WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force’s decision to delay until 2014 the awarding of a multibillion-dollar contract to support the nation’s two main launch ranges was made to buy time for setting aside a portion of the work for small businesses, according to service’s main space procurement shop.
Proposals for the Launch and Test Range System Integrated Support Contract (LISC) — a 10-year deal that consolidates three contracts currently supporting the Air Force’s launch ranges at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. — were due in May. At least four industry teams are believed to have bid for the main contract, potentially valued at $2.5 billion to $3 billion.
Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, commander of the Air Force Space and Missile Center (SMC), said in September the service now plans to award the LISC contract in the second quarter of 2014. SMC spokeswoman Alicia Garges, in an Oct. 3 response to questions from SpaceNews, said the LISC award was delayed into 2014 by a combination of factors, including the sequester-driven furloughs of Defense Department civilian employees earlier this year and the time it took to break out a portion of the LISC work into a separate so-called Range Operations Support (ROS) contract intended for small businesses.
The Air Force issued a final draft solicitation for the ROS contract Sept. 27 and expects to make an award in March 2014, Garges said. Representatives from 18 small businesses attended an ROS industry day this past March at the Air Force’s Antigua Air Station, a small Caribbean base that provides ground support for launches from the Eastern Range. Charts the Air Force released mid-July outlined a final request for proposals coming out in September with bids due in October and an ROS contract award by March. But as of Nov. 6, the Air Force was still answering questions from potential bidders about the draft solicitation.
Meanwhile, the four teams believed to have bid for the LISC contract are:
- Consolidated Range Enterprise, whose members include Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Solutions of Gaithersburg, Md.; InDyne Corp. of Reston, Va.; and URS Corp. of San Francisco.
- InSpace21, whose members include PAE of Arlington, Va., and Honeywell Corp. of Morristown, N.J.
- Raytheon Intelligence Information and Services of Dulles, Va., which is leading a team that includes General Dynamics of Falls Church, Va.; ASRC Aerospace Corp. of Greenbelt, Md.; ARES Corp. of Burlingame, Calif.; Schafer Corp. of Arlington, Va.; and Primus Solutions of Greenbelt.
- ITT Exelis Information Systems of McLean, Va., which is bidding with BAE Systems of Arlington, Va., and L-3 Communications of New York.
The LISC prime contractor “will be responsible and accountable for integrated (launch and test range support) operations, organizational and depot level maintenance, logistics management, and sustaining engineering,” Garges said.
In order to keep Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg launch operations up and running until the LISC and ROS contracts are fully phased in starting next year, the Air Force has begun extending several existing launch range support contracts. Currently, a team of Raytheon and PAE supports Cape Canaveral; InDyne supports Vandenberg; and Exelis provides sustainment at both sites.
On Oct. 31, Exelis Systems Corp. received a $23 million contract modification to continue providing launch and test range support for the Eastern Range and Western Range through January. The Air Force also announced in October that it plans to extend InDyne’s Vandenberg support contract through March 2015.