“During Operation Mountain Lion I found myself praying for bad weather, the first time in my military career I was actually begging for a cold front to come through. I knew my soldiers could handle it and the enemy couldn’t. ECWCS allowed my men to outlast the enemy on their own terrain. When the enemy was forced out of the mountains due to the bitter cold to take shelter, that’s when we got them.”
— LTC Christopher Cavoli, US Army 10th Mountain Division, Afghanistan
This third generation of the Extended Cold Weather Clothing System (ECWCS-III) is a radical re-design of the cold weather clothing system for the U.S. Army. So, exactly what’s in the ECWCS-III?
Artillery-locating radars like the AN/TPQ-36 and TPQ-37 Firefinder radars, and the lighter LCMR, automatically detect, track and locate enemy mortars, artillery and rocket launchers. Once incoming rounds are picked up, the radar system backtracks the projectile’s flight, in order to pinpoint the launcher before the incoming round has even landed. Meanwhile, back-end systems can trigger alarms, giving people in the target area the critical seconds they need to get under cover. The TPQ-36 radar is specifically designed to counter medium range enemy weapon systems out to a range of 24 km/ 15 miles, while the TPQ-37 can locate longer-range systems and even surface launched missiles out to 50 km/ 31 miles.
Mortars and rockets have been common threats in Iraq, and advanced counter-battery radars have been the first line of defense for military bases and key civilian sectors. The systems do suffer from “false positives,” but on the whole, they’re very valuable. Michael Yon, embedded with 1-24 (“Deuce Four”) in Mosul in 2005, offered a first hand description of counter-battery radars’ effect on enemy tactics. With American forces drawing down and leaving, it’s no surprise that Iraq wants some.
Sweden’s Saab Group announced a SEK 450 million (WON 77.04 billion, $69 million) subcontract order from South Korea’s LIG Nex1, for more of its ARTHUR artillery tracing radars. South Korea first ordered Saab’s Arthur Mod C in 2007, and this is a follow-on order. Saab adds that “The main part of the production for this program will be done at LIG Nex1 under a localisation agreement between Saab and LIG.”
Back in June 2006, Boeing and Raytheon teams were preparing for a big border surveillance contract. It was all part of the USA’s Secure Border Initiative (SBI), a comprehensive plan to secure U.S. borders and reduce illegal immigration, including an array of technical aids and elements on both the northern Canadian border and the southern border with Mexico. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency would lead and execute both the SBI and related SBInet “virtual fence” efforts, mirroring similar programs underway around the world.
As promised, a winner was announced in September 2006 – and it was Team Boeing. In March 2010, however, funding was frozen. In January 2011, the program was canceled.
If fighting in Iraq was mostly about Close Quarters Battle, experience on the ground in Afghanistan is driving home the opposite imperative: marksmanship and lethality at range. US studies like the influential “Taking Back the Infantry Half-Kilometer” are driving that point home, and the trend is leading to shifts like fielding more 7.62mm M240 machine guns in place of 5.56mm M249 Minimis, and doubling the number of 7.62mm M14 EBR rifles per infantry squad to 2.
The British are facing the exact same pressures. After a very poor start, their 5.56mm SA80/ L85 bullpup assault rifles have been improved by an H&K redesign. That may help with jamming and reliability, but it doesn’t change the 5.56mm round’s fundamental ballistic characteristics, like its notable drop-off in lethality beyond 300 meters.
Private investment firm Cerberus Capital Management, LP has reached a $1.5 billion deal to buy the support and security contractor DynCorp International, including the assumption of debt. The purchase price would be $17.55 per share – a 49% premium to the April 9/10 close of $11.75, and 12.4x the FY 2010 consensus forecast of $1.41 earnings per share. A “go shop” provision gives DynCorp 28 days to find a higher and better offer, if it can.
Affiliates of Veritas Capital Fund Management, L.L.C. have already executed a Voting Agreement in favor, swinging an aggregate of 34.9% of the outstanding shares. That level of support will make the deal very difficult to stop.
Note that 12.4x is still a low multiple, when compared to a number of more diversified public competitors like KBR and SAIC. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to compare DynCorp with privately-held security contractor peers like the similarly-controversial Xe (formerly Blackwater), IAP Worldwide Services, Triple Canopy, etc. The result is somewhat predictable…
Despite ongoing US procurement of M1151/M1152 Hummers, the retreat from Jeep-like vehicles is accelerating among Western militaries. Insufficiently protected against land mine threats in modern conflict zones, and insufficiently protectable due to inherent design limitations, conventional vehicles like G-Wagens, Land Rovers, and HMMWVs are being replaced in manufacturer lineups and military acquisitions by more protectable truck-based models, or by dedicated mine-resistant patrol vehicles. A wide array of countries are buying these vehicles for the first time. Meanwhile, nations that were ahead of the curve continue to add to their stocks.
ISAF, S. Afghanistan
Australia’s move to more than double its original order of 300 Thales-ADI’s Bushmaster IMVs, which have proven themselves with Australian forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, offers ample evidence of the seriousness with which they view the global trend toward IED land mines in conflict zones. First-time buyer The Netherlands has also adopted the Bushmaster, to strengthen its own Afghan force.
The Dutch move to field mine-resistant vehicles was concluded in close cooperation with 2 friendly foreign governments, and it has just placed its 6th order…
In April 2006, “WALRUS Hunted to Extinction By Congress, DARPA?” dealt with the cancellation of DARPA’s WALRUS ultra-heavy lift program. WALRUS aimed to develop an airship that could lift between 250-500 tons, offering capacity that rivaled ship-borne options, but offered the benefits of transport all the way to the front without requiring ports and related infrastructure.
Now a private consortium sees similar needs and trends in key civilian sectors. A Canadian/American partnership that includes Boeing has set itself the public goal of building the commercial equivalent of DARPA’s desired demonstrator…
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:
On April 6/09, US Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates did something unusual: he convened a press conference to announce key budget recommendations in advance. That’s a substantial departure from normal procedure, in which the Office of the President’s submitted budget is the first official public notification of key funding decisions. Gates’ departure was done with full official approval, however, as the Pentagon and White House begin their efforts to convince Congress.
That’s likely to be a difficult task. Congress (the US House of Representatives and Senate) has full budgetary authority within the American system, subject only to the threat of Presidential veto. In the past, this has kept a number of programs alive despite the Pentagon’s best efforts to kill them. Sometimes, that stubbornness has improved America’s defense posture. Sometimes, it has done the opposite. For good or ill, that process has now begun. Again.
Gates’ announcement, made in the presence of Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. James Cartwright, USMC, aims to make significant changes to America’s defense programs. Several would be ended or terminated. Others would be stretched out over a longer period. Still others will gain resources.