Daily Briefing: News Snippets
A roundup of the top mil tech and related headlines, including: HERCULES program gains more muscle; Acquisitions activity: Google/Motorola head-turner; U.S. Navy preps for final MCAT; OpenVPX onboard Patriot missile; and triad of governments to share MK-99 expense, among other headlines.
HERCULES program gains more muscle
It’s not just injured soldiers in the field who need recovery and rescue; sometimes the same can be said of the combat vehicles. But field rescue for 70-ton combat vehicles such as Leopard, M1A1, and M1A2 is already at hand – and will continue to be – thanks to a recent $108 million U.S. Army Contracting Command/BAE Systems contract modification for the rescuer: the M88A2 HERCULES (Figure 1). The contract stipulates that 16 HERCULES will be supplied to the U.S. Marine Corps, while the U.S. Army will receive another 29. These latest HERCULES vehicles will be suited with U.S. government-provided remanufactured hulls, and BAE’s contract work is slated for completion at the company’s Aiken, SC and York, PA locales. With deliveries occurring from April 2013 through December 2013, the contract modification raises BAE Systems’ HERCULES program awards to a cumulative $1.4 billion.
U.S. Navy preps for final MCAT
Precision training is essential for military success, and a recent contract between Pathfinder Systems, Inc. and the U.S. Navy aims to achieve this. Specifically, the $6 million Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase III project stipulates that the former provides the latter with an operational prototype two of the Marine Common Aircrew Trainer (MCAT). The project builds on MCAT prototype one and consists of a baseline configuration upgrade based on Phase II simulation technologies. Work occurs at the Naval Air Station Miramar in Miramar, CA and in Arvada, CO by August 2013. The contracting activity is the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division.
Acquisitions activity: Google/Motorola head-turner, and more
It seems Acquisition Row has exploded lately – at least when it comes to the high-profile, jaw-dropping announcement that Internet search technology purveyor Google Inc. will acquire Motorola Mobility Holdings, Inc. for approximately $12.5 billion. Motorola Mobility has been and will continue as an Android licensee, already well-known for its Android-based smartphones and tablets. According to a media statement issued by the companies, the acquisition “will enable Google to supercharge the Android ecosystem and will enhance competition in mobile computing.” The industry can rest assured that Android will remain open source though, Google assures, and the acquisition is expected to be finalized later this year or early next year, pending E.U., U.S., and other regulatory approvals and ratification of Motorola Mobility stockholders. In other merger and acquisition news, Dexter Apache Holdings, Inc., a financial services, distribution, and manufacturing company, announced its acquisition of “100 percent of the interests of Crystal Group, Inc.,” suppliers of rugged COTS systems, displays, computers, networking devices, and storage devices for the military, government, and commercial markets. The acquisition’s price tag was not disclosed.
OpenVPX onboard Patriot missile
The OpenVPX/VITA 65 open standard, assuring system-level interoperability for VPX/VITA 46, has found or will find its way into several of Raytheon’s upgraded Patriot Air and Missile Defense Systems (Figure 2). For example, a recent $1.7 billion Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems contract with Saudi Arabia for Patriot upgrades will be fulfilled in part by Mercury Computer Systems’ OpenVPX radar subsystems. Mercury has also already delivered OpenVPX radar subsystems for other Raytheon Patriot missile systems, including those deployed to Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates, Mercury reports. The recently upgraded Patriot missile system is designed to thwart threats such as tactical ballistic missiles, aircraft, UAVs, and cruise missiles.
U.S. Navy’s Hawkeye to spot more on the battlefield
The E-2 aircraft’s latest iteration, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, will soon become more prolific in future mil ops, per a recent $761 million contract between the U.S. Navy and prime Northrop Grumman (Figure 3). The contract specifies that Northrop Grumman delivers five of its Lot 3 E-2Ds in Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) form. The contract also covers long lead materials to be manufactured into five Lot 4 LRIP versions of the E-2D. Not only that, the company also garnered a $34 million contract modification from the U.S. Navy in procurement of another Lot 2 LRIP E-2D. The obviously radar-equipped E-2D represents a two-generation technology leap from the previous incarnation, the Naval Air Systems Command reports, and the versatile aircraft is suited for command and control activities, battlefield strikes, and rescue operations.
F/A-18E/F Super Hornets: “Start your engines!”
Some pilots of F/A-18E/F Super Hornets will soon be able to rev up their (new) engines, courtesy of a recent U.S. Navy/General Electric Aircraft Engines contract modification. The $71 million modification calls for 18 F414-GE-400 engines and 18 F414-GE-400 engine device kits to go with them. Contract work is anticipated for completion in July 2013, and takes place at Madisonville, KY; Hooksett, NH; Evandale, OH; Dayton, OH; Lynn, MA; Rutland, VT; Terra Haute, IN; Jacksonville, FL; Bromont, Canada; Muskegon, MI; and Asheville, NC. The contracting activity is the Naval Air Systems Comand in Patuxent River, MD.
Lockheed’s SMSS to go to Afghanistan
Having won the U.S. Army-sponsored Project Workhorse Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) contest, Lockheed Martin’s Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) will get the prize: Afghanistan deployment. The 11-foot-long UGV is able to transport more than 1,000 lbs of equipment for deployed soldiers on rugged soil, to reduce troops’ often-100-lbs-or-more packing burdens. SMSS has been tested by the Army three times domestically already, and it’s anticipated that the Army will start Afghanistan assessments in the latter part of 2011 – after training and further evaluations have occurred. An SMSS fully loaded can be easily tucked inside a CH-53 or CH-47 helicopter (Figure 4), and the UGV’s sensor suite can lock on to, then follow any individual after the individual’s digital 3-D profile is recognized by SMSS. GPS waypoint trails can also be followed autonomously by SMSS.
Triad of governments to share MK-99 expense
The Naval Surface Warfare Center and Omniphase Research Laboratories, Inc. recently penned a $10 million IDIQ contract for the evaluation, repair, and production of the continuous wave illuminator noise test sets dubbed MK-666. The test sets are part of the fire control system within the MK-99 (Figure 5). In addition to the U.S. Navy’s 76 percent, Spain’s and Australia’s governments will shell out the remaining 24 percent of the contract, as part of the Foreign Military Sales Program. Contract work is slated for fulfillment in July 2014 at the company’s Newport Beach, CA location.