Satellites are an increasingly-important element of America’s Network-Centric Warfare approach, and the task of planning for America’s technology needs 40 years into the future is daunting. Cost and delays have hampered America’s satellite programs before, and now a detailed, program-by-program analysis of the state of seven different programs finds different kinds of problems and delays. Indeed, the GAO’s latest inquiry into the status and short-falls of the U.S. government’s military space programs notes that there is no single agency, company or simple villain to blame for the problems.
In testimony to the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Committee on Armed Services July 12, 2005, the GAO’s Director of Acquisitions and Management Robert E. Levin noted the status of several key satellite programs, and made a number of recommendations:
From GAO-05-891T (July 12/05) – Space Acquisitions: Stronger Development Practices and Investment Planning Needed to Address Continuing Problems [Text summary | full PDF]:
“There is a widespread belief among DOD and other officials involved with space programs that DOD starts more programs than it can afford in the long run, forcing programs to underestimate costs and over-promise capability and creating a host of negative incentives and pressures. Specifically, officials we have spoken with cited the following.
American Science and Engineering’s Z Backscatter Van (ZBV) is a low-cost, extremely maneuverable screening system built into a commercially available delivery van. The ZBV employs AS&E’s patented Z Backscatter technology, which offers photo-like images that reveal contraband that transmission X-rays miss – such as explosives (including car bombs), people and plastic weapons – and provides photo-like imaging for rapid analysis.
The ZBV is also capable of identifying low levels of radioactivity from both gamma rays and neutrons with optional Radioactive Threat Detection (RTD) technology. Here’s how it works…
Rockwell Collins Inc. in Cedar Rapids, IA received a pair of cost-plus-fixed fee contracts for the modification, maintenance and enhancement for the avionics architecture, avionics equipment, and communications systems for the following helicopters: CH-47 & MH-47 Chinook, MH-6 “Little Bird”, MH/UH-60 Black Hawk and other variants. Note that helicopters with an “MH” designation are generally Special Forces helicopters. The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL issued the contracts, and work will be performed at Rockwell Collins’ Cedar Rapids facilities.
Both the $5.6 million contract, which will be completed by Feb. 6, 2008; and the $477.1 million contract, which will be completed by Sept. 30, 2009, were issued under (DAAH23-03-D-0015).
U.S. Special Forces have been issuing contracts for modifications to Army standard equipment, and selecting an alternative engine for the “Nightstalkers” 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment’s new MH-60M Black Hawk helicopters. The GE CT7-8 B5 turboshaft engine has now been selected as that alternate engine. As noted, the initial 2005 contract to General Electric Company allocates $15.5 million in 2005 funding for the development program, which includes engine development and aircraft integration activities, and flight test engines and support. Flight-test engine deliveries are scheduled to begin in January 2006, with initial flight-testing planned for 2007.
Extra power is important to MH designated Special Operations helicopters, as they need to be able to fulfill missions where failure or waiting for better conditions is not an option – even when confronted by heat, high altitude (such as the mountaintops of Afghanistan, where helicopter performance drops sharply), or other extreme operating environments.
Russian and East European Partnership in Fineview, NY received a $35.5 million firm fixed price contract to provide for up to 200 bi-cultural, bi-lingual advisors for subject matters experts to support the Multi-National Forces in Iraq. The location of performance is Operational Support Services in Fayetteville, NC, and various locations in Iraq. This work will be complete by July 2006. Solicitation began July 2005 and negotiations were completed July 2005. The 11th Contracting Squadron at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, DC issued the contract (FA7012-05-C-0020).
Caddell Construction Co. Inc., of Montgomery, AL won an estimated $68 million firm-fixed price contract for the construction of the 1st Corps Support Command barracks complex for about 302 soldiers at Fort Bragg, NC. The project includes construction of 2 four-story buildings, a dining facility, and other related headquarters facilities. There were 430 bids solicited on April 13, 2005, and two bids were received. Work will be performed at Fort Bragg, NC and is estimated to be complete by March 31, 2008. The U.S. Army Engineer District in Savannah, GA issued the contract (W912JN-05-C-0052).
Curtiss-Wright Corporation received a $4 million subcontract for the Mobile Gun System on the M1128 Stryker MGS from General Dynamics Land Systems in Sterling Heights, MI. Curtiss-Wright will produce the Autoloader Controller, Replenisher Controller and Turret System Electronic Unit (TSEU) for the Stryker’s MGS through its Motion Control segment facility in Santa Clarita, CA. Combined, the three systems will provide fully automated loading and ammunition replenishing of the 105mm cannon to achieve sustained high fire rates.
VT Griffin Services of Atlanta, GA won a $13.9 million cost-plus-award-fee contract for the public works functions at Fort Sill, OK over the next five years. Work will be performed at Fort Sill and will be completed by Sept. 30, 2010. Bids were solicited via the World Wide Web on Feb. 1, 2005, and 12 bids were received. The U.S. Army Contracting Agency, Southern Region at Fort Sill, OK issued the contract (W9124L-05-C-0003).