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January 25, 2021 | International, Aerospace

Next F-35 Contracts Under Negotiation, Deal Expected by Late September

Jan. 22, 2021 | By John A. Tirpak

The F-35 Joint Program Office, Lockheed Martin, and Pratt & Whitney are negotiating prices for the 15th through 17th lots of Lightning II fighters and engines, aiming for a deal by the end of September.

The contracting strategy is to negotiate a “base year” contract for Lot 15, with “two single-year options (Lots 16 and 17),” a JPO spokeswoman said. While the air vehicles are under negotiation, the “propulsion Lot 15-17 proposal is currently in technical evaluation,” the spokeswoman said. Although Lockheed quotes prices publicly for F-35s with engines included, the government negotiates with the engine maker separately. The Lightning II is powered by Pratt’s F135 turbofan.

The strategy likely buys time for the F-35 to finally exit engineering and manufacturing development and be declared ready for full-rate production, a milestone postponed last month for the third time by former Pentagon acquisition and sustainment chief Ellen Lord.

The Lot 15-17 contracts will also mark the first major deals for the F135 engine conducted with Pratt under the ownership of Raytheon Technologies, which formally took over the engine maker in April 2020. Pratt was previously owned by United Technologies.

The program office expects to conclude both the air vehicle and propulsion talks within fiscal 2021, the spokeswoman said. Lot 15 air vehicles “are planned to be fully funded and awarded in FY’21,” but the Lot 16 and 17 options would be exercised in fiscal year 2022 and 2023, respectively, “when funding becomes available.”

The Lots 15-17 contracts were originally expected to include a multi-year “block buy” agreement including the U.S. However, by law, the U.S. cannot enter into a multiyear procurement arrangement for a weapon system until it has passed Milestone C, or full-rate production. The F-35 most recently was supposed to clear Milestone C in March, but Lord postponed that declaration until further notice, due to ongoing challenges integrating the F-35 with the Pentagon’s Joint Simulation Environment—a wargaming system that helps Pentagon leaders decide on optimum force sizes for various weapon platforms. Lord’s move leaves it up to the Biden administration to declare whether and when the F-35 is ready for full-rate production.

When the Lot 12-14 contract was announced in October 2019, Lord said the F-35 had completed 90 percent of the tasks necessary to pass Milestone C.

U.S. partners in the F-35 program are already participating in a “block buy” arrangement with Lockheed Martin.

The $34 billion October 2019 contract, which covered Lots 12-14, achieved Lockheed and the JPO’s longstanding goal of getting the unit cost of the F-35A below $80 million a copy. That contract, the largest yet for the fighter, included 478 aircraft; 291 for U.S. military services and 127 for foreign users. It also marked a 12.8 percent drop in the price of the Air Force version of the Lightning II over Lot 11. Engine costs had only declined 3.5 percent versus the previous lot.

Lots 15-17 will likely involve a slightly larger number of aircraft.

Industry officials said they expect smaller cost reductions in the F-35 from now on, as the production line is nearly at capacity and peak efficiency. The 2019 contract was the “big bang” deal, said one, in which Lockheed “pushed it” to get the unit cost below $80 million. At that price, the fifth-generation F-35 costs less than fourth-generation types like the F-15EX, but its operating cost remains significantly higher.

Lockheed missed its delivery quota of F-35s in 2020 by about 20 airplanes, due to delays incurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Michele Evans, former Lockheed aeronautics vice president, said in the fall the company expects to gradually make up those missed deliveries by around 2023, noting it did not want to disrupt the production enterprise for a brief surge to get back to par.

https://www.airforcemag.com/next-f-35-contracts-under-negotiation-deal-expected-by-late-september

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  • U.S. Army Upgrades UAS Ground Control Station

    May 25, 2020 | International, Aerospace, C4ISR

    U.S. Army Upgrades UAS Ground Control Station

    Published: 23 May 2020 by Mike Ball Leidos has been awarded a contract by the U.S. government’s General Services Administration (GSA) to provide software upgrades for the U.S. Army’s Unmanned Aircraft System Ground Control Station – Version 4 (UASGCS-V4). The upgraded software solution will be compatible with the existing common baseline and will maximize reusable efficiencies for the existing UAS, as well as U.S. Army, Department of Defense and commercially-available software. This will result in a simplified, efficient and integrated system that will make both training and operation simpler as well as providing commanders with maximum concept of operations (CONOP) flexibility. The new solution will improve the ability of unmanned aircraft ground control station operators to see where they need to go, locate enemies and execute their mission. As part of the contract, Leidos will provide engineering services for technical and logistics support, including software development. Leidos will also support integration of the new design solution into the Army’s Universal Ground Control Station (UGCS) as well as system qualification, certification and operational testing for multiple UAS platforms. Michael Hile, Leidos division manager, Airborne Solutions, commented: “We look forward to supporting the U.S Army’s UASGCS-V4 through this next-generation software solution. Our team’s expertise in software programming and development, along with their deep mission knowledge, will help ensure the success of this critical mission.” https://www.unmannedsystemstechnology.com/2020/05/u-s-army-upgrades-uas-ground-control-station/

  • DoD SBIR/STTR Pre-Release: DoD SBIR BAA 21.2, DoD STTR BAA 21.B, Air Force CSO X21.2, Air Force CSO X21.B

    April 21, 2021 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    DoD SBIR/STTR Pre-Release: DoD SBIR BAA 21.2, DoD STTR BAA 21.B, Air Force CSO X21.2, Air Force CSO X21.B

          The DoD Small Business and Technology Partnerships Office announces the pre-release of the following Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs) and Commercial Solutions Openings (CSOs): •    DoD Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) BAA 21.2 •    DoD Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) BAA 21.B •    Air Force CSO X21.2 •    Air Force CSO X21.B IMPORTANT DATES: •    April 21, 2021: Pre-release begins •    May 19, 2021: BAA opens, begin submitting proposals in DSIP •    June 3, 2021: Topic Q&A closes to new questions at 12:00 p.m. ET •    June 17, 2021: BAA closes, full proposals must be submitted in DSIP no later than 12:00 p.m. ET The instructions and topics for these BAAs and CSOs are available on DSIP at https://www.dodsbirsttr.mil/submissions/login and at https://rt.cto.mil/rtl-small-business-resources/sbir-sttr/.            Updated DoD SBIR/STTR Program & Proposal Requirements The following requirements are in place for all SBIR and STTR proposal submissions. 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Contractor Certification Regarding Provision of Prohibited Video Surveillance and Telecommunications Services and Equipment •    DoD must comply with Section 889(a)(1)(B) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019; therefore, all proposals must include certifications in Federal Acquisition Regulation clauses 52.204-24, 52.204-25, and 52.204-26, executed by the proposer’s authorized company representative. The Federal Acquisition Regulation clauses may be found as attachments to both 21.2 SBIR and 21.B STTR BAAs and will be available to download during proposal submission and uploaded to Volume 5: Supporting Documents. 3. Company Commercialization Report (Volume 4)  •    The Company Commercialization Report (CCR) will be required for all proposal submissions. Proposers must complete the CCR by logging into their account at https://www.sbir.gov/, downloading a PDF copy of the CCR, and uploading the PDF to the DSIP proposal submission. •    WARNING: Uploading a new Company Commercialization Report (CCR) under the Firm Information section of DSIP or clicking “Save” or “Submit” in Volume 4 of one proposal submission is considered a change for ALL proposals under any open BAAs or CSOs. If a proposing firm has previously certified and submitted any Phase I or Direct to Phase II proposals under any BAA or CSO that is still open, those proposals will be automatically reopened. Proposing firms will have to recertify and resubmit such proposals. If a proposing firm does not recertify or resubmit such proposals, they will not be considered fully submitted and will not be evaluated. 4. Fraud, Waste and Abuse Training (Volume 6) •    The Fraud, Waste and Abuse (FWA) training is required for all proposal submissions. This training can be accessed in the Volume 6 section of the DSIP proposal submission. The training material must be thoroughly reviewed once per year. Plan ahead and leave ample time to complete the training based on the proposal submission deadline. In addition to the proposal requirements above, the BAAs and CSOs have been updated to reflect applicable Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and/or Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) clauses that will be included in SBIR and STTR contracts. Proposers are encouraged to thoroughly review the BAAs/CSOs to remain apprised of programmatic and contractual changes.            Topic Q&A   Topic Q&A is now available on the Topics and Topic Q&A page in DSIP. Proposers may submit technical questions through the Topic Q&A page at https://www.dodsbirsttr.mil/submissions/login. During pre-release, proposers can contact TPOCs directly or submit questions via Topic Q&A. Once DoD begins accepting proposals on May 19, 2021, no further direct contact between proposers and topic authors is allowed. All questions and answers are posted electronically for general viewing. Topic Q&A will close to new questions on June 3, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. ET, but will remain active to view questions and answers related to the topics until the BAA close. Questions submitted through the Topic Q&A are limited to technical information related to improving the understanding of a topic’s requirements. Any other questions, such as those asking for advice or guidance on solution approach, or administrative questions, such as SBIR or STTR program eligibility, technical proposal/cost proposal structure and page count, budget and duration limitations, or proposal due date WILL NOT receive a response. Refer to the Component-specific instructions given at the beginning of that Component's topics for help with an administrative question. Proposers are advised to monitor Topic Q&A during the BAA period for questions and answers and frequently monitor DSIP for updates and amendments to the topics.            Learning & Support Visit the Learning & Support section for Job Aids and Help Videos to guide you through submitting and viewing questions and answers in the Topic Q&A, preparing and submitting your proposal in DSIP, and more: https://www.dodsbirsttr.mil/submissions/learning-support/training-materials                     Questions Email the DSIP Help Desk at DoDSBIRSupport@reisystems.com for assistance with using DSIP. Questions regarding DSIP can be emailed to the DSIP Help Desk and will be addressed in the order received, during normal operating hours (Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET). General questions pertaining to a particular DoD Component and the Component-specific BAA instructions should be submitted in accordance with the instructions given at the beginning of that Component's topics. 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  • BREAKING: Marine Corps Planning Major Program Cuts

    December 10, 2019 | International, Naval

    BREAKING: Marine Corps Planning Major Program Cuts

    By Jon Harper SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — The Marine Corps intends to divest itself of legacy systems as it transforms into a more mobile and expeditionary force, the service’s commandant said Dec. 7. In recent decades Marines have been busy fighting land wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But now they must prepare for a potential conflict in a naval environment against advanced adversaries such as China, Gen. David Berger told reporters at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California. “We cannot wait any longer before we start adjusting our service to what we’ve got to be six, seven, eight years out,” he said. “We have lots of changes we have to make and … we have to get rid of legacy things in the Marine Corps. We’ve got to go on a diet. We’ve got to get back on ship. We’ve got to become expeditionary again.” What types of legacy systems will be on the chopping block? “Big, heavy things,” Berger said. “Expensive things that we can't either afford to buy or afford to maintain over the life of it. Things that don't fit aboard ships. Things that can't fire hyper velocity projectiles. Things that don't have the range that we're going to need or the precision.” Mobility will be critical in future fights, he noted. Marines must be able to operate from ships or ashore, and move back and forth between domains. Other platforms that could see cuts include manned logistics vehicles and aircraft. “All those things we're going to trim down,” Berger said. The service is also looking to add new capabilities. The commandant did not identify specific systems that the Marines plan to buy, but he provided a flavor of the types of platforms that will be on the shopping list. “Think unmanned. Think expeditionary. Think very light. Think things that we can sustain forward without a huge logistical train,” Berger said. Unmanned logistics vehicles and aircraft are examples of new technologies that the service is interested in. Human beings will still be on the battlefield, Berger noted. “I just don't need them driving a truck delivering chow” if a self-driving platform could perform the task, he said. Drones could also deliver supplies. “Amazon does it. Why wouldn't we do it?” he asked. Unmanned combat aircraft are also on the wish list, he noted. The Marine Corps has been conducting wargames and simulations to help determine how the force should be redesigned for potential future combat scenarios that might occur 10 years out. “We’re in the last stages of that,” Berger said. That effort will likely wrap up in late January or early February. Force composition changes will be made over 10 years, but some will begin next year, he said. Officials are examining “every part of our air-ground team,” Berger said. A wide range of capabilities are being looked at. “From individual equipment to crew served [weapons] to F-35s and everything in between.” The analysis will help determine which programs will be killed, trimmed or added, he said. The service needs new weapon systems that can find and kill enemy ships at range from ship or shore. “We have to become a naval force that's lethal in terms of putting at risk another naval force,” Berger said. In the future, large numbers of unmanned air and ground systems could function as motherships that launch other robotic vehicles and drones to conduct missions, he said. A major funding realignment is planned over the next five years. “You'll see a little bit of it” in the fiscal year 2021 budget blueprint, Berger said. “The big muscle movement — that will come in ‘22, ‘23, ‘24 in a big way.” https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2019/12/9/marine-corps-planning-major-program-cuts

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