Subcontracting Out War

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There have been times since 9/11 when there have been as many contractors working for the U.S. military in the war zones as U.S. troops. It’s one way to keep the troop count down.

The Air Force is seeking contractors to “launch” MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones all around the world, according to a “pre-proposal conference” notice it posted Thursday.

While the language suggests the contract largely involves maintaining the drone fleet, it also seems to call for more than that:

— Contractor shall launch additional aircraft as required to support a combat air patrol when original aircraft is unable to support mission requirements (ex: maintenance abort, fuel/munitions, etc.).

— Any commander directed sortie shall be deemed ineffective if the aircraft air aborts for any maintenance malfunction during the first 2 hours — Contractor shall launch a spare aircraft to replace the primary aircraft.

— Government may need to divert MQ-1 or MQ-9 aircraft to a base other than the originating base, due to an in-flight emergency, unforeseen maintenance problems, unpredicted weather issues, or for other unforeseen circumstances — Contractor shall recover, service aircraft, upload/download weapons, perform required maintenance, and launch aircraft.

We asked Air Force officials for details, but they weren’t forthcoming.

A number of companies have expressed interest in keeping the drones flying: AAI Corporation, American Operations Corporation, Battlespace Flight Services, LLC, BOSH Global Services, Camber Corporation, DynCorp International, Raytheon Technical Services Company, Rockwell Collins, URS Corp. and V2 Aerospace Inc.