The US Army released the complete draft RFP for the HMMWV Modernized Expanded Capacity Vehicle (HMMWV MECV) Research Development Test and Evaluation (RDTE) phase. This recap program intends to modernize M1151 and M1152 Humvees. The Industry Daily for source selection is scheduled on October 7 at Selfridge Air National Guard Base (SANG), MI. Up to 3 RDTE contracts will be rewarded out of that 1st phase with a finalized RFP due on Nov. 10. The Production Phase RFP is tentatively scheduled to be released 1QFY13 (i.e. less that 15 months from now) and source from a single producer, with an aim of capping unit manufacturing cost at $180K. According to Defense News, so far the 4 following teams have lined up: Granite Tactical Vehicles/Textron Systems, AM General, BAE Systems and Oshkosh.
Lockheed Martin is still pushing for the sale of new F-16 C/Ds to Taiwan, according to Reuters, based on a memo they have seen that the manufacturer sent to US lawmakers. The firm doesn’t seem to believe F-35s to be a credible option.
In late September 2011, SERE Solutions, Inc. in Spokane, WA received a $9.2 million firm-fixed-price contract for survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE) services. Work will be performed at Fairchild AFB, WA, and Lackland AFB, TX. The Air Education and Training Command CONS/LGCU at Randolph Air Force Base, TX, manages the contract (FA3002-06-D-0008, PO 0026). The contract number indicates that it has been going since FY 2006, but this is the first public DefenseLINK announcement.
SERE is no walk in the park. It’s designed to prepare more than 6,500 aircrew and “high risk of capture” DOD personnel to survive under any conditions. That includes arctic, desert, open ocean, jungle, mountain… and even captivity. Cdr. Frank “Spig” Wead describes his SERE experiences in detail, and its details explain why SERE became a news item in recent years: the use of “waterboarding” on all participating personnel. That same technique was used on a few senior al-Qaeda personnel, most notably Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but Cdr. Wead’s take on it was not universally shared by those who endured it in SERE school.
The United Kingdom National Defence Association (UKNDA) think tank argues in a new report [PDF] that the country’s defense spending should be a higher priority and consume 3% of GDP, a significant increase from current levels. The threat that registers most with the British press: losing the Falklands; Daily Mail, Guardian (related reading: a series on the naval war in the Falklands). Meanwhile the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) warns that keeping the UK’s defense funding on a sound footing is far from a done deal [PDF].
Blue Screen of Death? Citing recent articles by Defense News and Politico, Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) sent a letter to the US Army Secretary and its Chief of Staff to attract their attention to the DCGS-A program‘s actual performance. Facing numerous crashes and reboots sound a lot less attractive than being portrayed as the “Army’s cornerstone intelligence system for intelligence processing, exploitation and dissemination.” Civilian cloud computing and web application vendors have found time and again that scalability and availability are, by themselves, a feature.
US DOD acquisition leadership: in his farewell letter [PDF] to the AT&L community, now Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter wrote: “I leave you in the best of all capable hands in Frank Kendall.”
US DoDI 5000.02 acquisition rule clarification: can a production RFP be issued before Milestone C? Yes, with caveats.
The US GAO thinks that the many people who are involved in defense acquisition but do not fall under the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) should be more systematically tracked and trained by the Department of Defense.
Today (Thursday) US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta meets military commanders to discuss spending scenarios. The Office of Management and Budget at the White House is said to ask for $25B in additional cuts. The Army already announced it will contribute by preparing to reduce its number of soldiers by 50K over 5 years – though 22K or 44% of that number is made of a relatively recent troop surge in Afghanistan that was always meant to be temporary.
The US House Armed Services Committee’s prediction that deep defense budget cuts could lead to reinstating the draft is not convincing think tanks. Something for Buck McKeon’s just-hired communications director to ponder.
Today’s video: C-17 Globemaster helps B-1 find the way home (embedded below):
In September 2010, Elbit Systems Ltd. announced a $280 million communications modernization contract from the Israeli Ministry of Defense. About $140 million will be invested in new communications equipment over the next 5 years, with the other $140 million paid over 20 years to upgrade and maintain existing systems. Per Israeli requirements, a key part of the project will be performed in a “development area” (here, the Southern Israeli city of Arad), as part of the Israeli Government’s policy to develop industries in the periphery. Elbit Systems.
Israel has been implementing its Tsayad/DAP next-generation communications system over the last few years, in order to enable its different military branches to communicate more easily. It is currently nearing the end of Phase 1, and Elbit is the main contractor. This is not formally part of DAP, but it is complementary. Elbit and its subsidiary Tadiran Communications offer a wide range of radios, military computers, satellite terminals, and even battlefield command and control systems to the global marketplace. While they may lack the size and heft of Harris or Thales, they compete aggressively across a very wide range of systems, and have received substantial foreign orders.
The US military’s Humvee jeeps have demonstrated severe payload and survivability limitations. Nevertheless, they remain a fixture in the fleet, and new orders continue. At one point, the US Marines’ objective was to restrict Hummers to use “inside the wire” of American bases in Iraq. Instead, a sharp reduction in violence within Iraq, and a lower vehicle threat level so far in Afghanistan, have given the HMMWVs a new lease on life. They are still seeing extensive use on the front lines, and the early wear created by the weight of their add-on armor has led to RESET maintenance programs for some Hummers and allied giveaways for others.
By mid-2007, the US Army had about 19,000 HMMWVs serving on the Iraqi front alone. As they wear out and are given away, or are sent to a depot, they must be replaced. Some replacement involves cycling vehicles from other units into theater, but those units must eventually have their lost vehicles replaced, in order to maintain their own readiness rates for deployment. Hence the necessity for ongoing buys of more Humvees, in the absence of a program to provide replacements on a fleet-wide basis. This Spotlight article covers the family’s newest variants, and chronicles the US military’s 2009-2010 purchases.
British Secretary of State for Defence Dr Liam Fox says a 1% increase (in real terms) to the Defence Equipment and Support budget between 2015/16 and 2020/21 should give the ministry a “firm footing” to tackle long-term challenges.
Can a US Army Program Manager get his USMC pals to benefit from his program even if it’s not a designated joint one? The answer is yes, through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the 2 services.
DFARS Case 2011-D013 on what to do when acquisitions using competitive procedures receive only one offer is received has been reopened for comments until October 7. The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) objects to the unlimited waiver currently in the planned regulatory change, as well as to the exception provision for contingency operations, given the track record in Iraq and Afghanistan.
System Level “Gerald Beck” Award: Joint STARS Total System Support Responsibility Team/Northrop Grumman – USAF C2ISR Aerospace Sustainment Directorate/Warner Robins Air Logistics Center (WRALC)
Sub-system Level Award: AH-64D Apache Sensors/Lockheed Martin – USA PEO Aviation/Apache Project Management Office
Component Level Award: Tire Performance-Based Logistics Team/Michelin Aircraft Tire Company – USN Naval Supply Command Weapon Systems Support (NAVSUP WSS)
Forthcoming hearings at US House Armed Services Committee: National Defense and the U.S. Military Ten Years After 9/11: Perspectives from Former Service Chiefs and Vice Chiefs (Oct. 4), Is the Financial Management Workforce Positioned to Achieve DOD’s Financial Improvement Goals? (Oct. 6). The latter should be fun for people who like to watch glaciers move, but it may beat the non-news that so far have emerged from the Super Committee.
The Stimson Center notes contrasting visions of the future of the US Navy: stick to a strategy of forward presence and projection, or scale back to a position of “security guarantor of last resort.” The two approaches definitely come with a different price tag. Admiral Roughead argued in favor of the more asserting strategy in a roundtable at the Aspen Institute earlier this month (video below):
Job cuts: 540 layoffs coming at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, as part of corporate plans to reduce their workforce ahead of budget squeezes. Meanwhile the BBC has new details about BAE’s cuts in the UK.
Michael Gilmore, Director of Operational Test & Evaluation within the US DOD, listed key issues in reliability growth [PDF]. He writes: “most programs fail to get on their planned growth curves” because they take a reactive approach to reliability management. Among programs that took a “Design for Reliability” (DfR) proactive approach: Raytheon’s SDB-II, GDLS’ Stryker NBCRV, and BAE+GDLS’ GCV.
Boeing and AAR Aircraft Component Services – Amsterdam announce a letter of intent to cooperate on support for Dutch CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift and AH-64D Apache attack helicopters, as part of a larger MRO initiative.
Russia to sell China 140-150 Saturn AL-31F turbofan engines, which can be used in China’s SU-27 derivative and J-10 fighters. The Russians are reportedly trying to include clauses that force all engines to be deployed in aircraft, not sent for copying. Good luck with that.
While the US Air Force and Navy test biofuels, some lawmakers are becoming more skeptical and question whether defense “green energy” projects are worth the money, remain viable under budget pressure, or really contribute to energy security.
Barely functional? The US Senate came to an agreement last night that should avoid a government shutdown. The House will look at the Senate’s measure on Thursday. Now Congress can shift its focus beyond the next 6 weeks. Politico has the HASC Republican Staff memo on what worst-case DoD funding scenarios would look like. It is unlikely that the Super Committee won’t reach a deal, but given the behavioral pattern shown in Congress this year between the debt ceiling and the continuing resolution, expect drama until the 11th hour.
Meanwhile Senator John McCain (R-AZ, Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee) is not happy about how appropriations work (or don’t).
Sept 22/11: The US DSCA announces [PDF] the United Arab Emirates’ request to buy 500 AGM-114R3 Hellfire II missiles, plus containers, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, repair and return support, training equipment and personnel training, and other U.S. Government and contractor support. The estimated cost is up to $65 million, and if a contract is negotiated, it will be with the Lockheed/Boeing Hellfire Systems LLC joint venture in Orlando, FL. Under Foreign Military Sales rules, the US military will act as the UAE’s agent, and the order will almost certainly be added to the USA’s existing umbrella contract.
The AGM-114R has a triple-threat warhead, which works against armored vehicles, fortified positions, and troops in the open. The UAE can deploy them on its modernized AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters, and also on its forthcoming UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters equipped with the Battlehawk kit.