Defense Tech Wire: U.S. Navy spotlight, Warfighter comms
LCS in U.S. Navy spotlight
Though calling U.S. Navy/LCS contracts “ubiquitous” might be a bit of an overstatement, it’s clear that the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is garnering lots of attention anyway. The evidence: three recent Navy contract options activated on the same day. One contract modification was exercised on a previous Lockheed Martin/U.S. Navy contract, specific to the LCS 3 aka the USS Fort Worth (Figure 1). The option specifies that Lockheed executes “deferred design changes that have been identified during the construction period.” The upgrades and changes are supportive of various LCS phases, including those dubbed the sailaway and follow-on post-delivery test and trials, according to the DoD website. The same day, the Navy exercised two more LCS-related contract modifications, to Lockheed Martin and Austal USA. The options appear identical except for the amounts paid (Lockheed at $11 million and Austal at nearly $8 million). The two “twin” options mods call for each company to “assess engineering, baseline, and configuration management services in support of the basic construction, post-delivery, test and trials phases of the LCS class,” again, according to the DoD website. The work is anticipated for completion by next December.
Air vehicle analysis gets a lift from Navy/SAIC
A recent $11 million contract modification option exercised by the U.S. Navy has Science Applications International Corp. rendering engineering and technical services to benefit the Manned Flight Simulator/Air Combat Environment Test and Evaluation and Air Vehicle Engineering facilities. Services under the contract option will support usage and design of air vehicle technology to facilitate analysis of air vehicle controllability and flying capabilities, in addition to prototype simulation building and simulation software development. Contract fulfillment is anticipated next December.
Busy holiday season for mergers and acquisitions
The holidays brought not only “visions of sugarplums [that] danced in their heads” and choruses of “happy new year!”; it additionally yielded an ongoing roster of mergers and acquisitions: Defense industry subsystem supplier Mercury Computer Systems acquired intelligence and defense systems purveyor KOR Electronics (KOR) in addition to subsidiary Paragon Dynamics, Inc. for an undisclosed sum of cash in December. Earlier in December, defense industry Software-Defined Radio provider Thales agreed to acquire government/commercial tactical satellite communications vendor Tampa Microwave for an undisclosed amount. Then safety- and security-critical software provider AdaCore helped ring in the new year by merging with Automated Software Quality (ASQ) provider SofCheck, Inc. (The monetary renumeration is again, unannounced.) And last but not least is the unexpected intracompany merger that seems like a two-company merger: Curtiss-Wright Controls, Inc. has announced the creation of its new Curtiss-Wright Controls Defense Solutions (CWCDS) organization, which now streamlines and unifies into one its formerly disparate module-focused Embedded Computing division and its (obviously) systems-focused Electronic Systems division.
Warfighter comms benefit from Boeing/USAF option
Warfighters will continue to get a boon in information exchange capabilities (Figure 2), thanks to a U.S. Air Force-exercised Boeing Satellite Systems contract option for nearly $300 million. The option calls for a Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) Block II follow-on, specifically for Boeing to manufacture and then deploy the WGS-8 satellite. (The satellite’s WGS-1 through WGS-7 iterations were already or are presently being spawned, with WGS-4, -5, and -6 expected to launch this year or next.) Suited for battle management, C4ISR, and combat support information broadcast, WGS is touted to trounce its DSCS III satellite predecessor: WGS, which supports the Ka-band spectrum (1 GHz) and X-band (500 MHz), is capable of instantaneously routing/filtering 4.875 GHz of bandwidth and handles 2.1 to 3.6 Gbps (or more) data transmission; meanwhile, a DSCS III satellite crawls along with up to 0.25 Gbps as its peak capability.
USAF/Raytheon double header
Raytheon and the USAF put pen to paper twice in one day, for two very different contracts. The first contract stipulates that Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ produces the laser Maverick missile for a $15 million pricetag (missile quantities not specified on the DoD website). The second contract specifies that Raytheon BBN Technologies Corp. in Cambridge, MA develops an “architecture and revolutionary technologies for analyzing, identifying, and slicing binary executable components” (Figure 3). The contract deliverables comprise prototype system hardware and software in addition to technical documents. Contract completion is slated for June 2015.
‘Combat System of the Future’ in development
The U.S. Navy is working on the “Combat System of the Future,” per a recent $11 million contract option exercised and extended to Advanced Systems/Supportability Engineering Technologies & Tools in Manassas, VA. The option is for Phase III of a Small Business Innovative Research “topic” and services are slated to be provided when needed. Efforts under the contract option apply and extend earlier efforts in areas such as technology evolution, data fusion, operator cognition, manning requirements, automation, processing, and combat system development relative to Navy air and surface platforms and submarines. Contract fulfillment is anticipated this August. The contracting activity is the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, D.C.
Navy contract provides relief for MRAPs
Though the weight of MRAPs has decreased exponentially (compare the original 60,000 lb MRAPs with the newer 25,000 lb versions such as the M-ATV), MRAPs are, in essence, still the “monster trucks” of the battlefield – and thus not easy to move (Figure 4). Therefore, the U.S. Navy recently issued a $9.5 million delivery order under a contract modification to Navistar Defense, LLC for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected recovery vehicles (MRVs) to provide contractor logistics support for MRV’s Contract Data Requirements List (CDRL). The goal is to provide coalition forces on the Operation Enduring Freedom battlefield with assistance when MRAPs are disabled. The contract is anticipated for completion in February 2014.
MUE gets a boost from USAF/Rockwell Collins
The USAF recently contracted with Rockwell Collins, Inc. for $20 million for Modernized User Equipment (MUE) program completion. The contract stipulates that Rockwell Collins invokes some MUE receiver card changes “identified during functional qualification testing, in order for the receiver cards to comply with contract requirements,” according to the DoD website. The contract also provides for efforts to add capability to military GPS receivers delivered (Figure 5), raises the receivers’ performance design margin, and integrates updated documents for MUE interface control. Contract fulfillment is slated for February 2013.