Observers often note the spiraling price of aircraft and helicopters, without considering the rising cost of the equipment that goes into them. A recent contract offers an excellent illustration of that dynamic in action.
Aug 15/07: Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego in Owego, NY received a $951.7 million finalization modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract (N00019-06-C-0098). This definitization effort will result in a firm-fixed-price multiyear contract for the procurement of 139 MH-60R Mission Avionics Systems, covering FY 2007 (Lot 5) through FY 2011 (Lot 9). When combined with advance procurement contracts from January and May 2006 totaling $113.6 million, the total value of this multi-year contract rises to $1.065 billion – $7.66 million per set. It could have been $8.58 million each…
It has been one of the most puzzling features of the MRAP competition to date. Thales Australia’s Bushmaster vehicle was one of the first mine-resistant vehicles on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq, where it has served successfully with Australian and Dutch forces. Yet it reaped none of the “low risk deployment” orders issued at the competition’s inception, and has received none since. Now Thales Australia makes it official: with over 80% of allotted vehicles ordered, the Bushmaster Category II JERRV vehicle is out of the race for MRAP-I competition orders.
Afghanistan is shaping up as a test of the NATO alliance – and thus far, the report is mixed. While a number of allied countries have committed troops, very few of the NATO countries’ available helicopters have been committed, despite promises made and commanders’ requests from the field. A June 2007 meeting in Brussels featured bromides and minor adjustments, but few serious commitments. Britain, the Netherlands, and the USA still contribute most of the helicopter support in theater, with some assistance from non-NATO partner Australia.
The sizeable helicopter fleets belonging to NATO members like France, Germany, Italy, and Spain have been notable mostly by their general absence during the European failure to meet NATO commitments. In response, the USA has been forced to extend the deployment of 20 CH-47 helicopters by 6 months, in order to try and make up the shortfall.
Another way to stanch the wound is to charter private helicopter support that can take care of more routine missions in theater, freeing the military helicopters in theater for other tasks. Which may explain why Hummingbird Aviation, LLC in Hammond, LA, won an indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) type contract for $112.3 million “to perform services necessary to perform rotary wing transportation services to transport Class I – X supplies, U.S. Mail and passengers. Rotary wing transportation services are to be performed in Afghanistan at military airfields.” Services will be performed from Oct 1/07 – Sept 30/09 (the Pentagon’s FY08-FY09 period). This contract was competitively procured, with 2 offers received by the USTRANSCOM Directorate of Acquisitions at Scott Air Force Base, IL (HTC711-07-D-0033).
Saab Underwater Systems has received an SEK 80 million (about $11.6 million) order from the German company Atlas Elektronik (now part of EADS) for its Double Eagle UUV(unmanned underwater vehicles). The Double Eagle Systems are remotely operated underwater vehicles used for mine hunting and other operations; the upgraded Double Eagle Mk.III systems will be prepared for SAROV configuration, which means that the vehicles can be operated as fully autonomous Unmanned Underwater Vehicles. Previous versions of the Double Eagle UUV were already in serrvice with Finland’s Navy; Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands also operate Double Eagles.
The new UUVs will be installed on Finland’s new minesweepers; Atlas Elektronik is acting as the systems integrator. As Saab Underwater Systems CEO Lars Tossman added in Saab’s corporate release:
“The Finnish Navy has extensive experience and knowledge of mine hunting. Since the middle of the 1990s, when they bought their first Double Eagle system, they have furthermore achieved genuine understanding of the usefulness of remotely operated underwater vehicles… This order is particularly important since the Finnish Navy’s new mine hunting vessels will be assigned to very important national and international missions, especially within the MCM(Mine Counter Measures) area. This is not least the case in the Baltic Sea, where the amount of left-over naval mines and also other environmental threats is extensive.”
This is of course very surprising, given Finland’s close proximity to its friendly, careful, and respectful Russian neighbor.
Aug 14/07: IAP Worldwide Services, Inc.’s wholly-owned subsidiary Readiness Management Support, LC in Panama City, FL received a $63.7 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee, performance-based contract for year one services, with a provision for firm-fixed-price task orders. RMS will provide aviation technical services, which is the combination of equipment maintenance of Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems (ATCALS) and flight operational services at US Central Command (CENTCOM) air bases/stations. CENTCOM covers the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Horn of Africa. As one might expect, air traffic patterns are rather busy these days. IAP/RMS had played a leading role in developing Afghanistan’s air traffic control system to support Operation Enduring Freedom, and also established the Kabul Area Control Center.
This procurement provides for electronic equipment maintenance services and air traffic management to support air traffic control operations and maintenance (O&M), airfield management, air to ground communications O&M, and aviation weather systems O&M at multiple locations in US CENTCOM. To that end, IAP has built a team of key providers: Midwest Air Traffic Control Service Inc. (air traffic management functions), Lockheed Martin Information Systems (ATCALS equipment maintenance) functions. Depending on the scope of additional work, AIR Inc. (Micro Earth Resources Technology Satellite programming) and/or Scientific Research Corporation (meteorology), may be called upon. The contract includes 4 one-year option periods which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of the contract to an estimated $388.3 million.
Work will be performed in Southwest Asia, primarily Iraq and Afghanistan, and is expected to be completed August 2008. If all options are exercised, work could continue until August 2012. The contract was competitively procured under full and open competition, and the Request for Proposal was posted on the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center E-commerce website, with 2 offers received. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Charleston, SC, issued the contract (N65236-07-D-6872). IAP release.