One of the centerpieces of the US Army’s transformation plan has been its proposal to break down divisions into something called “Brigade Combat Teams.” The idea is that the US would be able to deploy the brigades with minimal support from higher-level HQ, something like the US Marine Corps’ pioneering MEUs. By expanding the number of brigades in the army, moving some dedicated support units into the BCTs, and increasing each brigade’s UAV, reconnaissance, and C4SI capabilities, the idea was that the US would effectively have more deployable combat units.
Now some studies prepared by the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) on behalf of the Pentagon’s Program Analysis and Evaluation Directorate make the case that the result will actually be something else: growth of HQ staff at the expense of combat troops, reducing maneuver batalions by 20% while growing headquarters by 11.5%. According to InsideDefense.com, the 8 studies also…
The Lockheed Martin/ Northrop-Grumman joint venture Longbow L.L.C. in Orlando, FL received a $76 million increment as part of a $100 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for Apache Block III Radar Electronics Units. Work will be performed in Baltimore, MD (50%), and Orlando, FL (50%), and is expected to be complete by Dec. 30, 2008. This was a sole source contract initiated on Jan. 11, 2006 by the Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-05-C-0239).
United Technologies Corp. subsidiary Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Group in Hartford, CT received a $56.7 firm-fixed-price and cost-plus fixed-fee contract modification. This undefinitized contractual action will support the F119 jet engine, Lot 6. Each F-22A Raptor carries two of these engines, whose ability to put out extremely high thrust without afterburner is what gives the aircraft its “supercruise” capability of staying above Mach 1 for prolonged periods. The F119’s vectored thrust capabilities, meanwhile, give the Raptor new levels of maneuverability. Work will be complete by March 2006. The Headquarters Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH issued the contract. (FA8611-05-C-2851/P00003).
Irish Department of Defence (DoD) and General Dynamics Mowag GmbH signed a EUR 30 million contract for another 15 Piranha III-H 8×8 armored vehicles, with a total value of EUR 36.5 million including VAT. The Piranha III 8×8 is a very close relative of the USA’s Stryker/ LAV III, and it beat Steyr’s Pandur II in the run-off competition. Ireland had originally planned to order 80 vehicles, but later cut the second batch of 40 to 25. This procurement restores the planned numbers, and adds two new variants to the Oglaigh na hEireann. Production will take place at Mowag’s facility in Kreuzlingen, and deliveries will start in February 2007. Payments under the contract will extend from December 2005 to January 2008.
This order includes 9 infantry carrier vehicles. They will be equipped with the same 12.7 mm Kongsberg Remote Weapon Station that is standard issue on the USA’s LAV III M1126 Stryker ICV, whose Iraq experiences were recently covered by DID. Another 6 vehicles will be fitted as infantry fighting vehicles, with a stabilized Oto Melara turret and 30 mm autocannon for heavier firepower on the move. These Piranha IIIs are intended to enhance the ability of Ireland to participate in international operations, and reflect the growing understanding that such forces need increased protection against mines and ballistic weapons. The Minister of Defence has stated that they will be used mainly in the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance roles on overseas missions.
L-3 Henschel in Newburyport, MA is being awarded a $7.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for Data Acquisition Unit shipsets, training, and testing site sets together with engineering services and provisioned items. Work will be performed in Newburyport, MA and is expected to be complete by October 2006. The contract was competitively procured and advertised on the Internet, with one offer received by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-06-C-4200).
This contract is in support of the CG-47 Ticonderoga Class Cruiser Integrated Ship Controls (ISC) Program. The ISC Program integrates all ship control functions by utilizing commercially available technology. Installation involves removing old analog consoles and replacing them with modern digital workstations. The new workstations generally take up less space, are more trouble free, and are easier to use. Ain’t Moore’s Law grand?
Raytheon Company received a $312 million, five-year indefinite delivery/ indefinite quantity contract by the U.S. Army’s Communications and Electronics Command to provide AN/ARC-231 Skyfire radio systems for the US Army’s fleet of helicopters. Raytheon will also provide ongoing mission support as part of the contract, which supports the US Army’s MARS (Multiple-band Avionics Radio Suite) program, which aims to add new radio capabilities in the absence of JTRS, and provide Blue Force Tracker capabilities as well.
The AN/ARC-231 is a VHF/UHF, line-of-sight, demand-assigned, software-programmable, multiple access radio and satellite communication system. Bottom line? It improves the quality of voice and data radio communications. Designed by Raytheon in Ft. Wayne, IN and manufactured in Largo, FL, the Skyfire is currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan on US Army helicopters, and on US Navy and Air Force aircraft. Skyfire installation is part of the Block II upgrade for the USA’s most modern AH-64D Apache attack helicopters. Over time, Skyfire will replace or substitute for existing ARC-186 and ARC-164 radios in more than 1,100 in CH-47F Chinook, UH-60M Black Hawk, and AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters. See corporate release, also eDefense Online.
There has been a lot of discussion about the USA’s Interceptor OTV body armor lately, but few include the much-neglected procurement/ supply capacity dimensions. We hope to have a DID article covering that aspect as time permits. Meanwhile, some soldiers serving on the front lines believe that even more weight and restricted mobility (especially in Hummers) are more likely to get them hurt than protect them. Army Secretary Francis Harvey, on the other hand, believes every GI should wear a couple of extra protective panels along the sides of the armor vest.
The US Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD recently issued a pair of side panel related contracts to Ceradyne and Point Blank Body Armor, worth a total of $88.9 million.