Small business qualifier Skill Metric Machine & Tool, Inc. in Delray Beach, FL recently received a 5-year, maximum $48.5 million, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for AM-2 metal matting accessory packages, in support of the Expeditionary Airfield program. Those packages contain items that help assemble, secure, and lock/stake the mats into place, so they can act as emergency airfields for USMC fighters, transports, etc. Work will be performed in Delray Beach, FL, and is expected to be complete in October 2016. $1.5 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured as an 8(a) small business set-aside competition via electronic request for proposals, and 1 offer was received by the US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ (N68335-12-D-0001).
This sounds boring, but it’s critical to the way the US Marines fight. Anywhere in the world, the Marine Corps can install 4,000 feet of AM-2 steel matting and begin operating its airpower. At the 2010 Battle of Marjah, for instance, the Marines expected a really difficult fight, and needed consistent close air support. All with limited aerial tanker support, and just 10 AV-8B Harrier jets based over 150 miles away, at Kandahar Airfield. That would mean too much flying back and forth, and not enough time over the battlefield. Instead, a 4,000 foot expeditionary airfield was built at FOB Dwyer, just 10 miles from the battle, as a forward arming and refueling point (FARP). Result? Just 30 minutes from departure to a fully-fueled return, and full close-support coverage thanks to a 4x aircraft sortie rate.
With its 5,145 lb empty weight (2.3 metric tons), the K-MAX UAS cannot quite convey the same sense of graceful lightness as its Hummingbird Boeing competitor, coming at slightly less than half the weight.
Belonging to a different weight class shifts the Lockheed Martin/Kaman helo to a different mission focus, with a clear emphasis on battlefield cargo resupply. K-MAX has a useful load of 6,855 lb (3.1 tons) vs. 2,500 pounds for the Hummingbird. Up to 6,000 lb (at sea level) can be attached to the cargo hook which is attached to a curved trolley system. Payload at 10,000 ft is still rated above 5,000 lb.
In June 2009, Iridium Government Services in Tempe, AZ received a contract to begin providing Netted Iridium satellite communication system to front line Marines. The program was developed to enable Marines deployed inland to communicate back to their ships, and moved on to Phase 2 as the Distributed Tactical Communications System (DTCS). A number of important improvements are underway, and the program is now in Phase 3.
Iridium is still most famous as Motorola’s spectacular global venture failure, but it was bought for pennies on the dollar and has become a thriving low-bandwidth communications provider. Commenting on the problem that the Netted Iridium program was designed to solve, Brigadier General Mark Bowman, of US Central Command J6, said:
DJ Elliott is a retired USN Intelligence Specialist (22 years active duty) who has been analyzing and writing on Iraqi Security Forces developments since 2006. His Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle is an open-source compilation that attempts to map and detail Iraqi units and equipment, as their military branches and internal security forces grow and mature. While “good enough for government use” is not usually uttered as a compliment, US Army TRADOC has maintained permission to use the ISF OOB for their unclassified handouts since 2008.
This compilation is reproduced here with full permission. It offers a set of updates highlighting recent changes in the ISF’s composition and development, followed by the full updated ISF OOBs in PDF format.
As the Marines themselves note, “body armor can be traced back to before the Roman Empire, when war was waged with sword and spear and the battlefield rang with the clash of steel on steel.” In time, its protection became so formidable that an armored, mounted warrior feared few enemies. A string of reverses from Crecy on into the age of gunpowder led to a growing offensive ascendancy, however, creating several centuries where warriors headed into battle without any armor at all.
That began to change in the late 20th century, and the pendulum is swinging back. The Interceptor Outer Tactical Vest became the US military’s standard equipment around the dawn of the 21st century. It’s credited with saving numerous lives, but the US Marines were less impressed. In the wake of negative After-Action Reviews, they turned to Protective Products International in Sunrise, FL to produce the Modular Tactical Vest (MTV) instead, designed by an ex-Marine.
In February 2008, the Marines put a hold on further MTV orders, following complaints from the field. That hold has been lifted with the awarding of 2 contracts worth up to $794.7 million for the Improved MTVs.
Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Rolling Meadows, IL recently receive an unfinalized contract estimated at $77.7 million for 121 AN/AAQ-24v25 Guardian laser transmitter assemblies for installation on US Navy and USMC CH-53D Sea Stallion, CH-53E Super Stallion, and CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters, including associated technical data. The AAQ-24 Guardian/Nemesis is a next-generation directable laser-based countermeasures system, based on the LAIRCM system for larger aircraft. The idea behind such Directional InfraRed Counter-Measures (DIRCM) systems is to aim appropriately coded laser pulses at an incoming missile’s seeker, decoying it away.
Work will be performed in Rolling Meadows, IL (39%); Edinburgh, Scotland (16.8%); Goleta, CA (10%); Blacksburg, VA (9.4%); Boulder, CO (7.1%); Dallas, TX (5.5%); Lewisburg, TN (2%); Apopka, FL (1.8%); Woodland Hills, CA (1.3%); Tampa, FL (1%); Santa Clara, CA (1%); Melbourne, FL (1%); Wheeling, WVA (1%); and various locations throughout the U.S. (3.1%), and is expected to be completed in August 2012. This contract was not competitively procured by the US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River MD (N00019-10-C-0080).
If fighting in Iraq was mostly about Close Quarters Battle, experience on the ground in Afghanistan is driving home the opposite imperative: marksmanship and lethality at range. US studies like the influential “Taking Back the Infantry Half-Kilometer” are driving that point home, and the trend is leading to shifts like fielding more 7.62mm M240 machine guns in place of 5.56mm M249 Minimis, and doubling the number of 7.62mm M14 EBR rifles per infantry squad to 2.
The British are facing the exact same pressures. After a very poor start, their 5.56mm SA80/ L85 bullpup assault rifles have been improved by an H&K redesign. That may help with jamming and reliability, but it doesn’t change the 5.56mm round’s fundamental ballistic characteristics, like its notable drop-off in lethality beyond 300 meters.
At the twilight’s last gleaming (click to view larger)
A $70 million contract for TPS-59 radar maintenance and sustainment. (April 28/10)
Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensor in Electronics Park, Syracuse, NY is responsible for developing, maintaining, and upgrading the AN/TPS-59(V)3 Long Range Radar System. The TPS-59 is an all solid-state L-Band, 3-dimensional air defense radar which is tactically mobile and provides long-range surveillance and ground-control intercept capability. It supports enroute traffic control to a distance of 300 nautical miles, and its 740 km/ 400 nautical mile range and full 360 degree azimuth scan results in a surveillance volume of 603 million km3 for tactical missile defense. The TPS-59 is in service with the USMC, Bahrain, and Egypt, and is the only long range 3D Radar in the Marine Air-Ground Task Force. The related FPS-117 family of solid-state radars is in service with the USAF, and 17 countries around the world.
Developed for the United States Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), the Missile Defense Agency’s predecessor, and the United States Marine Corps, the TPS-59 (V)3 is designed to operate with Patriot missile batteries. These radars have been modernized and upgraded several times during their lifespan, in order to keep them on the cutting edge of technology. In August 1996, at White Sands Missile Range, the AN/TPS-59(V)3/HAWK system completed a test program in which it intercepted and destroyed a LANCE short range theater ballistic missile and 2 air breathing drones simultaneously in an operational test. Those kinds of improvements and modernizations continue today…
While high-tech weapons items get a lot of billing, the Global War on Terror is very much an infantry war. Firepower overmatch matters in those situations, which explains the corresponding popularity of 40mm grenade systems on the modern battlefield. Enter, then, the US Marine Corps’ M-32 six-shot 40mm grenade launcher.
During an annual symposium several years ago, Marine gunners decided that they needed an option that was more powerful than the ubiquitous M203 one-shot launchers that mount under their M4 or M16 rifles. The M-32 won out as an experimental weapon for each marine battalion – and now a variant appears to have won a larger formal competition.
General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) in Needham, MA received an $8.6 million delivery order (#0010) under a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract [pdf] (M67854-09-D-4726) to install IT capabilities and tools for the fielding of US Marine Corps Enterprise IT Services.
GDIT was awarded the original 5-year, $95 million contract on Dec 22/08. GDIT leads a team that includes Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto, CA; Electronic Data Systems in Plano, TX (acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2009); Smartronix in California, MD; and Zenetex in Herndon, VA.
Under the deliver order, GDIT will install, test, configure, integrate, develop detailed procedures, and train operators for Enterprise IT Service Management (E-ITSM) processes and tools within the Marine Corps Enterprise Information Technology Services (MCEITS) framework…