The Aerial Common Sensor (ACS) is a joint US Army/ US Navy program that would replace three different reconnaissance planes used for signals interception (SIGINT), ground-looking SAR radars, and imagery intelligence (IMINT). The story of that program’s evolution over the last year is an excellent example of the kinds of issues and development challenges that face many new defense designs, even those that use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology as a starting point.
On Sept 9, 2005, DID covered a major proposed change in the program, and explained the likely dynamics behind it. Now an October 10, 2005 report in Defense News has confirmed much of that analysis and added new information, while the proposed change has become a tug-of-war involving the US Army and Lockheed Martin.
Yesterday, DID talked about ongoing efforts in the US Department of Defense toward procurement reform. We covered the pressures, some players, and some major developments, but smaller efforts are also worthy of coverage. Computerworld reports he U.S. Department of Defense is gearing up to move its once-beleaguered Procurement Desktop-Defense 2 (PD2) procurement system from a client/server model to the Web. These efforts will result in distribution on 40,000 desktops, up from the current total of 23,000 desktops at 800 DOD locations worldwide.
The move to the Web is a significant milestone for the SPS program, which halted development of PD2 for a year beginning in 2002 after facing harsh criticism from the Government Accountability Office. This Computerworld article highlights the efforts undertaken to fix the project, including better customer involvement and requirements generation, overhauls to the IT architecture that shifted the system from custom-coding linkages to Webmethods XML adapters, and improved documentation processes. Read the whole article here.
The Boeing Co. in St. Louis, MO received a $219.2M increment as part of a $17.35 billion cost-plus-fixed-fee/ cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for the Future Combat System development and demonstration phase. Boeing and SAIC are the lead system integrators for this program, which means they receive instructions from the military re: the capabilities they want, then manage the requirements, development, RFPs and contracts etc. to achieve those goals.
Military reviews are interspersed throughout the process, and indeed the FCS recently passed a “System of Systems” Functional Review that lasted five days and included almost 40 briefings at 24 different sites across the country. Still, the program has definitely had its ups and downs. Readers may wish to view:
Computer Systems Technical Support, Inc. in Brea, CA received an $8.2 million firm-fixed-priced, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for Airborne Self-Protection Jammer (ASPJ) harness assembly, structural assembly and hardware sets. In addition to support to the United States (90%), it is anticipated that the contract will support the governments of Switzerland (5%) and Finland (5%) under the Foreign Military Sales program.
The ASPJ is a program with a long and troubled history.
CACI International Inc announced today that it has been awarded a five-year, $188 million prime contract to support the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command’s Program Executive Office for Littoral and Mine Warfare (PEO-LMW).
The contract, which has a one-year base and four option years, calls for CACI to support a wide range of current and next-generation mine countermeasure programs and combat systems. What kinds of systems?
Meanwhile, the competition for the overall USAF/DARPA Small Launch Vehicle program has narrowed to three companies: Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), AirLaunch LLC, and Lockheed Martin Corp. A fourth Phase 2 competitor, Microcosm of El Segundo, CA, recently broke up its subcontractor team, terminated arrangements with consultants working on the Falcon effort, and laid off about 15 of its 50 employees based on its assumption that it has lost out in the competition. Next phase awards are expected in the near future, and the program continues to evolve in other ways. At present…
Automatic Information Technology (AIT) media includes bar codes, contact memory buttons, radio frequency identification (RFID), et. al. that can identify items in the logistics chain, for asset management purposes, et. al. The US Department of Defense set new policy re: EAN.CC markings for all items in the supply chain.
On a related note, the Fleet and Industrial Supply Center Norfolk Philadelphia Division has recently issued a pair of cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contracts for program management, engineering, and technical services in support of the Navy Automatic Information Technology (AIT) Program Office. Contract winners included:
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $43.3 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order against a previous basic ordering agreement (N00019-03-G-0003) to perform requirements definition and engineering studies in support of the Marine Corps’ Heavy Lift Replacement (HLR) Program. Work on the requirements definition and engineering studies will be performed in Stratford, CT and is expected to be complete in April 2006. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD issued the contract.
In a related August 2005 decision, the Navy also released an Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) authorizing the HLR program to work toward Milestone B approval in Fiscal Year 2006. If granted by the Pentagon’s Defense Acquisition Board, Milestone B approval will authorize the HLR program to move into the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase, the next step required under Department of Defense procurement procedures.
On March 12/05, DID discussed the multinational F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s (JSF) engine programs, noting the relative status and strategies of the Pratt & Whitney-led F135 and the GE/ Rolls Royce F136 teams. A $2 billion+ System Development and Demonstration contract was on the way, for production of 15 prototype F136 engines in both conventional and STOVL (Short Take Off, Vertical Landing) configurations.
That contract has now been issued, with some modifications. Meanwhile, the F135 engine team has also received substantial additional funding from the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD, and issued a contract of their own for diagnostic systems.
DID has covered the bi-partisan drive for defense procurement reform among U.S. legislators. The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) non-governmental organization has a couple of recent entries on its blog that highlight a couple of recent efforts to watch.
One is from Sen. John McCain [R-AZ]. The other concerns some candid testimony to the DAPA from Air Force General Lawrence Farrell Jr. (ret.), President of the National Defense Industrial Association.