“Over the past several decades, the increases in acquisition costs for U.S. Navy amphibious ships, surface combatants, attack submarines, and nuclear aircraft carriers have outpaced the rate of inflation. To understand why, the authors of this book examined two principal source categories of ship cost escalation: economy-driven factors (which are outside the control of the Navy) and customer-driven factors (features for which the Navy has the most control). The authors also interviewed various shipbuilders to find out their views on other issues contributing to increasing costs. Based on their analysis, the authors propose some ways the Navy might reduce ship costs in the future, including limiting growth in features and requirements and reconsidering the mission orientation of ships. It is recognized, however, that such reductions come at a cost, since the nation and the Navy understandably desire technology and capability that is continuously ahead of their competitors.”
It seemed fairly straightforward: update a pair of old USMC standbys, creating a transport (UH-1Y Venom) and attack helicopter (AH-1Z Viper) backbone with maximum commonality. It has not worked out that way. The H-1 program has required substantial changes to both cost and schedule four times now, while addressing numerous technical issues. Last month, the Navy warned Bell that the H-1 program was in serious jeopardy because the Texas-based company has been failing to meet its needs, and reserved the option of killing the program. The memo demanded “fundamental changes” in Bell Helicopter’s management processes as well as its production processes. Recertification in Earned Value Management, used to track program performance, is high on the list of “to-dos.”
Based upon the first Exponent robots sent to Afghanistan in 2002, the first improved MARCbot IIs for IED sweeps were initially sent to Iraq in May 2004. They weren’t fully ready for combat, but they were useful in much the same way remote-control toys were proving useful to inventive US troops, who used them to quickly test the weight of objects that might be IED land mines.
With fast spiral improvements made in direct response to soldier feedback from IED sweep missions, the MARCbot IV now features:
The MTRS program has made hundreds of robots available in Iraq and Afghanistan for use investigating and eliminating IED land mines. Small business qualifier (and Roomba robot vacuum manufacturer) iRobot Corp. in Burlington, MA received a $64.3 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for operator and technician training, Packbot spare parts, and new robots. These will be delivered to the Robotic Systems Joint Project Office for use by 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. Work will be performed in Burlington, 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 in Orlando, FL (N61339-06-D-0015).
On Nov 28/05, Navantia and the Navy of Venezuela signed a contract for the construction of eight patrol vessels for a total amount of more than EUR 1.2 billion: 4 coastal patrol vessels and 4 larger “Economic Area Vessels.” Venezuela’s increasingly aggressive regional policies and arms buildup triggered US efforts to block the transfer of American technologies, and left Navantia very careful not to refer to the larger vessels with a military name like ‘corvettes.’ While the corresponding deal for CASA’s air transports and maritime surveillance aircraft appears to have been shot down, workaround have evidently been found for the larger naval deal and it is going ahead. On May 26/06, Venezuela and Navantia formally signed off and construction of the eight vessels can now begin.
The news release has no permanent URL on Navantia’s own site, but can be found here. It notes that his contract means 4.5 million working hours for the shipyard and the auxiliary industry around the de San Fernando-Puerto Real shipyard in Bay of Cadiz. This will keep the shipyard busy until the end of 2011, and also helps Navantia develop an up-to-date set of [coastal patrol vessel/ cutter/ corvette] offerings for the global export market.
Oct 16/08: Navantia announces delivery of the first vessel at San Fernando-Puerto Real shipyard, in Southern Spain – the 79m “Guaicamacuto.”
General Dynamics Electric Boat Corporation (GDEB) in Groton, CT received a $29.3 million firm-fixed-price order under the previously awarded indefinite/delivery, indefinite/quantity multi-award contract # N00024-04-D-4408 for preparation and accomplishment of the FY06 Docking Selective Restricted Availability of USS Miami (SSN 755). GDEB will perform advance planning, design documentation, engineering, procurement, ship-checks, fabrication and preliminary shipyard work and/or any other work necessary to prepare for and accomplish necessary alterations and repairs, maintenance, testing and routine work on the USS Miami. Work will be performed in Groton, CT and is expected to be complete by September 2006; all contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC is the contracting activity.
C-5 Refuels from KC-135 Note KC-135 = 707 airliner!
Eagle Tool and Machine Co. Inc. in Springfield, OH received a $7.5 million fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract. This action provides for 104 (each) landing gear cylinder and piston assemblies applicable to the C-5 Galaxy aircraft. At this time, total funds have been obligated. Solicitations began March 2006 and negotiations were complete May 2006. The Headquarters Ogden Air Logistics Center, Hill Air Force Base, UT is the contracting activity (FA8203-06-C-0165).