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  • Scrutiny over Pentagon official’s Boeing ties highlights defense industry consolidation

    29 avril 2019 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité, Autre défense

    Scrutiny over Pentagon official’s Boeing ties highlights defense industry consolidation

    By SAMANTHA MASUNAGA The year was 1989. The Pentagon was under the command of President George H.W. Bush and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney. And aviation giant McDonnell Douglas Corp. was riding high as the top federal contractor, grabbing 4.6%, or $9.15 billion, of all federal contracting dollars. The next two largest contractors, General Dynamics Corp. and General Electric Co., raked in about 4% and 3.4%, respectively. Thirty years and many acquisitions later, Pentagon spending has grown far more top-heavy. Today, Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing — which bought McDonnell Douglas in 1997 — together reaped almost 15% of total U.S. government contracting dollars in fiscal year 2017, according to the most recent federal numbers. The two aerospace giants are the only makers of fast combat jets in the U.S. and are the dominant players for military transport aircraft. The concentrated power of big defense companies became an issue two years ago when longtime Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan was confirmed as deputy secretary of Defense. Then in December, President Trump named him to serve as acting Defense secretary. After a monthlong ethics investigation into allegations that Shanahan promoted Boeing while slamming rival Lockheed Martin, particularly in discussions about its F-35 fighter jet contract, the Pentagon's office of inspector general concluded Thursday that Shanahan “did not promote Boeing or disparage its competitors.” “We did not substantiate any of the allegations,” the report said. “We determined that Mr. Shanahan fully complied with his ethics agreements and his ethical obligations regarding Boeing and its competitors.” Shanahan is considered a leading candidate for permanent Defense secretary. The question of possible favoritism toward Boeing had also been raised by some when the U.S. Air Force, in its 2020 budget, made a surprise request to purchase F-15X fighter jets, an update of that company's fourth-generation jet. The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps have all made major commitments to the F-35, Lockheed Martin's more advanced and pricier fifth-generation fighter. The inspector general report said the Pentagon's mix of fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft was a decision made by former Defense Secretary James N. Mattis before Shanahan's confirmation to the department. A Defense official told trade publication Defense News that the decision was bolstered by concerns about keeping “multiple providers in the tactical aircraft portfolio.” But there was no contract competition based on a set of defined requirements — the way business typically works in the industry, said Richard Aboulafia, aviation analyst at market analysis firm Teal Group. “It's a duopoly structure business with a lot at stake,” he said of fast combat jet manufacturing. “It's amazing that no one considered the optics here.” In some cases, the military has encouraged monopolies. In 2006, Lockheed Martin and Boeing got government approval to form United Launch Alliance, a joint venture set up specifically to launch national security satellites. The venture was proposed after the companies argued there were not enough launches to sustain two competitors. “The market is more concentrated,” said Mandy Smithberger, director of the Center for Defense Information at the Project on Government Oversight, an independent watchdog group. “You see the government making decisions thinking about how it will impact industry probably more than they should be.” Still, when President Reagan was in office, there were a number of major manufacturers of tactical military jets — Northrop Corp., Grumman Corp., Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, and General Dynamics, to name a few, Aboulafia said. But as the Cold War ended in the 1990s, defense funding dried up, leading to major aerospace mergers, such as Lockheed and Martin Marietta, and Boeing's acquisition of Rockwell International's aerospace business and McDonnell Douglas. A push for commonality among the Pentagon's planes also led to the fewer numbers of tactical military jets. The idea was that using similar aircraft would lead to savings in development and production costs, Andrew Hunter, director of the defense-industrial initiatives group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, said in an email. As a result, the share of federal defense contracts awarded to the top largest private companies increased to 31.3% in 2000 from 21.7% in 1990, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper on the effect of 1990s-era defense industry consolidation. In 2017, the share of the top five reached 35%, according to federal data analyzed for that paper by Stanford University researchers. The paper concluded that those mergers resulted in a less competitive procurement process. But it did not find evidence of a significant increase in acquisition costs for large weapon systems, said Mark Duggan, director of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and co-author of the paper. As the industry gets more concentrated, it can lead to concern that “there's only one or two potential contractors for a certain product, and then you may not get the kind of competitive outcome you want,” he said. The consolidation process hasn't slowed, driven by the perceived need to compete for more and bigger contracts. Last year, Northrop Grumman Corp. acquired spacecraft and rocket motor manufacturer Orbital ATK Inc. Months later, military communications firms L3 Technologies Inc. and Harris Corp. announced their intent to merge. Although acquisitions and mergers can lead to greater efficiency, they can also have a detrimental effect on product innovation, said Aboulafia of Teal Group. For example, he said, as aircraft manufacturers consolidate, clean-sheet designs may be more of a rarity in the future as there are fewer design teams in the industry from different companies. For Boeing, “in terms of designing a clean-sheet fighter jet, it's been many, many, many years,” he said. In 2017, Lockheed Martin won more than $50 billion in total federal contracting dollars, making the Bethesda, Md., company No. 1 on a list of the top 100 federal contractors, according to federal procurement data. Boeing was a distant second with more than $23 billion. When narrowed to weapon acquisition contract dollars in fiscal year 2017, Lockheed Martin's individual piece of the pie totaled about 17%, with Boeing further behind at about 7.5%, according to federal data analyzed by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. News of the Defense Department ethics investigation came after watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sent a letter to the acting Defense Department inspector general, asking him to investigate allegations that Shanahan had boosted Boeing while working in the Pentagon. The letter includes a description from a Politico story published in January, in which Shanahan allegedly criticized Lockheed Martin's work on the F-35 joint strike fighter program, saying it “would be done much better” if Boeing had won the contract. In that article, an unnamed former Pentagon official told the news organization that Shanahan said during a high-level meeting that Lockheed “doesn't know how to run a program.” The inspector general's report said none of the witnesses interviewed said they heard Shanahan praise Boeing in meetings or discussions or make disparaging remarks about Lockheed Martin. Shanahan told the inspector general's team that he had never praised a Boeing military product and that he had said “program management on the F-35 is inadequate.” Shanahan's Boeing career spanned more than 30 years, during which he led its missile defense systems and military helicopter units. He also served as senior vice president of the company's commercial airplane division and is known for his work on Boeing's 787 Dreamliner program, which was behind schedule when he first took the helm. Boeing declined to comment this month on the initiation of the ethics investigation. The company referred to a statement it made in January, saying Boeing officials had not spoken to Shanahan about its programs during “his entire Pentagon tenure” and that the company “adheres to and respects Acting Secretary Shanahan's decision to recuse himself from company matters.” Shanahan isn't the first industry executive to lead the Defense Department. Under President Eisenhower, Defense Secretary Charles Wilson joined the Pentagon after serving as chief executive of General Motors, which made military vehicles at the time. Other defense industry brass have also joined the Pentagon over the years, though in lower roles. Analysts say the Pentagon could benefit from having a leader who understands how industry works, and who has been on the other side of the negotiating table and can avoid being tricked. And the Defense secretary typically works less with industry representatives than deputies do. “Secretaries aren't making a lot of decisions on individual contracts,” Smithberger said. “They're setting the priorities for the department.” But the potential conflicts may be “hard to escape,” said Loren Thompson, defense analyst at the Lexington Institute think tank, which receives funding from both Boeing and Lockheed Martin. “Boeing is so big that almost every discussion of strategy, budgets or programs bears upon its interests,” he said.

  • Italy to buy drones to keep company alive, but the Air Force doesn’t want them

    29 avril 2019 | International, Aérospatial

    Italy to buy drones to keep company alive, but the Air Force doesn’t want them

    By: Tom Kington ROME — The Italian government said it will purchase the troubled P.1HH drone from Italy-based Piaggio Aerospace as it seeks to keep the firm afloat, despite an apparent lack of interest in the platform from the Italian Air Force. The Ministry of Economic Development announced April 24 the acquisition of four drones, which are unmanned variants of the firm's P180 business aircraft. Confirming the purchase, the Defence Ministry said the purchase would serve the “operational needs” of the Italian armed forces and protect the “strategic value” of the company, while strengthening Italy's credentials as a partner in the pan-European EuroMALE drone program. The Ministry of Economic Development added that future purchases would follow, with an industrial source telling Defense News another four drones would be bought. Piaggio Aerospace was placed in receivership late last year by then-owner Mubadala, an investment fund based in the United Arab Emirates, which also canceled its planned order of eight Piaggio P.1HH drones. One reported reason for Mubadala's decision was its impatience as Italy dragged its heels on promises to buy an enhanced version of the drone, preferred by the Italian Air Force and known at the P.2HH. As Italy's parliamentary defense commission dragged its heels on approving the P.2HH order last year, Mubadala pulled the plug on the firm, even as work on its order of P.1HH drones was nearing completion. The decision put hundreds of jobs at Piaggio in jeopardy and left the firm with incomplete P.1HH drones. In March, Italian Air Force chief Gen. Alberto Rosso told Italy's parliament he was not interested in buying them, adding to speculation the drone program was dead. But he appears to be have been overruled, as Italy's government seeks to save jobs at the company. The industrial source said the four drones set to be purchased by Italy for the Air Force, plus the further four to be bought in the future, would be those originally destined for the UAE. One drone that had already been delivered to the UAE could now be returned for delivery to the Italian Air Force. The source said €70 million (U.S. $78 million) will be spent by the Italian Defence Ministry to achieve flight certification for the drones, which is expected to take between 12 and 18 months. Maintenance work and construction of the P180 will also now continue. The deal will allow a revived Piaggio to avoid layoffs and to find an “industrial partner,” the Ministry of Economic Development said. That could be Italy's Leonardo, although CEO Alessandro Profumo this month told Defense News he was only interested in Piaggio's engine maintenance activity.

  • Here’s how much global military spending rose in 2018

    29 avril 2019 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité, Autre défense

    Here’s how much global military spending rose in 2018

    By: Aaron Mehta WASHINGTON — Overall military expenditures rose 2.6 percent between 2017 and 2018, to hit a total of $1.82 trillion dollars, according to new research from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The total from 2018 is 5.4 percent higher than 2009, and represents a 76 percent increase over 1998, a 20-year period. Sixty percent of global military spending came from five countries: The United States ($649 billion), China ($250 billion), Saudi Arabia ($67.6 billion), India ($66.5 billion) and France ($63.8 billion). Russia ($61.4 billion) and the United Kingdom ($50 billion) were the other two countries to spend $50 billion or more on defense. However, there are ups and downs among the biggest spenders. While the U.S. (4.6 percent, the first overall growth since 2010), China (5 percent) and India (3.1 percent) increased their respective military spending year over year, Saudi Arabia cut its spending by 6.5 percent, France by 1.4 percent and Russia by 3.5 percent. And overall defense spending per gross domestic product fell to 2.1 percent in 2018, representing $239 per global citizen, a 0.1 percent decrease over one year and a 0.5 percent decrease over 10 years. Notably, Russia ranked outside the top five for the first time since 2006. China, meanwhile, increased its military spending for the 24th consecutive year, and its spending is almost 10 times higher than it was in 1994; however, researchers warn that Chinese growth may slow in the coming year. “The annual rate of growth of China's military spending has slowed steadily since it reached a post-2009 high of 9.3 percent in 2013. The growth of 5.0 percent in 2018 was the lowest annual increase since 1995,” the authors note. “China has followed a policy of linking growth in military spending with economic growth. With its economic growth slowing in 2018 to the lowest level in 28 years, slower rates of growth in the coming years can be expected if China continues to follow this policy.” SIPRI, which is widely considered to be the authority on military expenditures and exports, having gathered such data for decades. Other key developments, as noted by the researchers: Military spending in South America rose by 3.1 percent in 2018. This was mainly due to the increase in Brazilian spending (by 5.1 percent), the second increase in as many years. Military expenditure in Africa fell by 8.4 percent in 2018, the fourth consecutive annual decrease since the peak in spending in 2014. There were major decreases in spending by Algeria (–6.1 percent), Angola (–18 percent) and Sudan (–49 percent). Military spending by states in the Middle East, for which data is available, fell by 1.9 percent in 2018. Total military expenditure by all 29 NATO members was $963 billion in 2018, which accounted for 53 percent of world spending. Military spending in Turkey increased by 24 percent in 2018 to $19 billion, the highest annual percentage increase among the world's top 15 military spenders. Six of the 10 countries with the highest military burden (military spending as a proportion of GDP) in the world in 2018 are in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia (8.8 percent of GDP), Oman (8.2 percent), Kuwait (5.1 percent), Lebanon (5 percent), Jordan (4.7 percent) and Israel (4.3 percent).

  • US Army picks 5 teams to design new attack recon helicopter

    26 avril 2019 | International, Aérospatial

    US Army picks 5 teams to design new attack recon helicopter

    By: Jen Judson WASHINGTON — AVX Aircraft Co. partnered with L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, Bell Helicopter, Boeing, Karem Aircraft and Lockheed Martin-owned Sikorsky have won awards to design a new Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) for the U.S. Army over the next year, the service announced April 23. Only two teams will move forward, at the end of the design phase, to build flyable prototypes of the future helicopter in a head-to-head competition. The Army laid out a handful of mandatory requirements that the vendors had to meet and also a list of desired requirements for initial designs, Col. Craig Alia, the Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team chief of staff, told a select group of reporters just ahead of the contract awards. The service also looked at the vendors' execution plans and evaluated timing as well as funding profile requirements. “The ones that were selected were clearly meeting the mandatory requirements and were in the acceptable risk level of the execution plan and the desired requirements," Dan Bailey, who is the FARA competitive prototype program manager, added. The prototype program falls under the purview of the Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center's Aviation Development Directorate. AVX and L3 unveiled its design for the FARA competition at the Army Aviation Association of America's annual summit in Nashville, Tennessee, earlier this month. The design uses AVX's compound coaxial and ducted fans technology. The companies said its single-engine design meets 100 percent of the Army's mandatory requirements and 70 percent of its desired attributes. The CEO of Textron, Bell's parent company, said during a recent earnings call, that its FARA design will be based on its 525 technology rather than its tiltrotor technology. Bell has built and flown a tiltrotor prototype — the V-280 Valor — for the Army's Future Vertical Lift program. Karem has been working to develop technology under a small contract to help build requirements for FVL aircraft focused on a medium-lift helicopter. Sikorsky's offering will be based off of its X2 coaxial technology seen in its S-97 Raider and the Sikorsky-Boeing developed SB-1 Defiant, which are now both flying. “This is the culmination of years of investment in the X2 Technology Demonstrator and the S-97 RAIDER aircraft that have proven the advanced technology and shown its ability to change the future battlefield,” Tim Malia, Sikorsky's director of Future Vertical Lift Light, told Defense News in an emailed statement shortly after the announcement. “We continue to fly the S-97 RAIDER to inform the design for FARA, which provides significant risk reduction to the program schedule and technical objectives. We are eager to continue to support the US Army, and we are excited that the Sikorsky FARA X2 will be ready for this critical mission," he said. A total of eight teams submitted data and potential designs for FARA, but upon evaluation, three of those did not meet mandatory requirements, according to Bailey. It is not publicly stated who the losing teams were, but MD Helicopters had previously protested the Army's decision to not enter into a first phase agreement with the company to develop a FARA prototype, arguing to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that the Army “unreasonably” evaluated its proposal and failed to promote small business participation. The GAO denied the protest earlier this month on the grounds it did not have authority to review protests of contracting mechanisms like Other Transaction Authorities (OTA) which the Army used in this case. The awards were made two months ahead of an already ambitious schedule to get FARA prototypes flying by 2023. A production decision could happen in 2028, but the service is looking at any way possible to speed up that timeline. The Army has to move quickly, Alia said. Echoing his boss, Brig. Gen. Wally Rugen, the FVL CFT director, he said the Army is “at an inflection point. We can't afford not to modernize. We know the current fleet is fantastic, but we can't indefinitely continue to incrementally improve 1970s to 1980s technology.” FARA is intended to fill a critical capability gap currently being filled by AH-64E Apache attack helicopters teamed with Shadow unmanned aircraft following the retirement of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters. The service has tried and failed three times to fill the gap with an aircraft. The Army is also planning to procure another helicopter to fill the long-range assault mission, replacing some UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters in the fleet, simultaneously. With the advent of the new Army Futures Command — that is focused on six major modernization priorities of which FVL is third — the service is moving faster on prototyping capability to ultimately procure major weapon systems at a somewhat unprecedented speed. Through the AFC and the use of contracting mechanisms like OTAs, the Army has found a way to compress parts of the acquisition process that previously took three to five years into periods of time often amounting to less than a year. “What is exciting about the new process the Army has put in place,” Bailey said, “in basically a year's period of time, we've gone through concept, through an approved set of requirements, to developing an innovative approach to contracting, to building industry partnerships to have industry propose to us a plan and a solution.” And the Army rigorously evaluated those FARA proposals, Bailey said, all within that year. The teams have until January or February next year to provide design plans and an approach to executing the build of the prototypes followed by potential larger-scale manufacturing, Bailey said. The second phase of the program will be to build prototypes, and “only two will make it into phase 2 and they all know that now,” Bailey added. According to Rugen, when the request for proposals was released, the Army did not want to get locked into keeping inflexible requirements, but the request did state that the aircraft should have a maximum 40-foot rotor diameter. The Army also asked for the aircraft to be able to accept some government furnished equipment including an engine, a gun and a rocket launcher, Alia said. When it comes to some of the desirable attributes for a new aircraft, the Army is considering speed, range and payload possibilities, Alia said, but the service “wanted to encourage innovation by industry to come to us with their ideas and unique ways of meeting both mandatory and desirable characteristics and that is where we got some great feedback from industry and some innovative designs.”

  • Contract Awards by US Department of Defense - April 25, 2019

    26 avril 2019 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité, Autre défense

    Contract Awards by US Department of Defense - April 25, 2019

    AIR FORCE The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory, Lexington, Massachusetts, has been awarded a $2,038,147,146 modification (P00020) to previously awarded contract FA8702-15-D-0001 for the operation of the Lincoln Laboratory Federally Funded Research and Development Center. This modification provides for advanced technology research and development activities that focus on long-term technology development as well as rapid system prototyping and demonstration. Work will be performed in Lexington, Massachusetts, and is expected to be complete by March 31, 2020. This modification brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $9,600,000,000, and no funds are being obligated at the time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, is the contracting activity. General Dynamics Missions Systems, Scottsdale, Arizona, has been awarded a $20,241,853 requirements contract for Identification Friend or Foe KIV-78 Mode 4/5 Cryptographic Applique production. The contract provides for KIV-78 units, Delorean Circuit Card Assemblies, data and technical support for United States and foreign military sales requirements. Work will be performed in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is expected to be complete by April 24, 2023. No funds are being obligated at the time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Cryptologic and Cyber Systems Division, Joint-Base San Antonio, Texas, is the contracting activity (FA8307-19-D-0004). ARMY Lockheed Martin, Orlando, Florida, was awarded a $723,550,174 modification (P00011) to domestic and Foreign Military Sales (Lebanon, Netherlands and France) contract W31P4Q-18-C-0130 to procure a variety of HELLFIRE II missile variants. Work will be performed in Orlando, Florida, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2022. Fiscal 2017, 2018 and 2019 other procurement, Army funds in the amount of $723,550,174 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity. Korte Construction Co., St. Louis, Missouri, was awarded a $31,295,038 firm-fixed-price contract to design and build an Integrated Training Center Academics Building at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Bids were solicited via the internet with six received. Work will be performed in Okaloosa, Florida, with an estimated completion date of April 30, 2021. Fiscal 2016 and 2019 military construction funds in the amount of $31,295,038 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile, Alabama, is the contracting activity (W91278-19-C-0013). Gentex Corp., Simpson, Pennsylvania, was awarded a $27,860,817 firm-fixed-price contract for the Head Gear Unit 56/P Rotary Wing Helmet. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of April 25, 2024. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-19-D-0070). Yorktown Systems Group Inc.,* Huntsville, Alabama, was awarded a $23,650,768 modification (P00025) to contract W911S0-17-C-0007 for Asymmetric Warfare Group operations support services. Work will be performed in Fort Meade, Maryland, with an estimated completion date of May 14, 2021. Fiscal 2019 operations and maintenance Army funds in the amount of $18,800,000 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command, Fort Eustis, Virginia, is the contracting activity. NAVY British Aerospace Engineering Systems Technology Solutions and Services, Inc., Rockville, Maryland (N00421-19-D-0045); Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., McLean, Virginia (N00421-19-D-0048); Coherent Technical Services, Inc., Lexington Park, Maryland (N00421-19-D-0049); Engility Corp., Andover, Maine (N00421-19-D-0050); Gryphon Technologies, LC., Washington, District of Columbia (N00421-19-D-0051); J.F. Taylor, Inc., Lexington Park, Maryland (N00421-19-D-0052) and Valkyrie Enterprises, Inc., Virginia Beach, Virginia (N00421-19-D-0053) are each awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee, multi-award indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts to provide engineering support services for Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems as well as developmental programs such as the Joint Precision Approach and Landing Systems (JPALS) and unmanned programs for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force and other Department of Defense activities. The estimated aggregate ceiling for all contracts is $98,625,565 with the companies having an opportunity to compete for individual orders. Work will be performed in St. Inigoes, Maryland, and various awardee and customer sites to be determined on individual orders and is expected to be completed in April 2024. Funds will be obligated on individual orders as they are issued. These contracts were competitively procured via an electronic request for proposals, seven offers were received. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity. Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, is awarded $90,773,387 for fixed-price-incentive-fee modification P00014 to a previously awarded contract (N0001918C1048). This modification will stand up organic depot repair capabilities for the F-35 integrated core processor. Work will be performed in McKinney, Texas (39.1 percent); Owego, New York (32.7 percent); Fort Worth, Texas (14.5 percent); Camden, New Jersey (5.9 percent); Clearwater, Florida (5 percent) and Melbourne, Florida (2.8 percent), and is expected to be completed in October 2022. Fiscal 2019 aircraft procurement (Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy) funds in the amount of $90,773,387 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This modification combines purchases for the U.S. Air Force ($45,386,693; 50 percent), U.S. Marine Corps ($22,693,347; 25 percent) and the U.S. Navy ($22,693,347; 25 percent). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity. The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Missouri, is awarded an $89,011,500 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity task order contract for the technical and engineering services to integrate various external stores and alternative mission equipment onto the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Missouri (40 percent), Patuxent River, Maryland (40 percent); Tullahoma, Tennessee (8 percent); Mountain View, California (8 percent); Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2 percent); and Buffalo, New York (2 percent), and is expected to be completed in December 2022. Fiscal 2019 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $482,841 will be obligated at time of award; none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity (N0001919D0021). Amethyst Builders, LLC*, Ewa Beach, Hawaii (N62478-19-D-4029); Concept 2 Completion, LLC*, Kailua, Hawaii (N62478-19-D-4030); D&D Construction, Inc.*, Waipahu, Hawaii (N62478-19-D-4031); and MEI Corp.*, Hauula, Hawaii (N62478-19-D-4032), are each awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity multiple award design-bid-build construction contracts for construction projects located primarily within the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii area of responsibility (AOR). The maximum dollar value including the base period and four option years for all four contracts combined is $48,000,000. The work to be performed provides for, but is not limited to, new construction, addition, alteration, maintenance, and repair work by design-bid-build for the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and various Federal Agencies located in the State of Hawaii. These four contractors may compete for task orders under the terms and conditions of the awarded contract. No task orders are being issued at this time. All work on the contract will be performed within the NAVFAC Hawaii AOR. The term of the contract is not to exceed 60 months, with an expected completion date of April 2024. Fiscal 2019 Navy working capital funds in the amount of $20,000 are obligated on this award and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Future task orders will be primarily funded by operation and maintenance (Navy). This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with 20 proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Hawaii, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, is the contracting activity. DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY Harris Corp., Roanoke, Virginia, has been awarded a maximum $50,000,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the production of Image Intensifying tubes in support of the AN/AVS-6 and AN/AVS-9 Aviator's Night Vision Imaging System (ANVIS). This was a sole-source acquisition using justification 10 U.S. Code 2304 (c)(1), as stated in Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1. This is a five-year base contract with one five-year option period. Location of performance is Virginia, with an April 24, 2024, performance completion date. Using military service is Army. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2019 through 2024 Army working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland (SPRBL1-19-D-0029). Seiler Instrument & Manufacturing Co., Inc.,* St. Louis, Missouri, has been awarded a maximum $11,902,218 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for telescope and quadrant mounts. This was a competitive acquisition with one response received. This is a five-year contract with no option periods. Location of performance is Missouri, with a March 25, 2024, performance completion date. Using military service is Army. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2019 through 2024 Army working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime, Warren, Michigan (SPRDL1-19-D-0083). *Small business

  • Government watchdog finds more problems with F-35’s spare parts pipeline

    26 avril 2019 | International, Aérospatial

    Government watchdog finds more problems with F-35’s spare parts pipeline

    By: Valerie Insinna WASHINGTON — Only about half of the F-35s worldwide were ready to flyduring an eight-month period in 2018, with the wait for spare parts keeping jets on the ground nearly 30 percent of the time, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office. Over the past several years, the Defense Department has sought to improve mission capable rates by making improvements to the way it and F-35 contractor Lockheed Martin order, stockpile and repair spare parts. However, GAO's findings imply that the situation may have gotten worse. The GAO's report, released April 25, investigated how spare parts shortages impacted F-35 availability and mission capable rates in 2018, with most data gathered between a May and November sustainment contract period. “In 2017, we reported that DOD was experiencing sustainment challenges that were reducing warfighter readiness, including delays of 6 years in standing up repair capabilities for F-35 parts at its depots and significant spare parts shortages that were preventing the F-35 fleet from flying about 20 percent of the time,” GAO said in the report. “According to prime contractor data, from May through November 2018, F-35 aircraft across the fleet were unable to fly 29.7 percent of the time due to spare parts shortages,” it said. “Specifically, the F-35 supply chain does not have enough spare parts available to keep aircraft flying enough of the time necessary to meet warfighter requirements.” That lack of improvement may make it more difficult for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps to hit an 80 percent mission capable rate by the end of fiscal year 2019, as mandated by then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last fall. The military services stopped providing mission capable rates for aircraft last year, citing operational sensitivities. However, the data put forth by the GAO indicates that progress stagnated in the lead up to Mattis' order. From May to November 2018, mission capable rates — which measure how many planes possessed by a squadron can perform at least one of its missions — hovered around 50 percent for all versions of the F-35. But when GAO assessed how many planes were fully mission capable — meaning that they were ready to fulfill all of their mission sets — all variants were far from meeting the 60 percent target. Only 2 percent of F-35C carrier takeoff and landing versions hit the fully mission capable mark, with the F-35Bs slightly better at 16 percent and the F-35A at 34 percent. The GAO is skeptical that the services will be able to hit the 80 percent mission capable rate goal this year, and it is even more critical of the Defense Department's plans to fund spares in future years. The department intends to buy “only enough parts to enable about 80 percent of its aircraft to be mission-capable based on the availability of parts.” However, that planning construct will likely only yield a 70 percent mission capable rate at best, the GAO said, because it only accounts for the aircraft on the flight line and not jets that are in the depot for longer term maintenance. No silver bullet for parts shortage issues Like all complicated problems, there is no single solution for the F-35 spare parts shortage, which is driven by a number of factors. GAO indicated that the Defense Department still has “a limited capacity” to repair broken parts, creating a backlog of 4,300 parts still needing to be addressed. Between September and November, it took more than six months to fix parts that should have been repaired in a window of two to three months. The F-35's much-maligned Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) was designed to be able to track parts and automate the process of generating and expediting work orders, however, GAO notes that the system still requires manual workarounds from users in order to accomplish tasks. Supply and maintenance personnel cited challenges such as “missing or corrupted electronic spare parts data,” limited automation and problems caused by ALIS's subsystems not communicating with each other properly, it said. As the F-35 is still a relatively new platform, it has taken time for the program to assess which parts have been failing more often than previously estimated — but that is an area where the Defense Department is making progress, the GAO stated. “DOD has identified specific parts shortages that are causing the greatest aircraft capability degradation, and it is developing short-term and long-term mitigation strategies to increase the quantity and reliability of these parts,” the report said. One such component is a coating used on the F-35's canopy to help it maintain its stealth characteristics, which has been found to peel off at an unexpected rate, creating a heightened demand for canopies. “To address these challenges, the program is looking for additional manufacturing sources for the canopy and is considering design changes,” the GAO stated. But — somewhat paradoxically — the F-35 has been flying for a long enough time that there is significant parts differences between the first jets that rolled off the production line to the most recently manufactured planes. The GAO found “at least 39 different part combinations across the fleet” on top of variations in software. “According to the program office, DOD spent more than $15 billion to purchase F-35 aircraft from the earliest lots of production, specifically lots 2 through 5 ... but it faces challenges in providing enough spare parts for these aircraft,” the report stated. One problem — the cannibalization of F-35 aircraft for parts — is partially user-inflicted. “From May through November 2018, F-35 squadrons cannibalized (that is, took) parts from other aircraft at rates that were more than six times greater than the services' objective,” the GAO stated. “These high rates of cannibalization mask even greater parts shortages, because personnel at F-35 squadrons are pulling parts off of other aircraft that are already unable to fly instead of waiting for new parts to be delivered through the supply chain.” During an interview this February, Lt. Col. Toby Walker, deputy commander of the 33rd Maintenance Group, told Defense News that F-35 maintainers at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., had stopped pulling parts off a cannibalized F-35 and had seen some improvements to mission capable rates as a result. “We're not continually moving parts from one aircraft to another. We're relying on the program to provide our parts,” he said. “It was a very strategic plan to do that to increase aircraft availability by not sitting an aircraft down.” In a statement, Lockheed Martin said that it had taken key steps to improve parts availability, such as transitioning some suppliers to performance based logistics contracts that incentivize companies to meet certain targets, as well as “master repair agreements” that will allow other suppliers to make longer term investments in their production capability. “These actions are beginning to deliver results and we're forecasting additional improvement. Newer production aircraft are averaging greater than 60 percent mission capable rates, with some operational squadrons consistently at 70 percent,” the company said. “From a cost perspective, Lockheed Martin has reduced its portion of cost per aircraft per year by 15 percent since 2015. Our goal is to further reduce costs to $25,000 cost per flight hour by 2025, which is comparable to legacy aircraft while providing a generational leap in capability.”

  • Troubled Lockheed Helicopter Needs New Review, Inhofe Tells Pentagon

    26 avril 2019 | International, Aérospatial

    Troubled Lockheed Helicopter Needs New Review, Inhofe Tells Pentagon

    By Anthony Capaccio The Pentagon needs to undertake another review of Lockheed Martin Corp.'s $31 billion CH-53K heavy lift helicopter program amid continuing technical problems and delays, according to the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Republican Senator James Inhofe said the importance of the CH-53K King Stallion to the Marine Corps means that a “comprehensive, independent update” on the long-delayed program is overdue. Inhofe's role leading the committee that authorizes defense spending means his request will almost certainly be heeded. “We need to get it right, and this report should give us a current assessment and reestablish a baseline for the program to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely,” Inhofe said in a statement to Bloomberg News. The senator cited concern that the chopper “is more than a year behind schedule and has over 100 outstanding deficiencies that still require resolution.” Full story:

  • Government expects to award contract for new fighter jet fleet in 2022 (but admits it could face delays)

    26 avril 2019 | Local, Aérospatial

    Government expects to award contract for new fighter jet fleet in 2022 (but admits it could face delays)

    DAVID PUGLIESE, OTTAWA CITIZEN Though the federal government expects to award a contract for a new fleet of fighter jets in 2022, it admits that schedule is aggressive and could yet face further delays. A request for bids to provide 88 new jets to the Royal Canadian Air Force will be released next month, according to a new update on major Department of National Defence projects released Wednesday, with the proposals to be evaluated by 2021 and a contract to be awarded a year later. But in the update DND also admits that timeline is tenuous. “The approved schedule is considered very aggressive,” it said. “The project team is managing a number of risks which have the potential to impact schedule.” The document doesn't outline the specific risks but DND officials have acknowledged that government negotiations with private contractors on the industrial benefits that are to be linked to the project could cause delays. The Liberals have committed to purchasing the new jets in a program expected to cost up to $19 billion. The competition was launched on Dec. 12, 2017, and Canada expects to examine four different fighter jets as candidates for the RCAF's new fleet. The project team is managing a number of risks which have the potential to impact schedule The first of the jets is expected to be delivered in the mid-2020s, with the full capability available in the early 2030s, according to the DND document. The document also outlines the plan to purchase used Australian F-18s in the interim, which the RACF will use to boost the capability of its current fleet of CF-18s until the new generation aircraft are in service. The first of the Australian jets has already been delivered, with final delivery set for the end of 2021, according to the update. However, the parliamentary budget officer has found this interim solution could cost more than $1 billion, and the auditor general's office has pointed out that the air force is lacking pilots and maintenance crews for the planes it already operates. Wednesday's DND update points out success stories as well as challenges with some of DND's multi-billion dollar projects. Some programs, such as the purchase of Chinook helicopters and tactical armoured patrol vehicles, are completed or are nearing completion with few problems. A new $2-billion program to buy heavy trucks is among those expected to be proceed without issues. Canada also expects to award a contact next year for a mid-life upgrade of the fleet of Cormorant search-and-rescue helicopters, and the conversion of former U.S. presidential helicopters so they can join the flight line for rescue operations. But the report warns there could be problems with other upcoming projects such as the purchase of a fleet of drones. It noted that there might not be enough procurement staff with the required expertise to move that program forward on schedule. The department hopes to deal with the problem by hiring contractors. A draft invitation to qualify for that project was released April 5 and a contact is expected to be awarded in 2022, the document said. The first of a fleet of new fixed-wing search-and-rescue aircraft, meanwhile, are to be delivered in December. The first plane will be sent to 19 Wing Comox, B.C. in the spring of 2020. The 16 new planes will be phased in between 2020 and 2022. But DND acknowledged it is keeping an eye on the potential that schedule could be affected because of the “complexities associated with transitioning to the new fleet while maintaining the current search and rescue posture.” In addition, DND is keeping watch on problems with its new upgraded light armoured vehicles. Though the vehicles have been delivered on time, some technical issues will be fixed through a retrofit program. There have also been problems with software design and qualification of components in another new fleet of armoured vehicles that will be used for battlefield surveillance, the first of which is to be delivered next year. The first new supply ship for the Royal Canadian Navy, being built in Vancouver, is expected in 2023 but won't be ready for operations until a year later. The delivery of the second supply ship “is currently under review,” the update added. In the meantime, the navy has access to MV Asterix, the supply ship at the heart of the court case involving Vice-Admiral Mark Norman. That ship, currently being leased to the navy by Quebec firm Davie Shipbuilding, was delivered on time and on budget and is considered a procurement success story.


    25 avril 2019 | Local, Sécurité


    Avec une base de données suffisante et une intelligence artificielle, il est parfois possible d'anticiper certains incidents. Certaines plateformes, comme Facebook, travaillent sur des algorithmes permettant de repérer les adolescents suicidaires et d'intervenir dans le cas où ils risquent de passer à l'acte. Au Canada, les forces de l'ordre vont utiliser des modèles prédictifs pour prédire les disparitions avant qu'elles n'aient lieu. Selon un rapport du gouvernement, les modèles prédictifs seront basés sur des publications sur les réseaux sociaux, les dossiers de la police et les services sociaux. Les algorithmes se référeront à une dizaine de facteurs de risques communs, comme des antécédents de fugue ou de violence à la maison, afin d'identifier les personnes susceptibles de disparition. L'initiative fait toutefois l'objet de nombre de critiques. Certains experts pensent que l'utilisation de modèles prédictifs à cette fin pourrait conduire à de faux positifs. Le type d'informations à utiliser n'a pas été dévoilé Le document a été publié le mois dernier par la RDDC (Defence Research and Development Canada), une agence rattachée au ministère de la Défense nationale. Selon le rapport, la conception des modèles prédictifs sera assurée par SPPAL (Saskatchewan Police Predictive Analytics Lab). Ce laboratoire est le fruit d'un partenariat entre la police, le ministère provincial de la Justice et l'Université de la Saskatchewan. La police canadienne utilise déjà les réseaux sociaux pour repérer des cas d'infraction, trouver des suspects et résoudre des enquêtes. Toutefois, le rapport n'indique pas les types d'informations qui seront recueillies sur les médias sociaux. Des risques de faux positifs Tamir Israel est avocat à CIPPIC (Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic). Il a reconnu que les modèles prédictifs de SPPAL pourraient être utilisés pour trier les cas suspects selon leur ordre de priorité. Il est en effet nécessaire de distinguer, par exemple, une éventuelle victime d'enlèvement d'une fugueuse habituelle. « Les forces de l'ordre seront invitées à s'appuyer sur les résultats du modèle prédictif » pour décider de la sérieuse prise en charge d'un cas de personne disparue », a-t-il déclaré à Motherbord. Toutefois, il a souligné que ces modèles prédictifs sont souvent opaques dans leur fonctionnement, en s'appuyant sur des facteurs que les policiers eux-mêmes ne peuvent pas évaluer ou deviner. Il a noté que les informations sur les réseaux sociaux ne sont pas toujours fiables et augmentent les risques de faux positifs. Il a également noté que cette méthode pourrait conduire à des résultats faussés lorsque les modèles sont appliqués à des groupes minoritaires. Il craint qu'ils ne fassent pas de différences entre les cultures. « Nous savons que les modèles prédictifs sont loin d'être infaillibles dans des situations réelles et qu'il y aura des faux positifs », a-t-il rappelé. « Les conséquences d'une intervention basée sur un faux positif peuvent être très graves. »

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