US Special Operations Command’s helicopters are some of its most important assets. The service will need new helicopters in the near future, but meanwhile, they’re busy modernizing the helicopters they have. Sensor and targeting system improvements offer a lot of operational bang for the buck, as August 2011 contracts to improve the MH-60 and MH-47 fleets show. Now FLIR Systems, Inc. in North Billerica, MA has received a sole-source $24.6 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract under FAR 6.302-1, for new production or retrofit of AN/ZSQ-3 (V1 Assault) and AN/ZSQ-3 (V2 Attack), Electro-Optic Sensor Systems with laser rangefinder/designator units. Order 0001 is for $497,092, with the rest to be awarded as requested by US SOCOM’s Technology Applications Contracting Office until Sept 22/16 (H92241-11-D-0007).
The turrets will equip the 160th SOAR’s A/H-6M “Little Birds” at Fort Campbell, KY. These MD 530 derivatives serve in versatile roles with the Night Stalkers, quickly moving special forces troops into confined areas, or acting as light helicopter gunships. They were especially useful during Operation Gothic Serpent in Mogadishu, 18 years ago today, when they flew the only close air support available to the trapped Rangers and Delta force soldiers, sometimes even landing in narrow streets. The battle is known as the “Day of the Rangers” in Somalia, but it’s best known to most Americans by the movie/book name: “Blackhawk Down“.
In September 2011, The MITRE Corp. in Bedford, MA received a $394.2 million contract modification, exercising the 3rd option year for systems engineering and integration support for Air Force ceiling programs (892 staff-years) and Air Force non-ceiling programs (300 direct staff years) in FY 2012. This contract also supports Foreign Military Sales programs (6%) to Britain, France, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. The ESC/CAA at Hanscom AFB, MA manages the contract (FA8721-12-C-0001).
These contracts have been going on for some time. MITRE was formed in 1958 as a not-for-profit corporation under the leadership of C.W. Halligan, and has a long-standing cross-fertilization with MIT. It manages several Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs). The one for the Department of Defense (recently changed to the National Security Engineering Center) specializes in command, control, communications, and intelligence systems. Other FFRDCs serve the Internal Revenue Service & the Dept. of Veteran’s Affairs (the Center for Enterprise Modernization [PDF]), Homeland Security, and the Administrative office of the U.S. federal courts. Finally, MITRE has its own independent research and development program, to explore new technologies and new uses of technologies to solve its sponsors’ problems.
On April 2/07, BB&T Capital Markets upgraded EDO Corporation to “buy,” in part because they thought EDO was well positioned to win a part of the $200-$500 million Counter- Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Device (RCIED) Electronic Warfare (CREW) contracts going forward. Those contracts came through, with awards for the system EDO now calls the CVRJ (CREW Vehicle Receiver/Jammer). The Pentagon refers to Spiral 2.1 Vehicle Mounted CREW systems, which are one element of the DoD’s Joint Counter RCIED Electronic Warfare program.
CREW systems are vehicle mounted electronic jammers designed to prevent the remote detonation of land mines. These are often triggered by off-the-shelf technology like cell phones, in order to avoid visible wires. EDO makes the Warlock jammer, a derivative of its earlier “Shortstop” product. If only these devices were as widespread in movie theaters and performance halls.
UAVs have played a crucial role in gathering intelligence in the US military’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are thousands of UAVs gathering and distributing valuable data on the enemy, but each system uses its own proprietary subsystem to control the air vehicle as well as receive and process the data. Yet commanders need access to information gathered by all types of UAVs that are flying missions in their area of operation.
Recognizing this shortcoming, the Pentagon began an effort in 2008 to break down the proprietary barriers between UAV systems and create a single GCS that will fly all types of drones.
This free-to-view DID Spotlight article examines the problem of proprietary UAV systems and efforts to break down barriers to sharing vital UAV-generated information.
In September 2011, iRobot Corp., Bedford, MA, was awarded a 5-year, $60 million firm-fixed-price indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for up to 300 PackBot Robot Systems, plus sustainment parts, repair, maintenance, and training. This contract can be used to deliver Foreign Military Sale channel orders, and iRobot says that has delivered government and industrial robots to customers in approximately 30 countries so far. In response to requests, Rrobot told DID that this new contract will allow the government to procure commercial Packbot systems, and does not fall within military MTRS or SUGV contracts.
Work will be performed in Bedford, MA, and the contract runs until July 27/16. One bid was solicited by the RSJPO (Robotic Systems Joint Program Office), with 1 bid received by U.S. Army Contracting Command in Warren, MI, who manages the contract (W56HZV-11-D-0093). See also iRobot release.
When dealing with US federal contracts, it takes a lawyer to untangle whether and why a business is considered small or not.
If a US House or Senate Appropriations Committee marks a program below its President Budget amount, how do the services and DoD appeal? It’s a complex process but the Defense Acquisition University has a good walkthrough.
After a delay of more than 2 years, the US DOD releases a new 2.0 draft [MS Word] of its Commercial Item Handbook and is asking for comments by Nov. 30, 2011. The first version was published 10 years ago and covers “any item of a type customarily used by the general public, or by nongovernmental entities, for purposes other than governmental purposes”. This includes but is not limited to Commercially Available Off-the-Shelf (COTS) products.
Lousy logistics loses wars. The US GAO reckons the Department of Defense has improved its prepositioned stock management but should provide more visibility to Congress on the status and condition of prepositioned materiel. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and the US Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) have been working this year on a Comprehensive Materiel Response Plan (CMRP) which should address the GAO’s concerns. To catch up on the DLA’s daunting work, this presentation [PDF] by director of DLA Logistics Operations Brig. Gen. Lynn Collyar comes handy. The current Assistant Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness (ASD L&MR) Alan F. Estevez was appointed last August (he was formerly deputy but acting ASD) and pointed to the CMRP as a useful tool in his Senate testimony [PDF]. See also his Logistics Strategic Plan [PDF].
The United Auto Workers Local 578 union met with Oshkosh management on Saturday after having decisively rejected the company’s contract offer on Friday. They agreed to more talks tomorrow and Thursday.