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News From Washington
Proposals Solicited for UCAV Feasibility Demonstration
A joint solicitation from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and US Air Force seeks proposals for an advanced technology demonstration (ATD) program that would demonstrate the feasibility of an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) system capable of carrying out lethal strike missions effectively and affordably within the developing command and control architecture. The UCAV is envisioned as a force enabler that will conduct suppression of enemy air defense and strike missions in support of post-2010 manned strikes. The solicitation anticipates that UCAV designs developed under the program will use previously developed advanced technologies that require special security precautions. Contractor teams are expected to possess the background, expertise and facilities that will permit them to use those advanced technologies during all phases of the demonstration. The government has determined that Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon Systems are the only US companies that meet these requirements, therefore a limited competition will be conducted with the intent of awarding multiple agreements to those companies. The total estimated value of the two-phase UCAV ATD program through 2002 is $120 M.
Lockheed Martin Awarded Joint Air-to-surface Standoff Missile Program
The US Air Force and Navy have selected Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems to develop and build the joint air-to-surface standoff missile (JASSM), a long-range, conventional, air-to-ground precision missile designed to destroy high value, well-defended, fixed and relocatable targets. The contract includes a modification for program definition and risk reduction (PDRR) phase II with an option for an engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) contract as well as options for production lots one through five. Ultimately, the total program could be worth more than $2 B in sales.
The PDRR and EMD phase of the contract extends to August 2001. First production articles are scheduled for delivery for initial operational testing and evaluation in 2000 and low rate initial production (LRIP) is scheduled to begin in mid-2000. The Air Force expects to buy nine production lots totaling 2400 JASSMs; the Navy has not yet announced its procurement plans.
The Lockheed Martin contract ends a 22-month competition for the award with McDonnell Douglas Corp., a Boeing subsidiary. Work is expected to be divided equally between Lockheed Martin’s Ocala, FL Electronics & Missiles operation and its Palmdale, CA Skunk Works unit.
Raytheon to Supply Shipboard SATCOM Terminals
Raytheon Systems Co. has been selected by the US Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command to supply AN/WSC-6(V)X super high frequency (SHF) satellite communications (SATCOM) terminals. The equipment will provide the Navy with broadband communications over the Defense Satellite Communications System, NATO, Syracuse and SKYNET satellite systems. The award covers 123 SHF shipboard SATCOM terminals to be delivered over seven years and is valued at $77 M. It complements two 1996 awards to Raytheon valued at $17 M that called for the upgrade and modernization of 34 AN/WSC-6 terminals that required new below-deck electronics and antennas. The shipboard terminals provide users with high capacity voice and data communications links, and provide interoperable communications with allied forces. Terminal design is based on an open system architecture, and its ongoing modernization program makes extensive use of commercial off-the-shelf electronics.
Army to Review Its Digitization Plans
As reported in Defense Daily, the Army Digitization Office has asked a team composed of US military academy faculty members to determine the most cost-effective manner in which to digitize the Army. The team was given 30 days to report time and money estimates and other guidelines for the study, which is expected to span approximately nine months.
The study represents the first effort to define an operational architecture for a digital force. While it has been assumed that digitization will occur at the individual platform level, the study also will determine whether it may be more cost effective to digitize only key command, control and communication systems in each division. The results of the study will have an important impact on the business prospects of defense contractors if stopping short of the individual platform level is recommended and, therefore, the faculty team was selected to guarantee objective results free of any political bias or program manager influences.
Recent experiments with digitization at the platform level have raised concerns about the maturity of digital systems for those applications. Experiments that examined the results of digitizing the upper tiers of divisions have yielded performance beyond expectations and support views that the upper-tier approach should be the near-term goal. If the study recommends the upper-tier method, the Army will continue to work on individual systems applications for future adoption.
Poor Test Results Support Delaying IEWCS Production
A recent report from the General Accounting Office (GAO) (GAO/NSIAD-98-3) reviews the latest test results of the Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Common Sensor (IEWCS) program, which is intended to provide select Army and Marine Corps units with improved signals intelligence and electronic attack capability against hostile forces’ communications systems. The 17 systems procured through FY 1997 at a cost of $750.8 M have been (or are scheduled to be) fielded on Army light or heavy armored vehicles or EH-60 helicopters, and Marines Corps light armored vehicles. Initial LRIP of the system began in FY 1995.
The GAO has determined that available system test results do not support the continuation of IEWCS production. The Army had postponed operational testing scheduled for FY 1997 that was meant to demonstrate the system’s effectiveness and suitability in a combat environment. The operational testing was replaced with less rigorous developmental testing that demonstrated serious hardware, software and maintenance problems. In general, the hardware issues focus on system accuracy; the software issues focus on system robustness, accuracy, ease of use and throughput; and the maintenance issues focus on reliability.
FY 1996 system tests on a Marine Corps prototype IEWCS system also uncovered serious problems, including inaccurate identification of the direction to hostile communications by up to 100°, ineffective active noise-reduction headsets, requirements for frequent recalibrations and system failure that occurred every 4.08 hours on average (compared to the desired 65-hour mean time between operational failures). The Marine Corps’ IEWCS system assessment also was not representative of expected operational conditions and was hampered due to mechanical problems with the vehicle’s generator and air conditioning. Despite the poor results, the Marine Corps has approved LRIP of two systems on the basis that the operational tests have demonstrated the system has potential and that the assessment has provided a means to measure future progress as well as a focus for continued development.
Even though the Army acknowledges the IEWCS system’s problems, it still intends to use funds provided by Congress prior to FY 1998 to contract for two more systems for light vehicles and three more for EH-60 helicopters. The Army planned to contract for these five systems before the results of its additional research and development efforts were known and before a rescheduled operational test, scheduled for May, was conducted.