“The French Connection: Libya Seeking Arms Deals” covered Libya’s growing reintegration with the international community, and the follow-on sales opportunities to replace its dilapidated military infrastructure. On Jan 17/08, Finmeccanica subsidiary Alenia Aeronautica announced [PDF] that Libya’s Interiors Ministry has signed a EUR 31 million (about $45.5 million) contract for one (1) ATR-42MP Surveyor maritime patrol aircraft, plus pilot and systems operator training, logistic support, and spare parts.
The aircraft will be delivered during 2009, and will be used by the Libyan General Security Agency for territorial surveillance and control. Its configuration will be similar to the 5 ATR-42MP aircraft in service with the Italian Coast Guard, with a mission system that includes a maritime radar, an electro-optical sensor set, and the ability to air-drop equipment for sea rescue. It is designed for sea surveillance, search & rescue, sea-pollution monitoring (incl. oil spills and chemical substances), and national waters and economic exclusive zones control.
The ATR 42 MP is a maritime patrol version of EADS ATR-42 regional transport turboprop, developed by and proprietary to Alenia Aeronautica. The ATR family is currently the world’s most widely-sold regional turboprop aircraft, and the ATR-42MP has now been ordered by Italy (4 customs police, 2 coast guard), Nigeria (2), and Libya (1). It competes with aircraft like EADS-CASA’s CN-235MPA Persuader, and derivatives of Bombardier’s Dash-8/Q200.
Small business qualifier Chemical Specialists and Development, Inc. in Conroe, TX received a minimum $11.6 million fixed price with economic price adjustment, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for fuel system icing inhibitor. This is a 12 month contract with a 30-day carryover period, and the date of performance completion is January 30, 2009.
Work will be performed in Conroe, TX and in Georgia, New Jersey, California, and Washington. The proposals were originally solicited by FBO with 3 responses to the Defense Energy Support Center (DESC) at Fort Belvoir, VA (SP0600-08-D-0752).
The question of “which tank is best” depends entirely on the terrain and concept of employment one faces, but most observers agree that the Leopard 2 by Rheinmetall/KMW would finish at or near the top in almost all circumstances. It’s also one of the most widely-bought modern tanks, thanks to second hand deals at fire sale prices that have divested the German and Dutch armies of most of their vehicles. As DID has pointed out, those moves position the German firms as natural choices when the time comes to field a successor. Meanwhile, a secondary business of maintenance and modifications offers plenty of opportunities.
On Nov 30/07, The NIS news bulletin reported that the Dutch defence ministry was preparing sign a contract with Germany’s Rheinmetall Land Systems in late 2007 for 10 of its AEV-3 10 Kodiak engineering tanks. Switzerland’s RUAG pioneered the design with Rheinmetall, and launched the new Leopard-2 based “Geniepanzer/ Kodiak” platform as a cooperative venture in January 2007. They can perform combat engineering in difficult terrain, and have attachments that are especially useful for mine clearance operations.
The deal went through in January 2008, but the Netherlands wasn’t the only customer – the deal now involves Sweden as well, via separate but coordinated contracts.
Gathering opposition in the US Congress has been slowing weapons requests from Saudi Arabia and resulted in postponement of the planned request for JDAM GPS-guided bombs. On Jan 14/08, the US DSCA announced the Government of Saudi Arabia’s official request for 900 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) tail kits: 550 GBU-38s for the 500 pound MK-82 bombs, another 250 GBU-31s for the 2,000 pound MK-84s, and 100 GBU-31s for BLU-109 2,000 pound “bunker buster” bombs). Also included are bomb components, mission planning, aircraft integration, publications and technical manuals, spare and repair parts, support equipment, contractor engineering and technical support, and other related elements of program support. The estimated cost is $123 million, and Boeing would be the prime contractor.
The JDAMs are specifically noted as being “for use on RSAF F-15S aircraft”; though its Tornado GR4 fleet would also present a logical set of candidates, JDAM requires a MIL-STD-1760 data bus. Implementation of this sale would require the assignment of approximately 4 contractor representatives to Saudi Arabia to provide technical assistance to integrate the weapons into the operational units, plus annual 1 week Program Management Reviews in Saudi Arabia with U.S military and contractor personnel.
If the sale goes through. Congressional opposition hasn’t gone away, and the Saudi sale will face a serious fight.
The small to mid-tier acquisition engine continues in the US defense industry. Fresh from its acquisition of BAE Systems’ Surveillance and Attack business in Lansdale, PA, British firm Cobham plc has reached agreement to purchase SPARTA Inc. for to $416 million on a debt and cash free basis. The acquisition is expected to complete in the second quarter of 2008, subject to regulatory and SPARTA shareholder approvals, and Cobham expects that the acquisition will be earnings enhancing in 2008.
The purchase price represents a 12.1x EBITDA multiple; SPARTA’s FY 2006 operating profit was $28.6 million on revenue of $297.3 million, with $122 million in gross assets. $381 million will be payable on completion and satisfied from Cobham’s existing cash and debt facilities. SPARTA an employee-owned US company which is SEC registered, but unquoted; the balance of up to $35 million will be paid over the next 3 years to holders of unvested options who remain with the company. Cobham plc release.
SPARTA, Inc. specializes in systems engineering, and has done a lot of work on missile defense projects, including Project Hercules. Subject to approvals, SPARTA will become a separate strategic business unit within Cobham’s North America Division. Cobham CEO Allan Cook sees SPARTA as providing: “…an exciting platform for growth in the Systems Engineering and Technical Assistance segment, which is complementary to our existing US intelligence and defence capabilities. This is a major step forward in the implementation of Cobham’s technology strategy and the creation of a significant Tier 2 business supplying the US DoD and intelligence markets.”
It sounds like something James Bond would be sent to keep out of enemy hands. In January 2008, BAE Systems announced contract to develop ‘Capability E’ for its Harrier II GR9 (AV-8B+ counterpart) V/STOL(Vertical or Short Take-Off and Landing) jump jets.
There’s no need to call James, but the CAP E contract is nonetheless important to the UK’s Harrier fleet, which will remain Britain’s key expeditionary close-support aircraft and naval aviation backbone until the F-35B Lightning II STOVL(Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing) fully supplants them some time in the 2020s…
Booz Allen Hamilton in Norfolk, VA received a $25.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price contract to provide expertise in change management, organizational barrier identification and removal, and key enterprise performance metrics to the US Navy. This contract includes a base year and 4 one-year options, which if exercised, bring the total estimated value of the contract to $120.1 million.
Work will be performed in various locations around the continental United States (CONUS), and the base year will be complete by January 2009. Contract funds will expire at the end of the fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured though Government-wide Points of Entry, Navy Electronic Commerce On-line, and Federal Business Opportunities websites, with 3 offers received by the Fleet and Industrial Supply Center Norfolk (N00189-08-D-0022).
At the end of November 2007, engine maker Rolls-Royce employed around 39,500 people in 50 countries: around 23,300 are employed in the UK, 8,300 in North America, 2,300 in Germany, 3,400 in the Nordic countries, 680 in Asia with an additional 2,000 working in joint ventures, and about 1,500 in the rest of the world. One of their managerial foci is the metric of sales per employee, and this has underpinned their approach in a number of areas, including investments in process controls and IT systems.
The firm is now negotiating with its employees and their unions with the aim of reducing 2,300 staff and management positions (about 5.8% of their workforce), focusing on overhead and support functions. The Independent is reporting that most of the job losses are expected to be in Britain, where executives hope to use voluntary buyouts. The firm says that it does not intend to lay off manufacturing employees, though a separate union/political battle is being fought over the proposed closure of the Merseyside, UK plant and relocation of its production to Mount Vernon, OH, USA. Rolls-Royce’s release said that the firm “will continue to recruit graduates, apprentices and those required directly to deliver growth.”
While the firm cites “external headwinds” like increasing raw material costs and the weak US dollar, the reductions are expected to have no net impact on the Group’s 2007 or 2008 performance, once all costs are factored in. The most likely explanation, therefore, appears to be the straightforward one of a corporation creating a leaner support structure and managing to its key metrics like productivity and sales per employee. Rolls Royce release | Reuters report | UPI report.
FLIR Systems, Inc. recently announced a $13 million order from the Colombian Ministry of Defense for its Star SAFIRE HD stabilized, multi-sensor surveillance turrets, to be used on board Colombian Air Force helicopters. That country already uses FLIR Systems products on its Super Tucano counter-insurgency aircraft, but FLIR Systems’ release indicates that this contract was competitively awarded against competitors. Work will be performed at FLIR’s facility in Portland, Oregon, and deliveries are expected to take place during the second half of 2008. Customer support, training, and integration services will be performed from FLIR’s licensed maintenance facility located in Bogota, Colombia.
The fully-digital Star SAFIRE HD packs 120x zoom daylight, low-light, and forward looking infrared (FLIR, 640 x 512 array) cameras, laser targeting and designation options, and IMU relative positioning to transmit coordinates, in a compact 15″ turret system that weighs about 120 pounds. Star SAFIREs are also 6-axis stabilized, which means they will remain locked on their viewing point no matter what the helicopter does. Helicopters equipped with these kinds of systems can operate in day, night, or twilight reconnaissance mode against guerrillas, drug runners, and narco-terrorists, providing overwatch along their flight paths and scanning landing zones et. al. to reduce the odds of fatal surprises. If targets are confirmed, or key features need to be pointed out, laser designation can be used to illuminate targets or objects of interest for nearby helicopters and supporting aircraft.
UH-60L (lick to view larger)
Colombia recently purchased 15 second-hand UH-60L Black Hawk/ Arpia helicopters from the USA, which would bring the core of its Fuerza Aerea Colombiana and Brigada XXV de Aviacion del Ejército (BRIAV) fleets to an estimated 29-45 UH-60 Arpias, about 45-50 UH-1 Huey/ Huey-IIs, and about 16 Russian Mi-17s.
Add one more European nation to the bandwagon of emergency mine-resistant vehicle purchases. On Dec 7/07, Sofia News Agency reported that Bulgaria has just signed a deal with Textron Land Systems for armored vehicles. The memorandum is to be in force until 2011, and each year a concrete agreement will be signed for a given number of armored vehicles. The first 7 vehicles, worth 14 million leva ($10.5 million), are meant for the Bulgarian contingent in Afghanistan and are to be delivered by the end of the 2007.
The vehicles are almost certainly the firm’s mine-resistant M1117 Guardian ASVs, an armored car design that combines good mobility and protection with strong anti-personnel firepower from the combined .50 caliber machine gun and 40mm grenade machine gun in its turret. The ASV is popular with US military police, but was removed from the MRAP competition by the US Marines after testing.
Jan 14/08:Textron confirms a $10.2 million contract for 7 M1117 Armored Security Vehicles to the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense, with anticipated delivery of the vehicles in the first quarter of 2008.