JDAM manufacturer Boeing’s GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb I is a 250 pound weapon with pop-out glide fins that greatly improve its range, and GPS/INS guidance. Its narrow body and streamlined shape help it punch above its weight against hardened targets, and its small size has the dual benefit of allowing more bombs per aircraft (4 per pylon), and lessening collateral damage beyond the target.
The Dutch have already ordered dual-mode GPS/laser guided Enhanced Paveway kits that fit 500 pound bombs, so the capability isn’t new. What would change are range, carrying profiles for the lighter weapons, and number of bombs available per fighter. The new GBU-39s would initially see use on the same Dutch F-16 fighters, which have received a Mid-Life Upgrade and are expected to get additional software modifications. If the Dutch hope to field the new weapons in 2012 as planned, however, they may have to overcome some political obstacles at home…
Innovation Slump: Aerospace and defense industry innovation is down, as the number of reported patents dropped to 179 last year from 478 the year prior, according to a Hitachi Consulting survey.
Budget Blitzkrieg: Former German military officials blast the German defense minister’s proposal to eliminate mandatory conscription and reduce the Bundeswehr by a 3rd to cut EUR 8.2 billion from the defense budget.
Frost and Sullivan: The European market for networked unmanned ground vehicles is expected to experience steady growth, with annual revenues of $311 million by 2016.
Significant progress at AVI Biopharma? (Aug 22/10)
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency at Fort Belvoir, VA is awarding contracts to find new anti-viral compounds that are effective against hemorrhagic fever viruses, a class that includes Ebola and other diseases.
Drug development is a long and expensive process ($100 million is often mentioned as the table stakes to get a drug through approvals), and promising therapies do not all make it through the research and testing stages. Even so, the research is interesting:
Aug 23/10: The U.S. Coast Guard awards EADS North America a $117 million contract for 3 more HC-144A Ocean Sentry Maritime Patrol Aircraft, with additional options for up to 6 more aircraft over the next 4 years. The USCG already operates 10 HC-144As as the Deepwater program’s Medium Range Surveillance Aircraft, and will receive an 11th in 2010. Deliveries under this latest contract will begin in 2011, and current plans call for an eventual total of 36 Ocean Sentries to replace the aging fleet of HU-25 Guardian Falcon jets, whose 4-hour mission endurance contrasts with the twin-turboprop HC-114A’s 9 hours.
The HC-144A is based on Airbus Military’s CN235 MPA, which is in service with a number of countries. The first HC-144A was delivered on Dec 21/06, and achieved initial operational capability in April 2009. Roles include maritime patrol, intelligence/ surveillance/ reconnaissance, cargo and personnel transport, and disaster relief. The plane’s Mission System Pallet (MSP) is a roll-on, roll-off suite of electronic equipment that collects, compiles, interprets and disseminates data from the aircraft’s sensors and electronic surveillance equipment, and is also capable of transmitting and receiving Secret-level information via the Department of Defense’s Secure Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNET). EADS.
Guild Associates in Dublin, OH, was awarded on Aug. 16 a $16.4 million firm-fixed-price contract for 43 “mobile integrated remains systems” (MIRCS). Which is to say, portable morgues. Not a pleasant subject, or something you think of when you think of “technology artisans,” but it comes with the nature of battle – and if it was your loved one, you’d want those remains seen to quickly, and with honor.
MIRCS is based off Guilds’ Expandable Shelter Platform (ESP) design, a modified shipping container with sides that lower and fabric soft walls. Guilds’ patent pending design allows for storage of 16 remains at between 34 and 36°F, to mortuary air quality standards, in addition to space for processing and administrative work. In transport mode, the MIRCS dimensions are nominally 20′ x 8′ x 8′ with corner fitting, to meet ISO standards for container shipment. It can also be mounted on a HEMTT heavy truck.
Sounds like an immediate delivery order – work is to be performed in Dublin, OH, with an estimated completion date of Aug 20/10. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web, with 6 bids received by U.S. Army Research Development & Engineering Contracting Center in Natick Contracting Division, Natick, MA (W911QY-05-C-0091).
As the Marines themselves note, “body armor can be traced back to before the Roman Empire, when war was waged with sword and spear and the battlefield rang with the clash of steel on steel.” In time, its protection became so formidable that an armored, mounted warrior feared few enemies. A string of reverses from Crecy on into the age of gunpowder led to a growing offensive ascendancy, however, creating several centuries where warriors headed into battle without any armor at all.
That began to change in the late 20th century, and the pendulum is swinging back. The Interceptor Outer Tactical Vest became the US military’s standard equipment around the dawn of the 21st century. It’s credited with saving numerous lives, but the US Marines were less impressed. In the wake of negative After-Action Reviews, they turned to Protective Products International in Sunrise, FL to produce the Modular Tactical Vest (MTV) instead, designed by an ex-Marine.
In February 2008, the Marines put a hold on further MTV orders, following complaints from the field. That hold has been lifted with the awarding of 2 contracts worth up to $794.7 million for the Improved MTVs.
Virtual Success: The military simulation and virtual training market reached $8.4 billion in 2009; the market is expected to grow, particularly in the Middle East, China and India through 2020, according to CompaniesandMarkets.com.
That’s so Tubular: The market for microwave tubes, which make up a key component in specialized military communications equipment among other uses, is worth $1 billion, ABI Research reports.
An upgraded version of Lockheed Martin’s Desert Hawk mini-UAV arrives in Afghanistan for UK forces as part of a GBP 3 million urgent operational requirement order; Desert Hawks were originally deployed to UK troops in Afghanistan in 2006.
Bad for Business: US pullout from Iraq is a logistics challenge, involving moving 2.2 million piece of equipment from 600 bases, and a blow to contractors providing food and logistics to US troops.
L-3, Applied Energetics team to pursue DoD counter-IED system contracts.
Small business qualifier SNC Telecommunications, LLC in Comerio, Puerto Rico received a maximum $15.9 million firm-fixed price, total set-aside contract for US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps duffle bags. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response, and the contract will run until Aug 24/11. The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support in Philadelphia, PA manages this contract (SPM1C1-09-D-0014).
So, a small business telecom company in Puerto Rico is making US military duffle bags. And the explanation for all this is that… they’re actually from Alaska. Which just clears everything right up, doesn’t it? It may help to know that SNC Companies are controlled by Nome, AK based Sitnasuak Native Corporation, a certified 8a Alaskan Native Corporation. Hence the set-aside. Despite the firm’s name, they do a lot of fabric-related manufacturing. Read “Alaska Native Corporations: IGs and Issues” for more background on this phenomenon.
US DoD report on Fort Hood shootings [PDF] recommends “scientific” behavioral screening for violence, standardized religious accommodation processes, improved commander guidelines and training, better commander access to personal health records and intelligence information, and better military installation emergency response systems. Plus more scrutiny of foreign national employees (though the shooter was a lifetime American citizen). In short, lots of dancing around the main issue, though the future review of DoDI 1325.06 might change that.
CRS (Congressional Research Service) analyst Ronald O’Rourke, who has often been right about shipbuilding programs when the US Navy was wrong, releases his August 2010 report on Navy shipbuilding plans [PDF].
Meanwhile, Maritime Professional delivers an equally hard-hitting analysis of the fast-dwindling US Merchant Marine, and MARAD: “The Emperor Has No Clothes.” Taken together, these analyses are not encouraging.
PricewaterhouseCoopers: The value of mergers and acquisitions in the aerospace and defense sector dropped to $2.2 billion in the second quarter of 2010 from $5 billion in the same quarter last year, despite significant M&A activity in the middle-market segment.
Show Me the Money: A slew of private equity firms line up to buy McKechnie Aerospace, an Irvine, CA-based supplier of aerospace components for commercial and military customers, for around $1.2 billion. This is part of a broader PE trend.
Turkey plans to keep on spending on major equipment buys. Its 2010 budget is 1.8% of GDP rather than the 2% commitment for NATO members – but that’s almost double the level for many European NATO countries.
Rent-a-Cop: Private contractors will take up much of the security work in Iraq as US troops pull out, the New York Times reports.
Cardinal Health in Dublin, OH snags DoD contracts worth a total of $206.6 million for medical supplies and services.
ManTech in Fairfax, VA gets a $23 million contract to provide security and operations management support to a new Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) facility at Fort Meade, MD, to accommodate the BRAC-mandated closure of DISA’s Arlington, VA facility.
Former US Representatives from Virgina Davis and Pickett to head commission set up to assess the impact of defense budget cuts on the state.