The Air Force will not exercise its authority to build light attack aircraft for partner nations under a contract designed to provide planes to the Afghan military, the service has told Congress.
In a recent letter to Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Air Force declared that it has no intention of using the contract to produce Light Air Support planes for any country other than Afghanistan. The letter, obtained by Inside the Air Force, was sent by Maj. Gen. Wendy Masiello, the Air Force's deputy assistant secretary for contracting, on April 25.
The deal for the Afghan planes is worth $472.5 million but, according to the contract language, up to $950 million more can be tapped for the production of light attack aircraft for other countries under the Building Partnership Capacity program.
"The indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity LAS contract will not be used by any other nation for future Building Partnership Capacity (BPC) program purchases," Masiello's letter states. "The LAS contract will only be used to provide the 20 aircraft and associated systems, equipment, and support for delivery to Afghanistan's Air Force as provided in the first delivery order, and any logistics support and sustainment of those same aircraft."
Inside the Army on JTRS:
As the Army prepares to launch two new Joint Tactical Radio System contracts, lawmakers and industry officials both question whether the service is deviating from network modernization plans that called for shorter, more frequent competitions in favor of more traditional, winner-take-all acquisition strategies.
The Army earlier this month released a pre-solicitation notice indicating it will pursue a five-year, single-vendor award in the acquisition of the handheld Rifleman radio. The service is also exploring a similar approach for the JTRS Manpack, according to a draft document released in April.
Heidi Shyu, the Army's acquisition chief, defended the service's JTRS strategy in a May 28 letter sent to Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and obtained by ITA. Slaughter had sent a letter to Shyu on May 21 voicing concern over the Army's JTRS acquisition plans. "I understand your concern about our contracting strategy," Shyu wrote. "The Army evaluated numerous contracting approaches, and selected a strategy based on balancing reduced life cycle costs and allowing innovative improvements through the life of the program. Acquisition strategies for the other Army tactical radio programs are still under review within the Department of the Army and Department of Defense."
In a May 28, 2013, letter sent to Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Army acquisition chief Heidi Shyu defends the service's Joint Tactical Radio System strategy in response to a May 21 letter sent by Slaughter voicing concern over the Army's JTRS acquisition plans.
Inside the Army goes to ground:
House appropriators and Senate authorizers approved fiscal year 2014 defense bills last week that did not include any unrequested funding for the Army's Abrams tank, a departure from a House authorization bill that would pump up the program by $168 million.
The House Appropriations Committee stated in a report accompanying its bill that it would continue to monitor the health of the combat vehicle industrial base, but did not feel additional funding was needed due to planned decreases in Army end strength that will necessitate cuts to its armored brigade combat teams.
"The committee is aware of the uncertainty facing the M1 Abrams tank program," the report states. "Production of M1A2 [System Enhancement Package] tanks for the Army is scheduled to be completed by December 2014. Beyond that date, the Army and the contractor will rely to a great degree on foreign military sales to help sustain operation of the tank assembly facility until such time as work on Engineering Change Proposal One begins. The committee also understands that the results of the Army force structure review will be released in the summer of 2013 and may well have fewer requirements for heavy Army battalions and heavy brigade combat teams."
The House Appropriations defense subcommittee has denied or curtailed a host of Defense Department requests to transfer funding from Army vehicle programs to pay warfighting bills accumulated in Afghanistan, according to congressional documents.
The House Armed Services Committee last week encouraged the Army to continue to pursue the development of Stryker combat vehicle survivability technologies.
The Army may be backing off Lakotas, but others are interested:
The Royal Thai Army plans to buy six LUH-72A Lakota helicopters that would be built on the same production line as the Army's Lakotas in Columbus, MS, marking the first foreign military sale of the aircraft, according to industry sources and a letter from the Pentagon acquisition chief to the Royal Thai Army's commander-in-chief.
"I am pleased Thailand has selected the LUH-72A Lakota helicopter under the U.S. Government's foreign military sales program to meet its light utility helicopter requirement," Kendall writes in his April 19 letter to General Prayuth Chan-ocha. "The project is of great importance to the Department of Defense, and we look forward to its successful implementation for the Royal Thai Army."
The informal congressional notification process was slated to wrap up last week and formal notification has yet to be sent to Capitol Hill, an industry source confirmed. Formal notification of the sale is expected this week, the source said.
The deal is important because the Army's Lakota production is scheduled to end in fiscal year 2015 and EADS North America has been working for years to firm up FMS contracts that could keep the American Eurocopter Lakota production line running beyond that time.
. . . yesterday:
The Marine Corps is putting the Marine Personnel Carrier, the complement to the Amphibious Combat Vehicle, on ice, and it may not be resurrected for 10 years, according to service, industry and congressional sources.
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, VA -- The Marine Corps has wrapped up a study that validated the service's amphibious lift requirements, whether the solution involves tracked vehicles, wheeled vehicles or air assets, according to a service official.
QUANTICO, VA -- The Army and Marine Corps are working "mitigation strategies" that would help the services maneuver around a possible three- to four-month delay forced upon the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program by sequestration, according to the officials in charge.