CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The U.S. Air Force plans to fold operations, maintenance, systems engineering and sustainment work at the Eastern and Western Test Ranges and the Space and Missile Systems Center into a single contract, estimated to be worth about $3.8 billion over 10 years.

The draft request for proposals for the U.S. Air Force Launch & Test Range Systems Integrated Support Contract, or LISC, is expected to be released this month. Boeing on June 7 formally announced its entry into the competition. Other LISC contenders are expected to include a team led by Raytheon and a joint venture called InSpace21 backed by CSC and Honeywell. The Air Force is expected to make its LISC contract award in early 2012.

LISC is intended to consolidate three contracts — the Spacelift Range System contract, currently held by ITT; the Western Range Operations Communications and Information contract, held by InDyne; and the Eastern Range Technical Services contract, held by a joint CSC-Raytheon partnership known as Computer Sciences Raytheon.

The Air Force is looking to LISC as a way to become more efficient and cut costs, even in the face of increased demand for launch support services as new commercial operators, such as Space Exploration Technologies, ramp up production.

“Ten years ago, the idea of consolidation of range support activities was a major stretch,” says retired Brig. Gen. Greg Pavlovich, a former commander of the 45th Space Wing who is now Boeing’s general manager for the LISC program.

The goal of LISC, Pavlovich says, is to support the launch vehicle and payload communities by sustaining and operating “a diverse collection of distributed systems that provide for the safe and effective launch, testing and tracking of Department of Defense, civil and commercial spacelift vehicles, in addition to conducting ballistic missile, guided weapon and aeronautical tests and evaluations.” Boeing intends to do so by providing “rigorous life-cycle management for sustainable and affordable mission support,” Pavlovich says.

“There [are] various generations of technologies, some quite dated, some that are relatively new, and the idea is to bring that into one legacy system that meets the same capability,” says Art Glaab, Boeing’s LISC capture team leader. “Some systems may be requiring retirement. ... There may be some modernization, but the idea is to bring it into a lifecycle perspective, knowing which systems [to] retire, which systems [to] replace — at the right time — is the capability [the Air Force] is looking for.”

One area that is not expected to be significantly cut is the payroll. ITT, InDyne and Computer Sciences Raytheon currently employ about 2,500 people under their existing range support contracts.

“The [Air Force] early on recognized that they needed to re-evaluate their business practices and modify processes to improve efficiencies,” Glaab says. “They are translating that efficiency improvement as not being a reduction of skills. The customer has been very clear to us they don’t want to see a contractor come in to reduce skills, to eliminate jobs, but they do see the ability to do process consolidation. That should drive some capability improvements.”