In his final budget testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee, outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates addresses the planned reductions in the size of the ground forces, reforms to the Tricare program and saving targets laid out by President Obama.
The UK Ministry of Defence denies reports in The Telegraph newspaper that it has finalized a $34 million deal to sell its Harrier jump-jets to the United States Marine Corps for spare parts.
Saab announces the publication of its Gripen Czech Offset Program annual performance report. The company reveals that it has delivered offset transactions worth almost $1.5 billion to the year ending 2010.
Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn thanks the Czech Republic for increasing their commitment in Afghanistan just as the United States abandons its plans to deploy a missile early warning center on Czech soil.
The Aerospace Industries Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) announces [PDF] the appointment of James Quick as the organization’s President and Chief Executive Officer.
Final update: article wrap-up as this fiscal period has come to an end.
USMC M1A1 settles a firefight in Fallujah
The RESET process takes used vehicles apart, inspects the parts, then replaces any defective parts and refurbishes the equipment to like-new condition. Sometimes upgrades are also performed. RESET and related processes like remanufacture/upgrades are being performed on M1 Abrams tanks, Bradley IFV/CFVs, HMMWV jeeps, and even helicopters. It usually takes place when the vehicles return from the front lines in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations, where sand damage and increased wear have taken their toll.
In truth, many of these vehicles were produced in the 1980s, and are reaching an age where “deep maintenance” is a wise and necessary measure. Note that this is not a complete list of RESET contracts.
The USA’s aging aircraft problem spans a number of fleets, from aerial tankers, to fighters, to tactical transports. One may argue, however, that its most severe problem lies with its fleet of Lockheed Martin P-3 maritime patrol aircraft. Not only was the global P-3 fleet produced between 1962-1990, the aircraft have often been flown at low altitudes in a salt-spray environment. This is not a recipe for aircraft health.
Rear Adm. Holmes’ 2005 interview confirmed the seriousness of the situation. The US Navy keeps retiring aircraft, and is trying to hang on until its P-8A Poseidon/ BAMS UAV successors are fielded. That is proving to be difficult, to the point that Boeing is reportedly being asked to speed up P-8 production and fielding. Meanwhile, the P-3 Recovery Plan is part of a range of efforts designed to keep the P-3s in the air. Contracts continue, including outer wing replacements and other deep structural maintenance efforts.
Latest updates: Improved 5.56mm; New production facility opening.
81mm mortar (click to view larger)
A weapon without ammunition is useless, which is why ammunition is almost always a strategic national capability whose production must remain in-country. On the other hand, government demand has a tendency to swing up and down within narrow limits, and the demands of efficiency usually lead to a single supplier situation – often using equipment that dates back to World War 2. The USA has run into problems because of its reliance on a single small arms ammunition plant, for instance, and has moved to modernize and diversify its base. Its ally Australia is modernizing key ammunition facilities, and trying to modernize its industrial approach as well.
Then there’s Britain, whose long-term defense contracting practices are establishing world-class benchmarks. The UK MoD had been working on an arrangement that secures national supply needs from British sources, and ensures that modernization investments continues to improve industrial efficiency. Hence the new 15-year, GBP 2+ billion “Munitions Acquisition Supply Solution” (MASS) program, inaugurated in August 2008.
The United Kingdom has sustained extensive efforts to strike long-term, through-life support contracts for various weapons systems under a “contracting for availability” (rather than for maintenance hours) framework. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) keeps driving the point home with new contracts that encompass more and more of their military.
The Royal Air Force currently flies 28 AW101 Merlin HC3 medium helicopters that work with the army, whilst the Royal Navy’s 42 soon-to-be upgraded AW101 Merlin Mk1s are used for both Anti-Submarine warfare and Anti-Surface warfare. This single 25-year contract covers both helicopter types…
L-3 MPRI, Inc. in Alexandria, VA recently received a $156.1 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to embed former law-enforcement professionals into corps, division, brigade, regimental and battalion headquarters. Their mission will involve helping battlefield commanders penetrate and suppress criminal networks involved in IED land mine production, distribution, and use throughout Iraq, Afghanistan, and other overseas operations. The contract will run to Dec 10/11, and 1 bid was solicited with 1 bid received by the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Contracting Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD (W91CRB-08-D-0049).
What do you do with 469 attack helicopters, once you’ve decided to phase them out of service? That was the question facing America, after the Army decided to retire its AH-1P/S/F Cobra attack helicopter fleet in 1999, and the National Guard followed suit in 2001. In 2000, Redstone Arsenal’s Scout-Attack Helicopter Program manager kicked off a Cobra retirement program at Fort Drum, NY. The helicopters wound up at Fort Drum’s Foreign Military Sales shop, near Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield. Instead of focusing on dismantling them, the program looked for ways to give them a new lease on life.
A number of countries still fly AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters, so some were gutted for parts, then used as military training targets. The US Marine Corps, for instance, still flies a different set of AH-1 models. They bought $75 million worth of those parts. Most of the Cobras, however, ended up going through a 5,500 man-hour, $1 million refurbishment, before being sold to military customers overseas, or to American federal and state forestery departments. Instead of costing money, the AH-1 fleet’s retirement has turned out to be a profitable process for the Army. Still, as the saying goes, even if the world does owe you a living, the collection process is hard work…
Latest updates: End of the Harrier fleet – and carriers.
HMS Illustrious takeoff
“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.
The US Army in the 21st century is an army on the computer and the network. Whether in a Kabul command post, on a Kandahar patrol, or at a Pentagon desk, the Army relies on desktop and laptop computers to stay connected and access intelligence.
Army laptops and desktops are made by the same companies that supply computers in the commercial marketplace: HP, Dell, Apple, Samsung, and others. To get the best deal on COTS computers, in 2005 the Army instituted the consolidated buy (CB) program, which enables Army customers to get laptops, desktops, and other computer equipment at bulk prices, even if they only purchase one at a time. The program is intended to save the Army money and ensure that computers purchased comply with Army IT technical and security standards. The Army estimates that its CB program has saved it millions of dollars on purchases of computer equipment since 2005.
This article examines the Army’s CB program for buying laptop and desktop computers, printers, and peripherals, and the contracts awarded to implement the program.
The Australian Army has a fleet of more than 300 armored vehicles that include M1A1 Abrams tanks, M88A2 HERCULES recovery vehicles, and wheeled ASLAV armored personnel carriers. In response to maintenance cost concerns, and larger trends in the global defense industry, General Dynamics Land Systems Australia proposed a 5-year, performance-based support contract, with greater incentives for improved efficiencies and performance than are found in current contracts. Australia’s current Labor Party government is looking for over $1 billion from more efficient operations under its Defence Strategic Reform Program, so the proposal fell on receptive ears.
GDLS-Australia have now been announced as the preferred tenderer for the support contract. The value of the contract is likely to be in excess of A$ 100 million, and Australia’s DMO will begin negotiations with a view to negotiating a contract by October 2010.