Thanks to its location on the oil-rich Island of Borneo, which it shares with Indonesia and Malaysia, the State of Brunei Darussalam is best known to most people as a frequent Guinness Book of World Records entry, with its Sultan as the world’s richest man. The former British protectorate also has a small but well trained and well equipped armed forces. As part of its ongoing modernization, the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Support Helicopter Project decided to replace the air force’s existing fleet of 10-11 Bell 212 twin-Hueys (1st squadron) and 4 Bo-105 helicopters (2nd squadron), with 12 of Sikorsky’s S-70i International medium utility helicopters. The RBAF already operates 4 earlier-model S-70 Black Hawks, and the S-70Is are expected to be delivered between 2013 – 2015. Once delivered, all RBAF assets are based at Brunei International Airport.
Brunei’s Defence White Paper Update 2007 included a requirement for a single wave tactical air lift, and the region’s history of typhoons, volcanoes, etc. makes helicopters very useful for regional humanitarian missions. A February 2011 Invitation to Tender opened the RBAF’s Support Helicopter Project competition to 4 vendors. In July 2011, Brunei’s MINDEF decided that Sikorsky and Eurocopter were the finalists…
It’s confirmed: the Super Committee might have come close, but ultimately failed to reach an agreement. SecDef Panetta declared that “Congress cannot simply turn off the sequester mechanism” but also hinted that the nation deserves better than the outcome of the sequester. Predictably, HASC Chairman McKeon (R-CA) announced he’ll soon introduce a bill to roll back the sequestration mechanism before it kicks in. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) plan to do the same in the upper chamber. President Obama preemptively threatened to veto any such legislation. The Administration will have to show its cards by February when it submits the FY13 President budget. Will it assume sequestration takes place or not? And since sequestration doesn’t kick in until 2013, this might have to wait until after the 2012 election, for the new Congress to expedite in December ’12. Expect to hear about it in tonight’s Republican primary debate, and as an ongoing campaign issue.
The US Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report on the Navy’s amphibious warfare ships, reckons the Navy will fall short of its “unconstrained demand” as stated last year.
The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission released its annual report to Congress [PDF] last week, reviewing among other topics China’s military developments and its “Area Control Strategy.” The report states: “In order to defeat a superior opponent, the Area Control Strategy emphasizes degrading an opponent’s technological advantages; striking first in a conflict; and establishing military control over China’s periphery, especially the maritime region off of China’s eastern coast.”
US Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) is pressuring the Obama administration on F-16 sales to Taiwan: his letter | Taipei Times.
Military cooperation between the US and Australia may lead to the development of joint military facilities on Cocos Islands in the Indian ocean.
The transfer of dock landing ship Foudre from France to Chile is confirmed [in French] and will happen next month, as well as training of Chilean personnel. Defense ministers Gerard Longuet (FR) and Andres Allamand (CL) discussed increasing their naval cooperation in the Pacific ocean.
Poland’s defense spending looks set to increase more than in most other European countries in the next few years.
In the UK a fleet of 38 Merlin helicopters has been grounded earlier this month because of problems with their computerized recording systems.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said during the Halifax International Security Forum last Friday: “I feel very confident that we’ll get funding for the F-35 program”. A day later Senator John McCain (R-AZ) answered: “We want the F-35 to succeed. We’re not opposed to the F-35. But we have obligations to our taxpayers.” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey tried to walk back his comment from last month and told reporters he “didn’t have a cross hair on the F-35.” Acting defense acquisition undersecretary Frank Kendall went to Lockheed Martin’s plant in Fort Worth, TX where final assembly takes place.
This while the Super Committee looks dead on arrival: Politico | Roll Call. Next likely step for defense budget battles: attempts to unwind the Budget Control Act of 2011’s automatic sequester before it kicks in by 2013. This is probably the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end.
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, CT to defend the principle of a sustained industrial base. EB announced earlier this month that it will lay off 52 people next January.
The FY12 defense authorization bill is still hung in the US Senate because of detainee policy. The White House threatened a veto if they don’t get language they like. The Senate approved a related bill introduced by Jack Reed (D-RI) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) reducing the Air Force’s strategic airlift aircraft inventory minimum from 316 to 301 aircraft.
While the Pentagon updated is cyberspace policy report [PDF] to Congress a few days ago, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is trying to append cybercrime language to the aforementioned authorization bill, just in case it was not stalled enough already. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to debate more comprehensive cybersecurity legislation in early 2012. A couple such bills have been in the work for several years. Even the SEC has an opinion.
It looks like the 3% contractor tax withholding law is going to stay dead after it was repealed unanimously in the US House of Representatives on Wednesday.
Acquisition lingo clarification: though “program of record” is widely used to describe programs that passed milestone B and will get funded, it is not an actual official DFARS term.
Deakin University’s Centre for Intelligent Systems Research in Australia is showing their new motion simulator with an eye of flight simulation thanks to its ability to rotate continuously and simultaneously around 2 axes, as per the video below:
With the 2011 Dubai Airshow in full swing, the biggest question on site is: what’s happening to the UAE’s planned fighter deal? The United Arab Emirates’ interest in up to 60 Dassault Rafale fighters has seen years of negotiations, and the 2011 show was expected to be the clincher.
Instead, it has opened the door to Eurofighter GmbH, even as Boeing admits to giving classified technical briefings centered on its F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-15 Strike Eagle families. Unlike Eurofighter, Boeing hasn’t received an RFP, but other reports suggest that the UAE may be about to reduce its planned new jet order and buy more of its unique Lockheed Martin F-16E/F Block 60s, regardless of what happens next. The bombshell hit at Dubai’s 2011 air show.
In November 2011, USMC Systems Command issued a pair of contracts for advanced Vehicle Optic Sensor Systems (VOSS). Gyrocam Systems, which was acquired by Lockheed Martin in 2009, has traditionally supplied these 15″ class gyro-stabilised surveillance turrets, which have generally been mounted on blast-resistant MRAP vehicles. They offer a combination of color, night vision and thermal sensors, and have been used for everything from force overwatch, to noting disturbed ground that might indicate land mines.
This new contract splits up to $755.6 million between Lockheed Martin Gyrocam Systems, LLC in Sarasota, FL (M67854-12-D-5504), and FLIR Systems, Inc. in North Billerica, MA (M67854-12-D-5503), over 1 base year and up to 4 option years. They’ll compete under the firm-fixed-priced, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity, multiple-award contract for delivery orders, which could purchase up to 951 VOSS systems, plus spare parts, maintenance/sustainment, training, and provisional technical data in Afghanistan and the continental United States. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with 3 proposals received.
To kick things off, each contract received an initial delivery order for 1 VOSS unit, and co-site integration, to be delivered within 30 days. FLIR Systems delivery order 0001 is worth $3 million, while Lockheed Martin Gyrocam Systems’ delivery order 0001 is worth $2.25 million. Totals were corrected by the Pentagon on Nov 23/11.
USS Makin Island [LHD-8] was built in Pascagoula, MS, as the last ship of America’s Wasp Class amphibious assault carriers. The keel was laid in February 2004, but all of the changes from the LHD-1 Wasp Class meant that about 67% of the previous line drawings, and 75% of the test procedures, needed to be modified for Makin Island. Then Hurricane Katrina hit the in-progress ship. The labor pool also took a hit, with up to 1/3 of the Gulf Coast personnel leaving the area and the company. The pool of electrical professionals was especially hard hit, and 55-60% of the LHD 8’s final labor force was under the 4-5 year threshold to be considered experienced workers.
Even so, Katrina hit back in August 2005. Which is why Northrop Grumman was surprised at the slowness of its integration and testing progress during final construction in 2008, as part of the ship’s preparation for sea trials. That led to a comprehensive review and audit – and a bill of $320-360 million to fix the ship, which was footed by Northrop Grumman:
The US Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) approved (26-0) for a 2nd time the FY12 defense authorization bill, to reflect cuts originating in the Budget Control Act. Summary of the proposed additional cuts. Meanwhile the current continuing resolution expires in 2 days so Congress is set to vote this week on extending temporary funding until mid-December, and the Supercommittee has 7 days left. It’s time to get serious instead of goldwatching, missing the point, or considering resorting to blatant accounting tricks.
The SASC also reviewed security issues in Iraq with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Martin Dempsey. Video embedded below after the cut; quick highlights.
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) says it wants to hold contractors accountable. The GAO however is not convinced by all the claims of savings made by government agencies following recent cost-control OMB directives.
Huge US Coast Guard projects like the frigate-sized National Security Cutters get a lot of attention, but they can only be in so many places at once. Most people who encounter the Coast Guard do so inshore, and their encounter is often with a “Response Boat – Small.” RB-S was developed as a direct response to 9/11, and the corresponding need for additional homeland security assets. The current Defender Class boats are assigned to the Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSST), the Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT), Marine Safety Units (MSU), and to small boat stations throughout the coastal United States. They’re used for port, waterway, and coastal security; search and rescue; drug interdiction; immigration-related operations; fisheries enforcement; defense readiness; and law enforcement missions.
As you might imagine, these boats take a pounding. The first RB-S Defender Class boats arrived in May 2002, and they’re reaching the end of their expected 10-year service life. The US Coast Guard is looking to replace them with a new RB-S, and they’ve picked a winner.