In March 2010 the Navy awarded an $83 million contract for e-CASS development, production and testing. The AN/USM-636(V) Consolidated Automated Support System (CASS) is the US Navy’s standard automatic test equipment family. It provides intermediate, depot and factory level support, both ashore and afloat, for testing all Navy electronics, from aircraft to ships and submarines.
CASS has been around since 1990, and it’s time for an upgrade. The Navy is planning to replace the existing 5 CASS mainframe systems with the next-generation electronic CASS (e-CASS) system. US Naval aviation currently uses 713 CASS stations for testing of aircraft electronics. CASS is also used at the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and in 9 foreign countries. As of early 2012 events appear to proceed according to plan.
In January 2015, Lockheed delivered the first automated testing station to be installed on the U.S. Navy’s carriers.
Special Forces has had an abiding interest in silenced motorcycles as stealthy and quick insertion/extraction vehicles – and, not just from having viewed Chuck Norris’s 1986 cheesy Delta Force movie, where his trusty motorcycle was portrayed as a Batmobile-like source of plot moving tricks. Air force combat controller teams (CCTs) have been shoving dirt bikes out of airplanes at least since 2010. A 2012 Marine Corp report cited motorcycle use by MARSOC operators, and the Marines have been conducting dirt bike training by third party vendors contracted as early as February 2012. But the airdrop and landing can cause temporary fuel system issues at precisely the wrong moment.
Special Forces toyed with the electric Zero MMX concept a couple years ago, but ditched it due to battery concerns. That vehicle found a home at the LAPD a year later. The electric bike’s charge lasted for only a couple hours.
DARPA gave a grant to Logos Technologies around that time to develop a hybrid bike that could run on several fuels and also support an electric motor with about 50 miles of range. That grant was only $150,000. Things appear to have advanced adequately to have earned a second grant. A Logos representative contacted this morning indicated the new grant was for $1 million.
The bike, called now the Silent Hawk (not to be confused with the silenced SOF helicopters revealed in the aftermath of the 2011 Bin Laden operation), is based on an electric racing bike frame made by Alta Motors. The hybrid engine is Logos Technologies’ development, reportedly from one they developed for a secret drone project.
An example of the sound profile of current electric racing cycles can be seen in the video below. The bike used in the video is a Redshift model, the one employed by Logos for the first Darpa grant’s testing (although with a different engine than the one featured below):
The RAID program is a combination of cameras and surveillance equipment positioned on high towers and aerostats, in order to monitor a wide area around important locations and bases. The RAID concept began with a smaller TCOM 17M aerostat as the base platform, instead of the TCOM 71M JLENS aerostats used for cruise missile and air defense. Its sensors were also optimized for battlefield surveillance, rather than JLENS’ focus on powerful air defense radars. The result is a form of survivable and permanent surveillance over key areas that has been deployed to Afghanistan & Iraq.
“Aerostats” has actually become something of a misnomer, however – RAID can also be deployed as a tower system, and this “Eagle Eye/ GBOSS” deployment is turning out to be the preferred mode. Raytheon continues to receive contracts from the US Marine Corps and US Army for new towers, as well as maintenance of existing systems…
The 2004 National Landmine Policy directed the Pentagon to end the use of persistent landmines after 2010, and introduce self-destructing and self-deactivating alternatives. The XM-7 Spider is the successor to the Matrix system deployed in Iraq, and part of the USA’s Non-Self-Destructing Anti-Personnel Landmine Alternatives (NSD-A) program.
Spider is more of a “remote explosive device” than a typical lay-and-forget land mine. It’s detonated by soldier command, and that soldier can even load non-lethal canisters if the mission calls for it. Unlike conventional land mines, the XM-7 Spider always has a known location, so it can be safely and easily recovered and re-deployed. If that isn’t possible for some reason, XM-7 units deactivate after a set time period, so they won’t become a future threat. It sounds good, and its capabilities are badly needed in places like remote fire bases, and along Korea’s dangerous DMZ. Unfortunately, the program has run into difficulties and delays.
It takes more than tanks to make up an armored division. Iraq’s purchases of M1 Abrams tanks has attracted a lot of attention, and SIGIR reports of a deal for M2/M3 Bradley fighting vehicles were noteworthy. But Iraq’s DSCA export requests for its tanks also included a wide variety of other necessary accompaniments: tracked APCs, artillery, heavy transport trucks, and transport. Most were sold as “Excess Defense Articles”, and Iraq received additional equipment beyond those requests.
That equipment is necessary to round out Iraq’s armored formations, and make them a viable force. All of it has be checked out, refurbished as necessary, and then supported in the field. Other items, like M1135 Stryker vehicles for detecting weapons of mass destruction, occupy their own special niches. DID covers the associated requests, contracts, and developments.
In February 2006, IANS reported that India had finally signed a $500 million deal with Russia for SPLAV’s Smerch-M BM 9K58 long-range 300mm multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS). SMERCH systems will offer a huge capability boost, relative to India’s older truck-mounted 122mm Grad rocket launchers.
So, what kind of capabilities does this weapon bring to the table? It sounds similar to the Soviet NKVD’s dreaded World War 2 SMERSH (“death to spies”) units, who sometimes acted to stiffen defenders’ resolve by waiting just behind the front lines with machine guns. The Smerch 9K58s may also stiffen resolve on the front lines, and end up being justly feared – albeit for different reasons.
There are 3 standard approaches for protecting vehicles against incoming RPGs: (1) Heavy or layered armor the warhead can’t penetrate; (2) Reactive armor tiles that explode outward when hit, deflecting, disabling, and/or disrupting the rocket and its blast; and (3) “Cage armor” or similar add-ons that can prevent detonation, or prevent the shaped charge jet from forming, at least some of the time.
The bad news is that providing enough steel cage armor can add a couple of tons to vehicle weight.
Enter BAE Systems’ LROD, developed under a fast-response Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program to provide RPG protection for Hummers and MRAP mine-resistant vehicles. The project led BAE to ask if steel was really necessary – and the answer was: no.
In June 2012, Oshkosh Corp. in Oshkosh, WI won a maximum $382 million fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for “commercial type fire and emergency vehicles” on behalf of the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. The contract will run from FY 2012 – 2017, using Defense Working Capital Funds, and will end on June 5/17. The USA’s Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support division in Philadelphia, PA will place orders as needed (SPM8EC-12-D-0009).
Oshkosh Fire & Emergency has slid from sales of over $2 billion per year in 2007, to under $1.5 billion in 2011, even as its operating income turned negative. A 5-year order that maxes out at under $400 million will put a dent in that decline, but won’t reverse it by itself. A failed Board proxy battle by Icahn Group also highlighted past Oshkosh’s moves to bid below its own costs, in order to secure defense work. The question for Oshkosh investors, and for new President Wilson Jones, is what margin Oshkosh managed to retain on this contract, lest it contribute to operating income issues without changing total sales trends.
Latest updates: Up to $228M in contracts, FY 2012-2015.
Low-velocity parachutes are so named because they’re used for cargo airdrops made below about 1,200 feet, with the cargo aircraft flying at low speed as parachute-rigged containers roll out the rear ramp. US Army Soldier Systems Natick developed them in 2006, aiming to offer a lower-cost low altitude system that did not require specialized parachute manufacturers. US Army PM FSS engineer Bruce Bonaceto’s designs hit those targets, and low velocity parachutes have been doing the same on the front lines. They’re generally used to deliver basic supplies such as gas, ammunition and food to troops in rough terrain and isolated locations, without having to use a more expensive high-altitude GPS-guided parachute system like JPADS, or a more expensive standard parachute like the G-12.
As one might imagine, demand is high in Afghanistan, and some of the small business contract recipients are an interesting set of stories in and of themselves…
Oshkosh subsidiary Pierce Manufacturing, Inc. in Appleton, WI won a maximum $7.1 million firm-fixed-price contract for fire fighting vehicle pumpers, for use by the US Army. The contract will run until Nov 28/12. There were 3 solicitations made, with 3 responses to the The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support in Philadelphia, PA (SPM8EC-11-D-0062-0009).
Fire fighting specialist Pierce was acquired by Oshkosh in 1996, and in 2001, their fire trucks introduced Oshkosh’s TAK-4 independent suspensions. The firm makes a range of fire pumpers, including their own foam systems that can spray multiple foam viscosities at the same time, in order to handle Class A and Class B fires. The Army order, though not large, will be very welcome at Oshkosh…