Northrop Grumman’s ASDS “Advanced SEAL Delivery System” aimed to build mini-subs as successors to the current SDV (SEAL/Swimmer Delivery Vehicle). It began with great promise. The SDVs, carried on US modified Benjamin Franklin Class [SSBN-640] special warfare submarines, as well as new Ohio Class SSGNs, were old – and cold. ASDS would offer a modern, dry alternative, with advanced sensors besides.
In the end, however, technical and reliability issues proved insuperable. The program spiraled out of control, with cost overruns of 400+%. In its place, a less ambitious SWCS replacement program is beginning to take shape, even as the private sector begins to step in with options of its own. This DID FOCUS article chronicles the ASDS program’s history, its designated successors, and emerging privately-funded alternatives.
Tribalco, LLC in Bethesda, MD receives an option on a 4-year indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for the purchase of tactical combat casualty care sets in support of U.S. Special Operations Command. The goal for the CASEVAC Set is to have individual modules (Extraction, Mobility, Transport, Sustainment) capable of being used independently, based on a grab-and-go mentality. This option will increase the total estimated contract ceiling to $54.6 million. Work will be performed in Bethesda, MD, and is expected to be complete in 2015. This contract was awarded through competitive acquisition, but in accordance with limits allowed in 10 U.S.C. 2305(b)(4)(B) and 41 U.S.C. 253b(d)(3).
Tribalco is a certified small business formed by the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians. Their declared specialty is telecommunications, rather than the portable medical kits with monitors, trauma gear, medication, defibrillator, crash extractors, spinal boards, mountain rescue equipment, etc. required here. Even so, the special provisions that U.S. SOCOM is citing involve only limiting proposals to a highly rated subset of contractors, and prompt notification, rather than native business or small business set-asides. That’s because the 100% small business set aside was already taken care of in the April 5/10 pre-solicitation, and the TCCC CASEVAC contract was structured as a test-off and downselect to 1 vendor. Tribalco LLC appears to have beaten fellow Sept 2/10 awardees Tactical & Survival Specialties, Inc. and Remote Medical, Inc. for the production contract (H92222-10-D-0023). See also FBO solicitation.
In early June 2011, Vohne Liche Kennels, Inc. in Denver, IN received an $11.3 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for “multi purpose canine and handler training in support of U.S. Army Special Operations Command.” The contract includes a base year and 4 option years, which would extend it to 2016. U.S. Army Special Operations Command manages the contract (H92239-11-D-0002).
Many military dogs are German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds, or Belgian Malmois, though other breeds may be used. SOCOM’s dogs became a topic of deep interest, after it was revealed that Osama Bin Laden was done in by 79 Navy SEALs… and one dog. As the humorous poster out there put it: “Man’s Best Friend… because you can’t strap a cat across your waist and parachute into Afghanistan.” The British SAS have reportedly bought American dogs for similar operations, and Austrian special forces jumped with dogs in a recent NATO exercise; they report that the dogs are actually quite calm about it. I guess it’s kind of like the world’s largest, best-ever car window. Vendors like K-9 Storm provide the associated parachute harnesses, camera vests, assault vests, and other gear. The accompanying picture is US special forces dog trainer Mike Forsythe and his working dog Cara, breaking a record by jumping from 31,000 feet, wearing K-9 Storm’s vest.
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.
ITT’s AN/ALQ-211 SIFRC system [PDF] provides detection, analysis and protection against radar-guided threats, including triangulation and GPS geolocation of threats, advance warning that may enable a pilot to route around the threat, and cueing of countermeasures like chaff dispensers via integration with the CV-22’s entire self-protection suite. It’s a modular system with multiple sensors and electronic components installed all around a rotary-winged or fixed winged aircraft. Variants of the ALQ-211 SIFRC equip US AFSOCOM’s CV-22s (ALQ-211v2), as well helicopters like SOCOM MH-47s and MH-60s (ALQ-211v6/v7), some NH90s (ALQ-211v5), and AH-64D attack helicopters (ALQ-211v1). Foreign F-16 jet fighters also deploy the ALQ-211, most recently as the ALQ-211v4 AIDEWS integrated defensive system.
A 2005 contract from US Special Operations Command morphed into a much larger contract in 2008, and delivery orders continue…
FN Manufacturing in Columbia, SC received an $11.5 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the MK46 MOD1 lightweight machine gun and MK48 MOD1 lightweight machine gun, along with spare and repair parts in support of the U.S. Special Operations Command. Work will be performed in Columbia, SC, and is expected to be complete by November 2015. $25,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. FN is the only firm that makes these weapons, so this contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, IN (N00164-11-D-JN65).
Both the MK46 LMG and MK48 lightweight GPMG are designed specifically for US special ops requirements. The Mk46 is a variant of the ubiquitous 5.56mm M249 “Minimi” Squad Automatic Weapon, but adds some features and removes about a pound of weight. The Mk48 is a heavier 7.62mm variant, whose longer lethal range is very useful in environments like Afghanistan.
US Special Operations Command (US SOCOM) has been extremely busy since Sept 11/01, a situation which creates corresponding demands on their support infrastructure. SOCOM is famous for having a practical, results-oriented, “get it done now” approach to contracting, and there are a number of umbrella contracts designed to provide them with outsourced support and maintenance services of all kinds. One of the these contracts is SOFSA CLS (Special Operations Forces Support Activity, Contractor Logistics Support); contrary to some media reports that it exemplifies a trend toward contracted services, it has been running for over 20 years now.
On March 3/09, the Pentagon announced that Lockheed Martin would be replacing L-3 Communications Integrated Systems as the designated contractor for SOFSA CLS, which has 3 primary components: (1) aircraft, vehicle and equipment maintenance, (2) critical infrastructure support, and (3) business process transformation. L-3 protested that award, received a sizeable interim award, and got the Lockheed win canceled, pending a re-compete. Then, a May 2010 scandal changed everything…
L-3 Communications subsidiary EOTech, Inc. in Ann Arbor, MI received a $25 million sole-source, firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract, to provide their optical sighting system for U.S. Special Operations Command’s M4A1 carbines. Work will be performed in Ann Arbor, MI and is expected to be complete by May 2015. $262,636 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/10. The US Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, IN manages this contract (N00164-10-D-JN68).
EOTech offers a unique technology, thanks to its Holographic Weapon Sight. The firm says that their night-vision compatible sight combines ranging and aiming in one image, which is not affected by problems like mud on the sight, or even a cracked sight window. This simple simulator demonstrates the basic sight picture.
Nightforce, Inc. in Orofino, Idaho, was awarded a $25.8 million firm-fixed-price contract for its family of dayscopes, with accompanying service for spares, repairs and upgrades. These scope sights will be used by special forces and snipers in the US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. Work will be performed in Orofino, ID, and is expected to be complete by April 2015. This contract was competitively procured and solicited via the Federal Business Opportunities Web site, with 1 offer received by the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, IN (N00164-10-D-JQ23).
This order is a focused example of a larger trend toward marksman-class optics buys by advanced militaries in general, and the US military in particular. High-quality optics, in the hands of trained riflemen, are proving to be extremely useful against opponents who regularly use human shields and commit related war crimes. In response, services are moving to ensure that their snipers are well equipped, and also shifting toward much wider fielding of high-quality combat scopes. That push includes both dayscopes like these, and day/night capable sights like the PAS-13 family. Since snipers work in pairs, buys like advanced spotter scopes are also underway.