British efforts to move toward a new way of supporting their aircraft have involved through-life umbrella maintenance contracts based on availability rather than hours or spares. It is a model that Britain is using for several weapons platforms, and with the recent B-2 bomber contract it is even beginning to take hold in the USA.
In recent days, the UK MoD and BAE Systems have taken a pair of steps to extend that model. One step is a recent GBP 74 million contract (currently about $145 million) that introduces the concept to Britain’s fleet of 131 Hawk T Mk.1 trainer aircraft.
What’s driving this interest? Four things. One is persistence, in an era where constant surveillance + rapid precision strike creates a formidable military asset. A second is cost, especially in an era of rising fuel prices. A recent US NAVSEA release offers figures that starkly illustrate the gap in surveillance cost per hour between an aerostat and planes or UAVs:
Boeing Corp. in Huntington Beach, CA received a $49.5 million cost-plus-award fee contract modification for one Delta II Launch Vehicle in the standard 7925-9.5 configuration, used to launch the last GPS IIR satellite on the National launch Forecast. At this time, 50% ($24.75 million) of the funds have been obligated, and work will be complete September 2008. The Headquarters Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA issued the contract (FA4701-93-C-0004/P00345).
The Delta II booster purchase includes a 1st stage, a 2nd stage, a payload attach fitting, a spin table, a 3rd stage motor, a 9.5 ft payload fairing, and 40 inch Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEMS); plus all integration activities.
ATK subsidiary Alliant Lake City Small Caliber Ammunition Company L.L.C. in Independence, MO received the full $30 million delivery order amount of $30 million as part of a firm-fixed-price contract for intellectual property and capital equipment/improvement settlement. Work will be performed in Independence, MO and is expected to be complete by April 30, 2007. This was a sole source contract initiated on Sept. 30, 1998 by the U.S. Army Sustainment Command in Rock Island, AL (DAAA09-99-D-0016).
Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) is the true “secret weapon” of AEGIS fleet defense. On the one hand, this JHU/APL brainchild consists only of a data distribution system, including antenna, and the cooperative engagement processor. Yet those simple components add up to something incredibly powerful, by bringing radar, sensor and tracking data from a number of widely separated platforms together in one big picture. The resulting sensor fusion significantly improves weapons tracking consistency and continuity; expands detection ranges, thus increasing reaction time; and enables entirely new engagement strategies against threats. Indeed, CEC has applications that reach beyond the sea to ground-based systems, blimps, and even successful ballistic missile defense.
What we didn’t mention at the time is how serious the problem was, and how dependent on computers modern aircraft – including military aircraft – have become. What follows are relevant excerpts from a CNN transcript on February 24, 2007 that covered a number of unrelated issues. We’ve cut that out, and left only the F-22 related section of the transcript…
Defense giant Lockheed Martin is undertaking some corporate shifts, as detailed in this release which also notes associated personnel moves. Short version?
Integrated Systems & Solutions (IS&S) and Information Technology and Global Services (IT&GS) are being merged into Information Systems & Global Services (IS&GS), and will also absorb Transportation and Security Solutions. A couple of groups, including Aircraft & Logistics, are moving under other divisions, while Advanced Concepts Organization (a.k.a. Lockheed’s famed “Skunk Works”) now reports directly to the CTO.