In November 2010, L-3 Communications in Arlington, TX won a $976.7 million service contract for the C-17 Globemaster III heavy aerial transport fleet’s aircraft training system. Work will include instruction, contractor logistics support, and ensuring that the aircrew and maintenance training systems keep up with fleet aircraft modifications.
This new contract combines previously-seperate C-17 aircrew training and maintenance training system contracts. L-3’s Link Simulation & Training has confirmed that it will handle this contract, whose base ordering period will be 5 years, with funds will be allocated as needed. A government option could add 2 more years, making it a larger, 7-year contract. The ASC/WISK at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH manages this contract (FA8621-11-D-6261).
Venezuelan Maj. Gen. Jorge Oropeza is quoted as saying that his country is in negotiations with China to buy 10-12 Shaanxi Y-8 tactical transport aircraft, and hopes they will be delivered before the end of 2011. Derived from the Russian AN-12, China’s Yun-8 is in the same class as the C-130 Hercules, with about 20 tons of cargo capacity, a number of variants including AWACS and maritime patrol, and theater-class range. The general had an interesting way of describing said range, mentioning that: “These Y-8s will provide support for the operations of our C-130 Hercules transport planes…that have a range covering South America and to the north of Spain.” Latin American Herald Tribune.
Spain, eh? On Valentine’s Day 2006, “Love on the Rocks: CASA’s $600M Venezuelan Plane Sale In Heavy Turbulence,” discussed the blockage of a EUR 500 million aircraft sale from Spain to Venezuela, using the USA’s ITAR regulations on military technology transfer. Despite the protests of the Spanish government, which claimed that the 10 EADS-CASA C-295M light transports, and 2 CN-235 MPA Persuader advanced maritime patrol aircraft, were not potential offensive weapons, the US held firm. The modifications required to replace those technologies were too costly, and EADS had too much to lose in the U.S. market, so the order died. Enter China, which recently delivered 18 of its K-8 Karakorum trainer & light attack jets to the Venezuelan government.
Saab’s system appears to include both civilian and military applications, with a wide range of customers that includes India’s Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships, Directorate General of Shipping, Coast Guard, and Navy. It includes sensors (usually radar, but can sometimes involve long-range cameras in key areas), and equipment for regional and national control centers. Saab’s Indian partner is Elcome Marine Services, and the system is scheduled to be in place within 18 months. The contract also contains undisclosed future options.
FN Manufacturing in Columbia, SC received an $11.5 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the MK46 MOD1 lightweight machine gun and MK48 MOD1 lightweight machine gun, along with spare and repair parts in support of the U.S. Special Operations Command. Work will be performed in Columbia, SC, and is expected to be complete by November 2015. $25,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. FN is the only firm that makes these weapons, so this contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, IN (N00164-11-D-JN65).
Both the MK46 LMG and MK48 lightweight GPMG are designed specifically for US special ops requirements. The Mk46 is a variant of the ubiquitous 5.56mm M249 “Minimi” Squad Automatic Weapon, but adds some features and removes about a pound of weight. The Mk48 is a heavier 7.62mm variant, whose longer lethal range is very useful in environments like Afghanistan.
Closing the barn door: DoD tightens information security controls in the wake of WikiLeaks data breach.
Pentagon chief Gates seeks to trim US military health care costs, which total $50 billion per year. TRICARE has a number of serious problems, which must be solved to keep the service sustainable, and avoid gutting the future defense procurement budget.
Cybersecurity Down Under: BAE Systems acquires Australian cybersecurity firm stratsec.net for A$24 million.
USMC Lt. Gen. John F. Kelly’s Nov 13/10 speech to the Semper Fi Society [HTML | PDF], 4 days after his son, 2nd Lt. Robert M. Kelly, was killed in action in Afghanistan during his 3rd combat tour with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. It’s the men behind the weapons…
Switzerland became a Leopard 2 tank customer under Armament Program 84, with 380 Leopard 2A4 variants delivered as “Pz 87s” from 1987-1993. The Swiss military has been drawing down sharply over the last decade and a half, with many tanks mothballed into storage. With plans for a smaller defense force firmly set, some of those tanks are being converted or sold.
The Swiss recently converted 12 of their tanks to AEV-3 Kodiak/Geniepanzer Armored Engineering Vehicles, as a partnership between Rheinmetall and the Swiss firm RUAG. The type has received export orders, but Leopard 2 tanks aren’t being manufactured any more. Some countries can use stocks of existing Leopard 2 tanks for conversion, but that won’t be true for every customer. Fortunately for the partnership, in November 2010, aramsuisse announced the sale of another 42 tanks to Rheinmetall, for conversion to “protected special vehicles.” The tanks they’re receiving are being delivered without weapons or communications system, which wouldn’t be useful to Rheinmetall anyway. That equipment will be kept by the Swiss armed forces, as spares. Tank deliveries will begin before the end of 2010, per undisclosed sale terms. Swiss government.
New Mexico Technology Group, LLC in El Paso, TX recently won a 6-year, $84.4 million cost-plus-award-fee contract for mission support services, to support the testing mission at White Sands Missile Range, NM. The 3,200 square mile White Sands range is used for testing equipment ranging from missiles to satellite communications. It was also the site of the “Trinity” test, which detonated the world’s first atomic bomb.
Work will be performed at the White Sands Missile Range, NM, and will run until Nov 30/16. Three bids were solicited with 3 bids received by the White Sands Mission & Installation Contracting Center (W9124Q-07-C-0504).
Playing the field: Only weeks after the US Congress broke the deadlock on $100 million in military aid to Lebanon, Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri visits Tehran and appeals for closer military cooperation with Iran.
Red flag: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says China is not doing enough to restrain North Korea, calls for “significant penalties” against North.
Scorpion’s sting: France’s DGA awards a contract worth up to EUR 21 million to a consortium of Thales, Nexter, and Sagem for the architectural phase of the EUR 10 billion Scorpion program to modernize the French Army’s 8 combined arms brigades.
Closing the deal: Veritas Capital completes purchase of Lockheed Martin’s Enterprise Integration Group, a supplier of management and engineering services to the US DoD and other federal agencies, for $815 million in cash.
What’s in a name?: Huntington Ingalls Industries would be the new name of Northrop Grumman’s shipbuilding business, if the company chooses a spinoff rather than sale.
Sweden’s Saab Bofors Dynamics recently announced a SEK 150 million ($18.6M/ EUR 14M) order for its AT4-CS infantry rockets. This is France’s 4th order for the unguided system, following purchases in 1996, 2000, and 2003. The AT4-CS fills a niche as a lighter alternative to Giat/Nexter’s 112mm APILAS, which has some disadvantages that hamper its use.
The 84mm AT4 will not defeat modern tanks, but it will destroy light vehicles and some medium armor. It’s also extremely useful against fortified enemy positions. That’s currently its most common use, hence Saab’s designation as an “Anti-Structure Weapon.” In the US Army and USMC, a modified version is known as the M136, which has been license-manufactured by ATK, and also bought via direct order. The AT4-CS is now the standard version sold around the world, and the CS means “confined space,” thanks to the clever use of a saltwater mass in the back. As the firing pin hits the ammunition and the normally large and dangerous backblast begins, it turns the counter-mass into spray, baffling and slowing the pressure wave to make it safe for use in confined spaces like buildings.