A New Market Area... Space (Continued)
Continued from PART TWO...........
During this same general timeframe, Bendix Systems Division won the contract for the ADVENT satellite communications system while Bendix Radio won the MRC-98 Troposcatter System, the Syncom Ground Terminals and the Space Track Radar AN/FPS-85 contracts. Again, Field Engineering played a vital role in each of these programs by providing the support services required.
In addition to requirements for support of programs such as these, the vibrant young Bendix Field Engineering Corporation faced a very tough test in its first six months of existence. The Project Mercury operations and maintenance contract was up for rebid and after spirited competition, BFEC was selected the winner. This contract was unique for it was the first "Award Fee Contract" for services. This award pioneered and set the example for the award fee contracts that are still used today. In addition, the period of performance for this contract was two years. This reinforced the concept of long-term contracts, which created greater stability for the employees working on these programs.
In the Bendix Radio Division, the sales of Search Radars had fallen to a low level (as only two new radars were built in 1962). The new Electronically Steered Array Radar (ESAR) was completed and the design of the AN/FPS-85 was well under way. The modification kits for the CPN-18 and FPS-20 were completed. Bendix Radio needed new business.
BFEC's engineering department came up with a new program that was unique because BFEC would be the prime contractor and subcontract engineering and production work to its former parent, Bendix Radio. This new program was to meet the USAF worldwide commitment for radar systems under the Foreign Military Sales program. The BFEC approach was to Rebuild As Good As New (RAGAN) the excess used radar sets and upgrade them with a new antenna and low-noise amplifier. The Air Force accepted the unsolicited proposal and 27 radar systems were delivered under the Blue Pearl Program.
As BFEC moved ahead, new programs such as the NATO Missile Firing Range (NAMFI) were awarded, again with BFEC as the prime contractor, and Bendix Radio as subcontractor.
The nations support of the decision to go to the moon and back increased the NASA budget, and with it, the Gemini and Apollo programs received full Congressional funding. For the first time since the formation of NASA, Bendix Radio failed to win a major contract for the supply of ground station hardware and the new Integrated Mission Control Center at Houston, Texas. In addition, the follow-on programs for the ADVENT and SYNCOM ground stations were also lost. BFEC management was entering an era where Bendix equipment would phase out. BFEC had sensed this and was preparing itself for the day when Bendix Radio would supply no new equipment for the systems in place. The last major tracking system supplied by Bendix Radio was the Apollo/Range Instrumented Aircraft. BFEC was responsible for support operations, including flight tests, mission training and all logistics support.
In December 1963, Les Graffis decided to bid the Launch Support Services requirement for NASA's launch complexes. BFEC had just finished second in two previous bids, the Communications and Instrumentation Work Packages. With 16 days to go, the BFEC "second team" put together a winning proposal that beat nine aerospace giants such as Boeing, Chrysler Douglas, Convair, and Westinghouse. BFEC formed a new operating unit and commenced work in seven support work areas in 1964. This win reinforced BFEC's strong position as a partner with NASA. In 1965, this effort was separated from BFEC and the Launch Support Division was formed. The division remained intact until 1978, when it was disbanded after the loss of the contract to Boeing.
In 1968, BFEC was selected by the Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA) to provide instrumentation support for the Nevada Test Operations. BFEC continued to provide this support through 1990, calibrating and maintaining over 18,000 items of instrumentation used in underground nuclear testing. BFEC's performance record for over 20 years on this program has been exemplary and has met all operational schedules. No scheduled event has ever been delayed or aborted due to BFEC performance. In later years on this program, BFEC has been responsible for additional non-nuclear services.
In 1969, BFEC moved from Owings Mills to brand new, spacious facilities in Columbia, Maryland.
As BFEC entered the 70's, the company portfolio was expanding. Contracts with the USMC and the Army for overhaul of communications and radar equipment along with the overhaul and relocation of FAA radar sets filled the depot. BFEC also designed and produced signal processing and systems control modification kits for the FAA and the U.S. Navy. However, although business in these areas was increasing, overall BFEC sales declined for the first time in the company's history. A concentrated effort was mounted to seek new market areas and expand existing areas. New customers were sought out and commercial ventures were started in three areas: medical electronics, optimum ship routing (OSR), and home appliance services. These businesses were not very successful and with the exception of OSR, were sold. BFEC then directed its attention to the international business arena, with a primary focus on the Middle East.
In 1972, BFEC formed a joint venture in Saudi Arabia to submit a proposal to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Saudi Arabian Army Ordnance Corps program. The Saudi joint venture partner was Siyanco, a local company owned by Frank E. Basil, Inc., and Saudi partners. The joint venture company, Bendix-Siyanco (BXS) was successful in its bid and was awarded a two-year base plus two one-year options contract, commencing in November 1972. This contract was BFEC's entry into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Under the provisions of the contract, BXS provided the personnel at seven geographical locations within Saudi Arabia to perform the following functions: procurement, supply, quality assurance, maintenance, electronic data processing, operations, personnel, program support, financial management and contracts administration. In addition, BXS operated the Taif Ordnance Corps School and provided transportation activities at the seaports in Dammam and Jeddah.
In addition to the contract mission, BXS was also responsible for providing life-support functions for its employees, including housing, messing, medical and dental services, and mail and recreation programs. Program-staffing requirements of approximately 1,300 involved 26 different nationalities. The contract was ammended several times until July 1980, when Siyanco assumed sole responsibility for the program.
BFEC reversed the decline in sales and pursued two highly significant programs: one for the Department of Energy (DOE) and the other for the DoD. BFEC won the DOE National Uranium Resource Evaluation (NURE) program. This program, which marked BFEC's initial entry into the field of the geosciences, required the provision of a highly specialized 750-person work force including 50 Ph.D.s to evaluate the extent and location of uranium deposits in the United States. More than 10 years after its completion, it is still used in the international geoscientific community as a model against which to measure other natural resource evaluation programs.
The other major area of expansion involved Operation, Maintenance and Engineering (OM&E) support of the DoD intelligence community. With the award of a contract for support of the Anders Facility in 1974, BFEC began a program that continued beyond this writing, increasing in scope from a single location to 16 contracts at 11 locations.
During this same general timeframe, BFEC also started an operation in southern Maryland at the Naval Electronics Systems Test and Evaluation Facility (NESTEF). This modest program later grew into a major portion of the BFEC Technical Operations directorate.
In 1975, BFEC was selected to continue its support to NASA on the Spaceflight Tracking and Data Network (STDN). With options, the contract extended support through mid 1981 with BFEC providing O&M services to the twelve tracking stations, the Laser Tracking Subnet, the Magnetic Tape Certification Facility, the Network Operations Control Center at GSFC and the NASA Communications Network (NASCOM). The win was important to BFEC as this program represented the core of its business. The victory was bittersweet, however, because NASA had recently announced the new Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) that would eventually eliminate most if not all of the ground stations. The target date of 1980 was established for ground station shutdown.
In early 1976, BFEC completed its visit to all continents of the world as its engineers established a data acquisition station at the South Pole on Antarctica. The program was part of the National Science Foundation's Dual Air Density Satellite Program. At this time, BFEC Advanced Data Systems at Sunnyvale also started work on the software development for space missions to the planet Venus for the NASA Ames Research Center (ARC). This program was a continuation of software services that had been provided for the Pioneer spacecraft.
Problems relating to aircraft safety caused the JPL to contract with BFEC for support of the Goldstone Operational Support Radar System (GOSR). GOSR uses an AN/FPS-18 search radar remoted to an automatic target processor and alarm system. New contracts were won at NESEA and from the FAA and BFEC continued to demonstrate its good corporate standing by setting a record for the Red Cross Blood Drive and receiving an award from the U.S. Treasury Department for U.S. Savings Bonds participation.
In December 1976, a leading business publication selected the Bendix Corporation as one of the five best managed companies and it was announced that W. Michael Blumenthal, the Bendix Chairman, would leave for his post as Secretary of the Treasury in the Carter administration.
As BFEC entered 1977, NASA contracts dominated the company with over 76 percent of the sales. BFEC, therefore, looked to other market areas for expansion. One such market was Saudi Arabia, which was expanding its naval capabilities. Together with Hughes Aircraft and Holmes and Narver, BFEC formed a joint venture company (HBH) for the express purpose of pursuing the opportunity to provide operations, maintenance and training services in support of a newly purchased fleet of ships. In May 1979, it was announced that HBH had been awarded the Saudi Naval Expansion Program (SNEP) contract at a total value of $671 million. The majority of the contract work was provided at four locations within Saudi Arabia and a large support operations at Little Creek, Virginia. This program, in conjunction with the Saudi Ordnance Corps Assistance Program (SOCAP), gave BFEC a large presence in this emerging country.
In 1978, the University of California's Lawrence Livermore Laboratory selected BFEC to provide technical services for the laboratory's Laser Fusion Project. BFEC provided services to assist in the operation, maintenance, assembly and test of high power laser systems.
BFEC grew to a point that in January 1980, NASA programs represented 46 percent of BFEC's business. This was achieved by growing not only in non-NASA business, but by winning the Deep Space Network and the Mission Operations Support Program (MOSP).
PART 4 - Enter the 80's
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