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02 May 19. Northrop Grumman Awarded Royal Australian Air Force Special Purpose Aircraft Sustainment Services Contract .
Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has been selected by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) to continue providing through-life support to the Commonwealth’s special purpose aircraft (SPA) VIP fleet operated by No. 34 Squadron in Canberra. This sole source, 18-year rolling wave contract has an initial period of six years for sustainment and maintenance valued at $84m (AUD). Northrop Grumman will service the SPA fleet by providing logistics, maintenance, engineering and training. The work will be supported by a dedicated program management office in Melbourne. The SPA fleet comprises two Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) aircraft and five Challenger CL604 jets that are being replaced by three Falcon 7X business jets. The RAAF’s SPA capabilities are set to ramp up mid-year with the delivery of a KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport modified to support long-range government VIP transport needs.
“This award is a reflection of our team’s support to the RAAF and the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, especially through our work on the SPA, KC-30A and C-27J programs,” said Chris Deeble, chief executive, Northrop Grumman Australia. “As a leader in platform stewardship and global fleet management, we look forward to maintaining our 100 percent mission capable rate.”
02 May 19. RUAG Australia solidifies collaboration with Honeywell. RUAG Australia and Honeywell have confirmed and strengthened their existing co-operation. The extended relationship sees RUAG Australia continue as a Honeywell authorised service centre (ASC) and expand its reach to include additional aircraft variants and component volumes from across the region. This enhanced licensing agreement came into effect on 12 March 2019 and has already shaped new business for the component maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) specialist.
Continuing the ASC partnership agreement with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Honeywell allows RUAG Australia access to an extensive list of additional platforms and components on aircraft belonging to the Australian Defence Force.
Accordingly, RUAG is set to provide component level maintenance and repair services for Honeywell aeronautical, mechanical, engine accessories and environmental control system (ECS) equipment on aircraft including the E-7A Wedgetail, F/A-18F Super Hornet and Leonardo C-27J.
This represents a significant addition to existing RUAG capabilities. Independently, RUAG Australia already commands a trusted reputation within the Australian defence industry, serving as an in-country component MRO partner to the Royal Australian Air Force, for military platforms including the F/A-18, and is also now assigned as an MRO competence centre for a number of F-35 components for Australia as well as the Asia region. This latest assignment includes key systems from Honeywell.
Terry Miles, general manager of RUAG Australia, welcomed the announcement, saying, “Ensuring maximum support for the sustainment and availability of the Australian Defence Force fleet is our priority.
“At the same time, we are committed to developing deeper relationships with Honeywell, platform stewards and other significant OEMs to ensure maximum Australian content in support of the Australian Defence Force.”
The extended agreement further strengthens RUAG as a channel partner for Honeywell component-level MRO services on defence and civil aircraft throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The broader industry positioning and wider regional reach has increased demands on existing capacities.
As a result, RUAG Australia facilities at Airport West and Amberley have already ramped-up processes to accommodate these additional support services and lines.
Stephan Jezler, senior vice president aviation international, RUAG MRO International, said, “Growing our business on the basis of multi-year OEM contracts clearly emphasises successes we continue to achieve. This proves our competencies in current technologies and platforms, as well as for development-phase technologies and their subsequent aircraft platforms.
“Particularly, OEM agreements reinforce our position as a long-term and certified technology partner, both within Australia and across the wider region.”
RUAG Australia has built its engineering expertise and reputation on the provision of maintenance and repair capability and additive repair technologies on the F/A-18A/B aircraft, leading to recent awards of F-35 sustainment assignments.
The company is an approved 9100D aerospace company, with additional customer and NADCAP (National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program) special processing approvals for plating, non-destructive testing (NDT), surface enhancement and painting. RUAG Australia maintains and operates a fixed and mobile SPD capability, as well as a fixed LAD capability, and is a DASA 145, EASA 145, CASA 145 approved organisation.
RUAG MRO International is an independent supplier, support provider and integrator of systems and components for civil and military aviation worldwide. It also develops and supports simulation and training systems and solutions for international trained security forces. (Source: Defence Connect)
30 Apr 19. US seeks to restart parts manufacture for Taiwan F-5s. The United States is considering recommencing parts production for the Northrop F-5 Tiger II fighter aircraft to support Taiwan’s ageing fleet. Having previously sought to source surplus parts, the US Air Force (USAF) on 30 April issued a request for information (RFI) for new-build parts to sustain the Republic of China Air Force’s (RoCAF’s) single-seat F-5E and twin-seat F-5F platforms that have been in service since 1974 and 1976 respectively (having originally received 242 F-5E and 66 F-5F aircraft, it is unclear how many remain operational today).
“The Proven Aircraft Program Office, located at Hill AFB, Utah, is anticipating the award of a contract to procure F-5 unique parts from qualified manufacturers. Parts must be factory new or new manufacture and not from aftermarket vendors,” the solicitation said.
A total of 1,771 parts are required, although the USAF did not specify what they might be. The service said industry responses are due by 10 00 h MST on 29 May, and that it plans to begin the effort in fiscal year (FY) 2020.
The USAF’s search for new parts for the RoCAF’s F-5 fleet comes about six months after it issued an RFI for surplus parts. At that time it said it was looking to source 45 items ranging from windshield panels through to circuit cards.
As the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), Northrop Grumman will be the most likely candidate to fulfil the USAF’s requirement for F-5 spare parts for Taiwan. However, the F-5 is an old platform, and while there are about 1,000 of the type still in service globally, the company has previously admitted that it has not provided the level of sustainment and support for this aircraft that would normally be expected from an OEM. In 2010 Northrop Grumman announced that it was teaming with RUAG Aviation and Astronautics to launch an F-5 and T-38 Talon support and sustainment programme, in a belated attempt to re-engage in providing through-life support for the legacy aircraft. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
30 Apr 19. Lockheed Martin selects iBASEt digital manufacturing suite. iBASEt’s digital manufacturing suite has been selected by Lockheed Martin as the manufacturing execution system (MES) for its aeronautics division, the company announced on 25 April. The contract will see the implementation of iBASEt’s digital manufacturing MES solution across Lockheed Martin’s aeronautics division, which designs and manufactures military aircraft.
iBASEt’s MES solution offers better visibility, control and velocity to aerospace and defence manufacturers. The solution has been designed to improve manufacturing spans, quality and compliance by giving operators complete visibility into their product production and offering better efficiency and continuous improvement through data capture and analysis.
Naveen Poonian, president of iBASEt, said: ‘As iBASEt continues to expand in aerospace and defence on a global scale, our contract agreement with Lockheed Martin showcases the company’s commitment to assisting clients in establishing a foundation for their digital manufacturing.
‘iBASEt’s MES solution is designed to help Lockheed Martin modernise manufacturing operations to efficiently meet global demand for aircraft production while helping to reduce operational cost.’ (Source: Shephard)
30 Apr 19. NIWC Atlantic provides support to F-35 ALIS logistics system. The Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic is supporting the US Department of Defense’s autonomic logistics information system (ALIS) to manage the logistic needs of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSF).
NIWC Atlantic is providing software and architecture engineering support to the logistics system. ALIS is designed to integrate several capabilities such as operations, maintenance, prognostics, supply chain, customer support services, training and technical data.
The idea behind a single, secure information environment is to provide users with up-to-date information on these areas using web-enabled applications on a distributed network.
F-35 joint programme office (JPO) ALIS lead commander ‘Tripper’ McGee said: “NIWC Atlantic has been so instrumental to ALIS because the organisation has provided highly skilled people to fulfil a variety of roles, from cybersecurity, network architecture, propulsion and new site implementation, to sustainment management.
“NIWC Atlantic has been very responsive to changing programme needs for personnel.”
The F-35 JPO receives support from the NIWC Atlantic air and space team in the form of software development and integration, project management and cybersecurity services.
NIWC Atlantic information technology systems architect John Smith Jr said: “NIWC Atlantic is strategically placed to bring new capabilities at a reduced cost to the programme with a focus on products, people and processes, while delivering information warfare solutions that directly benefit the warfighter.”
The activities performed by NIWC Atlantic include system architecture design and reviews, laboratory hardware/software testing, and local site network design/engineering activities.
In addition, it carries out system installation and testing, technical refresh plan development, requirements change management, and contract development and evaluation for ALIS.
The F-35 has sustainment tools designed together with the aircraft vehicle to deliver efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
ALIS enables tracking of a higher fidelity of information about the F-35 fleet. This is intended to reduce operations and maintenance costs, as well as increase aircraft availability.
Earlier this year, the navy finished the implementation of ALIS 188.8.131.52. ALIS 3.1 incorporates prognostic health of the propulsion system and is expected to be fielded in the next few months.
Further upgrades will be available with the introduction of ALIS 3.5 in October. During each iteration, ALIS is put through cybersecurity testing, and corrective measures are taken if any vulnerability is identified within the system. (Source: naval-technology.com)
30 Apr 19. $1bn naval shipbuilding election commitment for WA. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a plan to invest up to $1bn in Western Australia’s naval shipbuilding capabilities with the commitment to build three new naval vessels for the Royal Australian Navy. A re-elected Morrison government would invest up to $1bn to increase our defence capabilities by building three naval vessels in Henderson, Western Australia – two mine warfare support vessels and a hydrographic vessel. This will ensure we maintain the 1,000 new jobs created to support continuous naval shipbuilding in WA and boost the state’s economy.
Prime Minister Morrison said the Australian Defence Force would continue to receive record funding to keep Australians safe, with naval shipbuilding playing a core role in the Coalition’s plans.
“This commitment in West Australia adds to the 31 minor war vessels already being built in the state – built in Australia, by Australian workers, with Australian steel – in stark contrast to Labor, who committed to build no naval vessels in Australia,” Prime Minister Morrison said.
The Coalition plan includes the construction of two further mine warfare support vessels at the Henderson shipyard precinct in West Australia is part of our new mine warfare strategy.
Prime Minister Morrison also outlined a plan to bring forward the replacement for the Huon class mine hunters from the 2030s to the mid-2020s, with over $1bn allocated as part of the Defence Integrated Program’s Maritime Mine Countermeasures program or SEA 1905.
Additionally, the Prime Minister expanded on commitments to construct a new hydrographic vessel at the Henderson shipyard precinct. This vessel is part of the SEA 2400 Hydrographic Data Collection Capability project, as part of this project, the Coalition outlined a plan to build and acquire a Strategic Military Survey Capability to undertake strategic collection of maritime environmental data as part of the military survey function.
First pass approval of this hydrographic military survey vessel is expected in fourth quarter 2019, with the build commencing in the early 2020s, at Henderson.
“We’re backing the West with our commitment to make WA a home of continuous naval shipbuilding in Australia and the Henderson precinct is crucial to Australia’s defence capability,” Prime Minister Morrison added.
WA is home to over 6,400 Defence personnel and has a number of key bases, including Fleet Base West, HMAS Stirling, Campbell Barracks, RAAF Base Pearce, RAAF Base Learmonth, RAAF Base Curtin and the Harold E Holt Communications Station.
WA is home to ongoing upgrade and sustainment work for the Royal Australian Navy’s existing fleet, including:
- Upgrades to and maintenance of the Anzac Class frigates at Henderson, valued at over $300m in 2019-20;
- The Collins Class submarine sustainment program at Henderson, valued at around $331m in 2019-20; and
- Collins Class submarine upgrade works at Henderson, valued at around $87m in 2019-20.
The Prime Minister reiterated the Coalition’s record in government, saying that the nation’s defence expenditure would be increased to 2 per cent of GDP by 2020, in addition to a number of announcements made, including:
- $367m for the redevelopment of HMAS Stirling to modernise essential infrastructure;
- Under the Coalition’s Local Industry Capability Plan pilot, 100 per cent of sub-contractors on this project are from the Perth and Rockingham region, representing around 2,000 workers, with over 5 per cent Indigenous participation;
- $300m for the development of the capability centre to support training for the new Arafura Class offshore patrol vessels and Hunter Class frigates;
- Around $200m for infrastructure to support Navy’s new replenishment vessels; and
- About $670m for the development of infrastructure in support of the Hunter Class frigates at HMAS Stirling. (Source: Defence Connect)
29 Apr 19. Rostec opens engine repair centre in Vietnam. Rostec has opened an integrated logistics support centre for the repair of United Engine Corporation’s UEC-Klimov helicopter engines in Vũng Tàu, Vietnam.
The centre is equipped with all necessary equipment, spare parts and assemblies to provide repairs for UEC-Klimov engines.
The facility will perform medium repairs of TVZ-117 and VK-2500 engines operated in Vietnam. The Russian side will provide the details and spare parts, and train personnel for engine and gearbox maintenance. The Vietnamese company Helicopter Technical Service Company will provide support personnel to accompany the working process.
The Helicopter Technical Service Company also operates as a distributor of ТB3-117 and VK-2500 engines. The centre has been certified by the Aviation Administration of Vietnam. (Source: Shephard)
29 Apr 19. SimiGon wins contract extension for T-6A Level 5 FTD logistics support. SimiGon has secured a contract extension from the US Air Force (USAF) to continue providing support for its SIMbox-based T-6A Level 5 FAA compliant flight training device (FTD).
The extension of the existing contractor logistics support (CLS) contract will see SimiGon providing the FTD logistics support for one more year.
The company will provide software and hardware warranties and support services for the 16 T-6A Level 5 FTDs, including the simulators that were supplied under a 2016 contract with Booz Allen.
As a result of the extension, SimiGon expects to earn up to $1.41m for the services to be provided over the next 12-month period.
SimiGon president and CEO Ami Vizer said: “We are very excited to receive the CLS option year contract to support the undergraduate remotely piloted aircraft training (URT) programme and ensure first-class training for new operators.
“This contract validates SimiGon’s capabilities to successfully deliver and maintain long term contracts for strategic clients and further demonstrates the USAF’s confidence in our products and support services.
“Management expects this contract to generate new business with the USAF and other government end users.”
The company noted that the extension is a testimony to SimiGon’s satisfactory performance and the significance of its training devices in meeting the requirements of the USAF’s URT programme.
In addition to providing valuable training capabilities, the devices offer savings in terms of training time and costs, SimiGon stated.
In October, the USAF introduced an amendment to the contract to include additional support services for the FTDs.
The FTD offers self-paced training with a personalised real-time virtual instructor (VI) feedback, as well as digital score sheets to manage trainee and instructor performance. Built by Raytheon, the T-6A Texan II is a single-engine, two-seat primary military trainer aircraft.
28 Apr 19. USAF awards UPS maintenance contract to Pergravis. The Department of the US Air Force (USAF) Directorate of Contracting has awarded a $73.2m firm-fixed-price power supply equipment maintenance contract to Pergravis. The contract is valid for five and a half years and involves emergency and preventative uninterruptable power supply (UPS) system maintenance services being provided to government facilities globally.
Pergravis will deliver the services through the Power Conditioning and Continuation Interface Equipment (PCCIE) programme office in Ogden, Utah, US. The PCCIE contract vehicle is designed to serve as a single agency resource for all federal agencies to source maintenance services for their UPS systems, batteries and associated critical electrical infrastructure.
Pergravis managing director Steve Ritzi said: “As UPS systems become more sophisticated, we believe the original equipment manufacturers (OEM) service delivery model is the future of the industry.
“At Pergravis, we provide a single point-of-contact for every federal agency that engages through the PCCIE contract vehicle. We’re certified data centre experts, superior problem-solvers and provide unparalleled, mission-driven customer service to make sure the job gets done well, correctly and in a timely fashion.”
Pergravis formed partnerships with OEMs to provide UPS emergency and preventative maintenance services under the programme.
The contract also involves the delivery of enhanced services, including component repair and replacement on an as-needed basis.
Pergravis managing director Dominick Rappa said: “The criticality of the mission we support is always front and centre; it is core to all we do. In partnership with our OEM UPS service providers, we have assembled a world-class team of trained and certified technical resources that possess total mastery of their individual power products.
“There is simply no better service solution available to ensure the uptime of mission-critical electrical equipment.”
As part of the contract, the company will provide support for 700 uninterruptable power supply systems across every airforce major command. Work is expected to be completed by 13 April 2024. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
28 Apr 19. Brazil to modernise just 14 AMX jets. The Brazilian Air Force (FAB) will field 14 modernised Alenia-Embraer AMX light attack fighters instead of 43 as originally planned, the service’s Comissão Coordenadora do Programa Aeronave de Combate (COPAC) procurement organisation recently told Jane’s. Embraer Defense & Security was earlier tasked to modernise 33 single-seat A-1As and 10 twin-seat A-1Bs.
Brazil originally received 56 aircraft (45 A-1As and 11 A-1Bs). However, numbers to be upgraded were reduced due to budget constraints, and the FAB currently has about 20 non-modernised aircraft in its inventory.
The latest plan oversees the modernisation of 11 A-1As and three A-1Bs. The first modernised A-1M was received in September 2013. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
25 Apr 19. Government watchdog finds more problems with F-35’s spare parts pipeline. Only about half of the F-35s worldwide were ready to fly during an eight-month period in 2018, with the wait for spare parts keeping jets on the ground nearly 30 percent of the time, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office.
Over the past several years, the Defense Department has sought to improve mission capable rates by making improvements to the way it and F-35 contractor Lockheed Martin order, stockpile and repair spare parts. However, GAO’s findings imply that the situation may have gotten worse.
The GAO’s report, released April 25, investigated how spare parts shortages impacted F-35 availability and mission capable rates in 2018, with most data gathered between a May and November sustainment contract period.
“In 2017, we reported that DOD was experiencing sustainment challenges that were reducing warfighter readiness, including delays of 6 years in standing up repair capabilities for F-35 parts at its depots and significant spare parts shortages that were preventing the F-35 fleet from flying about 20 percent of the time,” GAO said in the report.
“According to prime contractor data, from May through November 2018, F-35 aircraft across the fleet were unable to fly 29.7 percent of the time due to spare parts shortages,” it said. “Specifically, the F-35 supply chain does not have enough spare parts available to keep aircraft flying enough of the time necessary to meet warfighter requirements.”
That lack of improvement may make it more difficult for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps to hit an 80 percent mission capable rate by the end of fiscal year 2019, as mandated by then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last fall. The military services stopped providing mission capable rates for aircraft last year, citing operational sensitivities. However, the data put forth by the GAO indicates that progress stagnated in the lead up to Mattis’ order.
From May to November 2018, mission capable rates — which measure how many planes possessed by a squadron can perform at least one of its missions — hovered around 50 percent for all versions of the F-35.
But when GAO assessed how many planes were fully mission capable — meaning that they were ready to fulfill all of their mission sets — all variants were far from meeting the 60 percent target. Only 2 percent of F-35C carrier takeoff and landing versions hit the fully mission capable mark, with the F-35Bs slightly better at 16 percent and the F-35A at 34 percent.
The GAO is skeptical that the services will be able to hit the 80 percent mission capable rate goal this year, and it is even more critical of the Defense Department’s plans to fund spares in future years.
The department intends to buy “only enough parts to enable about 80 percent of its aircraft to be mission-capable based on the availability of parts.” However, that planning construct will likely only yield a 70 percent mission capable rate at best, the GAO said, because it only accounts for the aircraft on the flight line and not jets that are in the depot for longer term maintenance.
No silver bullet for parts shortage issues
Like all complicated problems, there is no single solution for the F-35 spare parts shortage, which is driven by a number of factors.
GAO indicated that the Defense Department still has “a limited capacity” to repair broken parts, creating a backlog of 4,300 parts still needing to be addressed. Between September and November, it took more than six months to fix parts that should have been repaired in a window of two to three months.
The F-35’s much-maligned Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) was designed to be able to track parts and automate the process of generating and expediting work orders, however, GAO notes that the system still requires manual workarounds from users in order to accomplish tasks. Supply and maintenance personnel cited challenges such as “missing or corrupted electronic spare parts data,” limited automation and problems caused by ALIS’s subsystems not communicating with each other properly, it said.
As the F-35 is still a relatively new platform, it has taken time for the program to assess which parts have been failing more often than previously estimated — but that is an area where the Defense Department is making progress, the GAO stated.
“DOD has identified specific parts shortages that are causing the greatest aircraft capability degradation, and it is developing short-term and long-term mitigation strategies to increase the quantity and reliability of these parts,” the report said.
One such component is a coating used on the F-35’s canopy to help it maintain its stealth characteristics, which has been found to peel off at an unexpected rate, creating a heightened demand for canopies.
“To address these challenges, the program is looking for additional manufacturing sources for the canopy and is considering design changes,” the GAO stated.
But — somewhat paradoxically — the F-35 has been flying for a long enough time that there is significant parts differences between the first jets that rolled off the production line to the most recently manufactured planes. The GAO found “at least 39 different part combinations across the fleet” on top of variations in software.
“According to the program office, DOD spent more than $15bn to purchase F-35 aircraft from the earliest lots of production, specifically lots 2 through 5 … but it faces challenges in providing enough spare parts for these aircraft,” the report stated.
One problem — the cannibalization of F-35 aircraft for parts — is partially user-inflicted.
“From May through November 2018, F-35 squadrons cannibalized (that is, took) parts from other aircraft at rates that were more than six times greater than the services’ objective,” the GAO stated. “These high rates of cannibalization mask even greater parts shortages, because personnel at F-35 squadrons are pulling parts off of other aircraft that are already unable to fly instead of waiting for new parts to be delivered through the supply chain.”
During an interview this February, Lt. Col. Toby Walker, deputy commander of the 33rd Maintenance Group, told Defense News that F-35 maintainers at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., had stopped pulling parts off a cannibalized F-35 and had seen some improvements to mission capable rates as a result.
“We’re not continually moving parts from one aircraft to another. We’re relying on the program to provide our parts,” he said. “It was a very strategic plan to do that to increase aircraft availability by not sitting an aircraft down.”
In a statement, Lockheed Martin said that it had taken key steps to improve parts availability, such as transitioning some suppliers to performance based logistics contracts that incentivize companies to meet certain targets, as well as “master repair agreements” that will allow other suppliers to make longer term investments in their production capability.
“These actions are beginning to deliver results and we’re forecasting additional improvement. Newer production aircraft are averaging greater than 60 percent mission capable rates, with some operational squadrons consistently at 70 percent,” the company said.
“From a cost perspective, Lockheed Martin has reduced its portion of cost per aircraft per year by 15 percent since 2015. Our goal is to further reduce costs to $25,000 cost per flight hour by 2025, which is comparable to legacy aircraft while providing a generational leap in capability.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
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Oshkosh Defense is a leading provider of tactical wheeled vehicles and life cycle sustainment services. For decades Oshkosh has been mobilizing military and security forces around the globe by offering a full portfolio of heavy, medium, light and highly protected military vehicles to support our customers’ missions. In addition, Oshkosh offers advanced technologies and vehicle components such as TAK-4® independent suspension systems, TerraMax™ unmanned ground vehicle solutions, Command Zone™ integrated control and diagnostics system, and ProPulse® diesel electric and on-board vehicle power solutions, to provide our customers with a technical edge as they fulfill their missions. Every Oshkosh vehicle is backed by a team of defense industry experts and complete range of sustainment and training services to optimize fleet readiness and performance. Oshkosh Defense, LLC is an Oshkosh Corporation company [NYSE: OSK].
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