DID will return on Monday.
DID will return on Monday.
After a controversy over the F-35A Lightning II’s suitability for Australia’s strategic needs – amidst a flurry of criticism from opposition party critics, the media, and even retired military officials – Australia’s government went ahead and signed the F-35 Production MoU in November 2006, which did not commit them to buy the aircraft just yet. Then it went ahead and submitted a USD $3.1+ billion order without a competition process for 24 Super Hornets, in order to address Australia’s air capability gap until the F-35As arrive.
Controversy continues in Australia regarding the government’s plan to purchase the F-35 Lightning II as its next-generation fighter, and it has now spread to target the sudden F/A-18F Super Hornet Block II purchase as well. Australia’s Liberal Party government faced widespread criticism in Parliament and in the media, and began to respond – but in November 2007, that government was replaced by the opposition Labor Party. A full formal review of Australia’s Air Combat Capability plans is now underway, in light of expected regional airpower developments to 2045. A major political kerfuffle targeted squarely at the Super Hornet erupted soon thereafter, but the new Labor government ended up looking at the aircraft, and the cancellation costs, and decided to keep the F/A-18F.
Australia has said that it will pursue export permission for the F-22, but that doesn’t represent a decision yet. The F-35A remains controversial, however, with charges and counter-charges flying around the F-35’s air to air performance against modern aircraft like Russia’s widely-exported SU-30 family. In recent weeks, that controversy has drawn in both Australian political parties, Lockheed Martin, and the RAND Corp…
The US Navy’s 313-ship fleet plan has been in question for some time; indeed, the Pentagon Office of Force Transformation was projecting a possible 40% budgetary shortfall through 2022 when it released its “Alternative Fleet Architecture Design study [PDF format, see also related CRS report]” in 2005. Rising costs in several key naval programs, and budget realities, have sharpened those questions. During a recent House Armed Services Seapower & Expeditionary Forces subcommittee hearing, the Navy found itself under fire from both sides of the political aisle, up to and including public and pointed expressions of disbelief in the Navy’s shipbuilding plan.
Rankling minority member Roscoe Bartlett [R-MD]:
“From Fiscal Years 2008 to 2009, the Navy has reduced the number of ships to be procured by approximately 25 percent – one quarter of the ships the Navy planned to build last year are gone. The long term shipbuilding plan still speaks to a 313-ship Navy, as does the Chief of Naval Operations, but it’s time we started facing facts. The Navy will never get there without either top line relief or a significant change in the mix of platforms. The Navy’s shipbuilding plan is based on the assumption that over the next thirty years the shipbuilding account will nearly triple in size. Do our witnesses really think this is realistic? How can you? If it’s not – and I tell you it’s not – then the only other alternative is to look at the mix of platforms.”
Subcommittee chair Rep. Gene Taylor [D-MS] was even sharper in his criticisms:
Globalized production has become a staple in many industries, but the defense industry is a unique sector where maintaining national capabilities has been given greater weight. The growing cost of defense platforms, and shrinking defense budgets in many first and second world countries, are now driving growing internationalization of the defense industry as well. At work, this means engineers need to pick up more project management skills, and entire companies are shifting toward “integration” skills that place a greater premium on good project management as a core corporate competency.
Education and training go hand in hand with these trends. One new option is Podcasts, “on-demand radio shows, to go” that are available via the internet, and downloadable to an MP3 music player via iTunes or workarounds. With the right connectors, or a CD burner, podcasts can even be played in the car during your morning commute. The Project Management Podcast(TM) is one option, and episode 56 is especially applicable to DID readers [MP3 Podcast | accompanying PDF presentation]:
“Tim Covington, PMP, was the Project Manager of the Boeing C17 Single Line Project, the largest lean manufacturing project ever attempted on the C17 Program. In today’s interview of The Project Management Podcast™ we explore this large project. We discuss the goals and challenges involved, the success factors that enabled Tim and his core team to successfully deliver the project, the awards the project has won and Tim’s tips to project managers who are embarking on similarly large projects. And just to break from our usual routine, we asked Tim not 10, but 11 final questions. We also continue our book giveaway of Quentin Fleming’s book “Project Procurement Management” and we answer a listener question from our voice mail line.”
Paradigm Technologies, Inc. (Paradigm) recently received a $15.7 million Task Order to provide Business and Financial Management Support Services to the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicle Joint Program Office in Quantico, Virginia. The Task Order, awarded through the Naval Sea Systems Command’s SeaPort-e, includes a base year and 4 one-year options.
The MRAP Vehicle Program fits with a strong international trend, and seeks to replace vulnerable, flat-bottomed Hummers with vehicles designed from the ground up to resist land mine blasts. It is a Joint, Acquisition Category (ACAT) 1D program that is currently the number 1 Department of Defense priority program, with a DX priority rating for materials that is usually reserved for items like nuclear submarines. The program is currently in the procurement phase, and is valued at about $25 billion over Fiscal Years 2007 – 2009. The Joint Program Office (JPO) is led by Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Virginia.
Under this contract (N00178-05-D-4486-EH02), Paradigm is teamed with Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) to provide comprehensive Business and Financial Management support to the MRAP JPO, in order to support the successful execution of the MRAP Vehicle program. This kind of support usually comes from professionals with domain experience – in this case, business and financial management support personnel with extensive ACAT 1 program experience. For further background context, see also the recent US GAO report covering the Pentagon’s use of contractors for acquisition assistance, and likely trends in this area.
The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division in Philadelphia, PA gave Naval Automation Group in Norfolk, VA a $19.8 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for Tank Level Indicating (TLI) Systems which are to be installed on various classes of Naval ships. You need it in your car. they need it in their ships.
Work will be performed in Norfolk, VA and work is expected to be complete by June 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $2.5 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via Federal Business Opportunities website, with 1 offer received (N65540-08-D-0003).
Applied Engineering Management Corp. received a not to exceed $36.2 million firm-fixed-price task order under a previously awarded contract (N00178-05-D-4183, #JN01) to provide maintenance for Electronic Navy Housing (eNH). eNH is an integrated enterprise system that supports housing business processes and program management throughout the Department of the Navy housing enterprise, and is compliant with Navy information technology specifications including the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet.
The firm will also provide on-site systems analyst and program management support for CNIC (Commander, Navy Installations Command) Housing, and providing contractor technical support representatives and systems integrators to offer technical and project management support for eNH’s mission critical human resource management, baseloading and Inventory and Utilization (I&U) modules.
Work will be performed in Virginia (90%); California (8%); and Colorado (2%), and is expected to be complete in March 2009 (March 2013 if all options are exercised). This task order was initially sent out only to small businesses, with only 1 proposal received at almost 3 times the government estimate. It was then solicited to both small and large businesses, with 2 offers received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic in Norfolk, VA issued the contract.
L-3 Communications has moved to buy Northrop Grumman’s Electro-Optical Systems (EOS) business for $175 million in cash. L-3 currently offers EO/IR (electro-optical/infrared) sensors, high-definition turrets, tactical sights and laser designators for air, land and sea applications. Northrop Grumman’s EOS’ portfolio is itself the result of absorbing multiple firms and includes night vision goggles, weapons sights, driver viewers, image intensification tubes and applied optics products. The sale should be completed in the second quarter of 2008, subject to standard regulatory approvals.
L-3 EO/IR, Inc. is a division of the L-3 Communications EO/IR Group, comprising: L-3 WESCAM (Canada); L-3 Sonoma EO; L-3 EO/IR, Inc.; and L-3 Broadcast Sports, Inc. In L-3’s words, “EO/IR, Inc. acts as a contracting agency to permit a select group of important U.S. customers to contract with L-3 WESCAM via a U.S. entity. EO/IR, Inc. also deals with all export controls and licensing issues for the EO/IR Group under the direction of L-3’s Washington Office. In addition, EO/IR, Inc. facilitates the pursuit of major U.S. Defense programs for both L-3 WESCAM and L-3 Sonoma EO.”
Northrop Grumman’s EOS business is headquartered in Garland, TX, and generated approximately $190 million of sales for the year ended Dec 31/07. L-3 expects the firm to be immediately accretive to its earnings, and James W. Dunn, president of L-3’s Sensors and Simulation Group, says that “Including EOS, L-3’s EO/IR businesses will generate approximately $800 million in annual sales, with growth exceeding 10%.” L-3 release | NGC release.
FN Manufacturing Inc. in Columbia, SC received a $7.7 million firm-fixed price contract for 17,433 M249 Short Barrels. Work will be performed in Columbia, SC, and is expected to be complete by Oct 31/08. There was one bid solicited on Sept 24/03, and 1 bid was received. The U.S. Army TACOM LCMC, Rock Island, IL isued the contract (DAAE20-03-C-0100).
The M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW, aka. “Minimi”) is a 5.56mm gas-operated, air-cooled, belt or magazine-fed light machine gun used in US Army and Marine Corps squads as a higher volume of fire complement to the M-16 rifle or M4 carbine. It weighs 16.41 pounds and can fire 100 rounds per minute in sustained fire, or 200 rounds at its practical rapid rate. Note that this contrasts with maximum theoretical “cyclic rate” of 650-850 rounds/ minute continuous fire, which is far less accurate and requires barrel replacement once per minute due to heating issues. While most SAW variants will accept M-16 or M4 magazines, the Army Field Manual instructs soldiers to “Use the 20- or 30-round magazine for emergency use only when linked ammunition is not available.” A 200 round drum or less-noisy 100 round soft pouch is frequently used instead, and the weapon is belt-fed [good YouTube video shows loading]. A more compact variant known as the Mk46 is used by Special Forces, and by the US Navy.
The Ttec-Tesoro Joint Venture in Norcross, GA received a $21.5 million firm-fixed price contract for design-build of the Consolidated Drill Sergeant School at Fort Jackson, SC. It includes classrooms, dining facility and administrative areas. There were 4 bids solicited on Nov 1/07, and 4 bids were received by the U.S. Army Engineer District in Savannah, GA (W912HN-07-D-0058).
NOTE: The actor R. Lee “Gunny” Emery from the movie Full Metal Jacket, History Channel’s “Mail Call”, his own web site, et. al. is the best-known popular representation of an American Drill Sgt. Good public domain pictures of that type are scarce; nevertheless, his character was a Marine, and so is Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee Emery (ret.). After due consideration, and with full respect for our favorite Gunnery Sgt., we have switched the picture to U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Rayford, the 2003 Drill Sergeant of the Year winner at Fort Gordon, Georgia.