Imagine an aircraft that could lift 1-2 million pounds of cargo, then fly it up to 12,000 miles nonstop without needing a runway to land on. DARPA has. DID has too via our in-depth coverage of their WALRUS HULA (Hybrid Ultra Large Aircraft) airship program. Now a new congressional report is imagining it as well.
The WALRUS may be an airship, but isn’t exactly a traditional blimp. The Army Times reports that the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan analytical arm of the US Congress, “likes the heavy-lift airship concept because it could do more than the airlift aircraft and surge sealift capabilities currently used when U.S. forces deploy.” DID went and found that report, which offers some interesting conclusions.
Senate Armed Services Airland Subcommittee Chairman John McCain [R-AZ] has arguably been the bane of the Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) program. He’s the most influential critic of its previous procurement relationship with Boeing and of the program’s escalating costs. Now he’s in the unusual position of vowing to fight language in the Senate’s $445.5 billion fiscal 2006 Defense appropriations bill, in order to protect the integrity and intent of the FCS program.
The USA’s E-6 Mercury (aka. TACAMO, as in TAke Charge And Move Out) “survivable airborne communication system” airplanes support their Navy’s SSBN ballistic missile submarine force and overall strategic forces. With the advent of the new “Tactical Trident” converted Ohio Class special operations subs, their unique capabilities become even more useful. They also have a secondary role as Airborne National Command Posts.
Delivery of the first production E-6 aircraft took place in August 1989, with delivery of the 16th and final airplane coming in May 1992. Now the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD has issued a pair of contracts that aim to improve both the E-6 fleet’s maintenance situation, and their training options.
Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ received an $18.5 million firm fixed price contract modification for 140 Guided Bomb Unit-28C/B guidance control units and tail kits (production Lot 2). The GBU-28C/B Enhanced Paveway IU adds GPS/INS guidance and laser designation capability to the 5,000 lb. BLU-122 “bunker buster” warhead, and is compatible with F-15E Strike Eagles and B-2A Spirit stealth bombers. Work will be complete May 2007. The Air Armament Center at Eglin Air Force Base, FL issued the contract (FA8681-05-C-0075/P00008).
On October 17, 2005, DID noted that the Franco-Italian FREMM multi-role frigate program was on the rocks due to the Italian government’s failure to include their required EUR 400 million contributions in their FY 2006 budget. Unwillingness to re-open the budget had left things at an impasse, with serious consequences threatened all around. It was going to to take some doing to get out of this one.
Defense-Aerospace reports that the deal is done, and it did indeed require some fancy footwork. While not officially confirmed yet, it looks like a November 2005 signing for the FREMM program Memorandum of Understanding may be possible. Defense-Aerospace.com and Defense News have the details.
Batteries, whether they sit in vehicles or in a soldier’s pack, are becoming increasingly important parts of future weapons systems. Efforts to increase their energy density, extending their duration and reducing their size and weight, with be an ongoing focus for defense-related research.
Now small business qualifier T/J Technologies Inc. of Ann Arbor, MI received a $5.1 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for Advanced Battery Chemistry Development and Material Scale Up. Work will be performed in Ann Arbor, MI (61%), Plymouth Meeting, PA (21%), San Jose, CA (10%), and Auburn Hills, MI (8%), and is expected to be complete by Oct. 1, 2008. Contract This was a sole source contract initiated on Aug. 22, 2005 by the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command in Warren, MI (W56HZV-05-C-0740).