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.