Operations in Afghanistan have created operational and political friction among NATO allies due to some members who will not commit their forces to combat situations, forces not delivered as promised, and shortages of critical assets like helicopters. It has also featured some innovations, such as ISAF’s Provincial Reconstruction Teams. PRTs combine military force with direct aid delivery, acting as a key aid supplement to civil groups, and reaching areas where wealthy non-governmental organizations will not operate due to risk aversion or political issues.
Spain operates a PRT at Qal-i-Naw in Afghanistan’s northwestern Baghdis province, about 100 km NNE east of Herat and near the border with Turkmenistan. Baghdis falls under ISAF’s West Regional command, and is not a major conflict zone like the souteastern provinces along Pakistan’s border. Even so, it will require a long-term security presence in order to remain stable, and to slowly expand the central government’s authority. Recent Spanish expenditures are helping to prepare that next step, by raising, accommodating, and training an Afghan National Army force that can secure this area over the longer term.
In September 2007, Spain earmarked EUR 4.5 million to equip and train a company of 100 ANA soldiers, then added another EUR 2.5 million to build them appropriate barracks and facilities. A Spanish “operational team of instruction and link” team of 52 is working to train the Afghans, and costs EUR 200,000 initial investment plus about EUR 200,000 per month in ongoing funds. Now Infodefensa reports that Spain will spend EUR 22 million (currently $35 million) over the next 2 years to train, equip, and house an Afghan Army battalion of 600 men, which is to be based in Baghdis and operational by Spring 2009.
This article prepared with the assistance of DID subscriber Pedro Lucio.
In 2005 Canada was facing a complete lack of integrated in-theater helicopter support. Worse, the Canadian Forces faced an equally complete lack of options. Canada had never operated attack helicopters, so there were none to be had. Its heavy lift CH-47s had been sold to the Dutch in 1991, and the program to belatedly replace them cannot deliver before 2011-2012. The navy’s Sea King fleet was dangerously old and needed for maritime roles, and their replacement CH-148 Cyclones/H-92 Superhawks have yet to be delivered. New CH-149 Cormorant/EH101 search-and-rescue helicopters are non-military versions that are needed along Canada’s huge coastlines, and the helicopters have encountered serious and long-running reliability issues during their short lifetimes. Finally, other Army helicopters like the CH-146 Griffon/ Bell 412 lacked the carrying capacity required to operate as true utility helicopters in Afghanistan’s performance-sapping high altitudes and hot temperatures.
Trident Technology Solutions, of Fairfax, VA received a maximum $49.9 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract. Trident will design an Information Sharing Environment (ISE) for the Air Force, Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) tha incorporates multi-level security and “encompasses all aspects of information sharing including file sharing text chat, audio and video teleconferencing, blogs, and wikis.” At this time $868,281 has been obligated by the Air Force Research Laboratory/RIKF in Rome, NY (FA8750-08-D-0206).
W. M. Jordan in Newport News, VA won a $95.9 million contract to design- and build special operations forces facilities at Naval Air Station Oceana’s Dam Neck Annex in Virginia Beach, VA. This project will provides consolidated and efficiently configured command operations facilities, and this contract contains options, which will bring the total value of the contract to $101.6 million if exercised. This contract was competitively procured with 6 offers received by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Mid-Atlantic in Norfolk, VA (N40085-08-C-9684).
The contract provides for the design and construction of a two-story SOF P899 operations facility, a single-story addition to the second floor of Building 368, a one-story P768 SOF operational training facility, and a single-story addition to Building 310. Work is expected to be complete by July 2010.
Textron Defense Systems in Wilmington, MA recently received an initial $3.17 million increment of a $21.3 million “other transaction”. They’ll provide protoypes for phase 2 of the High Energy Liquid Laser (HELL) Area Defense System. Work will be performed in Wilmington, MA (66%), Cambridge, MA (13%), Vienna, VA (9%), Bridgeton, MA (9%), Albuquerque, NM, (1%), and Charlestown, MA (less than 1%), and is expected to be complete in August 2009. This is a sole source award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., (HR0011-08-9-0006).
Lasers have a number of obvious benefits if used as an air defense system, especially against targets like the terrorist rocket attacks that featured so prominently in Israel’s 2006 war, and which continue from the Palestinian territories to this day. The technical obtsacles remain daunting, however, and include rate of fire, sufficient power to burn through a target almost immediately, number of shots per power source, battlefield fragility, and in some cases the toxicity of the chemicals involved. A system called THEL/M-THEL has been tested, and is even marketed by Northrop Grumman as Skyguard, but lasers have yet to be bought in numbers or deployed under battle conditions. Research continues.
Small, disadvantaged business qualifier Bering Straits Information Technology, LLC in Anchorage, AK received a maximum $5.8 million firm fixed price, total set aside, 8(a) Alaskan Native sole-source contract. they will to provide all labor and staff to help the Defense Logistics Agency’s Defense Supply Center, Richmond (DSCR) by reducing existing back-orders, managing National Stock Number assistance, and otherwise helping out as needed.
There was originally 1 proposal solicited with 1 response. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, and the contract will end on July 31/11. The contracting activity is the DSCR in Richmond, VA (SP4703-08-C-0013).
McTech Corp. in North Kansas City, MO won an $8 million firm-fixed price contract for a child development center at Fort Riley, KS. Military families have the same child care needs as other families, and part of the US military’s ongoing $50+ billion construction drive on its bases involves associated family facilities.
Work is expected to be complete by Sept 16/14. Four bids were solicited on April 3/08, and 2 bids were received by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Kansas City, MO (W912DQ-08-D-0030).
In June 2006, Australia’s former Minister of Defence Brendan Nelson released the Defence Capability Plan (DCP) 2006-16, which outlined more than A$ 51 billion of planned capital equipment proposals. At the time, one of the projects slated for likely investment after 2016 was the Australian Army’s A$ 750 million – 1 billion Ground Based Air Defence capability project to replace the country’s current force, which relies on man-portable RBS-70 anti-aircraft missiles.
On July 9/08, the Australian Department of Defence issued a global solicitation to industry to be part of a preliminary capability study for “Ground-Based Air and Missile Defence (GBAMD) systems and technologies” under Project LAND 19, Phase 7.
At this stage, the range of threats is very wide, from rockets/ artillery/ mortars to UAVs, enemy aircraft and cruise missiles; ballistic missiles are not included. Responses would outline potential air defense system capabilities that may be considered, including information about indicative performance; systems integration; strategic and tactical mobility; supportability; manning and training; simulation; and indicative pricing…
Elbit Systems’ Hermes 450 is classed as a MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance) UAV, though it’s smaller than competitors like General Atomics’ MQ-1 Predator and Israel Aerospace Industries’ Heron. The Hermes 450 is best known for serving as the basis for Britain’s Mk450B Watchkeeper program, which is currently Europe’s largest; meanwhile, the standard Mk450 version is serving as an interim contracted UAV with British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Hermes 450 also serves in Israel, where it has achieved civil registration, and has been sold to a number of other clients. The nation of Georgia is one such, and the UAV made news again in April 2008 when a Russian MiG-29 shot down a Georgian Hermes 450. The drone was flying inside Georgian air space, very close to an international airway with civilian traffic. Despite this incident, the UAV’s record in Georgia is prompting strong interest in the drone from neighboring Azerbaijan. That Central Asian country is facing similar problems involving a seceding province that’s supported by the Russian government and military.
Back in Europe, Elbit Systems recently announced [PDF] a $20 million order from “a European country” for Hermes 450 UAVs, to be delivered in 2009 along with their accompanying ground control and display systems. The company also expects to test-fly its Predator-sized Hermes 900 model in late 2008 or early 2009, after a delay of almost a year.
MedImmune Vaccines, Inc. in Gaithersburg, MD is being awarded a maximum $28.4 million firm-fixed-price contract for influenza vaccine packages. Work will also be performed in the state of PA, for delivery to the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Federal Civilian Agencies. There were originally 4 proposals solicited with 1 response. The date of performance completion is June 30/09. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia in Philadelphia, PA manages the contract (SPM2DP-08-D-0005).