The rising cost of maintenance has made it a greater concern to the world’s militaries, and new contract vehicles are reflecting that. Under the C-17 GSP/GISP, Boeing has total system support responsibility for the big transport aircraft, including materiel management and depot maintenance, to support customer fleets around the world. The goal is total aircraft sustainment support under a single contract, in order to achieve improvements in mission readiness, while reducing operating and support costs.
Latest updates: Major deal adds HIOS segment to 2015.
UK C-130 C5
In mid-2006 the UK MoD added another platform to the expanding list of long-term, performance-based, public-private, “contracting for availability” maintenance solutions for Britain’s key military platforms, by awarding Marshall Aerospace a GBP 1.52 billion contract ($2.86 billion conversion back then) to begin supporting its fleet of C-130 Hercules transport aircraft until 2030.
The deal has several segments, with mechanisms for price adjustments upward and downward as the contract continues. Britain’s SDSR plans may also cut the deal off early, if the entire C-130 fleet retires by 2022 as planned. As prime contractor, Marshall Aerospace is working in partnership with the Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO), the Royal Air Force, Lockheed Martin and Rolls-Royce to deliver the Hercules Integrated Operational Support (HIOS) programme. The HIOS programme will provide guaranteed levels of aircraft availability to a fleet that includes both older C3/C1 models (C-130K stretched and normal) and C4/C5 models (C-130J-30 and C-130J).
On July 25/06 Al-Anbar commander and U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer submitted an MNF-W priority 1 request. It pointed to the hazards inherent in American supply lines, and noted that many of the supply convoys on Iraq’s roads (up to 70%, by some reports) were carrying fuel. Much of that fuel wasn’t even for vehicles, but for diesel generators used to generate power at US bases. That is still true, and Afghanistan has even more daunting logistics. By some estimates, shipping each gallon of fuel to Afghanistan requires 7 gallons of fuel for transport.
In December 2008, reports surfaced that France intended to accelerate production of its 3rd Mistral Class LHD amphibious assault and command ship, as part of a EUR 2.3 billion defense component of France’s economic stimulus package. That deal was finalized on Apr 10/09, and production of the 3rd ship of class is now complete. It is expected to enter service as FS Dixmude in 2012.
Cost figures were not released initially, but the use of commercial cruise ship standards and civilian yards reportedly allowed France to field the first two 21,300t Mistral Class LHDs for about EUR 660 million. By 2010, it emerged that Dixmude would be delivered for about 10% less, or EUR 300 million. That would make each Mistral Class LHD just 25% of the price for a single American 22,700t LPD-17 San Antonio Class amphibious assault and command ship.
Latest updates: $20M for fleet engineering support.
KC-135 & RNoAF F-16, Afghanistan
While Boeing and EADS duke it out for the USA’s $20-30 billion KC-X order of about 175 aerial tankers with secondary cargo capacity, the existing KC-135 fleet still needs to be maintained. Based on the 707 airliner’s initial designs, the KC-135s first entered service in 1954, and they were delivered until 1965. Despite their age, they remain the mainstay of the USA’s aerial tanker fleet as it helps fighters make long-distance flights, keeps US and foreign combat air patrols on station, refuels transports on their way to remote destinations, and generally makes long-range force projection possible.
Unforeseen mechanical issues and the accompanying fleet groundings would create a crippling bottleneck in this defining array of American airpower capabilities, which is why KC-X was designated as the USAF’s highest procurement priority. Meanwhile, the KC-135s need to be well and carefully maintained in order to avoid that bottleneck. Which is why Boeing received a $1.1 billion, 10-year contract to maintain the USAF’s KC-135 fleet, after breaking with its former partners at Pemco/AAII. That kicked off a series of competitions, appeals, and reversals that reached all the way to American appeals courts:
Defense News (via Defense Tech) reports that China has just ordered 6 “Zubr” hovercraft from Russia’s Almaz Shipbuilding. The Zubr Class is the world’s largest hovercraft, displacing 555 tonnes. It has over twice the tonnage carrying capacity of the US Navy’s LCACs (150 tons to 70 tons); the ability to carry a number of weapons including 140mm rocket pods, 30mm cannon, or air defense missiles; and a cruising range of around 300 nautical miles. They would be extremely difficult to deploy from another ship in the manner of the USN’s LCACs, but the Zubr’s cruising range and load makes its usefulness in Taiwan invasion scenarios extremely obvious. Vietnam, and other nations with an interest in the Spratly Islands, may also be justifiably nervous. And just to make things really interesting, Defense News believes the Chinese plan to buy them in order to initiate additional production of their own knock-offs.
US Army Paratroopers Drop into North Korea (click to view larger)
We all have seen photos of a sea of big round parachutes, as US Army paratroopers descended on German troops in France during World War II, on North Korean troops during the Korean War, and into northern Iraq in the most recent Iraq War. The US Army’s parachute design hasn’t changed much over the years. Until now.
The US Army has undertaken a complete redesign of its T-10 parachute, which it has used since the 1950s. The new T-11 parachute has a new square design and a number of advantages over the T-10: a larger canopy, slower descent rate, and greater carrying capacity.
After 3,200 test jumps, the Army is moving ahead with T-11 procurement to get the parachutes into the field…
Defense was an issue in the 2007 Australian election. The center-left Labor Party attacked the center-right Liberal Party by citing mismanaged projects, and accusing the Howard government of making poor choices on key defense platforms like the F/A-18F Super Hornet and F-35A Joint Strike fighters. That sniping continued even after Labor won the election, and has been evident in more than a few Defence Ministry releases.
The new government made some program changes, such as canceling the SH-2G Seasprite contract. Yet it has been more notable for the programs it has not changed: problematic upgrades of Australia’s Oliver Hazard Perry frigates were continued, the late purchase of F/A-18F Super Hornets was ratified rather than canceled, and observers waited for the real shoe to drop: the government’s promised 2009 Defence White Paper, which would lay out Australia’s long-term strategic assessments, and procurement plans.
On May 2/09, Australia’s government released “Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030.” DID has reviewed that document, and the reaction to date including a new ASPI roundup of reactions from around Asia.
Rizzani de Eccher (USA) in Miami Beach, FL won a $44.8 million firm-fixed-price contract for the design and construction of a facility replacement at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. The company, which is a unit of Italian construction firm Rizzani de Eccher, expects to complete construction by Dec 30/10. US Army Corps of Engineers’ Transatlantic Programs Center in Winchester, VA received 8 bids for the contract (W912ER-09-C-0033).
Al Udeid Air Base is a military base located west of Doha, Qatar…
The USA’s T-AK and T-AKR classes of Maritime Prepositioning Ships serve as vast, floating stocks of equipment, ammunition, and supplies that can be sailed into friendly ports to meet up with flown-in Marines. This critical but often-unrecognized force includes a combination of U.S. government-owned ships and chartered U.S.-flagged ships, and can also include ships activated from the Maritime Administration’s Ready Reserve Force. They are not crewed by US Navy personnel, but use U.S. civilian mariners (“CIVMARs”), who work for ship operating companies under contract to the federal government. As of January 2009, there were 15 active MP Ships under MSC’s command.
A number of the chartered ships have long-term period charters that include an option to purchase the ship once that set of chartered periods is complete. The US Navy’s Maritime Sealift Command recently exercised its options for 3 of its T-AK container-carrying “roll-on, roll-off” ships, all of which are named after exceptional people who earned the USA’s Congressional Medal of Honor for extreme valor…