Defense Industry Daily surveyed more than 400 executives, asking them their opinions on the top defense contractors based both on their personal experiences and general impressions. The results show that defense contractors on average suffered worse ratings than were seen a year earlier. Some groups bore the brunt of that fall, particularly the information technology players.
In June 2012, Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems & Global Solutions Division in Manassas, VA won a competition, transferring the keystone GSM-O IT services contract away from SAIC, a 15-year incumbent. GSM-O pays for the worldwide support services necessary to carry out day-to-day operations of the US military’s Global Information Grid networks and related services, and to update them with new technologies. The contract could be worth up to $4.6 billion over 7 years, making it a major win for Lockheed Martin, and a big loss for SAIC.
So, what is the USA’s Global Information Grid? And how will this contract work?
The USA’s Future Combat Systems Class I UAV is intended for reconnaissance, security and target acquisition operations in nearly all terrain, including urban environments. Each system of 2 vertical take-off and landing air vehicles, a dismounted control device, and associated ground support equipment. They can be carried by selected platforms and dismounted soldiers, and possess autonomous flight, navigation, and recovery.
The larger Class II and Class III UAV development programs were canceled in favor of existing options: the RQ-7 Shadow, and MQ-1C SkyWarrior. The planned Class IV MQ-8B Fire Scout was canceled by the Army in 2009, though it will see naval use. Despite excellent field reports for mini-UAV competitors like the RQ-11 Raven, however, Honeywell’s hovering RQ-16 “T-Hawk” initially avoided the axe, found a niche, and made the list for the US Army’s early increment 1 Brigade Combat Team Modernization fielding. It has even seen limited exports – but the Class I program has been canceled.
The Congressional Research Service updated their report [PDF] on international conventional weapon sales with 2011 data. Agreements for new sales from the US to developing nations boomed above $56B or a close to 80% market share, leaving #2 Russia far behind. The mega deal with Saudi Arabia was the biggest contributor to that surge in demand for American armament. Deliveries during 2011 were less lopsided but the US still led with close to 38% of the total in value.
The RAND Corporation looked into the reasons behind high cost increases in the Army Excalibur artillery round and the Navy’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) programs. In the case of Excalibur, smaller ordered quantities was the primary driver for its Nunn-McCurdy cost breach. Looking for a deeper root cause, that reduction was triggered by the increased precision of modern artillery. Meanwhile the Navy ERP started with an optimistic baseline, as happens very often with software implementation projects.
In July 2012, the “Virginia Contracting Activity” accepted 10 firms into the $5.6 billion “Solutions for Intelligence Analysis II” program. It succeeds the original December 2007 SITA contract, which consolidated over 30 different contracts under 1 umbrella. These “professional support services” include services and technologies around the Pentagon Defense Intelligence Agency’s mission, which includes support on the front lines, for defense planners, and for defense and national security policy makers.
These winners can compete for individual jobs around the globe under a 5-year, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity umbrella contract, which runs until July 15/17. This lets the Pentagon quickly augment, reassign, or wind down individual efforts. Winners included:
CREW(counter-radio controlled improvised explosive device) systems deny enemy use of selected portions of the radio frequency spectrum, which could be used to set off radio-controlled improvised explosive devices (RCIED). Radio-controlled devices are used to detonate IED land mines from a safe distance instead, and/or to jam the frequencies that could be used to trigger them. This jamming is sometimes an inconvenience to friendly forces, but so is being blown up.
CREW systems come in a couple of different Joint CREW versions, from older 2.x models to newer 3.x JCREW versions. In 2009, Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) in McLean, VA won a contract from the USMC as CREW’s program support integrator (PSI). That contract has grown, and now sits at $500 million…
The Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, GA is an outgrowth of the BRAC 2005 process, which consolidated the Army Armor Center and School with the Army Infantry Center and School. In October 2011, they issued a 5-year, maximum $458 million contract among 14 contractors.
Winners will bid on task orders to help the center produce training strategies, doctrine, capabilities, analysis, instruction and products for the current and future force. Per standard procedure, work location will be determined with each task order, during a contract period that will run until Sept 30/16. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 34 bids received by the Mission Contracting Office in Fort Bragg, NC. The 14 winners were:
Latest updates: With SUGV pending wind-down, early materials order for SUGV sets 2-3.
BCTM B-Kit in Hummer
Concerns about cost overruns, vehicle design, and contract structure prompted the Pentagon to cancel the US Army’s Future Combat System (FCS) program in June 2009.
Instead of a single FCS contract, the Pentagon directed the Army to set up a number of separate programs to undertake parts of the FCS program. One of those programs is the Brigade Combat Team Modernization (BCTM) Increment 1. The BCTM Increment 1 capabilities – which include ground robots, UAVs, ground sensors, and vehicle (B-Kit) network integration kits – were planned to be fielded to up to 9 Infantry Brigade Combat Teams beginning in 2011. Now it’s more like 2015 for the 1st brigade, and it will happen without most of the original components.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) and the individual services are turning more and more to virtualization to improve the efficiency and flexibility of their IT networks. This technology allows multiple virtual machines with different operating systems to run side-by-side on the same physical machine. The main benefit is a decrease in needed hardware, space, and power to perform the same IT operations, thus saving money and weight on military IT systems and platforms.
At the same time, virtualization raises security concerns because traditional IT security products, such as firewalls, do not work in the virtual environment.