On May 30/08, the Pentagon announced a pair of MRAP-related multiple-award small business contracts worth almost half a billion dollars if all options are exercised. Working through the Navy Electronic Commerce Office, the US Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, VA is buying 360 Degree Lighting Kits for the US military’s MRAP blast-resistant vehicles, using an indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract.
IBIS TEK in Butler, PA received a ceiling amount $158.1 million contract with options that would bring the cumulative ceiling value to $474.2 million. Work will be performed in Butler, PA, and is expected to be complete by May 2011 (M67854-08-D-5046).
LOM in Chicago, IL received a ceiling amount $149.7 million contract with options that could bring the cumulative ceiling value to $449.2 million. Work will be performed in Suwanee, GA and is expected to be complete by May 2011 (M67854-08-D-5010).
Both winners will be using the same $475 million or so pool of funds, and official responses to DID indicate that up to 10,000 kits will be ordered. Thanks to US Marine Corps Systems Command, a picture of a preliminary IBIS TEK install can be seen above. Based on these figures, however, the cost of these lighting systems appears to be about $45,000 per vehicle.
In December 2006, Spain’s Minister’s Council has authorized a number of aircraft contracts in addition to their Eurocopter-related plans, creating more maritime patrol aircraft, expanding the transport fleet slightly, modernizing its EAV-8B Harriers/Matadors, and buying engines and spares for its CH-47 heavy-lift helicopter fleet. The total value of these contracts is over EUR 130 million.
In June 2008, the Harrier modernization contract was announced by EADS. DID offers details below regarding the upgrade’s elements, scope, and final cost.
Harris Corporation has recently endured a difficult period in the stock market. Despite a strong outlook for the tactical radio market, and a competitive international position vis-a-vis key rivals like General Dynamics C4 and Thales Group, there were persistent rumors that the firm was up for sale. EADS openly said that its recent PlantCML acquisition required its full attention, but General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman were also mentioned frequently. In the end, there was no acquisition and the firm’s stock price dropped swiftly to pre-rumor levels. Bloomberg | Forbes | Reuters.
Falcon II Multiband
This leaves the firm back on familiar ground: execution in the international tactical radio market. Harris was recently awarded $118 million in delivery orders to supply the U.S. Marine Corps with Falcon II AN/PRC-117F multiband manpack radios, as part of a new $350 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract that will almost double the number used by the USMC. As part of the contract, Harris will also provide 3 dedicated technical service personnel who will be embedded with Marine maintenance companies. Harris release.
The Marine Corps’ situation is similar to many other global militaries, as their Strategic Radio Plan works to move their troops from existing single-band radios to multiband, multimission software-defined radios with longer range, less weight, long-term upgradeability, and better interoperability. As one Marine explained, re: the PRC-117s deployed in Kuwait and Iraq, their uses included:
“…monitoring our IntraSquad Radios (ISR) using the CTCSS bands… SINCGARs to communicate in vehicle convoys, HAVEQUICK to talk to aircraft, single channel LOS VHF/UHF frequencies to talk to aircraft and ground stations, as well as both DAMA and Dedicated SATCOM.”
As Ferrari racing fans are very aware these days, industrial espionage that goes far beyond the bounds of ethical competitive intelligence is alive and kicking. This is even more true in the aerospace industry, whose national security implications often feature national intelligence organizations undertaking industrial espionage – in some cases, even against allied countries. China is most frequently mentioned in this context, with good reason, but Russia and France have also built reputations in this area.
In March of 2008, Raytheon announced an initial contract (amount undisclosed) for preliminary planning efforts aimed at integrating Patriot air defense/ABM missiles into South Korea’s national command and control structure. This work is in preparation for a Foreign Military Sale of the Patriot air and missile defense system to South Korea under its $1.2-1.6 billion SAM-X program. Raytheon said that it expects significant follow-on awards to complete the system integration and to provide command and control, communications and maintenance support equipment, as well as the training of Korean operators and maintainers and technical assistance to the deployed systems.
For years, Special Operations forces were the unloved stepchildren of the American military community, owned but not understood very well, or given priority. After the failed Desert One raid to free American hostages in Iran, however, the need to do better became apparent. Eventually real changes were made, and US Special Operations Command (US SOCOM) stood up as its own independent command with contributions from the Army (“Green Berets”, 75th Ranger Regiment, civil affairs & psyops, helicopters), Navy (SEALs), and Air Force (Pararescue, specialty aircraft). As the events of September 11, 2001 made the nature of the current global war clear, SOCOM stepped into a leading role – first in Afghanistan, then in the war as a whole. Current plans call for a 33% increase in American special forces numbers by 2013. This will be a challenge given the limited pool of applicants who can make the grade, and the continued lure of higher-paying private sector jobs as security contractors.
Who was missing from this picture? The Marines. Why? Because to the Marines, every Marine is special. After all, what higher honor could there possibly be than to say you were a US Marine? None. Which is why the USMC had Force Recon personnel, and whole Marine Expeditionary Unit – Special Operations Capable formations. They had no special forces. Until November 2005, when the US Marines agreed to stand up MARSOC with 2,500 Marine special forces – even as they managed to remain true to their credo. MARSOC was formally established on February 24/06.
Of course, a service that has never had any special forces doesn’t really have any facilities for them. Then again, separate facilities pose a problem. To square this circle, the Marines are building the new facilities at Camp LeJeune and now at Camp Pendleton, right alongside their fellow Marines…
Satterfield & Pontikes Construction, Inc. in Houston, TX received a $33.4 million firm-fixed price contract to build a primary health care clinic at Fort Sam Houston near San Antonio, TX. Work is expected to be complete by Jan 30/10. Fort Sam Houston is named for the former Republic of Texas’ first President, and its tenants include US Army Medical Command (MEDCOM).
Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Web bids were solicited on Feb. 14, 2008, and four bids were received. U.S. Army Engineer District, Fort Worth, TX manages this contract (W9126G-08-C-0024).
DID readers send us some interesting tips. The USA’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency handles futuristic research projects that would be too difficult for the normal defense program R&D process (one of those projects became the Internet). Now its Information Processing Technology Office (IPTO) is turning its attention to a project called “Deep Green,” which aims to provide US commanders with significantly better decision support tools in battle. According to DARPA, Deep Green will:
“…aid in battle command and commander’s visualization by creating technologies that make it easier for the commander to articulate options to consider and anticipate the possible futures that result from those options. This proactive analysis will help predict which possible futures are becoming more likely – before they occur. Given that information, the commander can make better decisions and focus planning efforts (the generation of future branches and sequels) on where they can be the most useful.”
The article below explains the vision of Deep Green, its envisioned components, and some of the challenges the program faces. It also begins to cover contracts, now that the first R&D orders are being issued…
Wintara, Inc. in Fort Washington, MD received a $5.8 million firm-fixed price contract for replacement facilities for Forward Operating Base, Speicher near Tikrit, Iraq. Work is expected to be complete by Jan 31/09. 98 bids were solicited on Feb 4/08, and 12 bids were received by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Programs Center in Winchester, VA (W912ER-08-C-0025).
Capt. Speicher’s F/A-18 Hornet fighter was shot down over Iraq during Operation Desert Storm on Jan 17/91, and was listed as killed. There has been considerable controversy regarding his fate, however, and in January 2001, the Secretary of the Navy took the extremely rare step of changing his status to “missing in action.” In 2002, it was changed again, this time to “missing-captured.” Many also believe that his aircraft was not shot down by a surface-to-air missile, as claimed at the time, but by an Iraqi fighter that passed American planes who were not allowed to engage it. See also the March 27/01 CIA report.
After Operation Iraqi Freedom, evidence was found that included a flight suit believed to be his, an escape and evade sign located on the desert floor, and what appear to be the initials “MSS” scrawled on a wall of a cell in the Hakmiyah prison in Baghdad. Speicher’s name was also found on a document in Iraq, dated January 2003, that had the names of prisoners being held in the country. Despite these efforts and clues, however, Speicher’s whereabouts and the exact details of his fate remained unknown until a July 2009 tip from an 11 year old Bedouin boy led to his burial place about 2 km from the crash site.
As the reach of anti-ship missiles lengthens, and their killing power improves, various forms of naval stealth are moving from research curiosities and cameo roles in James Bond films to design and deployment at sea. Materials science is an important component of that effort, and features prominently in stealth ships like Sweden’s Visby Class corvettes and Norway’s Skjold Class air cushioned catamaran corvettes.
Small business qualifier Materials Sciences Corp. in Horsham, PA received a $24.6 million Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase III cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for “continued research, development, and application of advanced metallic and non-metallic materials in existing and new Navy structures and machinery. The research and development of these materials will provide for improved structural, electrical and thermal performance of radar absorption materials.”
SBIR Phase III means the technology is moving out of the research phase and into commercialization/ production. Work will be performed in Horsham, PA (80%); Philadelphia, Pa. (5 percent); West Bethesda, Md. (5 percent); Washington, D.C. (5 percent); and Gulfport, Miss. (5 percent), and work is expected to be completed by September 2013. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured with one proposal solicited and oneoffer received via the Phase III SBIR program. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (N65540-08-D-0011).