With its intercontinental flight range, short-field performance, and ability to carry cargo over 20 tons, the C-17 Globemaster III has become the workhorse of the Global War on Terror. The recent USAF mobility study and 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review believe that capping production at 180 C-17 aircraft and mothballing the line in 2008, adding new air-air refueling tankers, and re-engining the giant C-5 Galaxy transports to improve performance and availability rates will be sufficient to meet air mobility needs within the military’s budgetary priorities. Now the Long Beach Press-Telegram and other media sources are noting a U.S. Department of Commerce report. It concluded that the Pentagon’s plan would have national impacts of about $8.4 billion, hitting 702 suppliers in 42 states, eliminating more than 25,000 jobs nationwide, and forcing production of some other aircraft to move.
Doug Karas, a U.S. Air Force spokesman, said that while the report may outline stark economic impacts for states affected by C-17 job loss, economics alone can’t dictate Pentagon policies. He’s spot on, and the argument about “eliminating” jobs ignores both the fact that the redirected spending will create jobs elsewhere, and the possibility that a rising civil aircraft market may absorb some of these skills. Will this stop lobbying on the C-17’s behalf? No. Do the lobbyists have a viable argument? Possibly. Could they succeed? That’s very possible, too; there’s support in Congress for continued C-17 production.
Sen. John Warner [R-VA] and several other Virginia legislators had worked successfully to deny the Pentagon’s FY 2006 request to retire the conventionally-powered aircraft carrier CV 67 USS John F. Kennedy, which hasn’t been deployed since 2004. The Virginian-Pilot reports that they’ve changed their minds, however, and this could spell the end for the diesel-fired carrier. In a persuasive move, the Navy went over the ship with a fine-toothed comb and came back with a case that restoring it to fighting shape would really be a $2-3 billion proposition – money that could be spent on other ships instead.
InsideDefense.com reports that the US Marines are disputing their force size recommendation from the recent 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review. The Marines are fighting hard and taking a higher share of casualties than other services, and they recently began standing up the new MARSOC that will contribute 2,600 Special Forces while remaining true to the Marines’ egalitarian credo that every Marine is special. They’ve also plussed up their service strength from 175,000 to 180,000 via wartime supplemental funding.
The QDR has set their recommended long-term force size at 175,000 and seeks to move long-term personnel funding out of supplemental appropriations and into the regular budget. The USMC’s Commandant is launching his own force structure review study in response, and contemplating a number of changes in light of lessons learned on the front lines. Military.com has the details.
DID has covered the role of the AN/AQ-228 ATFLIR and other surveillance/ targeting pods, which have changed the way high-end fighters are used in Iraq and Afghanistan. Raytheon Space & Airborne Systems in El Segundo, CA received a $9.1 million cost-plus-fixed-fee order against a previously awarded basic ordering agreement for increased repair quantities of 67 line items of Advance Targeting Forward-Looking InfraRed (ATFLIR) assemblies used on the F/A-18 aircraft.
Work will be performed in El Segundo, CA and is expected to be complete by September 2006. This contract was not procured competitively by the Naval Inventory Control Point issued the contract (N00383-04-G-200H, Order 0003).
The Army Corps of Engineers recently issued two contracts for Base Operations/RAPCON (Radar APproach CONtrol) Facilities. See this AFLink article about the 332nd RAPCON deployed to in Balad, Iraq; and this site detailing the activities and coverage of McGuire RAPCON in Wrightstown, New Jersey. McGuire RAPCON controls low-level (8000 feet and below) civilian and military IFR/VFR air traffic operations over the central portion of New Jersey.
Dean Kurtz Construction Co. in Rapid City, SD received an $8.85 million firm-fixed-price contract for Ellsworth Air Force Base, SD, which is expected to be complete by May 10, 2008. There were 89 bids solicited on Oct. 26, 2005, and 3 bids were received by the Army Corps of Engineers in Omaha, NB (W9128F-06-C-0007).
Small business qualifier Record Steel and Construction Inc. in Meridian, ID received an $8.2 million firm-fixed-price contract for Mountain Home Air Force Base, ID, which is expected to be complete by Aug. 17, 2007. Bids were solicited via the Internet on Sept. 1, 2005, and two bids were received by the Army Corps of Engineers in Seattle, WA (W912DW-06-C-0004).