AF awards $486M training pact

The Air Force this month awarded contracts to five vendors under a $486 million program that will provide the Air Force and the Defense Department with training and simulation applications.

Under the the Training Systems Acquisition (TSA) contracts program, the Aeronautical Systems Center (ASC) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio awarded indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts to Lockheed Martin Corp., McDonnell Douglas Corp., Raytheon Training Inc., Camber Corp. and INTELX Corp.

Col. Ellen Pawlikowski, chief of the Revolutionary Training Division at ASC, said the Air Force awarded the new contract to improve the way ASC does business and to do so with fewer people. TSA will allow the Air Force to rely on a defined set of five vendors "to get everything we need— soup to nuts," she said.

The purpose of the TSA contract vehicle is to streamline Air Force training and simulation system acquisition and improve overall customer support by relying on multiple IDIQ omnibus contracts to shorten the time it takes to deliver training systems and services, according to contract documents.

"TSA is the cornerstone of the [Training Systems Product Group] business strategy and is the primary contracting vehicle for training system needs," according to a concept paper published by the TSPG, an organization responsible for managing the acquisition process of training and simulation systems for the Air Force.

TSA contracts will provide the Air Force, DOD and various foreign military sales initiatives with training and simulation system design, development, testing and upgrade services as well as contractor logistics support, computer-based training and courseware development, software development and various classroom training aid devices.

The Air Force sent business contact teams out to each vendor during source selection to get a detailed briefing on how the vendor planned to address the contract requirements and what its specific capabilities were, according to Pawlikowski. "We wanted to be assured that we had capable contractors on the contract," she said.

This contract "allows the Air Force to move the work out to us quickly to meet their urgent needs," said Jim Keeler, flight training program director for Lockheed Martin Information Systems. Although TSA is a more traditional contractual agreement, the fewer number of vendors and the fact that they all are pre-qualified to do the work called for by the contract will cut down on the time it takes to task each vendor, he said.

The Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin Information Systems $99.9 million under the contract. Although no work has started, the company is working with the Air Force to detail what the pipeline of work will look like, Keeler said. Camber Corp. and INTELX Corp. were the only small businesses included under the TSA contract. Although companies such as Lockheed Martin, McDonnell Douglas and Raytheon are large enough to handle the contract's gamut of requirements, Camber and INTELX bring more specialized skills.

According to Walter Batson, president of Camber, the TSA contract will "allow us to do anything that falls in the area of training. [However, we're particularly good at cutting the cord between real-world sensor systems and building simulators and training systems for the desktop," he said.

Camber builds training systems and flight simulators and specializes in creating desktop training systems for sensor platforms, such as radar sensors. Science Applications International Corp. and FlightSafety International Inc. are subcontractors on the Camber team.

"We can do a lot of the smaller but more difficult tasks" that may be required under the contract, Batson said. Because Camber is smaller, it also can be very effective and cost-competitive in what it does, he said.

INTELX won $99 million worth of work under the contract. The company specializes in the development and integration of high-fidelity training and simulation systems used by air crews, aircraft navigators and maintenance personnel. For the TSA contract, INTELX is teamed with Boeing Co., Computer Sciences Corp., Litton-TASC, MultiGen Inc. and others.

INTELX, McDonnell Douglas and Raytheon could not be reached for comment.

To date, the Air Force has set up a World Wide Web page for posting contract task orders. According to Pawlikowski, some of the first tasks could include a recompete for a C-17 air crew training system, various B-1 bomber training systems and contractor logistics support work.

The TSA contract could cut contract lead times by 30 to 50 percent, Pawlikowski said. However, the real benefits of the contract have to do with readiness, she said. "The more training we can do on the ground, the less wear and tear on the planes," she said.

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