Missile defense contractors face giant task on bids

Posted: Friday, February 01, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Construction contractors face a daunting chore to put together a $100-250 million proposal that will detail how they will build a missile defense test site in Fort Greely.

They have to read a foot-and-a-half-thick stack of paper detailing the project's specifications and requirements.

They have to make sure they can get their hands on materials quickly: They'll start building this spring if awarded the contract.

And they'll have to have to find subcontractors, including minority, veteran, or disabled-owned small businesses.

The companies' final bids will require five volumes, each with specific information outlining how the job will get done. Bids are due Feb. 26.

Not many companies can do it, but those who can will.

''In a military minute,'' said R.J. Parker, vice president of project development for Fluor Daniel, a multinational engineering and construction firm.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers intends to award the project April 12. The project includes building five missile silos, a missile assembly building, an electrical substation and a control station at Fort Greely.

Representatives of at least a half-dozen major engineering and construction companies, including one Alaska contender, were in Fairbanks Wednesday to hear the Corps explain its proposal process. They were joined by nearly 300 more people, many representing Alaska businesses.

The Corps took busloads of potential contractors to the site Thursday. On Friday, the Corps will spend the day answering questions and holding one-on-one sessions with contractors.

It was the third such meeting held in the last two years, said Lt. Col. Jay Smith of the Air Force Missile Defense Agency. In all likelihood, firms have been preparing to submit proposals on the multimillion-dollar project since the first meeting two years ago, he said.

''These guys are pros,'' Smith said of firms attending the conference. ''They know how to put together a project.''

In addition to Fluor, some of the major companies at the conference included Bechtel National Inc., Jacob Engineering and Anchorage-based Veco Alaska Inc.

Fluor built all the pump stations for the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, Parker said. The company has an Alaska Native business partnership with Anchorage-based Alutiiq. The two will likely refurbish the U.S. Embassy in Brazil this year, Parker said.

Another familiar name is Bechtel, which worked on the construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. Bechtel has been working on its proposal for a while, said Mike Lewis, operations manager.

''We are ready,'' Lewis said. ''We have been anticipating this for two years from the original kickoff meeting.''

Lewis said the 2,500-page project requirements document even specifies the type of bolts that have to be used.

''It's highly complex,'' he said. It cost $245 to make one copy at a local copy store, he said.

The project was put out to bid Jan. 27.

During the meeting Wednesday, several key project staff members for the missile defense project emphasized important points for contractors.

''We will have every brick in place, the last microchip in place, by 30 September, 2004,'' Smith said.

The missile defense project includes an infrared satellite system, space, air and land-based lasers, early-warning radars and interceptor rockets, Smith said.

The Boeing Company has been working on the design of the system, including specifics at Fort Greely, Smith said.

''Boeing does the real rocket science,'' Smith said.

Potential contractors will have to adhere to several subcontractor and hiring stipulations, said Patricia Davies, a Corps contracting officer. A potential company's previous experience in those areas will be checked, she added. Another issue will be whether or not the contractor can deliver on time, she said.

''The schedule is so critical,'' Davies said.

Once the construction is completed in 2004, the missile defense system will be operational on a ''limited, emergency'' basis, Smith said.

''What we are going to have here is the whole enchilada to defend the whole United States,'' Smith said.

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