In response, one of the early-stage Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) approaches involves thinking entirely outside the sonar box. We talk about “submariner dolphins” – but maybe the creature they really need to emulate is the shark. Now a recent contract indicates that the US military is making real progress toward that goal…
On November 7, 2006 The US Department of Defense has awarded a Raytheon/ US Navy partnership a Performance Based Logistics Award (sub-system level) for performance based logistics that has improved the availability, reliability and mission success of the AN/AAS-44(v) forward looking infrared system for the H-60 Seahawk helicopter. This FLIR system allows H-60 aircrews to detect, track, classify, identify and attack targets such as fast patrol boats, mine-laying craft, or even land targets. Along with Raytheon, the award recognizes Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), Fleet Readiness Center Southeast, and the Naval Inventory Control Point.
Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems (SAS) is in the fourth year of a 10-year firm fixed price contract valued at $123 million to provide performance based logistics and mission support for the AN/AAS-44(v) FLIR. “Performance-based logistics” is a global trend in advanced militaries; it can use a range of contract options, but its core focus is a shift from pay-per-part to paying for agreed-upon benchmarks of performance in reliability, availability, et. al. Award documentation notes that the Raytheon/ Navy AN/AAS-44(v) team has steadily maintained 100% availability and achieved a 40% growth in system reliability improvement. The program is also providing increased spares availability, a 65% improvement in logistics response time, and estimated savings and cost avoidance for the Navy of $31 million. Raytheon release.
Subjects discussed included how the job of Fleet Forces Command has evolved since its creation in 2001, global piracy, the “thousand ship navy” concept, new directions in anti-mine warfare, developments related to the Littoral Combat Ship and its program innovations, et. al. The answers were substantive, and the interview is worth your while.
“Over the past several decades, the increases in acquisition costs for U.S. Navy amphibious ships, surface combatants, attack submarines, and nuclear aircraft carriers have outpaced the rate of inflation. To understand why, the authors of this book examined two principal source categories of ship cost escalation: economy-driven factors (which are outside the control of the Navy) and customer-driven factors (features for which the Navy has the most control). The authors also interviewed various shipbuilders to find out their views on other issues contributing to increasing costs. Based on their analysis, the authors propose some ways the Navy might reduce ship costs in the future, including limiting growth in features and requirements and reconsidering the mission orientation of ships. It is recognized, however, that such reductions come at a cost, since the nation and the Navy understandably desire technology and capability that is continuously ahead of their competitors.”
Some key excerpts from the speech follow – and the opening sets the tone:
“After three months in the job as Secretary, I have some observations regarding the relationship between the Navy and industry that I would like to focus on over the next few minutes. There are some positive conclusions – but, at the same time, there are warning signs that the relationship between the Department of the Navy and industry, a relationship that won hot and cold wars, is beginning to fray under the tensions of the fiscal and security environments of today and tomorrow.”
I thought this next bit was his most compelling statement…
Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems in Bethesda, MD received a $17.4 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for systems engineering and integration in support of Combat System Warfare Federated Tactical Systems (SWFTS). SWFTS is comprised of all submarine combat system subsystems, mainly consultation, command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C5I). This effort provides for the overall architecture integration of the subsystems to achieve a single total combat system for Naval Battlegroup interconnectivity.
Work will be performed in Manassas, VA (44%); Middletown, RI (12%); San Antonio, TX (8%); Groton, CT (7%); Woodbridge, VA (7%); Newport, RI (7%); Riverdale, MD (5%); Canton, IL (3%); Greensboro, NC (3%); Bethesda, MD (2%); North Waterford, CT (1%); Mystic, CT (1%), and is expected to be complete by December 2006. The contract was competitively procured and advertised on the Navy Electronic Commerce On-line website, with two proposals solicited and received. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., issued the contract (N00024-06-C-6272).
DID reader Lee Wahler points us to a pair of interesting articles. WorkBoat.com has a piece called “Boatyard Boom“:
“Everything indicates that the shipyard industry is on the leading edge of a boom,” said Butch King, chief executive officer, VT Halter Marine, Pascagoula, Miss. “Day rates are up, the steel market has stabilized, and operators find themselves with a good opportunity to upgrade and add to their fleet… The U.S. government announced plans to add 33 naval vessels to their existing fleet,” King added. The U.S. Coast Guard Deepwater program “continues to build and the demand for littoral combat vessels is growing.”
Note that commercial vessels are a sizable chunk of this activity. On the defense side of the ledger, however, MarineLog.com has an updated list of “Current Government Shipbuilding Contracts,” broken down by vessel type, anufacturer, and customer.
Back on January 9, 2006, DID ran a very popular article discussing the growth of fractal camouflage patterns, including Canada’s trail-blazing CADPAT, the Marines MARPAT, and HyperStealth’s advanced digital KA2 camouflage pattern created for Jordan. HyperStealth had also developed technologies to apply these patterns to aircraft, vehicles, and buildings. Digital camoufalge is a definite trend.
Since then, DID has covered the US Army’s ACUPAT scheme and other improvements to the new Army Combat Uniform. Meanwhile, there are further developments. The US Navy now has a pixilated uniform based on MARPAT, approved and released in early March. The US Air Force has just released its Airman Battle Uniform, based on a slightly pixilated tiger stripe pattern. In Jordan, over 300,000 uniforms have now been produced in variants of HyperStealth’s digital KA2 pattern, including a new Civil Defense Directorate KA2 Blue/Grey digital pattern. Research into night/urban, vehicle and aircraft camouflage patterns is also continuing. Details follow…
Small business qualifier SkillsNET Government Ltd. in Waxahachie, TX received a $35 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract to provide operation, maintenance, analysis, training, technical services, and a commercial-off-the-shelf Skills Management System software application suite. Here’s an example of that sort of work, involving the Navy’s Chaplain Corps.
This work is part of the US Navy’s ongoing Total Force occupational data capture and analysis efforts, which encompasses all Navy personnel, enlisted, officers (active and reserve, afloat and ashore components), civilians (government and contractor). Work will be performed in Waxahachie, TX and is expected to be complete in March 2011. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division in Orlando, FL (N61339-06-D-0010).
Serco Denholm Limited was announced as the preferred bidder for a 15-year, GBP 1 billion ($1.75 billion at current rates), Private Finance Initiative contract to provide a wide range of marine services. Subject to ongoing negotiations, the Future Provision of Marine Services (FPMS) contract would see Serco Denholm take responsibility for most marine services throughout the Royal Navy’s three main UK ports at Clyde, Devonport and Portsmouth, and in domestic and overseas waters as well. Serco Derholm would also absorb the current Royal Maritime Auxilliary Service (RMAS).
Announcing the proposed new contract, Secretary of State for Defence John Reid said: