Daily Briefing: News Snippets

BAE’s hard body reaches 1 million strong

While there is no surefire way to prevent battlefield injuries, BAE Systems has perhaps developed the next best thing – and has the numbers to prove it: The company’s hard armor inserts, which are tucked inside a warfighter’s vest to safeguard vital organs and preserve lives, recently reached the “1 million manufactured” milestone. The Phoenix, Arizona based celebration was attended by U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor (D-Arizona), with a focus on BAE’s USMC-, U.S. Army-, and Defense Logistics Agency-requested body armor including the Small Arms Protective Insert (SAPI) plate (Figure 1) worn on the side, back, and front torso. The company has additionally expanded to Next Generation (X) plates and SAPI derivatives such as Side SAPI, XSBI, and XSAPI, in addition to the SOLAR series, which adheres to requirements specified by the Special Operations Forces Equipment Advanced Requirements (SPEAR) as part of the Body Armor and Load Carrying System program.

Figure 1: BAE Systems recently celebrated the “1 million manufactured” milestone of its hard armor inserts such as this Small Arms Protective Insert (SAPI) plate. Photo courtesy of BAE Systems

Raytheon AIM-9X gets System Improvement Program sprucing

The U.S. Navy touts the AIM-9 Sidewinder as one of the most economical and successful – yet oldest – U.S.-weapons-inventory missiles; thus, a recent $19 million contract with Raytheon Missile Systems to engage the AIM-9X’s System Improvement Program might not come as a complete surprise. Falling under the Foreign Military Sales program envelope, the contract consists of development, integration, and flight tests and “partners” six different entities: the U.S. Navy at $370,000, the USAF at $14 million, Korea at nearly $3 million, Saudi Arabia at about $1 million, Singapore at $720,000, and Turkey at $50,000, give or take. All this is certainly supporting evidence to the U.S. Navy’s claim that the AIM-9 is the most ubiquitous air-to-air missile, presently residing in the arsenals of 40+ nations.

Lockheed Martin SEWIP: Domino effect

Often in life – and certainly in U.S. DoD contracts – one thing leads to another, like a proverbial game of dominos. Case in point: Lockheed Martin’s $9.9 million Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) Block 2 contract of November 2009 for AN/SLQ-32 EW system upgrades contained various contract options culminating at $167 million. The first $51 million option was activated in July 2010, and LM’s Block 2 prelim design got the Navy’s thumbs up. That then leads us to LM’s recent Block 2 critical design review, which was deemed a success. So the next resultant “domino” is for LM to prep and present a duo of system prototypes by next year. The AN/SLQ-32 presently rides aboard U.S. Navy destroyers, aircraft carriers, cruisers, and other warships. SEWIP harnesses COTS electronics technologies.

USAF requests a new fuze

The USAF and Alliant Techsystems, Inc. recently penned a $35 million contract, stipulating that Alliant Techsystems renders a hard-target sensing “fuze” system to be utilized in conjunction with BLU-122, BLU-113, and BLU-109 (Figure 2) warheads and related guidance systems. And this fuze system is fierce, offering penetration survival of 5K to 15K pounds per square inch of reinforced concrete and/or multiple soil layers. Additionally, the fuze can be programmed to detonate at a specific time or inside a target’s specified void. Safing, in-flight programmability, multidelay arming, and multimode function capability are also provided.

Figure 2: A recent $35 million USAF/Alliant Techsystems, Inc. contract provides for a hard-target sensing fuze to be utilized with BLU-109 (pictured) and other BLU warheads.

Boeing begets Hellfire on an Avenger

Dealing with the U.S. Army’s Hellfire is all in a day’s work for The Boeing Company, which recently aided in testing Hellfire at Florida’s Eglin AFB. Specifically, Boeing developed, manufactured, and installed the equipment needed to integrate the AGM-114 Hellfire missile and companion Hydra 2.75" rocket launchers mechanically onto an Avenger weapons system. During Boeing-supported testing, the missile was subsequently fired out of said updated Avenger system (Figure 3), under the Adaptive Force Protection System (AFPS) program umbrella. Though originally incarnated for air defense, Avenger is being evaluated for integration with ground-defense capabilities to increase system versatility. Avenger turrets have proven useful for mounting on vehicles such as the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP). Avenger can also be utilized as an independent, fix-mounted weapon station.

Figure 3: Boeing recently supported the U.S. Army’s initial test launch of a modified Avenger turret-fired AGM-114 Hellfire missile at Eglin AFB. Photo courtesy of U.S. Army

The soldiers’ future is in their own hands

Handhelds are the wave of the military technology present and future, and a recent contract between the U.S. Army and General Dynamics C4 Systems reflects the trend. The $2.3 million contract specifies that General Dynamics renders a handheld prototype of battle command capability with more network connectivity than previously seen. The prototype also provides heightened situational awareness and more command and control functionality for Marines and dismounted soldiers, and falls under the U.S. Army’s Joint Battle Command – Platform (JBC-P) handheld program. Though not described as a “smartphone,” there are some similarities between smartphones and General Dynamics’ answer to the call for a prototype: the GD300 computer. The GD300 tactical computer weighs a mere 8 ounces, renders real-time position and mapping information, and supports data, texting, video, or voice contact from far away or nearby. The rugged handheld also connects soldiers to mil software programs including the Tactical Intelligence Ground Reporting (TIGR) system and features an “apps-friendly operating system.”

SAIC and APPTIS hang in at DISA

A couple of recent contract modifications keep the lifecycle-management gears turning at the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). The mods – granted to APPTIS, Inc. (formerly SETA Corp.) and Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) – increase the two contracts’ combined total by $635 million and add a duo of six-month options to the original IDIQ contracts. The impetus was DISA’s need for uninterrupted Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) Global Solutions (DGS) contract services (Figure 4), including systems engineering, program management, software and hardware management, logistics, manufacturing, and test and evaluation, among others. The contract is thus now extended until March 31, 2012.

Figure 4: APPTIS, Inc. and SAIC will render uninterrupted Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) Global Solutions (DGS) contract services, thanks to a couple of recent contract mods.