In Brief

Apr 1st, 2007

Boeing announces C-17 line may end in mid-2009

Officials of the Boeing Co. are taking the first steps toward shutting down production of the C-17 cargo jet. Lack of U.S. government and new international orders for the C-17 military cargo aircraft is forcing Boeing to stop procurement of parts for any new C-17s not under contract or firmly committed, which is the first step in an orderly shutdown of the production supply chain, should no further orders come in from the U.S. government or international customers. Without further aircraft orders, significant workforce reductions will begin in early 2008 as the C-17 production line in Long Beach, Calif., heads toward complete shutdown in mid-2009. Boeing is on contract for 190 U.S. Air Force C-17s, and independent analysis shows a requirement for at least 222 of these aircraft. Based on the 34-month lead time necessary to build a C-17, Boeing needed a commitment now to avoid a break in production. The Department of Defense did not request funding for new C-17s in the Fiscal Year 2008 budget, released in early February. Consequently, maintaining the C-17 supply base and production line at current production rates will require funding for as many as 16 C-17s when Congress finalizes the 2008 budget. “We are disappointed that the UPL did not identify continuation of the C-17 line as a priority, particularly in light of the Air Force’s stated interest in retirement of C-5As,” says Dave Bowman, vice president and C-17 program manager at Boeing. “Without DOD or international customer commitments, we’re compelled to take this regrettable but necessary action.”

Lockheed Martin awarded $311 million Arrowhead production contract

The U.S. Army awarded Lockheed Martin a follow-on production contract for Arrowhead, the new electro-optical system for AH-64 Apache combat helicopter pilots. The Lot 4 agreement authorizes production of 158 Arrowhead kits for some of the remaining U.S. Army and foreign military sales inventory, as well as wartime replacement Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor (M-TADS/PNVS) systems for new aircraft. The contract also includes spares for both. The Arrowhead kit modernizes the U.S. Army’s TADS/PNVS-known as the “eyes of the Apache”-for the 21st century by upgrading the infrared sensors and associated electronics. “These capabilities will significantly enhance flight safety and enable our Apache aviators to regain significant standoff with improved targeting capability,” says Bob Gunning, Apache Fire Control program director at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

Northrop Grumman wins Tango Bravo contract for submarine technology

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Navy awarded Northrop Grumman Corp. in Newport News, Va., a contract to continue developing and testing a new system for future submarines to carry and launch torpedoes. Northrop Grumman’s Newport News sector is the prime contractor for the work, which is valued at approximately $12.7 million. The project is part of a DARPA/Navy program to examine design technologies that could reduce future submarine construction costs. DARPA identified the torpedo system as one of five “technology barriers,” or “Tango Bravo,” to significantly reduce costs of future submarines. The concept is based on eliminating the submarine’s torpedo room from inside the ship’s pressure hull and moving the launchers outside the pressure hull. This change would eliminate complex machinery and free up valuable space inside the hull. Under the new contract, the Northrop Grumman-led team will spend the next 18 months working on Phase II, continuing to develop the full-scale modular launcher and performing additional full-scale testing.

General Dynamics completes milestone in design of Mobile User Objective System

Officials at General Dynamics C4 Systems, in Scottsdale, Ariz., announced that the company has completed the Critical Design Reviews (CDRs) for all segments of the ground system as well as terminal waveform software of the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), the U.S. military’s next-generation narrowband global mobile satellite communications system. The ground system and terminal waveform software will be provided to Lockheed Martin, prime contractor for the MUOS program. The MUOS ground system features ground transport and infrastructure, and network management (including a geolocation element and satellite control). The MUOS User Entry (terminal) Waveform Software will be delivered into the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) library for future porting to radios being developed under the JTRS program. MUOS will enable secure, end-to-end communications for the warfighter on-the-move via MUOS-compatible terminals communicating with MUOS satellites. The satellites provide Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) and legacy Ultra High Frequency Follow-on (UFO) payload communications capabilities, providing both a significant increase in capacity with the WCDMA payload and continuity of legacy UFO communications. User terminals will be provided to the U.S. military under the Joint Tactical Radio System with an emphasis on handheld units. The MUOS system will provide familiar cell-phone-like services with the satellites acting as “towers” in space, enabling warfighters on the ground to communicate directly with each other and their commanders virtually anywhere in the world.

Raytheon pursues Air Force upgrade for GPS control segment

Raytheon IIS in Garland, Texas, will lead an industry team in pursuit of the next-generation Global Positioning System Control Segment (OCX), a program to provide command, control, and mission support for current GPS Block II and III satellites, as well as support to existing and new interfaces. The initial selection of two competitors is scheduled for late fiscal year 2007. The OCX program is valued at $160 million and is administered by the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. The GPS OCX program will revolutionize GPS command-and-control and mission capabilities to refocus GPS operations from satellite command and control to user-oriented, effects-based operations. The control system will support GPS III and legacy satellites and focus on military transformational and civil needs, including advanced anti-jam capabilities, improved system security, accuracy, and reliability. GPS OCX will be based on architecture that integrates government and industry open-system standards.

BAE Systems and Thales join forces in combat ID

BAE Systems in Greenlawn, N.Y., and Thales have teamed to provide an advanced, cost-effective combat-identification capability for ground vehicles. The system is being developed in anticipation of a U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps requirement for a ground-vehicle combat-identification capability. The U.S. Army is expected to seek proposals later this year. Focusing on the ground-to-ground domain, the BAE Systems and Thales team will offer a battlefield target-identification (BTID) device that combines Thales’s advanced millimeter-wave technology with BAE Systems’s network-centric and platform integration experience. The BTID system will consist of interrogator and transponder devices mounted on direct-fire ground combat vehicles and transponder-only devices will be deployed on all other platforms. The interrogator can ask platforms within its field of view to identify themselves, with the transponders replying to identify vehicles as friendly. The system will use digital data-link technology that allows real-time position information to be transferred to other platforms and small units, including dismounted forces, and to be seen in the tactical situational-awareness picture.

SAIC to support Fort Lewis Battle Command Training Center

Science Applications International Corp. in McLean, Va., won a contract from the Army Contracting Agency to operate and maintain the Battle Command Training Center (BCTC) at Fort Lewis, Wash. The cost-plus-fixed-fee contract has a nine-month base period and four one-year options, and a ceiling value of $39.8 million. SAIC’s team includes subcontractor Cubic Applications Inc. SAIC will provide live, virtual, and constructive simulation-based battle-command training to I Corps Stryker Brigades preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan. It will provide mission support activities to deployed units through a combination of secure voice and video-teleconferencing technology. The team will assist in the identification and distribution of critical lessons learned from units in the field and returning from overseas.

Crane to provide circuit cards for UAV flight controls

Crane Aerospace & Electronics in Redmond, Wash., has received an award to manufacture Athena Technologies’ Micro GuideStar Main Board Assembly for installation into its Micro GuideStar unit. Crane received the award for prototype and production circuit card assemblies (CCAs) with production delivery requirements beginning in February. Crane provides electronic manufacturing solutions (high mix, low/medium volume) for circuit cards (through-hole and SMT), box build, and cables/harnesses in its Albuquerque facility. The Micro GuideStar is an advanced integrated sensor suite that offers a complete INS/GPS navigation solution, with the option of hosting flight-control software in a “plug and play” installation, says David Vos, Athena’s chief executive officer and chief technical officer. Athena Technologies is a developer and producer of navigation and control systems.

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