on their way to adding Britain’s vertical/short takeoff and landing Harrier GR7/GR9A fleet to the list. The UK MoD continued to expand these contracts, culminating in a new half-billion pound contract to support the fleet through to the end of its life… which is coming a lot sooner than the contracting parties thought.