China’s 2008 military budget and its 2-decade string of uninterrupted double-digit budget growth have been attracting a great deal of attention lately. The official figure is now $58.8 billion, but there is no accountability or transparency, and outside estimates place the real figure between $100-180 billion.
India’s democratic, accountable government presents fewer transparency issues, and the simultaneous growth of its economy and of pressures orchestrated by China have resulted in a rising military budget of its own. The rise has been slower, but the recent 2008/09 budget proposes from Rs 960 billion in 2007/08 to Rs 1056 billion in 2008/09 (a 10% hike, from about $24 billion to about $26.6 billion at USD exchange). That’s hike of about 10%; compare to India’s 2007 consumer price inflation index of 5.51% in 2007.
Of that budgetary total, Rs 480 billion has been earmarked for the purchase of military hardware, as opposed to pay, pensions, maintenance, and the other expenses of running a military. That’s a rather sharper hike of almost 23.3% over 2007/08. The question is whether India will be able to spend it…
At present, F-35 Lightning II/ Joint Strike Fighter production is led by Lockheed Martin, with BAE and Northrop-Grumman playing major supporting roles, and many subcontractors below them. F-35 main production and final assembly is currently slated to take place in Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, TX plant, though Italy and Britain may end up getting Final Assembly and Check-Out (FACO) plants of their own.
In order to cut F-35 production cycle time, and hence production costs, the team currently produces major sections of the aircraft at different feeder plants, and “mates” the assemblies at Fort Worth. This is normal in the auto industry, but it’s a departure from the usual fighter-building process which has raw materials and individual parts or small sub-assemblies feed into production lines, then rolls finished fighters out the other end. The precise tolerances required for a stealthy fighter, however, are much more exacting than even high-end autos. To cope, Manufacturing Business Technology reports that the team has turned to an integrated array of back-end IT systems in order to manage this new process, from CATIA CAD, to Visiprise MES, TeamCenter PLM, SAP ERP, and even a locally-designed Production & Inventory Optimization System (PIOS) for manufacturing resources planning and supply chain management.
This ‘digital thread’ has been very successful for the team, with part fits showing incredible precision, and successful coordination of plants around the end schedule for key events like the Dec 18/07 F-35B rollout. The system’s ultimate goal is to cut a plane’s production cycle time from the usual 27-30 months to about a year, and lead time from order creation to printed, matched manufacturing orders from 15-20 days to 6-8 days. Read MBT’s “Fly high on a thread” to learn more.
ThalesRaytheon’s AN/TPQ-36 and AN/TPQ-37 Firefinder weapon-locating radars automatically detect, track and locate enemy mortars, artillery and rocket launchers allowing friendly forces to counterfire with pinpoint accuracy. The TPQ-36 radar is specifically designed to counter medium range enemy weapon systems out to a range of 24 kilometers, while the TPQ-37 can locate longer-range systems, and even surface launched missiles, out to 50 kilometers. Michael Yon, embedded with 1-24 (“Deuce Four”) in Mosul, offered a first hand description of counter-battery radars’ effect on enemy tactics in 2005.
Thales-Raytheon Systems Co. LLC in Fullerton, CA received a $39.7 million firm-fixed price contract for 16 AN/TPQ-46 antenna transceiver groups and 15 each Spare AN/TPQ-36 Antenna Array Assemblies for the FIREFINDER radar program. Work will be performed in Fullerton, CA, and is expected to be complete by Nov 30/10. There was one bid solicited on Aug 7/07, and 1 bid was received by the CECOM Acquisition Center in Fort Monmouth, NJ (W15P7T-06-D-T001).
The U.S. Army Engineer District in Philadelphia has a background page about dredging that explains the rationale and the different options. It’s a frequent subject of military contracts, and is part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ efforts to maintain America’s ports.
Recently, Cottrell Contracting Corp. in Chesapeake, VA won a $7.5 million firm-fixed price, construction contract for maintenance dredging Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and Morehead City Harbor and Beaufort Harbor in Carteret County, NC. Work will be performed in Manteo (Shallowbag) Bay, NC, and is expected to be complete by March 31/09. There were 10 bids solicited on Nov. 19, 2007, and 2 bids were received by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah Regional Contracting Center, in Wilmington, NC (W912HN-08-C-0017).
Western Marine Construction, Inc. in Seattle,WA won a $5.9 million firm-fixed price contract for harbor dredging in Chiguik, AK (the DefenseLINK release said “Ala.”, but mean Alaska). Work is expected to be complete by Jan 10/11. There were 3 bids solicited on Nov. 26, 2008, and 3 bids were received by the U.S. Army Engineer District,, Alaska at Elmendorf, Air Force Base, AK (W911KB-08-C-003).