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.
Boeing Co. in Huntsville, AL received a $30 million firm-fixed-price contract for engineering services for the Avenger fire units. The Avenger is a Hummer-mounted system that combines Stinger missiles with .50 cal machine guns for low-level air defense. The US Army has also discovered that their advanced sensors and “slew to cue” capabilities can be used in other contexts, and back in May 2005 DID covered the conversion of some Avenger vehicles into gun trucks to protect convoys in Iraq.
Work on this contract will be performed in Huntsville, AL and is expected to be complete by Nov. 28, 2006. This was a sole source contract initiated on April 17, 2006 by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL (W31P4Q-06-C-0338).
Honeywell Inc. Defense and Space Electronic Systems in Clearwater, FL received a $5.2 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option to purchase 66 embedded global positioning system/ inertial navigation system (EGIs) production install units for the CH-47 Chinook helicopter. Work will be complete by June 2008, and will be conducted through the tri-service EGI office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH. The Headquarters Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson AFB issued the contract (FA8626-06-C-2065/P00002).
GPS/INS navigation systems as production installs tend be limited to two varieties of Chinook these days: the new CH-47F Chinooks and the Special Forces MH-47Gs, which share the Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) cockpit.