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.
The US Department of Defense has submitted its FY 2007 budget request for $439.3 billion. This is 7% more than the FY 2006 request, but slightly less than the $441.5 billion eventually appropriated by Congress in the FY 2006 budget. Note that this is just the first step in a long process that involves bills drawn up in both the House of Representatives and the US Senate, which will add some things, subtract others, and impose conditions. Then the House and Senate bills must be reconciled in committee into one common bill for the President to sign into law. Last year’s FY 2006 budget, introduced in February 2005, was finally signed into law on December 30, 2005.
This budget would wait until October 17, 2006 for Presidential signature as Public Law No. 109-364. It provides $462.8 billion in budget authority, and Senate and House conferees added the $70 billion defense supplemental budget request to the act – overall, therefore, the act authorizes $532.8 billion for FY 2007.
Because this budget was put together in parallel with the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, it bears some imprints from that process and begins to implement some of the QDR’s proposed directions. Rather than try to summarize such a vast document for our readers, DID will simply link you to the key source and ancillary materials, which contain their own summaries as well as access to more detailed information.
As of Friday, February 3, 2006, the USA’s 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review has been released. As Title 10, Section 118 stipulates, the QDR’s Congressional mandate is:
The Secretary of Defense shall every four years… conduct a comprehensive examination (to be known as a “quadrennial defense review”) of the national defense strategy, force structure, force modernization plans, infrastructure, budget plan, and other elements of the defense program and policies of the United States with a view toward determining and expressing the defense strategy of the United States and establishing a defense program for the next 20 years.
DID has a roundup of relevant resources and links:
Modern diesel submarines have advanced propulsion systems and coatings, and many of them are hard to detect with the current sonar technologies aboard the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered submarines and surface ships. As nations in Asia and beyond race to buy these vessels, the US Navy’s Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW) Task Force is preparing for that future with a new “concept of operations” that includes new tactics and new technologies. It’s the first major revision of anti-submarine doctrine since the middle of the Cold War.
Back on June 13, 2005, while covering the “US101” EH-101 variant’s approval as the next US Presidential helicopter, DID noted that the rivals for this bid (Lockheed’s “US101” and Sikorsky’s H-92 Superhawk) would likely be squaring off again for an $11-12 billion contract to provide the USA’s next generation Combat Search And Rescue helicopter. Lockheed is firm on its European EH101 platform, while Sikorsky would eventually announce the HH-92 Superhawk as its contender in February 2006.
In September of 2005, Boeing entered the fray, on two fronts. Its choices left its rivals in a difficult competitive position, and even though one of those options was withdrawn before the end of the contest, Boeing’s HH-47 would eventually win it all and fly off with a contract estimated at $10 billion for 145 aircraft. The post below chronicles the CSAR-X competition, which had at least as many complications and happenings as the missions Boeing’s aircraft will execute.
The Aerospace Integration Corp., and E.J. Mlynarczyk and Co. of Crestview, FL, are being awarded a $97 million indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract with a basic year and four option years. The agreement covers contractor support for all tasks required for the Integrated Modification Support for Special Operation Forces/Combat Search and rescue (SOF/CSAR) aircraft. Work shall encompass, but is not limited to, the following aircraft: MC-130E/H/P, AC-130H/U, HC-130N/P, EC-130J, MH-53J/M, HH-60G, and UH-1N/H. Support shall include non-recurring engineering, technical documentation, trial installation labor and support, ground and flight-testing and test support, kit-proof labor and technical support, and kit manufacture and production installation on the SOF/CSAR aircraft as directed by the LU Program Office in Warner Robins Air Logistic Center, at Robins Air Force Base, GA.
Solicitation began October 2004, negotiations were completed February 2005, and work will be complete by February 2006. The Headquarters Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins Air Force Base, GA issued the contract (FA8509-05-D-0002, 0004).
Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, MI and Bath Iron Works of Bath, Maine, are each being awarded cost-plus-award-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity multiple-award contracts (MAC), for a not-to exceed task order ceiling of $200 million. Each MAC holder will compete for task order and delivery order awards for the accomplishment of Post Shakedown Availabilities (PSA) for DDG 51 Class AEGIS Destroyers homeported in Norfolk, VA. Contract funds will be obligated at the time of delivery order award, and as such, multiple funding types (with varying expiration dates) may be used, consistent with the purpose for which the funds were appropriated.
Specific efforts will include: engineering and management in support of PSA; labor and procurement of material to correct Government-responsible deficiencies and accomplish system upgrades; perform specified PSA work items inclusive of tests and post repair sea trials; task additional man-hours and material in order to complete emergent repairs. Work will be performed in Norfolk, VA, and is expected to be completed by March 2010. This contract was competitively procured via Navy Electronic Commerce Online (NECO), with two proposals received. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC issued the contracts. (Northrop Grumman Ship Systems: N00024-05-D-2300; Bath Iron Works: N00024-05-D-2301).
Northrop Grumman Corporation has received a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract to develop electronic components made from gallium nitride, a next-generation semiconductor material. The three-year, $16.5 million contract for the Wide Band Gap Semiconductors for Radio Frequency Applications initiative is potentially valued at $53.4 million if all program options are exercised. Northrop Grumman began developing this technology in 2002 under a $5.1 million Wide Band Gap Semiconductors Phase 1 contract. Work for the DARPA program will be performed at the Northrop Grumman Space Technology facility in Manhattan Beach, CA and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems in Baltimore, MD. Corporate News Release
Older versions of Talley Defense Systems’ M-72 light antitank weapon (LAW) were used extensively during the Vietnam War, where their performance showed that only larger, shoulder-fired rockets would stop a Soviet tank. Post war, the bigger and longer-range AT-4 missile and the Shoulder-launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (SMAW) became the Marine Corps’ rockets of choice. Now a modernized M-72A7 LAW is making a comeback, to positive reviews from Marines headed for urban combat in Iraq.
Four factors account for the LAW’s renewed popularity:
Northrop Grumman/PRB Services Inc. in Hollywood, Md., won a $7 million modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed fee, performance-based contract (N65236-01-D-6813) to provide software development, systems engineering and configuration management for various Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems. Systems covered include: