27 Sep 06. Mobile officials rolled out a $110m package of incentives -including $82m in cash — for the refueling tanker project with Northrop Grumman Corp. and EADS North America. The package will finance an aircraft assembly center in Mobile, if the Northrop team can win an Air Force competition against Boeing Co. The package involves five different agencies — the Alabama State Port Authority, the Mobile County Commission, the Mobile City Council, the Mobile Airport Authority and the Mobile Industrial Development Board. Northrop and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., the parent company of European plane maker Airbus, wouldn’t get any of the incentives if the team does not win the Air Force competition. The contract to build tankers to replace the aging KC-135 could be worth $20bn over time, according to industry analysts.
29 Sep 06. HMS ARK ROYAL: Refit Completed. The MoD confirmed that HMS ARK ROYAL left Babcock’s Rosyth complex on 29 Sep 06, following her nine-month refit. Three weeks of Sea Trials are to precede the carrier’s return to the Fleet in December 2006.
Comment: The £18m refit is said to have increased HMS ARK ROYAL’s versatility, “allowing her to operate effectively in the Commando Helicopter Carrier role while maintaining a Maritime Strike and Command & Control platform capability”. As a Helicopter Carrier, HMS ARK ROYAL is expected to replace HMS OCEAN when she enters refit in Summer 2007. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0637, 02 Oct 06)
28 Sep 06. Landing Ships Dock (Auxiliary) (LSD(A)): Entering Service. The MoD confirmed (28 Sep 06) that operational command of the first LSD(A), RFA Mounts Bay, had transferred to Fleet on 15 Sep 06. The vessel is ready to undertake her role within the Amphibious Task Force, operating in close support of HMS OCEAN, ALBION and BULWARK. RFA Largs Bay and Cardigan Bay are now due to be brought into service “in early 2007” while RFA Lyme Bay is due to be delivered in November 2007.
Comment: All concerned will be relieved to see the four LSD(A) in service, after a procurement fiasco (conducted with Smart Acquisition guidance!). First of Class was originally to have entered service in January 2004, with all four available by the end of 2005. Swan Hunter’s starting contract for the build of two ships and lead yard services was worth £210m while BAE Systems was to be paid £122m for the other two ships. In a Written Statement on 14 Jul 06 the Defence Secretary stated that the combined contract values had risen to “approximately £600m” (from £332m). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0637, 02 Oct 06)
28 Sep 06. Warship Maintenance: Programme. In a Trading Statement (28 Sep 06), Babcock International said that the MoD had “recently confirmed to Industry the start of the refit periods for five warships during the second half of the current financial year[i.e. 1 Oct 06 to 31 Mar 07] together with the regeneration of three vessels prior to disposal….”
Comment: The ‘regeneration’ of three vessels refers to the sale of three Sandown Class Minehunters(HMS SANDOWN, INVERNESS and BRIDPORT) to Estonia. Invitations to tender for the ‘regeneration’ work were issued to Babcock and to Fleet Support on 26 May 06, with the expectation that a contract would be issued on 1 Aug 06 (it wasn’t). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0637, 02 Oct 06)
29 Sep 06. Defence Logistics move to South West given green light. Approval for the Ministry of Defence to focus the majority of its logistics support staff in the Bristol/Bath area has today been granted by Armed Forces Minister, Adam Ingram. It means the Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO) will ‘collocate’ a number of its key activities alongside the Defence Procurement Agency(DPA), particularly in the North Bristol area around the existing Abbey Wood site. Confirmation of this decision means the DLO will withdraw from a number of other sites around the country over the next five years. By colloc