Aug 5/11: The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announces a maximum $48.4 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to General Atomics Aeronautical in Poway, CA to develop and demonstrate “precision three-dimensional tracking of ballistic missiles from a long endurance, high-altitude unmanned air system.” This contract was competitively procured via a broad agency announcement, with “multiple white papers received in response,” and work will be performed in Poway, CA from August 2011 through August 2016. $11.8 million in FY 2011 research, development, test and evaluation funds will be used to incrementally fund the 1st task order (HQ0147-11-D-0013).
General Atomics in San Diego, CA won a $32.7 million not-to-exceed, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for development of a prototype hybrid electric drive (HED) system on DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class destroyers. Under the contract, General Atomics intends to demonstrate the capability for significant fuel savings by incorporating advanced electric machine technology.
General Atomics will perform the work in San Diego, CA (50%); Milwaukee, WI (24%), and Hudson, MA (26%), and expects to complete it by June 2014. This contract was competitively procured under a Broad Agency Announcement, with 23 offers received by the Naval Sea Systems Command at the Washington Navy Yard, DC (N00024-09-C-4222).
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems received a $9.8 million firm-fixed-price contract for Predator receiver terminals, installation, and software updates from the USAF. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH, manages the contract (FA8620-05-G-3028). The receiver terminals are ruggedized laptops that are compatible with both the MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper.
The Air Force recently awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems of San Diego, CA a $168.4 million firm-fixed-price contract for maintenance under the MQ-1 Predator/ MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aircraft System program. The MQ-9 Reaper is very different from its predecessorr; it is significantly larger, with different equipment, less endurance, the ability to operate at far higher altitudes, and the ability to carry far more ordnance. Nevertheless, the 2 platform types are maintained under the same program. DID has covered a previous $57.2 million contract in 2006, but the rising number of machines in service, and level of use that recently saw the USAF’s MQ-1 feet surpass 500,000 total hours flown, are raising the costs of maintenance.
This contract will fund all program management, urgent repairs and services, logistics support, configuration management, technical manual and software maintenance, engineering technical services, contractor inventory control point and spares management, depot repair, flight operations support, reliability/maintenance enhancements, data collection/entry and numbered periodic depot maintenance . At this time, the entire amount has been obligated by the 703d ASG at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH (FA8620-05-G-3028).
On the face of it, Thielert AG of Hamburg appeared to be a well-positioned company, leveraging respected German engineering to modify a Daimler diesel engine for use in aircraft. The ability to use “heavy” fuel offers light civilian aircraft a convenient, less-expensive option, and can also be an important asset for armies who want a single fuel supply chain for land vehicles and UAVs. That commonality offers lifetime cost savings of its own, less operational risk, and more operational flexibility – which is why the US Army’s flagship MQ-1C SkyWarrior UAV uses Thielert’s 135 hp Centurion engine. By many accounts, the engine itself performs well, though some reports say the engines have some reliability issues and suffer from poor field support. The aero-diesel niche has few competitors at the moment, but several new competitors are expected to unveil products over the next year.
Those alternative options have now become a more urgent matter, given recent developments in Germany. In brief, Thielert is facing advanced stage criminal investigations for serious accounting fraud, providing false evidence, and more. The alternative explanation is that a long list of firms including General Atomics, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin each left millions of dollars in supplier invoices unpaid for over a year.
Regardless of which explanation is true, Thielert faced financing needs that the firm’s own April 10/08 release described as “an urgent liquidity crisis.” As a first step, the founder tried to sell his entire stake to a Russian hedge fund. Even so, the firm’s own statements confirm that much more cash will be needed, and shareholder lawsuits enabled by German court rulings that have voided their financial reports could drive that figure higher.
The latest developments are three-fold: the dismissal of the CEO and CFO for cause in light of criminal investigations, the collapse of the new investors consortium, and the firm’s filing for bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the US Army says it was unaware of the situation at Thielert, which raises questions concerning its contractor General Atomics’ communications and program risk transparency with the US military.
General Atomics of San Diego, CA won a firm fixed price contract from the USAF for $94.3 million in exchange for 36 Predator MQ-1B Aircraft, Aircraft Spares, RSP kits, Hellfire Missile Kit Installation, IMAs and core tasks. At this time, all funds have been authorized. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base OH issued the contract (FA8620-05-G-3028 0027).
MQ-1A Predators are successors to General Atomics’ I-GNAT platform, and serve with the US Air Force, US Navy, US Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the Turkish Army, and the Italian Air Force. The US Army flies the upgraded MC-1C Sky Warrior, while the USAF and British RAF fly the Predator’s successor, the MQ-9 Reaper.
The Predator A fleet recently reached a pair of key milestones. One was the 25,000th’s flight by a Predator A, achieved by P-144 on Aug 8/07 in Iraq. The other was 300,000 flight hours for the fleet, achieved by P-137 on Aug 12/07 while it performed an armed reconnaissance mission in Iraq. That particular aircraft has flown over 145 combat missions in the 18 months it has been deployed, which may explain why 80% of those fleet flight hours have been combat flights. MQ-1As flew over 100,000 flight hours last year alone, and are currently flying some 10,000 hours per month.
General Atomics in San Diego, CA received a $43.7 million firm-fixed-price contract modification. It covers the manufacture, test and delivery of 2 Predator B MQ-9 (Reaper) unmanned aerial vehicles, 2 mobile ground control stations, and associated equipment to include initial spares, ground support equipment, pack-up kits, and Ku SATCOM antennas. At this time, $32.7 million has been obligated, and work will be complete December 2008. The Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH issued the contract (FA8620-05-G-3028, order number 0024/no modification number at this time).
Creech Air Force Base, NV received its first operational MQ-9 on March 13, 2007, soon to be assigned to the 42nd Attack Squadron. The Pentagon’s FY 2008 budget request asks for 4 MQ-9s,at a cost of $79 million.
General Atomics in San Diego, CA is best known for UAVs like the Predator these days – but that isn’t all they do. The firm is also well known for designing power distribution systems used by the US Navy on its aircraft carriers; other specialties include nuclear fuel cycle work, airborne sensors, and advanced electric, electronic, wireless and laser technologies.
The firm recently received a $10.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to research and develop Integrated Power Systems (IPS). IPS provides total ship electric power including electric propulsion, power conversion and distribution, combat system support and mission load interfaces to electric power systems. This is a trend in ship construction…
General Atomics won a $10.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to research and develop Integrated Power Systems (IPS). IPS provides total ship electric power including electric propulsion, power conversion and distribution, combat system support and mission load interfaces to electric power systems. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA and is expected to be complete by the Dec 2011. The Naval Sea Systems Command inWashington, D.C., reported it received 14 proposals for the opportunity.
While General Atomics was founded in 1955, and is well known for designing power distribution systems used by the US Navy on its aircraft carriers, a spokesman for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in Charleston, SC, that issued the contract call (N00024-07-C-4012) said the contract is not specifically geared to any platform already under construction. Instead, the technology developed during the R&D phase will be integrated into future systems.
General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems Inc. in San Diego, CA received a $7.5 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to investigate, develop and demonstrate “high payoff thermal management approaches to the removal of heat from multi-megawatt electric power system and the subsequent elimination of this heat from airborne technologies and components.” The deliverable is intended to quantify technical risk versus potential benefit to the thermal management system.
At this time, $1.25 million has been obligated. Solicitations began July 2006, negotiations were complete October 2006, and work will be complete February 2012. The Air Force Research Lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH issued the contract (F33615-01-D-2109, task order 0009).