Widebody Airborne Sensor Platform (WASP)

Widebody Airborne Sensor Platform (WASP) is an airborne system housed in a modified DC-10. It has ultra high frequency satellite communication and performs target acquisition and tracking. The WASP would be only a test sensor.

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA), in support of the Department of Defense (DoD), requires the operation and maintenance of MDA airborne sensors and platforms used for testing the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) and its elements. Airborne sensor systems currently operated by MDA are the High ALtitude Observatories (HALO-I/II) and Widebody Airborne Sensor Platform (WASP) aircraft.The HALO-I is a Gulfstream IIB aircraft with multiple sensors viewing through optical windows, used for data collection in the visible through long wave IR (LWIR) spectral regions. Three sensor stations accommodate the Infrared Imaging System (IRIS) primary sensor and a mix of user-defined sensors in the remaining two stations known as Alpha and Beta. HALO-II is also a Gulfstream IIB aircraft with a cupola mounted to the top of the fuselage that allows for open port viewing with a multiband sensor system to collect radiometric and photo documentation data in the visible through LWIR spectral regions. HALO-II also allows for optical window viewing by cabin sensors.

WASP is a DC-10 aircraft modified with three pressure vessels to allow open port or closed cabin optical window sensor viewing. WASP will accommodate a Prime Sensor System (PSS) for data collection and guest captive-carry seeker/sensor systems. The WASP PSS is similar in design and capability to the HALO-II primary sensor.

In 2004 MDA completed integration of the Japanese Quantum Well Infrared Photodetector (QWIP) seeker onto Widebody Airborne Sensor Platform (WASP). Quantum Well Infrared Photodetector (QWIP) was originally developed for the Department of Defense's Ballistic Missile Defense Initiative, and declassified in 1997. Quantum Well Infrared Photodetector (QWIP) can focus on the heat from the missile's engine as it takes off or as it flies through space, allowing for better tracking of incoming rockets. QWIP is unique in that it can cover a larger field of view than existing systems and has superior performance in detecting high-speed aerospace objects such as ballistic missiles throughout their flight.

NASA's Quantum Well Infrared Photodetector (QWIP) array, was the world's largest (one million-pixel) infrared array when the project was announced in March 2003. The Army Research Laboratory (ARL), Adelphi, Md., was instrumental in the theory, design, and fabrication of the QWIP array, and L3/Cincinnati Electronics of Mason, Ohio, provided the silicon readout and hybridization. It was a low-cost alternative to conventional infrared detector technology for a wide range of scientific and commercial applications. However, at the time it could only detect a narrow range of infrared colors, equivalent to making a conventional photograph in just black and white. The new QWIP array is the same size but can now sense infrared over a broad range. Infrared light is invisible to the human eye, but some types are generated by and perceived as heat. A conventional infrared detector has a number of cells (pixels) that interact with an incoming particle of infrared light (an infrared photon) and convert it to an electric current that can be measured and recorded. They are similar in principle to the detectors that convert visible light in a digital camera. The more pixels that can be placed on a detector of a given size, the greater the resolution.

Operations and maintenance of all current and future MDA airborne sensor platforms will be required. Support requirements include the planning and execution of all aspects of sensor suite and aircraft operation and maintenance for successful conduct of flight test missions to include, but not limited to, program management support, aircraft support, mission support, data reduction and analysis support, sensor systems engineering support and operations and maintenance, and system improvement and modernization, as required.

The AirBorne Sensor (ABS) Mission Operations program provides airborne electro-optic and infrared sensor capabilities to support MDA and other test activities. L-3 Aeromet is based in Tulsa, OK and manages the ABS program. Support of these programs includes fielding teams to operate aircraft and airborne remote sensor systems (mission support), collecting and reducing data, and developing new remote sensing capabilities. L-3 Aeromet currently [2007] operates two Gulfstream IIB aircraft and Widebody Airborne Sensor Platform (WASP) for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

On April 29, 2002 Aeromet, Inc., Tulsa, Okla., was awarded a $3,000,000 increment as part of a $18,700,000 cost-plus incentive-fee and cost-plus award-fee contract for Widebody Airborne Sensor Platform (WASP), Prime Sensor System (PSS) Development, Installation, Validation and Operation. Work will be performed in Tulsa, and is to be completed by July 26, 2003 (Basic) and April 26, 2005 (Options). Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This is a sole source contract initiated on Feb. 11, 2002. The U. S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Huntsville, Ala., is the contracting activity (DASG60-02-C-0011).

MDA developed and operated the Widebody Airborne Sensor Platform (WASP) as a test asset supporting missile defense flight tests by performing optical data collection and hosting guest sensors in a captive carry configuration. The WASP is a DC-10 aircraft modified for open air sensor viewing, and includes a primary sensor system (PSS) for radiometrically calibrated data collection. The PSS is similar to MDA's High Altitude Observatory-II (HALO-II) sensor.

The Widebody Airborne Sensor Platform Aerowindow is the largest open port cavity to have ever flown. The door opening measures 135 inches in length. The structural opening is over 180 inches in length. Behind the Aerowindow is a large un-pressurized room. This room is pre-cooled so that when the door is opened there is minimal thermal shock. The DC-10-10 was modified within a fail-safe philosophy. In order to minimize the potential of a structural failure which could result in an instantaneous catastrophic condition the DC-10-10 design requires that the adjoining belt frames be designed to support a failed belt frame such that the overall integrity of the modification will be maintained without any deleterious effect on the aircraft.

The WASP was removed from service for an indeterminate time period due to airworthiness issues. A Sources Sought notice for the WASP restoration effort was published on May 10, 2006 by L-3 Communications/Integrated Systems in conjunction with the Missile Defense Agency.

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announced in December 2006 that it intended to award a sole source Firm Fixed Price (FFP) contract to Raytheon Technical Services Company (RTSC), LLC located in Van Nuys, CA. RTSC will inspect MDA's DC-10 aircraft used for airborne data collection and hosting guest sensors, known as the Wide Body Airborne Sensor Platform (WASP), and assess modifications needed for return to service. RTSC's tasks will include, but will not be limited to, finite element modeling and analysis, addressing known deficiency reports (DRs), durability assessment and damage tolerance (DADT) analysis, and testing as required, in consultation with designated Government technical experts. All analysis, assessments, and testing will be formally documented and provided to the Government for final determination on WASP return to service.

On May 21, 2007 MDA solicited options for a replacement or at least partial replacement of the WASP capability. MDA requires an airborne platform for open air optical data collection at missile defense flight tests. Both manned and unmanned aircraft options will be considered. For the radiometrically calibrated data collection mission, MDA's PSS sensor is available, or the contractor may propose an alternative primary sensor however the alternate sensor must meet or exceed the PSS sensor performance. For the captive carry mission, the platform must have the ability to add or interchange guest sensors in a common configuration. The contractor will propose, and the contractor and government will jointly establish, the common configuration. The contractor performing the platform development activity will operate (provide mission support) and maintain the platform and data collection primary sensor (if included on the platform). More than one platform may be considered depending on technical and programmatic considerations.

Top-level technical requirements:

1. Possess the payload flexibility (weight, volume, power, thermal, environmental, communications, etc.) to accommodate the primary sensor and/or guest sensor(s) with open port viewing.

2. Support MDA flight tests and events of interest at locations from the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean) with the corresponding deployment/logistics limitations, and communications requirements.

3. Operate the aircraft at or above 40,000 feet altitude for data collection events for a minimum time of 4 hours.

4. Operate the aircraft with an endurance of at least 6 hours.

5. Provide real-time mission communications to uplink and downlink trajectory tracks and reference times, and downlink sensor imagery (images and video (256 kb/s minimum bandwidth)) over the entire operational range of MDA test events.

6. Designed for a minimum of 10 years operational life (700 maximum endurance flights).

Should this request for information result in a request for proposal, potential offerors will have access via FedTeds to all MDA airborne test data, information, and documentation on the following MDA developed test assets for use in their evaluation/solution: the High Altitude Observatory (HALO) I & II test assets and the Widebody Airborne Sensor Platform (WASP). All interface control documents (ICD) for the government furnished equipment (GFE) sensors will also be provided. Offerors should be registered on FedTeds ( for document access. Potential offerors must be willing and able to work/interface with foreign nationals as directed by the MDA.

Respondents should submit a white paper of a maximum of 25 pages that provides the following information:

1. Company name, address, point of contact, phone number, e-mail address. Company must certify that it is a U.S. business.

2. Technical approach(es) to meeting MDA's test needs for an airborne optical sensor platform

3. Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM ) Cost

4. Estimated schedule, with major milestones highlighted, for platform development

5. Technical, schedule, and cost risk assessments

In December 2007 the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) thanked industry for its submissions in response to the MDA request for information for the provision of a new Airborne Sensor Platform for open air optical data collection to replace the Widebody Airborne Sensor Platform (WASP) test asset. The MDA elected to repair the WASP test asset.

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announced [HQ0006-08-C-0009] Nov 29, 2007 that it intends to award a sole source contract to Raytheon Technical Services Company (RTSC), LLC located in Van Nuys, CA for the repair of MDA's extensively modified DC-10 aircraft used for airborne data collection and hosting guest sensors, known as the Widebody Airborne Sensor Platform (WASP). RTSC's tasks shall include WASP airworthiness modifications (Firm Fixed Price (FFP)), aircraft maintenance activities (FFP), and flight testing and system adjustments to ensure full operating capability (Cost Plus Fixed Fee). The anticipated award date for this contract is 29 February 2008, to meet the Government need date of 2nd Quarter Fiscal Year 2009. The estimated contract value is $30M. The estimated period of performance is 9 months for airworthiness modifications and routine heavy maintenance, and 18 months for flight testing and airworthiness certification, for a total of 27 months. The contractor shall determine the contract place of performance.

The service is being considered for sole source based upon FAR 6.302-1(a)(2), which states that "Supplies may be deemed to be available only from the original source in the case of a follow-on when it is likely that award to any other source would result in substantial duplication of cost not expected to be recovered through competition or unacceptable delays in fulfilling agency requirements." RTSC is the original modifier of the WASP, and has extensive knowledge and information on the aircraft modifications. The Government had previously issued a sole source contract to RTSC for a WASP return to service analysis. Based on the prior work already completed by RTSC, the use of any other contractor for the repair would require substantial duplication of cost and effort to gather comparable knowledge of the plane and its airworthiness issues that is not likely to be offset by competition.

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