DID has reported extensively on research contracts related to Gallium Nitride (GaN) semiconductors, which offer significantly higher power and performance. Unfortunately, they present manufacturing and cost challenges that have stymied their use in commercial applications.
In May 2005, Compound Semiconductor Magazine offered an excellent overview of the GaN wide-bandgap semiconductors program and DARPA’s goals. Key program objectives include rapid transition of the technology developed into military systems. Other important goals include a “great” improvement in understanding the physical reasons behind device failures and the development of physical models to predict performance, reproducible device and MMIC fabrication processes, and improved thermal management and packaging. Reliability is expected to be a key challenge.
GaN represents an innovation in materials technology. DARPA’s approach adds innovative procurement strategies, via a 3-pronged approach that aims to speed the development of GaN-based microelectronics…
February 26, 2007 added one more big event: the US Government Accountability Office, a non-partisan agency of Congress, upheld Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin’s protests over Boeing’s win. Would the GAO ruling be interpreted narrowly, triggering a double-checking exercise, or more broadly, triggering a renewed evaluation process? Worse, could the GAO’s follow-up defining the award’s problem areas create so many issues that further protests from whomever loses bring the program to a halt? The USAF released its RFP v2.0, but Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin filed renewed protests even before the new RFP’s due date. The USAF kept trying to push forward with an accelerated process, but barriers have mounted as it has lost – repeatedly. Meanwhile, the Pave Hawks aren’t getting any younger, or more capable.
DID looks at the 3 competing helicopters’ key advantages and disadvantages, and chronicles the events surrounding the GAO protest and subsequent developments. After their second loss before the GAO, the USAF has now decided to re-compete the contract – in full, with RFP Amendment 5. Which came out at about the same time as a report alleging that CSAR-X’s criteria were changed to allow Boeing’s HH-47 to compete. Meanwhile, almost $100 million is required to update the old HH-60 helicopters, as a result of all the delays.
The latest item is formal cancellation of the CSAR-X contract, per SecDef Gates’ FY 2010 budget recommendations:
Alion Science and Technology in McLean, VA received a $97 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract to provide the Chief of Navy Information Office (CHINFO) with media relations, community outreach, visual information systems, information technology support, Web site portal management, and business case analysis development and assessment, as well as management and public relations for Fleet Week.