THE US Army awarded two contracts on September 17, for continued support of two airborne counter-improvised explosive device (IED) sensor systems that have been in use in Afghanistan for some time. The first was a $179,585,058 firm-fixed-price, non-option-eligible, non-multi-year contract awarded to Science Applications International of McLean, Virginia. This deal will support the Saturn Arch programme and provides for continued operations, sustainment and integration of aircraft platforms configured to host a suite of sensors deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In addition to work in the USA, some of the contract work will be undertaken in Djibouti and Afghanistan.
The second contract was a $62,337,287 firm-fixed-price, non-option-eligible, non-multi-year contract awarded to SRI International of Menlo Park, California, in support of the Desert Owl programme. It also provides for continued operations, sustainment and integration of aircraft platforms configured to host a suite of sensors deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Work will be undertaken at various locations in the USA and in Afghanistan. Both contracts are financed by US Army Fiscal Year 2013 funding.
Both the Desert Owl and Saturn Arch programmes use airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) sensors, fitted to a variety of aircraft, to identify and assist with the removal of IEDs from the battlefield in Afghanistan. The US Army’s Task Force Observe Detect Identify Neutralize-Enhanced (TF ODIN-E) at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, controls these programmes, along with a third counter-IED effort, Radiant Falcon. The aircraft themselves and their sensor systems are operated by civilian defence companies working under contract to the US Army.
US Army contract documents from last year confirmed that eight Saturn Arch systems were at that time deployed in Afghanistan on modified Beech King Air airframes, while there were three Desert Owl systems deployed, also on modified King Airs. Just one Radiant Falcon system was in use in Afghanistan, mounted on a Dash 8 airframe. Alan Warnes