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USAF PREPARES FOR ALL MQ-9 FORCE
Thursday, February 23, 2017
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Air Force to fly MQ-9 exclusively in early 2018

Source: US Air Force


Air Force to fly MQ-9 exclusively in early 2018

Source: US Air Force


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CREECH AFB, Nev. - For the past 21 years, the Air Force has flown the MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft in combat, and for the last 10, the MQ-9 Reaper. Combined with a skilled aircrew, these aircraft provide consistent support in daily engagements making an impact downrange.

While the MQ-1 has provided many years of service, the time has come for the Air Force to fly the more capable MQ-9 exclusively, and retire the MQ-1 in early 2018 to keep up with the continuously evolving battlespace environment.

The MQ-9 is better equipped than the MQ-1 due to its increased speed, high-definition sensors and the ability to carry more munitions. These combat attributes allow the MQ-9 to complete a wider array of mission sets which can help the Air Force stay prepared in the fight.

"When you ask about readiness, you have to ask ready for what?" said Col. Joseph, 432nd Operations Group commander. "If we talk about the things we could be ready for and what we should be asking our attack squadrons to do, then transitioning to an all MQ-9 force is imperative for readiness."

Current areas of responsibility calls upon combat RPAs for more precise close air support engagements from the attack squadrons, a considerable change from the days when RPAs were used solely for intelligence gathering and real-time reconnaissance.

"The reason that the MQ-9 has turned into a CAS platform, and this is the key point, is the fusion of two things," he said. "The first thing is the technology. We took an airplane and outfitted it with more raw power and capability, but then we did the other half and matted that technology with a professional aircrew."

Joseph also explained a third item which is the trust developed with combatant commanders and troops on the ground. This confidence combined with an ever-changing battlefield spawned increased demand and desire for more and more combat RPA support.

While the MQ-1 and the crews who flew them proved their weapons proficiency, it was never originally designed to carry weapons, resulting in a limited 200-pound payload. The demand for more attack capabilities exceeded the MQ-1s design.

"In the case of the MQ-1, I think we wanted more out of it but we were at a physical stop on the airplane and needed a new one," Joseph said.

The fresh MQ-9 design picked up where the MQ-1 left off, boasting a nearly 4,000-pound payload with the ability to carry both missiles and bombs.

These upgraded capabilities directly impact combat readiness and transitioning to just the MQ-9 will also help the aircrews stay primed and ready to go.

"Having a single aircraft buys more flexibility, simplifies training and logistics and gives our people more [career progression] opportunities," Joseph said. "I can't move my people in between squadrons without paying the penalty of having to train them on another aircraft."

The Air Force will no longer have to maintain a training pipeline or equipment on two separate aircraft which also eliminates the cost of operating two different airframes. Instead, everything will be specific to an all MQ-9 force.

Currently, the 20th Attack Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, is making the conversion from MQ-1 to MQ-9.

"Right now the plan is to stop flying the MQ-1 in 2018, and that means we need to get transitioned this year," said Lt. Col. James, 20th Attack Squadron commander. "As part of that we are going to stop flying the MQ-1 completely by July 1, 2017. We will gradually stand up our number of combat lines on the MQ-9 so by the end of the year we are only an MQ-9 squadron."

What is unique for James' squadron is some 20th ATKS aircrews are training on the MQ-9 for two to three months while home station crews are still flying the MQ-1 in daily combat missions overseas.

"For the better part of the last few months I've had upwards of 30 percent of my squadron gone at any time," James said. "It's been quite a challenge, but the motivation is very high to transition to this more capable airframe, and my squadron is excited to take it to combat."

"We're converting an MQ-1 squadron in combat 24/7/365 to an MQ-9 squadron in combat operations without taking a single day out of combat," Joseph said. "The herculean efforts done by the 20th ATKS is nothing short of remarkable."

The 20th ATKS and every unit which flew the MQ-1 achieved significant combat zone effects daily while laying the foundation for future combat RPAs.

"I think when we look at the legacy of the MQ-1 we're going to be scratching our heads wondering how we did so much with so little," Joseph said. "The men and women flying them starting with two squadrons took a science project and throughout many evolutionary changes made it what it is today."

The MQ-1 began as the RQ-1 Predator, an unarmed RPA flown by line-of-sight. Some changes include the adding of the Multi-Spectral Targeting system, the addition of weapons and remote-split operations capability.

"The MQ-1 is a great example where the Air Force took a technology demonstrator and turned it into a major weapons system having daily effects on the battlefield," James said. "We have found how to fly an imperfect weapons system very well, and I think we have maximized the effectiveness that we can get out of the MQ-1. I have no doubt that we will continue to find ways to be more effective in combat with the MQ-9."

James also said the desire for the real-time reconnaissance and persistent strike capabilities that combat RPA aircrew provide to the combatant commanders would never stop.

"We're hitting a home run by going to the MQ-9," James said. "We have made a difference."

Source:  U.S. Air Force
Associated URL: http://www.acc.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/5725/Article/1092894/usaf-prepar
Source Date: February 23, 2017
Posted: 02/24/2017

 
 
U.S. COAST GUARD AWARDS MULTIPLE CONTRACTS FOR HEAVY POLAR ICEBREAKER INDUSTRY STUDIES
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
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USCG Icebreaker Polar Star (WAGB-10)

Source: US Coast Guard


USCG Icebreaker Polar Star (WAGB-10)

Source: US Coast Guard


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WASHINGTON - The United States Coast Guard awarded five firm fixed-price contracts for heavy polar icebreaker design studies and analysis Feb. 22. The contracts were awarded to the following recipients: Bollinger Shipyards, LLC, Lockport, Louisiana; Fincantieri Marine Group, LLC, Washington, District of Columbia; General Dynamics/National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, San Diego, California; Huntington Ingalls, Inc., Pascagoula, Mississippi; and VT Halter Marine, Inc., Pascagoula, Mississippi. The combined total value of the awards is approximately $20 million.

The objective of the studies are to identify design and systems approaches to reduce acquisition cost and production timelines. In addition to a requirement to develop heavy polar icebreaker designs with expected cost and schedule figures, the contracts require: the awardees to examine major design cost drivers; approaches to address potential acquisition, technology, and production risks; and benefits associated with different types of production contract types.

The heavy polar icebreaker integrated program office, staffed by Coast Guard and U.S. Navy personnel, will use the results of the studies to refine and validate the draft heavy polar icebreaker system specifications. The use of design studies is an acquisition best practice influenced by the Navy’s acquisition experience with the Landing Craft, Utility (LCU) amphibious transport ship and T-AO(X) fleet oiler, which are being acquired under accelerated acquisition schedules.

The studies are expected to take 12 months to complete, with study results provided incrementally during that time. The Coast Guard plans to release a draft request for proposals (RFP) for detail design and construction by the end of fiscal year 2017, followed by release of the final RFP in fiscal year 2018. The Integrated Program Office plans to award a single contract for design and construction of the lead heavy polar icebreaker in fiscal year 2019, subject to appropriations.

Source:  U.S. Coast Guard
Associated URL: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDHSCG/bulletins/188e8e4
Source Date: February 22, 2017
Author: U.S. Coast Guard 
Posted: 02/24/2017

 
 
MOOG AWARDED F-15 RUDDER ACTUATOR REPAIR CONTRACT
Thursday, February 23, 2017
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Source: Boeing


Source: Boeing


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WASHINGTON - Moog Inc., doing business as Moog, Elma, New York, has been awarded a $7,691,865 firm-fixed-price and indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for F-15 sustainment. Contractor will remanufacture up to 285, but not less than 50, F-15 rudder actuators.

Work will be performed at Elma, New York, and is expected to be complete by Feb. 22, 2022. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition with two offers received. Fiscal 2017 defense working capital funds in the amount of $1,349,150 are being obligated on the first delivery order at the time of award. Air Force Sustainment Center, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, is the contracting activity (FA8118-17-D-0017).

With 1064 active and on-order worldwide aircraft, the United States Air Force has the largest share with 465, followed by the Saudi Arabian Air Force with 219, and the Japanese Air Force with 201 aircraft.

Source:  DoD
Associated URL: https://www.defense.gov/News/Contracts/Contract-View/Article/1093270
Source Date: February 23, 2017
Posted: 02/24/2017

 

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