Writing in the December 2008 issue of Armed Forces Journal, Scott Hamilton conveys part of a protectionist sentiment that is rising in America. The target is outsourcing, which has taken large strides in China. It’s also picking up in India, and is even happening with Russia as part of a larger deal to secure supplies of titanium, which are critical to the improved fuel performance of passenger jets like the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350XB. From “Industry pulse: Giving away the store“:
“Commercial aviation industry outsourcing threatens the viability of America’s aerospace industry and our national security interests. This is a bold statement. It’s also inflammatory, given the broad move toward outsourcing by the Big Four airframe manufacturers — Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer — and the aerospace engine makers. And it’s not a universal opinion by any means. But there is solid reason for the Pentagon and Congress to be concerned about the growing trend in outsourcing jetliner production and the implications for America’s national defense.”
The canceled KC-X tanker deal, which featured insourcing of Airbus A330 freighter and US tanker production to the USA, is notably and specifically exempted from Hamilton’s criticism. It may not be exempt from rising protectionist sentiment, however, as a new President and Democratic caucus take office with an array of ties to Boeing. Time will tell.
The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge [LHD-3] has an innovative crew that has saved the Navy money, but she still needs maintenance just like every other ship.
BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair in Norfolk, VA received a $19.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-4403) for the USS Kearsarge’s FY 2009 docked phased maintenance availability. That’s a pretty basic maintenance operation, and includes routine items like: repair bilge keel; accomplish underwater hull inspection; repair salt water ballast tank; repair/replace underwater hull sea chest; replace distilling plant brine pump overboard discharge piping; accomplish underwater hull preservation; inspect and repair impressed cathodic protection system; etc.
Work will be performed in Portsmouth, VA and is expected to be complete by October 2009. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center in Norfolk, VA manages the contract.
Governments like umbrella “multiple award” contracts that let them deal with specific areas on set terms. It cuts administrative overhead costs, creates known pools of familiar competitors, and shortens the gap between requests and service. Hence the US Army’s recent announcement of their $497 million Biometrics Operations and Support Services Unrestricted (BOSS-U) multiple award contract awards, run by the Information Technology, E-commerce and Commercial Contracting Center (ITEC4) on behalf of the Biometrics Task Force.
The opportunity was initially announced on May 23/08, and proposals from 12 offerors were received by the closing date of Aug 18/08. The winners were announced in late December 2008, and include:
Environmental Leader magazine has a pair of stories covering achievements in the defense sector:
Lockheed Martin received several awards in 2008 for its progress towards the aggressive 25% reduction goals for carbon, waste, and water use it had set in 2007. The firm has set 2012 as the target date, and is also expanding its sales of related conservation services. EL story.
Meanwhile, the US Navy has reduced its overall energy consumption level by 12% as of this year. Since few additional funds were allocated, the Navy is using “share-in-savings” where contractors pay for the upgrade and capital costs, then the Navy pays them back through resulting savings in its energy bills. Environmental Leader’s story details some of these arrangements.
On a comparable note, Raytheon’s Enterprise Energy Team received one of Raytheon’s 2007 Excellence in Operation and Quality award in June 2008. The team achieved Raytheon’s 2-year goal and decreased total company-wide energy consumption by 17% during 2007, vs. an adjusted 2005 baseline. The firm saved $10 million in energy costs during 2007, and avoided 104 million kWh. Since energy constitutes 90% of the firm’s greenhouse gas footprint, the firm expects to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals a year early.
Full disclosure: DID LLC recently signed a financial agreement with Environmental Leader magazine that involves mutual investments. DID’s long-standing coverage of energy issues and their implications for military procurement will continue, and we look forward to working together with Environmental Leader on key trends and stories of interest.
Canada’s military has decided that it needs longer-range artillery to support its front-line troops, and they think they’ve found it. The tracked M270 MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) was originally developed as an assault-breaker weapon, meant to destroy Warsaw Pact formations as they advanced into NATO territory. It first achieved prominence in the 1991 Desert Storm operation, where its M26 227mm rockets’ performance against Iraqi troops gave it the nickname “steel rain.” The current war has seen significant changes, in particular the GPS-guided M30/M31 GMLRS rocket. It converts the system from an area-effect weapon, to something British forces call “the 70 km sniper.” The British have even modified their M270s for use in the Afghan theater, while the USA has used the M270 and its smaller, truck-mounted M142 HIMARS cousin with great success in Iraq. See DID’s coverage regarding their use during key battles in Tal Afar.
Canada also serves in Afghanistan, and has shipped a handful of M777 ultra-lightweight towed howitzers and GPS-guided Excalibur shells into theater. Those weapons offer effective responses to the Taliban’s Chinese-made mortars and rockets, and allied support from longer-range systems like the Dutch PzH-2000NL mobile howitzers and British MLRS systems has supplemented those efforts. Now a combination of those experiences, American and British successes, and the need for a longer-range strike option that doesn’t depend on the presence of allied airpower and good conditions for its use, are pushing the Canadians toward an MLRS buy of their own.
“One of the biggest challenges facing the new administration, as well as future administrations, is the effective acquisition of complex products… This report examines contracting for complex products by reviewing the U.S. Coast Guard’s experience with its Deepwater Program… a major “system of systems” acquisition to upgrade and integrate the Coast Guard’… Important elements are missing from the Deepwater story, notably the impact of contract management and the behavior of each party within the IDIQ(Indefinite Delivery/ Indefinite Quantity) contract design… Although Deepwater has garnered headlines for some of its stumbles, a more complete review of the early phases suggests a more mixed and balanced record.”
DID has covered numerous aspects of the US Coast Guard’s $25 billion Deepwater program-of-programs; “US Coast Guard’s Deepwater Effort Hits More Rough Sailing” offers a good summary of developments to date, and links to most of the key articles. Readers can download the full IBM CBG report [PDF], which recommends more investment in building up the acquisition workforce (a workforce that is often cut short-sightedly when budgets get smaller), which leads to a better understanding of risk drivers. They CBG also recommends a commitment to learning by trying different kinds of contracts for complex systems, ensuring that the contracts can be modified mid-stream in light of experience, and collecting lessons learned.
Shortfalls in allied helicopter contributions to Afghanistan have been an issue for several years now. The USA ended up having to extend some of its Chinook fleet’s time in theater to make up the shortfall, but the longer term response to NATO’s under-performance has involved another option: contracted helicopter services from private firms like Hummingbird, Blackwater affiliate Presidential Airways, CHL, Jingle Air, et. al.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence was forced to drop a proposal to contract out battlefield helicopter support, for a number of obvious reasons. What the USAF’s recent “Teamwork shown as Airmen respond to helicopter crash” release demonstrates, however, is that other divisions of responsibility below full combat missions are seeing the lines blur. Defence-Aerospace’s Giovanni de Briganti was sharp enough to pick up on the key paragraphs:
“1/5/2009 – SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) — Six Airmen of the 379th Civil Engineer Squadron here used teamwork to recover a helicopter that crashed Dec. 15 at a forward operating base in Afghanistan… Medics arrived and treated one of the aircrew members for a minor hand laceration. The responders then began to remove the cargo and fuel from the downed aircraft. We worked with contractors and the Army’s movement control team to remove 4,000 pounds of ammo [emphasis DID’s] and transfer the fuel from the helicopter,” the firefighter said. The helicopter was eventually picked up by a crane, loaded on to a flatbed truck and removed from the scene.”
General Dynamics European Land Systems subsidiary MOWAG GmbH recently received a CHF 260 million (EUR 160M, $190M) order from the Swiss Armasuisse procurement agency. The firm will deliver 220 GMTF(Geschutztes Mannschaftstransportfahrzeug) protected patrol vehicles based on the DURO-IIIP truck, and 12 DURO IIIP “NBC Laboratory Vehicles” that can identify radioactive materials, biological and chemical warfare agents, and toxic industrial chemicals. The 3rd component of this order involves the development of 12 Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicles, which will be based on the Piranha-IIIC/LAV-III 8×8 wheeled armored personnel carrier (APC). These 3 three projects were approved in the 2008 Swiss armament procurement program, and they will be delivered to the Swiss Army between 2010 and 2012.
DURO trucks are fairly popular as medium transport vehicles, and also form the basis of MOWAG’s new Eagle IV up-armored 4×4 jeep. GMTF is a protected patrol vehicle based on the IIIP 6×6 multipurpose truck, adding medium armor protection while maintaining space for up to 11 soldiers. The GMTF will supplement true APCs like the PIRANHA II 8×8 Radschutzenpanzer 93 (LAV-II) and BAE Hagglunds’ tracked “Schutzenpanzer 2000” (CV90), which are already in use with the Swiss Army.
MOWAG will supply all 3 vehicle types; but the DURO IIP NBC Lab vehicles’ equipment will be integrated by Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH of Kassel, Germany, and the Piranha IIIC 8×8 NBC Reconnaissance Vehicles are the overal responsibility of Thales Suisse (SA) of Zurich. GD MOWAG release.
While many of our readers spent time on Winter break, Defense Industry Daily continued to cover developments and contracts in the defense sector. It was a relatively busy time. Readers interested in catching up on what they missed can click on DID’s December 2008 archives, and begin reading backward from Dec 30/08.
BAE Ground Systems Division in York, PA received a $13.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for 8 M88A2 HERCULES vehicles. Work will be performed in York, PA and is expected to be complete by Dec. 30/10. One bid was solicited on Oct 13/08 by U.S. Army TACOM in Warren, MI (DAAE07-01-C-N030).
The M88A2 Hercules (Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift and Evacuation System) armored recovery vehicles are well named. These vehicles are equipped with a 25-35 ton hoist/boom, and a winch with enough pulling power to haul a 70-ton M1 Abrams tank out of a ditch.