BAE Systems has been selected by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for Phase 1 of the Integrated Battle Command (IBC) Program. The IBC Program will provide military commanders a comprehensive suite of software tools that are intended to help commanders and their staff understand the political, military, economic, social, information and infrastructure (PMESII) effects of various potential courses of action. BAE will work with DARPA, the Communications and Electronics Command (CECOM) and U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM). “The program will provide new tools to aid commanders in planning strategic effects-based campaigns,” said Dr. Nils R. Sandell, Jr., BAE Systems vice president and general manager for Advanced Information Technologies (AIT). See corproate release.
We hate to burst their bubble, but the idea isn’t new. A truly hilarious set of specifications can be found in “I Want A Real War Sim.” It includes numerous screen shots, and features Sean Penn, orphanages, CIA field agents, Starcraft monsters, ass-covering doublespeak – et bien sur, France – as it builds inexorably toward the Nicholsonesque rant at the end. Warning: Do not drink liquids in front of your computer monitor while reading this one.
Thermobaric weapons are also known as “fuel-air explosives,” though their composition has become more complex in recent years, and no longer uses unreliable fuel-air mixes. They’re also no longer confined to the bombs that were used to clear helicopter landing zones in Vietnam, or even the gargantuan 15,000-pound BLU-82 Commando Vault/”Daisy Cutter” [see Graphic | Flash] and 21,000-pound, H6 explosive (RDX, TNT & aluminum powder) filled GBU-43B “MOAB” bombs.
All the way at the other end of the scale, they’re finding their way into portable rocket launchers like the SMAW, RPG, etc. DID noted this very trend in our March 10, 2005 coverage of the LAW rocket’s return, and similar man-portable thermobaric rockets proved extremely effective during the Second Battle of Fallujah in November 2004. Fortified buildings used as strongholds by Islamist paramilitary death squads were sometimes caved in with a single shot from a US Marine Corps SMAW-NE (Shoulder-Mounted Antitank Weapon, New Explosive). As reader Robert Schmidt points out…
General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products Inc. of Burlington, VT received a $6 million modification to a cost-plus-award-fee contract for a remotely operated variant of the XM307 Advanced Crew Served Weapon System. Remote operation systems like the Rafael OWS, Thales SWARM, and the Recon/Optical CROWS allow a weapon to be sighted, rotated, and fired from inside a vehicle, trading off reduced situational awareness for less crew exposure to hostile fire.
The lightweight XM307 is being developed by General Dynamics under a 2004 contract worth up to $95 million through December 2007. It will replace the M2 .50 cal “Ma Deuce” machine gun, which has been in service since the 1920s. Here in the 21st century, the USA has had to ramp up .50 cal ammunition production because “Ma Deuce” remains one of the most requested weapons in the Iraqi theater of war. Truly a hard act to follow – but the future M307/ M312 has a few new tricks up its gun sleeve.
At a recent international arms conference in New Delhi, Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee warned domestic arms makers to sharpen their skills or perish in the face of intense competition from foreign rivals in a globalizing world. AFP reports that the warning came amid reports of military complaints over the quality of hardware and spare parts supplied by India’s own arms industry.
The warning is valid to a point, and private sector procurement is finding a niche in India. Still, there may be less here than meets the eye.
Raytheon Canada won a contract valued at approximately $12 million (EUR 10 million) from the Royal Netherlands Navy and the Coast Guard of the Netherlands Antilles & Aruba (CGNA&A) to build an integrated coastal surveillance radar network on the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, including long-term maintenance and training.
Booz-Allen and Hamilton in McLean, VA received a $5.5 million contract modification for advisory and assistance services that focus on acquisition program management and systems engineering/ analysis capability. This will support future system programs that include, but are not limited to: land based strategic defense, common air vehicle (the hypersonic spaceplane portion of the FALCON program), intercontinental ballistic missile demonstration/ validation, integrated applications programs, and ICBM long-range requirements planning studies.
This action exercises option one of the contract, and implements a period of performance from December 1, 2005 through November 30, 2006. The location of performance is Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH. Headquarters 526th ICBM Systems Wing at Hill Air Force Base, UT issued the contract (FA8204-05-C-0022/P00002).
The Canadian government has released the National Aerospace and Defence Strategic Framework, a 20-year vision aimed at helping Canada’s leaders in the aerospace, defence and space sectors identify where and how they can be globally competitive. The document is the result of the Canadian Aerospace Partnership (CAP) process that began in April 2005 among industry, regional & national government, academia, and labour.
The report addresses both global aerospace industry trends, and matters specific to Canada’s situation. Some quick findings, key thrusts, and defense contracts on the way include:
The US Senate recently passed bill S. 2020, which included provisions to encourage innovation in the US aerospace industry. The vote in favour was 64-33, approving a comprehensive tax bill that included an extension of a basic R&D tax credit in Section 214. It also included an AIA-advocated Alternative Simplified Credit (ASC) designed to increase incentives for high-risk defense and aerospace research, by permitting aerospace companies to claim a potential 12% benefit on Qualified Research Expenditures. The full House may act on the legislation before the end of the year.
Aerospace companies employ nearly 5% of the American manufacturing workforce, just as they do in Canada. The AIA claims that the maximum claim for ASC-related R&D under current law could be less than 4%, and that approximately 75% of all benefits claimed under the R & D credit go directly to wages and salaries. AIA and its member companies worked closely with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley [R-IA] and ranking Democrat Max Baucus [D-MT] on the issue.
Among the contracts awarded to GenCorp subsidiary Aerojet and aimed at improving existing rocket systems and/or developing new Intercontinental Ballistic Missile System (ICBM) technologies, you will find:
A contract with no published amount aimed at developing new solid rocket motor technologies. Solid rocket motors are difficult to produce and have other disadvantages as well, but they are much more stable (i.e. much less dangerous) than liquid motor technologies.
This kind on ongoing expertise development may prove useful for this latest contract:
This award has a 120-month life cycle with a firm fixed price of $10.3 million. The requirement was solicited on a full and open competition basis, and four offers were received. The Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization at Scott Air Force Base, IL issued the contract (HC1047-05-D-4005).