Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Off the Wire, 8/16

Australia, US Jointly Developing Radar Technology

Source: Australian DoD

Australia and the US have joined forces in the development of leading-edge technology by signing a joint agreement to further develop Australian active-phased-array-radar technology.
Defense Minister Senator Robert Hill said both countries will share the development costs, technical expertise, and benefits of the active-phased-array-radar technology that is being developed by Australian electronics company CEA Technologies.
Senator Hill said phased-array-radar technology has enormous potential to manage high-threat environments. The total development cost is estimated to be approximately $23 million over three years.
"The program will allow further development of the CEA radar technology for possible use in medium- to long-range air warfare and ballistic-missile defense," Senator Hill said. "The technology can also be applied to smaller ships and other Australian Defense Force air-surveillance assets. It also has potential to be used in a range of US programs, including the Littoral Combat Ship and other new ship programs, land and land-mobile programs, as well as replacing legacy systems on some US ships. We have a very close working relationship with the US Navy on this project, with US staff embedded in the project team."

For a comprehensive article on the developoment of naval phased-array radar, see Backboards of the Fleet: Shipboard Phased-Array Radars.


Australia Selects Destroyer Designer

Source: Australian DoD

The Australian government has chosen Gibbs & Cox as the preferred designer for the Royal Australian Navy's air-warfare destroyers (AWDs) – one of Australia's largest and most complex Defense projects, worth up to $4.6 billion.
Defense Minister Senator Robert Hill said Gibbs & Cox now joins a team made up of ASC Shipbuilder Pty. Ltd., which has been selected to build the AWDs, and Raytheon Australia, selected as the combat-system engineer.
Senator Hill said Gibbs & Cox, a US-based company, was chosen through a competitive tender evaluation process that also included German company Blohm + Voss and Spanish company Navantia.
"The selection of Gibbs and Cox as platform designer now completes the team whose responsibility it is to deliver the project," Senator Hill said. "The government made the decision after accepting the recommendation of the source-selection board on the basis that Gibbs & Cox offered a superior bid in terms of value for money. All three companies presented competitive bids and showed themselves to be very competent naval ship designers. Bids were evaluated against a wide range of criteria. The Gibbs & Cox evolved design will now compete with an 'Australianized' version of Spain's existing F100 ship design and will be further considered by the government as part of the next phase of the project. The construction of the air-warfare destroyers will be one of the most significant shipbuilding projects undertaken in Australia to date and will provide enormous opportunities for Australian industry."
The government has provided $349.1 million towards the current phase of the project, which includes further design work, workforce skilling, initial infrastructure investment, and facilities construction.
Senator Hill said the Defense program office would now advise on a location to establish an AWD System Center, which will house up to 200 personnel working on the development and through-life support of the vessels.
The conduct of the evaluation and selection of Gibbs & Cox was reviewed by AWD Program Probity Advisers KMPG and also independently by Sir Laurence Street, both of whom have confirmed that the process was fair and equitable.
"The AWDs represent a quantum leap in the air-warfare capabilities of the Navy," Senator Hill said. "The vessels, which are to be introduced into service from 2013, will be equipped with the world-class Aegis combat system, capable of detecting hostile aircraft and missiles at ranges in excess of 150 km."
They will provide significantly increased protection from air attack for troops being transported and deployed on Australian Defense Forces operations overseas and can provide long-range air-warfare defense for a naval task group. The AWDs will also have an anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capability, as well as the ability to embark a helicopter at sea. The ship will also be interoperable with the US and other coalition partners.

For more on Australia's Air-Warfare Destroyer program, see Aegis Combat System Selected for Australian Air-Warfare Destroyers and Shipbuilder Chosen for Australian Destroyers.


US DoD Reports Program Cost, Schedule Changes

Source: US DoD

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has released details on cost and schedule changes on major defense acquisition programs since the December 2004 reporting period. This information is based on the Selected Acquisition Reports (SARs) submitted to Congress for the June 30, 2005, reporting period.
SARs summarize the latest estimates of cost, schedule, and technical status. These reports are prepared annually in conjunction with the US president's budget. Subsequent quarterly exception reports are required only for those programs experiencing unit-cost increases of at least 15% or schedule delays of at least six months. Quarterly SARs are also submitted for initial reports, final reports, and for programs that are rebaselined at major milestone decisions.
The total program-cost estimates provided in the SARs include research and development, procurement, military construction, and acquisition-related operation and maintenance (except for pre-Milestone B programs, which are limited to development costs). Total program costs reflect actual costs to date, as well as future anticipated costs. All estimates include anticipated inflation allowances.
The current estimate of acquisition costs for programs covered by SARs for the prior reporting period (December 2004) was $1.5 trillion. After subtracting the costs for six final reports (Joint Common Missile [JCM], Longbow Hellfire, Maneuver Control System [MCS], Navy Extremely High Frequency Satellite Communications System [NESP], Standard Missile-2 [SM-2], and B-1B Conventional Mission Upgrade Program [CMUP]) and adding the costs for three new programs (Mission Planning System [MPS], Mobile User Objective System [MUOS], and Ship Self Defense System [SSDS]) from the December 2004 reporting period, the adjusted current estimate of acquisition costs was $1.5 trillion. There was a net cost decrease of $72.8 million (-0.005%) during the current reporting period (June 2005), which was due primarily to revised program estimates for the Air Force's National Airspace System (NAS) program.
For the June 2005 reporting period, there were quarterly exception SARs submitted for six programs. The reasons for the submissions are provided below.
Navy: LPD 17(amphibious transport dock ship) – The SAR was submitted to report a schedule slip of seven months (from July 2006 to February 2007) for the lead ship's initial operational capability (IOC) due to challenges associated with completing lead-ship production and testing. There were no cost changes reported since the December 2004 SAR.
MH-60S Utility Helicopter – The SAR was submitted to report a schedule slip of six months in the IOC of the airborne mine-countermeasures mission capability (from September 2006 to March 2007). This delay was due to problems with the Carriage Stream Tow and Recovery System (CSTRS). Resolution of the issue requires redesign and manufacture of some CSTRS components. There were no significant cost changes reported since the December 2004 SAR.
Air Force: Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) – The SAR was submitted to report a schedule slip of seven months (from May 2005 to December 2005) in approval of full-rate production (Milestone III) approval. The delay was due to an anomaly during the Delta IV heavy-lift demonstration that delayed completion of the exit criteria required to proceed to Milestone III. There were no cost changes reported since the December 2004 SAR.
Global Broadcast Service (GBS) – The SAR was submitted to report that the current estimate for IOC 2/3 has slipped nine months (from March 2006 to December 2006), and the current estimate for the beyond-low-rate-initial-production review has slipped five months (from November 2005 to April 2006). Both changes were caused by the need to integrate Operational Requirements Document (ORD) III changes into the test-and-evaluation master plan (TEMP) and other test planning documentation. Program costs decreased $12 million (-1.6%) from $756 million to $744 million, due to a revised cost estimate and a quantity reduction of 12 units, from 1,049 to 1,037.
National Airspace System (NAS) – The SAR was submitted to rebaseline from a development to a production estimate following the June 2005 approval of full-rate production (Milestone III). The dates for award of the Digital Airport Surveillance Radar (DASR) full-rate production contract and the DoD Advanced Automation System production award exercise were both changed from March 2005 to June 2005. The changes were due to a later than expected beyond-low-rate-initial-production report and the effects of a changing management structure following the departure of the previous milestone-decision authority. The new baseline also includes the addition of follow-on operational test and evaluation as recommended by the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center and the director of operational test and evaluation. Program costs decreased $59.5 million (-4%) to $1.4 billion, due primarily to a refinement in the Navy's cost estimate.
Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) – The SAR was submitted to rebaseline the program from a development to a production estimate following the April 2005 approval of low-rate initial production (Milestone C). There were no cost changes reported since the December 2004 SAR.

A summary table of the SARs can be found here.

For more on changing priorities at the US DoD, see Guessing Game: Quadrennial Defense Review 2005.


USAF Tests Small Diameter Bomb

Source: US Air Force

The US Air Force's 366th Maintenance Group at Mountain Home AFB, ID, tested a new Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) Aug. 3 to 5.
The GBU-39 SDB system is a low-cost, precision-strike weapon system that will soon be used by fighters, bombers, and unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs). The weapon is currently being tested on F-15E Strike Eagles.
Mountain Home AFB is one of several Air Combat Command (ACC) and Air National Guard (ANG) bases receiving training for the new munition. The 250-lb. bomb is half the weight of the current precision bombs used on F-15Es. Its small size allows four bombs to be attached to each of the five weapon stations on the aircraft, said Dave Ward of the Air Armament Center at Eglin AFB, FL. “We can now send one aircraft to do the job of four,” Ward said, “so increased load outputs are the primary advantage of the new weapon system.”
Another advantage of the bomb is reduced collateral damage during contingencies such as Operation Iraqi Freedom. The “smarter” bomb will be able to maximize damage to enemy targets.
To get personnel up to speed on the new weapon system, Ward, along with people at the Air Force Test Evaluation Center and ACC, trained and evaluated maintainers on maintaining and loading the bomb. “We ran through all the logistical and maintenance phases up to the load of the bomb on (F-15E) weapon racks. That way, when the bomb becomes operational, airmen will be able to properly use and maintain the bomb,” Ward said.
The team initially trained the munitions-system technicians and then armament craftsmen. The maintainers were able to become familiar with both the design of the weapon and the four-place smart carriage system to which it attaches on the F-15E. After training, a full test of the bomb was completed Aug. 5.
Maintainers said they like the new system because it is more user friendly than current weapon inventories. “All the maintenance for the bomb could be done in less than an hour, so we were timed to verify that the time span could be accomplished,” said TSgt. T.J. Koskovich of the 366th Equipment Maintenance Squadron. Sergeant Koskovich worked with the bomb’s carriage system. “The new time standard is well under the amount of time it takes to work on our current armament systems.”
The bomb system is expected to become fully operational by 2007. US Air Force (USAF) officials plan to initially field the bomb on the F-15E in FY06 and later on the F/A-22 Raptor, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and eventually every other weapon platform. Initial estimates are that the USAF will procure at least 24,000 weapons and 2,000 carriages.

For more on Small-Diameter Bomb, see SDBs Strike Targets in Test and USAF Boosting Its Spirits.


UK Frigates Receive Additional Sonar

Source: Thales UK

Thales UK has won a $30.7-million extension to an existing contract with the UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) to provide a further two Sonar 2087 Ship Systems. Sonar 2087 Batch 2 will follow on from the six ship systems (Batch 1) currently being supplied under the development, manufacture, and support (DMS) contract. The Sonar 2087 Batch 2 program delivery commences in 2007, with final contract completion by December 2010.
Thales UK's underwater-systems business is the prime contractor and manufacturer for the Sonar 2087, which will enhance the underwater sensor capability for the Royal Navy's main anti-submarine warfare (ASW) ships, the Type 23 Duke-class frigates.
Following successful development trials, systems have already been fitted to and set to work onboard HMS Westminster and HMS Northumberland. A third ship, HMS Richmond, is to be fitted during the latter part of 2005. The Sonar 2087 is presently undergoing sea trials with an in-service date planned for mid-2006.
The major components of the Sonar 2087 system include a hydrodynamically optimized, active towed body fitted with a vertical line array incorporating Thales free-flooded-ring technology, a towed-body-handling system for deployment and recovery, a modular towed array, a towed-array-handling system, power-transmit and processing suite of cabinets, and multifunction consoles, all of which interface to the ship's combat system.

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