Given Britain’s $2 billion participation as the only other Tier 1 partner with the USA, the implied snub to Britain was not taken well. Engine choice programs have worked well for the F-16 and F-15 fighters, and Congress may yet decide to restore this competitive aspect of the program in order to keep future costs in line. If not, however, Pratt & Whitney has moved to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Rolls Royce to define their future collaboration on the F135 engine, which may also help them take some of the steam out of British lobbying efforts to reinstate engine choice. This remains to be seen, of course.
In September 2005 General Dynamics had just become a second-source prime for small-caliber ammunition to the US military, as a result of the Army’s small-caliber ammunition shortage. This broke Alliance Techsystems’ sole lock on the prime supplier position from its single remaining plant in Lake City, MO. That award may be having ripple effects now, as General Dynamics has just entered a definitive agreement to acquire Canadian ammunition system integrator SNC Technologies Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., for approximately $275 million (CDN$ 315 million).
The USA’s AGM-154 Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW) precision glide-bomb has proven to be popular with the US DoD as well as foreign buyers. Indeed, the program has gone so well that the U.S. Department of Defense presented Raytheon’s JSOW program with its highest acquisition honor in November 2005. The David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award is given to civilian and military organizations that have made highly significant contributions or demonstrated exemplary innovations and best practices in the defense acquisition process.
Block II JSOW manufacturing began in FY 2006, maintaining all standoff and survivability capabilities but costing less.
General Electric Aircraft Engines in Lynn, MA received a $26.4 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-priced contract (N00019-02-C-3021) to purchase 60 T58 engine reliability improvement program (ERIP) module kits, including titanium nitride (TiN) coating of their engines’ compressor airfoil blades, for the Marine Corps CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters. In addition, this modification provides for the procurement of 96 TiN coated retrofit kits for modification of previously delivered ERIP Modules and TiN Miscellaneous Tooling.
A trial programme run by Britain’s Defence Logistic Organisation’s Helicopter Engines Integrated Project Team (HEIPT) is trying to reduce sand erosion to the Lynx helicopter Gem engine Low Pressure (LP) compressor blades. Iraq’s and Afghanistan’s environments cause significant erosion, forcing replacement with new blades, extra overhaul costs and lower availability stats. Attaching sand filters to the engines has helped, but not solved the problem.
The titanium nitride coating comprises both hard layers for surface protection and soft layers that have elastic properties to encourage particles to bounce off without penetrating; it also provides limited protection against Foreign Object Damage. The coating has an impressive provenance acquired during use on Russian helicopter engines, and in further separate testing in the United States, which uses it on the US Marines’ CH-46E Sea Knights. The test project follows extensive research into the effects of sand erosion undertaken in conjunction with engine designer Rolls Royce, and includes experts from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) who will advise and independently assess all aspects of the project. If the trial goes well and the new coating performs as well as expected, MoD will consider whether to roll it out to the rest of the Lynx fleet. See full release for further information and statistics.
Small business qualifier Mid Eastern Builders Inc. in Chesapeake, VA a $17.8 firm-fixed-price contract for munitions storage at Langley Air Force Base, VA. Work is expected to be complete by Jan. 30, 2008. There were 85 bids solicited on Oct. 31, 2005, and 6 bids were received by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Norfolk, VA (W91236-06-C-0033).
Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, NY received a $28.5 million, firm fixed price, time and materials contract modification. This action provides for 60 each A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter precision engagement Spiral 1 modification kits, along with associated parts and test equipment. Solicitations began July 2004, negotiations were complete in July 2005, and work will begin 13 months after the exercising option and will refit 6 aircraft per month after that. The Headquarters Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill Air Force Base, UT issued the contract (FA8202-05-C-0004/P00002).
The A-10C Spiral 1 upgrades have been a great success to date. The original contract for $37.8 million, including details re: the A-10 Precision Engagement modification program, was covered by DID on March 31/05. Added together, the two previous awards covered by DID amounted to about $46.8 ($37.8 + $9) million for 72 Spiral 1 sets, modifications, and test equipment. The entire A-10 fleet will be modified over the next five years to A/OA-10C status for an estimated total contract value of $168 million.
Alexander Building Construction L.L.C. in Harrisburg, PA won an $8.45 million firm-fixed-price contract to build an Army Reserve Center. Work will be performed in Bellefonte, PA and is expected to be complete by July 14, 2007. There were 85 bids solicited on Oct. 7, 2005, and 3 bids were received by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Louisville, KY (W912QR-06-C-0008).