Navy officials last month were set to brief a top acquisition executive on options for replenishing the service’s rotorcraft training capability, including a “new” model for buying training services.
The Navy’s assistant secretary for Research, Development and Acquisition, Sean Stackley, was due to be briefed in October by officials working on options to replace obsolescent Bell Helicopter TH-57 trainers, which are more than 30 years old. The Navy has been working on a replacement plan for years and currently says it aims to issue a contract in 2017 for an Advanced Helicopter Training System (now also dubbed TH-XX). Work would start in 2018.
A key challenge to that plan is how the Navy will write the request for proposals, a necessary precursor to a contract selection. It has no funds to acquire a new trainer fleet and expects to get none. That predicament has industry officials pitching — and some Navy leaders now embracing — a “services contract” business model under which the Navy would pay a contractor team to provide nearly all its training capability and spare itself ownership of elements like aircraft and simulators.
The approach has worked in foreign military arenas like the U.K., Singapore, Australia and the U.S. Air Force. But it is new to the Navy (and considered high risk, since all Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard helicopter and tiltrotor aviators go through the training). So the approach needs Stackley’s signoff.
The FAA is seeking industry volunteers to serve on a new unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) safety team.
The team would be modeled after the FAA Safety Team (or FAASTeam), a successful effort to bring agency specialists together with industry volunteers (such as certificated flight instructors, safety pilots and mechanics) to provide local, recurring training on operations, airspace and regulations.
The “UASTeam” would play the same role in the drone community, according to agency leaders, though the approach to organizing it may be different.
“With the FAASTeam, we could go out to a local airport and find volunteers,” one agency official said. “With the drone team, we may be going to hobby shops.”
Boeing and the U.S. Army have made progress toward a multi-year contract for AH-64E Apaches, with a second quarter 2017 contract a possibility.
The service’s Apache program manager, Col. Jeff Hager, told reporters at the Assn. of the United States Army’s (AUSA) annual conference in Washington last month that the Pentagon’s director of Defense Pricing, Shay Assad, approved proceeding with multi-year negotiations, which could cover 275 Echo models. Hager said the goal is for deliveries between 2017 and 2021.
Boeing VP of Attack Helicopters Kim Smith said the company had received its opening offer from the Army before AUSA — which she said was slightly ahead of schedule. Smith said she looks forward to an informal agreement for the multi-year by the end of this year.
Then-Army Sec. John McHugh last summer gave the go-ahead to continue pursuing the multiyear contract.