DID has covered developments in the USA’s coming aerial tanker program, which could reach 500 planes and/or $100+ billion before all is said and done, and is now listed as the USAF’s #1 procurement priority. The 707-based KC-135 fleet ranges from 40-50 years old, raising the risk that fatigue or aging-related problems could ground them at some unanticipated time. Since aerial transport, fighter strike missions, bomber missions, combat air patrols et. al. all depend on aerial refueling to some degree, a grounding of the KC-135 fleet could be catastrophic for America’s military posture. The formal RFP for the first tranche of 179 aircraft is due out on Tuesday, January 30, 2007, and the big question is… will there be a competition at all?
Boeing is believed to be offering a tanker version of its 767-200 airliner, which sells to commercial customers for about $120 million. Italy and Japan are already KC-767 customer’s. Northrop Grumman and EADS Airbus are offering a modified A330-200 that sells on the commercial market for about $160 million; Australia and Britain are already A330 MRTT customers. Northrop Grumman says the “KC-30 MRTT” can carry 20% more fuel than the 767, plus more cargo or passengers (26 vs. 19 pallets in the cargo deck). The issue for the firm is that the previous two drafts of the KC-X RFP have set only a low set of minimum requirements for the KC-X’s cargo and passenger capacity, without a higher “objective requirement” that offers extra points in evaluations. According to Flight International, Northrop Grumman says that it “does not see how the capabilities of the two competing aircraft can be measured if there is no adequately defined value scale for capabilities above the threshold requirement… Without a capabilities-based assessment [of the rival aircraft], we are concerned the KC-30 will not be competitive.”
Small business qualifier BBN Technologies in Cambridge, MA received a $9.5 million firm-fixed-price contract for “acoustic shot detection and decoy systems.” DID has covered BBN’s Boomerang anti-sniper system back in September 2005; apparently, their initial deployment to Iraq went well.
Work will be performed in Cambridge, MA and is expected to be complete by May 20, 2007. There were 3 bids solicited on Jan. 11, 2007, and 3 bids were received by the U.S. Army Contracting Agency at White Sand Missile Range, NM (W9124Q-07-C-0532).
A recent DID article covering the Eurofighter consortium’s offer to Turkey had noted that a key Defense Industry Executive Committee meeting on January 12, 2007 would determine that country’s continued involvement in the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program. That decision was positive, and on January 25, 2007, Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) covering Turkey’s involvement in the F-35 production process. While final details have not yet been worked out, these signatures of commitment will help determine the full array of industrial partners who will be part of a production and maintenance program that’s likely to span up to 3,000 aircraft. Signatories to date include Australia, Britain, Canada, and The Netherlands. During Turkey’s signing ceremony, US Deputy SecDef Gordon England was quoted as saying that “the three remaining partners – Italy, Norway, and Denmark – will all likely sign by the end of February.”
Sparta, Inc. of Lake Forest, CA, who was recently cited here as a key participant in the Project Hercules missile defense effort, recently received a $154.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee (level of effort) contract “for scientific, engineering and technical assistance support as part of the National Team in the areas of ballistic missile defense and related technology.”
Work will be performed at Chantilly, VA and various Missile Defense facilities, and is expected to be complete by January 2012. This is a sole source contract award by the Missile Defense Agency in Washington, DC (HQ0006-07-C-0001).