Latest updates: DOT&E test report; Contract for IDWS improvements.
RGS for V-22
In the past specific and detailed allegations were made concerning the V-22 Osprey‘s performance, testing flaws, and survivability issues in anything beyond low-threat situations like the Anbar deployment in Iraq. Despite direct offers, US NAVAIR chose not to respond or address any of those allegations. One of the flaws that appeared headed for correction, however, was the issue of 360 degree covering fire. This capability is useful for fire support. It is especially helpful when entering or covering landing zones, where rotary aircraft are most vulnerable.
The Osprey’s huge propellers and the positioning of its engines had created obstruction issues for normal machine gun mounting locations, but AUSA 2007 saw BAE Systems promoting a retractable belly turret solution based on a 3-barrel 7.62mm GAU-17 minigun. Special Operations Command has ordered some, and now the US Marines have deployed with them.
In April 2012, King Aerospace, Inc. in Addison, TX receives a not-to-exceed $11.1 million indefinite-delivery requirements contract to support 6 C-9B aircraft. This effort includes base site operations, depot planned maintenance interval inspections, and engine shop visits. Funds will be obligated on individual delivery orders, as they are issued. Work will be performed in Addison, TX (38.5%); Ardmore, OK (35%); Whidbey Island, WA (14%); Cherry Point, NC (8%); and Miami, FL (4.5%), and will run until May 2013. This contract was competitively procured via an electronic request for proposals, and 2 offers were received by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-12-D-0014).
The C-9Bs are military variants of the Super 30 stretched DC-9 short-haul passenger jet, and were built from the mid-1960s through the mid-1990s. The C-9A Nightingales that once performed aeromedical evacuation have been retired, and the remaining C-9s serve as VIP transports and cargo aircraft. Even so, age is catching up with them. Their Pratt and Whitney JT8-D-9 engines are noisy and inefficient by modern standards, their airframes have many flight-hours on them, and their older cockpit layout and equipment remain a drawback. Many of the C-9s are being replaced by modern, 737-derived C-40s, and there had been plans to retire the C-9s by 2010, but there haven’t been enough C-40s bought to fully replace them.
The GAO(Government Accountability Office) studied how the fast capability procured via joint urgent operational needs ended up being fielded. Such fulfillment amounted to at least $76.9B for FY 2005-10 according to DoD. Some programs such as the the MRAP Recovery Vehicle tow truck were fielded within 6 months of validation, while several other initiatives were delayed beyond the targeted 2 years because of requirement or contracting issues. You would expect off-the-shelf solutions to, well, fly off the shelves, but while they do get fielded faster overall, delays early in the process reduced the difference with custom efforts. See chart at the bottom of this entry.
Northrop Grumman’s sales decreased by 8% to $6.2B in Q1 2012 vs. a year ago, a slight acceleration of the rate of sales decrease seen through 2011. Electronic Systems is the division that lost the least (-5%) and Technical Services the most (-10%). Among the factors explaining the decline in sales: low F/A-18 and F-35 deliveries from Boeing and Lockheed Martin respectively. The total backlog shrunk by $400M to $39.1B ($25B or 64% of which is funded) while new business awards amounted to $5.8B.
Defense contractors in Canada have gripes about “vaporware” DND competitions that cost them millions to bid for yet never materialize.