Defence completes tender evaluation for Special Purpose Aircraft managing contractor role

No. 34 Squadron (34SQN) Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) A36-001 taxis off the runway at RAAF Base Richmond. Mid-caption: No. 34 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has operated a pair of Boeing Business Jets (BBJs) since 2002, with the aircraft routinely utilised by the Australian Government for long distance and international tasking. The range and passenger capacity of the BBJ allows the Australian Government to reach its people across the vast distances of this country, as well as ensuring Australia maintains its place on the world stage during international events, meetings and conferences.
File image of a 34 Squadron BBJ. (Defence)

As part of a plan to replace the VIP transport service operated by the Royal Australian Air Force, Defence has confirmed that it intends to enter into contract negotiations with a preferred tenderer for the role of managing contractor, having completed a tender evaluation process.

The managing contractor will manage the establishment, delivery and long-term sustainment of the new service on behalf of the Commonwealth.

“Defence is actively working with industry through a competitive, staged procurement process to develop considered options for the Special Purpose Aircraft fleet beyond current contract expiry in mid-2019,” a spokesperson for Defence told Australian Defence Business Review on May 4.

“Defence intends to present a range of potential options to Government for consideration, including revised support services and considerations for potential fleet replacement in the future.”

In November 2015, Defence released a Request for Proposal (RFP) seeking a managing contractor to provide services for the maintenance, support and replacement of the Special Purpose Aircraft (SPA) fleet.

The purpose of the RFP, which closed in February 2016, was to identify and assess the feasibility, risk, affordability, value and overall suitability of the range of available capability options and managing contractor methodologies.

Defence undertook an evaluation, and two companies were shortlisted from the RFP respondents in June 2016.

In August 2016, Defence initiated a project definition study to engage with the shortlisted respondents to collaboratively finalise contract requirements and develop a Request for Tender (RFT).

The RFT was released to the two shortlisted companies in December 2016, and in February this year the industry respondents tabled their tenders to Defence.

“This tendering activity does not in itself constrain Government consideration to a replacement Special Purpose Aircraft fleet mix – including aircraft type – or when replacement is to occur,” the Defence spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Defence stated that it has exercised options to extend the current SPA maintenance and support arrangement with Northrop Grumman Integrated Defence Services (IDS) until September 2019 to align with the lease terms of the current fleet.

Northrop Grumman IDS has since 2001 delivered through-life support to 34 Squadron at Defence Establishment Fairbairn, which operates the SPA fleet.

Defence stated in October 2016 that a KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport would be modified to support long-range government transport needs.