Latest updates[?]: The US Navy announced, that it has finished a test of its first littoral combat ship-based unmanned mine detection system. The Unmanned Influence Sweep System designed for the LCS has a mine countermeasures unmanned surface vehicle, or MCM USV, and a towed minesweeping payload to sweep magnetic or acoustic mines, the Program Executive Office for Unmanned and Small Combatants.
Trimaran LCS Design
(click to enlarge)
Exploit simplicity, numbers, the pace of technology development in electronics and robotics, and fast reconfiguration. That was the US Navy’s idea for the low-end backbone of its future surface combatant fleet. Inspired by successful experiments like Denmark’s Standard Flex ships, the US Navy’s $35+ billion “Littoral Combat Ship” program was intended to create a new generation of affordable surface combatants that could operate in dangerous shallow and near-shore environments, while remaining affordable and capable throughout their lifetimes.
It hasn’t worked that way. In practice, the Navy hasn’t been able to reconcile what they wanted with the capabilities needed to perform primary naval missions, or with what could be delivered for the sums available. The LCS program has changed its fundamental acquisition plan 4 times since 2005, and canceled contracts with both competing teams during this period, without escaping any of its fundamental issues. Now, the program looks set to end early. This public-access FOCUS article offer a wealth of research material, alongside looks at the LCS program’s designs, industry teams procurement plans, military controversies, budgets and contracts.
Latest updates[?]: Alabama Shipyard LLC won a $19.7 million contract for a 76-calendar day shipyard availability for the regular overhaul/dry docking on USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1). USNS Lewis and Clark is an American dry cargo ship, the lead ship of her namesake class.The contract to build her was awarded to National Steel and Shipbuilding Company of San Diego, California, on 18 October 2001 and her keel was laid down on April 22, 2004. Work will take place in Mobile, Alabama. Estimated completion date will be by May 24, 2021.
Warships get a lot of attention, but without resupply, an impressive-looking fleet becomes a hollow force. The US Navy’s supply and support fleet has been aging, and needed new vessels. T-AKE is part of that effort, and the ships have also found themselves performing “naval diplomacy” roles.
The entire T-AKE dry cargo/ ammunition ship program could have a total value of as much as $6.2 billion, and a size of 14 ships, as the US looks to modernize its supply fleet. How do T-AKE ships fit into US naval operations? What ships do they replace? What’s the tie-in to US civilian industrial capacity? How were environmental standards built into their design? And what contracts have been issued for T-AKE ships to date?
Latest updates[?]: Boeing is expected to market a set of F-15 modifications capable of equipping the jet with sixteen air-to-air missiles at the Air Force Association conference in Maryland next week. The plans are yet to be outlined fully by the company, which would double the carrying capacity of the F-15 from the current eight missiles and allow the aging design to remain operational potent, given the potential pairing of the AIM-120D medium-range missile with the aircraft's Active Electronically Scanned Array radar system.
B-52H: to 2030?
The current US Air Force fleet, whose planes are more than 26 years old on average, is the oldest in USAF history. It won’t keep that title for very long. Many transport aircraft and aerial refueling tankers are more than 40 years old – and under current plans, some may be as many as 70-80 years old before they retire. Since the price for next-generation planes has risen faster than inflation, average aircraft age will climb even if the US military gets every plane it asks for in its future plans. Nor is the USA the only country facing this problem.
As this dynamic plays out and average age continues to rise, addressing the issues related to aging aircraft becomes more and more important in order to maintain acceptable force numbers, readiness levels, and aircraft maintainability; avoid squeezing out recapitalization budgets; handle personnel turnover that becomes more and more damaging; and keep maintenance costs in line, despite new technical problems that will present unforeseen difficulties. Like F-15 fighters that are under flight restrictions due to structural fatigue concerns – or grounded entirely.
The biggest contracts aren’t always the ones deserving of the most attention. Enter the USA’s Joint Council on Aging Aircraft (JCAA), and initiatives like the Navy’s ASLS. Enter, too, DID’s Spotlight article. It seeks to place the situation and its effects in perspective, via background, contracts, and a research trove of articles that tap the expertise and observations of outside parties and senior sources within the US military.
General Dynamics C4 Systems in Scottsdale, AZ received a $53.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for 81 AN/USC-61C digital modular radios (DMR), DMR 100 and 200 watt power amplifiers, and other ancillary hardware. Currently approximately 300 software-defined radios, each with four channels, have been shipped to the Navy to be installed on ships, submarines, shore sites, and test facilities. Based on DID’s research, the U.S. Navy has now spent approximately $175 million all told on DMR radios and software, including this contract.
This software-controlled and re-configurable digital radio system currently features some JTRS capabilities such as expanded frequency range, multiple software-defined waveforms, multiple independent level security, advanced software, etc. The system can be used to replace multiple existing radios with a single, easy-to-use system which communicates seamlessly with different armed services as well as the U.S. Coast Guard and NATO allies. More specifically…
Back in 2008, the Navy signaled its desire to its desire to incorporate the “far term sea-based terminal defense” capacity of the SM-6 into its Aegis system, with one hurdle being some ships’ radars being capable of handling the sensor data requirements. They then hoped for operational capability in 2015. Yesterday, Raytheon announced in a widely-parroted release that the Navy had indeed approved the SM-6 for additional Aegis systems, to include those Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers from the 1994-keel-laid The Sullivans (DDG-68) onward.
Craney Island Fuel Terminal (click to view larger)
Mid Eastern Builders in Chesapeake, VA won a $36.4 million firm-fixed-price contract for replacement of fuel storage tanks at Craney Island Fuel Terminal in Portsmouth, VA. Mid Eastern Builders will demolition the 19 aged bulk storage tanks and build 6 new tanks.
The company expects to complete the work by August 2012. The contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with 6 proposals received by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic in Norfolk, VA (N40085-09-C-5037). According to Globalsecurity.org, Craney Island Fuel Terminal is the US Navy’s largest fuel facility in the United States…
Campbell Ewald Co. won an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for advertising and marketing services for the Navy Recruiting Command in Millington, TN. This contract is worth $146.2 million over the base year, and 4 one-year options could bring its total value to $806.5 million.
Most of this work will be performed at Campbell Ewald’s Warren, MI, facility and the base year ends in May 2010. This contract was competitively procured via Navy Electronic Commerce Online, with 4 offers received by the Fleet and Industrial Supply Center Norfolk’s Contracting Department in Philadelphia, PA (N00189-09-D-Z040).
Campbell Ewald has been working with the Navy on recruiting-related contracts since 2000. In 2005, following a major account review, they scored a major $400+ million win. The firm is responsible for Navy campaigns like “Accelerate Your Life” and NavyforMoms.com, and has expanded the Navy’s reach into social networking communities. That Navy-related work has won over 80 industry awards since 2000. See also Campell Ewald’s release, which includes sample marketing segments.
Booz Allen Hamilton in Norfolk, VA received a $25.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price contract to provide expertise in change management, organizational barrier identification and removal, and key enterprise performance metrics to the US Navy. This contract includes a base year and 4 one-year options, which if exercised, bring the total estimated value of the contract to $120.1 million.
Work will be performed in various locations around the continental United States (CONUS), and the base year will be complete by January 2009. Contract funds will expire at the end of the fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured though Government-wide Points of Entry, Navy Electronic Commerce On-line, and Federal Business Opportunities websites, with 3 offers received by the Fleet and Industrial Supply Center Norfolk (N00189-08-D-0022).
France’s semi-private naval design & construction firm DCNS has signed a “purchase general contract” for R&D cooperation with Russia’s the Krylov Shipbuilding Research Institute, via Rosoboronexport. It is an amplification of the Letter of Intent the two companies signed during the 2006 Paris Euronaval exhibition.
Work is expected to include “technical relationships for hydrodynamic studies and experimentations… for surface ships as much as for submarines is within the R&D scope of the general contract.” DCNS release.