The USA’s Contract Field Teams (CFT) Program quickly deploys skilled technicians on site to accomplishes depot and organizational level inspection, maintenance, modification and repair at operational Government locations worldwide. The program works with each of the USAF’s Air Logistics Centers (ALCs), plus USAF Air Combat Command (ACC), Air Mobility Command (AMC), Air Force Reserves (AFRES) and the US Air National Guard (ANG). CFT contracts can also be used to support the needs of the US Army, Navy, Coast Guard, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other American Federal Agencies. The program started in 1951, and the last contract was issued in 1997, expiring in 2008. Hence the new award.
The US Army makes extensive use of this contract vehicle for Army Aviation Support, and the US Navy operates an aviation fleet that is larger than most national air forces. since the roster of firms involved in these activities is very similar no matter which service is making the request, piggybacking on a fully fleshed out contract and using similar terms and conditions makes a lot of sense. FAA support, meanwhile, involves the repair of navigation equipment, electronics, and other components of civil aviation infrastructure.
Like most multiple-award contracts, the “winners” are really just given an opportunity to compete for relevant task orders. When a specific need arises, the umbrella contract’s extensive terms and conditions are already set, and bids can be offered and evaluated very quickly. That arrangement saves time and money for the military, the firms involved, and ultimately for American taxpayers. At this time $280,000 has been committed, and the contracts will be managed by the 327 ASW/FT at Tinker AFB in Midwest City, OK.
Winners under the new CFT program, with DefenseLINK announcement errors corrected, include:
The Qatar Emiri Air Force currently flies old Westland Commando helicopters in heavier utility and maritime roles, and SA341 Gazelles in light helicopter and attack roles. The AW139 will fit somewhere in the middle.
Think of RFID (Radio Frequency I.D.) as a bar code that can be read at a distance, instead of having to be scanned directly. RFID is becoming a pervasive feature in the American defense supply chain, and is beginning to make inroads into other markets as well. While supply chain solutions remain its main use, it is also a common feature in security solutions like ‘smart’ access cards. That latter use has led to a number of problems lately, including the posting of armed guards to secure sensitive government facilities in Europe.
NXP Semiconductors is currently filing suit in The Netherlands against Radboud University in Nijmegen, in an attempt to keep its researchers from publishing a paper about reported security flaws in NXP’s widely distributed MiFare Classic RFID chip. The chip’s 48-bit encryption was high end in 1994, but is considered very vulnerable by modern standards. The chip’s security flaws were publicized in a 2007 crack, but the downside of hardware-based security systems is the expense and time involved in changing them. In light of recent events, government agencies employing smart cards will need to factor that unpleasant reality into their purchasing decisions. Ken van Wyk, principal consultant at KRvW Associates is quoted by Computerworld on this issue:
“It turns out it’s a pretty huge deal… There are a lot of these things floating around out there. Using it for building locks is the biggy, especially when it’s used in sensitive government facilities – and I know for a fact it’s being used in sensitive government facilities.” Van Wyk noted in March that one European country had deployed soldiers to guard some government facilities that used the MiFare Classic chip in their smart door key cards… “You have an RFID chip deployed by the millions,” said van Wyk. “Switching that around is extremely costly and won’t happen very quickly. It could be it will take them months or a year to do that.”
WRS Infrastructure and Environment, Inc. in Tampa, FL received a $7 million firm-fixed price contract for the construction of a water resource area and irrigation reservoir levees, canals, pumping stations, control structures, siphon, access roadways, and associated work in Florida’s Highlands and Okeechobee Counties. Readers who don’t fish for bass can consult the map above to find these counties, located in Florida’s central farming belt just north of Lake Okeechobee.
Work is expected to be complete by Nov 30/10. 65 bids were solicited on April 2/08, and 19 bids were received by the U.S. Army Engineer District in Jacksonville, FL (W912EP-08-C-0013).
The Seawolf air defense missile was originally tested and fielded in the 1970s, and saw action in the 1982 Falklands War. It performed well in that conflict in a short range defense role, and was credited with several kills. Upgraded versions corrected many of the remaining issues with the system, and these still equip the Type 22 and Type 23 Class frigates in service with Britain, Chile and Brazil, and slated for Romania. It is also fitted to Malaysia’s newer Lekiu Class frigates. The Seawolf Mid-Life Update/ VL Seawolf Block 2 missile system was recently installed on the Duke Class frigate HMS Sutherland, and it will equip other ships of class as they, too, are upgraded.
Britain is slowly turning many of its defense support contracts into through-life “contracts for availability” that feature long term fixed costs and performance guarantee. Now Seawolf missiles have joined the list. In July 2008, BAE Systems announced the GBP 141 million SWISS (Seawolf In Service Support) Contract for Availability (CfA), which will sustain all of Britain’s Seawolf missiles in conjunction with a complementary contract to missile manufacturer MBDA. The contracts will last until the end of 2017, at which point the Seawolf system is expected to be phased out in favor of some of the systems being developed by Britain’s government-anointed “complex weapons team.”
BAE Systems has been providing in service support for the Seawolf radars and command and control systems since 1979. With the new contract, they are charged with ensuring that availability, as measured by successful firings, is maintained. They will also be responsible for refit activities in cooperation with MBDA, which can be used to insert new technologies that improve performance and/or reliability. BAE release.
July 11/08: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced [PDF] Singapore’s official request for a series of American air-air missiles and precision strike weapons.
The $962 million request also includes items and services like missile containers, common munitions built-in test reprogramming equipment, testing, integration, devices, aircrew safety equipment, repair and return, weapons trainers, electronic warfare systems and support, software support and test equipment, life support and survival equipment, spares and repair parts, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor technical and logistics personnel services, and other related support.
Singapore is currently in the process of buying 20 F-15SG Strike Eagles, whose features and equipment will make them the most advanced F-15s in service anywhere in the world. Past weapons requests associated with the F-15SGs have been announced as such, but this order was simply listed as a general weapons order. Other aircraft in the RSAF’s inventory that could use some or all of the weapons listed below include their squadrons of F-16C/D Block 52+ aircraft, and F-5T Tiger II lightweight fighters that were modernized in the 1990s.
Rolls-Royce has announced a 9-year, $900 million agreement with Alenia Aeronautica that makes them the exclusive provider of engine and propeller assemblies for these light transport aircraft. The C-27J uses Rolls Royce’s AE 2100D2 turboprop engine, and Dowty’s 6-bladed propellers. These 6,000 shp engines benefit from over 80% parts commonality with the Rolls Royce AE family of engines which includes the AE 2100D3 that equips the 4-engine C-130J Hercules, and the AE 1107C-Liberty that currently quips the USA’s V-22 Osprey tilt-rotors.
A 2006 contract between Alenia Aeronautica and Rolls Royce already covered 42 systems, which would be enough to equip 21 of the twin-engine C-27Js. The new contract raises that number, guaranteeing a new total of 155 systems. In addition, 78 C-27J aircraft and up to 180 engines were placed under contract by the US Armed Forces’ Joint Cargo Aircraft program, with potential volumes of up to 145 aircraft and a correspondingly higher number of engines. Rolls Royce release.
Hawker Beechcraft Corp. in Wichita, KS received an estimated $48.8 million firm-fixed-price contract from the US Navy for 6 C-12 replacement aircraft. Work will be performed in Wichita, KS and is expected to be completed in February 2011. This contract was competitively procured via electronic request for proposal by the Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-08-C-0057). The aircraft are actually destined for the US Marines, as the replacement contract for a UC-12 fleet that’s more than 25 years old. See also NAVAIR release.
The old C-12/UC-12 is also known as the Huron, and was derivative of the civilian Beechcraft King Air 200. It can land on airfields under 3,000 feet in length, and is used for VIP and light transport duties. These short-field capabilities, coupled with the small size of many urgent needs on the front lines, have pressed many of these aircraft into service in theater. Hawker Beechcraft has confirmed that the Marines’ new light utility aircraft will be variants of the new King Air 350C, however, a slightly larger aircraft with 23.5% more engine power, improved speed and rate of climb, and slightly more load-carrying capacity. The Australian RAAF and the Iraqi Air Force have also bought the new King Air 350; Iraq ordered it for light transport duties, and as a specialized intelligence & surveillance platform.
The new King Air 350Cs do not yet have a formal military designation, but NAVAIR assures DID that they will come with built-in protective systems. In contrast, American UC-12s have often had their in-theater flights limited or at risk due to their their lack of protection against shoulder fired ground-air missiles like the SA-7. Fortunately, Iraqi flights have become much less dangerous these days. Tribal revolts against al-Qaeda, the corollary improvements in local intelligence, and a strategy of targeting Iranian operatives in theater, have combined to put a strong crimp in key sources of missiles and trained manpower that contributed to this threat.
Canada’s wheeled LAV armored personnel carriers have faced mixed reviews in Afghanistan. On the one hand, they’ve provided survivable firepower and mobility that has been very effective when the terrain allows, and Canada’s unique Coyote surveillance and targeting variant has been an important contributor in all environments. On the other hand, the vehicles have displayed important limitations on their movement in Afghanistan’s harsh terrain, chewing through spare parts while remaining unable to support some operations effectively. As a result, some planned LAV variants were canceled, and Canada chose to deploy tracked Leopard/Leopard 2 tanks and M113 tracked APCs in theater.
Canada’s LAVs also remain in theater, however, and must be supported. To that end, the Government of Canada recently awarded General Dynamics Land Systems Canada (GDLS-C) a sole-source, C$ 374 million (current value $372.8 million) Phase 2 contract that will last from June 1/08 – March 31/13, ad may be extended at the government’s option.
If the rising cost of fuel is pushing you to change some of your transportation habits, you’re not alone. The US military started to focus on energy efficiency and alternate energy sources several years ago, as a response to the triple threat of future strategic supply concerns, rising costs that eat into service budgets, and the vulnerability of their fuel supply lines to IED land mines or mine-based interdiction at sea.
In addition to moves like installing wind power at Guantanamo Bay, solar-generating parking lot shaders at NAB Coronado, etc., the US Navy has a pair of key energy conservation programs that are expected to save 1.14 million barrels of oil, and about $157 million, in FY 2008.