Boeing received a $136.1 million firm-fixed-price contract from the US Navy for 2 C-40A Clipper aircraft. Work will be performed in Renton, WA (88%); and Wichita, KS (12%) and is expected to be complete in February 2011. This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to FAR 6.302-1. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-09-C-0080).
The Navy’s C-40A is intended to replace its 29 aging DC-9 based C-9 Skytrains with a 737-based aircraft that has longer range, better compliance with environmental and noise regulations, and lower operating and fuel costs. C-40As are certified to operate in an all-passenger (121 passengers), all-cargo (8 standard pallets), or a combination (“combi”) configuration that will accommodate up to 3 cargo pallets and 70 passengers on the main deck. New aircraft will have the same winglet tips found on USAF C-40B/C aircraft, which save on fuel.
To date, the US Navy has ordered and received 9 C-40As, which are based at Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, TX (3), NAS Jacksonville FL (3) and NAS North Island, CA (3). This order will push that total to 11. The USAF also operates a fleet of similar C-40C aircraft, as well as C-40B “office in the sky” aircraft for senior military and government leaders. See DID’s complete coverage at “C-40 Clippers Hitting Their Stride, Despite Past Controversy.”
The F-35 Lightning II is a major multinational program intended to produce an “affordably stealthy” multi-role strike fighter that will have three variants: the F-35A conventional version for the US Air Force et. al.; the F-35B Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing for the US Marines, British Royal Navy, et. al.; and the F-35C conventional carrier-launched version for the US Navy. The aircraft is named after Lockheed’s famous WW2 P-38 Lightning, and the Mach 2, stacked-engine English Electric (now BAE)Lightning jet. System development partners included The USA & Britain (Tier 1), Italy and the Netherlands (Tier 2), and Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Turkey (Tier 3). Now the challenge is agreeing on production phase buys, with initial purchase commitments expected around 2008-2009. Export interest is also beginning to stir in a number of quarters, even though full testing will not be complete until 2014.
In the USA, a controversy erupted in early 2008 when USMC whistleblower Franz Gayl’s “The Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle Case Study” [PDF] blamed a slow military procurement system for delays in fielding mine-resistant vehicles. The USMC had actually been an early purchaser, but the vehicles had remained an tiny portion of the total US vehicle fleet in theater until the MRAP competition began in 2006 at the USMC’s urging – over 3 1/2 years into a war that had featured IED land mines as the primary threat since 2003.
Britain has its own long-running controversy around its vulnerable Land Rover Snatch 2 patrol vehicles, which feature even less armor than the USA’s M1114 Hummers. That controversy has now boiled over into a full-scale political row, after senior SAS commanders resigned over inadequate equipment that Maj. Morley of 23 SAS has termed “cavalier at best, criminal at worst.” The issue was recently revived, with a slightly different focus, by the death of Lt. Col. Rupert Thorneloe, the most senior British soldier to be killed in Afghanistan…
Land Rovers: Weaknesses and Responses
23 SAS, Cpl. Bryant, and Maj. Morley’s Resignation