U.S. Air Force Contract To Consolidate Launch Range Work

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force will soon begin a competition to find a new contractor team to operate, maintain and upgrade its launch ranges on the East and West coasts, work that is expected to be worth $3 billion over 10 years.

The Air Force currently administers three separate launch range contracts: one for operations at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.; one for operations at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Kennedy Space Center, Fla.; and one for heavy maintenance and repair work at both sites.

The service in August will issue a draft request for proposals for the new Launch Integrated Support Contract (LISC) that will consolidate all of the launch range operations and maintenance work in an effort to increase efficiencies and reduce total cost over time. A final request for proposals will be released in November, and a contract award is expected in the second half of 2011, according to an April 30 posting on the Federal Business Opportunities website.

The contract will be worth at least $300 million a year for 10 years and possibly require up to 20 percent of the work be done by small businesses, according to documents accompanying the Air Force posting. The industry team chosen for the LISC contract will be responsible for all range maintenance and logistics as well as operation of the 12 range subsystems: command destruct, communications, data handling, range safety, optics, planning and scheduling, radar, surveillance, timing and sequencing, telemetry, weather, and modeling and simulation.

Computer Sciences Raytheon, a joint venture of Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) and Raytheon Technical Services, has operated the Eastern Range for the Air Force since 1988, but will not compete for the new contract, Mike Maier, vice president of the joint venture, said in a June 22 interview. Computer Sciences Raytheon’s contract is worth around $80 million a year.

Falls Church, Va.-based CSC and Honeywell Corp. of Morristown, N.J., will partner in a joint venture called InSpace 21 LLC to pursue the LISC contract, the companies announced June 21. Honeywell currently operates and manages NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island, Va., and also performs technical services at the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska and various Defense Department test ranges.

CSC’s decision to not continue the teaming arrangement with Raytheon was based on the increased scope of requirements that the LISC contractor team will be responsible for, said Maier, who will be program manager of InSpace 21.

“The Air Force is looking for a different approach, more innovation and a new way of doing business,” Maier said. “When we looked around and saw all of the possible companies to align ourselves with, we felt that going with Honeywell would give us a much stronger team for this particular contract and its new requirements.”

Reston, Va.-based Raytheon Technical Services will consider bidding for the LISC contract but will not reveal any potential teaming arrangements at this time, company spokeswoman Amy Smith said June 23.

ITT Corp. of White Plains, N.Y., also intends to compete for the contract. ITT operated the Western Range from 1959 to 2003, and for the last 10 years has been working under a $1.3 billion contract to perform heavy maintenance and repair work at both of the Air Force’s launch ranges. ITT’s maintenance and repair contract was set to expire in October, but the Air Force modified it in May with options to extend it by as long as three years until the LISC contract is in place.

ITT spokesman B.J. Talley would not reveal whether the company would compete as prime contractor or who it might team with.

“We are in the process of finalizing all of the agreements and are planning to announce all of the members in the very near future,” Talley said in an e-mailed response to questions. “We are confident that the team will provide an exceptional capability and value to the customer for LISC.”

InDyne of Reston, Va., a small business, has been operating the Air Force’s Western Range since 2003 in partnership with Northrop Grumman Technical Services of Herndon, Va. The Western Range operations contract is worth around $55 million a year and expires in September 2011, government documents show.

InDyne President Donald Bishop and Vice President of Business Development David Scott did not respond by press time to questions regarding the LISC competition. Northrop Grumman intends to compete as a prime contractor for LISC but will not announce its team members at this time, company spokeswoman Leah Smith said June 25.