The U.S. military is looking to fill its unmanned aircraft personnel shortage. On Jan 9th, 2018 the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), announced a proposed deal with drone maker General Atomics to fly its MQ-9 Reapers in Afghanistan. The contractor operated drones would add a surge of persistent surveillance for Task Force Southwest operating in the Helmand province.
The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), NAS Patuxent River, MD, intends to negotiate and award contract actions to General Atomics – Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), Poway, CA (Cage Code 0YJB5) for up to twelve (12) months of Group 5 Unmanned Air System (UAS) / MQ-9 Reaper UAS Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) surge support for Task Force Southwest (TFSW) operations in the U.S Central Command (CENTCOM) Area of Operations (AOR) during FY18-FY19.
The U.S. Government has existing Air Force MQ-9 Reaper squadrons providing ISR support to TFSW ground forces in the CENTCOM AOR. This procurement is to augment the existing ISR capabilities with requirements to provide Group 5 UAS ISR services for TFSW and USMC ground forces using contractor owned /contractor operated (CO/CO) MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Air Systems.
GA-ASI shall be responsible for transportation, operations, and maintenance activities in support of an Orbit capability of 16 hours x 7 days with surge to 24 hours x 1 day under a split operations approach with GA-ASI pilots and sensor operations in CONUS and GA-ASI Launch and Recovery crew and maintainers OCONUS. GA-GSI Group 5 UAS must include high resolution radar, multi-spectral imaging sensors, Line of Sight (LOS) and Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) communications and able to utilize the USAF Remote Split Operations (RSO) communications architecture for CONUS and OCONUS operations. GA-ASI shall also provide operations center elements CONUS and the integration of ISR products with the CENTCOM TFSW ground forces and USMC Joint Processing Exploitation and Dissemination (JPED) organizations.
The proposed contract action(s) are those for which the Government intends to solicit and negotiate with only one source under the authority of 10 U.S.C.2304(c)(1) and FAR 6.302-1, “Only One Responsible Source and No Other Type of Supplies or Services will Satisfy Agency Requirements.”
These contract efforts are in support of the TFSW/USMC Urgent Universal Need Statement (UUNS) #1722IUB, Task Force Southwest ISR Requirement – Group 5.
Only a GA-ASI provided MQ-9 UAS with its ground components can integrate seamlessly at the deployed location thus ensuring the following: a) certified interoperability with existing classified communications systems (both USAF and USMC ground force communication exchanges), b) spectrum compliance with other MQ-9 ongoing operations, c) compliance with JPED toolsets already being used with MQ-9 for multi-organization analysis d) compliance with base infrastructure optimized for MQ-9 UAS operations, e) have capital assets available for immediate deployment, f) have existing DoD Flight Clearance for CONUS and OCONUS operations, and g) meet the in-country date of March 2018.
Delaying the procurement to develop an alternative source for this urgent ISR surge is impractical and would prevent meeting the schedule requirements of the TFSW UUNS.