Working with Britain’s Ministry of Defense, a transatlantic firm named AmSafe has come up with a novel solution to anti-tank rockets: fabric panels mounted on the sides of trucks and armored vehicles. Now, that concept has been extended to a “Quickshield” fabric net that serves as a quick, front-line patch for damaged cage armors.
To address the front-line threat posed by Rocket Propelled Grenades like the popular RPG-7, BAE’s LROD Cage Armorsteel “cage armors” have been used, as well as BAE’s much lighter aluminum solution. AmSafe’s broader Tarian (Welsh for “shield”) solution has been deployed by British forces, remains in development for new vehicle types, and offers several advantages over cage armor. Not least of which is a 50% weight savings over aluminum, and 85% savings over steel cage options.
FN Manufacturing, LLC in Columbia, SC received a $28.1 million firm-fixed-price contract for 3,053 of their M240L 7.62mm general purpose machine guns. Work will be performed in Columbia, SC, with an estimated completion date of Sept 30/12. One bid was solicited with one bid accepted by the U.S. Army Contracting Command in Picatinny Arsenal, NJ (W15QKN-09-C-0108).
The M240 is widely used within NATO, and aside from a few carrying annoyances, it’s a good gun: reliable, with good accuracy and rate of fire. It can be mounted on vehicles and helicopters, or carried on foot, and the gun is convertible between these modes. The M240 has moved into a more central role with US forces in Afghanistan, where engagements often take place at 300+ meter ranges. At those ranges, the platoon’s M240 GPMGs and 7.62mm designated marksman rifles may be the only truly effective guns they have. Fortunately, the M240L improves on the M240B by using titanium alloy in key sections, with a chrome carbo-nitride coating to resist galling, and a ceramic-based top coat. The result? Same gun, but at 22.3 pounds/ 10.1 kg, it weighs 5 pounds/ 2.27 kg less. At about $9,200 a pop, they aren’t cheap. Still, when you’re humping your M240L over 5,000+ foot total elevation changes in the course of a day, at medium to high altitudes, it feels like money well spent.
May 25/11: Small disadvantaged business qualifier Universal Technical Resource Services in Cherry Hill, NJ wins a $9.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to support the Pentagon’s Titanium Extraction, Mining and Process Engineering Research Program. The effort builds on earlier commitments from the firm in evaluating alternatives to the standard Kroll method, which reduces titanium tetrachloride (TiCl4) with magnesium to form titanium.
Titanium’s strength and lightness have created a wide range of military applications. It’s found in modern infantry jock straps, is used extensively in the USAF’s top-end F-22A Raptor fighters, and gives M777 ultra-light 155mm howitzers their lightness. It has also become a critical resource for civilian aerospace companies like Boeing and EADS. The flip side is that it’s expensive to produce, and difficult to work with. The goal of the Pentagon’s TEMPER program is to identify and develop new extraction and mining technologies that will reduce cost of titanium and other strategic metals. It might also give key US producers an edge, which is important to the Pentagon because of the politically-charged 1973 Berry Amendment’s restrictions.
Work will be performed in Butte, MT, and Mount Laurel, NJ, with an estimated completion date of May 23/13. The bid was solicited through a Broad Agency Announcement, with 7 bids received by the U.S. Army Contracting Command in Picatinny Arsenal, NJ (W15QKN-11-C-0143). It should not be surprising to note that TEMPER is just one of a number of efforts the US government has funded in this area.
Phase 2 contract for Boeing/ QinetiQ’s SolarEagle. (Sept 15/10)
In April 2008, 3 teams received Phase 1 contracts to begin developing develop a radical new aircraft, under a US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program known as “Vulture.” DARPA’s goals for Vulture are not trivial: 5 years on station with a 450kg/ 1,000lb payload, 5kW of onboard power, and sufficient loiter speed to stay on station for 99% of the time against winds encountered at 60,000-90,000 feet.
So, what is the significance of a platform like that, who is competing, and what is happening now? Well, Phase 1 is done, and Phase 2 has been awarded.
Significant progress at AVI Biopharma? (Aug 22/10)
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency at Fort Belvoir, VA is awarding contracts to find new anti-viral compounds that are effective against hemorrhagic fever viruses, a class that includes Ebola and other diseases.
Drug development is a long and expensive process ($100 million is often mentioned as the table stakes to get a drug through approvals), and promising therapies do not all make it through the research and testing stages. Even so, the research is interesting:
The USA’s M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles have played a central role in armed operations in Iraq. Many of them are now doing it with special reactive applique armor tiles that significantly improve their protection against anti-tank rockets. General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products Inc. in Burlington, VT is the main supplier, in conjunction with Israel’s RAFAEL who pioneered the design.
The add-on armor kit for the M2/M3 Bradleys, for instance, includes 105 tiles that look like small boxes and attach to the sides, the turret and the front of each vehicle. The armor is some of the most advanced in the world, and includes both passive protection of strong material that diverts the rocket, plus reactive protection. That reactive protection uses a very special, insensitive explosive that is detonated only when hit by a missile or rocket; it will not react to other heat sources, or lesser impacts from small arms or shell fragments. The resulting explosion disrupts the incoming armor-penetrating blast jet. That’s the theory, anyway. What have the results been like? Have improvements been made? What purchases have taken place, and when?
GE, United Technologies win Phase II contracts. (July 6/10)
It might not be a Vulcan mind-meld, but it’s pretty close. The Department of Defense’s technology brain trust, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), has given 4 contractors the go-ahead to develop the advanced Vulcan combination engine system for hypersonic flight.
The Vulcan engine will integrate a traditional jet turbine engine that performs well at low speeds, with a constant volume combustion (CVC) engine that performs well at higher speeds. The combination will help the vehicles go from standing starts to Mach 4 or so, where hypersonic engines can take over. DARPA’s ultimate goal is to design, build, and fly Mach 6+ re-usable, air-breathing, turbine-based hypersonic vehicles.
What current engines will the Vulcan program modify? What are the program’s goals? What is its structure? DID has answers…
In February 2009, the USA’s Missile Defense Agency instituted the Missile Defense Advanced Technology Innovation (ATI) Program to:
“…identify and develop innovative concepts, stimulate technology innovation, and exploit breakthroughs in science to offer robust technology improvements to all elements of the [missile defense system]… The MDA contracts with private industry, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations for research in those areas covered in this BAA… MDA does not have a specified amount of funding available for BAA awards, however, if MDA decides to pursue a concept the appropriate level of funding will be identified, and a final proposal will be requested by a MDA Contracting Officer in writing.”
That was pretty vague and non-committal, but it did lay out key research areas, and invite ideas. A February 2010 update to the solicitation has added some clarification around the involvement of “foreign persons.”
The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) in China Lake, CA awarded indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity multiple award contracts to 4 small business qualifiers for advanced technology products in support of NAWCWD’s Weapons Prototype Division. The aggregate maximum for these multiple award contracts is $8.2 million.
Products and support to be provided include electronic components and systems, mechanical components and systems, energetic materials and systems, chemical materials and components, fabrication, assembly, plating/ painting/ finish, and packing and shipping.
Small business qualifier Innovative Defense Technologies (IDT) in Arlington, VA received a $49.1 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for software development and engineering services in support of the automatic test and re-test (ATRT) product, which will test software on naval weapons systems.
ATRT [pdf] is a Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) effort whose objective is to leverage commercial automated testing best practices to reduce overall system development testing costs, maintain or improve software product quality, and shorten the software certification timeline.
The contract will fund development of the ATRT product – which IDT estimates will cut software testing costs by 25% – for automated testing of submarine combat systems for all classes of submarines currently in the fleet and under development…