HyperStealth Biotechnology Corp. uses fractal patterns to create better military camouflage designs. Canada changed military camouflage standards by issuing their proprietary “pixelated” CADPAT uniforms as a result of a DND research program. Its improved performance in NATO exercises helped smooth the adoption of the related MARPAT for the US Marines and its ACUPAT derivative for the US Army. See this Hyperstealth page, and this MARPAT-related USMC page, to understand some of the key principles behind these new designs.
Working with Lt. Col. Timothy R. O’Neill, Ph.D. (U.S. Army, Ret.), whose research work formed the basis of both CADPAT and MARPAT, Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corp. has entered the digital camouflage field. In 2003, the firm was commissioned by King Abdullah II to create the advanced digital KA2 camouflage pattern for Jordan’s Armed Forces, Police, Customs and Counter-Terrorism battalions. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has since extended that research into other areas, and the company has been given permission to announce that after two years of R&D, digital camouflage patterns have proven themselves applicable to weapons, vehicles, helicopters, and even jet aircraft. Better still, they claim that these patterns can be applied with little specialized training and no drawbacks over conventional camouflage.
The US Navy has awarded a 10-year, cost plus award fee/award term contract with a potential dollar figure of $159 million to Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Bethpage, NY. Northrop Grumman will serve as mission package integrator for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Mission Modules program. The FY 2006 portion of the contract award is $4.5 million.
The integrator’s role is to as a system-engineering partner responsible for bringing the systems and technologies of the mission modules together, and act as a conduit for technology to be harnessed and incorporated into the LCS seaframe and mission module architectures. They will work closely with the government’s Mission Package Integration Laboratory at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City, FL, strengthening the production team that is slated deliver the first mission packages in Fiscal Year (FY) 2007.
Mission modules are integrated packages of mission-specific equipment that can be swapped in and out of the LCS. The ships will initially draw upon modules for Mine Warfare (MIW), Anti-submarine Warfare (ASW) and Surface Warfare (SUW).
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received an $8.4 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for preliminary design work in support of HLR, as part of the initial system development and demonstration of the Marine Corps’ CH-53X Heavy Lift Replacement (HLR) program. The contract follows a Dec. 22, 2005 decision by the under secretary of defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to authorize the $4.4 billion Heavy Lift Replacement program to begin development. A “Cost Plus Award Fee” contract for the System Development and Demonstration phase, estimated to be approximately $2.9 billion, is expected to be signed with Sikorsky in March 2006.
Even government programs are subject to the logic of the industry in which they’re embedded, and TIME Magazine reports that the US federal government’s $5.6 billion, 10 year Project Bioshield may be finding that out the hard way.
Because bringing a new drug to market through the regulatory thicket can take 10 years and cost up to $800 million, and drug patents have fixed expiry periods, a drug company’s “pipeline” of potentially effective new drugs with large markets is its most important asset. As TIME notes, therefore, none of the big firms are keen on diverting research from potential blockbusters to drugs for exotic germs like ebola and smallpox (q.v. “The Demon in the Freezer“) which may be stockpiled and used only in an emergency. Companies are also leery of huge liability risks in the USA’s lawsuit-happy culture if biodefense vaccines and treatments are ever administered. Meanwhile, the smaller firms are finding the government contracting process too opaque and slow to be a reliable option. The result is a program with few awards, and no successes to date.
Of course, the folks TIME spoke to have arguments for funding their own (or the reporter’s) preferred pieces of the pie instead. Deserved cynicism aside, the lesson of industry dynamics as a critical factor to consider when designing a program should be clear. DefenseTech has further links and information, as well as its own clear political position on this subject.
Data Link Solutions (DLS), a BAE Systems/ Rockwell Collins company, was selected by the Canadian Forces to provide Multi-Functional Information Distribution System (MIDS) Low Volume Terminals (LVT) as part of their Fleet Modernization Program to add Link 16 capability to Canada’s CF-18 Hornet aircraft fleet. The approximate value of the contract is in excess of USD $22.7 million. DID covered the initial request to the US Congress.
On March 24, 205, DID covered the Joint Common Missile program and its clouded future. Would the JCM, which had generally been successful in its tests, become the air-to-ground precision missile that would replace AGM-114 Hellfires, AGM-65 Mavericks and airborne TOW missiles with a single weapon usable by the airplanes, helicopters, UAVs, and even some ground vehicles of the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps?
Well, no. Not yet, anyway. On the other hand, the program isn’t entirely dead. Military.com reports that when US House and Senate conferees reconciled the details of the FY 2006 defense appropriations bill, they restored $30 million to the Army-led JCM program to continue the missile’s development ($26 million in research, development, test and evaluation funding from the Army, and $4 million from the Navy). They’ve also required a report by January 30, 2006 explaining how the Pentagon plans to fill the future gaps created by the missile’s demise, and a cost analysis of continuation vs. termination and buying existing missiles. Depending on what that study says, the JCM program could rise again.
Booz Allen, Hamilton Incorporated in McClean, VA received a $56.6 million (estimated) cost-plus fixed-fee contract modification for operation of the Survivability/ Vulnerability Information Analysis Center (SURVIAC) for a 4-year option period beginning January 2006. “The mission is to perform the functions of a full service Department of Defense Information Analysis Center as described in DoD Regulation 3200.12-R-2, “Centers for analysis of scientific and technical information in the vital technical area of non-nuclear survivability/ vulnerability.”
Well, that’s what DefenseLINK says. Enlightening, isn’t it? So, what is SURVIAC, really…
Our Bronto email subscriber management software tells us that over 100 people clicked on this graphic of the Los Angeles Class nuclear submarine USS San Francisco [SSN 711] in our Friday newsletter. Unfortunately, a tiny typo meant that the larger version of that photo couldn’t display. Here’s a working version of the photo, and here’s how the sub got that way – they came awfully close to losing her.