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).
The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) reports that a defense contractor at U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has pleaded guilty to bribery in a plea deal and agreed to cooperate with federal investigators and identify associates in the scheme. He could face up to 15 years in prison. The amounts in question? About $12,000 total to shortchange America’s Green Berets, Rangers, SEALs, Para-rescuers, and other front-line soldiers in the Global War on Terror. $12,000 to throw away his career, and possibly his freedom.
In an e-mail to the St. Petersburg Times, SOCOM spokesman Col. Sam Taylor said that William E. Burke “worked on what can best be described as soldier systems, which includes things like lightweight communications systems, ammunition, small arms, etc.” His job was to test and evaluate equipment and rank which private defense contractors deserved federal contracts. If a proposal was not placed on the resulting service “nomination lists” to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, it could not receive congressional funding. SOCOM is currently reviewing all contracts handled by Burke. POGO has further details and links.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) has been a champion of some defense programs (vid. the A-10), an opponent of others that it believes to be wasteful and/or ineffective, and an opponent willing to reconsider on still other programs (vid. the Stryker family of armored vehicles). They’ve recently done a series of short pieces covering the $50 billion V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft program, designed to take off or land like a helicopter, then swivel its engines to fly like a plane.
Bechtel Plant Machinery Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA is being awarded a $279.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for naval nuclear propulsion components. Work will be performed in Schenectady, NY (50%) and Pittsburgh, PA (50%). The contract was not competitively procured, and work completion date or additional information is not provided on Naval nuclear propulsion program contracts as a matter of policy. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC issued the contract (N00024-06-C-2106).
Now Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp. has received an estimated $39.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for upgrades for the AV-8B Weapons System through a series of spiral System Configuration Set (SCS) developments. The contract also provides for investigation and documentation of current system anomalies, design and integration of system upgrades to include avionics and weapons, and development verification and validation of support software associated with these upgrades, which includes design and development and fleet utilization. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (95%) and China Lake, CA (5%), and is expected to be complete in October 2010. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, CA issued the contract (N68936-05-C-0068).
On August 12, 2005, DID covered the performance and operations of the RAF’s GR7 Harrier II jets in Afghanistan. Now Britain’s Telegraph reports that one RAF Harrier was destroyed on the ground and another has been damaged, after a rocket attack hit their military airfield at Kandahar in the south of the country.
The damaged aircraft is apparently being repaired, while the destroyed aircraft was replaced by another fighter which left Britain on October 14, 2005. Current plans call for more than 3,500 British troops to be deployed into the south of Afghanistan around April 2006, in order to launch operations against opium barons, Taliban/al-Qaeda forces, and the significant subset who are both of these at once. (Hat Tip: GBAD.org)
DID recently covered DARPA’s Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) and its complex operating system, and also detailed some system design innovations Lockheed was using to test the basic X-47B design at its Helendale facility. Now Northrop Grumman Corp. Integrated Systems in San Diego, CA has received a small increment to continue work on a revised program plan for the X-47B Pegasus.
This is a follow-on to a competitive award, replacing the agreement awarded Aug. 18, 2004 as the X-47B program transitions to Joint Program Office management at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. That August 18, 2004 award stated: