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06 Sep 18. General Dynamics, National Steel and Shipbuilding Co., San Diego, California, was awarded a $218,717,565 firm-fixed-price contract for the execution of USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) fiscal year 2018 docking phased maintenance availability. This availability includes a combination of maintenance, modernization, and repair of USS Bonhomme Richard. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $249,176,364. Fiscal 2018 operations and maintenance (Navy); and fiscal 2018 other procurement (Navy) funding in the amount of $218,717,565 will be obligated at time of award, and $161,687,028 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Work will be performed in San Diego, California, and is expected to be completed by May 2020. This contract was competitively procured using full and open competition via Federal Business Opportunities website. Two offers were received in response to solicitation N00024-18-R-4404. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity (N00024-18-C-4404). (Awarded Sept. 4, 2018)
05 Sep 18. Sierra Nevada Corp., Centennial, Colorado, has been awarded a ceiling $1,808,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity contract for potential procurement, sustainment, modifications, ferry, and related equipment for the A-29. Work will be performed at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia; and Kabul, Kandahar, and Mazari Sharif Air Bases, Afghanistan. Work is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2024. This contract involves foreign military sales to Afghanistan. This award is the result of a sole-source acquisition. This contract is funded by appropriated Afghanistan Security Forces funds. Funds in the amount of $115,478 are being obligated at the time of award on delivery order 0001 for a site survey in Afghanistan. The contracting activity is the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio (FA8637-18-D-6003).
05 Sep 18. UMS SKELDAR Partners with Airflite for MRO in Australasia. UMS SKELDAR has agreed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airflite Pty Ltd to provide exclusive Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) and technical support services for the rotary unmanned UAV portfolio including the NATO-compliant flagship VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) SKELDAR V-200 and its variants. The agreement was announced at LAND FORCES 2018 in Adelaide (4-6 September 2018), Australia. According to the agreement Airflite, with operations across Australia, will become a technical support partner of UMS SKELDAR, the joint venture between Saab and UMS AERO GROUP. Airflite will provide support staff and maintenance and engineering services for the rotary V-200 UAV and its variants. UMS SKELDAR says the agreement provides another building block for Australia to become the regional base for Pacific Rim support operations as the global UAV company develops its operational footprint with military and civilian customers across the region.
Airflite’s operations include facilities at four airports and two airforce bases covering Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria providing access to MRO services across the continent for land and sea-based customers.
Axel Cavalli-Bjorkman, CEO of UMS SKELDAR explains: “This is a significant milestone in the development of our global operational support network. Our twin focus of land and sea rotary capabilities, together with state-of-the-art engineering and avionics, demands the very best technical support. We are confident that Airflite, with their impressive customer portfolio, will play an important part in our expansion of services and capabilities in Australia, New Zealand and the wider region.”
Homer Constantinides, Managing Director of Airflite added: “We are pleased to make this joint announcement. This agreement not only confirms our position as the number one choice for MRO in Australasia but signals the commitment to Australia by such a prestigious UAV innovator. We look forward to a fruitful partnership.” (Source: UAS VISION)
04 Sep 18. The U.S. Navy awarded Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) a seven-year contract worth up to more than $500m to build and deliver more than 200+ electronic Consolidated Automated Support Systems (eCASS) to maximize aircraft readiness. The previous Navy CASS contract awarded in 2000 to Lockheed Martin was worth $287m. According to Navy Naval Air Systems Command, eCASS saves the Navy money by averting the repair of avionics at the next level of maintenance or sending the parts back to the original equipment manufacturer. Sailors use eCASS to troubleshoot and repair aircraft electronics ashore and at sea, allowing them to return aircraft such as the F/A-18 and E-2D to operational status quickly and efficiently.
“Lockheed Martin’s partnership with the Navy on Automated Test Equipment began more than 30 years ago with the production and sustainment of the legacy CASS family of products,” said Amy Gowder, general manager and vice president, Lockheed Martin Training and Logistics Solutions. “Our technology is always evolving and now can support F-35 advanced avionics and other fifth-generation platforms. Our goal remains the same – keep aircraft mission ready at the most affordable lifecycle cost now and for the future.”
Since 2010, Lockheed Martin has delivered more than 80 eCASS stations to the Navy, as part of its transition from the legacy CASS testing stations to the smaller, faster and more reliable eCASS.
03 Sep 18. Next-gen RFID could improve how vehicles get to the battlefield. With incredible volumes of material on the move – think: arms and munitions, supplies, vehicles – the military quite simply needs a better way to track its stuff.
“We hear a lot of concerns about getting in-transit visibility in the last tactical mile, from the supply point to the end user,” said Jim Alexander, product lead for automated movement and identification solutions in PEO EIS – Enterprise Information Systems. “We are working with our partners and with transportation command to gather up the requirements for the next generation of in-transit visibility for DoD.”
At the heart of transit tracking today is radio-frequency identification (RFID), which allows logisticians to tag and track goods on the move. But RFID has its limitations: It’s infrastructure intensive and not globally available. Military planners are looking to do better.
RFID technology took a big step forward about 20 years ago with the widespread adoption of “active RFID.” Rather than scan individual items by hand, active RFID uses a fixed scanner to monitor entire lots. You’ll see this equipment at airports and at the gates of military installations.
But active RFID isn’t an ideal solution.
“It consists of a dome-shaped reader on a pole, connected to power and ethernet. So you are running power lines and communication lines, and if the reader goes down someone has to go out and physically service it,” said Rosemary Johnston, senior vice president of government at solutions provider Savi. The company is sole provider for the DoD’s RFID-IV contract, which has a $102m ceiling.
“Each reader costs a couple of thousand dollars, plus the cost of hooking it up, running wires via trenches. It becomes a major construction investment project,” said Johnston, a former chief master sergeant with the U.S. Air Force.
In addition, active RFID equipment isn’t necessarily well-suited to today’s highly agile expeditionary fighting stile. “The military doesn’t know where the next fight is going to be, so they use portable deployment kits rather than do this massive construction, but even those are heavy ― the lightest weighs 25 pounds ― and they require good satellite coverage. It becomes very resource constrained,” she said.
With the next-gen RFID contract, the military envisions a better way of doing business.
A cellular solution
Satellite-readable RFID tags offer some relief, as they expand the military’s reach without requiring extensive additional overhead. But satellite time is costly. Savi’s emerging solution would leverage widely available cellular signals as a new means to capture and communicate RFID information.
Johnston describes early trials of cellular RFID in Africa, where materials tracking has been a perennial problem. U.S. and European forces have just six fixed RFID readers on the entire continent, making supplemental coverage an urgent need, she said.
“We have used cellular technology in Africa with a commercial company very successfully for the past three or four years. The networks we would use on the military side would be very similar to what this comer customer uses, so we believe that represents a great opportunity for Africa Command,” she said.
The switch to cellular isn’t technically complicated: military planners would need to add a cellular module to the existing RFID tag. That module could then be programmed to automatically report location status to the military’s in-transit visibility server.
High-value cargo might report hourly, whereas more mundane supplies could be set to check in daily or every couple of days, in order to conserve battery life in the RFID tag.
At PEO-EIS, Alexander said he sees strong potential in the technology. With a cellular system, “you could get a much more granular look, a more detailed look at where my stuff is,” as compared to relying on fixed checkpoints, he said. “If you have sensitive cargo you can know where it is every hour on the hour, as opposed to waiting for that cargo to pass by a fixed site.”
Some technical details still need to be worked out in order to implement a commercial-grade cellular solution within the military. For example, “you don’t want to have anything in the device that would trigger a static charge if you are working around ammunition,” Johnston noted. “We are working through that process right now.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
03 Sep 18. Schiebel Establishes Australian Base to Serve Pacific Region. Schiebel has founded Schiebel Pacific Pty Ltd (SPL) to provide the Pacific region with a permanent and comprehensive programme, logistics and sales hub. The Schiebel Group, with already established Defence contracts in the region, sees considerable further potential in Australia and in the region at large, and as such is committed to developing a lasting and mutually beneficial presence. Strategically located between Canberra and Sydney in the Shoalhaven, New South Wales, Schiebel Pacific Pty Ltd (SPL) is perfectly positioned to support and service existing contracts as well as to provide a base for continued growth. This new additional Schiebel company is an essential step to supporting and contributing to local industry, both in the civil and defence sectors, and as such bringing jobs and revenue to the region in the fast growing market or robotics.
“Establishing a permanent base in Australia, managed and run by Australians, is a logical next step for Schiebel as the Pacific region is of significant strategic interest to us,” notes Hans Georg Schiebel, Chairman of the Schiebel Group. “We already have a strong working relationship with customers in the area and are committed to growing our footprint, delivering outstanding support for our current contracts, providing end-to-end servicing to potential clients, and backing local value creation.”
03 Sep 18. New F-35 maintenance facility for Queensland. TAE Aerospace will develop a Turbine Engine Maintenance Facility (TEMF) in Bundamba, south-east Queensland, which will support in-country sustainment of Australia’s fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets.
The TEMF will enable deeper-level maintenance, where JSF F135 engine modules are disassembled, repaired and reassembled for testing. Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne said the new facility is a testament to the strength of Australia’s defence industry and the contribution we make to the global F-35 Program.
“TAE Aerospace’s new facility will support maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade (MRO&U) activities for not only Australian F135 engines but also engines from around the Asia-Pacific region and the world,” Minister Pyne said.
The Australian government has approved the acquisition of 72 F-35A JSF aircraft to replace the current fleet of 71 ageing F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets.
Minister Pyne elaborated on the scale of the program and it’s impact on the Australian defence industry.
“The addition of the F135 engine MRO&U activities will add a minimum of 15 aerospace technician jobs to its workforce and up to 85 additional jobs as part of the future F-35 Global Support Solution. TAE Aerospace is 100 per cent Australian-owned with 237 employees at several sites across Australia, with contracts to support Classic Hornet, Super Hornet, Growler and M1 Abram tank engines,” he said.
TAE CEO and managing director Andrew Sanderson was elated with the opportunity presented by the contract and maintenance facility.
“This is an exciting opportunity for TAE to design and build a speciality maintenance and manufacturing facility, with two areas of focus, one dedicated to F-135 engine maintenance in partnership with CASG and Pratt & Whitney, and the second focusing on maintenance of existing engines from the Hornet, Super Hornet, Growler and Abrams platforms,” Sanderson said.
Once completed the building will have 15,620 square metres of floor space, which is an 80 per cent expansion of the current footprint, which will see five key work areas established, including:
- F135 engine MRO&U and regional warehouse area – ready Q4 FY19;
- Existing engine MRO&U and warehouse area for engines from Hornet (F404), Super Hornet, Growler (F414) and Abrams tank (AGT1500), plus expansion space – ready Q2 FY20;
- Engine component repair area including, cleaning, non-destructive testing, machining, welding, grinding, heat treatment – ready Q2 FY20;
- Advanced manufacturing facility for aluminium vacuum brazing based chassis production for the F35 aircraft – ready Q2 FY20; and
- Administration and engineering office complex – ready Q2 FY20.
Additionally, the specially designed, secure facility will provide optimised work areas for improved production flow, which is climate controlled throughout, while implementing an open plan design to maximise the use of space and equipment.
“TAE has been assigned all the F-135 engine maintenance in the Asia-Pacific, that includes Korean, Japanese and American aircraft, in fact our first work is likely to be on US Marine F-35Bs. This facility is one of the first around the globe to provide maintenance to the F-135 engine allowing us to establish ourselves as world leaders in this space, with world-class facilities and capabilities supporting the global F-35 program,” Sanderson said, explaining the role this new facility will play in linking Australia into the global F-35 supply chain.
Lockheed Martin Australia F-35 Program Manager, Andy Doyle, told Defence Connect that the company notes this accomplishment, saying “As Original Equipment Manufacturer of the F-35, Lockheed Martin congratulates TAE Aerospace on this significant achievement that will contribute to Australia’s role as F-35 regional support centre in the Asia- Pacific.”
Further reinforcing the sovereign capability generating role identified by Australia is spending about $17bn to buy 72 fighters of the F-35A variant, with the aircraft due to reach IOC by December 2020. Australia’s first six F-35As are currently operating at the international Pilot Training Centre at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, with four more aircraft expected to be delivered by the end of this year.
Two of Australia’s F-35A aircraft are scheduled to arrive for permanent basing at RAAF Base Williamtown near Newcastle in December this year. (Source: Defence Connect)
30 Aug 18. Is the USAF Flying Force Large Enough? Assessing Capacity Demands in Four Alternative Futures. The U.S. military has mostly operated at a high operational tempo since the end of the Cold War, and there appears to be no significant reduction in demand on the horizon. However, the U.S. military has few analytical tools for identifying the force requirements associated with ongoing operations, and there are no systematic efforts within the Department of Defense to collect data on the nature of operational demands over time. This report is intended to help address this imbalance. Drawing on a dataset of U.S. military operations since 1946, the authors quantify historical demands placed on the U.S. Air Force (USAF). They then use this historical evidence to estimate demands on the USAF flying force in four possible futures: two futures in which the United States enters a new cold war with Russia or China; one in which United States renews peace enforcement commitments like those between 1990 and 2000; and one in which U.S. military operations are dominated by global counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations, as they have been since 2001. The authors find that the current USAF force experiences capacity shortfalls in all four futures, and that no class of aircraft performs well across all four futures. The analysis suggests that prolonged operations are particularly stressing to the force, which is significant given that the average length of operations has been increasing since the end of the Cold War.
The authors also find that the identified shortfalls cannot easily be corrected through changes to deploy-to-dwell policies and policies that set a maximum deployment length. Drawing on these findings, the authors provide recommendations for USAF and Department of Defense leaders and force planners.
Shortfalls in the USAF’s capacity to meet potential future force demands:
— In each of the four possible futures examined, the 2017 USAF force was unable to meet the demands for all types of aircraft. For example, in the two cold war futures, the USAF can meet the projected demand for fighter aircraft but not for bomber or airlift aircraft.
— No class of aircraft performed well in all four of the examined futures. Fighter aircraft came closest, and C3ISR/BM (command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance/battle management) platforms had the biggest shortfalls, reflecting their small fleets and high demand.
— Operations that last more than a year place great demands on force structure. In analytical excursions in which contingencies were limited to no more than one year in duration, there were large improvements in the percentage of contingency demands met.
— Aircraft availability shortfalls cannot easily be corrected through changes to deploy-to-dwell policies and policies that set a maximum deployment length.
— Supplement Department of Defense and service force planning processes with historically based simulations of alternative futures.
— Develop metrics that more clearly illustrate the force structure consequences for the USAF of prolonged operations.
(Source: defense-aerospace.com/Rand Corporation; issued Aug. 30, 2018)
About Oshkosh Defense
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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