British military procurement is to make a big step if Philip Hammond’s statement [PDF] to Parliament last week is followed up by implementation. The Defence Minister wants to turn Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) into a Government Owned, Contractor Operated (GOCO) entity after having “soft market tested” alternatives earlier this year. This is likely to lead to a competition among interested service companies but it will take a while to happen, and there are many challenges ahead. DE&S currently employs about 18,000 people with a budget of around 14 billion pounds (slightly under 22 billion US dollars).
The USAF is restructuring its Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) from 12 centers to 5 is one of the major steps within broader changes in its civilian workforce which should amount to adding “5,900 positions in acquisition, the nuclear enterprise, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and other key areas while reducing approximately 9,000 positions in management, staff, and support areas.”
The Russian Defense Ministry and United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) have sorted out their pricing disagreements on Yasen and Borey class nuclear-powered submarines. That’s their good news. Gaddafi’s fall on the other hand means billions of dollars of lost potential arms exports.
The US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) has a central role in addressing the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Their Research and Development Enterprise [PDF] is especially wide-ranging, covering everything from protective gear, to predictive and decision-support algorithms, to ScanEagle UAV variants that can monitor WMD levels, to co-operative non-proliferation programs, to development of new weapons like the Massive Ordnance Penetrator. Some of this work has even led to commercial spinoffs, vid. Sanofi Pasteur’s acquisition of VaxDesign and its DARPA/DTRA-financed MIMC model: an in vitro tool capable of predicting human immune response to specific bio-threat agents.
Through the Co-operative Threat Reduction program, the Department of Defense provides equipment, services, and technical advice to Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine to assist them in eliminating (or in the case of Russia, reducing) the weapons of mass destruction remaining from the Soviet era, and preventing proliferation. That means dismantling the associated infrastructure, or transforming portions of it to engage in peaceful civilian activities.
The U.S. objectives in the CTR program as established by Congress are to cooperate with the Newly Independent States (NIS) of the former Soviet Union to:
EG&G Defense Materials, a division of URS Corp., in Tooele, UT received a $181.3 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for Phase 2 chemical agent munitions disposal system (CAMDS) closure as well as CAMDS & Deseret Chemical Depot secondary waste and nerve gas tabun (GA)/Lewisite disposal.
The US Army’s CAMDS, located at Deseret Chemical Depot, ceased chemical munitions disposal in 2005. Initial closure activities were carried out by the Tennessee Valley Authority, who was replaced by private contractor EG&G Defense Materials.
The closure process is currently in phase II, with equipment already removed from the buildings. More detailed closure plans are being written for CAMDS and final closure is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2012…
To destroy chemical weapons, the US Army can’t just throw them in an incinerator. They have to be destroyed carefully so that no harmful chemicals are released into the air or water supplies.
In 2009, the US Army, working with the National Research Council (NRC), tested 4 technologies – 3 private-vendor systems and 1 Army-developed explosive destruction system (EDS) – to destroy chemical weapons. Tests were conducted at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky and the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado.
The developers of one of the systems tested – US-based Versar and Japan’s Kobe Steel – announced [pdf] Feb 9/10 that they received a $13 million subcontract from URS Corp. to deliver their Detonation in a Vacuum Assisted Chamber (DAVINCH) system to the Deseret Chemical Depot in Tooele, UT for chemical weapons destruction. In addition to supplying the system, Versar will provide project management at the depot.
The Army testing revealed some interesting facts about the DAVINCH system…
The U.S. Army’s Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado is another such site, which currently stores 2,611 tons of mustard agent contained in 155mm and 105mm artillery shells, and 4.5″ mortar shells. Decontamination is supervised by the PM Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA), using a biochemical process rather than incineration; the CMA is still responsible for safe storage until the munitions can be decontaminated. This article discusses mustard agent’s effects and place in the history of warfare, and takes a look at the efforts underway to destroy the Pueblo stockpile between 2015-2023. An effort that recently featured a contract worth over half a billion dollars…
Mustard Gas: A Quick Primer
The Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP)
During the 1960s, the Newport Chemical Depot (NECD) in Indiana produced the nerve agent VX until a unilateral decree halted American (but not Soviet) production and transportation of all chemical weapons. In the aftermath of 9/11, the US Department of Defense re-evaluated their chemical weapons disposal program, looking at where they might accelerate destruction of the USA’s stockpile in order to remove potential targets.
The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency has a number of storage and disposal sites, each of which has its own prime contractor. Prime contractors hold the design, build, operation and closure portions of the contract, while subcontractors to the prime contractors vary by site. This post covers the still-ongoing work at Newport, Indiana. The following is a list of the prime contractors at each CMA disposal site:
Meridian Medical Technologies Inc. in Columbia, MD received a maximum $49.1 million firm fixed price contract for nerve agent antidotes, morphine and related medical services and supplies.
Work will be performed in Columbia, MD and in Missouri on behalf of the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Federal Civilian Agencies. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response, and the contract will end on March 31/09. The contracti will be managed by the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia in Philadelphia, PA (SPM200-05-D-0010).