Donald Rumsfeld resigned as US Secretary of Defense on Wednesday, November 8, 2006. Former CIA chief Robert Gates has been nominated as his replacement. There has been a fair bit of commentary on Rumsfeld’s tenure, much of which – appearing in the popular press – seems shallow and ephemeral rather than informed by deep looks into the organization, the challenges of military and procurement reform, or the forces shaping military procurement going forward. Meaningful assessments of the positive and negative aspects of Rumsfeld’s tenure are likely to emerge only with time and serious study.
Having offered that caveat, DID points to a few articles of some worth, along with links to some of DID’s past features covering either SecDef Rumsfeld himself or key challenges/ milestones during his tenure. Readers who wish to suggest other useful or insightful pieces are invited to submit the URLs and a quick statement of why each item is worthy to tips@ here at defenseindustrydaily.com.
“…demonstrate stable and controllable high-speed underwater transport through supercavitation. The intent is to determine the feasibility for supercavitation technology to enable a new class of high-speed underwater craft for future littoral missions that could involve the transport of high-value cargo and/or small units of personnel. The program will investigate and resolve critical technological issues associated with the physics of supercavitation and will culminate in a credible demonstration at a significant scale to prove that a supercavitating underwater craft is controllable at speeds up to 100 knots.”
James Bond is officially jealous, Q’s insurance division is cringing, and a pair of American defense contractors could be $78.6 million richer if the contracts they’ve just received pan out. We explain “supercavitation,” and detail the contracts involved.
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. It has since been deployed into theater by the USAF, where its vastly improved performance in “hot and high” environments has come in very handy. 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.
Air Force officials recently announced that the multi-year procurement contract for the C-130J Hercules has been changed…
Northrop Grumman Space and Mission Systems Corp. in Redondo Beach, CA received a $126.2 million cost-plus-award fee contract modification to perform activities associated with rebaselining the Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS, formerly SBIRS-Low) program for FY 2005 through FY 2008 due to funding restrictions. They will also perform additional government directed testing to improve mission assurance for the low-orbiting infrared ballistic missile detection & tracking satellites. Work will be complete June 2008, and the Headquarters Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA issued the contract (F04701-02-C-0009/P00106).
So, what does this mean? Fiscal year funding constraints on STSS forced work content to be prioritized and time in a way that wasn’t congruent with the current block 6 performance baseline. In order for the contractor to make up for that lost time, efforts like double/triple shifts, additional personnel, etc. will increase their cost and this “pays the piper” for that politically-driven decision.