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Author Topic: Protests as a way of life--(read, business)  (Read 5830 times)

Offline shawn a

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Protests as a way of life--(read, business)
« on: December 21, 2010, 05:49:44 AM »
Third paragraph of this weeks AW&ST's "defense" section's first article is "However, a recent Army effort to quickly field a new SIGINT collector has been stalled by contractor protests".
Evidently, "what goes around, comes around", as Boeing now gets stung by the protest bee.
So, what's your opinion of this "protest" part of defense acquisition? Is it a Robert Gates-friendly way of controlling costs, cutting fat and increasing capability, or is it decreasing readiness and availability of necessary military systems?

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Re: Protests as a way of life--(read, business)
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2011, 12:37:31 PM »
Sole-sourcing is bound to get criticized.

But besides that, on the protests... that has little to do with R. Gates, I think. These protests wouldn't be so much of a problem if the contractors didn't have such powerful lobby's going on, with then everyone interferring in what should be the Pentagon's business. Maybe the law needs some adjustments as well (sole sourcing in certain cases based on urgent requirements)... but I think the "protests" are part of the money-driven political system. Russia/China/France don't have this problem, although yeah certain contractors do get more love then.  ;)
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Offline shawn a

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Re: Protests as a way of life--(read, business)
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2011, 04:32:46 AM »
A decision on the Enhanced Medium-Altitude Reconnaisance Surveillance System's protest is expected next month.
Why am I not impressed?
Could it be because American defense procurement these days resembles the idiocy of a Three Stooges movie? (Not even approaching the efficiency of a Keystone Cops episode, or a Laurel and Hardy escapade)!!
Expected next month?
Anybody wanna bet on that?

Offline shawn a

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Re: Protests as a way of life--(read, business)
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2013, 05:34:12 PM »
In this weeks AW&ST, there is a very telling paragraph in an article about the new trainer that the US Air Force wants.
Apparently, the Air Force will keep specifications of speed, acceleration, sustained G-force, and probably several other performance parameters low so as not to generate a protest.
Isn't it nice to know that the Air Force will kowtow to the "Protest Industry" by lowering key performance parameters, and thusly get an inferior product?
I've always wanted the military to be obsessed with industrial political correctness instead of accomplishing their mission.
Shawn A.

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Re: Protests as a way of life--(read, business)
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2013, 03:02:45 PM »
So atm that's throwing a bone to the Hawk Mk.1xx? Seems to be the underperforming one of the bunch, but good record (although all leading into types that have twoseater for conversion...), honestly I don't think it stands a chance anyway... So I don't know how much lower the specs are, and not because I don't think Hawk is up to the task, but I suppose that this allows Boeing/Saab to come with a mediocre design... that may be way more affordable, barely fitting the lower specs, and thus putting the T-50 (and the M-346) out of the contest... Is that what you worried about?

Do you think LM would change the T-50 because of this, like removing the afterburner or lower performance engine altogether?
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Offline shawn a

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Re: Protests as a way of life--(read, business)
« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2013, 11:03:28 PM »
I think the US Air Force knows what it wants, and is simply trying to avoid a protest. They will welcome all comers who meet the lowered specs, but will then say something like "you losers were beaten by a higher performance design". If Saab could instill some of that legendary Scandinavian thriftiness into BBB (Big Bad Boeing), then those two might have a chance with a new design. I feel the T-50 would win, and Lockheed Martin would be dumb to reduce the performance. However it is obvious that thrift is king these days in the US military, and that darn afterburner uses a lot of paint thinner when it's turned on!
Hey, what's wrong with the T-38, anyway? If we still have the tooling and jigs, wouldn't it suffice, and be cheaper? Of course with new avionics, and maybe a single engine?
 Remembering Tigershark in more ways than one.
Shawn A.

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Re: Protests as a way of life--(read, business)
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2013, 09:25:33 PM »
50 year old tooling and jigs, I wouldn't think so... besides try to get the skilled labor for that... it won't be the reason for being cheaper than setting a new US line up by copying a modern production line. T-38 was cheap to produce and maintain back then, I think the picture would look quite different with today's labor costs. But besides that, in theory I can see a new, modern T-38 with better economics...but even though it looks more like a small F-16, I think the T-50 is pretty close to what a relaunched T-38 would turn into to when the engineers go to work.

I really wonder what Boeing/Saab will come up with, remember Boeing's X-32, maybe it will be quite radical and make the M-346 look dated.
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Re: Protests as a way of life--(read, business)
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2014, 10:37:15 AM »
Shawn, nice little read here: http://www.defense-aerospace.com/cgi-bin/client/modele.pl?shop=dae&modele=release&prod=150623&cat=3 from the Lexington Institute. It doesn't directly concern the protests/legal battles, but it sums it up nicely what is wrong, I think the proposed model (which sounds obvious and simple...) would also help against the (legal) protests about the acquisition system process and the outcomes. Instead of being requirement driven, development has more freedom to think outside the box or innovate. And on the DOD side, more freedom to buy the best product.

Although in some spaces, I don't think there's enough competitors to ensure that the companies develop the best possible product... resulting only in risk reduction driven development by the company, leaving the DOD with no other options (esp. when shopping abroad is a no-go).  Most if not all examples giving in the article are products which huge export potential, of course they developed these. But who's going to develop a ICBM interceptor, or ICBM replacement for that, bomber or radar upgrade for a bomber, system like EMALS, or even something minor but specific to US needs in this new model.

On the other side of the scale, I'm still skeptical about this commercial model resulting in quicker acquisition... if one company has the best product and the other company the most affordable... and a limited number is then bought for each... for the first no sufficient additional funding can be secured... for the second, it may not meet operational demands. So then you're looking at another 5 years for either company to find the middle road, improve their product, then again a minimum buy. testing, opeval, funding approval, production ramp-up...again, looking at 15+ year acquisition processes?

Also, it's easy to forget that under urgent operational requirements funding was available more quickly, isn't that more the reason this MRAP program worked, huge market and the requirement gap to fill from the outset, it's hard to imagine that having happened in peace-time and/or for less obvious needed systems. And on that MRAP program... now it costs a lot more money too to maintain half and divest half of that fleet of vehicles, plus I would think that the acquisition cost was also higher than if acquired beforehand via the old system. That is was successful in equipping the warfighter within a short time period, doesn't say much about the model being successful under different circumstances. I wish I could think of something aviation instead of MRAP where I can say, see, it may not result in a better situation in the end. I'm not sure but I certainly had my doubts over some of these UOR acquisitions, certainly many were not best bang for the buck. Some things come to mind, but I don't want to list them because I don't know if they're comparable in the way they were developed: or had been on the roadmap already or were off-the-shelf systems, which is not what's being referred to.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 10:41:17 AM by Webmaster »
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