Most people never see services like wastewater management and water distribution, maintenance of the electric grid, etc. The cost is built into their taxes and utility bills, or into initial subdivision fees. Military bases have to deal with these sorts of issues, just as homeowners and developer do – but on a much larger scale. The preference in the US military seems to be shifting toward very long term (about 50 year) term fixed-price or regulated tariff contracts, often coupled with partial privatization or conveyance of assets, in order to make the contractor 100% responsible for the utility.
This Spotlight article covers billions of dollars in contracts that fall under this format, from 2007 to the present.
The US Army’s Constant Hawk program feeds into 2 big trends. One is the need to create systems that dip into the gushing firehose of data from UAVs, aircraft, ground-mounted stations like GBOSS/RAID, etc., in order to create information that people can use. “Too Much Information: Taming the UAV Data Explosion” covered some aspects of those efforts, and the critical area of “change detection” is an additional element.
US Army Program Manager – Aerial Common Sensor’s (PM ACS) Constant Hawk program is one of several change detection systems in operation, in the service of the second big trend: the drive to find solutions to the land mine problem, which has been the #1 killer in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
In September 2011, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Palmdale, CA received a $109.6 million a firm-fixed-price contract “for aft decks applicable to B-2 aircrafts.” We asked Northrop Grumman about this, and they said that this stealth bomber contract was about buying spares with improved durability. The aft deck shields the composite airframe from the heat of the engines’ exhaust, and the redesign follows a thorough thermal and structural analysis of the aft deck, its adjoining structures and the operating environment.
Work will be performed in Palmdale, CA and in St. Augustine, FL, until April 19/16. The Defense Logistics Agency Aviation at Tinker Air Force Base, OK manages the contract (SPRTA1-11-C-0112). While the B-2 fleet’s FAST umbrella contract covers most modifications and maintenance, this is separate from FAST.
In September 2011, the RN Armor Vax international consortium in Orlando, FL received a $17.3 million technology investment agreement from US DARPA. Their research and development program is designed to “identify, investigate, and develop candidate RNA vaccines against infectious disease.” Work will be performed in Orlando, FL (19.59%); Lyon, France (11.93%); Tubingen, Germany (56.62%); and Nantes, France (11.86%). The work is expected to be completed by September 2015. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency manages the contract (HR0011-11-3-0001).
RNA is very useful for synthesizing proteins. This has led to research into ways of using it as a trigger, so that cells synthesize very specific proteins that will kill tumor cells, trigger correct immune responses, or perform other related functions. Dendritic immune cells, for instance, which stimulate the production of defensive killer T-cells, are a useful vector for RNA codes that direct the production of specific proteins. Another interesting function is RNA-enhanced vaccines using “silencing RNA,” which shuts down specific proteins in the cells that process a vaccine. That lets the vaccine offer more of an antibody response, which is very useful for parasitic infections, or create more of a cellular-kill response for viral infections.