Group on stage with award

PMA-264 Future Production Sonobuoy Acquisition Team won the 2023 Department of the Navy Acquisition Excellence Award for Competition Excellence Acquisition Team of the Year. The team accepted the award during the Jan. 10 ceremony. (l to r) Brian Ackerman, Brittney Davis, Ken Sherman, Bill Fleming, CAPT Dennis Lloyd, Tierney Buzzeo, Jan Roth, and Michelle Johnson.

Sonobuoy team awarded for acquisition “competition excellence”

The Air Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Systems Program (PMA-264) was awarded the Department of the Navy Acquisition Excellence Award for Competition Excellence Acquisition Team of the Year in a ceremony held Jan. 10, 2024. Mr. Bill Fleming, PMA-264 production integrated program team lead (IPTL) accepted the award on behalf of the team.

The PMA-264 Future Production Sonobuoy Acquisition Team was recognized for their innovative approach and agility in revitalizing the sonobuoy industrial base via innovative contracting efforts.

The efforts recognized by this award began in 2017 when the Department of Justice rejected a proposed merger between two sonobuoy developers due to a monopoly of the market. With this dissolution, a new contracting approach was necessary to ensure no disruptions in the supply of sonobuoys and to maintain sonobuoy requirements during peacetime and combat missions. This news coupled with the continued requirement and demand for production sonobuoys, PMA-264 faced a new challenge.

A new team composed of subject matter experts from PMA-264’s sonobuouy integrated program team and acquisition team as well as NAVAIR personnel from procurement, source selection, cost, business financial management, legal and the small business office, formalized a new acquisition strategy to incentivize the sonobuoy industry and grow the industrial base. The team created an acquisition strategy that addressed unique challenges ensuring seamless procurements as the sonobuoy industrial base transitions from a sole source to a competitive environment all while ensuring a viable industrial base before the conclusion of the existing sole source contract.

Additional challenges came along with the dissolution of two major sonobuoy suppliers and adjusting the contracting approach. New vendors meant new sonobuoy developers and ensuring qualifications for each type. It was the employment of Other Transactional Authority (OTA) that streamlined the process to quick turn acquisition, procurement, and documentation in time for award.

OTA agreements were vital in allowing the government to pair with industry outside of traditional FAR-based contracting efforts. This nonconventional approach provided the government and the program office significant insight into new vendor designs, schedules, and performance of sonobuoys early on ensuring they were viable for the needed production timelines. Throughout this new process, the government team was exceptional in tracking company progress and relaying necessary information to the program office. The team accomplished this concurrent to the qualification effort where the team crafted a multiple award delivery order contract that acts as a marketplace allowing new vendors to on-board and compete on an annual basis.

“Our Future Production Sonobuoy Acquisition Team embodies what we look for in our talented NAVAIR workforce,” said Capt. Dennis Lloyd, PMA-264 program manager. “The program management and financial team, our Naval Air Warfare Center -Aircraft Division engineering subject matter experts, NAVAIR procurement group, and the Naval Aviation Systems Consortium that supports NAVAIR OTA efforts have worked together in an aligned, integrated fashion with great, lasting success.”

New and innovative contracting approaches, along with a unified cross-functional team, addressed the growing demand to procure and secure sonobuoys with multiple vendors and multipole sonobuoy variants while meeting critical ASW warfighting needs and maintaining operational requirements.   

“The team’s innovative use of available contracting strategies and vehicles, alignment on program office strategic goals, and flexibility to change the approach when facts and data call for it, are the qualities that are critical to meet the nation’s warfighting capability and capacity needs at a cost we can afford,” added Lloyd.

Sonobuoys are the principal sensors used by U.S. Navy air ASW forces in carrying out essential mission functions of detection, localization, classification, and tracking of adversary submarines during peacetime and combat operations. PMA-264 has a requirement to manufacture and deliver six sonobuoy capabilities: bathythermograph, passive, active/passive combination, multistatic source, multistatic receiver, and special mission series sonobuoys. In addition, PMA-264 develops, acquires, and sustains airborne air ASW systems and sensor requirements for the fleet and various programs and platforms who employ sonobuoys.



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