Daily Briefing: News Snippets

Managing Editor Sharon Hess reports on the latest headlines in the military embedded technology realm.

A roundup of the top mil tech and related headlines, including: Command Web plus Google equals Army operational picture; Northrop Grumman: 1 down, 9 to go; Boeing gives support, to the tune of $11 billion; Acquisition activity gets the GoAhead; and T-34 contract option could save lives, among other headlines.

Command Web: Google + laptops = Army operational picture

Apparently the ubiquitous use of Google products and laptops hasn’t gone unnoticed by the U.S. Army and Lockheed Martin. The evidence: the Lockheed Martin-incarnated Command Web Internet-based system is being tested in the field. Command Web enables warfighters in theater and commanders in C2 centers to see a common battlefield operational picture via Google Earth and a laptop (Figure 1). Command Web’s purpose is to bring U.S. Army tactical network access to all operational users to render actionable mission data, while its Web foundation decreases logistical support footprints. Based on the NSA’s Ozone framework, Command Web is interoperable with the Internet-based Distributed Common Ground System – Army (DCGS-A) ISR program. Additionally, Command Web features an interface design that mimics the naming conventions and functionality of Army Battle Command Systems, the Army’s main viewer of the common operational picture, currently utilized in all theaters. Testing includes the user interface design, requirements, and system architecture.

Figure 1: In-theater testing of the Lockheed Martin-developed Command Web rolls on. Command Web joins Google Earth and a laptop, to provide a common battlefield operational picture to warfighters and commanders. Stock photo

Northrop Grumman: 1 down, 9 to go

USMC deployment of the first AN/TSQ-269 Mobile Tactical Air Operations Module (MTAOM) C2 system has occurred, with 9 more to follow shortly. MTAOM is designed to enable the Tactical Air Operations Center’s direction of air-defense and C2 operations everywhere, and is “a self-contained, expeditionary platform,” the company reports. It comprises mobile components such as Multi-Radar Tracker (MRT) processors, the AYK-14 Replacement Computer (ARC) circuit card weighing 5 oz. and acting as the MTAOM’s primary computing center, and tactical support units. Now in use by the Marine Air Control Squadron 1, the platform has digital communications and processor equipment housed inside the S-788 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle shelter and renders support for as many as 20 control-operator and air-command workstations.

Trio of contracts to improve

Clearly, the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIB is on the minds of officials at the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). Granted identical MDA contracts (except for the dollar amounts): Aerojet at $15 million and United Technologies Corp., dba Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Inc., at just shy of $14 million. Both companies were commissioned to develop and test attitude-control and liquid-divert system technologies. The goal is to decrease risk and boost performance of the SM-3 Block IIB, and work under both contracts proceeds through September 2013. The third MDA-issued SM-3 Block IIB contract was awarded to Alliant Techsystems (ATK), Inc. at $9.5 million. The contract specifies that “ATK will develop and test specific third-stage rocket motor technologies of interest to the MDA.” With part of its total value funded by fiscal 2011 RDT&E funds, the goal of the ATK contract is the same as the “twin” contracts’ goals: to heighten performance while lessening risks of SM-3 Block IIB.

contract option could save lives

Keeping military aircraft such as the T-34 in top-top shape is imperative to saving lives, and a recent U.S. Navy/Sikorsky Support Services, Inc. contract modification aims to perpetuate that (Figure 2). Specifically, the $49 million option exercised on a formerly granted IDIQ contract stipulates that Sikorsky renders materials and services for depot-level, intermediate, and organizational maintenance for 62 T-6, 54 T-44, and 273 T-34 aircraft housed mainly at Naval Air Station (NAS) in Pensacola, FL; NAS Whiting Field, FL; and NAS Corpus Christi, TX. Contract completion is slated for next February, and the contracting activity is the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD.

Figure 2: A recent $49 million contract modification stipulates that Sikorsky Support Services, Inc. renders materials and services for depot-level and other maintenance for U.S. Navy T-6, T-44, and T-34 (pictured) aircraft. U.S. Navy photo by Richard Stewart

Boeing gives support, to the tune of $11 billion

With the first taking its maiden voyage back in 1991 and the first C-17 delivery to the military in 1993, the aircraft has come a long way since then (literally). Now the C-17 Globemaster III aims to benefit from a whopping $11 billion (maximum) IDIQ contract between the USAF and The Boeing Co (Figure 3). The contract specifies that Boeing is to afford sustainment and support to a government Product Support Manager (PSM)/Product Support Integrator (PSI) for the weapon system tucked inside the C-17. Support consists of depot-level aircraft modifications and maintenance, Long-Term Sustainment () planning, propulsion system management, equipment and material management, quality assurance, sustaining engineering, and more. Foreign Military Sales comprises about 10 percent of the contract, and includes Canada, Australia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and NATO Strategic Airlift Capability.

Figure 3: The C-17 Globemaster III aims to benefit from a whopping $11 billion (maximum) IDIQ USAF/The Boeing Co. contract for sustainment and support services. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Charles Vaughn

Acquisition activity gets the GoAhead

Oracle – purveyor of integrated, open hardware and software systems – announced its plans to acquire GoAhead Software, a vendor of COTS high availability software and middleware for mission-critical systems. While the sum of the transaction (which is expected to close later this year) has not been announced, the impetus is reportedly that the GoAhead acquisition will “help us deliver a comprehensive, standards-based, carrier-grade platform that supports the delivery of new services in the call path of the network,” said Nigel Ball, Vice President, Oracle Communications Industry Solutions, in a media statement. Oracle presently serves diverse industries including defense and aerospace, automotive, high technology, life sciences, insurance, utilities, financial services, communications, engineering and construction, and chemicals, among many others.

BAE Systems to provide  Howitzers

The U.S. Army’s Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs) will soon be ready for conflict, per a recent $134 million U.S. DoD order to BAE Systems for 70 lightweight M777 Howitzers (Figure 4). This recent order raises the U.K./U.S. program’s total gun count to 1,071, and extends the production timeframe to October 2013. What sets the lightweight M777 apart from conventional towed 155 mm systems is its relatively miniscule weight of <4200 kg (about half the “load”). Consequently, the nimble M777 can be transported easily via medium-lift helicopters “to otherwise inaccessible areas,” the company reports. Prime contract management and some assembly and manufacturing events transpire at Barrow-in-Furness, UK, and testing and final integration will occur at the BAE Systems locale in Hattiesburg, MS.

Figure 4: The U.S. Army’s IBCTs will soon be ready for conflict, per a recent $134 million U.S. DoD order to BAE Systems for 70 lightweight M777 Howitzers. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Evan D. Marcy, 55th Signal Company

General Dynamics to aid LPD 22 availability

The LPD 22/USS San Diego amphibious transport dock warship is set to benefit from a recent General Dynamics NASSCO/U.S. Navy contract for $37 million (Figure 5). Under the contract, General Dynamics will provide engineering, design, planning, scheduling, labor, program management, and incidental material procurement “for the fitting-out availability” of LPD 22. If activated, the contract’s options raise the total value to nearly $135 million. Contract completion is anticipated in December of 2014, and fulfillment takes place in San Diego, CA. The contracting activity is the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, D.C.

Figure 5: The LPD 22/USS San Diego is set to benefit from a recent General Dynamics NASSCO/U.S. Navy contract for $37 million for engineering, design, program management, and incidental material procurement. U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman

Topics covered in this article