While there are some contracts issued throughout the year, the US military typically issues large sets of contracts over concentrated periods. In March 2006, for instance, DID covered over $3 billion in contracts issued within a week. The Defense Energy Support Center estimates that the US military paid more than $10 billion for over 130 million barrels of fuel in 2006, compared to $6.7 billion for 144.8 million barrels in 2004. No wonder energy conservation is on the Pentagon’s agenda, while DARPA researches alternative fuels for B-52 bombers.
It would appear to be that time of year again. Here are all of the American military’s fuel contracts for March 2009, along with descriptions of key fuel types and explanations of the contract language. The final tally was $5,693,595,745 – plus any economic price adjustments, a term we explain below.
TJ Drafting and Design, Inc. in Christmas FL received an estimated $20.9 million firm-fixed-price contract from the Marine Corps System Command, Orlando, FL, to advance the training capability, operational readiness, and tactical proficiency of Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs), Joint Forward Observers (JFOs), and Forward Air Controllers (FACs). Demands for air support remain high in the current war, and widespread proficiency in these skills is essential for effective combined arms operations.
The training scenarios will require the placement of tactical ordnance on selected targets using Joint Close Air Support (JCAS) procedures and observed fire procedures for Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS), artillery and mortar fire to perform destruction, neutralization, suppression, illumination/coordinated illumination, interdiction, and harassment fire missions. Work will be performed at multiple Marine Corp bases worldwide, and work is expected to be complete on August 31/11. Contract funds in the amount of $12.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured, with 4 offers received (M67854-09-C-8031).
Small business qualifier RBC, Inc. in Alexandria, VA received a $13.3 million modification to a previously awarded cost plus fixed fee contract (N00421-09-C-0034). It exercises an option to continue program management, research, design, development, engineering, procurement, test and evaluation, training facilities and equipment, and repair and modification support services to support the Maritime Surveillance Aircraft Program (PMA-290). That program covers P-3 and future P-8A aircraft operated by the U.S. Navy ($7.3 million; 79.4%), and by the governments of Taiwan ($1.5 million, 16.4%), Norway (171,100, 1.8%), South Korea ($135,000, 1.5%) and Portugal ($83,500, 0.9%). Note that Taiwan is a new P-3 customer.
Work will be performed in Patuxent River, MD. The DefenseLINK release gives a completion date of September 2009, but the RBC, Inc. site gives a period of March 1/09 – Nov 17/09. This will reportedly allow RBC to continue supporting PMA-290 without a lapse of service until the next, competed contract is issued. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD manages this contract.
In August 2006, a $156 million DSCA request for the refurbishment/ sustainment of 1,000 M113A1 Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) to M113A2-Jordan configuration was one of a slew of DSCA announcements. The request included various upgraded conversion kits: diesel engines, transmission upgrades and overhaul, differential conversions, suspension upgrades, cooling system upgrades, and drive train upgrades; spare and repair parts; and support. The contractor is BAE Land Systems & Armaments in Santa Clara, CA. See full DSCA release [PDF format].
In April 2007, Flight International reported that Israel had approached the USA about acquiring F-22 stealth fighters, as concern mounted about new threats to the IAF’s regional air superiority from proposed sales of advanced US weapons to the Gulf states, and Israeli assessments of a growing threat from Iran. Sources say that the issue was raised during a trip by US defense secretary Robert Gates to Israel, though Gates replied with briefings designed to encourage Israel to accept the F-35 instead.
Current Israeli Air Force plans call for F-35s to replace retiring F-16s, a request that has been approved by the State Department. The F-22 request is likely to face tougher sledding, for a number of reasons. Nevertheless, Israel may be about to revive it, in the wake of sticker shock over the F-35A’s price tag, and concerns about delivery dates. Israel will be one of several countries (Australia, Israel, Japan, to some extent South Korea) who will be following upcoming Congressional deliberations over lifting the F-22’s export ban, in order to keep the production line alive with a downgraded variant.
Use means wear. Wear means maintenance or replacement. Use in combat conditions also generates life-or-death requests for improvements. The Dutch are facing al of these imperatives thanks to combat operations in southern Afghanistan, and so they are turning their attention to the weapons their soldiers carry. Their army currently uses a combination of C7 (M16), C8 (M4), and LSW (M16 CAR sustained fire weapon) rifles from Diemaco (now Colt Canada), and FN Herstal’s Minimi 5.56mm light machine gun. Under Project SRIM-OAD, the Dutch intend to RESET and upgrade 25,000 Diemaco rifles, and receive 2,000 new and upgraded Minimis, in order to re-equip their front line forces. The Dutch also aim to keep a spares reserve of 5% for mechanical elements and 10% for optical elements; the latter figure being because optics are more delicate and have longer repair or replacement times.
This EUR 43.8 million (VAT tax included, about $56 million) project will add at least 2 major upgrades to their weapons, and a contract has now been signed.
Lynden Air Cargo, LLC, of Anchorage, AK received a $52.8 million firm-fixed-price requirements contract to obtain air cargo service from Elmendorf Air Force Base, AK, to Shemya and various points throughout the state of Alaska from Apr 1/09, to March 31/10. the contract also has 4 one-year options, which could extend performance to March 31/14. This contract was a competitive acquisition, with only one bid received by United States Transportation Command’s Directorate of Acquisitions at Scott Air Force Base, AK (HTC711-09-D-0015).
Lynden flies L-382s, cvilian versions of the military’s C-130H cargo aircraft. The Pentagon’s DefenseLINK, which sometimes finds the US Postal abbreviations as confusing as others do, adds, “Both Lynden Air Cargo and Elmendorf Air Force Base are in Alaska vice Arkansas.”
The credit crunch, and ensuing financial system meltdown, have hastened the current recession. The response from many governments around the world has been classically Keynesian, in the form of “economic stimulus” spending. Some countries, like France, have used that spending as a way to accelerate key military equipment modernization projects. The USA and Australia, in contrast, are choosing to focus the small military components of that spending on infrastructure projects of various kinds.
Back in January 2009, “US Stimulus Plan: A Bare Cupboard for Defense?” wondered what military-related inclusions might look like. On March 20/08, the US Department of Defense (DoD) announced details of approximately 3,000 military construction and facility improvement projects funded by the military’s $7.4 billion slice of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The $5.9 billion budget for these construction and repair projects represents the bulk of the defense-related funding provided by the ARRA, which was signed into law on Feb 17/09. The 2 largest DoD ARRA projects will be new hospitals at Camp Pendleton, CA, and Fort Hood, TX. A dedicated Pentagon mini-site has been set up to track and publicize associated projects, including weekly update reports.
One area to watch very closely is the $300 million in military dollars for “near-term energy technology research.” It will be coupled with another $100 million for conservation investments.
In Australia, meanwhile, the government has announced an A$ 793.1 million (about $553 million equivalent) construction program for new facilities and supporting infrastructure at Defence bases around Australia, designed to last from 2009-2011. Recent announcements under that program have included a variety of “Enhanced Land Force Stage 1” related projects…
“If the United States ranks near the bottom amongst India’s defence suppliers, Washington’s penchant for imposing sanctions and restrictions has much to do with it. Now, the US appears to have shot itself in the foot again. The Indian Navy chose to power its indigenously designed, cutting-edge stealth warship, the INS Shivalik, with gas turbines from American company General Electric (GE). But even as the Shivalik readies for sea trials, the US State Department has ordered GE to stop all work.”
In July 2006, “India Orders 3 More Krivak III/Talwar Class Frigates” covered a $1.1 billion Indian order. The Krivak III Class is the basis for several current and future Indian Navy designs. These include the initial 1997 order, the “modified Krivak III” order placed in 2006, India’s “Project 17” Shivalik Class frigates, and a “Project 17A” that could either extend Indian modifications of the Krivak IIIs once again, or adopt an entirely different base platform.
Shivalik Class frigates are larger than the Talwar Class, and feature additional shaping and design changes to lower their radar and infrared signatures. They also adopted a popular American turbine for combat propulsion, in hopes of improving operational reliability. Those engines are now sowing grave doubts about a different kind of reliability. As the saying goes, there is now good news, and bad news…
Flight International reports that the Elisra joint venture between Elbit Systems (70%) and Israel Aaerospace Industries (30%) recently received a $25 million contract to supply an “integrated electronic warfare suite” for the ROKAF’s 12 C-130H Hercules tactical transports.
The exact model(s) were not named, but the report did say that the system will be capable of coping with both infrared-guided and radar-guided threats. That description could fit the Spectrolite SPS-65V-5, an all-in-one system that Elisra introduced in February 2008.
Elisra is making inroads into the Korean market. This recent win builds on a February 2009 order to equip KAI’s initial 4 F/A-50 lightweight fighter prototypes with Elisra self-protection systems; the fighters will also carry IAI Elta’s EL/M-2032 multi-mode radar. Israel’s defense ties with South Korea are growing slowly but steadily. A variety of UAV and electronics sales to Korea have even included advanced ballistic missile tracking radars. On the flip side, the Israeli Air force is considering Korea’s T-50 family as a possible replacement for its A-4 Skyhawks.