The US Congress has expressed skepticism about the DD(X) program, capping the price at a level substantially below the estimated $3-5 billion per ship, and cutting advance procurement funding – even as they made procurement changes that would increase the cost of the ships. The cap may yet be undone by the Senate during the budget reconciliation process, but the message has been received loud and clear.
DefenseTech summarizes the lobbying efforts underway, discussions of naval combat in the littorals, the program’s largest current technical gaps, and one alternative that’s being touted: re-activating the U.S. Navy’s Iowa Class battleships to provide naval fire support at around $1.5 billion each.
Recently, however, two POGO staffers spent a day at Fort Lewis, WA with Stryker Armored Vehicle Brigade soldiers and officers, in order to gain insight into two recent reports by the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) that raised significant issues with the program. To their surprise, they found widespread approval among ground troops and officers using the vehicle, to the point where they’re now re-thinking their criticism and looking for answers. Kudos to POGO for having that honesty; the “digital ghosts” of the Stryker Brigades have demonstrated some real operational advantages. Vasiliy Fofanov’s US Armor in Operation “Iraqi Freedom” analysis in Moscow Defense Brief #1 offers a corroborating view; it was harder on the M1 Abrams and M2 Bradley’s performance, and relatively positive about the Stryker.
The Swiss cabinet has approved the sale of 180 armored personnel carriers to the United Arab Emirates, which will in turn present them to Iraq. The M113 “Gavin” Armored Personnel Carriers have a value of SFR 12 million (USD $9.4 million) and are part of a Swiss army surplus. They are in good condition. As DID has reported, they will join 77 refurbished T-72 tanks from Hungary as the Iraqis move to build up an armored division.
The U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command in Warren, MI recently awarded Stewart & Stevenson Tactical Vehicle System LP in Sealy, TX a pair of modifications to a firm-fixed-price and cost-reimbursement contract for the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicle Load Handling System Trucks and Trailers (DAAE07-03-C-S023). One modification is for $219.1 million, and the other is for $6 million.
General Electric Transportation Aircraft Engines in Lynn, MA received a $33.9 million firm-fixed-price requirements contract for 36 line items used on a variety of aircraft engines for helicopters like the H-1 Huey, H-3 Sea King, CH-46D Chinook, CH-46E Sea Knight, H-53 Sea Stallion, and H-60 Blackhawk, as well as the F/A-18 Hornet, S-3 Viking, and A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft. This contract contains options, which if exercised, will bring the total cumulative value of this contract to $62.1 million. Work will be performed in Lynn, MA and is expected to be complete December 2007. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Inventory Control Point issued the contract (N00383-05-D-006M).
TCOM LP of Columbia, MD received a contract to provide the U.S. Army with sixteen 17M Tactical Aerostat Systems to support U.S. troops during ongoing hostilities in Iraq. The contract award is valued at approximately $12 million and is part of a prime RAID 3 (Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment) contract awarded to Raytheon by the Army. Work will be performed at TCOM’s headquarters in Columbia, MD with production activities conducted at TCOM’s Manufacturing and Flight Test Facility in Elizabeth City, NC.
Trailer mounted for ease of transport and deployment, this system can be operated by three people and deployed in less than two hours. Carrying payloads to operating altitudes of 1000 feet, the system provides persistent surveillance, staying aloft for up to a week at a time. DID has covered JLENS and RAID surveillance and communications aerostats before, as well as the USMC’s TCOM 32M MARTS communications aerostat and the general rise of this new military sector.
The Headquarters Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill Air Force Base, UT issued a $1.9 billion indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract (FA8222-05-D-0001, 0010) for Engineering and technical services in support of all U.S. Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) weapon systems, subsystems, and related processes via the Design and Engineering Support Program II.
The Air Force can issue delivery orders to the various winning companies totaling up to maximum amount indicated, though actual requirements may necessitate less. Solicitation began October 2004, negotiations were completed May 2005, and the contract will end by June 2012.
After years of development, a new wheel and brake system on the KC-135 “Stratotanker” is ready for installation by Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center personnel at Tinker Air Force Base, OK. The system replaces the steel brakes currently used on the KC-135 with carbon brakes (the KC-135 is based on the Boeing 707, but the planes have been heavily modified over the years). Other changes include the brakes operating on three rotors instead of five, a pressure of 3,000 pounds per square inch (psi) instead of 965 psi and different wheels used on the aircraft.
At a time cost of 16 hours for initial installation, the new system allows the aircraft to complete 1,000 landings as compared to 100 landings before needing replacement, which means the new system could last up to 10 years instead of the average one-year lifespan of the old brakes. The changes could save the Air Force $583 million throughout the life of the program, said Cathy Klea, 327th TSG KC-135 program manager.
Recent L-3 acquisition Titan announced that it has received the Department of the Army Information Management Support Center (IMCEN) Desktop Support Services contract. Titan will compete against other awardees to provide Information Technology (IT) services to over 10,000 military personnel, civilian employees and contractors working within the Pentagon and the more than 90 agencies that comprise the Headquarters Department of the Army (HQDA).
Under this multiple-awarded indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ) contract having a potential value with options, if exercised, of $405.9 million over approximately seven years.