In December 2005, “Beyond Armaris: Thales “Buys” Minority Stake in DCN” covered the government-prodded merger of Thales naval business with state-owned DCN, to create DCNS. That agreement excluded some naval items like electronics, but it did include Thales’ 24% share in Eurotorp, the European lightweight torpedo consortium that was officially founded in 1993 as a joint venture between DCN International (26%), Thomson-CSF (now Thales, 24%) and Whitehead (now Finmeccanica, 50%).
The DCNS transaction was not concluded until March 2007, and now the Eurotorp consortium has taken the next step by creating a more wide-ranging set of joint ventures in underwater weapons systems. The longer-term goal remains European integration, and the 3 CEOs have said they would consider opening the alliance to other European players at some point…
General Dynamics Electric Boat Corp. in Groton, CT received a not-to-exceed $270 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-03-C-2101) for long lead time material associated with steam and electric plant, main propulsion unit, ship service turbine generator set components critical to maintaining the submarine component industrial base; and miscellaneous hull, mechanical and electrical system components in support of SSN 784, commencing in FY 2009. Note that SSN 784 will be the first Virginia Class Block III fast attack submarine with the new bow design.
The US Congress recently passed spending legislation that takes a step in the direction of speeding up Virginia Class submarine production from 1 boat per year to 2, by appropriating $588 millionto purchase an additional nuclear reactor and associated equipment as a long-lead item. As a gauge of production progress to date, the initial keel-laying for SSN 778 New Hampshire took place on April 30/07.
Work will be performed in Groton, CT /Quonset Point, RI (collectively, 5%); Newport News, VA (5%); Sunnyvale, Long Beach, & South El Monte, CA (collectively, 40%); Coatesville, York, & Cheswick, PA (collectively, 10%); Temple & Tucson, AZ (collectively, 5%), and various sites throughout the United States (35%), and is expected to be completed by July 2011. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington Navy Yard, DC issued the contract. See also GDEB release.
“Can the US Army Afford Helicopter Modernization?” covered a CBO report addressing the USA’s future helicopter procurement plans. Meanwhile, the existing fleet must still be maintained, lest rising maintenance costs eat into the procurement budget. The future fleet will also need to improve.
There’s a trend around the world toward HUMS (Health & Usage Monitoring Systems). Initial helicopter HUMS systems were developed twin-engine helicopters flown to offshore oil rigs in the North Sea, whose savage weather and freezing seas can quickly combine to turn even relatively minor mechanical problems into life-threatening events. In time, HUMS are spreading to other commercial platforms, while trying to remain cheap enough to stay economically feasible.
As one might expect, the US Army is very interested. Their current maintenance system largely relies on aviation maintenance and parts replacement based on operating hours, or on a set number of days. In contrast, moving to a HUMS system that can monitor issues (diagnostic), predict likely faults before they occur (prognostic), and schedule maintenance based on need, ought to have several benefits. For starters, it would vastly improve reliability diagnosis of the platform as a whole, and help to identify required areas for improvement. It would also cut down on spare parts usage, save man-hours, and keep more helicopters available to fly. Now, a coalition led by Bell Helicopter has submitted a winning proposal…
Rockwell Collins, Inc. of Cedar Rapids, Iowa received a cost plus award fee, firm-fixed price, cost plus fixed fee and time and material contract modification for $27.5 million. The award will “rebaseline” system development and demonstration completion, low rate initial production (LRIP), and production and deployment of the USA’s KG-3X cryptographic modernization program.
KG-3X units are used in the Minimum Essential Emergency Communications Network (MEECN) and the Fixed Submarine Broadcast System (FSBS) for strategic transmission of Emergency Action Messages (EAMs). The program entails box replacements, card set replacements, and reprogramming of 921 units Of these, 445 units will require organic service reprogramming, while industry will be contracted to handle 476 units. Funds will be allocated as needs arise by Air Force Materiel Command’s Electronic Systems Center, 653rd Electronic Systems Wing at Hanscom Air Force Base, MA (FA8722-04-C-0004, P00026).