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Article in The Baltimore Sun on U.S. New Rifle Contest

I was quoted in an article in The Baltimore Sun about one of the entrants in the U.S. Army’s new rifle competition.

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U.S. Navy Continues Orders for P-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft

The U.S. Navy has been working with Boeing (BA) on building a new maritime patrol aircraft to replace the Lockheed P-3 Orion which came into service almost fifty years ago. They settled on a design based on the 737 airliner which the Navy already operates as a transport and command and control aircraft. The new P-8A Poseidon is undergoing testing and evaluation at the Paxtuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland.

Following up on previous orders for 8 aircraft to support testing the Navy recently awarded the first Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) batch to Boeing. This contract is worth about $1.7 billion and is for eight aircraft. The contract includes training, spares and support equipment as well as the eight aircraft.

The Navy has already ordered Long Lead Material for the third LRIP production order in September. Ultimately up to 100 of the aircraft could be built for the Navy.

The P-8 has also been sold to India in the P-8I configuration. The Southeast Asian country had originally ordered 8 of the aircraft but this spring increased that to 12. Along with Boeing’s C-17 sale it is one of the largest deals a U.S. company has made with India.

The P-8 will be equipped with new systems such as radars, other sensors and command and control systems that offer an upgrade over the P-3. The P-8 also offers range, reliability and payload improvements over the propeller driven P-3.

Photo from Iragerich’s Flickr photostream.

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P-8A Maritime Patrol Aircraft Delivered to NAS Patuxent River to Start Test Program

Boeing (BA) has delivered the first P-8A Poseidon long range maritime patrol and anti-submarine aircraft to the U.S. Navy Patuxent River Naval Air Station to begin its test program. The P-8A when it reaches service in a few years will replace the P-3C Orion aircraft originally manufactured by Lockheed (LMT) that has been in service now for almost forty years.

The P-8A is based on the Boeing 737 twin engined air liner. A version, the P-8I, has also been purchased by India.

The larger, jet engine equipped P-8A will have a longer range, more time in the air and greater payload then the turboprop powered Orion. If all goes well with the program the Navy will receive their first Poseidon in 2013.

In the late Eighties the Navy attempted to develop the P-7 as a replacement for the P-3 but that program was canceled in the decade after as part of defense acquisition reforms under President Clinton. The P-8 program began just after the turn of the century and Boeing was awarded the development contract in 2004.

The Navy will receive two more test aircraft at Pax River this year. The aircraft is equipped with systems and electronics from Northrop Grumman (NOC), Raytheon (RTN) and GE Aviation (GE). The two engines are manufactured by CFM International.

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BRAC Support Nets CACI A Contract

The last round of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) for the U.S. military saw a focus on concentrating similar organizations and efforts. These include combining schools and research facilities for all of the services if there is some synergy. An example is moving medical training for the Army, Navy and Air Force to San Antonia, TX where the Air Force originally focused their training. A similar move is the transfer of network and information operations from several Army bases to the Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) in Maryland.

In order to coordinate and support these moves the Army gave CACI International (CACI) a contract that could be worth over $80 million if all options are exercised. The two and a half year contract primarily pays for the planning and conduct of the movement of the large number of IT and computer equipment necessitated by the move. These include test sets and equipment for the development and testing of new equipment.

Similar contracts have been awarded to other companies to support similar moves and consolidations. As can be imagined the logistics of all this are quite involved and the use of contractors allows the short term ramp up in personnel and capability required.

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BRAC Moves Air Force Unit to Aberdeen Proving Ground

The U.S. Air Force under the last round of BRAC is moving its chemical, nuclear and biological defense development unit to the Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) in Maryland. Battelle was given a $32 million contract to aid in moving the 649th Aeronautical Systems Squadron from Texas. This round focused on concentrating the various parts of the services that carry on like roles. The Army has used APG for most of their chemical and biological research and the Air Force unit will move there to gain benefits from co-location. The Air Force bases in Texas though are gaining Army and Navy units related to medical research and training so that state will not suffer with this move.

Unlike a lot of contracts related to BRAC this is not for construction of facilities. Battelle will provide analysis and support so that not only with the Squadron be able to continue their programs and research without interruption; but also so that the unit can receive improved equipment and processes as part of the move. This is also a benefit of the BRAC process. By moving an organization or unit it is possible to upgrade and modernize their capability through improving facilities. The combining of like abilities from various services and organizations will also aid in sharing and exchanging experience and knowledge.

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Maryland is Tenth in Defense Spending

The State of Maryland put out is report showing that the state is tenth in receiving Federal defense funds.  WTOP.com writes about it here.  Maryland is of course helped by the large number of facilities in the state as the Army has Fort Meade, Fort Detrick and Aberdeen Proving Ground.  The Navy obviously has the Naval Academy as well as Patuxent River Naval Air Station.  The Air Force operates Andrews Air Force Base home of Air Force One for Presidential Transport. Read more

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