22 Mar 07. Bill Would Sever U.S. Coast Guard Ties With Deepwater Contractors. U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass, introduced legislation March 15 that would end the relationship between the U.S. Coast Guard and Integrated Coast Guard Systems, the joint venture that serves as the prime contractor for the $24 billion Deepwater program. Called the Deepwater Accountability Act, the legislation would require the contract to be competitively bid after the current agreement expires in June. “It’s long overdue for the Coast Guard to make the necessary reforms to protect taxpayers and prevent further delays in the Deepwater program,” Kerry said in a written statement. Under the legislation, the Coast Guard would be required to serve as the program’s systems integrator, managing and coordinating the project itself. The Department of Homeland Security also would be required to submit a report to Congress on the current status of Deepwater assets, and its inspector general would be required to notify Congress about decisions that resulted in cost overruns. (Source: Defense News)
14 Mar 07. The Air Force’s $60m national airspace defense system, meant to marry FAA and NORAD radars with Air Force monitoring and defense capabilities, is
now the shield for the continental United States (CONUS), the service announced March 13. The Air Force transitioned the defense system – called Battle Control System-Fixed (BCS-F) – to CONUS operations Feb. 16. “We passed an important milestone,” Maj. Mark Pearson said during a March 13 briefing. Essentially, BCS is meant to help prevent the same type of terrorist attacks as those that took place Sept. 11, 2001, when hijackers flew civilian jetliners into the Pentagon and New York’s World Trade Center buildings. During those attacks, there was no seamless tracking of the planes with FAA and NORAD radar systems and defense networks. As a result, Air Force officials say, fighter planes could not arrive quickly enough to intercept the hijacked planes. The Air Force quickly bought and fielded an interim system, called the NORAD Contingency Suite (NCS). BCS-F prime contractor Thales Raytheon Systems (TRS) submitted the winning bid for the system and started work in 2003. The Air Force and NORAD tacked on additional requirements to the system and Air Combat Command said it was operationally capable in October to handle Alaska, Canada, and Hawaii. The Air Force blended the additional requirements for BCS-F into another development spiral. When it became operationally capable, BCS-F also started to serve as the command-and-control (C2) system for the oceans surrounding the continental United States. On Feb. 16, that control expanded, and BCS-F became the primary C2 source over inland CONUS as well. (Source: Aviation Week)
21 Mar 07. Smiths Detection’s military unit has been awarded a delivery order for over 4,100 Improved Chemical Agent Monitor (ICAM) units. The contract from the US Department of Defense is valued at $19.25m and follows a $9.5m contract for ICAM awarded in June 2006. ICAM is a highly effective, hand-held device that is battle-proven and reliable. It quickly monitors and confirms nerve and blister agent contamination in personnel, vehicles, equipment and terrain. The ICAM is used both in military applications and by emergency service providers.