DID has covered GKN Aerospace’s recent acquisition of Stellex, as part of its move to strengthen its position in titanium. While titanium is an increasingly important metal to the aerospace industry, other trends like the rise in composite materials are also worth attention. A recent contract from Lockheed Martin in Marietta, GA brings these trends together. GKN recently won a $50 million contract to be the sole source provider of complete horizontal stabilators (i.e. fully-moving horizontal tail fins) for lots 7-9 of the F-22 Raptor (about 60 aircraft), bringing the total value of GKN Aerospace work on the F-22 to $4.9 million per aircraft. GKN Aerospace manufactures high performance metallic and composite assemblies for the F-22’s wing, body, and engine; as well as supplying the complete advanced cockpit canopy system.
This contract requires the fabrication of advanced composite assemblies, machining of complex titanium parts, and full assembly of the complete stabilator, all under one roof at the GKN Aerospace plant in St Louis, MO. The plant has been the subject of a comprehensive 2 year investment program in order to create this all-in-one capability set; deliveries will begin in Q4 2007 and continue until the end of 2010. An online version of the complete release can be found here.
B&K Construction Company Inc. in Mandeville, LA won a $24 million firm-fixed-price contract for the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project in Jefferson Parish, LA. Work is expected to be complete by Sept. 15, 2008. There were 4 bids solicited on June 22, 2006, and 4 bids were received by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans, LA (W912P8-07-C-0007).
This site has discussed the issue of the USA’s aging aircraft fleets, and the consequences as the average age of those fleets continues to grow: rising operating costs, uncertainty re: fleet availability, retention issues, electronics issues, effects on procurement budgets, et. al. An article about the B-52 Avionics Midlife Improvement Program discussed the consequences for the USAF’s bomber fleet. In “Aircraft Geriatrics,” Seapower Magazine takes a closer look at the consequences on the front lines for the US Navy and Marines’ aircraft fleets. The services already have the oldest fleets in their history, and even in the unlikely event that the Pentagon gets all of the aircraft it asks for, that age will continue to rise. Right now…
“Pilots of the Navy’s electronic warfare aircraft were told in recent years not to maneuver their planes aggressively, and the Marine Corps’ 40-year-old CH-46 helicopters were placed under weight restrictions for months. The Navy today is struggling to keep its P-3C Orion patrol planes flying despite fatigue cracks and other maladies that threaten to curtail their remaining years of service…” [read the rest]
DID has covered the trend toward integrated high-tech infantry ensembles before, and also noted the European Defence Agency’s concerns re: lack of interoperability between the various national programs. As software-defined radios like the USA’s JTRS program and F@stnet gain traction, two things will happen:  They will be incorporated into “Infantry-21” programs; and  the interoperability imperative will begin to bite as advanced militaries find that they need to work together. Fortunately, a software-defined radio is essentially a computer with a radio interface; capability changes and enhancements can then be implemented with improved software, rather than requiring all-new hardware (good: costs, time; minuses: debugging, risk of poor interface design).
The EDA’s Steering Board recently welcomed a EUR 100 million (about $130 million) ad-hoc joint research project (ESSOR) by Finland, France, Italy, Spain and Sweden for joint work on Software Defined Radio (SDR). It is aimed at enhancing the interoperability of medium-term national SDR projects in Europe and with the U.S. and NATO. A related EDA study focuses on specific military SDR requirements for the longer-term, and the program is also seen as “promoting a European technological and industrial capacity of strategic importance.” The related WINTSEC project announced in October 2006 will study wireless interoperability for civil security purposes, where software-defined radios are also gaining traction.
Force Protection will be prime contractor under the agreement, with General Dynamics as subcontractor, using available production capacity at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, OH to perform structure fabrication of the vehicle. The 50/50 joint venture partnership will be called Force Dynamics.
DID has covered international airlift contracts from the US government, and we’ve also covered the Defense Logistics Agency’s Surface Small Package Program. What about stuff that’s somewhere in-between? United States Transportation Command at Scott AFB, IL has just issued a set of 6 contracts for International heavyweight express package delivery worth up to $202.5 million – and the winner are names we can recognize from previous contracts at both ends of the spectrum.
All of these announcements are fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contracts which will be funded by individual ordering offices by government bills of lading, commercial bills of lading, and/or government credit card. Work will be performed world wide and is expected to be complete September 30, 2007. The solicitation was advertised on Federal Business Opportunities unrestricted, and 7 proposals were received. Winners included:
ASTAR Air Cargo, Inc. in Miami, FL: $29.5 million ( HTC711-07-D-0001)
Murray Air, Inc. of Ypsilanti in Miami, FL: $32.1 million (HTC711-07-D-0002)
Federal Express Corporation in Washington, DC: $33.2 million (HTC711-07-D-0003)
United Parcel Service, Inc. in Louisville, KY: $47.1 million (HTC711-07-D-0004)
Miami Air International, Inc. in Miami, FL: $30.1 million (HTC711-07-D-0005)
Delta Airlines in Atlanta, GA: $30 million (HTC711-07-D-0006)
This one has been making the email rounds lately, and we thought our readers would enjoy it. Sukhoi refers to this plane as the “The SU-35 Single-Seat Multi-Role Super-Maneuverable Fighter“; it’s a major upgrade to the SU-27 Flanker that includes new radar and avionics, thrust-vectoring engines, et. al. Production has been very limited, owing to the near-halt in Russia’s major aircraft programs due to limited funds. Nevertheless, exports remain a possibility and there have been rumors that Russia is looking at a renewal of its air force beginning around 2010. There has been some doubt concerning the aircraft’s exact configuration, but the MAKS 2007 air show appears to offer a settled design – see DID’s Sidebar “Which SU-35?” for more.
The video takes you through the SU-35’s key upgrades over the earlier SU-27 and its weapon fits, then includes a number of “mission scenes” which are laughably unrealistic but still somewhat illustrative of the SU-35’s equipment and uses. The labels are all in Russian, but aviation buffs will be able to recognize most of the items in it from context and background knowledge. Hokey, yes, but lots of fun.
BAE Systems in York, PA received a $251.1 million modification to a firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for production of M88A2 Hercules (Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift and Evacuation System) recovery vehicles and system technical support. The HERCULES is well named – it’s strong enough to pull a 70-ton M1 Abrams tank out of a ditch.
Work will be performed in York, PA (98%), and Aiken, SC (2%), and is expected to be complete by Nov. 30, 2009. This was a sole source contract initiated on Aug. 10, 2006 by the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command, Warren, MI (DAAE07-01-C-N030).
Meanwhile, an ANP story in the Dutch media offers an overview of the political tensions beneath the surface as the country heads toward general elections very soon. DID Netherlands correspondent Vincent van Neerven was good enough to provide a translation, allowing a summary of its additional insights: