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French Army could expand UAS choices

June 16, 2014 by · Comment
Filed under: France, Syndicated Industry News, Thales 

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Eurosatory 2014 – First Impressions

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Thales Develops a New Generation Laser Designation Pod for Rafale, Mirage 2000

January 17, 2014 by · Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News, Thales 

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Milipol 2013: Thales Unveil an Integrated Command and Control System for Mega Events

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U.K. Evaluate French Datalink for Watchkeeper

June 17, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: France, Syndicated Industry News, Thales 

TMA-6000 wideband datalink. Photo: ThalesThales is due to complete a study that will assess the possibility of integrating its Thales Modem for Air (TMA) 6000 wideband airborne Ku-band datalink terminal on the WK450 Watchkeeper UAV – Digital Battlespace reports. The company is under...

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Related Stories

 

Thales Deutchland, Atlas Elektronik to Modernize Three F-124 Frigates for the German Navy

March 11, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News, Thales 
As of January 2013 the German Navy F-124 frigate (F-221) is currently serving as the flagship of NATO Standing Maritime Group 1. The frigate will be part of the modernization of the F-124 program. Photo: German NavyAtlas Elektronik and Thales Deutschland have jointly been commissioned to modernize the combat system of the German Class F124 frigates. The modernization will include the hardware replacement and software upgrades of the vessel's Combat Direction System (CDS). It is scheduled to be completed in 2017.

Integrating European Radars with AEGIS/SM-3 Missile Defenses

SMART-S MK2 radar display at Thales Nederland BV site, in Hengelo, in may
2008. The SMART-S Mk2 (Signaal Multibeam Acquisition Radar for Tracking) is a member
of 3D multi-beam radar family. This radar is optimised for medium-to-long range surveillance, target designation and accurate air and surface target tracking in littoral environments. Photo: ThalesIntegration of Thales SMART-L radar with AEGIS/SM-3 based missile defense systems was recently demonstrated as part of evaluation of integration of European based sensors into the US European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) missile defense initiative.

Supacat, Thales Deliver prototypes for Australian Testing and Evaluation

January 14, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, Syndicated Industry News, Thales 
Evaluation of new combat vehicles for the Australian Army will sonn begin, with the delivery of the first Hawkei protected vehicle by Thales, for Project LAND 121 Phase 4. Supacat also delivered the first improved Special Operations Vehicles (SOV) developed under Project JP2097 Phase 1B.

Supacat, Thales Deliver prototypes for Australian Testing and Evaluation

January 14, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, Syndicated Industry News, Thales 
Evaluation of new combat vehicles for the Australian Army will sonn begin, with the delivery of the first Hawkei protected vehicle by Thales, for Project LAND 121 Phase 4. Supacat also delivered the first improved Special Operations Vehicles (SOV) developed under Project JP2097 Phase 1B.

Britain’s Next Search-and-Rescue Helicopters: Civilian Contractors

January 7, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: Industry Analysis, Syndicated Industry News, Thales 
Sea King Mk5 SAR RAF

UK Sea King SAR
(click to view full)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) provide a 24-hour military and civil helicopter Search and Rescue (SAR) service for the UK and local regions from 12 bases, typically at 15 minutes notice. At present, this SAR helicopter service is provided by about 40 Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Mk 5 Sea Kings and civilian helicopters under contract to the MCA, though other British forces are equipped for these tasks in emergencies. These machines must cover 11,000 km of coastline, and 3.6 million square km of ocean.

There has been a global trend toward public-private partnerships to perform some Coast Guard and SAR functions, including Australia’s billion-dollar Coastwatch program. Now Great Britain is jumping into the fray with a related approach.


Britain’s Helicopter Search and Rescue: SAR-H and Beyond

The Current Fleet

S-92 MCA

UKMCA/CHC S-92
(click to view full)

Britain’s Mk 5 Sea Kings are 40-50 years old. They’ve been upgraded several times, and the Sea King is renowned for its extreme stability and precision. To demonstrate, a TV show once had a SAR rescuer lowered down to a man holding a champagne glass in place, whereupon the rescuer successfully poured a glass of champagne while the Sea King hovered. Nothing lasts forever, though, and Britain’s entire Sea King fleet is set to retire by 2016.

The Royal Air Force currently operates 6 of Britain’s 12 search and rescue bases (Chivenor, Wattisham, Valley, Boulmer, Leconfield and Lossiemouth), and the Royal Navy operates 2 more (771 Sqn at Culdrose and HMS Gannet at Prestwick). All use Sea Kings. The year 2005 saw 441 callouts, and 370 people rescued via the Royal Navy’s SAR groups alone. Those figures aren’t unusual.

The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) runs the remaining 4 bases (Lee-on Solent and Portland in the south, Sumburgh and Stornoway in the north), where Canadian-based CHC Helicopters began operating in July 2007 under a 5-year contract worth GBP 20 million per year. CHC’s AW139s will continue operating in the south until SAR-H is fielded, but their S-92s in the north will be replaced by Bristow’s S-92s.

SAR-H

UK SAR-H Logo

In line with its extensive public/private partnering background and penchant for long term deals, The UK’s Ministry of Defence and Department for Transport initially envisioned the Joint Search and Rescue – Helicopter (SAR-H) Project as a GBP 1 billion ($1.89 billion at current conversion) joint MOD/MCA Private Finance Initiative competition in cooperation with the MCA, though some reports placed its value as high as GBP 6 billion.

Faced with these recapitalization costs, the decision to examine a public/ private partnership approach is understandable. A joint MCA and MOD Integrated Project Team (SAR-H IPT) based at DPA Abbey Wood, was charged with implementing it, even as the UK government began a debate about the proper role of the rescue services. Including the hot topic of whether they should be given a direct role to help deal with inland emergencies, when rescue workers need rapid access.

Issues were sorted, and by February 2009, the UK MoD had a preferred bidder, with a preferred helicopter. Before Sikorsky’s S-92 could become Britain’s future SAR mainstay out to 2037, however, the incoming coalition government suspended the program in June 2010, pending review. Then, a bombshell struck, as the winning bidder reported that it had discovered a conflict of interest within its team. SAR-H was canceled in February 2011.

The idea was reborn at the end of November 2011, as a 10-year service contract open to competition from across Europe, and beyond. This would be a fully privatized service, similar to that run by the Maritime and coastguard Agency (MCA). The total value is GBP 2.0 – 3.1 billion, and there will be 2 coverage zones to bid on, singly or together – so a firm or consortium could offer a combined bid, plus 2 individual bids for evaluation.

The Lot 1 area will include the vicinity of MCA Sumburgh, MCA Stornoway, RN Culdrose, RAF Leconfield and RAF Valley. Minimum rescue capacity per aircraft is 8 casualties/survivors (2 of which could be stretchered) and minimum radius of action is 200 nm/ 370 km, and 250 nm/ 463 km at MCA Stornoway. The Lot 1 contract would run for up to 13 years, including including an implementation phase of up to 2 years, a 10-year operational delivery phase, plus an additional 24-month option at each base [DID: we know, that doesn't necessarily add]. Estimated value range is GBP 1.2 – 1.8 billion.

The Lot 2 area will include the vicinity of MCA Lee-on-Solent, RAF Chivenor, RN Prestwick, RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Wattisham. Minimum rescue capacity per aircraft is just 4 casualties/survivors (2 of which could be stretchered), and minimum radius of action is just 170 nm/ 315 km. The Lot 2 contract would run for up to 11 years, including an implementation phase of up to 2 years, an 8-year operational delivery phase, plus an additional 24-month option at each base [DID: we know, that doesn't necessarily add]. Estimated value range is GBP 800 million – 1.3 billion.

The MCA’s original information page regarding the initial SAR-H solicitation noted that Falkland Islands SAR capability remained a potential option for inclusion within the harmonized program. As one might expect, the Falklands are not mentioned at all in the new civilian framework.


Contracts & Key Events:

2012

AW130 MCA

UKMCA/CHC AW139
(click to view full)
Jan 3/12: CHC out. Aviation Week cites a leaked email by CHC’s COO, which says that the firm’s Soteria consortium is no longer a finalist for SAR-H. CHC S-92s will continue to operate from Scotland until their existing MCA contract expires in July 2013, and their AW139s will continue to patrol the southern coasts until SAR-H is fielded.

“In the email, Bartolotta also reveals that one of the other bidders has tendered a bid some 20% lower than that of CHC’s, adding: “We don’t have insight to the financial or other motivations of competitors. But we know that the economics at a price 20 percent lower than our interim bid simply aren’t right for CHC.”

June 12/12: New direction confirmed. Minister for the Armed Forces Nick Harvey enters the following statement into the UK House of Commons Hansard:

“The Defence Rotary Wing Capability Study… is now complete… the findings include no major changes to our previously announced plans… The study confirmed the following plans:

…to move the MOD’s rotary wing capability to four core fleets, the [CH-47] Chinook, [AW159] Wildcat, [AW101] Merlin and [WAH-64D] Apache helicopters… confirmed the end of MOD provision of Rotary Wing Search and Rescue at the remaining eight military bases upon withdrawal of the Sea King in April 2016. This will then be performed by a contractor through the Department for Transport, as the Secretary of State for Transport announced to Parliament on 28 November 2011, Official Report, columns 52-53WS.”

Feb 8/12: MCA Bridging Contract. The UK MCA issues a 4-year contracts for northern SAR services, as a follow-on to the July 2007 deal with CHC. Bristow Helicopters Ltd.’s fleet of 4 S-92s will begin operating from Stornoway and Sumburgh in July 2013.

CHC retains its AW139s in the south. Bristow | BBC.

UKMCA SAR from Scotland

2010 – 2011

AIR S-92 UK Coast Guard

S-92, UKMCA
(click to view full)

Nov 28/11: Son of SAR-H. Britain’s Secretary of State for Transport, Justine Greening, announces a new competition, for a fully-civilian service:

“The Royal Air Force and Royal Navy will continue to provide search and rescue coverage until the replacement for this capability is in place… [but they will still] retire [all] Sea King helicopters by March 2016… Bidders for the future service will be able to put forward options which will utilise a mixed fleet of modern helicopters… capable of delivery by different contractors providing complementary services…I intend that this procurement will be undertaken using the competitive dialogue procedure… [and] run the competition using lean procurement principles during some stages… I expect to award a contract in early 2013…”

The actual mechanisms are interesting. The total contract set is estimated at GBP 2.0 – 3.1 billion including VAT taxes, with a 2-year implementation phase, an operational delivery phase lasting 8-10 years depending on the area, and a 24 month option. There will be 2 zones to bid on, singly or together – so a firm or consortium could offer a combined bid, plus 2 individual bids for evaluation. The ability to use mixed helicopter fleets mirrors CHC’s existing contracted services, which use long-range S-92 helicopters in the north, and smaller AW139s in the south.

The proposed contract involves 10 bases, not 12. The interim arrangements with CHC at MCA Portland will be allowed to expire entirely as they finish, and in 2015, SAR operations will cease at RAF Boulmer. Other operations at RAF Boulmer will be unaffected, but the area’s MP is predictably unhappy with the decision. UK DfT statement | UK MoD release | Berwick Advertiser || EU Solicitation.

Do-over RFP

July 12/11: Waypoint AirMed and Rescue reports that the UK aims to maintain coverage from its 4 existing SAR bases for up to 5 more years as a stopgap, after the 2007 contract expires in 2012:

“The existing MCA helicopter fleet, operated by CHC, is set to transfer to the Republic of Ireland in 2012… Philip Hammond, UK secretary of state for transport, announced to parliament on 11 July that to ensure the continuity of services from Portland, Lee on Solent, Shetland and the Isle of Lewis, the Department for Transport will run a competition to procure an interim service for a period of up to five years.”

May 4/11: Long rescue. A CHC S-92 based at Stornoway flies a 9:21 SAR mission with 2 refuelings, covering a total distance of 971.6 nautical miles. The SAR crew were sent to a medical incident on board MV Stena Perros, and evacuated the patient to medical care in Sligo, Ireland. CHC.

Feb 8/11: SAR-H Canceled. The cause? Not budgets, but misconduct during the bidding. From the UK MoD:

“In mid-December, the preferred bidder in the SAR-H competition, Soteria, voluntarily came forward to inform the Government of irregularities regarding the conduct of their bid team which had only then recently come to light. The irregularities included access by one of the consortium members, CHC Helicopter, to commercially sensitive information regarding the joint MOD/DfT project team’s evaluations of industry bids and evidence that a former member of that project team had assisted the consortium in its bid preparation, contrary to explicit assurances given to the project team at the time.

…It would be inappropriate to comment further on the details of the investigation until it has finished. However, even without the outcome of that investigation, the Government has sufficient information to enable it to conclude that the irregularities that have been identified were such that it would not be appropriate to proceed with either the preferred bid or with the current procurement process.”

See also The Telegraph’s expose | Think Defence.

Canceled.

Jan 13/11: Lobbying. Turns out that Prime Minister Cameron has been lobbied by an unusual source, who wants to keep the search and rescue services within the military. That would be Prince William, who is currently flying as a SAR pilot from RAF Valley, on Anglesey, north Wales. The Telegraph.

June 17/10: Suspended. The SAR-H initiative is suspended by Britain’s incoming coalition government, following a review into spending decisions made by the previous Labour administration. UK Treasury Chief Secretary, Danny Alexander makes the announcement in Parliament. Shephard Group.

Feb 22/10: Sikorsky announces a new set of upgrades for the S-92, including a Search and Rescue Automatic Flight Control System, and a load-sensing cargo hook that automatically updates aircraft weight and balance readings. Beginning in October, Sikorsky plans to introduce a strengthened main transmission housing developed for the military H-92, after it clears the certification process. The new housing is designed for longer life, and is intended to “reduce unscheduled maintenance by eliminating such possibilities as the foot-mount cracks recently experienced by some operators.”

EC225

Not picked: EC225
(click to view full)

Feb 9/10: Preferred bidder. Britain picks a preferred bidder to provide helicopter search-and-rescue (SAR) services. The Soteria Consortium of helicopter operator CHC, helicopter maker Sikorsky, sensor manufacturer Thales, and the Royal Bank of Scotland, will use S-92A Superhawk helicopters to replace the existing RAF and Navy Sea Kings. This maintains CHC of Vancouver, Canada’s place as the largest supplier of civilian SAR services in the world.

The team beats a group led by VT Group, which planned to use Eurocopter EC225 helicopters, a civil version of the EC725 Cougar. The EC725 does have a combat search and rescue version, which is deployed by France.

The S-92A SAR-H has a fully equipped purpose-built paramedic station, including piped oxygen and an electrical power circuit within the cabin. A larger derivative of the popular H-60 helicopter series that uses more corrosion resistant composites and features a rear ramp, the S-92 is well known in the offshore oil and gas sector, and is already providing MCA SAR services around the difficult areas of Shetland and the Isle of Lewis in northern Scotland. It is 30% faster than the Sea Kings, and has 130 km more range. A pair of side-by-side high speed winches are used by its 4 aircrew to assist in rapid rescues, and the 1.7m high cabin can carry 6-10 seated persons and 1-2 stretchers.

The SAR service contract is expected to run for 25 years, and will be phased in over the next decade through a single contract placed with the Soteria consortium. The Telegraph places its eventual total value at around GBP 6 billion.

If implemented, some military aircrew will work alongside civilian aircrew as part of the new service, which is expected to begin in 2012. SAR efforts will continue to be managed jointly by the UK Ministry of Defence and the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The 4 MCA bases will transition first, to be followed by the 8 MOD bases. The detailed timetable will be finalized as part of concluding the contract, which the UK MoD and Department for Transport expect will happen later in 2010. UK MoD | CHC | The Telegraph.

Preferred bidder.

2007 – 2009

AIR S-92 UK Coast Guard

Cougar Helis S-92
(click to view full)

March 23/09: S-92. Sikorsky announces that it had furnished replacement studs and tools to all S-92 operators, and that 50 of 91 aircraft had been reworked already.

March 20/09: S-92. Canada’s Transportation Safety Board identifies a broken titanium stud as part of the downed S-92 helicopter’s gearbox oil filter assembly. Sikorsky had previously recommended that this stud be replaced with a steel stud in all serving S-92s, within one year or 1,250 flight hours. CBC News.

March 11/09: S-92 crash. An S-92 operated by Cougar Helicopters goes down in the sea with 18 people aboard, while ferrying workers to one of the offshore oil rigs off of Newfoundland, Canada. In the end, only 1 of the 18 passengers survives. Standard procedures give all passengers immersion suits, but winds were running between 25-35 knots, with a 3m/ 9-10 foot swell, and water temperatures near freezing. The Globe and Mail | See also CBC and Flight International report & photos. re: later Canadian TSB findings.

Nov 29/07: SKIOS & SAR. Another public-private partnership reaches into the SAR sphere, as the SKIOS through-life maintenance contract for the UK’s Sea Kings extends to search and rescue helicopters in Phase 2. See: “SKIOS for Sea Kings: Availability Contract Covers Through-Life Maintenance.”

Oct 14/07: UKMCA Bridging. The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency announces that the first of 4 brand-new Sikorsky S-92 helicopters (a civilian version of the H-92), configured entirely for search and rescue (SAR), completed its maiden mission today for Stornoway Coastguard.

The new helicopter is being operated on behalf of the Agency by CHC Scotia, who won a July 2007 deal for commercial search and rescue helicopter services from 4 civilian-operated bases – Sumburgh, Stornoway, Lee-on-Solent and Portland – for a 5-year period from July 1/07 – July 1/12. The service provides a 24 hour coverage at Stornoway, where the S-92 is based, and also bases the S-92s from Sumburgh. In the south, CHC will use 3 AW139s.

CHC Scotia’s S-92 helicopters are fitted with 2 internal auxiliary fuel tanks of 210 gallons each, improved AFCS with auto-hover capability, Forward looking infra red (FLIR), dual rescue hoist, bubble window, cargo hook, search-light and loud hailer. The cabin can be arranged for installing triple medical litter kits, 1-2 extra fuel tanks, folding utility seats, and/or storage. The designated operator console provides search data including FLIR.

CHC’s 3 AW139s are fitted with high-speed dual hoists, a day/night surveillance turret, a search-light, a Maritime Automated Identification System (AIS), direction finding equipment, satellite communications, and Paramedic advanced medical equipment. UK MCA release.

UKMCA contract

May 9/06: The UK MoD and UK MCA make the initial announcement concerning the SAR-H project. UK MoD | UK MCA.


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Britain’s Next Search-and-Rescue Helicopters: Civilian Contractors

January 7, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: Industry Analysis, Syndicated Industry News, Thales 
Sea King Mk5 SAR RAF

UK Sea King SAR
(click to view full)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) provide a 24-hour military and civil helicopter Search and Rescue (SAR) service for the UK and local regions from 12 bases, typically at 15 minutes notice. At present, this SAR helicopter service is provided by about 40 Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Mk 5 Sea Kings and civilian helicopters under contract to the MCA, though other British forces are equipped for these tasks in emergencies. These machines must cover 11,000 km of coastline, and 3.6 million square km of ocean.

There has been a global trend toward public-private partnerships to perform some Coast Guard and SAR functions, including Australia’s billion-dollar Coastwatch program. Now Great Britain is jumping into the fray with a related approach.


Britain’s Helicopter Search and Rescue: SAR-H and Beyond

The Current Fleet

S-92 MCA

UKMCA/CHC S-92
(click to view full)

Britain’s Mk 5 Sea Kings are 40-50 years old. They’ve been upgraded several times, and the Sea King is renowned for its extreme stability and precision. To demonstrate, a TV show once had a SAR rescuer lowered down to a man holding a champagne glass in place, whereupon the rescuer successfully poured a glass of champagne while the Sea King hovered. Nothing lasts forever, though, and Britain’s entire Sea King fleet is set to retire by 2016.

The Royal Air Force currently operates 6 of Britain’s 12 search and rescue bases (Chivenor, Wattisham, Valley, Boulmer, Leconfield and Lossiemouth), and the Royal Navy operates 2 more (771 Sqn at Culdrose and HMS Gannet at Prestwick). All use Sea Kings. The year 2005 saw 441 callouts, and 370 people rescued via the Royal Navy’s SAR groups alone. Those figures aren’t unusual.

The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) runs the remaining 4 bases (Lee-on Solent and Portland in the south, Sumburgh and Stornoway in the north), where Canadian-based CHC Helicopters began operating in July 2007 under a 5-year contract worth GBP 20 million per year. CHC’s AW139s will continue operating in the south until SAR-H is fielded, but their S-92s in the north will be replaced by Bristow’s S-92s.

SAR-H

UK SAR-H Logo

In line with its extensive public/private partnering background and penchant for long term deals, The UK’s Ministry of Defence and Department for Transport initially envisioned the Joint Search and Rescue – Helicopter (SAR-H) Project as a GBP 1 billion ($1.89 billion at current conversion) joint MOD/MCA Private Finance Initiative competition in cooperation with the MCA, though some reports placed its value as high as GBP 6 billion.

Faced with these recapitalization costs, the decision to examine a public/ private partnership approach is understandable. A joint MCA and MOD Integrated Project Team (SAR-H IPT) based at DPA Abbey Wood, was charged with implementing it, even as the UK government began a debate about the proper role of the rescue services. Including the hot topic of whether they should be given a direct role to help deal with inland emergencies, when rescue workers need rapid access.

Issues were sorted, and by February 2009, the UK MoD had a preferred bidder, with a preferred helicopter. Before Sikorsky’s S-92 could become Britain’s future SAR mainstay out to 2037, however, the incoming coalition government suspended the program in June 2010, pending review. Then, a bombshell struck, as the winning bidder reported that it had discovered a conflict of interest within its team. SAR-H was canceled in February 2011.

The idea was reborn at the end of November 2011, as a 10-year service contract open to competition from across Europe, and beyond. This would be a fully privatized service, similar to that run by the Maritime and coastguard Agency (MCA). The total value is GBP 2.0 – 3.1 billion, and there will be 2 coverage zones to bid on, singly or together – so a firm or consortium could offer a combined bid, plus 2 individual bids for evaluation.

The Lot 1 area will include the vicinity of MCA Sumburgh, MCA Stornoway, RN Culdrose, RAF Leconfield and RAF Valley. Minimum rescue capacity per aircraft is 8 casualties/survivors (2 of which could be stretchered) and minimum radius of action is 200 nm/ 370 km, and 250 nm/ 463 km at MCA Stornoway. The Lot 1 contract would run for up to 13 years, including including an implementation phase of up to 2 years, a 10-year operational delivery phase, plus an additional 24-month option at each base [DID: we know, that doesn't necessarily add]. Estimated value range is GBP 1.2 – 1.8 billion.

The Lot 2 area will include the vicinity of MCA Lee-on-Solent, RAF Chivenor, RN Prestwick, RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Wattisham. Minimum rescue capacity per aircraft is just 4 casualties/survivors (2 of which could be stretchered), and minimum radius of action is just 170 nm/ 315 km. The Lot 2 contract would run for up to 11 years, including an implementation phase of up to 2 years, an 8-year operational delivery phase, plus an additional 24-month option at each base [DID: we know, that doesn't necessarily add]. Estimated value range is GBP 800 million – 1.3 billion.

The MCA’s original information page regarding the initial SAR-H solicitation noted that Falkland Islands SAR capability remained a potential option for inclusion within the harmonized program. As one might expect, the Falklands are not mentioned at all in the new civilian framework.


Contracts & Key Events:

2012

AW130 MCA

UKMCA/CHC AW139
(click to view full)
Jan 3/12: CHC out. Aviation Week cites a leaked email by CHC’s COO, which says that the firm’s Soteria consortium is no longer a finalist for SAR-H. CHC S-92s will continue to operate from Scotland until their existing MCA contract expires in July 2013, and their AW139s will continue to patrol the southern coasts until SAR-H is fielded.

“In the email, Bartolotta also reveals that one of the other bidders has tendered a bid some 20% lower than that of CHC’s, adding: “We don’t have insight to the financial or other motivations of competitors. But we know that the economics at a price 20 percent lower than our interim bid simply aren’t right for CHC.”

June 12/12: New direction confirmed. Minister for the Armed Forces Nick Harvey enters the following statement into the UK House of Commons Hansard:

“The Defence Rotary Wing Capability Study… is now complete… the findings include no major changes to our previously announced plans… The study confirmed the following plans:

…to move the MOD’s rotary wing capability to four core fleets, the [CH-47] Chinook, [AW159] Wildcat, [AW101] Merlin and [WAH-64D] Apache helicopters… confirmed the end of MOD provision of Rotary Wing Search and Rescue at the remaining eight military bases upon withdrawal of the Sea King in April 2016. This will then be performed by a contractor through the Department for Transport, as the Secretary of State for Transport announced to Parliament on 28 November 2011, Official Report, columns 52-53WS.”

Feb 8/12: MCA Bridging Contract. The UK MCA issues a 4-year contracts for northern SAR services, as a follow-on to the July 2007 deal with CHC. Bristow Helicopters Ltd.’s fleet of 4 S-92s will begin operating from Stornoway and Sumburgh in July 2013.

CHC retains its AW139s in the south. Bristow | BBC.

UKMCA SAR from Scotland

2010 – 2011

AIR S-92 UK Coast Guard

S-92, UKMCA
(click to view full)

Nov 28/11: Son of SAR-H. Britain’s Secretary of State for Transport, Justine Greening, announces a new competition, for a fully-civilian service:

“The Royal Air Force and Royal Navy will continue to provide search and rescue coverage until the replacement for this capability is in place… [but they will still] retire [all] Sea King helicopters by March 2016… Bidders for the future service will be able to put forward options which will utilise a mixed fleet of modern helicopters… capable of delivery by different contractors providing complementary services…I intend that this procurement will be undertaken using the competitive dialogue procedure… [and] run the competition using lean procurement principles during some stages… I expect to award a contract in early 2013…”

The actual mechanisms are interesting. The total contract set is estimated at GBP 2.0 – 3.1 billion including VAT taxes, with a 2-year implementation phase, an operational delivery phase lasting 8-10 years depending on the area, and a 24 month option. There will be 2 zones to bid on, singly or together – so a firm or consortium could offer a combined bid, plus 2 individual bids for evaluation. The ability to use mixed helicopter fleets mirrors CHC’s existing contracted services, which use long-range S-92 helicopters in the north, and smaller AW139s in the south.

The proposed contract involves 10 bases, not 12. The interim arrangements with CHC at MCA Portland will be allowed to expire entirely as they finish, and in 2015, SAR operations will cease at RAF Boulmer. Other operations at RAF Boulmer will be unaffected, but the area’s MP is predictably unhappy with the decision. UK DfT statement | UK MoD release | Berwick Advertiser || EU Solicitation.

Do-over RFP

July 12/11: Waypoint AirMed and Rescue reports that the UK aims to maintain coverage from its 4 existing SAR bases for up to 5 more years as a stopgap, after the 2007 contract expires in 2012:

“The existing MCA helicopter fleet, operated by CHC, is set to transfer to the Republic of Ireland in 2012… Philip Hammond, UK secretary of state for transport, announced to parliament on 11 July that to ensure the continuity of services from Portland, Lee on Solent, Shetland and the Isle of Lewis, the Department for Transport will run a competition to procure an interim service for a period of up to five years.”

May 4/11: Long rescue. A CHC S-92 based at Stornoway flies a 9:21 SAR mission with 2 refuelings, covering a total distance of 971.6 nautical miles. The SAR crew were sent to a medical incident on board MV Stena Perros, and evacuated the patient to medical care in Sligo, Ireland. CHC.

Feb 8/11: SAR-H Canceled. The cause? Not budgets, but misconduct during the bidding. From the UK MoD:

“In mid-December, the preferred bidder in the SAR-H competition, Soteria, voluntarily came forward to inform the Government of irregularities regarding the conduct of their bid team which had only then recently come to light. The irregularities included access by one of the consortium members, CHC Helicopter, to commercially sensitive information regarding the joint MOD/DfT project team’s evaluations of industry bids and evidence that a former member of that project team had assisted the consortium in its bid preparation, contrary to explicit assurances given to the project team at the time.

…It would be inappropriate to comment further on the details of the investigation until it has finished. However, even without the outcome of that investigation, the Government has sufficient information to enable it to conclude that the irregularities that have been identified were such that it would not be appropriate to proceed with either the preferred bid or with the current procurement process.”

See also The Telegraph’s expose | Think Defence.

Canceled.

Jan 13/11: Lobbying. Turns out that Prime Minister Cameron has been lobbied by an unusual source, who wants to keep the search and rescue services within the military. That would be Prince William, who is currently flying as a SAR pilot from RAF Valley, on Anglesey, north Wales. The Telegraph.

June 17/10: Suspended. The SAR-H initiative is suspended by Britain’s incoming coalition government, following a review into spending decisions made by the previous Labour administration. UK Treasury Chief Secretary, Danny Alexander makes the announcement in Parliament. Shephard Group.

Feb 22/10: Sikorsky announces a new set of upgrades for the S-92, including a Search and Rescue Automatic Flight Control System, and a load-sensing cargo hook that automatically updates aircraft weight and balance readings. Beginning in October, Sikorsky plans to introduce a strengthened main transmission housing developed for the military H-92, after it clears the certification process. The new housing is designed for longer life, and is intended to “reduce unscheduled maintenance by eliminating such possibilities as the foot-mount cracks recently experienced by some operators.”

EC225

Not picked: EC225
(click to view full)

Feb 9/10: Preferred bidder. Britain picks a preferred bidder to provide helicopter search-and-rescue (SAR) services. The Soteria Consortium of helicopter operator CHC, helicopter maker Sikorsky, sensor manufacturer Thales, and the Royal Bank of Scotland, will use S-92A Superhawk helicopters to replace the existing RAF and Navy Sea Kings. This maintains CHC of Vancouver, Canada’s place as the largest supplier of civilian SAR services in the world.

The team beats a group led by VT Group, which planned to use Eurocopter EC225 helicopters, a civil version of the EC725 Cougar. The EC725 does have a combat search and rescue version, which is deployed by France.

The S-92A SAR-H has a fully equipped purpose-built paramedic station, including piped oxygen and an electrical power circuit within the cabin. A larger derivative of the popular H-60 helicopter series that uses more corrosion resistant composites and features a rear ramp, the S-92 is well known in the offshore oil and gas sector, and is already providing MCA SAR services around the difficult areas of Shetland and the Isle of Lewis in northern Scotland. It is 30% faster than the Sea Kings, and has 130 km more range. A pair of side-by-side high speed winches are used by its 4 aircrew to assist in rapid rescues, and the 1.7m high cabin can carry 6-10 seated persons and 1-2 stretchers.

The SAR service contract is expected to run for 25 years, and will be phased in over the next decade through a single contract placed with the Soteria consortium. The Telegraph places its eventual total value at around GBP 6 billion.

If implemented, some military aircrew will work alongside civilian aircrew as part of the new service, which is expected to begin in 2012. SAR efforts will continue to be managed jointly by the UK Ministry of Defence and the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The 4 MCA bases will transition first, to be followed by the 8 MOD bases. The detailed timetable will be finalized as part of concluding the contract, which the UK MoD and Department for Transport expect will happen later in 2010. UK MoD | CHC | The Telegraph.

Preferred bidder.

2007 – 2009

AIR S-92 UK Coast Guard

Cougar Helis S-92
(click to view full)

March 23/09: S-92. Sikorsky announces that it had furnished replacement studs and tools to all S-92 operators, and that 50 of 91 aircraft had been reworked already.

March 20/09: S-92. Canada’s Transportation Safety Board identifies a broken titanium stud as part of the downed S-92 helicopter’s gearbox oil filter assembly. Sikorsky had previously recommended that this stud be replaced with a steel stud in all serving S-92s, within one year or 1,250 flight hours. CBC News.

March 11/09: S-92 crash. An S-92 operated by Cougar Helicopters goes down in the sea with 18 people aboard, while ferrying workers to one of the offshore oil rigs off of Newfoundland, Canada. In the end, only 1 of the 18 passengers survives. Standard procedures give all passengers immersion suits, but winds were running between 25-35 knots, with a 3m/ 9-10 foot swell, and water temperatures near freezing. The Globe and Mail | See also CBC and Flight International report & photos. re: later Canadian TSB findings.

Nov 29/07: SKIOS & SAR. Another public-private partnership reaches into the SAR sphere, as the SKIOS through-life maintenance contract for the UK’s Sea Kings extends to search and rescue helicopters in Phase 2. See: “SKIOS for Sea Kings: Availability Contract Covers Through-Life Maintenance.”

Oct 14/07: UKMCA Bridging. The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency announces that the first of 4 brand-new Sikorsky S-92 helicopters (a civilian version of the H-92), configured entirely for search and rescue (SAR), completed its maiden mission today for Stornoway Coastguard.

The new helicopter is being operated on behalf of the Agency by CHC Scotia, who won a July 2007 deal for commercial search and rescue helicopter services from 4 civilian-operated bases – Sumburgh, Stornoway, Lee-on-Solent and Portland – for a 5-year period from July 1/07 – July 1/12. The service provides a 24 hour coverage at Stornoway, where the S-92 is based, and also bases the S-92s from Sumburgh. In the south, CHC will use 3 AW139s.

CHC Scotia’s S-92 helicopters are fitted with 2 internal auxiliary fuel tanks of 210 gallons each, improved AFCS with auto-hover capability, Forward looking infra red (FLIR), dual rescue hoist, bubble window, cargo hook, search-light and loud hailer. The cabin can be arranged for installing triple medical litter kits, 1-2 extra fuel tanks, folding utility seats, and/or storage. The designated operator console provides search data including FLIR.

CHC’s 3 AW139s are fitted with high-speed dual hoists, a day/night surveillance turret, a search-light, a Maritime Automated Identification System (AIS), direction finding equipment, satellite communications, and Paramedic advanced medical equipment. UK MCA release.

UKMCA contract

May 9/06: The UK MoD and UK MCA make the initial announcement concerning the SAR-H project. UK MoD | UK MCA.


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JTRS Man Portable Radios To Complete LRIP

The Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) is the next generation of radios for the U.S. armed forces. It is being developed and produced in a variety of form factors and roles to support ships, vehicles, aircraft and man portable systems. The program has had its ups-and-downs but recently has made a decent amount of progress. The man portable Rifleman Radio recently had a Full Rate Production (FRP) decision and was approved to enter that phase of the acquisition cycle.

The current Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract belongs to a team of General Dynamics (GD); French company, Thales SA (HO), and Rockwell COllins (COL) to build the initial lot of over 6,000. This decision allows LRIP to be completed with the buyout of the remaining 13,000 odd systems to get to 10% of the planned production buy of 193,000 units.

The AN/PRC-154 Rifleman Radio provides voice and data simultaneous capability and is carried on the body of a soldier. It is used for intra-squad level communications and is compatible with current smartphone technology.

When the LRIP production is complete the Pentagon will have another contest for the FRP contract. This means that despite their good performance on the current contract there is no guarantee that the GD led team will win this. The final program could provide upwards of $1 billion in revenue for the winner of the larger production contract.

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Army Awards GD Low Rate Initial Production Contract for JTRS

The U.S. military has been developing the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) as their new standard radio for almost twenty years now. The program has had its ups-and-downs as it struggled with the level of technology required to meet the requirements of the program. On top of that the number and variations of the radio are quite complex as it will be used in aircraft, ships, vehicles, by ground troops and also be integrated into Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). The JTRS once it enters full rate production will replace the ubiquitous SINGCARS radio system used since the 1980′s.

In late June the Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit (JTRS HMS) Program piece approved approval to go into Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) after having a successful Milestone C decision. This means that it has completed much of its engineering and development and is considered technically mature enough to begin production. The LRIP will demonstrate that it is possible to produce the system and allow the production to ramp up to meet full rate demands.

This has been followed by an order to General Dynamics (GD) and its partners Thales Communications and Rockwell Collins (ROC) for LRIP production of two versions: the Rifleman version and the Manpack radio. The AN/PRC-154 is meant to be carried by the individual soldier and 6,250 were ordered. The 100 Manpack are larger and will support operational testing and provide two channels.

The SINGCARS program was highly successful and earned its contractors a great deal of revenue due to the large demand. ITT Corporation (ITT) received what is most likely the last production contract for the system earlier this year. It had a value of about $600 million and includes parts and engineering support for existing radios. The JTRS contractors are hoping for the same thing with their programs.

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Thales and French Government to Share in Fine for Taiwanese Bribes

A French court ruled this week that the French defense contractor, Thales (HO:PA), along with the French government must pay a fine in relation to charges that bribes had been paid to the Taiwanese government to secure a large naval ship order. The deal was originally signed with Thomson-CSF and the government owned shipyard DCN. Thomson-CSF is now part of Thales.

The fine of 630 million euros, which is almost a billion dollars, will be split roughly 70/30 between the government and Thales. As part of the agreement with the court the government will not appeal the decision allowing Thales to get on with business without facing any more potential penalties or bad publicity. Thales says that the money has already been accounted for in preparation for paying the fine. The money will be returned to Taiwan.

Thales stock price has been little affected by the news.

This is the largest corruption case in French history and rivals the payouts that BAE Systems (BAE:LSE) has had to give to the U.K. and U.S. governments over its deals with Saudi Arabia. These totaled almost $500 million to the U.S. and $450 million in the U.K. The U.S. has especially been harsh on companies that used bribes and corrupt acts to win contracts overseas.

Historically bribes and payments have been a part of the international arms trade. Many countries required these kind of payments or the use of middle men to facilitate deals. This practice has been accepted by governments more interested in winning the contract for their own domestic companies like this deal then in ethical practices. These kind of actions cheat the customer because they may not get the best system or deal for their money as well as the other potential bidders as they do not get a fair selection process.

Thales also illustrates the situation where mergers and acquisitions lead to a company inheriting the problems of another. Even though potentially no Thales employees were involved the company is responsible due to acquiring Thomson-CSF. Hopefully more decisions and cases like this will help eradicate this problem from the defense trade.

Photo from Lordcolus’ Flickr photostream.

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U.K. Orders Thales’ New Air Launched Attack Missile

As the United States military moves out with its Hellfire replacement in the form of the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) which is just about to enter into the Engineering, Manufacturing and Development (EMD) phase the United Kingdom ordered from European defense contractor Thales (TCFP:PA) a new missile to arm some of their helicopters. Thale’s new Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM) received a production contract for 1000 missiles.

The contract provides for the final testing and qualification of the missile and then integration on at least the Lynx helicopter platform. The contract is the culmination of a three year development effort for the company. Similar to the JAGM the LMM has the ability to use multiple modes for its guidance including laser beam-riding or semi-active laser where the missile homes in on reflected energy. The missile also offers different warhead options like the current version of the Hellfire which has seen heavy use by the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The contract with the U.K. will see two years of development and qualification leading to delivery of the first missile in 2013. The version that will be used by the Royal Navy on their helicopters at least initially will be the beam riding version.

The LMM as it’s name indicates is small having a weight of under thirty pounds and a maximum range of 8,000 meters. The Hellfire and JAGM are much bigger and have a longer range but it is expected that the LMM will be cheaper to procure. The LMM is a natural evolution of Thales’ work with air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles as it tries to enter a new market for air launched, attack missiles.

Advances in guidance technology over the last fifteen to twenty years have led to smaller, more accurate systems that allow the use of lighter weigh warheads allowing aircraft to carry more weapons.

Photo from johan weiland’s flickr photostream.

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Thales Australia and General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems announce long-term strategic teaming agreement — Press Release

Thales Australia and General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems announce long-term strategic teaming agreement

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. — Thales Australia and U.S.-based General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems have signed a long-term strategic teaming agreement to cooperate in the Australian ordnance market.

The agreement formalizes many years of close cooperation between Thales and General Dynamics, cements Thales’s ability to deliver domestic munitions products to the Australian Department of Defence, and enables a refreshed approach to the munitions business in Australia, including the potential for greater exports.

Under the 10-year agreement, General Dynamics will deliver significant technology transfer to Thales in Australia, while Thales will leverage its U.S. partner’s expertise to focus on delivering maximum value to Australian Defence through its existing munitions contracts.

Chris Jenkins, Thales Australia’s CEO, said: “This teaming agreement reinforces both our commitment to modernizing the products on offer in Australia, and our dedication to delivering savings and greater value for money to the customer under Australia’s Strategic Reform Program, while bringing new benefits to the Australian Defence Force.”

Michael Wilson, President of General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, said: “Thales and General Dynamics already have a strong working history. This agreement will see increasingly close cooperation between the companies, and is a significant extension to our current arrangements for the Australian, European and U.S. markets.”

About Thales

Thales is a global technology leader for the Defence & Security and the Aerospace & Transport markets. In 2009, the company generated revenues of €12.9 billion (equivalent of AUD 23 billion) with 68,000 employees in 50 countries. With its 22,500 engineers and researchers, Thales has a unique capability to design, develop and deploy equipment, systems and services that meet the most complex security requirements. Thales has an exceptional international footprint, with operations around the world working with customers as local partners. www.thalesgroup.com

Thales Australia is a trusted partner of the Australian Defence Force and is also present in commercial sectors ranging from air traffic management to security systems and services. Employing around 3,500 people in over 35 sites across the country, Thales Australia recorded revenues of more than AUD1 billion in 2009.

About General Dynamic Ordnance and Tactical Systems

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), is a world leader in the manufacture of large-, medium- and small-caliber direct and indirect-fire munitions, shaped charge warheads and propellants. It also manufactures precision metal components, and aerostructures in support of the tactical missile industry. More information on General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical is available online at www.gd-ots.com.

General Dynamics, headquartered in Falls Church, Va., employs approximately 90,000 people worldwide. The company is a market leader in business aviation; land and expeditionary combat systems, armaments and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and information systems and technologies. More information about General Dynamics is available online at www.generaldynamics.com.

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United Kingdom to Maintain SAR Contract

Over the last few years that United Kingdom has as a way to cut down on their defense establishment and overhead outsourced or privatized many non-combat functions of their military. They spun off their test and development centers into the company QinetiQ (QQ:LSE) for example. They have also looked to other missions that may be done more efficiently in their eyes by contractors.

One of these was a decision to award a contract for civil Search & Rescue (SAR) missions around the U.K. Previously this has been done by the Royal Air Force (RAF) primarily using H-3 helicopters painted a distinctive yellow. Last year it was decided to award a contract to a consortium led by the French defence contractor Thales (TCFP:P) along with CHC Helicopters and financing by Royal Bank of Scotland.

In the U.S. this type of mission is often accomplished by either the Army, Air Force or National Guard assets.

The team would provide helicopters and some crews to be available for this mission. The R.A.F. would then just conduct the missions using the aircraft and the consortium would be paid. This is a variation of what the U.S. calls “power by the hour” where the contractor is paid based on each flight hour. The U.K. would get the capability without having to invest in aircraft, maintenance and some facilities.

A similar scheme would be used for aerial tanking missions.

The U.K. SDSR was conducted by the new Government and recommended major changes to a variety of defense programs and concepts. It did not affect this plan for the SAR mission.

Now though the Government is considering taking the contract a further step by eliminating the military aircrew portion of this idea. This will again save upfront costs as it will reduce the number of military personnel being paid for including their training. At the same time it will increase the cost of the contract as the contractor must now provide experienced SAR pilots in greater numbers then originally planned.

The Thales team will also be responsible for making sure they are trained properly and maintain that training in accordance with the U.K.’s rules and regulations governing that flying. It will also have a long term affect on the amount of pilots and experience the R.A.F. will now have as there are still requirements for combat SAR missions that they must perform.

While there may be short term cost savings as with any plan like this the longer term must be considered and the U.K. may see a loss of capability overall as this goes on.

Photo from Yorkshiregeek’s flickr photostream.

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ThalesRaytheonSystems Awarded $21.8 Million to Modernize U.S. Army AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel Radars — Press Release

ThalesRaytheonSystems Awarded $21.8 Million to Modernize U.S. Army AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel Radars

FULLERTON, Calif., and PARIS, June 14, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — ThalesRaytheonSystems has been awarded a $21.8 million contract by the U.S. Army to upgrade multiple AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel air defense radar systems. This award is an option to the existing upgrade contract originally awarded in June 2007.

The contract will upgrade the U.S. Army Sentinel radar transmitters, receivers and exciters and increase functional capabilities such as faster data processing and greater detection range for smaller targets. Additional capabilities will also help minimize instances of fratricide and accidental counter-missile firing and facilitate a transition to defense-force mobility.

“The latest system enhancements will benefit the warfighter by providing earlier threat detection,” said Kim Kerry, chief executive officer, ThalesRaytheonSystems, U.S. Operations. “It will also prepare the Sentinel for future missions such as special events protection, air traffic control and general homeland defense.”

Upgrade work will be performed in El Paso, Texas, and Fullerton, Calif.

The Sentinel radar is the premier air surveillance and target acquisition and tracking sensor for the U.S. Army’s Cruise Missile Defense Systems program. The radar’s primary mission is to protect maneuver forces and critical assets from cruise missile, unmanned aerial vehicles, and rotary- and fixed-wing threats. The Sentinel accurately acquires targets far enough forward of friendly troops to provide sufficient reaction time for air defense weapons to engage at optimum ranges. More than 200 Sentinel radars are currently deployed by military forces worldwide.

About ThalesRaytheonSystems

Formed nine years ago, ThalesRaytheonSystems is an international company specializing in air defense systems, command and control systems, 3D air defense radars, battlefield and counter-battery radars. The company employs 1,600 people and is equally owned by Raytheon and Thales.

Source: Raytheon Company

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Australia Continues Targeted Investment in Military Modernization

Australia has announced a series of contracts to upgrade parts of their military. Some of this has been in response to the fighting in Afghanistan since 9/11 and others due to the expanding ability of the Chinese and other Asian states military. These contracts include updated naval combat ships as well as the major commitment to the struggling F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). When at all possible Australia is awarding these to companies based in the country to maximize the stimulus effect of the contract. As all nations Australia has been affected by the global economic downturn of the last two years and is trying to spend its defense dollars judiciously to help its own domestic suppliers.

The next major contract announced is one for light armored vehicles that will be used to upgrade both troops in Australia and those deployed in Afghanistan. The U.S. and its Allies have seen the need for better systems with more maneuverability and protection against the mine and Improvised Explosive Device (IED) threat.

The contract could be worth up to $1 billion (Aus) and several different teams will be bidding for it. One of these will be Thales Australia based in Victoria. As it names indicates this is part of the Thales, French based, aerospace and defense company. The company has about a $1 billion (Aus) business already in Australia so winning this contract will be a major coup and increase in their business.

The Australian government plans to conduct the contract in the same manner as the U.S. Department of Defense’s recent MRAP-ATV contest. Here companies were paid to build prototypes that were tested and then one or more of the designs were chosen. Australia is giving Thales and General Dynamics Land Systems, part of the U.S. General Dynamics (GD) defense giant, as well as a company headed up by the U.S. Force Protection (FRPT) MRAP maker contracts to deliver prototypes.

The choice of a new vehicle will be a major upgrade to the Australian defense capabilities and the decision to use an Australian based company to do the development and production will aid the county’s economy.

Photo from ISAF media flickr photostream.

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Thales Continues European Penetration of U.S. Defense Market

The U.S. Department of Defense awarded a contract to Thales Alenia Space to build the next generation of Irridium Low Earth Orbit (LEO) communications satellite. The contractor team is led by the French military electronics company but includes an Italian company as well as U.S. aerospace company Boeing (BA). The total value of this contract could be worth over $2.1 billion.

The Irridium concept was to establish a fleet of satellites that would use special handsets and relay communications around the globe. The commercial market for this company did not materialize and its biggest customer remains the U.S. military. The contract will develop and build the next set of satellites to replace the original set. The contract may also add several hundred million to launch the satellites and upgrade ground stations.

The original competitors for this contact included Loral Space & Communications (LORL) and Lockheed Martin (LMT). Loral dropped out early over concerns that it could not make money on the deal due to price pressures. Lockheed as the U.S. competitor would have seemed to be favored but it seems that the Thales team offered the best price.

Over the last twenty years or more as the U.S. industrial base has declined more-and-more U.S. business as gone to the big European defense contractors. This, though, is one of the first major space related contracts to do so. The U.S. Defense Department has been restructuring their military space programs due to some cost and schedule problems with the various new weather and communication satellites. This win demonstrates that the U.S. military is willing to look past their traditional suppliers especially when cost is a concern.

Photo from NASA Goddard Photo and Video flickr photstream.

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ThalesRaytheonSystems Receives Follow-on Contract for U.S. Army Sentinel Radar Support

March 29, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Raytheon, Syndicated Industry News, Thales 

ThalesRaytheonSystems Receives Follow-on Contract for U.S. Army Sentinel Radar Support
March 29, 2010

FULLERTON, Calif., — ThalesRaytheonSystems has been awarded a $12.5 million follow-on contract for its AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel air defense radar Life Cycle Contractor Support (LCCS) program.

This multiyear option contract will continue through 2011. ThalesRaytheonSystems provides the U.S. Army with logistics, technical and maintenance support for more than 140 Sentinel radars deployed worldwide.

In 2009, the Sentinel LCCS program achieved an average readiness rating of more than 96 percent. The U.S. Army’s entire fleet of AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel radars, including those in use 24/7 during wartime theaters of operation, was assessed on the availability of repair parts, and required maintenance and personnel. The LCCS program provides system improvements and support to reduce Army program costs through an integrated system of on-site contractor field engineering and return-and-repair support.

“Our main objective is to sustain Army Sentinel operational readiness,” said Kim Kerry, chief executive officer, ThalesRaytheonSystems, U.S. Operations. “LCCS maintains the radars for our soldiers while lowering both manpower requirements and maintenance costs.”

The U.S. Army AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel air defense radar system protects maneuver forces and other critical assets from cruise missile, unmanned aerial vehicles, and rotary- and fixed- wing threats.

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Thales Pitches New Australian MRAP

The market for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles has grown over the last five years incrementally. The United States and its Allies have bought thousands of the vehicles for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan where the major threat has been from mines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). The U.S. military is beginning its winding down of operations in Iraq which will mean less requirement for new MRAP vehicles. The U.S. has also awarded Oshkosh large contracts for a new MRAP-ATV to support their troops in Afghanistan. The world market though for these types of vehicles should be fairly solid as the IED has been demonstrated as a weapon of choice.

Thales in Australia has successfully marketed and sold their larger Bushmaster vehicle to both its home forces as well as The Netherlands for use in Afghanistan. Now it has developed the lighter Hawkei MRAP. This vehicle is targeted towards replacing tactical vehicles like the Land Rover or HUMVEE. It has removable armor to facilitate transportation and is configurable to conduct a variety of missions. Thales is hoping that the Australian military will invest in it to supplement their Land Rover vehicles as well as marketing it to other countries.

There is certainly will continue to be people willing to invest in these type of vehicles especially if it is priced competitively and offers some capabilities that other don’t.

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New British Aircraft Carriers Have Trickle Down Effect

Even though you can project the Royal Navy at being two carriers and twenty or so escorts the most expensive ship building contract in the UK’s history is having an economic effect. The Engineer Online reports that three major sub contracts were awarded worth over $130 million to support construction of the two new ships. The contracts are for insulation, water management systems and command and control systems. Thales will provide the internal ships communication system as well as an HF long range radio. Ormandy Group will build the system for treating and providing hot and cold water for the ship. Finally Ticon Ltd UK will supply various types of insulation for the ship. These two large warships will continue to generate revenue and jobs for a variety of companies across England.

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Canadian Government Fights Back on Foriegn Contracts

The Canadian government of Mr. Harper has received criticism from the domestic defense industry and legislators that it has not been awarding enough contracts to Canadian companies. Part of the issue is that the last two major contracts for C-17 and C-130 aircraft had to go to American companies who are the producers of those aircraft. A more recent award for trucks though went to an American company Navistar when the product was available in Canada. The Vancouver Sun is reporting that the administration is trying to mollify its critics by awarding tow major contracts to Canadian companies. The two new contracts are for upgrades to command and control systems and will be awarded to Canadian subsidiaries of Thales and General Dynamics. Even so the work will be done in Canada and employ Canadians. One of the problems that affects defense contracting, especially for smaller countries, is that it may be hard to do the work domestically. India for example has invested billions into its industry but still has to turn to foreign suppliers for large, complicated programs.

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Thales Has Off Year

Thales the French defense contractor reported that in 2008 net profit fell thirty-six percent. CNNMoney.com writes that this is due higher taxes and a charge against the struggling A400M transport contract. Earnings did rise two percent this last year and revenue just one. The company paid high taxes because of a large capital gain in 2007. The A400M contract also required a charge of about $120 million. The company though feels that 2009 will be a good year as it has a large backlog. There was no discussion of the effect on the company if either the customers or EADS ends the A400M development program.

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