One of the key sources of savings proposed for the new CVN-21 Class aircraft carriers is a trend toward more automation and fewer personnel. Now the GAO helps shed light on the larger phenomenon behind those moves. A recent GAO report that pegged the average for active duty enlisted personnel and officer compensation at $112,000 a year, 51% of which takes the form of health care and other benefits (NAVSEA’s figure was $90,000 FY 2004).
This amounts to about double the average for civilian pay, and also represents a much higher benefits ratio than civilian pay. Ironically, the GAO report also found that the US military’s efforts to educate its personnel about this important recruiting and retention lever did not get good marks, and that many military members were unaware of how competitive their compensation was.
GAO Comptroller David Walker’s key point at a recent GovExec.com breakfast was that the budgeting process needed to reflect the full financial impact of funding decisions. For example, health care costs since are not only spiraling in the present thanks to a benefits expansion in 2000 – they also represent a major future stinger. Specifically…
If you know a serious weapons geek, odds are you’ve heard the name “Metal Storm.” This Australian/US firm’s fully loaded barrel tubes are essentially serviceable weapons, without the traditional ammunition feed or ejection system, breech opening or any other moving parts. The technology uses the concept of numerous projectiles stacked in a barrel, in which each projectile has its own propellant load. The leading propellant can be electronically ignited to fire the projectile, without the resulting high pressure and temperature causing unplanned blow-by ignition of the following propellant load, and without collapse of the projectile column in the barrel. Metal Storm barrels can be effectively grouped in multiple configurations to meet a diversity of applications, are extremely reliable due to their lack of moving parts, and are capable of local or remote operation through a computerized fire control system.
Now the firm has been awarded a two year Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract worth approximately A$ 975,000 from the US Army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) for the design, prototyping and demonstration of Metal Storm less-than-lethal munitions.
C-5 Refuels from KC-135 Note KC-135 = 707 airliner!
Lockheed Martin Co. in Marietta, GA received a $33.3 million firm fixed price contract modification for C-5 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) Production Lot IV Kits, Support, Spares and Maintenance Training Device Spares. Work will be complete in June 2008. The Headquarters Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH issued the contract (F33657-98-C-0006/P00161). DID covered an earlier $98 million AMP contract back on Nov. 15, 2005.
Fundamentally, the C-5 Galaxy AMP (aka. C-5M) program is about changing 1960s and 1970s avionics to make the cockpit more like its commercial counterparts. The goal is to meet global standards while flying in commercial airspace and also improve the C-5’s low readiness rates. How big a problem is that? This story may illustrate:
The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, AL recently issued $396.1 million in orders to United Technology subsidiary Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT for UH-60 Black Hawk and HH-60M MEDEVAC helicopters and related parts. The UH-60 Black Hawk is the backbone of US Army aviation, and acts as the US Army’s primary troop carrier and utility helicopter. Numerous variants perform missions varying from special forces support and search-and-rescue to electronic intercept, but the most common versions perform cargo or medical missions, or carry 8-11 troops.
Work will be performed in Stanford, CT, and the contracts include:
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $33.3 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for MH-60S Navy Knight Hawks, which will replace the Navy and Marine Corps’ aging CH-46 Sea Knights in US service. Work on this contract will be performed in Stratford, CT, and is expected to be complete by Dec. 31, 2007. This was a sole source contract initiated on Oct. 4, 2000 by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL (DAAH23-02-C-0006).
Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ received a cost-only contract modification that covers the procurement of long lead material and is estimated at $21.7 million. It will be used to build special tooling and test equipment for Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IA Missiles for the AEGIS naval Ballistic Missile Defense program. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and Camden, AR, and is expected to be complete by April 2006. This contract was not competitively awarded by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-03-C-6111).