Australia may be an NH90 customer, but they also fly quite a few Sikorsky helicopters. Their 35 S-70A-9 Black Hawks began service in 1986, and have been used domestically and in a number of international deployments. Their lack of full defensive systems has prevented deployment to dangerous conflict zones like Afghanistan, but recent upgrades have partly fixed this problem. The Royal Australian Navy’s fleet of 16 S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopters contain features from the US Navy’s SH-60B and SH-60F Seahawks, and were delivered from 1988-1992. They will be replaced from 2016 onward by new MH-60R Seahawk helicopters.
Those fleets need maintenance, and Australia has signed a number of long-term contracts to that end. This article covers those contracts, from 2009 onward.
The US Labor Department issued guidance [PDF] on the application of the WARN Act in advance of sequestration. They are saying defense contractors with contracts at stake should not send WARN Act notices, contrarily to the position held by Lockheed Martin and others. They argue that while “it is currently known that sequestration may occur, it is also known that efforts are being made to avoid sequestration.” It is a bizarre line of reasoning given that executing sequestration next January is currently signed law. Perhaps knowing this, the Dept of Labor also argues that because DoD hasn’t announced which contracts would be affected, potential layoffs are speculative.
It may come in handy for moving blast-resistant MRAP vehicles from Afghanistan to their projected staging & storage areas, in Italy and the Western Pacific. Given North Korea’s known intent to use massive commando infiltration, MRAPs seem like a smart tactical choice in Korea.
Though the primes are staying clear of commenting on the Pentagon’s acquisition workforce, smaller IT firms are complaining about mistakes and lack of visibility that they attribute to the lack of experience of an increasing part of contracting officers. Recent hires will need to ramp up their skills fast as many older employers will retire soon.
The US Army is mounting its defense to counter claims that it has not-invented-here syndrome in the DCGS-A vs. Palantir kerfuffle: “There are multiple requests for capabilities in theater and many are ghost written by commercial vendors.”
Besides using sophisticated software to detect buried IEDs, the US Army is also considering training… rats. They would reach where dogs can’t.
The Royal United Services Institute think tank comments [PDF] on the British MoD’s plans to manage military procurement via a Government Owned, Contractor Operated (GOCO):
Milavia’s OrBat suggests a total of about 85 H-60s in all branches of Colombia’s military. Many of Colombia’s helicopters are UH-60A equivalents, though about 16 have been upgraded to “AH-60 Arpia” attack helicopter status with surveillance turrets, rockets, and forward-firing guns. Since 2005, a steady drumbeat of DSCA notifications and contracts concern UH-60L upgrades, or new helicopters, that will add to Colombia’s fleet. While other customers like the US military, Bahrain, the UAE and even Colombia’s G-3 trade bloc neighbor Mexico are ordering the newest UH-60Ms, Colombia sees an opportunity to save money by sticking with the UH-60L as its top-end standard.
Acting US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness and Force Management Frederick Vollrath testified in front of the House Armed Services Committee on the timeline of announcements leading to the reduction of the Pentagon’s civilian workforce to comply with sequestration. A first deadline is around September 21st, less than 2 months from now. Yet the Pentagon maintains its focus on rolling back sequestration, a matter that is out of its hands and is for Congress to address. This is starting to look like a reckless bet, if DoD is actually not planning for the sequester that is. Video abstract of the hearing at the bottom of this entry.
This comes just as the GAO states that it “remains concerned that DOD lacks critical information it needs to effectively plan for its workforce requirements.”
The CBO(Congressional Budget Office) analyzed [PDF] the latest long-term shipbuilding plans of the US Navy and thinks that despite lowering the number of ships they intend to procure, the DoN is significantly underestimating how much their plan will cost. CBO’s estimate of $20 billion/year for new-ship construction is about 40% above the historical average funding, with peaks way above average in the 2023-2032 decade (even by the Navy’s own costing). CBO for instance challenges the Navy’s estimate that it will be able to buy the next-gen LCS under much better terms than the current generation, and likewise doesn’t buy that a successor to DDG-51 Flight III ships would deliver more technology for the same price.
In late July, Canada’s RCMP(Royal Canadian Mounted Police, aka. “Mounties”) federal police force took delivery of 18 new Tactical Armoured Vehicles (TAVs), based on Navistar’s MXT-APC. Navistar’s MXTs are about twice as heavy as a Humvee, but would still be considered light by the standards of blast-resistant “MRAP/PPV” vehicles. The Canadian “TAVs” were bought under a $14 million contract, and will be used by Emergency Response Teams (ERTs) across Canada as their primary support vehicle. They’re designed for incidents including hostage takings, armed standoffs, barricaded persons and search and rescue operations, using a blueprint that came from Navistar Defence Canada Inc. in cooperation with RCMP engineers.
Britain is the MXT’s biggest customer, and their “Huskies” are deployed to Afghanistan. The RCMP is Navistar’s 1st MXT vehicle sale to police-type units, and a having such a high-profile international customer makes for a good start in that area. On the flip side of that transaction, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson might want to avoid phrases like “We’re proud to have acquired this impressive tool,” when referring to new cars. After 139 years, we suppose that every organization is entitled to a minor mid-life crisis. RCMP | Navistar.
The International Crisis Group (ICG) nonprofit released a report [PDF] which concludes that conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea are at a deadlock. China’s actions are shaped by its own internal dynamics [PDF] and its neighbors are not passively watching:
Following an assignment handed to him by his boss last month, US deputy secretary of defense Ashton Carter said India is a top priority for defense exports. India is interested in cooperation rather than mere trade. Carter added:
“Practically, we want to be India’s highest-quality and most trusted long-term supplier of technology, not a simple seller of goods, in such fields as maritime domain awareness, counterterrorism, and many others.”
British military procurement is to make a big step if Philip Hammond’s statement [PDF] to Parliament last week is followed up by implementation. The Defence Minister wants to turn Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) into a Government Owned, Contractor Operated (GOCO) entity after having “soft market tested” alternatives earlier this year. This is likely to lead to a competition among interested service companies but it will take a while to happen, and there are many challenges ahead. DE&S currently employs about 18,000 people with a budget of around 14 billion pounds (slightly under 22 billion US dollars).