Carried on SSBN-726 Ohio Class submarines, The Trident II D-5 is the US Navy’s submarine launched nuclear missile, with exceptional range for a sea-launched weapon and accuracy figures that rival or even exceed land-based ICBMs. These missiles are arguably the most important and effective component of the US nuclear deterrent, and they constitute Britain’s entire nuclear deterrent as well.
The US Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs in Washington, DC has issued a number of contracts recently related to the Trident II D-5 SLBMs, totaling $215.6 million. DID has grouped them all into this post, using subheadings. Readers may also note that none of these efforts were competitively procured. Mind you, “built by the lowest bidder” may not be an overly comforting thought in this particular area…
With procurement officers increasingly over-stretched, the Missile Defense Agency’s Contracting Directorate awarded a $7.7 million deal to CACI Dynamic Systems of Arlington, VA to help take the load off of its own acquisition, contracting and support functions. The deal will run for a year. (HQ0006-05-C-0027)
In April 2005, L-3 Communicatons subsidiary Interstate Electronics Corp. in Anaheim, CA was placed under criminal investigation for providing faulty parts to the CSEL search and rescue GPS/ beacon/ communicators used by US aviators, special forces teams, et. al. – and concealing test failures.
So, naturally, they’ve just been awarded a contract to support the test instrumentation hardware for most of America’s nuclear missile fleet, and all of Britain’s.
On Sept. 8, 2005, DID covered the evolution of DARPA’s FALCON program for low-cost, fast satellite launches. The goal is a booster that can launch a small satellite for less than $5 million with only 24 hours notice. On Sept. 29, 2005, AirLaunch LLC’s QuickReach system was successfully tested with a dummy booster that was live launched from a C-17 aircraft at 6,000 feet. AirLaunch LLC has now completed an $11.3 million contract under the Falcon program Phase IIA. If selected to move forward, the project would lead to a test flight to orbit in early 2008. See the full release for more details.
Here at DID, we applaud the innovation even as we wonder whether a similar approach could also be used by lesser powers to launch 2-stage ICBMs with INS/GPS guidance.
General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems in Pittsfield, MA received a $28.3 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract to provide TRIDENT II MK98 MOD 6/7 Strategic Weapons Systems Development and Production. The Mk98 mod 6/7 is an updated fire control system for the SSBN 726 Ohio Class nuclear ballistic missile submarines and their Trident II nuclear missiles.
Work will be performed in Pittsfield, MA and is expected to be complete by December 2009. This contract was not competitively procured by the Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs in Washington, DC (N00030-05-C-0051).
The Deccan Herald reports that according to sources in India’s Ministry of Defence, India will soon develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a flight range of 9,000-12,000 km based on their experience with the Agni intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM).
While Agni is a two-stage solid fuel ballistic missile capable of delivering a 10-15 kiloton nuclear warhead up to 2,500 km, the ICBM is projected as a three-stage solid and liquid ballistic missile, with solid fuel rockets based on the Agni in the first and second stages, and a liquid propellant rocket in the third stage. Projections include a 2,500-3,500 kg releasable front section with two to three warheads of 15-20 kilotons each, a launch weight of 270-275 tonnes and a CEP(Circular Error Probable) impact error of around 2.0-2.8 km.
The 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base has been working with the USA’s B-1B Lancer heavy bomber to upgrade their weapons carrying abilities. The results will increase the non-stealth bomber’s ability to deliver weapons into heavily defended areas, and enhance its value as a maritime strike aircraft as well.
Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, IA received a $351.8 firm fixed price, cost-plus award-fee, time and materials contract for the GEMS systems. GEMS will provide strategic posts and associated mobile support teams with survivable inter-site/ intra-site communications paths to receive emergency action messages (EAMs) and force management messages from nuclear command and control nodes (inter-site), then disseminate them to their bomber, tanker, and reconnaissance aircrews (intra-site).
The Lockheed Martin-built GPS 2R-M1 spacecraft was supposed to launch from Cape Canaveral in May 2002 aboard a Boeing Delta 2 rocket, but issues involving internal components have put the brakes on the $75 million mission. Problems included:
A mis-installed capacitor on a navigation payload under assembly.
Screws were discovered not properly torqued in a navigation payload. Inspections performed on GPS 2R-M1 showed its screws were torqued.
Navigation payload-manufacturer ITT determined that a Destructive Physical Analysis had not been performed for a relay used on the GPS 2R-M1 satellite’s L-Band transmitter DC-DC converter.
Despite a number of delays and cost overruns in programs like SBIRS High and AEHF Milstar 3, Air Force officials at the 21st National Space Symposium on April 5, 2005 said the Pentagon’s acquisition system for buying high-tech military satellites and launch vehicles is not broken.
The Air Force officials’ assessment contrasts with a Jan. 28, 2005, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which said that “many of the space programs we have reviewed over the past several decades have incurred unanticipated cost and schedule increases because they began without knowing whether technologies could work as intended, and invariably found themselves addressing technical problems in a more costly environment.” The report also acknowledged the Pentagon had made some progress in conducting space-related science and technology research within a broader strategy.