Maintenance trends are one of the most underrated issues in the defense field. Britain is leading the way with “contracting for availability” approaches that pay fixed annual costs over a system’s lifetime, and reward firms for ready-to-go weapons rather than paying for spares and maintenance hours. America, and many other air forces as well, are grappling with aging aircraft fleets whose average age exceeds their pilots’.
On Feb 25/08, Northrop Grumman Systems Corp in Bethpage, NY received two contracts via the US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD related to Japan’s E-2C Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning and Control (AWACS) aircraft. Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY, and is expected to be complete in June 2010.
On was a $25.9 million firm-fixed-price delivery order against basic ordering agreement N00421-05-G-0001, to provide Upgrade Kits 12 and 13 for the Japanese Foreign Military Sales (FMS) E-2C aircraft program. The other is an $11.2 million firm-fixed-price delivery order against basic ordering agreement N00421-05-G-0001 to provide spare parts for the Japanese E-2C fleet.
On Jan 31/08, French Defence Minister Herve Morin authorized the first public-private partnership contract by the French DGA procurement agency. This kind of arrangement is becoming more common, especially in Britain, but France has lagged in adopting it. Under this arrangement, the firms Défense Conseil International and Proteus Hélicoptères will supply 36 new Eurocopter EC120 helicopters to replace the Ecole d’application de l’aviation legere de l’armee de terre’s (EAALAT, Fench Army aviation school’s) 54 SA342 Gazelle helicopters based in Dax, France. The first EC120s are planned to arrive in 2010, and the 22-year partnership contract also covers an estimated 22,000 fleet helicopter flight hours per year for pilot training.
The contractors will be in charge of buying, operating, servicing and repairing the EC120 helicopters, which will be the contractor’s property over the course of the contract. Pilot training itself will still be provided by the military instructors at EALAAT, which is in charge of the initial training of helicopter pilots of the French Army, Navy, Air Force and Gendarmerie. Pilots of some foreign armies are also trained at EALAAT, per international agreements. DGA release.
Oct 16/09: The DGA accepts the first lot of 3 EC120 NHEs for EAALAT, and the instructors begin flying the next day. DGA release [in French].