By Debbie Gregory.

Firearms maker Sig Sauer has been awarded a $48 million DoD contract to create a suppressed upper receiver group (SURG) based on its MCX system for the service weapon, an upgrade to the current M4A1 Carbine, a fully automatic version of the M4 Carbine that went into service in 1994.

According to an August 7th release on the SIG SAUER website, its MCX Rifle System outperformed the competition in order to secure the contract.

“The SIG SAUER suppressor withstood the stringent stress and torture requirements set by DoD for firing specifications, vibration, sound, and temperature requirements to ensure soldier safety.”

SOCOM has been developing its requirements for the M4A1 SURG since 2015, the Firearm Blog reports. The SURG upgrades the current M4A1 lower receiver assembly used by SOCOM.

The contract award comes as the Marine Corps continues to pursue suppressed firing capability for many of its infantry troops. Troops who deployed in early 2017 with suppressors  said that the devices, previously reserved for elite units, enabled better battlefield communication and reduced fog-of-war “tunnel vision.”

“The requirements set by DoD for the SURG procurement demanded significant improvements in reliability, thermal characteristics, and durability that went well above anything we are currently seeing in the industry,” said Ron Cohen, Sig’s president and CEO. He continued, “We worked very hard to develop the MCX SURG System to specifically meet and exceed the DoD requirements. I am extremely proud that our hard work paid off, and endured the stringent and demanding military testing requirements, to ultimately gain the confidence of DoD to support their operations in the field.”

Headquartered in Newington, New Hampshire, SIG SAUER is an ISO 9001 certified company with over 1,200 employees that strives to meet the needs of their military, law enforcement and commercial markets worldwide.

The project is expected to be completed by July 2023

By Debbie Gregory.

The Boeing Co. is pitching a new version of the F-15 Eagle to the U.S. Air Force that combines an updated airframe with an unprecedented number of anti-air missiles.

The F-15 Eagle was first introduced in 1972, and although it has undergone many changes in its near five decades history, it has consistently carried the same number of missiles. The newest version, known as F-15X, would be equipped with improved avionics and radars and would carry more than two dozen air-to-air missiles.

The F-15X configuration includes a flat-panel glass cockpit, JHMCS II helmet mounted display, revised internal wing structure, fly-by-wire controls, APG-82 AESA radar, activation of outer wing stations one and nine, advanced mission computer, low-profile heads-up display, updated radio and satellite communications, the highly advanced Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System electronic warfare and electronic surveillance suite, and Legion Pod-mounted infrared search and track system.

Boeing intends to deliver the F-15X at a flyaway cost well below that of an F-35A—which runs about $95M per unit. It has been speculated that Boeing is willing to offer the F-15X under a fixed priced contract. In other words, whatever the jets actually end up costing, the Pentagon will pay an agreed upon fixed price, with Boeing guaranteeing that it will absorb any overages.

While the Air Force had previously sworn off non-stealthy jets, the price of stealth aircraft, and the cost to keep them flying, is proving exorbitant. Spending money now to acquire F-15Xs may actually save money in the long run. The Air Force already intends to upgrade its F-15C/D fleet so that it could remain viable into at least the 2030s, but doing so would cost many millions of dollars per jet. The projected service life for the F-15X is 20,000 hours, about three times that of most fighters currently being produced. That means that this fleet could be in service until the end of this century!

By Debbie Gregory.

In an effort to make sure the Veterans Administration transition to electronic health records (EHR) stays on track, Congress has tasked a new subcommittee to oversee the 10 year, $10 billion-plus project awarded to Missouri-based Cerner.

The Subcommittee on Technology Modernization will be headed up by Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), a former Navy Reserve supply officer and Afghanistan veteran.

“Service members and veterans deserve a seamless, lifetime medical record and an electronic health record system that supports the highest quality care,” Banks said. “However, I have no illusions about the challenge confronting VA in this monumental undertaking.”

Back in June, House Committee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) and ranking member Tim Walz (D-MN) had announced that the new subcommittee would supervise the Department of Veterans Affairs‘ tech projects such as the Electronic Health Record Modernization program.

Cerner CEO Zane Burke told lawmakers that the annual maintenance and operating cost of the electronic health record system his company would provide would be lower than that of the existing system, which is about $1 billion.

In addition to Roe and Walz, Reps. Conor Lamb (D-PA), Jack Bergman (R-MI), Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Scott Peters D-CA) round out  the subcommittee.

Committee members noted that the electronic interchange of health records between VA and the Defense Department is needed to provide quality and timely healthcare for service members and veterans.

“For millions of veterans across the country, their first interaction with VA will be the simple act of booking an appointment,” Walz said. “Unfortunately, even something as straightforward as that can be a struggle due to VA’s antiquated information technology systems.”

The VA said the newly formed Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization, which will be led by Genevieve Morris, deputy national coordinator for the Department of Health and Human Services, “will manage the preparation, deployment and maintenance of VA’s new electronic health care record system and the health information technology (IT) tools dependent upon it.”

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Army will be spending $451 million to upgrade M1 Abrams tanks and Stryker combat vehicles.

The tanks will be equipped with the Trophy Active Protection System. The system, made by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., proactively detects, locates, and if necessary, neutralizes anti-armor threats, increasing platform survivability.

Rafael, an Israeli company has partnered with Leonardo DRS, a U.S. firm headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. Under the terms of the $193 million contract, Leonardo DRS will provide the Army with TROPHY systems, countermeasures, and maintenance kits.

“This award is the culmination of several years of hard work by a strong, bi-national government/industry team to protect our warfighters and address a critical capability gap in our armored formations,” said Aaron Hankins, vice president and general manager of the Leonardo DRS Land Systems Division.

Rafael has provided protection solutions to U.S. service members for over two decades via lifesaving passive and reactive armor on vehicles such as Bradley, Stryker and AAV7.

“The majority of Trophy components are manufactured by the American defense industry, and we are excited by the opportunity to increase manufacturing in the U.S., including for Israeli systems, as the U.S. acquires additional systems,” said Moshe Elazar, executive vice president and head of Rafael’s Land and Naval Division.

General Dynamics Land Systems was awarded a contract worth up to $258 million to upgrade 116 Stryker vehicles to the A1 variant.

The Stryker A1 builds upon the combat-proven Double-V Hull (DVH) configuration, providing unprecedented survivability against mines and improvised explosive devices. In addition to the DVH survivability, the Stryker A1 provides a 450-horsepower engine, 60,000-pound suspension, 910-amp alternator and in-vehicle network. The Stryker A1 Infantry Carrier Vehicle is one of the most versatile, most mobile and safest personnel carriers in the entire Army inventory.

The Stryker A1 work will be performed in Lima, Ohio; Anniston, Ala.; Tallahassee, Fla.; and Sterling Heights, with an estimated completion date of March 2020.

By Debbie Gregory.

A recent report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) concluded that the U.S. Army got a good deal on its new Modular Handgun System (MHS), but the actual cost is not really known.

CRS, the public policy research arm of Congress,  provides vital analytical support to address the most complex public policy issues facing the nation.

The Army MHS is a weapon system produced by Sig Sauer that is set to replace the Beretta M9/11 pistol, used by the Army since 1986.

The 10-year, firm-fixed-price, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract has a cap of $580 million. A firm-fixed-price contract provides a unit price that is not subject to any adjustments based on the contractor’s costs in meeting the contract requirements. Indefinite quantity means the Army can order as many or as few units as it requires, up to the $580 million contract cap. To date, the Army has obligated approximately $8 million.

While cost data for the Army contract is not publicly available, the cost of similar weapons, accessories, and ammunition can be found at major firearm sellers. For example, CRS compared the MHS contract to a similar purchase at Cabela’s, a gun retailer mentioned by Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley in a March 10, 2015, address. The comment was in regards to Milley’s frustration with the extended length of time the procurement of the handgun had required.

With that said, based on the final cost of the weapon program, the CRS report concluded that the Army appears to be procuring the weapon at a competitive cost, particularly if the value of the intellectual property is included.

CRS did not examine the capability of the weapon system or whether it fulfilled Army requirements.