Part outsider, part incumbent, Harris Corp. is eagerly upsetting applecarts by taking on defense industry colossus General Dynamics and other established contractors in its bid to grab a hat trick in this year’s Army radio competitions. The largest service is expected to make awards in three of its largest communications programs this year as early… Keep reading →
As the Army prepares to choose the new builder of its handheld digital radios, the incumbent contractors are tryiing to convince Congress to keep other companies out. The incumbents are General Dynamics, which publicly apologized to the Army over its half of the program last year, and Rockwell Collins. The Army’s own chief of acquisitions,… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: Acquisition experts agree that accurate cost estimates can be devilishly difficult to get right. The Pentagon’s top cost estimator, Christine Fox, says current cost estimates are often accurate within several percentage points. That’s impressive, but on programs measured in the tens or hundreds of billions of dollars, a few percentage points can mean a few billion dollars.
Case in point: the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Its cost estimates have wandered between $1.1 trillion and $1.5 trillion just in the last year; that’s a $400 billion difference. Now, that estimate assumes the F-35 flies for more than half a century (55 years) and makes all sorts of highly questionable assumptions, like the rate of inflation, the price of fuel, labor costs and on and on. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: The Secretary of the Army defended today what he admitted was “an unconventional approach” to fielding the service’s cutting-edge AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopter, saying the only alternative to the current complex workaround would have been to “shut the line down” for a time.
“I will grant the unconventionality of it,” John McHugh said. “You could say it was an unconventional approach, but it was an unconventional situation.” Keep reading →
Army Plays Shell Game With Unfinished Apache Helicopters: Put The Transmission In, And Pull It Out AgainBy Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
We knew that Northstar Aerospace, the subcontractor making the transmissions for lead contractor Boeing, had fallen behind on building that crucial component. We knew at least seven of the latest model, the vaunted AH-64E Apache Guardian, had been built at some point without transmissions, rendering them unflyable until the part was finally installed. Keep reading →
The Army’s newest attack helicopter is on track, the colonel in charge said in response to congressional concerns: Delays in manufacturing transmissions for the Boeing-built AH-64E Guardian have neither driven up the price nor slowed its fielding to combat units.
RANGE 24, FORT DRUM, NEW YORK: “That’s awesome,” said Maj. Edward Sedlock, watching another soldier call up data on his militarized Android smartphone. It was such small, unguarded moments — neither officer had noticed a reporter standing nearby — which suggest that, after more than a decade in development, the Army’s struggle to bring wireless networking to the foot soldier is finally yielding fruit, just in time to help secure the drawdown in Afghanistan.
Sedlock and his comrade weren’t part of some special group testing new equipment, like the much-publicized Network Integration Evaluations in the New Mexico desert, AOL D readers are so familiar with. Instead, they belong to an operational unit, the 3rd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division, training to use the new gear as they get ready for an expected deployment in Afghanistan. (They haven’t yet received their formal orders to go but planning is well advanced, down to designating an assigned area of operations the Army asked us not to name). “3/10″ and its sister unit, the 10th Mountain’s 4th Brigade, are the first combat brigades to receive the technology, as part of an upgrade the Army calls “Capability Set ’13″; two more brigades, from the famed 101st Airborne, are next in line for the new network. Keep reading →
CAPITOL HILL: Congress has asked the Army to explain why it has officially taken delivery of at least seven AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters that don’t have transmissions installed yet, Breaking Defense has learned. An unidentified subcontractor to Boeing which makes the helicopter, fell behind on building the transmissions and is now trying to catch up, but until it does, the high-tech gunships are unflyable.
NATIONAL HARBOR: The top officers in the Navy and Marine Corps defended their most expensive program, Lockheed Martin‘s troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, while acknowledging the way the Pentagon buys such weapons is not merely broken but “constipated.”
“There’s no alternative for the United States Marine Corps to the F-35B,” Commandant Gen. James Amos said at the opening session of the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space conference. “I want to make that crystal clear to everybody in the audience.” All the great aircraft of the past have gone through teething troubles in development, said Amos, a pilot himself. Keep reading →
[updated] WASHINGTON: The Army’s proposed Ground Combat Vehicle would offer less combat power, at a higher cost, than buying the German-made Puma already in production or even just upgrading the Army’s existing M2 Bradley, according to the Congressional Budget Office. CBO issued a report today assessing different alternatives to upgrade Army heavy brigades‘ infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), tank-like war machines with tracks and turrets designed to carry troops into combat.