As part of Britain’s Defence Industrial Strategy, the Labour Party government and Ministry of Defence actively sought to reduce the number of companies involved in naval surface ship building and maintenance. In fact, they wanted just one company to deal with. Monopolies tend to drive prices up and effectiveness down, but the Ministry of Defense believed that a long-term partnering arrangement with performance guarantees could counteract that natural tendency. They also believed that the expected volume of warship construction and maintenance could no longer support more than one sizeable firm. Rather than force the merger, they dangled a sizeable carrot: they would not issue contracts for the planned CVF aircraft carrier program until they had a single entity to deal with.
Almost a year after the original July 25/07 Heads of Terms signed by BAE systems, VT Group, and the UK MoD, BAE Systems plc finalized a legally binding Framework Agreement with VT Group plc (‘VT’) to establish the BVT Surface Fleet Ltd. joint venture as the UK’s premier provider of surface warships and through-life support. The firm would become the UK Government’s strategic partner for the design, build and support of future warships, and will also pursue export opportunities. The joint venture targets total net savings to the government in excess of GBP 700 million (currently about $1.4 billion) to be shared 70/30 between the MoD and the BVT. These net savings, and the extent to which the parties will actually benefit, remain to be seen in practice.
The joint venture is now a single venture again, as BAE Systems buys out its partner…
Boeing received an $84 million order from the US Air Force for upgrades to the B-1B heavy bomber fleet’s avionics software that will enhance the aircraft’s color cockpit displays, data link, radar and navigation systems.
The award (F33657-01-D-2050, SD-21) continues a software-sustainment program that has updated the B-1B’s operational capabilities since the aircraft entered service in 1989. This new contract authorizes Boeing to start work on Sustainment Block 16.
Boeing will update the following B-1B avionics systems:
General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products received a $13 million order from the US Army TACOM-ARDEC for production of MK19 MOD 3 40mm grenade machine guns [pdf]. Deliveries are expected to begin in June 2010 and will be completed by late 2011.
This order follows a $10 million order for MK19s announced July 1/09. Both orders were made under a contract initially awarded in September 2008, and brings the total contract value to date to approximately $81 million.
The MK19 grenade machine gun is a self-powered, air-cooled, belt-fed, blowback operated, crew-served weapon…
At the end of September 2008, NWF Daily News reported that noise complaints from local residents may threaten the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s proposed Integrated Training Center at Eglin AFB, FL. Maj. Gen. Charles Davis was speaking at the roundtable symposium organized by the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County, where he said that:
“The real issue we have to help deal with is doubled flight operations [up to every 30 minutes]… I can’t imagine that any community in the world would not like to have a (JSF training center). It’s a great mission to have… I’ve got to park these airplanes somewhere. I don’t think (Eglin losing the JSF mission) is going to happen, but I have to prepare for that.”
Since then, F-35 noise levels that are reportedly up to 4x louder than early-model F-16s have made noise a basing issue beyond the United States. Recent developments involve Australia.