EADS subsidiary American Eurocopter LLC recently announced a win in the US Department of Homeland Security’s Light Enforcement Helicopter (LEH) contract. This maximum $150 million indefinite-quantity/ indefinite-delivery contract will provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection with up to 50 more AS350B3 helicopters. It begins with an initial order of 17 AS350B3s, and is structured as a base year and 4 one-year options. The first AS350B3 helicopter is to be delivered in 2009, ramping up to a target delivery schedule of one AS350B3 every 45 days. The helicopters will be built at American Eurocopter’s Mississippi facility, which also assembles the UH-72 Lakota Light Utility Helicopter for the US Army.
The AS350 Ecureuil/AStar is a single-engine helicopter, unlike the twin-engine AS355 which is promoted as a safer option over cities. Nevertheless, the A350B3 version packs enough power that it became the first helicopter to land on Mount Everest. It is popular in the USA, in service with the FBI, DEA, Department of Justice, and a wide array of police departments, and other state and federal agencies. The helicopter pictured above, for instance, serves with the California Highway Patrol (note to readers: never call them “CHiPS”).
In April 2006, our Benelux subscriber David Vandenberghe lets us know that the Gazet van Antwerpen is reporting that Jordan is acquiring surplus F-16 A/B fighters which underwent the MLU (mid-life upgrade). DID noted in November 2005 that Jordan had already acquired 3 two-seater F-16Bs from the Netherlands for training purposes. To date, Jordan has received a total of 35 F-16s from the US and Dutch governments (16+17+3).
The Netherlands MvD and Belgian Ministries of Defence later confirmed the sale, signing a declaration of intent (in Amman) to sell surplus F-16 MLU aircraft: official Dutch reports listed 5 single seat F-16AM and 3 dual seat F-16BM’s from the Dutch inventory (108 aircraft remaining operational), while official Belgian reports would later claim 6 Dutch aircraft and 14 Belgian Air Force F-16 MLUs (12 F-16AM, 2 F-16BM).
General Dynamics Network Systems in Needham, MA received a $6 million firm/fixed price contract for continuing efforts to survey, plan, design, install, and implement the Information Technology Systems and Infrastructure (ITS&I) for wedge 2-5 tenants as part of an ongoing modernization of the Pentagon IT infrastructure. Work will be performed in Arlington, VA with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/10. One bid was solicited and one bid was received. by the Pentagon Renovation & Construction Program Office in Arlington VA (MDA947-98-C-2002).
Each side of the Pentagon has multiple layers of buildings in it, and so each set of layers on a side are referred to as a wedge. Seven years ago, on Sept 11/01, American Airlines Flight 77 was flown into the Pentagon by al-Qaeda, doing extensive damage to wedges 1 and 2. A $2.1 billion renovation of the 60-year-old Pentagon had been underway since 1993, and Wedge 1 was just 5 days away from completion. Those renovations had to start all over again; fortunately the ‘new’ Wedge 1 had a number of safety improvements made that saved lives. One improvement was a new sprinkler system, which put out the Wedge 1 fires in a matter of hours. Wedge 2, with no sprinklers, burned for more than 2 days.
It’s a daunting task. Faced with a high operational tempo over the past 7 years, the US Army is trying to expand its size, fix or replace all the equipment it has worn out, recapitalize or modernize the 1980s-era equipment that still makes up the mainstay of its force, adapt to new doctrines like counterinsurgency, and leave itself ready to fight a peer power if future scenarios demand it. The range of equipment operated by the US Army matches that of some entire militaries, and includes ships, aircraft and UAVs, anti-air defenses including ballistic and cruise missile defense, electronic warfare, plus communications, vehicles, and infantry.
If the Army’s task is daunting, so is the observer’s task of making sense of it all, and of placing ongoing contracts and programs in context. “Army Modernization Strategy 2008” is a valuable reference guide that explains concepts and programs for casual observers, and even provides useful timelines, while providing material that will improve even an experts’ base of knowledge. See also Appendix A, which provides more in-depth information concerning active programs of record and their current status.
While the work is valuable, it is not perfect. In many ways, it is more a procurement guide than a strategy. Here are 4 elements of procurement strategy readers may wish to consider as they read the report…
CFB Trenton, located in the province of Ontario about 2 hours drive away from Toronto, is one of the Canadian Forces’ busiest bases. It is the backbone of Canada’s transport fleet, housing Canada’s 4 new C-17s (aka CC-177) along with 20 C-130 Hercules transports, 5 Airbus A310 Polaris (CC-150) transports/refuelers, and 4 Challenger (CC-144) VIP business jets that are technically 8 Wing’s responsibility
Accommodating that level of activity and restoring Trenton’s flightline over the next 5 years will require the rebuilding and construction of new taxiways, ramps and aprons, as well as several new maintenance hangars. All of these activities are included within the C$ 500 million (about $470 million) budget, announced by the Minister for Defence on Sept 5/08.
So, too, is relocation of Canada’s JTF2 special forces to Trenton. JTF2 has seen long-standing service in the “commando olympics” of Afghanistan, and is also Canada’s key unit for potential domestic anti-terrorism operations like hostage rescues. The unit is growing in size, and has begun to outgrow its current location at Dwyer Hill Training Centre near Ottawa. Moving to CFB Trenton keeps the unit close to its required transports for fast deployments, and CFB Trenton already hosts the Canadian Forces Land Advanced Warfare Centre so it was a natural choice. DND has been working with the Department of Public Works and Government Services to purchase parcels of land bordering the base, and associated buildings, training centers, and other infrastructure will also be required.
USA Today recently reported that an urgent request from commanders in Iraq for more accurate artillery to reduce civilian deaths prompted the Army to speed production of Raytheon’s Excalibur GPS-guided 155mm artillery shells. On June 2/08 DefenseLINK announced an $85.3 million firm-fixed price contract for 155mm Excalibur block 1A-1 and 1A-2 projectiles, and a Sept 5/08 release from Raytheon revealed that it included shells for for the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and the Australian Defence Forces – which had requested Excalibur shells in April 2008.
Work will be performed in locations across the United States and Sweden, and is expected to be completed by Jan 31/10. One bid was solicited on March 16/07 by the Joint Munitions and Lethality life Cycle Management Command at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ (W15QKN-07-C-0100).
The Netherlands’ Ministerie van Defensie has announced a EUR 250+ million project to replace nearly 8,000 light, medium and heavy wheeled logistics and patrol vehicles between 2011-2018. This will not include tactical vehicles such as the Landmacht’s Fennek reconnaissance vehicles, CV90/ YPR/ BvS10 armored personnel carriers, tanks, et. al., but it will replace a significant percentage of the Dutch patrol vehicle and truck fleet.
The project is looking to acquire 7,018 vehicles (including civilian vehicles) plus 3,617 modules, trailers et. al. to adapt the vehicles for specific tasks. The project also expects to order 1,020 modular protection kits, 120 Remotely controlled weapon systems and 1,260 gun mountings.
The accompanying briefing states that the operational vehicles, as opposed to vehicles bought under this program for civilian/domestic use, should be able to operate in the upper levels of the violence/war spectrum. This includes the option of modular add-on protection that can be changed as threat levels from projectiles, shrapnel, land mines, et. al. The mounting of electronic jammers to defeat remotely-detonated IED land mines is also contemplated, and the vehicles should be able to operate in extreme high and low temperature conditions.
The ‘light freight/cargo vehicle’ should be CH-47 transportable, either in the helicopter or underslung, as well as C-130 transportable. All of the operational vehicle types should be transportable in the C-17, AN-124 and A-400M, as well as with the country’s Rotterdam Class LPD ships, by civilian transport vessels and by train. Operational life should be at least 2 years, with a total lifespan of 10-15 years. MvD announcement [Dutch language] | Many thanks to DID subscriber David Vandenberghe for his translation assistance.
The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is at least as much an industrial program as it is a fighter aircraft. The commitment stages involved have been carefully designed on all fronts, from the conflating of USMC, Navy, and Air force roles, to the 3-stage industrial commitment process by program member nations, which see the JSF as the only major industrial opportunity for fighter aircraft over the next 20 years. As articles like Bill Sweetman’s “JSF Office Makes Buyers an Offer They Cannot Refuse” explain, the F-35’s seeming inevitability as a major aerospace procurement program is critical to its success. Hence the recent discussions about capping prices far below the normal high cost of low-rate initial production aircraft, in exchange for sharp financial penalties to countries who buy less than their committed number.
Recent events in Canada illustrate another aspect of the F-35’s industrial strategy: its invitation to promote and fund specialized industrial competencies that can be applied elsewhere in the aerospace sector.
Confronting tanks can be a terrifying experience for dismounted infantry, and armies around the world have looked for ways to equalize the odds ever since tanks were invented during World War I. The trick is making that equalizer light enough to carry, while giving it enough punch to stop a tank. In Vietnam, the disastrous inability of Talley’s 66mm M72 LAW rockets to deal with even old Soviet tanks forced the US military back to a more sensible set of design decisions. One of the offshoots was the Mk 153 SMAW, which was based on the Israeli B-300 design.
LAW rockets went out of production for a while, but the disposable rocket launchers are back in production now. The lightweight, disposable LAWs will be used against fixed strongpoints and lightly armored vehicles. The SMAW has carved out its own niche in the mean time, but the most frequent victims haven’t been enemy tanks. In the urban fight, reinforced enemy position in buildings can be at least as dangerous – and equally difficult to defeat. The 29-30 pound SMAW system’s combination of portability and penetrating power, and the SMAW-NE thermobaric warhead, offer a devastating combination that proved its worth during the Second battle of Fallujah in November 2004.
Now the US military is looking to develop the next generation SMAW-II Launcher…
Elbit Systems Ltd. recently announced [PDF] a contract to supply Hermes 450 UAV systems to “a country in the Americas” for the total of approximately $25 million. The Hermes 450 is currently in service with Israel, Britain (as the Watchkeeper), Singapore, and other countries – but it has become most famous for its service with Georgia’s armed forces in the face of Russia’s invasion. The contract also includes Skylark I hand launched mini-UAV systems, and all UAVs are to be delivered within a year.
Haim Kellerman, General Manager of Elbit Systems UAS Division said: “We are proud to report another link in the chain of successes, with a new order from a new customer…” DID saw most likely customers for this sale as Ecuador and Chile, but new information places Mexico as the customer, with 2 complete Hermes 450 systems and up to 12 Skylark UAVs. Flight International | Homeland Security Newswire.