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Subject: German bidder holds fire on guns
hairy man    6/23/2009 7:26:05 PM
From "The Australian" THE army's $450 million plan to acquire new 155mm self-propelled guns faces a one-year delay because of the complexity of the Defence Materiel Organisation's tender process. The revelation comes as one of the two contenders to supply the artillery declined to participate in the final tender negotiation with the DMO. German firm Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, whose PzH 2000 gun was favoured to win the contest to supply up to 18 guns to the army, has declined to participate in the offer definition and refinement process with the organisation. KMW is competing against Raytheon Australia, which is teamed with Korean manufacturer Samsung Techwin, which is offering the AS-9 gun. Senior government sources told The Australian yesterday that neither tender had fully met the DMO's tough contractual requirements. Only the Raytheon consortium has chosen to continue negotiations with the DMO. According to informed sources KMW has cited problems with intellectual property as well as a requirement for more equitable risk-sharing with the commonwealth in its decision not to participate in the offer definition and refinement process. Raytheon is now pushing hard for an early decision but the KMW tender offer will remain on the table and valid until next April. Last month DMO chief Stephen Gumley told a Senate estimates committee there were a number of "technical issues" that had to be resolved before a decision could be made on a preferred tenderer. The German firm, which is partnered with BAE Systems Australia, has offered brand new surplus Dutch army guns as part of its tender in the Land 17 project. The PzH 2000 gun is in service with the Dutch military in Oruzgan province in Afghanistan and has impressed the Australian army with its all-round capability. A final decision on Land 17, the project that will have the army equipped with both self-propelled and towed artillery, was expected by mid-2009. The Rudd government's defence white paper, published last month, called for the acquisition of two batteries of self-propelled guns (a total of 12 guns) and four batteries of towed guns. The Defence Department hopes to wrap up a decision on the towed artillery later this year, with the M777 howitzer, built in the US by BAE Systems, expected to be chosen.
 
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Volkodav       6/27/2009 2:55:45 AM
I have regular contact with some very good and also some very ordinary individuals in defence. One common factor I have noticed between the uniforms and the suits is that the higher up the ladder they go the less they care about doing the job right and the more concerned they become with the politics of empire building and defending.
 
This a cultural issue that wastes resources at a greater rate than probably anything else. A common example is tribalism, with the head of one group or division targeting and attempting to bring down the head of another area in the same organisation. The worst I have, seen is one guy professionally assassinating and forcing out the bloke who replaced him after he had moved on into a better job. The ammunition he used to take out the new bloke being the fact that some of the legacy initiatives the old guy / assassin implemented during his tenure had been proven to be inefficient or dysfunctional. i.e. the bloke trying to fix the stuff ups of his predecessor, earns his predecessors ire for doing so and is persecuted for how things were before he fixed them.
 
This also happens in private enterprise, becoming more common as the company increases in size, but is also far more likely to backfire as private owners / investors are far less tolerant of having their money wasted than politicians are of seeing tax payers money go down the drain.
 
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gf0012-aust       6/27/2009 3:11:07 AM
and push back with multiple hoops for them to jump through when making purchases.
the problem is that DMO are bound by Govt process - they don't make the rules, they have to work within the ones defined by the Minister, and in some instances in the recent past - the Ministers whim, the "pretend" Defence Ministers whim, or Cabinets decision, or even an NSC restriction.

All of these projects that go into delay require Ministerial imprimatur, all of them are subject to veto by various stakeholders (some who have a latent distrust of uniforms)

It's a complex beast, but blaming any one Division in Defence for a procurement delay is palpably wrong.

We work under whats referred to as the Kinnaird Process - thats a Govt mandated process, its got nothing to do with DMO, CDG, ADF, CIOG etc etc....  When we do a rapid acquisition to bypass and accelerate procurement then we get variations of the same problem.  eg everyone is "happy happy joy joy" about the C-17s, but they've caused their own headaches because they weren't done appropriately either.  Ditto for the fat ships. 
 
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neutralizer       6/28/2009 4:32:59 AM

Similarily I dont see it as being a Fire Control Integrating issue between the PzH and the Raytheon AFATDS.  That type of message traffic is standardised or so I thought? 

I can see it as a problem, I can also understand the PzH2000 design authority being completely unwilling to pay.  
 
You thought wrong, standardisation (eg STANAG 5620) deals with messages going into the BCP/FDC from observers, etc.  STANAG 5620 was a subset of some 52 TACFIRE messages (out of 250 odd I believe).  I assume AFATDS uses Variable Message Format which is bit orented not TACFIRE character oriented (COM) (like ADFORMS), but that its message set is generally the same content wise as TACFIRE for lots of obvious reasons.
 
The problem here is messages between guns and BCP, this is a national matter.  MLRS SPLL provides an example.  Its computer has an external message set using a COM type syntax, but its actual message set is unique.  I think the Germans built a special battery level C2 system for MLRS but UK built a electronic box which sits between the radio and computer in each SPLL and converts between MLRS format and whatever they us in the BCP (originally BATES, but presumabkle now upgrading to FC-BISA).  It's possible that PzH2000 works directly to ADLER (that would be an obvious approach, but Dutch use is a complicator), and my understanding is that ADLER started with a clean sheet of paper and did not even try to use 5620 messages internally. 
 
So what sort of messages are we talking about? Firing data (ammo type, charge, fuze type & option, bearing, elevation, fuze setting) are an obvious start.   Then there's set-up info from the gun such as coords, charge temp, regular data transfers from the MV radar.  That's all fairly straightforward and contentwise flows from the NABK i/o requirements in AFATDS, so building a conversion engine should be fairly easy but there's still the question of where it sits, in the gun or in the BCP, and do you modify AFATDS or the gun computer software or build a new box?  Not forgetting we're probably talking safety critical here ($$).  But you might also want non gunnery data messages sent to the gun (eg movement orders, sitreps and other network centric stuff) and the gun may report other stuff (eg ammo load, fuel state) which gets you into issues about what do you change/add to present/store what info where.
 
Ah the joys of interoperability of mil computer systems!  Notably difficult to retrofit if you were unable to specify detailed requirements in the RFTs and end up with two systems and no design control over either.  There's only one solution to this taxpayer $$$$$ and time.
 
 
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Aussiegunneragain    GF   6/28/2009 9:19:07 AM

and push back with multiple hoops for them to jump through when making purchases.


the problem is that DMO are bound by Govt process - they don't make the rules, they have to work within the ones defined by the Minister, and in some instances in the recent past - the Ministers whim, the "pretend" Defence Ministers whim, or Cabinets decision, or even an NSC restriction.

All of these projects that go into delay require Ministerial imprimatur, all of them are subject to veto by various stakeholders (some who have a latent distrust of uniforms)

It's a complex beast, but blaming any one Division in Defence for a procurement delay is palpably wrong.

We work under whats referred to as the Kinnaird Process - thats a Govt mandated process, its got nothing to do with DMO, CDG, ADF, CIOG etc etc....  When we do a rapid acquisition to bypass and accelerate procurement then we get variations of the same problem.  eg everyone is "happy happy joy joy" about the C-17s, but they've caused their own headaches because they weren't done appropriately either.  Ditto for the fat ships. 


Ministerial responsibility is important but you can't deny that Defence (civilian and the ADF) has some unique cultural issues that make it a particular challenge for Ministers to deal with. They have gone through Defence Minister every two years for over a decade largely for that reason. The Ministers have to be able to rely on their Department for advice to make those rules and if the Ministers are looking outside for advice that reflects poorly on Defence. At the end of the day people in the Department are paid pretty good taxpayer funded incomes to conduct themselves professionally in the interests of those taxpayers. If the Departments activities remain problematic just blaming the Minister isn't on as far as this taxpayer is concerned.
 
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Aussiegunneragain    Volkodav   6/28/2009 9:29:24 AM
I have regular contact with some very good and also some very ordinary individuals in defence. One common factor I have noticed between the uniforms and the suits is that the higher up the ladder they go the less they care about doing the job right and the more concerned they become with the politics of empire building and defending.
 
Sad but true throughout the Government. Unfortunately "playing the game" is a fact of life for senior personel but there are too many that manage to sell themselves out  completely, if they ever gave a damn.  

This a cultural issue that wastes resources at a greater rate than probably anything else. A common example is tribalism, with the head of one group or division targeting and attempting to bring down the head of another area in the same organisation. The worst I have, seen is one guy professionally assassinating and forcing out the bloke who replaced him after he had moved on into a better job. The ammunition he used to take out the new bloke being the fact that some of the legacy initiatives the old guy / assassin implemented during his tenure had been proven to be inefficient or dysfunctional. i.e. the bloke trying to fix the stuff ups of his predecessor, earns his predecessors ire for doing so and is persecuted for how things were before he fixed them.
 
This also happens in private enterprise, becoming more common as the company increases in size, but is also far more likely to backfire as private owners / investors are far less tolerant of having their money wasted than politicians are of seeing tax payers money go down the drain.
 
Which is why small government is good government. Unfortunately its not much of an option in Defence.
 
 
 
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gf0012-aust       6/28/2009 5:19:05 PM

Ministerial responsibility is important but you can't deny that Defence (civilian and the ADF) has some unique cultural issues that make it a particular challenge for Ministers to deal with. They have gone through Defence Minister every two years for over a decade largely for that reason. The Ministers have to be able to rely on their Department for advice to make those rules and if the Ministers are looking outside for advice that reflects poorly on Defence. At the end of the day people in the Department are paid pretty good taxpayer funded incomes to conduct themselves professionally in the interests of those taxpayers. If the Departments activities remain problematic just blaming the Minister isn't on as far as this taxpayer is concerned.

two of the biggest "successes" of the ADF were using bypassed processes on ministerial influence - against advice.  both those programs are already biting us on the arse due to being imposed at speed. (C17 being the classic feel good for biggles set, but when you drill into it, there's a nightmare in the wings).  ditto for fat ships, ditto for abrams.

the white paper went back to the crown 5-6 times, becuase it didn't suit some.

this govt is probably worse than the last - they're not interested in hearing any view of the world that doesn't subscribe to their view - any public servant (less so for unifornms) that doesn't conform to the way that they think has a CLM already made up in the top draw.

unfort, frank robust input by a PS that can offer unpolluted counsel doesn't exist.  esp in the current climate.  an example of this is the education portfolio where schools are getting buildings that they don't need just so that the govt can carry a cheerleading event for stimulating the economy.  a $3m dollar hall (worse case) buys a lot of teching time, buys a lot of electronic facilities, buys books, buys equipment etc....  esp when the school has expressly stated that they don't need another hall.

in the case of defence, C-17's were impressed too rapidly, and so were the fat ships - both are embarassing when you know what was not implemented as part of what would have been picked  up by the operators and normal review process.  Can the review times be improved - of course, everyone I know of in defence and industry wants reform, but accerated programs that have ministerial intervention and bypass critical steps are a recipe in taxpayer grief - and we've got a few coming in 10-12 years time.  At the point, a Lib govt will be happily excoriating their predecessors about how C17's, subs, AWD, Tanks, JSF were stuffed by ministerial processes that sidestepped the approp checks

 
 
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neutralizer       6/29/2009 6:29:36 AM
In the case of networking PzH2000 I'd suggest there aren't any easy targets to blame, apart from the shopping queue approach to defence procurement, where if you take a step back you lose your place and bag of gold.
 
The problem here is the scheduling of interdependent projects and being unable to specify key requirements.  In this case the AFATDS decision was made after RFTs, etc were issued for guns.  This meant the requirements for the data interface between guns and BCP couldn't be specified in any meaningful way, and I wouldn't be surprised if there was no adequate budget provision to deal with it.  The low cost solution would be to put an AFATDS terminal of some sort in each gun and manually re-key data between the gun's system and AFATDS.  Not quite the sort of 'network centric' that Russll Offices seems to aspire to.  The second cheapest needs luck (and I'd assess it at about p=0.15), that the Germans had the wit to use MLRS type i/o for the outwards facing interface of the gun computer.  This being the case UK has recently accepted a new box, that I assume supports VMF message sytax, to provide the interface onboard MLRS and COBRA which should do the job with a new set of message conversion rules.
 
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Volkodav       6/29/2009 7:52:41 AM
Saw a story suggesting that not only was the US looking at arming the AC-27 with an M-777 155mm howitzer but that it would be a good fit for Australia instead of the SPG's!!!!
 
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StevoJH       6/29/2009 10:59:27 AM

Saw a story suggesting that not only was the US looking at arming the AC-27 with an M-777 155mm howitzer but that it would be a good fit for Australia instead of the SPG's!!!!

Oh well, if it fires through the cargo ramp the aircraft might go faster. On the other hand, the recoil could send it through the roof of the aircraft.
 
Sounds like fun.
 
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Volkodav       6/30/2009 5:14:26 AM



Saw a story suggesting that not only was the US looking at arming the AC-27 with an M-777 155mm howitzer but that it would be a good fit for Australia instead of the SPG's!!!!





Oh well, if it fires through the cargo ramp the aircraft might go faster. On the other hand, the recoil could send it through the roof of the aircraft.

 

Sounds like fun.



Same story just popped up in DIAR, I checked the date to ensure it wasn't April 1, but it appears genuine!
 
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