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Northrop Grumman’s Astro Aerospace Delivers Antennas For Next-Generation GPS III Satellites 3 through 6 — Press Release

CARPINTERIA, Calif., March 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Continuing its support for the U.S. Air Force’s Global Positioning System (GPS), Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has delivered 32 self-deploying, monopole JIB antennas for the third, fourth, fifth and sixth GPS III satellites.

The company’s Astro Aerospace strategic business unit delivered the antennas to Lockheed Martin, which leads the industry team developing GPS III satellites in Littleton, Colo. Once installed, eight JIB antennas on each GPS III satellite will deploy to form an RF antenna array.

This is the delivery of the first 32 antennas supporting the third through sixth GPS III space vehicles out of 48 total antennas on order for GPS III space vehicles three through eight. Sixteen more JIB antennas will be delivered in early 2014, according to Dan Johansen, Astro Aerospace Program Manager.

“Astro Aerospace has delivered more than 1,000 JIB assemblies altogether for GPS IIF, GPS IIR and GPS III spacecraft, all with a 100 percent on orbit success rate,” said Johansen. “The antennas we supply are designed to help Lockheed Martin and the Air Force meet affordability and mission assurance goals for the next generation of GPS satellites.”

The GPS III program will affordably replace aging GPS satellites, while improving capability to meet the evolving demands of military, commercial and civilian users. GPS III satellites will deliver three times better accuracy; provide up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities; and include enhancements which extend spacecraft life 25 percent further than the prior GPS block. The GPS III also will carry a new civil signal designed to be interoperable with other international global navigation satellite systems, enhancing civilian user connectivity.

The JIB antenna is a stored energy monopole that deploys typically in 200 milliseconds. The stowed package is one of the smallest available and most compact for a deployable antenna of a given size. The unit is adaptable and comes in diameters from 0.25″ up to 2″ for impedance matching and in lengths from 12 inches to 25 feet.

Astro Aerospace, a pioneer of space deployable structure technologies, has a perfect record of on-orbit deployments since it was founded in 1958. Having delivered hardware for hundreds of spaceflight missions, it operates under the Aerospace Products group that offers a broad set of mature, proven and affordable products and services. For additional information about Astro Aerospace please visit www.northropgrumman.com/AerospaceProducts

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide. Please visit www.northropgrumman.com for more information.

SOURCE Northrop Grumman Corporation

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H2 IT Solutions Earns First Place Award in U.S. Army’s International Virtual Challenge Competition — Press Release

ORLANDO, Fla., — H2 IT Solutions, Inc., based in Orlando, is quickly earning a name for itself in the military simulation and training world.

Last week the eight-year old technology firm earned a coveted First Place Award—with a $10,000 prize—in the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s international 2013 Federal Virtual Challenge competition.

The Army Laboratory’s Simulation & Training Technology Center announced H2 IT’s First Place Award—in the Critical Thinking/Adaptability category—at the GameTech 2013 Defense User’s Conference in Orlando April 17.

H2 IT’s virtual team building game—Compound®, developed for the U.S. Air Force Air University Squadron Officer College— earned the firm its top prize.

Alice Hayden, president of H2 IT Solutions, Inc., said the Challenge rules were both specific and complex.

“Our goal was to develop an immersive virtual environment—a compelling game, with sensory triggers to make it real—that will help users build their critical thinking and adaptability skills in a measurable and sustainable way,” Hayden explained.

“Compound® teaches users how to lead a team, how to best delegate and communicate tasks and how to work together to analyze and adapt to the situation,” Hayden said.

The same week as the First Place Award, H2 IT landed a major feature profile in National Defense, the leading online community of the nation’s weapons and defense industries.

Hayden said the two events rank among the most important in the company’s brief history.

“Winning a First Place Award at the GameTech 2013 Defense User’s Conference is major benchmark because it’s in front of all our peers and competitors, but the National Defense profile showcases our skills and performance to the widest possible market of potential defense industry customers and clients,” Hayden said.

H2 IT Solutions provides innovative business and technology solutions designed to efficiently and effectively manage, interpret and distribute an organization’s valuable information to decision makers.

H2 IT Solutions is a client company of the University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program at Central Florida Research Park in east Orlando County.

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Good Technology™ Supports Air Force Mobile Device Operational Capability — Press Release

Enables the Secure Rollout of Mobile Devices with Good for Enterprise™

SUNNYVALE, Calif., April 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Good Technology™, the leader in secure enterprise mobility, today announced support for the Air Force mobile device rollout, deploying an initial operational capability based on Good for Enterprise™, which allows airmen to access their personal applications, while keeping official Air Force data separate and secure using a container approach.

“Security must come first,” notes William E. Marion II, Chief Technology Officer, U.S. Air Force Space Command. “We want to deliver the tools needed to enhance mission productivity and operational capabilities through our IT infrastructure. Empowering Airmen with the right mission tools, regardless of location, is critical.”

With this approach, Air Force personnel can comply with all Department of Defense (DOD) guidelines for mobile device security, while using the Apple™ operating system and Android™ tools to access email, calendar, contacts, documents, and certain applications.

“Users want choices, and IT needs control,” says Christopher Roberts, Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector, Good Technology. “Our mission is to deliver both, supporting real transformation and new, critical efficiencies while providing savings to the tax payer.

This step is part of a multi-phased program to ramp up Air Force mobile capabilities, and is focused on delivering approximately 10,000 devices, including smartphones and tablets. During the initial phase, which took place over the past year, Good Technology supported the Air Force Space Command’s mobile solutions for smartphone and tablet program.

Official data is encrypted and secured at all times, even when the device is used for personal applications (e.g., Facebook and Twitter, in compliance with DOD’s social media policies). This solution maintains the separation of an airman’s personal and official data.

Good for Enterprise is a secure mobile email and collaboration suite that enables access to email, documents, contacts, calendar, tasks, and the Intranet, securely, from any device. Good for Enterprise includes integrated device and application management, arming administrators with the ability to enforce security policies (including password requirements and jailbreak/rooted device detection) and manage secure third-party and internally-developed applications. The Air Force can also track devices or wipe data remotely from the device at the application level, quickly and comprehensively.

About Good Technology

Good Technology transforms enterprises by mobilizing employees through secure, collaborative workflows. Good® also empowers IT to protect and manage mobile apps, devices, and enterprise data. Good’s Secure Collaboration solutions include Good’s applications for email, PIM, browser, file sharing, instant messaging, as well as a broad ecosystem of third party applications. Good’s Enterprise Mobility Management Platform allows enterprises and ISVs to build, manage, analyze, and secure mobile applications. Good Technology has delivered solutions to more than 4,000 organizations worldwide, including FORTUNE 100™, eight of the top 10 financial services, five of the top 10 healthcare, and leaders in retail, telecommunications, manufacturing, legal, and government. Learn more at www.good.com.

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Pratt & Whitney Delivers First 10 Engines to Boeing for India’s C-17 Aircraft — Press Release

EAST HARTFORD, Conn., Feb. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX), has delivered the first 10 F117 engines to Boeing to power a fleet of C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force. India’s Ministry of Defence signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance with the U.S. government in 2011 to acquire 10 C-17s. The first of these C-17 aircraft is now going through a U.S. Air Force flight test program at Edwards Air Force Base in Palmdale, Calif. The Indian Air Force is scheduled to take delivery of its first five C-17s this year and five in 2014.

“Pratt & Whitney is delighted to be delivering the first batch of engines that will power the Indian Air Force’s C-17 fleet and we’re pleased to have them join the growing international fleet that flies this premium airlifter,” said Bev Deachin, vice president, Military Programs and Customer Support, Pratt & Whitney.

The C-17 Globemaster III – the world’s premier heavy airlifter – is powered by four F117 engines, each rated at 40,440 pounds of thrust. The C-17 transport, exclusively powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, is capable of taking off from a 7,600-foot airfield, carrying a payload of 160,600 pounds, and completing a flight of 2,400 nautical miles without refueling. The F117-PW-100 first entered service in 1993 and is a derivative of Pratt & Whitney’s PW2040 commercial engine. With nearly 10 million hours of proven military service and 50 million hours in commercial use, the F117/PW2040 has consistently proven itself as a world-class dependable engine. Through Pratt & Whitney’s ongoing investment in product improvements, the engine continuously surpasses established goals of time on wing and support turnaround time.

Boeing has delivered 250 C-17s featuring F117 engines worldwide, including 32 to international customers. The U.S. Air Force – including active duty National Guard and Reserve units – has taken delivery of 218 C-17s. Other customers include the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force, the Qatar Emiri Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability initiative of NATO and Partnership for Peace nations, and the United Arab Emirates Air Force and Air Defence.

Pratt & Whitney is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, space propulsion systems and industrial gas turbines. United Technologies, based in Hartford, Conn., is a diversified company providing high technology products and services to the global aerospace and building industries.

This press release contains forward-looking statements concerning anticipated business opportunities. Actual results may differ materially from those projected as a result of certain risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to changes in the Globemaster III funding related to the C-17 aircraft and F117 engines, changes in government procurement priorities and practices or in the number of aircraft to be built; challenges in the design, development, production and support of technologies; as well as other risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to those detailed from time to time in United Technologies Corporation’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

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Pratt & Whitney Delivers Final Production F119 Engine to the U.S. Air Force — Press Release

EAST HARTFORD, Conn., Jan. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Pratt & Whitney Military Engines today delivered the 507th and last production F119 engine to the U.S. Air Force for its F-22 Raptor fleet. The F119 Final Engine Delivery ceremony at the Middletown, Conn. Engine Center was held with representatives from the Air Force, Lockheed Martin and Boeing in attendance. Pratt & Whitney is a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX) company.

“This is a bittersweet occasion for those of us who have played a part in 12 years of successful production deliveries,” said Bennett Croswell, president of Military Engines at Pratt & Whitney. “The F119 production engine program might be ending but we look forward to a 30-40 year sustainment period in partnership with the Air Force to keep the fleet flying.”

The F119-PW-100 turbofan is the world’s first operational fifth-generation fighter engine in service and is providing dependable power for the F-22 Raptor, an aircraft known for its unparalleled maneuverability and its ability to “supercruise.” The engine, considered one of the Air Force’s most successful, is the forefather of the F135 propulsion system powering the F-35 Lightning II.

As Pratt & Whitney shifts from production to sustainment, the company has partnered with the U.S. Air Force at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center to manage scheduled overhauls of the F119 engine fleet.

“We accept this last production engine today, but are looking forward to our partnership with Pratt &Whitney in sustaining the F119 in the F-22 Raptor for decades to come,” said Colonel Gregory M. Gutterman, F-22 Program Director, Fighters and Bombers Directorate, Air Force Materiel Command, during today’s ceremony.

Pratt & Whitney is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, space propulsion systems and industrial gas turbines. United Technologies, based in Hartford, Conn., is a diversified company providing high technology products and services to the global aerospace and building industries.

This release includes “forward looking statements” concerning anticipated business opportunities that are subject to risks and uncertainties, including with regard to the programs described in this release. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated or implied in forward looking statements include changes in government procurement priorities and practices, budget plans, availability of funding and in the type and number of aircraft in flight operations and hours flown; decisions to award contracts to competing suppliers; and challenges in the design, development, production and support of advanced technologies and services. For information identifying other important economic, political, regulatory, legal, technological, competitive and other uncertainties, see UTC’s 10-K, 10-Q and other reports filed with the SEC.

For more information on the Pratt & Whitney F119 engine, visit http://www.pratt-whitney.com/F119_Engine

To view a video of Pratt & Whitney employees’ reflections on the F119 program, visit http://www.pw.utc.com/Videos/Story/f119-retrospective

For more information about Pratt & Whitney, visit http://www.pratt-whitney.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/prattandwhitney
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/prattandwhitney
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/prattandwhitney1925

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Lockheed Martin Receives U.S. Air Force Approval For Sniper Pod Full-Rate Production Under ATP-SE Program — Press Release

ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — The U.S. Air Force approved full-rate production for Lockheed Martin’s [NYSE: LMT] Sniper® Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) under the ATP-Sensor Enhancement (ATP-SE) program.

Building on the technology of legacy ATP pods, Sniper pods in the new ATP-SE configuration provide expanded mission capability and recently completed stringent operational testing to confirm their maturity for fielding and full-rate production. Sniper is the only ATP-SE pod integrated and operational on the F-15E, B-1 and B-52 in addition to the F-16 and A-10.

“With Sniper ATP-SE, aircrews and ground forces can identify targets faster and farther away, boosting their situational awareness and ensuring their safety in high threat environments,” said Bill Spangenberg, Sniper ATP program manager at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “Initial deployment of Sniper ATP-SE pods will occur this year.”

Sniper ATP provides superior detection ranges, stability and pointing accuracy while providing imagery for non-traditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (NTISR). A video data link to ground receivers allows the Sniper pod to relay high-resolution streaming video to forward-deployed forces for rapid target coordination.

Under the U.S. Air Force’s NET-T Quick Reaction Capability contract, Sniper ATP-SE enables a point-to-multipoint data link architecture that, when employed with other platforms, provides an extended range “beyond line-of-sight” capability allowing operators, analysts and decision makers access to real-time situational awareness data.

Combat proven, Sniper ATP is the only pod with advanced integration across all U.S. Air Force air-to-surface fighter and bomber aircraft. Sniper pods in the ATP-SE configuration feature new enhanced sensors, advanced processors and automated NTISR modes.

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control is a 2012 recipient of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for performance excellence. The Malcolm Baldrige Award represents the highest honor that can be awarded to American companies for their achievements in leadership, strategic planning, customer relations, measurement, analysis, workforce excellence, operations and results.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 120,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation’s net sales for 2011 were $46.5 billion.

For additional information, visit our website:

http://www.lockheedmartin.com

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Air Force Cost Goals Restrict Competition for New Rescue Helicopter

The U.S. Air Force is once again trying to attempt to buy a new aircraft to replace their MH-60 rescue helicopter fleet from the Eighties. The original CSAR-X program faltered twice earlier this century due to protests. Boeing (BA) had one the last contest with a version of the CH-47 but after protests from the losing bidders it was decided to start over.

The current Combat Rescue Helicopter program had put out a RFP for new proposals due in January. The goal is to buy just over 100 aircraft at a cost of $6.4 billion.

Unfortunately it was announced this past week that the only company interested in bidding on the contract is Sikosrky, part of United Technologies (UTX), teamed with Lockheed Martin (LMT). Sikorsky made the current HH-60 fleet. Other potential bidders including Augusta Westland, Eurocopter, Bell and Boeing believe that the cost goals will be too hard to meet for their products. Some have basically said the contract requirements were written in such as way so only a version of the UH-60 Black Hawk could meet them.

The Pentagon is obviously trying to reduce cost but at also at the same time promoting competition. Sometimes, as here, the two things don’t always work together as to attract bidders there must be some profit in it for them.

The Air Force has struggled with large acquisitions for a few years now. The new aerial tanker, KC-X, took 3 tries before Boeing won. The CSAR-X has already been discussed. They are currently redoing the Light Air Support aircraft contest after Embraer and Sierra Nevada’s win of the original contract was overturned on protest.

Whether they want to continue the current contest with limited bidders or try to re-do the requirements to attract more will be the next decision. They could just wait and see if more then one bid in January as originally intended.

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Pentagon Plan JSF Upgrade Contract

The U.S. Air Force and Navy Joint Project Office for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) announced recently that they plan to tender a contract to upgrade the first 93 F-35 aircraft to be consistent with a later production version. This covers 4 years of Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) aircraft that are currently being delivered.

No value for the contract was estimated but it should be several hundred million dollars to modify that number of aircraft.

It would be expected that Lockheed Martin (LMT), the prime contractor on the current JSF development and production effort, would be awarded the contract. The announcement though did leave an opening for others to submit proposals to do the work. This would be extremely hard for another contractor to do depending on how much technical data the Government owns and is available. Just estimating the cost of the work without that information would be difficult.

The JPO is expecting this contract to take some time to develop, negotiate and award as the LRIP 5 production contract remains in negotiation with Lockheed and probably won’t be awarded until the end of this year. Those aircraft would be coming off of the production line in several months. This will allow the program to continue production, testing and training while then beginning to retrofit the existing aircraft.

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Northrop Upgrading B-1 Radars

Modern combat aircraft have become like ships in that they now serve for several decades receiving incremental refits and upgrades. Even while new systems are being developed and deployed older designs get new electronics, engines and munitions that enhance their effectiveness and usefulness.

The U.S. Air Force has done this consistently with their bomber force which consists of B-52 aircraft first delivered in the 1950’s, the 1980 built B-1 and the stealth B-2 delivered in the 90’s. A new bomber design is being developed but for the last eleven years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan it has been existing aircraft flying the missions.

Northrop Grumman (NOC) has just delivered the first kit to upgrade the B-1’s radar and it has already been installed on an aircraft. The Radar Reliability and Maintainability Program (RMIP) has so far been worth $161 million for the company. So far 60 kits have been purchased along with spares, support and test equipment.

The RMIP replaces portions of the existing AN/APQ-164 radar in order to make it more reliable and easier to maintain. The goal is to reduce repairs, improve availability and reduce maintenance requirements which should save money overall.

Northrop developed the kit prior to the award of the production contracts. There are close to 100 B-1 in U.S. inventory which means up to 40 more kits would be purchased if all of the aircraft will be updated.

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Joint Venture Formed to Compete for Air Force Range Contract

April 18, 2012 by · Comment
Filed under: Editorial 

Three large defense contractors have formed a new joint venture in order to compete for the U.S. Air Force’s unified range management contract. ITT Exelis (XLS), BAE Systems (BAE:LSE) and L-3 Communications (LLL) have set up IBL JV, LLC (IBL) to hopefully win the work.

The Air Force has previously used separate contracts to run its two main ranges located on either coast of the United States. These provide space launch capability for satellites as well as managing those in orbit. The ranges also launch targets and support testing of systems. All three of these companies have at one-time-or-another been involved in running the ranges in the past.

The decision to combine the contracts has a goal of saving the government money through efficiencies of only having one contract. It would be used to carry out total support for the ranges including program management, maintenance and operations and housekeeping services.

Due to the size of the contract it is expected to attract a lot of attention from large, U.S. defense contractors who have a great deal of experience in this type of work.

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New Light Air Support Contest for Sierra Nevada and Hawker Beechcraft?

Late last year the U.S. Air Force awarded a contract to a team of Sierra Nevada and Brazil’s Embraer to provide light attack aircraft for use by the Afghan military. The contract also had the potential for further orders to support the U.S. military and other potential foreign customers. The only other company to submit a bid was Hawker Beechcraft.

The award was controversial as the Air Force eliminated Hawker’s bid for not being in the competitive range as well as denied their attempts to protest the decision. Hawker sued in Federal Court and it came out that the contract had already been awarded to Sierra Nevada. After reviewing the process the decision was made four weeks ago to cancel the contract and begin an investigation into the contracting process.

The Air Force has stated that the investigation will conclude next week and that it focused on documentation of the decision and not the actions of either contractor. Based on the data gathered so far the Air Force has decided to reinstate Hawker, allow new proposals and may conduct another evaluation. The service also may reserve the right to conduct a whole new competition with a new request for proposals and new bids.

At the same time there are reports that Hawker may have to file for bankruptcy due to its current debt load. If that is true then the Light Air Support contract may be key to keeping the company viable.

The Air Force has struggled over the last decade with evaluating bids and awarding contracts for new aircraft. The KC-X aerial tanker took three tries before Boeing (BA) won it with a version of their 767 airliner over Europe’s EADS. The CSAR-X rescue helicopter had two different competitions with no satisfactory result and the program ended up being cancelled. This contract follows in a similar vein.

The review seems to indicate that the Air Force found enough issues with the source selection process to warrant a new competition. Hopefully this one when it is completed will be conducted in such a way to avoid protest and strife and the service can move out with buying the aircraft.

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Northrop to Upgrade B-2 Bombers

In this age military aircraft have service life measured in decades. They gain this by constant upgrades and modernization efforts as well as through their maintenance programs. The B-2 bomber is no exception and provides a special capability to the U.S. Air Force even though there are only 20 of aircraft available.

With this in mind Northrop Grumman (NOC) was recently awarded a 10 year, $2 billion contract to provide upgrades to the aircraft’s communications systems. Because of the length of the contract this will provide for continued improvements to the aircraft’s systems.

Northrop is the original manufacturer of the B-2 back in the 1990’s and this contract illustrates how work and funds will continue to come to them after completion of manufacturing. Aircraft and other military systems need long term maintenance and upgrades and this work often goes to the OEM and can add up to billions over the years.

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Recriminations in Kansas for Boeing

As can be expected with Boeing’s (BA) decision to close their Wichita, KS facility and move work to Washington and Texas the politicians who represent the state are not happy. Many Congressman and Senators who provided support to Boeing to win the KC-46A contract from the U.S. Air Force feel betrayed.

They cite the fact that Boeing executives basically promised the work would be done in Kansas if the contract was one creating thousands of jobs in that state.

The Mayor of Wichita, Carl Brewer, feels the same way. He claims Boeing has betrayed the city by their decision. Wichita has invested millions of the taxpayers money in the plant which has been open since the 1930′s and built bombers during World War II and the Cold War. Now in about 24 months it will stop work and the jobs will be eliminated or moved.

The decision by Boeing based the company claims on cost considerations alone highlight what may happen across the U.S. as the defense budget shrinks and programs are cut or eliminated. Similar scenes have happened before in the 70′s and 90′s as military spending has been reduced. Wichita may be the first of many cities this time around.

That, of course, does not make those who supported Boeing feel better but now they may join the Florida and Alabama representatives who tried to aid Northrop Grumman (NOC) and EADS North America, part of EADS (EADS:P) who worked for those companies to win the KC-X contract. The goal for them of course was investment and jobs in a time when manufacturing ones are hard to find.

As government spending is cut back there will be many other politicians crying foul.

Air Force Places Light Air Support Program On Hold Due to Protests

The U.S. Air Force had recently awarded their Light Air Support (LAS) contract to a team of Sierra Nevada and Brazil’s Embraer. This over $300 million contract was to buy turboprop aircraft initially for Afghanistan but potentially for use by the U.S. and other countries in a counter insurgency role.

Hawker Beechcraft who had also bid but were eliminated from consideration have sued the Air Force to have the decision reviewed and to get a full explanation as to why they were eliminated. As part of this yesterday the Air Force placed a stop work order on the current contract. Sierra Nevada released a press release about this decision yesterday that is as follows:

“Sierra Nevada Corporation Statement: U.S. Air Force Stop Work Order on Light Air Support Award

SPARKS, Nev., Jan. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Sierra Nevada Corporation issued the following statement in response to a stop work order received today from the U.S. Air Force on the recently issued Light Air Support (LAS) contract:

Our team is excited to have been awarded the LAS contract by the U.S. Air Force as a result of a fair and open competition and after a favorable review by the Government Accountability Office.

We remain confident that the issue will resolved expeditiously. These critical LAS capabilities need to be made available soon in order to support our men and women in uniform and our partners in Afghanistan. The A-29 Super Tucano, built in America, is the right solution for the LAS mission.

Sierra Nevada Corporation, a woman owned company, and all our numerous partners across the U.S. who will contribute to this contract stand ready to continue work and to serve our nation by providing the most proven capable light air support aircraft that meets the U.S Air Force’s requirements.”

During a normal protest period the contract is usually placed on hold and the Air Force most likely did this as they expected the Judge in the case to issue such an order momentarily.

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Air Force Light Attack Contract Gets More Curious

Update – Last night Embraer confirmed receipt of the $355 million contract for twenty aircraft and their support.

It came out today as part of Hawker Beechcraft’s suit against the U.S. Air Force over their denied protest about their exclusion from the Light Attack aircraft competition that the contract has been awarded to the team of Sierra Nevada and Brazil’s Embraer. Hawker had submitted a version of their T-6 trainer for an aircraft initially to potentially be used by Afghanistan and the U.S.

The Air Force eliminated the proposal from consideration as not being technically responsive. Hawker protested to the Government Accountability Office ( GAO) but was denied by that agency. Hawker then sued as the next step in the protest process. That case is being expedited by the Federal Court responsible for these cases.

The notice of the award tothe only remaining bidder came without seemingly either public notice by the Defense Department or Congressional notification. This latest move will only further raise questions especially of those in Congress who support Hawker.

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Lockheed’s F-35 Customers Grow As Japan Selects It For New Fighter

The Japanese government announced overnight that they have chosen the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter manufactured by Lockheed Martin (LMT) to be their new fighter aircraft. The advanced aircraft will replace some of the F-15J fighters that have been in service since the Eighties. The F-35 was in competition with Boeing’s (BA) F/A-18 and Eurofighter’s Typhoon aircraft.

Japan joins the list of foreign partners in the the program which is the largest acquisition program in history. Along with the United States the F-35 will also be used by the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia and Norway. It is designed to replace the majority of the F-16, F/A-18 and AV-8 aircraft used by these countries as well as the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

Ultimately the F-35 will be built in the thousands and serve until the middle of this century.

As with many of the purchasing countries Japanese industry will be able to help build parts and components of the F-35 and assist in the assembly if a deal can be worked out. This approach worked out well for the F-16 and the F-35 is trying to mirror that. Some of the buyers also invested their own R&D funds up front for the aircraft.

The F-35 program has seen struggles with its costs and schedule since its inception. Currently the U.S. has ordered five production lots of the aircraft but a recent assessment found more issues that will have to be worked out through development indicating that there remains a great deal of concurrent risk with the program.

Photo from ngotoh’s flickr photostream.

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Lockheed to Continue Support for the F-22

Update – Lockheed Martin put out a statement earlier today that the award was not a new contract but an addition to their existing one that raised the ceiling to the $7.4 billion amount.

One of the advantages that the OEM for a defense systems has is that they have the ability to win the majority of work on a produced and fielded articles. This is especially true for aircraft. The U.S. and many other countries rarely buy full technical rights to a defense program now due to the cost. This means that they have to rely on the OEM for modifications, improvements and other support.

In this vein, Lockheed Martin (LMT), the primary contractor on the F-22 Raptor fighter program just received a long term contract form the U.S. Air Force to provide this kind of effort for that fleet. Lockheed has delivered over 100 of the 5th Generation fighter aircraft and continues to produce them now although the U.S. is not ordering any more.

The contract has a value of over $7 billion and will allow system upgrades and performance improvements. As with many of these contracts it was sole source.

In the past the military has taken aircraft and helicopters into their maintenance and support systems. When BRAC started in the 1990’s one of the first areas targeted were the large depots and shipyards owned by the government. Many of these were closed and the work turned over to contractors either at their facilities or the former government ones. Many times contractors are hired to work at existing government facilities as well.

The F-22 while it is the most advanced combat aircraft in the world has had some recent problems. Along with many U.S. aircraft there were found to be issues with its Onboard Oxygen Generating System (OBOGS). This lead to the fleet being grounded while work was done to solve the issue.

Lockheed will work under this contract on improvements to the aircraft which could be new engines, electronics, software and integration of weapons as the fleet ages. It could also look at maintenance, reliability and availability enhancements. These contracts are not uncommon especially as production begins to wind down. They represent a good way for a company to continue making earnings and revenue off of a system in service.

Photo from Rob Shenk’s Flickr photostream.

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Northrop to Redesign Parts of B-2 Stealth Bomber

It used to be that warships would remain in service for thirty years with incremental modifications and improvements as new radars, weapons and electronic systems were invented and fitted to the vessel. Now military aircraft have the same service life pattern. The U.S. utilized its last class of battleships for fifty years and have been doing the same with their venerable fleet of Boeing (BA) B-52 bombers originally intended to carry large, thermonuclear bombs to the Soviet Union and now conducting precision attacks with Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) bombs in Afghanistan.

The B-2 stealth bomber is the latest strategic attack aircraft in the U.S. inventory. It was designed and produced by Northrop Grumman (NOC) in the Eighties and Nineties. 21 were manufactured and currently 20 remain in use after one crashed a few years ago on Guam. The U.S. Air Force and Congress have been funding studies and doing basic development work on what will ultimately be a new bomber to come into service in the next few decades but right now the B-2 supplements the B-52 as well as the B-1 Lancer made in the Seventies.

Since aircraft remain in service for so long like ships it is possible to do incremental improvements and upgrades. In this vein Northrop was recently awarded a contract to redesign and install a new aft deck for the B-2. The aft deck is made out of metal and protects the stealthy, composite material from the heat of the engines. The contract has an initial value of just over $100 million.

The purpose of the redesign is most likely to reduce maintenance, improve readiness and most likely the performance of that part of the aircraft. The B-2, as well as the F-22 and the F-35 when it enters service, requires quite a bit of maintenance to keep the stealthy material whole and working. Any improvements to the design and maintenance of the aircraft will make the B-2 have a higher operational rate and ability to support the war.

One of the advantages that the prime contractor for a system like the B-2 has is that over the thirty plus service life of the aircraft there will be many contracts like this. The prime should win the bulk of them unless the service has bought the technical data rights and wants to use a different company or rely on their own depots. In the last twenty years of defense contracting that has been the exception and not the rule. Data rights are expensive and the U.S. has also reduced significantly its own depot capability as attempts to reduce spending and be more efficient. These policies favor the original manufacturer and help them maintain a steady stream of revenue.

Photo from Armchair Aviator’s Flickr photostream.

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U.S. Air Force and Boeing Complete KC-46A IBR

One of the first major steps with the execution of a new contract by the Defense Department is the Integrated Baseline Review (IBR). This is a meeting between the contractor and the Government acquisition community to review the contract and establish cost and schedule parameters. The data will be part of the Earned Value Management System (EVMS) used to measure the contract, and Boeing’s, performance and how well it is remaining on cost and schedule.

The IBR for this contract was completed in late August. According to Boeing the IBR went well and the program is grounded for success. The KC-46A will next have its design reviews and plans to deliver the first aircraft in 78 months. The flight of the first test aircraft will be in 2015.

KC-46A Costs Reportedly Increase

A few weeks ago it was reported that Boeing (BA) had already informed the U.S. Air Force of at least a $300 million increase in the costs of the first phase of the KC-46A aerial tanker program. This led to Reuters asking the Air Force some follow up questions on the situation.

They are now reporting that the way the current contract is structured the Government and Boeing would share in the first $1 billion increase beyond the target price of $3.9 billion for the EMD contract which will also deliver 18 tankers. The original contract value was about $3.6 billion.

Once the price gets beyond $4.9 billion Boeing would be responsible for all costs. Up to that they would pay 40% and the government 60 or $600 million. The reports last month had Boeing predicting that they would spend at least $4.2 billion.

This was the third attempt by the Air Force to award the new tanker contract since 2001. An attempt to award a sole source lease to Boeing was derailed by fraudulent activity by Air Force acquisition chief Darleen Druyun and Boeing’s CFO. In 2008 EADS teamed with Northrop Grumman (NOC) won a contest that was overturned on protest by Boeing. This latest contract is the result of the new competition held due to Boeing’s successful protest. EADS was not able to match the price that Boeing offered which is now seemingly controversial due to the reported cost increases.

Reports that KC-46 Contract Already Showing Cost Growth

Bloomberg is reporting that the U.S. Air Force has been briefing Congress in preparation for the FY12 budget that the KC-46 tanker contract with Boeing (BA) is already showing growth beyond the initial award price. The first part of the program is for development and testing as well as the delivery of the first 18 aircraft.

The value awarded was $4.9 billion but the indications are that it will be at least $300 million more. The way the contract is structured Boeing will have to cover that cost increase themselves. Boeing, though, seems confident that when all is complete the contract will be executed for close to the $3.9 billion and will not cost the company.

Boeing was awarded the contract in February for the new tanker program. The Air Force plans this as the first phase of a new program that could buy several hundred new tankers to replace the KC-135 and KC-10 fleet currently supporting operations. Boeing will ultimately build over 150 of the KC-46 tanker based on their commercial 767 airliner design. Boeing has also sold 767 based tankers to Italy and Japan with Italy just taking possession of their first aircraft.

The current estimate though of about a six percent cost increase is not a good sign for a program just starting which is going to be held to strict cost standards. One of the major reasons that Boeing won was their much lower price then their competition from Europen aerospace giant EADS (EADS:P) U.S. subsidiary, EADS North America. Their proposal based on the KC-30 tanker ordered by Australia and the U.A.E. was more expensive but was a larger aircraft that could carry more fuel. Further cost growth will only bring more scrutiny and criticism from Congress.

This was the third attempt by the Air Force to award the new tanker contract since 2001. An attempt to award a sole source lease to Boeing was derailed by fraudulent activity by Air Force acquisition chief Darleen Druyun and Boeing’s CFO. In 2008 EADS teamed with Northrop Grumman (NOC) won a contest that was overturned on protest by Boeing. This latest contract is the result of the new competition held due to Boeing’s successful protest.

India’s Order Extends Boeing’s C-17 Production

Boeing (BA) is facing the end of production for the C-17 strategic transport as the United States decided to not buy anymore of the aircraft despite its heavy use in supporting the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the last few years Congress had increased the total number of aircraft being bought for the U.S. Air Force despite its and the Defense Department requests to stop procurement.

The C-17 has seen sales to overseas customers with Australia, the United Kingdom and some Gulf States purchasing the system. Even so Boeing could see the end of production and had begun to shut down its production line in Long Beach, CA. This facility gained when McDonnell-Douglas merged with Boeing in the Nineties was destined to close when the C-17 was finished as Boeing had no other work for it.

The company and its workers received good news today as it was announced that India had agreed to sign a contract for ten of the aircraft. Not only is the deal worth over $4 billion it will keep the production line open for one more year. This buys even more time for Boeing to find other customers for the aircraft or even convince the U.S. to procure more.

India has in the last few years turned to Western defense contractors for different systems including buying the P-8 maritime patrol aircraft from Boeing in two recent contracts. This is in a bid to upgrade their capabilities beyond what their domestic suppliers and the more traditional Russian and UK companies have been providing.

India currently has a new fighter in competition but recently down selected to just two offerings – France’s Rafael and Eurofighter’s Typhoon. The two American bidders along with MiG and SAAB did not make it through to the final round of the contest. Some saw this as a deliberate snub of America possibly related to policy towards Pakistan and the potentiality that if there was a conflict between India and its neighbor the U.S. might boycott of supplying either nation.

Boeing, though, may get a trifecta of contracts as India is still considering the AH-64 Apache as a contender for a new attack helicopter. The Defense Department has notified Congress of a potential $1.4 billion worth of helicopters, support and training.

India remains a market of great potential for the U.S. defense contractors as they face the possibility of cuts to the U.S. budget and the end of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan with all the potential for reduced revenue and earnings. So far deals with India have been few-and-far between but today’s contract announcement is a step in the right direction.

Photo from kingair42’s Flickr photostream.

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AECOM awarded U.S. Air Force Contract Field Teams task order worth up to US$15 million

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AECOM Technology Corporation (NYSE: ACM), a leading provider of professional technical and management support services for government and commercial clients around the world, announced today that it has won a task order contract from the U.S. Air Force for Contract Field Teams (CFT) worth up to US$15 million, if the option year is exercised. The CFT task order was awarded under AECOM’s indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract with the U.S. Air Force t

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L-3 to Operate Air Force C-17 Training System

The U.S. Air Force has developed various simulators to aid in the training for the operations and maintenance of its aircraft. The C-17 strategic transport which has been in service now for almost twenty years has two different ones in use. These are the Aircrew Training System (ATS) and the Maintenance Training System (MTS).

The use of these types of training aids greatly reduces the total cost of training aircrew and support staff. While it is not 100% realistic they allow skills to be learned and developed without relying on flying the aircraft which is not only expensive but frees them up to fly combat and support missions maximizing the use of the available aircraft. The training systems were developed separately and have been provided to ten sites in the U.S. and Australia.

Now the Air Force has awarded L-3 Link, part of L3 Communications (LLL), a contract to manage both parts of the training system under one contract. The base contract is for one year and has up to six option years. The total value if all options are awarded is almost $1 billion.

This contract illustrates that the training simulator market is quite large. Not only to develop and produce the simulators required by today’s modern military but also to operate and keep the simulators operating. Training programs now rely heavily on the simulators so having them available and operational also requires investment and effort.

Photo from Bytemark’s flickr photostream.

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L-3 Awarded U.S. Navy, Air Force C-12 Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) Contracts

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--L-3 Communications (NYSE: LLL) announced today that its Systems Field Support (SFS) division has been awarded contracts with a total potential value of more than $300 million over five years from the U.S. Navy (USN) and U.S. Air Force (USAF) to provide full Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) for their respective fleets of C-12 aircraft. Under the initial contracts valued at $32.9 million, L-3 will provide for the life-cycle support and maintenance of the USN and USAF f

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