Creating the US Army’s ubiquitous (and mine-vulnerable) up-armored Humvees is a two-step process. First, one procures the vehicle itself, usually a variant with uprated suspension et. al. designed to accommodate the weight of the armor and other add-ons. This is only partly successful, as up-armored Humvees will still wear out far faster than more lightly armored varieties. In step two, a different firm produces and/or adds armor and other useful survivability improvements – including smart choices like gun shields. This, too, is useful but only partly successful, as the HMMWV’s flat bottom leaves it more vulnerable to IED mines than vehicles like the RG-31 with V-bottom hulls. RG-31s are in use by the US 101st Airborne in Iraq, and will soon see service with Canadian forces in Afghanistan. Australian forces, meanwhile, use ADI’s larger Bushmaster IMV.
A pair of recent contract awards illustrate the up-armored HMMWV two-step process. They do not necessarily pertain to the same vehicles, but they are illustrative when juxtaposed.
Rafael of Haifa, Israel and the Dutch Ministry of Defense have signed a $40-million contract for six REECELITE reconnaissance pods, which will be carried on 306 Squadron’s F-16s at Volkel airbase. The original specification had called for 24 pods, but eDefense believes that 6 is all the Royal Netherlands Air Force will receive. RecceLite also flies on Spain’s F/A-18s.
The new ISR pods are based on the LITENING targeting and surveillance pod. Modifications include removal of the laser targeting, replacement of the 3rd-generation FLIR thermal optics with a new one modified for longer range scans, and the existing closed circuit camera was also upgraded to a new camera with a Zeiss Optronics telescope. With the new equipment, RecceLite can perform low, medium and high altitude missions, at tactical or standoff ranges, simultaneously in IR, VIS and NIR (Near IR) wavebands, during the same mission, with a single pod, and without replacing the sensors suite. Its line of sight flexibility also allows stereo viewing in any of the operational conditions, sensors, and fields of view, generating high quality stereo due to the ability to revisit a target area after a sufficiently large aspect angle was created by the aircraft progression. All this equipment is complemented by a recording unit with the ability to store of 2.5 hours of continuous reconnaissance imagery.
Zeiss Optronics is part of a joint venture partner with RAFAEL, and has been involved in integrating the LITENING pods on Germany’s Tornado and F-4F+ Phantom II aircraft, and the Swedish JAS-39 Gripen.
Campina Melkunie B.V. / Melkexport Stcrovita in The Netherlands won a maximum $6.8 million fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for fresh milk and milk products for the US Army and Air Force in Europe.
There were five proposals solicited and three responded. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, and the contract will end in December 2006. The contract was issued by the US Defense Supply Center Philadelphia – European Region, Mainz-Kastel, Germany (SP0303-06-DC237).
Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. Sperry Marine in Charlottesville, VA received an estimated $10.7 million firm-fixed-price letter contract for Ring Laser Gyro Navigators (RLGNs) and Ring Laser Gyrocompasses (RLG). They are the current generation of inertial navigation systems and gyrocompasses on board ship and submarines. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy (50%) and the Governments of Australia (25%) and Japan (25%) and under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Charlottesville, VA and is expected to be complete by March 2007. The contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-06-C-4001).