Finmeccanica recently announced about EUR 180 million (about $234 million) in contracts from Panama to its subsidiaries SELEX Sistemi Integrati, AgustaWestland, and Telespazio. They will combine to offer Panama a one-stop cartography and coastal surveillance system.
Cartography seems trivial, but surveillance and control systems need to start with accurate mapping. Telespazio’s subsidiary Telespazio Argentina will provide the digital cartography for the whole country to the Tommy Guardia National Geographic Institute. With digitized cartography in place, SELEX Sistemi Integrati will integrate and install the coastal monitoring system, building on integrated coastal surveillance and border control work with Italy, Jordan, Libya, and others. The final element will involve 6 AW139 medium twin helicopters “in various configurations” for the Panamanian National Aeronaval Service.
The orders grew out of a June 2010 bilateral framework agreement for security collaboration around organized crime and drug-trafficking, signed at the SICA(trans. Central American Integration System) summit by Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli. Finmeccanica Chairman and CEO Pier Francesco Guarguaglini believes this contract will create a showpiece example for the Central and South American region. Contracts for comprehensive border surveillance and security systems are becoming more lucrative, and competitors like Thales, EADS, and Boeing are working hard to establish those beachheads.
Lockheed Martin Corp. in Eagan, MN recently received an $8 million contract to design and develop “highly integrated photonic devices for transition into current emerging tactical platforms for the Air Force.”
Optical integrated circuits would have a wide variety of technology applications, but their biggest impact would be in the field of networking devices. Right now, information can be encoded into light pulses and fired down a fiber-optic tube, but it can only be routed electronically. This means the signal has to be converted into electronic signals, processed electronically, then converted and sent out as light pulses again. Removing the need to convert those signals could speed up networking devices by a couple orders of magnitude. There is also some reason to believe that photonic circuits would be more resistant to electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks.
Under this contract, Lockheed Martin’s specific task will be to “develop key technology to overcome several of the existing constraints with respect to the integration and packaging aspects of the current generation of photonic [devices] by defining the technology path to a realizable system using an optimum combination of optical devices in a chip.” At this time, $2 million has been committed by the USAF Research Laboratory in Rome, NY (FA8750-10-C-0133).
Small business qualifier The Gyro House in Auburn, CA received a $6.6 million firm-fixed-price order via the General Services Administration (GSA) schedule for the procurement of 1,462 Garmin GPSMAP 696 units for the US Army (789) and US Navy (673). They’ll be accompanied by 293 GPSMAP 696/695 e-learning program CD-ROMs for the Army (158) and Navy (135). Work will be performed in Auburn, CA, and is expected to be complete in June 2011. This contract was competitively procured via a request for quotes under a GSA schedule E-buy; 5 firms were solicited and 1 offer was received by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-10-F-0010).
While Garmin GPS devices have become popular with troops, and even added maps for conflict zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, that isn’t what these are for. The GPSMAP 696 is an all-in-one navigator designed exclusively for aviation. Additions can provide the key functions of a Class 1/Class 2 electronic flight bag (EFB), its ChartView service utilizes Jeppesen’s extensive library to provide global geo-referenced charting, and its GXM 40 smart antenna offers access to high-resolution weather. Somehow, though, we doubt the Army and Navy will spring for the XM Radio subscription…
Funding Iraq: US Congress should fully fund Pentagon’s $2 billion FY 2011 request for Iraqi security forces, says outgoing commander of US forces in Iraq; Senate Armed Services Committee chairman disagrees.
Stealth failure: Former Northrop Grumman engineer found guilty of helping China build a cruise missile by providing stealth exhaust nozzle technology.
US DSCA announces [PDF] Israel’s official request to buy up to $2 billion worth of unleaded gasoline, JP-8 aviation fuel, and diesel fuel.
Another Arjun? After a torturously long and expensive process to field the Arjun tank, India’s DRDO wants to start from scratch. Instead of making incremental improvements on Arjun now that the bugs are finally out, it wants a whole new design, and sets a goal of 50t, which runs counter to existing trends. Anyone else see another expensive disaster of under-delivery in the making?
Four teams get up to $100 million in DARPA funding to develop superfast supercomputers. (Aug 6/10)
The US Department of Defense (DoD) High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP) was set up in 1992 to modernize DoD’s supercomputing capabilities. The HPCMP was assembled out of a collection of small high performance computing departments run by the services, each with supercomputing capabilities independent of the others.
The HPCMP brings these capabilities together. The program provides supercomputer services, high-speed network communications, and computational science expertise that enables the DoD labs to develop new weapons systems, prepare US aircraft for overseas deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, and assist long-term weather predictions to plan humanitarian and military operations throughout the world…
Christmas in September? On the agenda for the US Congress when it returns from summer recess is the FY 2011 defense spending bill. Passage of the legislation is expected to pit the House, which has stripped many of the earmarks (i.e., pork) usually adorning the bill, against the Senate, which is expected to fill up the bill with the usual gifts for well-placed defense lobbyists.
Georgia on His Mind: Sen. McCain supports providing Georgia with antitank capabilities, air defenses, and early warning radar to beef up its defenses, while the Russian president pledges continued support for breakaway Georgian territories.
40mm grenade machine guns (GMGs) like the Mk19 are extremely effective weapons against lightly protected opponents, offering fast firepower overmatch against superior numbers. This has made them an increasingly popular choice on the front lines. General Dynamics’ Mk47 STRIKER40 updates the standard GMG with advanced electronics, and lower weight. That change, in and of itself, helped spur early use by US special operations forces. The flip side is an increase in the purchase cost of each weapon, and in the associated maintenance burdens.
General Dynamics’ reliable Mk19 is still in production, and is likely to remain so for some time to come. Nevertheless, the new Striker40 is beginning to attract contracts and interest…
Kyrgyz Base: US is building a $10 million training base in Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan; the US already operates the Manas Air Base in the country, which serves as a transit center for supplies and troops going to Afghanistan.
The global market for unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) is expected to reach $12 billion over the next decade, including $1.2 billion for UUV power systems, according to AlumiFuel Power, a supplier of hydrogen-sourced power systems.
Bulgaria’s government recently allocated BGN 256 million (about EUR 131M/ $174M) from the country’s fiscal reserve in order to complete a number of arms deals, lest it find key defense items repossessed.
Bulgaria is actually one of the few NATO countries to meet the agreed 2% of GDP threshold for defense spending. The problem is a low base. Decades of communist rule left Bulgaria poor, and even among its peers in the former Warsaw Pact, its economic ranking was and is low. The recent financial crisis has hit the country hard, and left a number of key arms deals short on cash. While these deals are small in the context of global arms flows, they loom large in the context of Bulgaria’s overall military capabilities…
USAF 59th Medical Wing Clinical Research division at Lackland AFB, TX are studying vascular injuries and their effects on limbs, based on field experience in Iraq and Afghanistan where these injuries are 75% more common than previous wars. Their subject model suggests that conventional wisdom re: 6 hours to re-establish blood flow to an injured leg may be wrong – anything beyond an hour may be causing problems.
WikiLeaks identified cooperating Afghans, and will get people killed. These days, there’s also LubyanskaPravda, a series of “top secret” documents said to be from Russia’s FSB (KGB successor), covering operations it has run in former Soviet Republics.