In a statement e-mailed to contractors April 28, 2006, the Defense Security Service reportedly told recipients that they had “discontinued accepting industry requests for new personnel security clearances and periodic reinvestigations effective immediately and until further notice.” DID has noted the skyrocketing demand for clearances in the wake of 9/11, and DSS officials claim the agency had received more than 100,000 applications between October 2005 and March 2006. The Washington Times notes that this is creating serious issues, as people need security clearances in order to do anything from staffing contractor projects in Iraq and Afghanistan to working on weapons system production or maintenance.
The process of issuing these clearances can take up to 18 months, and costs thousands of dollars. A Congressionally mandated reform in 2004 shifted the investigations to the Office of Personnel Management, which bills the Defense Security Service for the work. At present, DSS has reportedly run out of money to pay for the investigations and is holding back some 3,000 applications. Congressional staffers estimated the agency’s shortfall at between $75 million and $100 million. It is not known whether DSS will continue to issue interim clearances for applicants deemed low-risk. Meanwhile, Rep. Thomas M. Davis III [R-VA-11th] plans to hold hearings on the issue, if DID readers want to contact an interested Congressman.
Carried on SSBN-726 Ohio Class submarines, The Trident II D-5 is the US Navy’s submarine launched nuclear missile, with exceptional range for a sea-launched weapon and accuracy figures that rival or even exceed land-based ICBMs. These missiles are arguably the most important and effective component of the US nuclear deterrent, and they constitute Britain’s entire nuclear deterrent as well. They were first deployed in 1990, and are planned for continuous deployment to 2042. DID has covered the ongoing modernization and refurbishment efforts that will be required in order to meet this goal.
As part of those efforts, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space Co. in Sunnyvale, CA just received a $61.4 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. They’ll investigate, demonstrate, and validate emerging technologies suitable for the unique current and future requirements of fleet ballistic missile (FBM) boost motors, post boost control systems (PBCS), thrust vector controls (TVC), and ordnance and flight termination systems. This effort shall identify and maintain the critical skills and tools necessary to address development needs, and improve the current predictive aging models/techniques used to assess their viability when deployed beyond their original design life. Lockheed will also investigate what would be required to produce alternatives to some of the existing 1980s-era components, and integrate them into the Trident fleet.
Work will be performed in Sunnyvale, CA and is expected to be complete by December 2008. This contract was not competitively procured by the Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity (N00030-06-C-0030).
Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) Research and Development Division in San Diego, CA received a $51.8 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for the research, design, fabrication, and demonstration of wideband communication system (WCS) prototypes, configured for a variety of platforms to meet DoD and non-DoD U.S Government needs. Work will be performed in St. Petersburg, FL (74%); San Diego, CA (13%); California, MD (5%); Newport News, VA (2%); and Johnstown, PA (2%) and is expected to be completed May 2011. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division in Dahlgren, VA (N00178-06-D-3001).
DefenseLINK notes that WCS “will be a communication system that networks multiple sensor nodes and sub-networks at data rates up to 70 Mbps over ranges up to 70 miles. The WCS will shorten the sensor-to-command post and command post-to-shooter timeline and allow firing units to fire on the move, a currently non-existent capability.” The system will also serve to link multiple sub-networks in its zones of coverage, no easy task. Interestingly, the release also adds that “WCS will provide the warfighter with substantial reach-back capability not tied to congested satellite channels.” This is logical, and also TSAT and Combat Skysat for why that last line could be very interesting if it prods investment in certain alternatives.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that ScanEagle UAV makers The Insitu Group of Bingen, WA just received $23 million in venture capital financing from Battery Ventures, Second Avenue Partners and others. The firm has grown quickly since 1992, posting revenues of $25 million last year after a UAV it developed to monitor tuna schools and dolphins turned out to have exactly the characteristics that the Marines were looking for. A partnership with Boeing firmed up their marketing channels, and the US Navy has also deployed these UAVs on the HSV-2 high-speed catamaran and the LPD 14 USS Trenton amphibious support ship, where it has been used to help protect oil platforms in the Persian-Arabian Gulf.
To date, the paper reports that Insitu has produced 190 aircraft. The article offered the interesting tidbit that the UAVs are designed to last about 2,000 flight hours, but crash landings, system failures, and weather-related mishaps have ensured that none of their military UAVs have hit that target yet. Interest in the $100,000 UAVs remains high, however, including the possibility that Canada may appreciate their land and naval versatility enough to select the ScanEagle in its mini-UAV competition. Insitu is currently developing additional UAV platforms, including the SeaScan and GeoRanger for commercial and research purposes. Readers are invited to peruse the newspaper article for further details.