The USA’s GAO is now the “Government Accountability Office” instead of the “Government Accounting Office,” but audits are still its focus and core competence. Since 2001, Pakistan has received about $5.56 billion in Coalition Support Funds (CSF) for its efforts to combat terrorism along its border with Afghanistan, or 81% of all global CSF reimbursements. In geo-strategic terms, keeping Pakistan’s military happy must be the priority, conditional on having reason to believe they have the desire and ability to be effective at carrying the fight to al-Qaeda and Taliban strongholds in Pakistan. On the other hand, the GAO’s 2008 report and testimony includes items like:
More than $200 million for air defense radars submitted and reimbursed under CSF;
Defense reimbursed Pakistan approximately $55 million for maintenance of the Pakistani army’s MI-17 utility and AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter wings in the border area from July 2006 – Feb 2007, while the Pakistani army was not maintaining them, causing poor readiness rates for these critical assets;
An average of more than $19,000 per vehicle per month for Pakistani navy reimbursement claims that appeared to contain duplicative charges for a fleet of fewer than 20 passenger vehicles;
Paying Pakistani navy claimed for boats about half of the time and disallowing others, despite no discernible differences in the level of documentation provided;
Hence the GAO’s June 2008 reports and testimony, which look at the issues in the context of the CSF framework, and expected future requests from Pakistan…
Elbit Systems Ltd. is well known for electronics, optronics (El/Op), and of course its UAVs. The firm appears to be strengthening other areas as well, however, by acquiring all shares of Electro Optic Research and Development Company Ltd. (“EORD”) from former shareholders Technion Research & Development Foundation Ltd., and Bynet Electronics Ltd. The purchase price was described as “not material to Elbit Systems,” which reported [PDF format] revenues for year-end 2007 of almost $2 billion, and net annual income of $76.7 million.
EORD is an Israeli company focused on research and development of acoustic and seismic sensors and systems for military and security applications.
Nuclear submarines are extremely expensive, but they offer a very important advantage over conventional diesel. They can remain submerged until their shipboard provisions run out, while operating at full capacity. This is very different from diesel-electric submarines, which must come up periodically for air or “snorkel” near the surface to fuel their engines. Even modern air-independent propulsion systems can’t entirely remove this disadvantage, just lengthen undersea operations to a maximum of 2-3 weeks at significantly reduced speeds.
The problem is that surface and near-surface operations are an especially vulnerable time – many of history’s submarine kills have involved boats in this condition. A surfaced, snorkeling or periscoping submarine can be found by observation, but radar is a much better option. If, of course, one can tell the difference between the massive radar clutter generated by waves et. al., and the particular signatures of submarines that have a small air tube or periscope riding just above or very close to the surface. A fact that explains the latest contract related to the US Navy’s new MH-60R anti-submarine helicopter.
Lockheed Martin Systems Integration – Owego in Owego, NY received a $144 million modification, finalizing a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee modification (N00019-08-C-0005) to a cost-plus-incentive-fee contract. This modification provides for the system design and development of the MH-60R Advanced Radar Periscope Detection and Discrimination System, to include design, development, integration and test. Work will be performed in Owego, NY (51%) and Farmingdale, NY (49%), and is expected to be complete in September 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD manages this contract. See also subsequent NAVAIR release.
The American Competitiveness Institute (ACI) in Philadelphia, PA received a $99,999,000 indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for a Benchmarking and Best Practices Center of Excellence. Work will be performed in Philadelphia, PA next to the airport, and is expected to be complete in June 2013. This contract was competitively procured under solicitation N00014-08-R-0001 by The Office of Naval Research in Arlington, VA (N00014-08-D-0758).
The government’s regional Electronics Manufacturing Productivity Facility (EMPF) was privatized in 1995, and is now operated by ACI as the US Navy’s center of excellence in electronics manufacturing. The center focuses of industry/ academia/ government partnerships to develop, apply and transfer new electronics manufacturing technologies and processes. ACI lists BAE Systems, L3 Communications, and DRS among defense sector clients who have taken advantage of their services. ACI also operates the U.S. Army’s Electronics Sustainment Center (AESC), which is focused on a different mission: inserting commercial off the shelf (COTS) components into existing military electronics to extend their useful life, make maintenance easier, and reduce costs.
The purpose of this particular contract is in line with EMPF’s mission: “to identify, validate, benchmark, and facilitate the dissemination (sharing) of best-in-class practices, processes, methodologies, systems, and pre-competitiveness technologies. In doing so, enhance and promote communications, corporation, integration, and interdependency across the defense industry that will result in improvements in affordability and performance of defense platforms and weapon systems.”
IRIS-T (InfraRed Imaging System – Tail/thrust vector controlled) emerged after Germany pulled out of the joint US-UK-German ASRAAM program, following testing with its “new” East German MiG-29s and their AA-11/R-73 Archer SRAAMs. The Germans came to believe that ASRAAM’s entire philosophy was wrong, and sought to develop their own missile based on the A-11’s lessons. IRIS-T is now being developed by a multinational European consortium, whose in-house orders include Germany (1,250: Eurofighter and Tornado), Denmark (500, F-16s), Greece (350, F-16s), Italy (450, Eurofighter and Tornado), Netherlands (500, F-16s), and Spain (700, Eurofighter and F/A-18 Hornet). Consortium members Sweden and Norway are also expected to order IRIS-T; Saab’s JAS-39 Gripen serves as the missile’s test platform, and there is also talk of integrating the missile with the F-35 Lightning II.
Now, South Africa becomes the missile’s 2nd export customer, after Austria ordered 25 at the end of 2005 to equip its Eurofighters. On May 28/08, Diehl BGT announced that the South African Air Force has picked the IRIS-T short range air-to-air missile to equip their Gripen fighter aircraft “as an interim solution until the local missile development – the A Darter – will be operational.”
The IRIS-T missiles will become operational on SAAF Gripens in 2009, and a recent Engineering News article confirms that there will be local defense industry workshare requirements attached to the buy. This makes for some interesting dynamics, given that A-Darter is being developed as an IRIS-T competitor. Details regarding these offsets may be released at the Africa Aerospace and Defence 2008 in Cape Town, from September 17 – 21.
Benham Constructors, LLC in Oklahoma, OK received a $55.1 million firm-fixed price contract to construct an advanced metal finishing facility building with various plating equipment at Robins Air Force Base, GA, while relocating a ground support equipment maintenance facility. Robins AFB is a major maintenance hub for the USAF, and the largest industrial complex in Georgia.
Work is expected to be complete by July 29/10. 16 bids were solicited on Jan 19/07, and 4 bids were received by the U.S. Army Engineer District in Savannah, GA (W912HN-08-C-0031).
On Oct 19/07, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced [PDF] Egypt’s formal request for 2 used E-2C Airborne Early Warning (AEW) Command & Control aircraft, 2 excess spare T56-A-425 engines, modifications, support equipment, spare and repair parts, publications and technical data, maintenance, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics technical support services, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $75 million.
Now, that order appears to have been followed by an upgrade request…
Adding weapons to naval aircraft isn’t the simple retrieve and attach process many people think it is. For logical safety reasons, many weapons stored on board a ship require several steps to bring them from storage containers to “armed and ready” condition for installation. That process requires 500-1000 square feet of grudgingly-given space on board ship, a design constraint that still leaves some assembly operations with less room than one would like. Meanwhile, weather conditions may not choose to be cooperative.
To address this issue, the Office of Naval Research is holding a competition under the Automated Weapons Assembly Project. The goal is to create an automated robotic system that can unpack weapon components from storage containers, and safely assemble them onboard ships even in high seas.
The USA’s aerial tanker fleet is the backbone of American global air power, but its youngest KC-135 planes were built over 40 years ago. Replacing them is the USAF’s #1 priority, and the initial KC-X phase of 175 operational aircraft amounts to a $35 billion buy. When EADS Airbus and Northrop Grumman’s A330 MRTT was picked over Boeing’s KC-767 on Feb 29/08, therefore, the shockwaves were felt around the world.
The most recent event has sent shockwaves of its own, however, and deserves its own depth coverage. As everyone predicted, the losing firm immediately launched a protest with the Congressional Government Accountability Office. The GAO has no power to compel the Air Force, but the US military usually works to comply with GAO decisions in order to minimize political difficulties. Those difficulties have just increased significantly, however, as the GAO sustains Boeing’s protest and pours fuel on the smoldering discontent among many Congressional representatives. The implications extend beyond the USA’s borders, and into the global defense industry as a whole. Now, the full decision has been released – and the Air Force may be about to try to bull its way through to an award by the end of the year, using the same playbook it tried the CSAR-X helicopter contract…
International Business Machines Corp., of Yorktown Heights, NY received a cost type contract for $2.4 million, under the “Wafer-Scale Graphene RF Nanoelectronics effort.” This effort is connected to DARPA’s CERA(Carbon Electronics for RF Applications) effort. The project’s goal is to investigate 2 challenges that are fundamental to development of high performance carbon electronics for military radio frequency applications in military systems. The Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH manages the contracts (FA8650-08-C-7838). At this time all funds have been obligated.
IBM fellow Phaedon Avouris, the manager of Nanoscale Science at the Research Center, explains: