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Department of Defense Continues to Invest in Necessary Capability

by: Matthew Potter
April 18, 2011

Category: Boeing, Business Line, Companies, Contract Additions, Contract Awards, Department of Defense, development program, Editorial, Events, Military Aviation, production program, Services, U.S. Navy | RSS 2.0

The U.S. Defense Department spends more money each year then most of the rest of the world’s nations combined. Part of this is due to the requirements of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and part due to the need to continue to develop and maintain capability across the full spectrum of military requirements. This means they are not only investing in systems like small arms, armored vehicles and rotary wing aviation commonly used in the fighting since 9/11 but also things like nuclear aircraft carriers, satellite systems and maintaining some Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) ability.

In the 1980’s due to the threat of the large Soviet submarine fleet the United States Navy and its allies built up a significant ASW force to aid in the movement of materials and troops to Europe in case of war and to also eliminate the threat of nuclear missiles launched from submarines at the U.S. and NATO countries. This included attack submarines, surface warships optimized for ASW and carrier and land based aircraft and helicopters such as the P-3C and SH-2 and SH-3 as well as a network of monitoring sites on land and ships.

One of the airborne assets major tools was the sonobouy. These were air deliverable sensors that could be used to identify and prosecute enemy submarine contacts. They would be dropped into the water and collect data on the potential threat through active and passive means. They would relay this data to ships and aircraft to help locate precisely and support attacks on the enemy submarine.

Even though the Soviet threat has gone and there is not much call for ASW operations in Kandahar or Fallujah the U.S. Navy must continue to develop and maintain this mission. That means it is still building attack submarines, patrol aircraft such as Boeing’s P-8 and using ships for this mission.

Erapsco is a private company that has being developing and building sonobouys since the late Eighties. They recently were awarded a contract to manufacture sonobouys for the U.S. Navy worth about $55 million. This contract will last about three years and see over 60,000 sensors made.

This is probably an option for a certain number of bouys as part of an original Indefinite Quantity/Indefinite Delivery (ID/IQ) contract awarded last year. The initial production option was worth about $34 million.

The U.S. has made a choice to continue to maintain a diverse set of capabilities for its military. This means that while it supports the fighting in Afghanistan and conducts stability operations in Iraq it also must build systems for use in missions not commonly carried out. This includes ASW as a primary focus of the Navy.

Photo from Ack Ook’s flickr photostream.

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