Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Aviation Week & Space Technology August 01, 2011

The U.S. Army's new intelligence-collection aircraft program has reemerged from a gauntlet of protests only to be confronted with suggestions to fold it into a similar Air Force project. After nearly nine months of complaints about selecting Boeing to build the fleet of Enhanced Medium-Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (Emarss) aircraft, the Army finally directed the company to restart work on the contract. But a proposal on Capitol Hill calls for the U.S. Air Force to transfer MC-12W Project Liberty aircraft, similar in design to Emarss, to the Army. Industry officials suggest that if the transfer occurs, the Army would be hard-pressed to buy a new fleet, as modifications could be made to the MC-12W instead to handle the Emarss mission. Boeing won the $323 million development contract for Emarss in late November over bids from Northrop Grumman, L-3 Communications and a Lockheed Martin/Sierra Nevada team. Raytheon and SAIC were eliminated earlier. The win was somewhat unexpected by onlookers because Northrop conducted legacy work on the Guardrail fleet and L-3, the prime contractor for Project Liberty, had recent experience in this area.