Now senior UK Ministry of Defence officials have confirmed to The Sunday Times of London that Britain is considering its options and contemplating a pullout from the multinational, multi-billion dollar JSF program. According to these officials, instructions have been given for alternative strategies for projects affected by American technology-transfer problems – and JSF was included in that list. It was time, one said, to “think the unthinkable.”
EADS Eurocopter has signed a cooperation agreement covering the development of a new 16-seat EC175 helicopter, following a year of intense negotiations to detail and develop the general principles laid down in the Agreement signed in October 2004 during President Chirac’s official visit to China. The five-year development phase will be kicked off early in 2006. The new ‘civil’ helicopter is due to make its first flight in 2009, with European and Chinese certification set for 2011, the year in which production is due to start.
The Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARC) at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, AZ, also called “the Boneyard,” stores hundreds of older or retired aircraft outdoors in the dry Arizona sun (see Flash tour). The planes are then scavenged for parts, or restored to flying condition later for re-entry into active service. AMARC is sometimes the only place to get spare parts for older aircraft like the B-52 Bomber or F-111 Aardvark short of doing custom builds, and will become increasingly important given the rising average ages of the US tacair, bomber and transport fleets.
By reclaiming nearly 42,000 aircraft parts during FY 2004 and 2005, a team saved the government $1.25 billion, while providing parts support to American and allied warfighters. During a visit in 2004, DID Editor-In-Chief Joe Katzman was told the facility is that ultimate rarity, an active military installation that makes a net profit. As a result of these efforts, and some impressive strides in on-site performance, AMARC has earned a 2005 Lean Continuous Process Improvement award. Some process improvements included:
General Dynamics Decision Systems in Scottsdale, AZ won $72.5 million for Modification P00067 under previously awarded contract M67854-02-C-2052 for the Unit Operations Center (UOC) program. This modification includes recurring engineering change costs for 10 UOCs, plus an exercised option for another 50 UOCs.
Shortly after landing a $28.9 million design contract for a new class of Egyptian corvettes/fast missile boats based on the Ambassador Class FAC, VT Halter Marine has issued a contract of its own. Lockheed Martin has been sub-contracted for $14.3 million to perform electronics and combat system design and integration.
The first phase of the contract will focus on functional design and is expected to be completed in 12 months. A detail design, construction and delivery contract is expected to follow the functional design phase. As DID noted in its last article, by the time the contract reaches production, the total outlays for design work and construction of up to three vessels could grow to more than $450 million.