DRS Gets $19.7M to Develop PMM for Naval IPS’
DRS Power Technology Inc in Fitchburg, MA received a $19.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for Integrated Power Systems research, and development of a Permanent Magnet Motor (PMM) System Land Based Test Site and Next Generation Design. Work will be performed in Fitchburg, MA, and is expected to be complete by the end of Sep. 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $1.1 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was competitively procured and advertised on the Internet, with 15 proposals received by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, D.C. (N00024-07-C-4202)
The choice of an integrated power systems (IPS) based on in-hull permanent magnet synchronous motors (PMMs) or Advanced Induction Motors (AIM), in order to meet growing power demands, was controversial at the time. As ships pack bigger electronics arrays, and take advantage of the efficiency and acoustic benefits of all-electric ships, the efficiency and power output of one’s IPS matters more and more.
After DRS’ PMM technology hit some early roadbloacks, the Navy switched to Alstom’s AIM system for the Zumwalt Class in February 2005 – even though PMM technology would be lighter, take up less space, meet noise requirements more easily, and produce over twice the electric power output. DRS later fixed the issue, but the decision was made and altering it again would have thrown the program off schedule. It would be almost impossible to fit the first 2 DDG-1000 ships with PMM systems now, and even installing them on subsequent ships of class would require significant redesign. A PMM option would be very beneficial if the USA was prepared to make those changes on ships 3-6, however. Ditto if they chose to move ahead with a derivative CG (X) heavy cruiser class or FFG (X) frigate/destroyer class, or saw PMM systems as viable options for future versions of the Littoral Combat Ships. Hence the potentially big deal about DRS’ small contract.