Defense Tech relays a story from Inside Defense reports that the Pentagon’s comptrollers have slashed Darpa’s budget by about 10% ($300 million) for the next fiscal year, with another $200 million cut to follow in FY 2009. The reason: indirectly, it’s the new, much tighter project management oversight structure. While funding for the agency has risen since 9/11, the number of program managers hasn’t increased as fast. Combined with the new process, that “has slowed execution of DARPA’s funding… resulting in a significant decline in obligations and expenditures.” When a bureaucracy isn’t spending money, it tends to lose that budget. Meanwhile, DARPA programs like the WALRUS airship that have the potential to solve key near and long-term force structure problems go unfunded with no explanation.
L-3 Communications’ Link Simulation and Training (L-3 Link) division has received a $40.9 million contract from defense procurement agency Armasuisse to build and deliver 4 networked F/A-18C Tactical Operational Flight Trainers (TOFTs) for the Swiss F/A-18 Flight Simulator Upgrade program. The networked F/A-18C TOFTs will include the standard personal computer image generation system and 360 degree field-of-view visual displays, and a Mission Operation Center with full oversight of all TOFTs and the ability to maneuver enemy or friendly aircraft. A Swiss Air Force-customized brief/debrief room will enable F/A-18 aircrews use real world mission planning systems during preparation, and review captured mission data afterward.
F-18C TOFT: mission
Most important, the systems’ networked capabilities will enable Swiss F/A-18 pilots to train in the simulators while operating as a tactical team.
L-3 Link is slated to begin delivery to Payerne Air Force Base in the latter part of 2008, and the systems will be ready for training in 2009. Similar L-3 Link systems are used by the US Navy (see video), Australia’s RAAF, and the Canadian Air Force. L-3 release.
Micro-electronics Research Development Corp. in Colorado Springs, CO received a $6.1 million SBIR(small business innovative research) Phase II, and cost-plus fixed-fee contract. This follow-on to a SBIR Phase I purchase order involves R&D to fully develop and realize “a cost-effective, practically oriented means to design and deliver radiation hardened digital electronic components capable of reliable operation in Missile Defense Agency and other Department of Defense space and interceptor environments.” Translation: they have to be able to survive extra radiation, vacuum, and very high acceleration.
Solicitations began November 2004, negotiations were complete December 2006, and work will be complete April 2009. At this time, $2.1 million have been obligated from the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM (FA9453-06-C-0200).