Get Familiar

The Air Force earlier this week issued the request for proposal for the source familiarization phase of the C-130 avionics modernization program, the major initiative underway to upgrade the cockpits of 221 H-model C-130 transports. Source familiarization will occur during the AMP’s low-rate production stage. It’s designed to improve competition for the AMP full-rate production phase by giving prospective bidders exposure to the upgrade work as well as “hands-on” experience in installing the new communications and navigations systems and digital cockpit displays that these C-130Hs are getting, the Air Force said. Boeing is currently the lead contractor for AMP. During LRIP, the Air Force plans to procure AMP upgrade kits for 26 C-130Hs. Boeing will build them, but will not install all of them. Instead the Boeing is to install 11 kits, with another to be installed by Air Force depot technicians, and the final four kits are to be split between two competitively chosen contractors. USAF expects to award the two source familiarization contracts around August 2009. The service currently is waiting on the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s blessing for the AMP to enter low-rate production. A program review led by Pentagon acquisition czar John Young was scrubbed last week and has been rescheduled for mid-November. We asked the Air Force if Boeing is eligible to compete for one of the source familiarization slots, thereby giving it the right to install 13 kits vice 11 during LRIP. Service spokesman Vicki Stein said, in response, the source familiarization phase will entail “full and open competition in accordance with the Competition in Contracting Act.” We take that as a “yes.” Asked if Boeing would go after the rights to install two more kits, company spokeswoman Jennifer Hogan said “Boeing has not made a decision yet.”