DID’s recent coverage of Australia’s Canberra Class LHD project wondered about the overall contract’s cost differences between Navantia’s EUR 1.412 billion (A$2.2 billion) and the government’s A$ 3.1 billion. A chat with the Australian DoD has provided us with some answers, as well as some additional insights into the ship’s defensive systems and armament.
The short answer is: both figures were correct. The Australian Government had initially budgeted about A$2 billion, and the contract signed with Navantia was indeed for the figures claimed. When the Australian government moved to calculate the final program cost, however, they also looked at inflation from 2007-2015. Within that period, forecasts were made regarding inflation and materials costs in several locales: Spanish labor rate indices and costs, US inflation projections, relative currency projections, and Australian inflation indices for the 23% “Australianization” work. Putting them together yielded a sort of “basket” of projected inflation tables for the project as a whole, which was used to estimate actual dollar costs. On top of that, Australian planners added project management costs, project contingency funds for required infrastructure improvements to ports and berthings, etc. to arrive at the likely “actual dollar costs” over the entire program.
Overall management of the contractors now go through Tenix, who subcontracts to Navantia for the core ship, Saab Systems for the combat system, and American firm L-3 for the communications, internal LAN, etc. Economic Price Adjustment clauses allow the subcontracts to adjust as the appropriate material and labour costs rise over time due to inflation et. al.
BAE Systems Technology Solutions and Services in Rockville, MD recveived a $10.6 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract (N00421-06-D-0038) for the manufacture of 13 P-3 Special Structural Inspection airframe kits. This effort entails production of Emergency Rate Initial Production quantities of end item component parts, including engineering, analytical and manufacturing efforts in support of the Aging Aircraft Program; the original $14 million contract was announced on Sept 26/06. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (56%); Rockville, MD (24%); and Brea, CA (20%) and is expected to be complete in September 2009. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division at Patuxent River, MD issued the contract.
Dec 17/07:US NAVAIR issues an Air Frame Bulletin announcing the grounding of 39 P-3C Orion aircraft, which have been discovered to be “beyond known structural limits on the lower section of the P-3 wing.” Analysis and corrective measures are expected to take between 18 – 24 months per aircraft to complete. The Navy has a total of 161 P-3C aircraft in its inventory at this time, and 10 of the 39 grounded aircraft are currently deployed on operations. The grounded aircraft will either return to safe operation after replacement of critical structural components – or will be removed from service.
3D sonar firm FarSounder, Inc. in Warwick, RI has receicved a $2 million, 2.75 year grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for work to develop a Forward Looking 3D Sonar System for Navigation and Collision Avoidance for Long Range and High Speed Applications. In order to improve the efficiency and safety of marine cargo transport, FarSounder plans to develop a forward looking navigation and collision avoidance sonar system, providing real-time 3-dimensional location (bearing, range, depth) of obstacles at distances up to 3.2 km (2 miles) for vessels traveling at up to 35 knots.
There is no other technology known to DID that is capable of providing navigation and obstacle avoidance information out to these significant distances and speeds. FarSounder’s release says “this project opens up new possibilities in marine navigation by addressing the economic, safety and environmental problems associated with large vessel operations.” This is true, but the benefits could be just as big for brown-water/littoral ships, submarines, unmanned UUVs, and Special Forces insertion devices (short of the supercavitating “Underwater Express”).