The AN/ALQ-161A Defensive Avionics System on the B-1B bomber is supposed to identify, acquire, and defeat enemy radars and missiles. It was to be a very sophisticated jamming system, with 360-degree receive and jamming coverage plus a Tail Warning Function (TWF) to check six. The Electronic Counter-Measures (ECM) system would sort threats by priority and react against them automatically, even recognizing when it might be dangerous to use ECM and limiting its jamming to specific directions for the minimum required time. The system had very serious technical problems during its development, however, resulting in 2 full-scale recovery programs, over $1 billion invested in fixes, and an acknowledgment that the ALQ-161 would never really meet its original performance specifications. The system was fielded in the mid-1980s in the Mod 0 hardware configuration, and several software modifications have improved system performance since then – most recently in the very successful B-1B Block C upgrades.
Of course, software and hardware are symbiotes. A series of recent contracts indicate that the AN/ALQ-161’s hardware may also be headed for some improvements:
Raytheon Co. in Tucson, AZ received a $30 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-07-C-0093). This represents an order for 118 Joint Standoff Weapon AGM-154C all-up-rounds (78 for Poland; 40 for Greece), 1 dummy air training missile (Greece); 108 CNU-672/E containers (67 for Poland; 41 for Greece), 2 PCMCIA cards (Greece), engineering/technical support, technical data, and administrative/financial data. As you can see, This contract combines purchases for the Governments of Poland ($21.3 million; 66.7%) and Greece ($8.7 million; 33.3%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete in February 2009. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD issued the contract.
Lockheed Martin Corp. in Orlando, FL received a $21.1 million cost-plus-fixed fee with associated performance incentive fee contract modification. It covers procurement of 12 AGM-158 Joint-Air-to-Surface Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER) missiles for additional testing under the Phase II development contract. At this time, $12 million has been obligated; work will be complete March 2009. The Headquarters 308th Armament Systems Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, FL issued the contract (FA8682-04-C-0004/P00030).
The Pentagon recently announced plans to award $41.2 million to academic institutions under the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP), to support the purchase of research instrumentation. DURIP meets a critical need by enabling university researchers to purchase scientific equipment costing $50,000 or more to conduct DoD-relevant research. Researchers generally have difficulty purchasing instruments costing that much under research contracts and grants.
These awards are the result of a merit competition for DURIP funding conducted by the Army Research Office, Office of Naval Research, and Air Force Office of Scientific Research. These research offices collectively received 780 proposals, requesting $220 million in support for research equipment. The 199 winning awards will fund efforts in to 112 academic institutions; they are expected to range from about $50,000 – $950,000, with an average around $200,000. All awards are subject to the successful completion of negotiations between DoD research offices and the academic institutions. See DoD release | the list of winning proposals [PDF format]