There are hundreds of helicopters in the Army's fleet. There are multiple types, with multiple missions. That said, there is something everyone should know about every Army helicopter they see.
"They should think that there is a contract behind every single, probably three or four contracts behind every single helicopter flying," says Becky Weirick, the Executive Director of Army Contracting Command Redstone.
Weirick and her staff at Contracting Command Redstone are responsible for all contract actions involving Army aviation and missiles. "It's a huge deal. It is a 20 billion dollar per year proposition. About 30,000 actions a year. A thousand people doing that work, and it's extremely important to the Army," Weirick said.
Every helicopter and every missile trails behind it several contracts. That short word for an agreement to buy and sell carries with it a lot of complexity. "There's three (books of regulations) that are about four inches thick that we must comply with...there are multiple, hundreds and thousands of laws, regulations and policies. So it takes a long time,"Weirick said.
Traditionally it takes about 10 years to make a good savvy contracting officer, but work to shorten that required time span is underway. Of course the experience required to make a good contracting officer is going to take some time, because there is a lot of responsibility. "Not only to provide material readiness to the soldiers, but to provide it at a reasonable cost, that is the best value to the taxpayer," Weirick said.
The contracts that originate from Redstone Arsenal for aviation and missiles support 300 local defense contractors that employ some 5,000 people.