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.