$21.9M for USA’s E-6 Mercury Fleet Spares, Training
The USA’s E-6 Mercury (aka. TACAMO, as in TAke Charge And Move Out) “survivable airborne communication system” airplanes support their Navy’s SSBN ballistic missile submarine force and overall strategic forces. With the advent of the new “Tactical Trident” converted Ohio Class special operations subs, their unique capabilities become even more useful. They also have a secondary role as Airborne National Command Posts.
Delivery of the first production E-6 aircraft took place in August 1989, with delivery of the 16th and final airplane coming in May 1992. Now the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD has issued a pair of contracts that aim to improve both the E-6 fleet’s maintenance situation, and their training options.
E-6 Mercury: Messenger from On High
These Boeing 707-300 derivatives use their very-low-frequency (VLF) dual trailing wire antenna system to permit one-way, emergency communications to submerged submarines, providing a vital link from national command authorities without forcing the subs to reveal their positions. In an emergency, the E-6 fleet will also provide an Airborne National Command Post (ABNCP) for United States Command in Chief for Strategic Forces and theater CINCs.
FAS reports that in the TACAMO role, the E-6 flies independent random operations from various deployed sites for approximately 15 day intervals. Each deployed crew ia self-supporting except for fuel and perishables, and the mission requires a 24 hour commitment of resources (alert posture) in the Atlantic and Pacific regions.
They also note that in the ABNCP role, as directed by USSTRATCOM, two aircraft are flown to Offutt Air Force Base (AFB) to embark the battle staff and the airborne launch control system (ALCS) components, and will be placed in an alert status. Maintenance of the systems is performed by the standard complement of squadron ground and in-flight technician personnel.
Boeing Aerospace Operations in Oklahoma City, OK received an estimated value $8.5 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-priced, time and materials, cost-reimbursement contract (N00019-01-C-0066) for the repair services and procurement of spare parts for the E-6 platform. The aim is to reduce the existing repair backlog and replenish of wartime spare kits to proper wartime sparing levels. Work will be performed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, OK and is expected to be complete in December 2005.
Meanwhile, L-3 Communications Link Simulation & Training in Arlington, TX received a $13.4 million ceiling-priced modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract (N00019-05-D-0012). The modification exercises an option for up to 2,000 Flight Instructor hours on a Boeing 737 Next Generation Aircraft, to serve as an E-6B In-Flight Trainer. Work will be performed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, OK and is expected to be complete in October 2006.