The US has since issued a follow-on orders for the basic C-130J aircraft and some key variants (KC-130J tanker, EC-130J broadcaster, WC-130J weather, et. al.) in order to begin recapitalizing its decaying C-130 fleet, making the C-130J their successor by default. Unlike the pending Airbus A400M, however, the C-130J doesn’t solve the sub-survivable 20-ton armored vehicle limit that has stymied multiple US armored vehicle programs from the Stryker IAV to Future Combat Systems. As such, it represents an improvement that fails to address US tactical airlift’s key bottleneck limitation.
The excuse of C-130J contract cancellation fees being too high may or may not have been face-saving dodge in the face of Congressional lobbying. What is now far more certain is that the cancellation figures cited were over-estimated.
As the USA proceeds with its Littoral Combat Ship program, other nations are building less versatile and less expensive craft for littoral warfare and patrol roles. In addition to Sweden’s famed Visby Class corvettes (recently upgraded to a “Visby Plus” configuration – see PDF) and Norway’s smaller Skjold (Shield) Class air cushion catamarans, DID reader Lee Wahler notes that the Russians are introducing a new corvette class that could compete with the LCS for export dollars. Meanwhile, the Chinese are introducing advanced wave-piercing catamaran designs into their own littoral fleet.
While the Chinese ships are not peer competitors to the USA’s Littoral Combat Ships, they could be key opponents in a future Taiwan Straits scenario. The Russian Project 2038.0 Corvettes, on the other hand, could provide serious export competition for nations with lower budgets, or impaired access to advanced US technologies.
General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems in Suffolk, VA received $95.5 million, exercising an option for another year in support of the U.S. Joint Forces Command’s Joint Experimentation Program and Joint Futures Lab. Headquartered in Norfolk, VA, U.S. Joint Forces Command is tasked with helping to lead US and allied military efforts in transformation, experimentation, joint training, interoperability and force provision.
This indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity with cost plus fixed fee (CPFF) provisions contract has been in operation since August 2004, and consisted of a one-year base period plus four additional one-year option periods; this is the second option year. The contract was competitively procured, with 30 proposals solicited and 1 offer received. Work will continue primarily at USJFCOM Suffolk facilities, and is expected to be completed by July 2007. The Fleet and Industrial Supply Center Norfolk Contracting Department Philadelphia Division holds the contract. USJFCOM release.
Boeing Co. in Wichita, KS received a $150 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price and cost reimbursable contract to expand the capabilities of its 1960s-era B-52 Stratofortress fleet. This contract covers new weapons integration on the bombers, as established by Air Force Program Management Directive 2220 98 PE 11113F for B-52 Program Support Management Plan. The Smart Weapons Integration Next Generation contract will cover a 12-year period, with an initial $1.6 million development demonstration contract that will modify the aircraft’s weapon delivery software and complete the integration of the Miniature Air Launched Decoy (MALD).
Aircraft modifications will be required to integrate each new weapon onto the B-52. Some subsequent contract modifications will support Air Force initiatives for spiral development of other weapons in this class, such as Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER), MALD Jammer, et. al. Others will support totally new weapons, such as Small Diameter Bomb and Boost Phase Interceptor. Work will be complete December 2020. The Headquarters Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Tinker Air Force Base, OK issued the contract. (FA8107-06-C-0001)
UPDATE:Boeing has issued a release noting that these efforts will also include integration of PMA-201 group’s Universal Armament Interface – the next generation interface between the mission planning system, aircraft platform, and weapons. If successful, this will be a big step forward vs. the present approach of integrating each new weapon individually.
Small business qualifier AeroVironment Corp. in Monrovia, CA received a $9.6 million modification to a firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee, and cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for depot level maintenance and repair for the RQ-11A Raven mini-UAV. Work will be performed in Simi Valley, CA and is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, 2007. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This was a sole source contract initiated on June 13, 2006 by the Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-05-C-0338).
Defence-Aerospace.com carries a Deutsche Welle radio report covering tensions within EADS’ corporate structure in the wake of a delays in the A380 super-jumbo passenger jet, uncertainty around the A350 as Boeing’s 777 and 787 snap up market share, BAE’s divestment of its 20% holdings, and a recent 25% plunge in share prices. French co-CEO Noel Forgeard apparently sold large numbers of EADS shares about a month before the superjumbo problems were revealed, which has triggered a class action lawsuit from France’s Association of Active Shareholders (AAA).
Nor is that the end of EADS’ troubles. Not by a long shot.
Oklahoma State University Center for Innovation and Economic Development Inc. in Stillwater, OK received a $34.3 million cost-reimbursable or cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the production and update of Joint Munitions Effectiveness Manuals (JMEMs).
Technical innovation is present in all militaries, but America’s combination of do-it-yourself types, large defense budgets, and a gadget-happy national character makes it particularly fertile ground. Now add a global war and its challenges, plus a defense sector with a strong small business component made up of ex-military types. The overall innovation transmission belt may not be as tight or as effective as Israel’s or Singapore’s, but the scale of the US defense establishment more than compensates in terms of the sheer number produced.
Adoption, of course, is another matter. One way to improve it is to raise the profile of sucessful innovations through awards. Along those lines, the US Army recently recognized some special innovators by naming its “Top 10 inventions of 2005,” a list that should be of interest to many militaries around the world.
Boeing Co. Navigation and Communication Systems in Huntington Beach, CA received a $138.3 million fixed-price-incentive-firm, and cost-plus-award-fee contract modification for the NAVSTAR Global Positioning System Block IIF. As our spotlight article “The GPS Constellation: Now and Future” put it: “The follow-on system for the Navstar GPS Block IIR-M will be the Block IIF “follow-on” satellite. These satellites will have the same capabilities as the Block IIR-M, plus a third civil signal called L5 to support civil aviation and other applications. Navstar GPS Block IIF will be the end of the current generation of GPS satellites.”
This contract modification exercises the FY 2006 option to begin production of three new Block IIF GPS satellites (Space Vehicle 10-12 under the military’s NAVSTAR GPS joint program office). Boeing expects that the first GPS Block IIF satellite, known as SV-1, will be ready for delivery in 2007, and work on this contract for the 3 new satellites will be complete in January 2010. The Headquarters Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA issued the contract (F04701-96-C-0025/P00387). See also Boeing’s July 5/06 corporate release.
Maintenance is an ongoing issue for military equipment, especially equipment that is seeing regular use. BAE Land Systems in York, PA recently received a pair of delivery orders for about $38 million, in order to keep the USA’s armored personnel carriers in good repair. Both were sole source contracts initiated by the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command in Warren, MI under contract # W56HZV-05-G-0005.
One award was a $27.2 million delivery order as part of a $254.4 million firm-fixed-price contract for maintenance and repair of M2A2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles. Many served in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, as opposed to the M2A3s which are the most modern digitized/ enhanced sensor version. Work will be performed in York, PA (83%), San Jose, CA (8%), Aiken, SC (5%), and Fayette, PA (4%), and is expected to be complete by May 31, 2007.
The second award was for the full delivery order amount of $10.8 million, fulfilling a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for maintenance and repair of M113 and National Guard vehicles. DID has noted the use of M113s in Iraq before, complete with MRE boxes as RPG protection. As one can see in the picture above, more modern protections and proper gunshields have been installed on other M113s in theater – and the latter improvement has begun to transfer to other platforms as well. Work will be performed at Fort Stewart, GA (50%), and Fort Hood, TX (50%), and is expected to be complete by Dec. 31, 2007.