The UK’s Parliamentary Defence Committee has released its 2007-08 Session report that looks at the UK’s new merged Defence Equipment & Support organization (formerly DPA and DLO), and assesses Britain’s major procurement programs. The “Tenth Report of Session 2007-08, Defence Equipment 2008, HC 295” offers conclusions on a number of fronts, beginning with this general philosophy and then moving on to specific programs:
“We note that the MoD is preparing advice to Ministers about the defence budget for the three years 2008-09 to 2010-11 and that the MoD acknowledges that there are likely to be cuts or delays to projects in the Equipment Programme. The MoD needs to take the difficult decisions which will lead to a realistic and affordable Equipment Programme. This may well mean cutting whole equipment programmes, rather than just delaying orders or making cuts to the number of platforms ordered across a range of equipment programmes. While it is the natural inclination of all governments and departments to avoid bad news by “moving programmes to the right” rather than by cutting out an entire capability which has many supporters, such an approach can cause in the long run more financial and operational damage than confronting the perennial problem of an over-ambitious Equipment Programme. A realistic Equipment Programme will give confidence to our Armed Forces that the equipment programmes that remain will be delivered in the numbers and to the timescale required, and will also allow industry to make informed investment decisions.”
“Sounding rockets carry scientific instruments into space along parabolic trajectories, providing nearly vertical traversals along their upleg and downleg, while appearing to “hover” near their apogee location. Whereas the overall time in space is brief (typically 5-20 minutes), for a well-placed scientific experiment launched into a geophysical phenomena of interest, the short time and low vehicle speeds are more than adequate (in some cases they are ideal) to carry out a successful scientific experiment. Furthermore, there are some important regions of space that are too low to be sampled by satellites (i.e., the lower ionosphere/ thermosphere and mesosphere below 120 km altitude) and thus sounding rockets provide the only platforms that can carry out direct in-situ measurements in these regions.”
Some agency of the USAF has issued a set of indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for $250 million, allowing multiple awards within a 7-year ordering period to cover engineering and technical services that support the Sounding Rocket Program 3. SRP3 provides launch systems and services for sub-orbital ballistic trajectories up to 5,500 km downrange. At this time $200,000 has been obligated.
The DefenseLINK announcement lists Robins AFB, which is incorrect. Robins AFB believes the contracts were issued through Kirtland AFB, NM, but Kirtland’s PA department claims no knowledge of them. For good measure, the contract numbers were crossed with different day’s announcement re: ECM systems for Pakistan. As best we can determine, winners include:
Orbital Science Corp. Launch Systems Group of Chandler, AZ (FA8818-08-D-0036)
Space Vector Corp. of Chatsworth, CA (FA8818-08-D-0037)