Air Force to Begin Open Skies Sensor Suite Sustainment in 2020

An OC-135B Observation Aircraft from the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron, at Offutt AFB, Neb., sits on the flight line Jan. 16 at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. The crew landed at Wright-Patterson to offload the 10,000 ft. of film taken of Haiti to be developed and used to document the devastation caused after a 7.0 earthquake occurred Jan. 12.

The Air Force plans to work with Northrop Grumman [NOC] to perform sensor suite sustainment on the service’s two OC-135B Open Skies reconnaissance aircraft beginning in 2020, according to an April 10 pre-solicitation.

The service intends to release the solicitation April 25 and award a contract by Jan. 1, 2020, according to the presolicitation on FedBizOpps. The contract would be a firm fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed fee, and cost reimbursement, non-commercial contract and will “solicit for the procurement of maintenance and support of the current sensor systems and airborne equipment on two OC-135B Aircraft.”

The sustainment program will allow the Air Force to continue using the aging Boeing-built modified WC-135 Constant Phoenix aircraft until two replacement aircraft can be fielded by 2022. A draft request for proposals was released in March, and an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract award worth up to $648 million is expected in February 2020.

The total recap program includes procurement of two commercial-derivative aircraft and Digital Visual Imaging System kits, design and development for mission system integration (structural design, interphone communications systems, flight deck avionics, and Digital Visual Imaging System hardware), test, and FAA and Open Skies Treaty certification activities over a planned 24-month period, according to the Air Force’s FY ’20 budget justification documents.

The service identified $125 million for the first aircraft across the five-year future years defense program (FYDP). The second aircraft is incrementally funded across the FYDP, the Air Force has said.

This article was first published in Defense Daily, a sister publication to Avionics International. Become a Defense Daily subscriber by clicking here.

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