Latest News


By | January 7, 2008

      BAE, Northrop Grumman Gain DHS Counter-MANPADS Pacts

      The Department of Homeland Security provided contracts to BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC] to test systems mounted on airliners to defeat missiles that terrorists shoot at the aircraft, DHS announced.

      Those competing systems each uses a beam to deflect enemy missiles, known as Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS).

      Under the contracts, the rival firms each will begin final engineering, prototype development, and deployment testing of the systems.

      The BAE unit, which would be mounted largely inside airliners, is called JetEye, while the Northrop unit that mostly is contained in a pod on the airliner belly is called Guardian.

      The competing firms are receiving funding of about $45 million each for this 18-month final prototype phase of the program, according to DHS.

      While there is no credible, specific intelligence information about planned MANPADS attacks against U.S. commercial aircraft, DHS wishes to develop countermeasures technology.

      This significantly expedited pilot program is adapting existing technology already in use on military aircraft for commercial aviation use, according to DHS. The technology adaptation approach will speed development of a deployable prototype, and will ensure that the resulting countermeasures are consistent with airport operations and commercial air carrier logistics and safety that include such activities as maintenance, support, and training.

      Testing will include mounting the protective systems on American Airlines planes.

      While this technology has been used by the U.S. military and some foreign commercial airlines, the challenges in adapting these technologies for use commercially in the United States are significant, DHS acknowledged.

      In the military, there are a limited number of air bases from which these planes take off and land, with personnel and replacement parts at each base dedicated to maintenance of the systems. Current military anti-MANPADS systems must be serviced after a few flying hours, and there are significant questions about safety on the ground in the event of a false alarm. In Israel, for example, El Al Airlines is able to use these technologies because they fly out of one airport where their maintenance personnel can all be centrally located.

      But in the United States, with more than 400 airports and more than 6,000 aircraft in the commercial fleet, the maintenance cost of counter-MANPADS technology at current system costs would be staggering. These challenges are being addressed in this prototype development program.

      Objectives of the program are to collect information from industry, select the best contractors to perform systems analysis and flight tests, and to devise a plan that will permit modifications of commercial aircraft with the least disruption and out-of-service costs to the airline industry. The purpose of the program is to deliver to policy makers in the executive and legislative branches the data necessary to make an informed decision regarding countermeasures technologies.

      DHS listed some of the problems confronting any move to place counter-MANPADS systems on each of the thousands of airliners in commercial service:

      • Technologies developed for military or other specialized purposes are currently incompatible with commercial air fleet operations. Although underlying military technologies will be leveraged, the systems must be adapted to meet commercial operational concepts.
      • One likely technology that has been identified for potential commercial use is the so-called Directed InfraRed CounterMeasure (DIRCM), an infrared device that jams missile guidance systems.
      • Current DIRCMs cannot be easily adapted to the U.S. commercial air fleet, and must be re-engineered. The current available DIRCMs have roughly 300 hours of life before they must be repaired or refurbished. While suitable for the military or special purpose aircraft, given their maintenance and logistical infrastructure, this is not suitable for U.S. commercial air fleet use. The cost of training, ground support equipment, supplies and spares, and logistics trail that would need to be in place at every U.S. airport would be significant. Estimates put this cost at as much as $5 billion to $10 billion per year prior to the re-engineering efforts of this program.
      • Military missile countermeasures, such as the Large Aircraft InfraRed CounterMeasure (LAIRCM) unit, which uses Directed InfraRed CounterMeasure (DIRCM) techniques, exist in various stages of development and initial fielding. The LAIRCM system defeats the threat missile guidance system by directing a high-intensity modulated laser beam into the missile seeker. However, these technologies are generally utilized by military and heads-of-state aircraft that have the operations and maintenance infrastructure to support the systems.

      Separately, a different approach is to provide a lower-cost ground-based system at each airport. Raytheon Co. [RTN], for example, offers one such asset, the Vigilant Eagle system.

      While the defense industry has performed limited evaluation of tower-mounted InfraRed CounterMeasure (IRCM) subsystems for ground-based applications as an alternative to airborne installation, this approach, too, poses challenges, according to DHS.

      Generally, then, IRCM commercialization requires tightly integrated systems engineering and development, as well as testing and evaluation of existing and emerging military equipment.

      Other significant challenges are:

      • Achieving an affordable total cost of ownership
      • Improving reliability over their military counterparts
      • Performing less labor and time-intensive maintenance interventions
      • Decreasing false alarm rates
      • Ensuring that these devices can be safely applied in operating environments of civilian aircraft.

      "When evaluating the deployment of IRCMs aboard civilian aircraft, it is also important to consider the effects of using these countermeasures in civilian airspace, specifically in populated areas," according to DHS. "In the event of a MANPADS launch, traditional military pyrotechnic countermeasures (flares) represent a major safety hazard to property and personnel. Directed countermeasures, such as an on-board laser to disrupt the MANPADS sensor and steer the missile away from the aircraft, appear to be the most promising candidates for application to civilian aircraft. However, new pyrotechnic and pyrophoric technologies may be adaptable to commercial operations."

      The homeland defense agency also observed that "while it is conceivable that existing military IRCM units could be simply re-engineered for civilian aircraft use, many technical and operational tradeoffs have not been analyzed to address the risks of such an approach. For example, there is an established military logistics infrastructure that serves airborne countermeasure equipment, spanning functions from pilot training and routine maintenance to spare parts and depot repair. A similar infrastructure would be costly and time-consuming to replicate in the commercial airline industry."

      Further, DHS stated, "It would be premature to integrate currently available military IRCM equipment aboard civilian aircraft due to numerous issues concerning aircraft modification and certification, maintenance and supportability, and operational employment. Even if IRCM equipment were retrofitted on only the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, safety of flight and IRCM operational issues abound because rigorous analytical processes have not been performed. This analysis will occur as part of the multi-phase approach of the Homeland Security Counter-MANPADS program."

      Some critics note, however, that more than six years have passed since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and airliners at U.S. airports still aren’t protected from terrorist attacks involving MANPADS.

      Raytheon Gains $160 Million Air Force Contract For GPS Ground Segment

      The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center awarded Raytheon a $160 million, 18-month contract to develop a new system design for the next-generation global positioning system control segment (GPS OCX).

      It is expected to enhance both warfighter and civilian GPS performance.

      The new design will provide command, control and mission support capabilities for current and future satellite systems. Overall, the most important attribute in the next- generation GPS OCX is increased accuracy, according to the company, so its new design will provide improved position, navigation and timing services to warfighters and civilians alike by enhancing accuracy, integrity and resistance to jamming.

      Raytheon teammates include The Boeing Co. [BA], ITT Industries [ITT], Braxton Technologies, Infinity Systems Engineering and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

      CSC Gains $544 Million NASA Contract For Work At Johnson Space Center

      NASA awarded a potential 10-year, $544 million contract to the CSC-Applied Technology Division of Fort Worth, Texas.

      CSC will support facilities operations, maintenance, repair, design and construction at Johnson Space Center.

      Work will include support of facilities at Johnson and NASA facilities at the Sonny Carter Training Facility and Ellington Field in Houston.

      The contract calls for support of the mission control center at Johnson, center utility plants, training buildings and labs and major and minor construction work.

      CSC will provide planning for major facility upgrade projects and facilities construction.

      The contract includes a two-year base period valued at $102 million, followed by six one-year award-term options extending to February 2016 that could add $325 million to the contract value. Two additional one-year options, extending to February 2018, could increase the value by another $117 million.

      Boeing Gains NASA Satellites Pact Worth Up To $1.2 Billion

      NASA gave The Boeing Co. [BA] a contract worth up to $1.2 billion for its next-generation series of Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS).

      This continues the communications satellite line that began with the launch of TDRS H in 2000 and, coupled with Boeing’s other work for NASA, spans more than four decades. The contract is valued at $695 million, or $1.2 billion if all options are exercised. It calls for two spacecraft and increases the Boeing satellite backlog to 27 spacecraft.

      The TDRS-K satellite will be ready for launch in 2012, and TDRS-L will be ready for launch in 2013.

      "This contract includes the design and manufacturing of the TDRS K series satellites as well as upgrades to NASA’s TDRS system ground terminals," said Howard Chambers, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems. "Three Boeing-built TDRS satellites are currently providing critical services to NASA and the nation’s space program, and we are committed to delivering satellites that expand the communications relay needs of NASA and its teams."

      The satellites incorporate a modern design based on flight-proven performance, according to Boeing. The three previous TDRS satellites were based on Boeing 702-class electronics, which still are the standard for the newest spacecraft Boeing is building. Additionally, Boeing has modernized technologies in the payload, power and propulsion subsystems to current state-of-the-art technologies being used in other Boeing-built spacecraft.

      Boeing offered the best choice for mission suitability with low risk that will expand the capabilities of the NASA tracking and data relay satellite system. This communication signal relay system provides tracking and data acquisition services between Earth-orbiting spacecraft, such as the International Space Station, the space shuttle, the Orion crew exploration vehicle, and their respective control and data processing facilities.

      Boeing teamed with General Dynamics Corp. [GD], which will update and modify the existing TDRS system ground terminals, located near Las Cruces, N.M. The ground terminals, known as the White Sands Complex, are the primary two-way communications link between the TDRS satellites and the ground-based elements of the TDRS system communications network.

      Las Vegas Firm Gains NASA Contract For Microgravity Flights Worth As Much As $25.4 Million Over Five Years

      NASA gave Zero Gravity Corp. of Las Vegas, Nev., a contract to provide an aircraft for low-gravity flights, with the pact worth up to $25.4 million over five years.

      The company will manage and operate an aircraft to perform reduced gravity parabolic flights while carrying NASA-operated experiments and personnel.

      The parabolic flights will provide the means to replicate the reduced gravity environment of space for various areas of research needed to further understanding of space travel, according to NASA. These include aeronautical research, fluid physics, combustion, material sciences and life sciences.

      Additionally, work done during these flights will assist engineers in developing the net-generation American spaceship, the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, as well as contributing to improved flights for astronauts on the space shuttle and the International Space Station.

      The aircraft will fly primarily out of Johnson Space Center in Houston, and Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

      The contract contains a one-year base period valued at $4.7 million, which began last week. Four one-year options could add just over $5 million per year to the fixed price, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract total. These options could extend the period of performance to a total of five years, for an estimated $25.4 million.

      Army Awards $221.2 Million Contract To Expand Redstone Arsenal

      The Army awarded a $221.2 million contract to expand the Von Braun Complex in Redstone Arsenal at Huntsville, Ala., the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announced.

      That will mean constructing a roughly 840,000 square foot building to house 2,248 MDA employees, people who now work in or near Washington, D.C. They are moving to Alabama because of the Base Realignment and Closure process.

      Additionally, the building will house 240 people from Huntsville and 161 Army Space and Missile Defense Agency positions from the Washington, D.C. area.

      Archer Western Contractors, of Atlanta, will provide the building, which will be the largest single building at Redstone Arsenal.

      The building will include about 750,000 square feet of administrative space, an 800-seat auditorium, a cafeteria, a fitness center and a central mechanical plant.

      Construction will occur in two phases.

      Phase I will be completed in spring 2010, allowing move-in of the first 800 to 1,000 workers that summer. Phase II will be completed in early 2011 with move-in of remaining workers in the summer.

      When the building is completed, the entire Von Braun Complex, including buildings that were completed in 2004 and 2007, will house approximately 4,500 personnel.

      The Redstone building project, which will be constructed via a design-build contract, will be incrementally funded over three years with initial funding of $67 million in the current fiscal 2008. Then there will be an additional $127 million in fiscal 2009, and $27.8 million in fiscal 2010. Groundbreaking and construction are expected as early as spring.

      Analex Corp. Gains $190 Million NASA Work At Goddard

      NASA gave Analex Corp. of Fairfax, Va., a contract to provide environmental test and integration services for projects at Goddard Space Flight Center and other NASA centers. The total cost-plus award fee contract is $190 million.

      Analex also will provide facility services, cable fabrication, optical services and thermal blanket fabrication for a variety of projects that may include the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, the Solar Dynamics Observatory and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

      Additional services will include recertification of Goddard cranes, lifting devices, pressure vessels, and the operation and maintenance of the Goddard advanced manufacturing facility.

      The contract runs from next month through Feb. 6, 2013.

      Raytheon Gains $29 Million Missile Launchers Pact For U.S. Navy, Australia

      The Navy gave Raytheon Co. [RTN] a $29 million contract to supply guided missile launchers to the Navy, and also to the Australian Air Force.

      Raytheon Technical Services Co. LLC, of Indianapolis, received a firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously issued basic order agreement for 114 LAU-115D/A and 146 LAU-116B/A guided missile launchers for the Navy.

      That breaks down to 86 LAU-115D/A and 130 LAU-116B/A.

      As well, Australia will receive some launchers.

      The Royal Australian Air Force will get 28 LAU-115D/A and 16 LAU-116B/A assets. Work will be performed in Indianapolis by August 2010.

      This contract combines purchases for the Navy ($23,962,764, or 82.6 percent) and Australia ($5,035,696, or 17.4 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales Program.

      The Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River, Md., manages the contract.

      NASA Provides $75.8 Million Contract To Canadian Firm For Robotic Arm Work

      NASA awarded a potential five-year, $75.8 million contract to Canadian Commercial Corp. of Ottawa relating to robotic arm work.

      CCC will support hardware and software associated with the space shuttle Remote Manipulator System robotic arm, inspection boom assembly and robotic work station.

      The cost plus no fee contract will provide support for activities related to both the space shuttle program and International Space Station program.

      The contract includes a base period from the beginning of this month to Sept. 30, 2010, followed by two one-year extension options.

      Work will be performed primarily at MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates in Brampton, Ontario, and at CCC facilities in Rockville, Md., and Montreal.

      Lockheed Gains $29 Million Army Order For Hellfire II Missiles; Final Order Rounds Out Total $305.9 Million Contract

      The Army gave Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] a $29 million order for Hellfire II air-to-ground missiles, rounding out a total $305.9 million total contract that was the largest single Hellfire II buy, the company announced.

      That new option will see the Army receive 431 rounds, bringing the total number of rounds ordered under the contract to 4,622.

      The missiles will go to the Army, Navy and Air Force, and also to the United Kingdom through a foreign military sale, beginning this year.

      Yet to come will be an additional buy this year, with quantities yet to be determined.

      Lockheed will produce the missiles at its manufacturing facilities in Troy, Ala., and Ocala, Fla.

      The new order will sustain full-rate production through 2010, both in Troy and Ocala. Engineering, logistics and program management support are based in Orlando.

      The production contract includes three variants of the missile: the high-explosive anti-tank missile (AGM-114K), used against armored targets; the blast fragmentation missile (AGM-114M), effective against ships, caves, light armored vehicles, buildings, bunkers and other urban targets; and the metal augmented charge missile (AGM-114N), which provides an enhanced blast fragmentation effect against enclosed structures and enemy combatants.

      All three missile configurations, as well as the fire-and-forget, adverse-weather-capable millimeter-wave radar Longbow Hellfires (AGM-114L), have been used by U.S. and U.K. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 6,800 rounds have been fired from several platforms, including the U.S. Army Apache and the Marine Corps Cobra attack helicopters, the Kiowa scout helicopter, the Air Force Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles and the U.K. Army Air Corps Apache aircraft.

      With more than 21,000 rounds produced for the U.S. and 13 international customers, Hellfire II has been integrated with every leading attack helicopter in the U.S. and many Allied fleets, according to Lockheed. The weapon also is capable of surface launch from several ground vehicles, tripods and small vessels.

      Hellfire II is approved for international sales both through the foreign military sales system and direct commercial sales.

      Click on a tab to select how you'd like to leave your comment

      Leave a Reply