A February 2008 Pentagon DefenseLINK story touted the progress of prosthetic limb development, fueled by a combination of combat need and the steadily advancing capabilities inherent in modern electronics and robotics. Army Col. Geoff Ling manages DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics programs.
For instance, researchers at Dean Kamen’s DEKA Research and Development Corp. in Manchester, NH (inventors of the Segway, the stair-climbing iBot wheelchair, and those PowerSwim fins that I want), have developed a “strap-and-go-arm” that requires no surgery, just 1-2 hours of training. The process of picking up a pen, key, coffee cup, or power drill obviously differs. Embedded electronics in DEKA’s arm enable the wearer to activate a switch with a foot or chin, to cycle through 5 different gripping actions to match the task at hand. One tester who lost his arm at the shoulder was reportedly able to field strip and reassemble an M-16 rifle using the prosthesis, which comes in 3 models:  amputees who have lost a complete arm,  amputations above the elbow, and  amputations below the elbow. See a picture here.
A recent program begins the first large-scale testing of an advanced artificial arm that can pick up a key or hold a pencil…
BAE Systems Australia and L-3 MAS Canada received a contract from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) to provide long-term maintenance and modification support for the RAAF’s F/A-18 Hornet fighters. The 4-year initial contract period (2009-2012) has extension options until 2018 and has a potential total value of approximately AUD$150 million ($120 million equivalent). According to Wikipedia, which cites Flight International, the RAAF had 55 F/A-18A and 16 F/A-18Bs in operation as of late 2008.
BAE Systems Australia’s Managing Director Jim McDowell said the contract was a key element in sustaining the fast jet support capability. BAE Systems is building new facilities at RAAFB Williamtown, which will provide the basis for future support not only of the RAAF Hornet aircraft but also the Joint Strike Fighter that will eventually replace them. BAE Systems is also expanding its workforce by another 40 positions at RAAFB Williamtown. Defpro | Montreal Gazette.
RAAF Base Williamtown is located 14 kilometers (9 miles) north of Newcastle, New South Wales. Williamtown is currently home to F/A-18 Hornet fighters (No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit, No. 3 Squadron, and No. 77 Squadron), BAE Hawk 127 Lead-In Fighters (No. 76 Squadron), and Pilatus PC-9 training aircraft operated by the Forward Air Control Development Unit.
Honeywell will perform the work at the Blount Island Command in Jacksonville, FL (86%); aboard 16 maritime prepositioning ships (12%); and in six locations in Norway (2%), and expects to complete the work in September 2009 (or September 2018 if all options are exercised). This contract was competitively procured via FedBizOpps.com (solicitation number M67004-08-R-0001), with 5 offers received by the Contract Support Management Office’s Blount Island Command in Jacksonville, FL (M67004-09-D-0020).
Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ received an $8.2 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for depot level repair, maintenance, and post-production services for the High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM). Raytheon will be required to repair, modify, calibrate, test, certify and evaluate HARM missiles, missile sections, assemblies, subassemblies and related equipment and provide related technical data for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and Foreign Military Sales customers.
The AGM-88 HARM is an air-to-surface tactical missile designed to seek out and destroy enemy radar-equipped air defense systems…
Chile’s 16 upgraded F-5E/F+ Tiger II lightweight fighters are very old, and are slated for decommissioning in 2009. Its Mirage 50CN Panteras have already been retired. The country is looking to used F-16s as a replacement, in order to maintain its fighter strength.
The FACh’s current F-16 fleet currently includes 10 advanced F-16C/D Block 50/52 aircraft bought from the USA, and another 18 F-16A/B Mid-Life Upgrade aircraft bought from the Netherlands for $180 million. Unsurprisingly, Chile believes that a reprise of their Dutch deal would represent a fine solution.
DID’s Latin American correspondent Inigo Guevara has some additional comments…
BAE Systems received orders worth $118 million for 63 more M777 howitzers, bringing the M777 order total to 800 guns. The U.S. Department of Defense is buying 38 guns for the Marine Corps and Army, and Canada is acquiring 25 more through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program to add to the 12 it already has in service. BAE Systems also received a $3 million contract to reset 33 U.S. howitzers returning from operations in Afghanistan. Both the U.S. and Canada operate M777s in Afghanistan, providing fire support to coalition forces.
Five small businesses won cost-plus fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contracts to build and maintain structures and facilities at Navy and Marine Corp facilities worldwide. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command awarded the contracts to Sound & Sea Technology Inc. in Lynnwood, WA (N62583-09-D-0064); PCCI Inc. in Alexandria, VA (N62583-09-D-0065); Truston Technologies Inc. in Annapolis, MD (N62583-09-D-0066); GPA Technologies Inc. in Ventura, CA (N62583-09-D-0067); and MAR Inc. in Rockville, MD (N62583-09-D-0068). The maximum dollar value, including the base period and 4 option years, for all 5 contracts is $250 million.
The work will provide support for Naval Ocean Facilities Engineering Program (NOFP) requirements managed by the Engineering Service Center, Port Hueneme. Projects will involve incidental construction work or equipment fabrication, including ocean cable systems, ocean work systems, waterfront facilities, hyperbaric facilities, offshore structures, moorings, and ocean construction equipment. The companies will perform the work in environmental conditions ranging from Arctic to Tropic and at all water depths where equipment installation or removal, maintenance, inspection, repair, and salvage operations may be required.
The expected completion date of the work is May 2014. The contracts were competitively procured as a 100% small business set-aside via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with 6 proposals received by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command’s Specialty Center Acquisitions in Port Hueneme, CA.
Raytheon announced that its Surface Launched Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (SLAMRAAM) program has received U.S. Army approval for a long-lead acquisition, not to exceed $30 million, for purchases leading to low rate initial production.
The SLAMRAAM is the Army’s future short-range air defense weapon.
Walbridge Aldinger Co. Inc. in Detroit, MI won a $149.7 million firm-fixed-price contract for design and construction of an Infantry Brigade Combat Team Barracks at Fort Stewart, GA. Walbridge expects to complete the work by March 15/11. There were 4 proposals solicited with 3 received by the U.S. Army Engineer District in Savannah, GA (W912HN-07-D-0054).
Under the contract, Walbridge will build 3 small and 3 medium tactical vehicle equipment maintenance facilities (totaling 159,870 square feet) with an accompanying tactical/ organizational vehicle paved parking area (155.5 square feet); and Infantry Brigade Combat Team Barracks (364,777 square feet) consisting of administrative modules, supply (readiness modules) and covered paved parking area (66,555 square feet). The project also includes construction of infrastructure and utilities, including access roads; electricity, natural gas, water, and sewer services; water storage tank and well; security perimeter fencing with gates; security lighting and exterior lighting; parking and walking areas; gutter and storm water drainage; signage; information systems; site improvements; and landscaping.
The construction is to accommodate changes at Fort Stewart, including the addition of an infantry brigade combat team in fiscal year 2011. Fort Stewart is best known as the home of the 3rd Infantry Division. The additional brigade is part of a broader effort, announced in 2007, to grow the US Army by 74,200 troops and 6 brigade combat teams (BCTs)/ 8 support brigades. “US Army Stationing Decisions, FY 2008-2013” (subscription) provides a full list and timetable.
Canada’s C$ 1.67 billion Aurora Incremental Modernization Project began in 1998, and is an amalgamation of 23 individual projects grouped into 4 chronologically consecutive block upgrades. Key upgrades successfully performed under the AIMP to date have included new electro-optical and infrared sensors (L-3 Communications) under Block III, and upgrades to the navigation and flight instruments (CMC Electronics) under Block II. AIMP, plus the Aurora fleet’s new long-term, performance-based maintenance program, are designed to keep Canada’s fleet flying until 2015 or so.
Canada is also pursuing land-surveillance upgrades to its fleet. Given Canada’s commitments on the ground in Afghanistan, and employment of American P-3 Orion and British Nimrod MRA2 aircraft for ground surveillance in that theater, these contracts may yet contribute to NATO’s Afghan mission.
The latest update involves deployment of the aircraft to Afghanistan on a special overland mission.