The proposed cancellation of the GE/Rolls Royce F136 engine program threatened to undermine British support for the JSF program, pull GE out of the military jet engines business, and hand Pratt & Whitney a near-monopoly on engines and long-term maintenance for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter via its F135 engine. The US Congress seems decidedly unhappy with ending the F-35’s interchangeable engine program, which may have been an unusually inflammatory version of the classic “Washington Monument” false budget cuts gambit.
Now the USA’s official Government Accountability Office weighs in, in response to a request from Sen. John Warner and Rep. Curt Weldon:
In “One Small Step for a UAV, One Big Step for FCS Class I,” DID offered in-depth covered Honeywell’s Class I UAV Micro Air Vehicle (MAV), which had an inside track to become the US Army’s Future Combat Systems’ Class I backpackable platoon-level UAV. A $1.7 million order from Honeywell Aerospace in February 2006 for 55 Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) airframes was an indication that things were ramping up – and now Honeywell is very close to its goal.
Future Combat Systems lead integrators Boeing and SAIC have now awarded Honeywell Defense & Space Electronic Systems a $61 million contract to develop the Class I Unmanned Aerial Vehicle System. UPDATE: In August, 2006, Honeywell announced that it was teaming with UAV maker AAI to deliver 20 prototype Class I UAVs.
See DID’s in-depth coverage of FCS Class I-IV UAVs for a review of the various competitors and how the selection process works. In addition to its MAV/Class I activity with DARPA, Honeywell has been working under an FCS systems engineering contract, including gap analysis and early risk mitigation, to ensure MAV technology will meet the full set of FCS Class I requirements. The team recently completed a system functional review verifying that the technology is on track and, following an update to the design to meet all FCS requirements, will be ready to be integrated into the FCS networked system-of-systems. First prototype deliveries and flight tests are scheduled for December 2008, and the Class I UAV is slated as a second-stage early spinout within the FCS program.
The MTRS program has made hundreds of robots available in Iraq and Afghanistan for use investigating and eliminating IED land mines. QinetiQ subsidiary Foster-Miller Inc. in Waltham, MA received a $63.9 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for operator and technician training, TALON spare parts, and new robots for the Robotic Systems Joint Project Office. These parts and services are tasked to the Joint Robotics Repair Facilities and embedded repair teams deployed in support of contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the Global War on Terror. The TALON I-IV series is one of two robotic systems funded under MTRS.
Work will be performed in Waltham, MA and is expected to be complete in May 2008. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, Orlando, Fla., is the contracting activity (N61339-06-D-0013).
This is a bit smaller than the contracts we usually cover, but (a) it’s interesting; and (b) it covers an item that is being procured and deployed in theater. Veteran-owned Defenshield Inc. of Syracuse, NY has been awarded a $2 million contract from BAE Systems for its DS-192-P Mobile Defensive Fighting Positions (MDFP) to be deployed in South West Asia in support of the war on terrorism. These mobile, modern tower shields with a slot for returning fire are certified up to NIJ Level III (assault rifles) and NIJ Level IV (30-06 armor piercing), and is certified by the US State Department to Standard 01.01 for resistance to both 5.56mm and 7.62mm NATO rounds. It also offers some blast protection. Deliveries will begin in May 2006, and include the ATV mobility option developed especially for use on unimproved and rough surfaces.
The firm notes that D.C. Hales, II Marine Expeditionary Force Assistant Chief of Staff of Logistics, had good things to say about these systems from his vantage point in Fallujah, Iraq:
BAE Systems, Fort Walton Beach, Fla., is being awarded a $5.1 million firm-fixed-price incentive with award-fee and award-term, cost-reimbursement contract. DefenseLINK notes merely that “this action provides for operations and maintenance of the solid state phased Array Radar Systems at five radar sites worldwide.” They are almost certainly referring to the multinational BMEWS (Ballistic Missile Early Warning System) and American PAVE PAWS missile tracking & warning installations at Clear Air Force Station, AK; Thule Air Base, Greenland; Royal Air Force Fylingdales, UK; Beale Air Force Base, CA; and Cape Cod Air Force Station, MA.
The contract includes radar and mission computer maintenance, communications systems maintenance including maintenance of military satellite communications systems, communications-electronics maintenance, local area network management, precision measurement equipment calibration and maintenance, logistics support, civil engineering, vehicle maintenance and environmental compliance management. Solicitations began April 2005, negotiations were complete January 2006, and work will be complete September 2018. The 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, CO, who provides missile warning and space control to NORAD and U.S. Strategic Command, issued the contract (FA2517-06-C-8001).
CSC Applied Technologies LLC in Fort Worth, TX received a $9.5 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract to support SureTrak, the US Navy’s vessel tracking system. This contract covers services and hardware for the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Atlantic Ranges and Facilities Department, and will include maintenance and operation of the existing SureTrak system; development and testing of modifications to the SureTrak system; development, production, and installation of customized SureTrak systems for NAVAIR and other federal agencies; and maintenance and operation of federal agency installations.
Work will be performed in Lexington Park, MD (60%) and Patuxent River, MD (40%), and is expected to be complete in May 2011. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD (N00421-06-D-0014).