In its annual analysis “The World Market for Tanks,” the Forecast International Weapons Group projects that the international market will produce nearly 7,800 main battle tanks, worth in excess of $31.6 billion, through 2015. The upper tier of tanks like the American M1 Abrams and derivatives, British Challenger 2, French AMX Leclerc, German Leopard 2, Indian Tank-EX aka. Karan, Italian Ariete 2, and Israeli Merkava Mark 4 continue to show production declines against the second tier, dropping to about 17% of the market during this period. Meanwhile, a lower tier that mostly consists of modified Soviet-era tanks continues to grow. Forecast international believes that China’s Type 96/98, Pakistan’s related Al-Khalid, and Russia’s T-90 will account for nearly 45% of all new tanks rolling out worldwide, worth about 40% of the market, through 2015. DID also received a full copy of the analysis, and was interested to note that Iran’s Dio sits in 4th place for projected tank production with its licensed T-72S variant and Zulfiquar tanks.
M1A1 Abrams: Currum Ago (click to enjoy full view)
Yet that growth in second-tier production percentages may be deceptive. F.I.’s analysis notes that the high cost of new top-line tanks is creating a thriving modernization market, intended to extend the life of these assets as long as possible. DID has covered programs like the USA’s M1 AIM Reset, and the report notes that the value of the US M1 fleet’s maintenance, AIM and modernization programs were equivalent to 32.6% of the total value of all new production main battle tanks in 2004; in 2005, that figure was 21.3%. The Israeli experience re: the value of tanks in urban warfare, followed by the USA and Britain’s forced realization that their top-end tanks had no viable substitute during Operation Iraqi Freedom, means that programs of this type can be expected to remain a strong procurement trend for some time to come. Read full F.I. release.
“There are a number of compelling aspects of the FCS program, and it is hard to argue with the program’s goals. However, the elements of a sound business case for such an acquisition program – firm requirements, mature technologies, a knowledge-based acquisition strategy, a realistic cost estimate and sufficient funding – are not yet present. FCS began product development prematurely in 2003. Since then, the Army has made several changes to improve its approach for acquiring FCS. Yet, today, the program remains a long way from having the level of knowledge it should have had before starting product development. FCS has all the markers for risks that would be difficult to accept for any single system, much less a complex, multi-system effort. These challenges are even more daunting in the case of FCS not only because there are so many of them but because FCS represents a new concept of operations that is predicated on technological breakthroughs. Thus, technical problems, which accompany immaturity, not only pose traditional risks to cost, schedule, and performance; they pose risks to the new fighting concepts envisioned by the Army.
Many decisions can be anticipated that will involve trade-offs the Government will make in the program. Facts of life, like technologies not working out, reductions in available funds, and changes in performance parameters, must be anticipated. It is important, therefore, that the business arrangements for carrying out the FCS program – primarily in the nature of the development contract and in the lead system integrator (LSI) approach – preserve the government’s ability to adjust course as dictated by these facts of life. At this point, the $8 billion to be spent on the program through fiscal year 2006 is a small portion of the $200 billion total. DOD needs to guard against letting the buildup in investment limit its decision making flexibility as essential knowledge regarding FCS becomes available. As the details of the Army’s new FCS contract are worked out and its relationship with the LSI evolves, it will be important to ensure that the basis for making additional funding commitments is transparent. Accordingly, markers for gauging knowledge must be clear, incentives must be aligned with demonstrating such knowledge, and provisions must be made for the Army to change course if the program progresses differently than planned.”
Honeywell International Inc. in Phoenix, AZ received a $71.5 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for CH-47 T55-714A engines and fielding kits. The T55-714A engine is pgrading the existing CH-47D fleet, and is also part of the USA’s CH-47F Chinook Cargo Helicopter Modernization Program, which DID recently covered in-depth. Honeywell notes that the estimated production value of these engines from 2002-2010 is $1.1 billion if all engine options are exercised. Work on this modification will be performed in Phoenix, AZ and is expected to be complete by Dec. 31, 2009. This was a sole source contract initiated on Feb. 13, 2003 by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-04-C-0061).
Back in August 2005, DID covered a $214 million contract for System Development and Demonstration for the Extended Range / Multi-Purpose Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – aka. the Warrior UAV, which leveraged technologies from the Predator UAV family to defeat Northrop-Grumman/IAI’s Hunter II in the finals. DID’s previous article offers in-depth coverage of the ER/MPUAV program, which will eventually replace the US Army’s RQ-5 Hunter UAVs.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems in San Diego, CA just received a $67 million increment as part of that contract. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (43%), Adelanto, CA (14%), Palmdale, CA (8%), Salt Lake City, UT (18%), Hunt Valley, MD (14%), and Huntsville, AL (3%), and is expected to be complete by Aug. 31, 2009. There were 120 bids solicited on Sept. 1, 2004, and three bids were received. The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL issued the contract (W58RGZ-05-C-0069).
Mid Eastern Builders Inc. in Chesapeake, VA won a $17 million firm-fixed-price contract for construction of a fuel pump house at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, NC. That base is home to the 4th Fighter Wing’s F-15E Strike Eagles, and the 916th Air Refueling Wing’s 707-derived KC-135R Stratotankers.
Work is expected to be complete by Sept. 7, 2007. There were 260 bids solicited on Dec. 2, 2005, and 3 bids were received. The U.S. Army Engineer District in Savannah, GA issued the contract (W912HN-06-C-0018).