British efforts to move toward a new way of supporting their aircraft have involved through-life umbrella maintenance contracts based on availability rather than hours or spares. It is a model that Britain is using for several weapons platforms, and with the recent B-2 bomber contract it is even beginning to take hold in the USA.
In recent days, the UK MoD and BAE Systems have taken a pair of steps to extend that model. One step is a recent GBP 74 million contract (currently about $145 million) that introduces the concept to Britain’s fleet of 131 Hawk T Mk.1 trainer aircraft.
New York and San Francisco have begun using the IAC 1090 Intelligent Aquatic BioMonitoring System (iABS) developed by Intelligent Automation Corporation (IAC) of Poway, CA to protect public drinking water from contamination and potential terrorism incidents. The system is also being used by the U.S. Army at Fort Detrick, MD, a development partner for the system along with the U.S. Army Center for Environmental Health Research (USACEHR), The US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Defense Legacy Program. The key to this whole system? Well, a neural network processor, and… fish.
Bluegill sunfish, to be precise (for Europeans: similar to Bream).
Part of the Australian government’s recently-released 2006-2007 budget proposal covers border protection and deterrence of illegal activities, including illegal fishing, people smuggling, and other criminal or even potentially terrorist activities. This coordinated, whole-of-government approach to protecting Australia’s northern borders will also extend to command changes. The Joint Offshore Protection Command (JOPC) will now assume responsibility for operational coordination and control for civil maritime enforcement activities. The creation of this single command centre to undertake planning, surveillance, intelligence analysis and deployments.
The Headquarters 311th Human Systems Wing recently set up $6 billion worth of contracts associated with this endeavor. Solicitations began August 2005, negotiations were completed in April 2006, and work will be complete in April 2017. The contract details and winners are:
The Headquarters Human Systems Group at Brooks City-Base, TX recently issued contracts for advisory and assistance services which includes management and professional studies, analyses and evaluations, and engineering and technical support to supplement government organic resources of the Human Systems Group and 311th Human Systems Wing. They are firm-fixed-price, time-and-material and cost-plus fixed-fee contracts of the indefinite delivery/ indefinite quantity type. The US Air Force can issue delivery orders totaling to the maximum amount indicated below, although actual requirements may be less. Solicitations began August 2005, negotiations were complete in January 2006, and work will be complete by January 2012.
The Washington Post’s December 28, 2005 article, “Campaigning for the C-17,” describes the efforts underway in Long Beach, CA (near Los Angeles) to reduce Boeing’s costs and hopefully encourage further orders.
As part of ongoing US Army fleet maintenance and upgrade efforts, General Electric Aircraft Engine in Cincinnati, OH received a $177.9 million firm-fixed-price contract to continue overhaul support of T700 engines at the Corpus Christi Army Depot (CCAD) and convert engines to the T700-GE-701D configuration (GE notes that in 2004, The U.S. Army announced plans to convert to the T700-701D to power its entire AH-64 Apache and H-60 Black Hawk helicopter fleet). Based on estimated workload at CCAD, GE estimates the potential value of this contract over the next five years at $1.5 billion.
The award follows a five-year, $668-million CCAD contract that was initiated in 2000. This particular program has an impressive list of success metrics during that time frame:
Past DID articles covering the future of ground robots on the battlefield and the MTRS TALON/Packbot surveillance and explosives disposal robots both noted a role for smaller examples, from Dragon Runner “Throwbots” to Exponent’s field-iterated MARCBot. Some US troops were even taking initiative and using remote-control toys as part of their patrols.
Now Innovative Response Technologies Inc. in Fairmont, WV has received a $10 million firm-fixed-price contract for 309 explosive ordnance disposal “BOMBOT” vehicles for IED mine neutralization. The BOMBOT has been described by its proponents as a “high-tech toy truck with a camera and a dump bed.” How does that help soldiers neutralize IED mines, and how did an Air Force Research Laboratory project end up being procured by the USA’s Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA)?
The Canadian government has released the National Aerospace and Defence Strategic Framework, a 20-year vision aimed at helping Canada’s leaders in the aerospace, defence and space sectors identify where and how they can be globally competitive. The document is the result of the Canadian Aerospace Partnership (CAP) process that began in April 2005 among industry, regional & national government, academia, and labour.
The report addresses both global aerospace industry trends, and matters specific to Canada’s situation. Some quick findings, key thrusts, and defense contracts on the way include:
DID has covered the Finnish defense firm Patria Oyj, most recently in the context of the Czech government’s $1 billion wheeled APC acquisition. They’re an innovative firm to watch in the European market. We’ve also covered a Nordic Ammunition Co. (“Nammo”) subsidiary who sells specialized small caliber ammunition to US forces. Now Patria has signed a Letter of Intent with Swedish firm SAAB AB to acquire their 27.5% of shares in Nammo AS. The purchase sum is SEK 400 million (about USD $49.5 million)
Nammo’s Shareholders’ Agreement now gives the Government of Norway until December 18, 2005 to exercise its right to acquire an additional 5% of Nammo’s shares, which would lead to a 50/50 ownership split with Patria. The acquisition of the shares is subject to necessary regulatory approvals and customary approvals of the parties, and Patria expects to finalize its transaction before the end of 2005.