In December 2005, the interference of American arms export restrictions within the huge F-35 program became so burdensome that they became a high-level diplomatic problem. Despite the promises of 2 successive American Presidents, the ITAR exemptions that Britain had sought remained blocked in America’s legislature – and European initiatives to resume defense exports to China were not improving the situation in Congress. Meanwhile, MPs in Britain were becoming very insistent on a fix, and there was even talk of abandoning the F-35. The stakes were high.
In time, many of these issues were worked out. In August 2006, the US and UK reached a technology transfer agreement concerning the F-35 fighter, which would serve as a model for other F-35 industrial partners. By December 2007, Tier 1 partner Britain had signed the F-35’s Production, Sustainment & Follow On Development MoU. A broader fix was still on the agenda, however, and in July 2007 it materialized as a a treaty that would change the way the American and British defense firms cooperate on defense programs.
This Spotlight article aims to act as a one-stop briefing that explains the treaty’s motivation, key terms, and outstanding issues. It also links to the key documents, and keeps track of events en route to full implementation nearly 5 years later…
Out of its original purchase of 138 aircraft (98 single-seat CF18A and 40 dual-seat CF18B), Canada retains an operational fleet of 60 CF-18s, plus an additional 25 CF-18Bs in service with 410 Tactical Fighter (Operational Training) Squadron to train its fighter pilots.
In June 2006, Canada’s Department of National Defense began an arrangement with Boeing for the second and final phase the CF-18 Modernization Project. The upgrade will add a Link 16 system, a helmet-mounted sight, new cockpit displays and a new flare-dispensing electronic warfare system to 78 CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft. Two additional aircraft were to be modified for the essential validation and verification of the planned upgrade, bringing the total to 80. The program delivered its 79th, and final, CF-18AM/BM aircraft in March 2010.
In 2009 former Norwegian Defence and Foreign Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg, has presented a 13-point proposal on potential Nordic cooperation in foreign and security policy. That proposal continues to move forward politically.
Harris IT Services received a 5-year, $26 million contract to provide managed IT services to the US Air National Guard (ANG) Network and Regional Operations and Security Centers (ROSCs).
The Air National Guard is consolidating its IT infrastructure from 11 ROSCs across the United States into a centrally managed hub. Harris team members include TechTeam Government Solutions and NetApp.
The 1-year base-period contract with 4 one-year options includes Tier III technical support for enterprise IT systems such as applications, infrastructure, vulnerability assessment, directory services, boundary protection and messaging. Tier III technical support, also known as back-end or high-end support, involves handling advanced IT problems and using expert-level troubleshooting and analytic methods.
The Haskell Company in Jacksonville, FL won a $11.6 million firm-fixed-price contract to design and build a headquarters building for US Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) at the Naval Support Activity in Norfolk, VA. The multi-story building will contain administrative areas, space for commercial food service vendors, open storage/secret, a sensitive compartmented information facility, conference rooms, data processing areas, storage areas, and an emergency generator.
The contract contains 3 unexercised options, which, if exercised, would increase the cumulative contract value to $16.5 million. Haskell expects to complete construction by January 2011. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with 13 proposals received by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic in Norfolk, VA (N40085-09-C-5093).
USJFCOM is 1 of 10 US Department of Defense (DoD) combatant commands and has several roles in transforming the US military’s capabilities…
General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems in Suffolk, VA won an $18.2 million indefinite-quantity contract with cost reimbursement and fixed-price ordering provisions for analysis and assessment of command and control (C2) interoperability in support of the U.S. Joint Forces Command’s (USJFCOM) Joint Systems Integration Center (JSIC). This contract includes a base year and 4 one-year option periods, which if exercised, bring the total estimated value of the contract to $101.9 million. General Dynamics will perform the work in Suffolk, VA and expects to complete it by June 2010. This contract was competitively procured, with 4 offers received by the Fleet and Industrial Supply Center Norfolk, Contracting Department, Philadelphia Division (N00189-09-D-Z050).
DID has more on the C2 interoperability work being done at the JSIC…
As video communications is integrated into robots, soldiers, and UAVs, and network-centric warfare becomes the organizing principle of American warfighting, front-line demands for bandwidth are rising faster than the US military can add it. The Transformation Communications Satellite (TSAT) System is part of a larger effort by the US military to address that need, and close the gap.
DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record – and TSAT is certainly significant. The final price tag on the entire program has been quoted at anywhere from $14-25 billion through 2016, including the satellites, the ground operations system, the satellite operations center and the cost of operations and maintenance. Lockheed Martin and Boeing each won over $600 million in risk reduction contracts to develop key TSAT SS satellite system technologies, and TSAT’s $2 billion TMOS ground-based network operations contract was already underway.
The TSAT constellation’s central role in next-generation US military infrastructure makes it worthy of in-depth treatment – but its survival was never assured. There was always a risk that outside events and incremental competitors could spell its end, just as they spelled the end of Motorola’s infamous Iridium project. This FOCUS article examines that possibility, even as it offers an overview of the US military’s vision for its communications infrastructure, how TSAT fits, the program’s challenges, and complete coverage of contracts and significant events.
The latest developments revolve around the end of the program. Despite a positive recent report from the GAO, TMOS/TSAT are being canceled outright as part of the program’s planned termination:
TJ Drafting and Design, Inc. in Christmas FL received an estimated $20.9 million firm-fixed-price contract from the Marine Corps System Command, Orlando, FL, to advance the training capability, operational readiness, and tactical proficiency of Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs), Joint Forward Observers (JFOs), and Forward Air Controllers (FACs). Demands for air support remain high in the current war, and widespread proficiency in these skills is essential for effective combined arms operations.
The training scenarios will require the placement of tactical ordnance on selected targets using Joint Close Air Support (JCAS) procedures and observed fire procedures for Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS), artillery and mortar fire to perform destruction, neutralization, suppression, illumination/coordinated illumination, interdiction, and harassment fire missions. Work will be performed at multiple Marine Corp bases worldwide, and work is expected to be complete on August 31/11. Contract funds in the amount of $12.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured, with 4 offers received (M67854-09-C-8031).
In 2009, the Ottawa Citizen’s defense reporter David Pugliese reported that the US military was about to spend $100 million to upgrade the facilities at Kandahar, Afghanistan, in order to accommodate up to 26 aircraft for a local “Task Force ODIN”. At first glance, this might seem like just another infrastructure play – unless one realizes that Task Force ODIN (Observe, Detect, Identify & Neutralize) may be the second-most underrated fusion of technology and operating tactics in America’s counter-insurgency arsenal.
Task Force ODIN was created on orders of Gen. Richard A. Cody, the US Army’s outgoing vice chief of staff. Its initial goal involved better ways of finding IED land mines, a need triggered by the limited numbers of USAF Predator UAVs in Iraq, and the consequent refusal of many Army surveillance requests. Despite its small size (about 25 aircraft and 250 personnel) and cobbled-together nature, Task Force ODIN quickly became a huge success. Operating from Camp Speicher near Tikrit, it expanded its focus to become a full surveillance/ strike effort in Iraq – one that ground commanders came to see as more precise than conventional air strikes, hence less likely to create the kind of collateral damage that would damage their campaigns. From its inception in July 2007 to June 2008, the effort reportedly killed more than 3,000 adversaries, and led to the capture of almost 150 insurgent leaders.
In 2005, the US military and NASA announced the kickoff of the Army-led Joint Heavy Lift program, with the award of 5 contracts for the Concept Design and Analysis (CDA) of a Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) Joint Heavy Lift (JHL) rotorcraft. This is a futuristic aircraft that’s imagined as having the C-130 Hercules aircraft’s 20 ton cargo capacity, but with the ability to take off and land like a helicopter. No current US military helicopter platform even comes close to that vision, and so the competitors are deploying some radical and different technologies in their attempts to meet these goals.
CH-53E Super Stallion
At the same time, the US Marine Corps’ vital medium-heavy lift CH-53E Super Sea Stallion helicopters are beginning to to wear out their airframes. Hence the HLR Heavy Lift Replacement (HLR) program, aimed at fielding new-build CH-53K aircraft beginning in 2013-2015. The US Air Force, meanwhile, has its AJACS program, which aims to produce a C-130 replacement beginning around 2020.
All 3 programs may face a rough ride ahead. Runaway cost growth on numerous US defense programs, operational demands, and a looming demographic crisis in social programs all work to create budget squeezes, and hence pressures for program consolidation. The USMC’s affordable CH-53X track upgrade was very nearly sidetracked via a merger with he R&D heavy, schedule-uncertain, JHL, and may not be in the clear yet. The USAF’s AJACS program to replace the C-130 Hercules with a modern 20+ ton transport is also facing scrutiny of this sort, and those pressures, too may increase. Conversely, it is also possible that the JHL program could find itself edged out by a pair of more conventional helicopter and aircraft solutions from the USMC and USAF. DID notes the technologies, the politics, and progress to date.
Recent news includes a report that shows just how far away the US military is from a viable competition and winning design.