The US Air Force is setting aside its Afghanistan Light Air Support contract to Sierra Nevada before the litigation initiated by Hawker Beechcraft even completes its course: “Since the acquisition is still in litigation, I can only say that the Air Force Senior Acquisition Executive, David Van Buren, is not satisfied with the quality of the documentation supporting the award decision.” Obviously Hawker Beechcraft supports that decision while Embraer is scratching their head, while Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz is fuming. In the end it’s one more contentious foreign procurement from the USAF. But the big bucks for trade dispute lawyers are in the Boeing vs. Airbus row. “You are subsidized. No, YOU are subsidized.”
No less than four congressional hearings are scheduled today to review the FY13 Pentagon budget. See our full schedule. Opposition to base closures continues with this letter [PDF] written by Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) and co-signed by 41 other members of Congress. Meanwhile representatives from districts with a small defense footprint can afford to sound virtuous about cuts.
The US Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) published the public comments [PDF] they received in response to proposed amendments [PDF] to ITAR Part 129 on brokering licensing and activities. The British Export Group for Aerospace and Defence (EGAD) captured well the pushback expressed by many other parties against the overreach that the proposed changes would translate into:
The French DGA procurement agency released its 2011 activity report [PDF, in French]. Urgent operational purchase requests vastly decreased to just 20 million Euros ($27M). Support to foreign sales was sustained: DGA reckons French export bookings for 2011 amounted to 6.5 billion Euros (~$8.7B).
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) updated its estimate of armament sales by contractor to reflect 2010 sales that turned out at about the same level as 2009. Their Top 100 list is topped by Lockheed Martin, BAE, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics.
“[T]here was a time when the Coast Guard operated 8 polar ice breakers. How did that happen? In 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed a hand written note to Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau – Morgenthau passed the note on to the Commandant, Admiral Russell Waesche, – it simply read, Henry I want the world’s best icebreakers, [signed] FDR’
I guess Federal acquisition Rules must have been easier then!”
7 US Marines died on Wednesday night in a crash between an AH-1W Cobra and a UH-1Y Huey during training west of the Yuma Training Range in California.
Anthony H. Cordesman at the centrist CSIS Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy is researching Iran’s ballistic and nuclear programs. Here’s his latest working draft [PDF]. He writes:
“There is no agreement as to exactly how far Iran has come in weapons design, over the nature of its nuclear weapons program if a dedicated program exists, how much is know about Iran’s various nuclear facilities, its future enrichment programs and how they will be concealed and protected.”
Meanwhile the conservative, intervention-friendly Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) will ask in a debate next month: time to attack Iran?
Contract Pricing Reference Guides (CPRG) have been made available to the American defense acquisition workforce in PDF and MS Word format. They cover price and cost analysis, quantitative techniques for contract pricing, federal contract negotiation techniques, and a set of advanced topics such as how to forecast cost overruns or how to recognize and deal with defective pricing.
US Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno said that if the Army must use Pacific forces outside the region, commanders will replace that capability to always maintain “a baseline of capability in the Pacific.” Meanwhile, his opinion of gold-plated, scifi-driven requirements: “I don’t want us to be driving up a 53-degree slope, and not at 35 mph.” [DID: after a quick search we haven’t found at what stage of the JLTV RFP drafting this specific requirement was made.]
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura wants their F-35s at the original price and delivery date.
Spending on private consultants within the UK’s Framework Agreement for Technical Support (FATS) is again making headlines: The Telegraph; The Guardian. Soon after being appointed, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said last year that he was working on it.
Kim Carr, recently “promoted” as Australia’s Minister for Defence Materiel, spoke to the Australian Defence Magazine Congress:
“We want the best equipment we can afford and we want to be the best at supplying it. Now, those of you who know me well from another role know that I’m very much in favour of buying Australian. I wear this badge consciously. But it’s not a question of buying Australian at any price or on any terms […] Longer term [sustainment] contracts are the way of the future, to provide the incentives for the investment’s company need in their own capabilities. […] The new arrangements are being rolled out for the ANZAC frigates first, with the FFG fleet to follow, and the next five year contract for the ANZAC fleet is expected to deliver cost savings in that way of between 10% and 15% over the current arrangement.”
US Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) recently joined the House Armed Services Committee. She is also on the Committee on Homeland Security, and voted against the FY12 NDAA because “exorbitant spending on programs of questionable value has further bloated military spending.” From her position statement on defense:
France and Great Britain had a summit last Friday where they announced they are tightening their defense and nuclear energy cooperation. The two countries plan to establish a Joint Force headquarters and confirmed their joint UAV plans.
German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the first rule of peace talks with the Taliban is, you don’t talk about peace talks. Well, he didn’t actually paraphrase Fight Club, but that’s the substance of his position expressed during a joint press conference with his American counterpart.
Panetta and de Maiziere were also meeting to announce changes planned for US troops in Germany. The US Army will inactivate its 170th and 172nd infantry brigades this year and in fiscal 2014, respectively. Overall the US plans a rather moderate cut of 10,000 troops in Europe to a total of 70,000 by 2017. The Lexington Institute is asking where is the much-touted strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific region?
The RAND research firm published a paper trying to assess in what state al Qaeda currently is and notes that even though terrorist organizations rarely meet their strategic goals, some go on for decades. On Afghanistan:
In early FY 2011, DARPA awarded a pair of initial contracts for something called the Triple Target Terminator. In their own words:
“The Triple Target Terminator (T3) program will develop a high speed, long-range missile that can engage air, cruise missile, and air defense targets. T3 would be carried internally on stealth aircraft or externally on fighters, bombers and UAVs. The enabling technologies are: propulsion, multi-mode seekers, data links, digital guidance and control, and advanced warheads. T3 would allow any aircraft to rapidly switch between air-to-air and air-to-surface capabilities. T3’s speed, maneuverability, and network-centric capabilities would significantly improve U.S. aircraft survivability and increase the number and variety of targets that could be destroyed on each sortie.”
Oddly, T3 sounds very similar to an ongoing Air Force Research Laboratory project – and seems to confirm a trend toward multi-guidance, multi-role smart weapons. But can the USAF develop and field its desired Next Generation Missile from among these development programs? Seems not.