2020 will go down as a year to remember!
The year began as 2019 left off, with increased tensions in the Middle East and Iran in particular and China.
On January 5th Donald Trump said he was targeting 52 sites in Iran as tension mounts. Many fear the American strike that killed Iran’s military mastermind Soleimani would set off a wider conflict with Iran
President Donald Trump warned Saturday that the US is targeting 52 sites in Iran and will hit them “very fast and very hard” if the Islamic republic attacks American personnel or assets.
In a sabre-rattling tweet that defended Friday’s US drone strike assassination of a powerful Iranian general in Iraq, Trump said 52 represents the number of Americans held hostage at the US embassy in Tehran for more than a year starting in late 1979.
The start of the year saw China once more in the headlines with reports of a virus spreading across the city of Wuhan. This developed into the worldwide pandemic we are now in the mist of. Did the virus escape from the Virus Laboratory in Wuhan, the jury is out and with China resisting an Enquiry it may be months or even years before the world finds out the source of this virus which disabled the whole world.
It was clear from the start that the NHS would be overwhelmed form the virus, so the military moved in not only to take up the slack but also provide senior officers parachuted into key posts. Boris Johnson and his cohort Dominic Cummings should be ashamed of themselves for deliberately underplaying the military’s involvement in tacking the pandemic for policy reasons.
BATTLESPACE would like to take this opportunity to thank the NHS and the Armed Forces for their huge contribution to keeping us safe and well during the pandemic.
From a personal perspective it was unfortunate that the British Government didn’t take lessons-learnt from Asia and Taiwan in particular in their handling of SARS and instead rely on the flu-based system to manage the pandemic. In addition, the whole COVID process became politicised with Boris Johnson trading blows not only externally with his European but also with his UK counterparts in an unnecessary ‘big dick’ waving process in trying to win points to try and prove his expertise which was rapidly found wanting.
“Take back control of our Borders!” was the cry from Boris and his cohorts such as Michael Gove and David Davis in the build up to Brexit. What did he do at the start of the pandemic?
Even though the UK is an island and not a member of the EU Schengen Agreement, he left the borders open so that people poured in when their countries had been locked down untested and untraced!
Compare this to Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia all island states who closed their borders and had minimal deaths and infections. I spoke to a nurse who handled the Ebola tests at Heathrow. She said they tested every passenger coming from infected areas and none got though.
On my hourly walks round Brook Green the Editor met numerous people from France, Greece and Germany who had come over via Heathrow to escape their lockdowns and had entered without any checks at all, spreading the virus to one and all!
The BBC inferred for weeks that the virus had not spread beyond London, so there was a huge surprise for the Government when Manchester was found to have a huge increase in COVID infections. Did Boris not know there was an international airport there?!
It was only when Emmanuelle Marcon threatened to close the Border that Boris acted two weeks late causing more deaths and infections. We await the post mortem on the handling of COVID with interest!
When Boris himself succumbed and nearly died, the infighting of those remaining in post, particularly Michael Gove, who clearly had his own agenda and succession ideas! Given Boris’s lack of attention to detail, it appeared on the surface that Gove was giving him duff figures and then making his own statements in contradiction. This came to a head when Boris announced the November lockdown end date of December 2nd, which Gove immediately dismissed on the BBC as not the key date and it may be extended.
The certain winner in this process was the stand-in Prime Minister Dominic Raab who played a very clever game and not ruffling any feathers in stark contrast to Gove who always shoots from the hip. A key candidate for the next Conservative leader and Prime Minsiter.
Foe anyone who hasn’t seen it, I recommend the play, ‘The Last Temptation Of Boris Johnson,’ which plays out the dinner which made him change his mind about Brexit and then the aftermath when he has been removed as Prime Minister.
Had a COVID Czar, such as Jeremy Hunt been appointed with a Committee coming from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland with the Mayors of the major cities, it is likely that the whole process would have been simplified causing less deaths, fewer bankruptcies and job losses.
The year ended with the announcement on December 8th that Joe Biden had defeated Donald Trump in a close fought race to win the US Presidency. Whatever views one has about Trump’s handling of US foreign policy, it has to be recognised that his changing the US-China relationship was a huge triumph in a change from the perceived dithering of Barrack Obama.
In other areas Trump clearly recognised that the other countries had used US military strength to gain ‘defense on the cheap’ and his strong statements to that effect meant that Germany, in particular, strengthened its defence spending along with other European countries. In addition, he saw the need to cut troop numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan and consequently ordered a withdrawal of several thousand troops.
Trump also managed to bring together Israel, the UAE in Bahrain in a unique Middle East partnership to counter the perceived Iran threat.
Biden is expected to be less brash in his foreign policy strategy, mending fences with NATO, Russia and China in particular. However, having a tough and unpredictable character such as Donald Trump in the White House kept the rest of the world on their toes, particularly North Korea and Iran, where the expected retaliation for the assassination on 3 January when a United States drone strike near Baghdad International Airport targeted and killed Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani, has yet to materialise.
On December 24th the Brexit deal was announced and it will be interesting to see in 2021 how this translates into a new strengthened UK foreign and defence policy in the face of tight budgets due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Story Which Won The 2020 Award For Least Exposure
Before we go into detail of the key events of 2020 we would award ‘The Story Which Won The Award For Least Exposure,’ to Rheinmetall and RBSL for the sudden and unexplained removal of Peter Hardisty, Managing Director of RBSL from his post in October.
The only reason we were made aware of his sacking was when Peter rang the Editor on October 21st to say that he would have to withdraw his candidacy as a candidate for the 2020 BATTLESPACE Businessman Of The Year Award as he had been sacked that day.
BATTLESPACE contacted the RBSL Press Officer and were told that Rheinmetall would issue a press release later that day. No press release was forthcoming, so we ran the piece in our Update.
‘In an unexplained move, Peter Hardisty, Managing Director of RBSL suddenly departed the company on Thursday. No explanation has been forthcoming so far from RBSL or parent companies BAE Systems and Rheinmetall. The move was believed to have been made after a Board Meeting on Wednesday. ‘(See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.22 ISSUE 43, 26 October 2020, PLANT CLOSURES, JOB LOSSES AND STRIKES, 22 Oct 20. Peter Hardisty Departs RBSL)
Later, in a separate Release, unrelated to Peter Hardisty’s sacking, the name of Dr Marco Nöding was published as Managing Director of RBSL. It was only then that RBSL confirmed the appointment to BATTLESPACE. Many readers have rung BATTLESPACE to say they had no idea of the change which came as RBSL was entering key negotiations for the Boxer and Challenger 2 LEP Programmes.
There has still been no explanation for Peter Hardisty’s removal from RBSL or Rheinmetall. We understand that Peter has now concluded his departure package and is actively seeking a new post.
The COVID-19 pandemic intensifies
As the pandemic intensified in March, it became clear that the defence industry would be impacted by the government rules and factories and offices had to adapt accordingly. In addition, government budgets were stretched to provide funding for Furloughs and other COVID-related costs.
From a media point of view, PR and Advertising budgets were slashed and the Exhibition Calendar was wiped out with some events such as DVD and Eurosatory clinging on until the very end prior to cancellation.
Farnborough International hit the news by refusing to repay Exhibitor’s their deposits. It is unclear as to whether this situation was resolved satisfactorily.
There have been some media and PR casualties with Adrian Graves drawing stumps after a long and distinguished career running Adrian Graves Associates (AGL). We wish him and Anne well in their retirement.
There were a number of media casualties including Shephard Press where majority shareholder Nick Prest sold out to the Management after investing a considerable sum of his own money to attempt make the business profitable, AUVSI closed their printed magazine and others, such as BATTLESPACE slimmed down the frequency of printed publications and put more content online.
Whether the demise of the printed defence magazine has been ushered in by COVID-19 is yet to be decided but with government firewalls preventing many government employees reading online magazines, we don’t expect the final death rattle of the printed defence magazine yet!
Certainly, in the last few months of 2020 the slowdown has levelled out and there are clear signs that the market has bottomed out as BATTLESPACE enters its 25th year of publication!
2020 Policy, Technology and Business Highlights
On 29th January when Finland and Latvia announced an agreement on a joint development programme for sustained army mobility enhancement to which Patria is to deliver a 6×6 vehicle chassis platform. This joint programme aims at development of a common armoured wheeled vehicle system. The programme is also open for other countries by mutual consent of Finland and Latvia. In case the development will lead to actual vehicle system procurements in the future, the common system will enhance mobility, cost-efficiency, interoperability and security of supply of the armies in both countries.
On 16 March 16th the Board of Directors of Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has elected James D. Taiclet, 59, as president and CEO, effective June 15. Taiclet will continue to serve as a member of the corporation’s board, which he joined in 2018. He has served as chairman, president and CEO of American Tower Corporation since 2004 and CEO since 2003. During that time, American Tower grew significantly and increased its market capitalization from approximately $2 billion to approximately $100 billion. Taiclet guided the company’s transformation from a primarily U.S. business to a global player in its industry, with significant assets and operations in 19 countries. Taiclet succeeded Marillyn A. Hewson, 66, who has served as chairman, president and CEO since 2014 and president and CEO since 2013. Hewson will become executive chairman of the board, also effective June 15, subject to her re-election to the board by the stockholders at the upcoming annual meeting.
On March 27th, the FT reported tonight that OneWeb, the satellite internet start-up, is preparing for bankruptcy and to lay off most of its staff, after failing to secure new funding from investors including its biggest backer SoftBank, according to people familiar with the situation. The company could file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US as soon as Friday, according to people involved in the preparations, putting most of its more than 500 employees at risk of losing their jobs. OneWeb had been in talks with Softbank to raise as much as $2bn in fresh funding before the coronavirus outbreak roiled financial markets, according to people familiar with the discussions. As markets plunged, OneWeb and SoftBank could not agree terms for a potential bridge loan to give the start-up time to secure new investors.
On April 23rd the UK MoD Placed the Warrior WCSP Production and Initial Support Contract worth £800 million for an unnamed number of vehicles and an Initial Support Contract on the European Tender web site. The figure which is less than the original estimate of £1.1 billion suggest that the initial numbers being purchased are less than the original requirement. As COVID has progressed many observers see WCSP as being the COVID sacrificial lamb for cancellation. However, any cancellation would cause huge job losses and a collapse of the UK Supply Chain at a time when job retention is a key part of government policy. We expect some form of compromise in numbers purchased and the final contract price agreed between Lockheed Martin and the MoD.
On June 16th Defense News reported that four international consortia have been shortlisted by the UK MoD to enter the final stage of bidding to operate ground control facilities for its Skynet satellite communications network. Teams led by Airbus Defence & Space, Babcock Integrated Technology, BT and Serco, have been down-selected for the Skynet 6 Service Delivery Wrap program following the MoD’s Defence Digital organization release of an invitation to tender document to the remaining contenders June 12. The make-up of one of the teams vying for the ground station operations contract is already known, while others have yet to announce who their partners are. Serco declared that its team will involve satellite operator Inmarsat, IT specialist CGI UK and the U.K. arm of defense giant Lockheed Martin. British communications company BT, Babcock and Airbus are all keeping their teaming arrangements under wraps for the time being. Airbus, Britain’s biggest satellite builder, did though coincide the MoD Skynet 6 down-select with a separate space partnering announcement of its own. The company said June 16 it had teamed with KBR, Leidos UK, Northrop Grumman and QinetiQ to launch a new space initiative known as Open Innovation-Space aimed at increasing British involvement in future satellite communications efforts. The consortium, comprising the UK leader in space and sovereign military satellite communication services, and leading defence companies in their fields, have extensive experience in mission critical communication services and associated space, ground and management segments. With proven track records of modernising defence services, the consortium partners already engage with many SMEs to serve government and commercial customers.
On June 17th BT plc (BT), NSSLGlobal Ltd and Viasat UK Ltd., a subsidiary of Viasat, Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), today announced an alliance to deliver critical defence satellite communications (SATCOM) services, and support modernisation of the UK’s defence and space sectors. The Alliance has come together to respond to major UK MOD programmes, including bidding for the ‘Service Delivery Wrap’ (SDW) component of Skynet 6, a MOD SATCOM programme that is expected to be awarded in 2022. The Alliance will provide fully managed best-in-class SATCOM solutions. In addition to supporting current MOD programmes, the Alliance is strongly positioned to contribute to the developing UK agenda around defence and space technologies. The Alliance provides leadership in SATCOM, cybersecurity, service delivery, tactical networking, artificial intelligence and emerging technologies. All three companies bring exceptionally strong track records in working with the MOD and other defence and government organisations around the world.
- BT plc: Under the MOD’s Defence Fixed Telecommunications Service (DFTS) contract, BT has more than 20 years of experience in providing highly-secure, resilient connectivity and voice, data and video conferencing services to 2,000 MOD sites in the UK and overseas. As part of the MOD’s Integrated User Services (IUS) contract, BT provides fixed and mobile voice services to hundreds of thousands of military personnel in the UK and globally.
- NSSLGlobal: The UK company, NSSLGlobal, is an established provider in the existing Skynet 5 UK MOD contract eco-system. Since 1982, NSSLGlobal has been providing communications technology for the Royal Navy delivering custom SATCOM and engineering solutions for all Royal Navy platforms. In addition, NSSLGlobal supports Royal Air Force platforms and Army users with lightweight, rapidly deployable commercial SATCOM capabilities. NSSLGlobal works closely in partnership with the UK MOD on projects needing engineering innovation, bringing maximum performance and value for money for secure operational traffic and welfare connectivity services.
- Viasat UK Ltd: Viasat UK Ltd. provides deep security and communications expertise to rapidly deliver new sovereign technologies to the UK defence and civilian markets. Specific to the UK defence market, Viasat UK Ltd., works closely with Viasat Inc., which has been recognised for developing an expansive portfolio of capabilities across SATCOM, tactical networking, information assurance and cybersecurity. Today, Viasat Inc. has more capacity on orbit than any other private sector SATCOM provider in the world, and with its future ViaSat-3 constellation, the Company expects to have more geostationary earth orbit (GEO) satellite capacity on orbit than every private sector GEO SATCOM provider combined. Viasat Inc.’s security, encryption, next-generation tactical data links and SATCOM systems are also currently used across multiple UK MOD programmes, from the Royal Air Force’s new F-35 stealth fighter to Royal Navy warships.
The alliance has come together to respond to major UK MOD programmes. In particular it aims to deliver the ‘Service Delivery Wrap’ (SDW) component of the MoD’s Skynet 6 satellite communications programme. Replacing the current Skynet 5 system, Skynet 6 is expected to be awarded in 2022 and provide next-generation, mission-critical communications and data capabilities to the MoD and other Government departments in theatres worldwide.
On June 18th Rheinmetall announced the award of another major order for logistic vehicles. Germany’s Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) has entered a framework contract with Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles (RMMV) for delivery of up to 4,000 swap body systems, many of which will feature armoured driver’s cabs. Running from 2021 to 2027 for Rheinmetall the framework contract represents around €2bn in total sales volume. To begin with, the Group will supply the Bundeswehr with an initial tranche of 540 vehicles. Worth around €348m including VAT, they have now been taken under contract. Of these 540 vehicles, 230 will be protected. Delivery will start early next year, making sure that the Bundeswehr has an adequate number of vehicles in 2023 when Germany takes over leadership of NATO’s spearhead: the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, or VJTF. The protected swap body systems enhance the survivability and sustainment capability of the Logistics Corps, as well as strengthening its tactical flexibility. Unlike the Unprotected Transport Vehicle (UTF), likewise supplied by RMMV, these systems will be predominately deployed in forward operating areas, where, for instance, they will be used for supplying ammunition to frontline combat units, e.g. artillery batteries.
On June 27th GM Defense was selected for the US Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV) Requirement. A GM spokesman confirmed that this was the case to BATTLESPACE this afternoon. GM Defense LLC, Detroit, Michigan, was awarded a $214,297,869 firm-fixed-price contract for acquisition of the Infantry Squad Vehicle, installation kits, ancillary hardware and logistical support. Bids were solicited via the internet with three received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of June 24, 2028. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Detroit Arsenal, Michigan, is the contracting activity (W56HZV-20-D-0066). The DoD Contracts Bulletin also stated that GM Défense was also awarded an initial contract for vehicle delivery and support. GM Defense LLC, Detroit, Michigan, was awarded an $8,580,666 firm-fixed-price contract for initial delivery of Infantry Squad Vehicles and integrated product support. Bids were solicited via the internet with three received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of June 24, 2021. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Detroit Arsenal, Michigan, is the contracting activity (W56HZV-20-D-0066). Numbers of initial vehicles and delivery times were not quoted in the announcement. The spokesman confirmed that an official GM Press Release was currently under approval process by the DoD. Following recent field tests at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the US Army selected GM Defense’s Infantry Squad Vehicle for further assessment, contracting to build two more prototypes and for testing beginning in fall 2019.
On Jul 2nd the FT reported today that Britain is set to go head to head with Elon Musk’s Starlink in the race to beam high-speed internet connections from space after the UK government’s joint $1bn bid with India’s Bharti Enterprises won an auction for satellite broadband operator OneWeb. If the bid is approved by a US judge next week, the British government is expected to take a stake of about 45 per cent in OneWeb, a lossmaking company that runs a low earth orbit satellite broadband network. The government’s stake could still fall as discussions are continuing with other potential investors. Bharti Global, a subsidiary of the parent, will also hold 45 per cent of OneWeb and the rest will be held by existing creditors, including SoftBank, its biggest investor, with loans outstanding of $913m, according to bankruptcy documents filed in the US. The UK will also have a golden share, which gives it a say over any sale and over who has access to the OneWeb network.
On Jul 13th the UK Government Infrastructure & Projects Authority published a figure of £1.3bn for Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme (LEP) on Thursday July 9. This figure takes into account a new turret, VAT, MoD and support costs. The numbers required range from 148 to less than 200, down from the original figure of 227, 3x type 55 Regiments. The Life Extension Programme includes:
- A new turret and smooth bore gun.
- A new Kinetic Energy (KE) Round bought from the US or Germany.
- A new Day/Night Hunter Killer capability which will include greater range requirements for the new round.
- A new upgrade card for the ballistic computer.
- New Frontal Modular Armour (NMA).
- An Active Protection System (APS)either Trophy or Ironfist. Sources suggest that Trophy Medium Vehicle (MV) has been selected. This variant has also believed to have been purchased by Singapore.
- Upgrade of the Base Platform
- War stocks and Rheinmetall ammunition qualification.
The armour and APS need to get through development integration critical design review and the NMA needs to complete development, all this before 2022 Quarter 3 review note proceeds. CDS General Sir Nick Carter commented last week that the final structure of the UK’s Strike Brigades is predicated on the Internal MoD Review currently being carried out.
Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that to achieve the required upgrades for Challenger 2 LEP and to introduce Ajax and Boxer, that severe cuts will be introduced to the legacy fleet including, as reported last week, (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.22 ISSUE 27, 05 July 2020, MILITARY VEHICLE NEWS, Out go the MRAPS!) Mastiff, Wolfhound and Ridgback, although not Panther, but to include Husky, FV432 and CVR(T). FV 432, of which there are still 900 in service, is still in use for Brigade Ops for mortar, Command Post and ambulance variants whilst CVR(T) is still in service for a variety of Recce roles. Should FV 432 and CVR(T) be mothballed or sold, this will impinge on the workload of RBSL and DSG who currently manage the fleets. Other sources suggest that in addition to the severe cuts being worked up, that Warrior WCSP will not be affordable and an AJAX variant could also go. Warrior would be kept in its current form until 2025 and possibly some variants converted to ABSV. WCSP would be replaced by another variant of Boxer with a Rafael CT40 or 30mm customised turret as chosen by Lithuania.
On July 22nd the FT reported that UK ministers were warned of financial risk to $500m OneWeb deal. Downing Street pushed ahead with an investment in a bankrupt satellite operator as part of its post-Brexit independent space strategy despite a top civil servant warning the ‘unusual’ deal could see taxpayers losing the entire $500m with ‘no wider benefits accrued.’ The UK won the auction for satellite broadband operator OneWeb with a joint $1bn bid with India’s Bharti Enterprises earlier this month. Under the deal the British government will invest $500m for an initial stake of about 45 per cent in the unprofitable company, which is building out a low-earth orbit satellite broadband network.
On August 15th the mystery over the announcement of the huge F-16 (See: Order BATTLESPACE ALERT Vol.22 ISSUE 13, 15 August 2020, Lockheed Lands Massive F-16 Order – Is It The F-21 For India?). Bloomberg reported that Taiwan formally signed an agreement to buy 66 of the latest model F-16 jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp., a move likely to further inflame tensions between the U.S. and China. Taiwan’s purchase of the F-16s marks the first sale of advanced fighter jets to the island since President George H.W. Bush announced approval for 150 F-16s in 1992. A $62bn figure announced by the Pentagon on Friday is the upper limit of numerous contracts if all potential foreign customers placed their maximum desired number over the decade. The move is likely to be denounced by Beijing, even though the U.S. first signaled its plans to approve the sale a year ago in an informal notification to Congress and it could still be years before the jets are delivered. The announcement said that work on the 90 jets potentially to be sold under Friday’s announcement would be complete by late 2026. Company officials have previously said they project a market for as many as 400 of the new F-16s. In addition to Taiwan, Morocco is buying 24 F-16s jets in the first tranche of 90 aircraft that the Pentagon said was valued at $4.9bn. The Pentagon announcement didn’t name Taiwan or Morocco, but they have been identified in a previous statement and were confirmed Friday by a person familiar with the contract.
On August 24th Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) and the British Army, announced that they had taken the difficult decision to cancel DVD2020, in light of the ongoing pandemic. Despite working hard to ensure that, wherever possible, the event could continue to run as planned, organisers have decided that the uncertainty as to what could actually be delivered and the continued risk of the spread of COVID-19 is too high to confidently hold a safe event.
On August 25th General Dynamics European Land Systems announced the award of a €733m (USD $870m) of a €1.74bn contract for 348 Spanish 8×8 combat vehicles. The Spanish Ministry of Defense today awarded a €1.74bn (USD $2.06bn) contract to a joint venture of General Dynamics European Land Systems-Santa Bárbara Sistemas (GDELS-SBS) and three other companies to deliver 348 8×8 Wheeled Combat Vehicles (VCR), their maintenance and life cycle support, as well as support their international commercialization. The GDELS-SBS contract is for €733m (USD $870m). The program is expected to grow to a total of approximately 1,000 vehicles. The vehicle, named “Dragón” by the Spanish Army, is based on the GDELS 8×8 PIRANHA 5’s combat wheeled vehicle and includes all Spanish national technologies as required by the Spanish MoD. It is expected to be delivered over a seven-year period. The GDELS-SBS joint venture (JV) will manufacture the 8×8 VCR at GDELS sites in Trubia and Seville, Spain, with the collaboration of the other Spanish JV members. The JV members include GDELS-Santa Bárbara Sistemas, Indra Sistemas, Sapa Placencia, and Escribano Mechanical & Engineering. The Spanish Ministry of Defense mandated a National Industrial plan in which Spanish industry participation must be no less than 70% of the total program. The JV was established to ensure that all operational objectives and needs of the Spanish Army and the Spanish Ministry of Defense are fully met and to fulfill the requirements of the government’s industrial plan. GDELS-Santa Bárbara Sistemas program participation will involve approximately 650 direct and 1,100 indirect employees.
On September 10th the Hungarian Ministry of Defence awarded Rheinmetall an order to supply tracked armoured vehicles and related products and services with a total value of more than €2 billion. The contractual agreement, which has now been signed in Budapest, encompasses 218 Lynx KF41 infantry fighting vehicles and nine Buffalo armoured recovery vehicles. The contract includes additional products and services such as simulators, training and instruction, plus an initial supply of spare parts as well as maintenance support. The Lynx IFVs will be equipped with a manned 30mm Lance turret, likewise developed by Rheinmetall. Looking ahead, Rheinmetall sees further potential orders stemming from this contract. Given an expected service life of several decades, the Lynx will require spare parts and regular maintenance in order to remain operationally ready. During a first phase of production, Hungary is to receive forty-six Lynx infantry fighting vehicles as well as nine Buffalo armoured recovery vehicles, all built in Germany; delivery is to be complete by the start of 2023. In the second production phase, an additional 172 Lynx vehicles built in Hungary will meet in full the needs of the country’s armed forces. To this end, the Hungarian government and Rheinmetall agreed in August 2020 to establish a joint venture responsible for creating a Lynx production facility in Hungary, to be financed by a local company.
On September 12th the BBC reported today that UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has quashed speculation that the Army will mothball all its tanks. Last month, the Times reported military chiefs were considering the idea, under plans to modernise the armed forces. But Mr Wallace told the BBC “the idea that tanks won’t be there for the Army, upgraded and modernised, is wrong”. However, he admitted a government review would mean “letting go” of some military equipment to invest in cyber, space and other new technologies.
On September 14th The UK MoD launched the The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy will define the government’s vision for the UK’s role in the world over the next decade. The UK’s departure from the European Union is an opportunity to define and strengthen our place in the world at a time when the global landscape is changing dramatically, including as a result of COVID-19.
To achieve this, the Government has launched the Integrated Review, an ambitious initiative which will:
- define the Government’s ambition for the UK’s role in the world and the long-term strategic aims for our national security and foreign policy
- set out the way in which the UK will be a problem-solving and burden-sharing nation
- set a strong direction for recovery from COVID-19, at home and overseas, so that together we can “build back better”.
The Review will cover all aspects of international and national security policy, such as defence, diplomacy, development and national resilience.
On October 19th the MOD Science and Technology Strategy 2020 set out how the MoD will secure and maintain scientific and technological advantage for the future. Ground-breaking innovation will be at the heart of defence activity for generations, thanks to a bold new Science and Technology Strategy unveiled today by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.
‘We are living in a time of unprecedented change. Science and technology (S&T) are developing and proliferating faster than ever before and have become a new domain of international competition. New adversaries have emerged, alongside traditional threats, who actively undermine our democracy and society, supported by substantial and rapidly modernising militaries. Terrorist groups and non-state actors can access technologies and weapons far more sophisticated than before. The natural environment is challenging us with a global pandemic and we have reached the tipping point where decisive action on climate change is required.’
The MOD Science and Technology Strategy 2020 sets out how MOD will secure and maintain scientific and technological advantage in future:
- by prioritising investment to focus on the long term and adopting a challenge-led approach, defence aims to anticipate and shape new technologies and applications of technology, and to build the expertise, policies, and military concepts needed to take advantage of them as soon as they are ready
- MOD will balance this challenge-led approach with a technology push to pursue promising technology or scientific disciplines which offer significant potential to allow them to be integrated into military capability as they mature. MOD will look to collaborate widely but effectively, sharing the effort and sharing knowledge where it in the UK’s interest to do so
- extracting greatest value and impact from defence research also means effectively curating and using the data generated: sharing it appropriately, developing understanding from it, and exploiting it to inform decisions faster than adversaries and competitors.
Read the full MOD Science and Technology Strategy 2020.: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mod-science-and-technology-strategy-2020
On October 20th Australia and the UK strengthened their enduring defence relationship by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate on building and delivering the next generation of cutting-edge frigates. The MoU signed this week re-enforces the two countries’ commitment to working together on delivering these important high-profile national programmes and exploiting mutual opportunities. A key aspect of the MOU is a pledge on information exchange to ensure shipbuilding best practice is shared and that both frigate programmes deliver world beating maritime capabilities to the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy. The agreement also sets out a framework to enable both nations to utilise the T26 and Hunter programmes to create jobs and contribute to the growth of the UK and Australian economies, seeking to support small and medium-sized enterprises. The MoU will support the successful delivery of Australia’s Hunter Class Frigate Programme, while also growing key defence capabilities in Australia”.
Prototyping for the Hunter Class Frigate Programme will begin by the end of 2020.
On October 20th Rheinmetall and Textron Systems joined forces to supply the US Army with a new variant of the Lynx KF41 for the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle program. American Rheinmetall Vehicles, LLC, a subsidiary of Germany-based Rheinmetall Defence, is teaming with Textron Systems in pursuit of the US Army’s Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) program. American Rheinmetall Vehicles is forming a US industry team that will consist of numerous leading US defense companies, including Raytheon Technologies, who are coming together as “Team Lynx.” Textron Systems will be a vital member of the team, bringing with it exceptional land systems technology development and production capabilities developed over decades as a major combat platform provider to the US armed forces. American Rheinmetall Vehicles will lead Team Lynx in offering the US Army a next-generation solution for the OMFV program that features a mature, game-changing platform with a purposeful, future-proof modular design that will assure overmatch not just today but for decades to come. The US variant of the Lynx KF41 will redefine the modern battlefield and enable the US Army to satisfy its number two modernization priority, a next-generation combat vehicle with superb protection, mobility, growth, and lethality capabilities that will sustain overmatch for decades. The vehicle’s Modular Open Systems Architecture (MOSA), coupled with substantial growth potential in power, weight and volume, will enable the American Lynx KF41 variant to confront the challenges of the future battlefield like no other.
On October 22nd Spectra Group (UK) Ltd, world-leading provider of high-grade information security and communication capabilities, announced the addition of a new product to their portfolio: The SlingShot Tactical Operations Centre System (STOCS). Spectra’s STOCS adds additional capability and operability to the already hugely successful SlingShot tactical satellite communications system. STOCS is a specially designed and modified version of SlingShot that allows the user to communicate beyond line of sight (BLOS) while being up to 35 meters from the antenna. Because it operates on L-Band, the current configuration limits the current SlingShot system to being operated at a remote distance of up to 10 meters (depending on system type) from the antenna, which in most operational scenarios is sufficient, for example, in a vehicle or when dismounted. However, in response to customer requests, the new STOCS variant of SlingShot enables the user to now operate in more enclosed locations such as a command HQ, a tactical operations room, any type of building, a protected bunker or when dug in. In all scenarios, by placing the antenna away from the operator they can remain in cover whilst still effectively communicating via the satellite. The STOCS hardware has been ruggedized and weatherproofed (IP67) to enable the user to leave it in a more exposed position, such as a rooftop, without any risk to the electronics.
Simon Davies, CEO of Spectra Group said, “The launch of the new STOCS product enhances our offering and adds significant additional capability to the user. Effective communication is a fundamental part of command and control centre operations so being able to use SlingShot in these scenarios is a game changer for global special forces and other defence and security units or organisations”. He added: “here at Spectra Group we’re very focused on innovation and we’re constantly working to evolve and enhance our product and service offering. The addition of STOCS to our product line is a great example of that. We’ve listened to what our customers need and developed STOCS to deliver the required capability enhancements.”
On November 2nd a Written Ministerial Statement was laid in Parliament announcing a change of operating model for the UK Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE). In 1993 the Ministry of Defence (MOD) entered into a Government owned Contractor operated arrangement with Hunting-BRAE whereby Hunting-BRAE operated the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) on behalf of the Government. In 1999, following a competitive tender, a new 25-year contract was awarded to AWE Management Ltd (AWE ML). On the 1 July 2019 the MOD triggered the Successor Arrangements clause with AWE ML to consider alternative viable management options ahead of the current contract expiration. Following an in-depth review, the MOD concluded that AWE plc will become an Arms-Length Body, wholly owned by the MOD. The change in model will remove the current commercial arrangements, enhancing the MOD’s agility in the future management of the UK’s nuclear deterrent, whilst also delivering on core MOD objectives and value for money to the taxpayer. The decision was taken in order to simplify and further strengthen the relationship between the MOD and AWE plc, enhancing the MOD’s ability to invest in the development of the workforce, technology and infrastructure, and therefore in the future of AWE plc. The MOD recognises the achievements of everyone involved with AWE and thank AWE ML and its shareholders for their support in stewarding the organisation through crucial phases of delivery and planning.
On November 17th, Star Wars appeared to become a reality when Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, Chief of The Air Staff, Royal Air Force, gave an in-depth talk at the Air & Space Power Association online DefenceSpace2020 Conference .
“We do need more conversations about space, we have a collective responsibility to raise the volume, we know we are critically dependant on space for national security and our way of life and any disruption of these services has a great effect on our way of life. We don’t hear too much about disruptions in space thousands of miles away and how they affect our lives. Without space there would be no cash from ATMs, petrol from the pumps and National Grid. For COVID-19 around 15 million items of PPE are delivered every day and these deliveries are reliant on space as is the logistics for the delivery of the future vaccine. We must ensure the safety and security of the space domain”
“We are all dependant on space, so we must ensure the safety and security of the space domain. That means being prepared to fight. We have to be ready to protect and if necessary defend our critical national interests in space and being prepared to fight for those interests.”
“Wars of the future will be won or lost in space, the UK has to be ready to protect and defend critical national interests in orbit. Talk of space as a warfighting domain is contentious, ignoring the fast-evolving threats in space would be negligent; space gives us and our allies an operational advantage. We see nations like China and Russia and others developing anti-satellite capabilities. Earlier this year Russia conducted a series of tests with Cosmos 2542 and 2543 and tested them on a satellite which created space debris. The increased debris density could result in a chain reaction of collisions the Keppler effect. We see Directed Energy Weapons which can temporarily disable satellites or firing a rocket with the aim of destroying a satellite.”
“Space activity is governed by the UN Space Treaty and general international law and voted 6th Sept 2020 on a UK resolution to reduce threats to reasonable behaviour. We must be able to monitor what is going on in space to defend our activities. That means a collective understanding on the threats in space must be the same as the air domain. We are working with international allies, including the US, our activities at Fylingdales started in 1963, remains the jewel in the crown. The UK is the first partner in Olympic Defender, a multi-national coalition formed to protect against hostile activities in space. We are collaborating with our partners and allies; space has always been a place for collaboration. We continue to develop combined space operations with our partners in the US, Canada, France and Germany and NATO, for the use of space as an operational domain.”
On November 19th The biggest UK programme of investment in British defence since the end of the Cold War was announced today by the Prime Minister. The biggest programme of investment in British defence since the end of the Cold War will be announced today by the Prime Minister. In a speech to the House of Commons he will set out a £16.5bn increase above the manifesto commitment over four years that will protect our citizens, help us build back better from coronavirus by creating thousands of new jobs and demonstrate to our allies they can always count on the UK. The £16.5bn extra in the Ministry of Defence’s budget over the next four years is the amount over and above the manifesto commitment. The Government has already pledged to increase defence spending by 0.5% above inflation for every year of this parliament. On existing forecasts, this is an overall cash increase of £24.1bn over four years compared to last year’s budget. It will also cement the UK’s position as the largest defence spender in Europe and the second largest in NATO.
On November 20th the UK government secured the satellite network OneWeb.
Acquisition of global satellite communications company, OneWeb, completes today, following successful government bid in July 2020. This is a significant strategic investment, demonstrating the government’s commitment to the UK’s space sector and ambition to put Britain at the forefront of a new commercial space-age. OneWeb is now staffing up to complete the development of its first generation constellation, adding new employees in the UK, and we will continue to work with OneWeb to maximise the benefits to the UK from the OneWeb program, both before and after commercial launch.
The company has the foundation of the network already in place with 74 satellites launched and infrastructure in development in strategic locations around the world. The company is launching another 34-36 satellites in December, bringing its in-orbit fleet to 110 satellites. OneWeb is on track to begin commercial connectivity services to the UK and the Arctic region in late 2021 and will expand to delivering global services in 2022. OneWeb will provide a new source of broadband connectivity for businesses, communities, and governments around the world. It could also improve connectivity in a broad range of sectors, including aviation, maritime, government, and enterprise customers, unlocking digital services and applications in a wide range of locations that historically have not access to low latency broadband connectivity.
On November 30th the Next Generation Munitions Solution (NGMS) was announced which will see BAE Systems manufacture 39 different munitions for the Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force and Strategic Command to use on the front line, including small arms ammunition, mortars, medium-calibre gun rounds and large-calibre artillery and tank shells.
An estimated 1,260 people will work on NGMS in engineering, operations and supporting roles across five BAE Systems UK sites, including:
- 555 jobs – Glascoed, South Wales
- 320 jobs – Radway Green, Cheshire
- 340 jobs – Washington, Tyne & Wear
- 30 jobs – Bishopton near Glasgow
- 15 jobs – Ridsdale, Northumberland
A further 1,500 roles will be supported along the supply chain alongside 1,300 jobs as a result of consumer spending in local economies. Replacing the current MASS (Munitions Acquisition, the Supply Solution) single-source contract from January 2023, the NGMS will deliver about 50 per cent, by value, of the MOD’s total general munitions (GM) portfolio and will maximise military capability and reduce cost.
On November 30th the U.S. Department of Defense and the Australian Department of Defence announced a bilateral effort to advance the development of air-breathing hypersonic technologies. The Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE) is an Allied Prototyping Initiative (API) under the Directorate for Advanced Capabilities within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. The Department of the Air Force, under the direction of the Weapons Program Executive Officer, is responsible for the execution of the program. The SCIFiRE effort aims to cooperatively advance air-breathing hypersonic technologies into full-size prototypes that are affordable and provide a flexible, long range capability, culminating in flight demonstrations in operationally relevant conditions. The effort will also pursue potential co-production opportunities between the two countries, and leverages U.S. and Australian collaborative hypersonic activities over the last 15 years, namely the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) program. SCIFiRE continues collaborative research efforts involving the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force Headquarters, and the Australian Defence Science and Technology Group. SCIFiRE is the second effort announced under the Allied Prototyping Initiative, which was launched in 2019 by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering through its Advanced Capabilities directorate. API leverages new and existing frameworks for international cooperation in research and development, so that the U.S. and its closest Allies can co-develop high impact operational prototypes and capitalize on the use of the industrial base within both countries.
On December 7th Mercury Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRCY, www.mrcy.com) announced that it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire Physical Optics Corporation (“POC”). Based in Torrance, Calif., POC is a leading designer, developer, and integrator of advanced technologies primarily focused on avionics & mission subsystems for defense applications.
Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, Mercury will acquire POC for an all-cash purchase price of $310m, subject to net working capital and net debt adjustments. The acquisition and associated transaction expenses are expected to be funded through a combination of cash on hand and Mercury’s existing revolving credit facility. POC is currently expected to generate revenue of over $120m for its fiscal year ending December 31, 2020. The acquisition represents a multiple of approximately 13x next twelve months EBITDA and is expected to be immediately accretive to adjusted EPS. Founded in 1985, POC employs approximately 350 people, including more than 160 highly skilled engineers, and holds over 160 patents worldwide, covering 60 technologies. They support mission-critical programs with common-use products spanning data transfer systems, flight data recorders, mission computers, high-definition data and video recorders, and advanced encryption devices. POC is well-positioned on a wide variety of key airborne and naval defense platforms that are experiencing increased funding for electronics modernization to specifically address digital convergence and combat near-peer threats in line with the National Defense Strategy. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval pursuant to the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976. The transaction is currently expected to close during Mercury’s fiscal 2021 second quarter ending January 1, 2021.
On December 10th the Second Annual State of Military Communications Study, from Government Business Council and Viasat was launched. Despite the Department of Defense (DoD) making strategic moves to improve its communications technologies, a new study finds challenges still exist in fulfilling a successful military communications technology strategy for the multi-domain battlefield. Concerns regarding the DoD’s acquisition process and cybersecurity were revealed in the study, conducted by the Government Business Council (GBC), the research division of Government Executive Media Group, in partnership with Viasat Inc., (NASDAQ: VSAT) a global communications company.
According to the second annual State of Military Communications study, respondents reported the top three causes of defense communications technology deficiencies in their agencies include: limited funding, incompatibilities with legacy architectures and cultural complacency. Cultural complacency was also reported as the number one reason why defense agencies continue to contract with companies from the Traditional Defense Industrial Base (TDIB) over companies from the New Defense Industrial Base (NDIB).
Other key findings from the study include:
Despite technology improvements, communications technology strategy is still not seen as an agency priority, with communication technology blackouts still common
- 97% of respondents reported a complete loss in connectivity at some point while working in the military.
- The majority (60%) of respondents think U.S communications technology is either behind or only on par with their adversaries, suggesting potentially dire implications relative to near-peer adversaries.
- 76% of respondents believe that a focus on improvements to defense communications is much lower, or just on par, with other top priorities in their agency.
Secure connectivity was seen as the number one improvement need in defense communications technology
- When asked about their agency’s preparedness for a cyberattack on defense communications infrastructure, confidence levels were low across the board. The highest percentage (39%) of respondents indicated they were ‘moderately confident’ in their agency’ preparedness, while 16% said they were ‘not at all confident’ and only 8% reported feeling ‘extremely confident.’
Acquisition remains a barrier to a U.S. military lead in defense technologies
- 67% of respondents agree there is room for the military to improve its adoption of communications technology.
- Increased commercial sector engagement could help boost the pace of improvements to the military’s communications technology portfolio, according to the majority (63%) of respondents.
- Respondents (52%) also suggest that increased participation from non-traditional companies — including those from the NDIB — in DoD’s acquisition process could expose the military to the latest and greatest technology and business processes.
Investments in cloud, analytics and communications are being made to support the next-gen warfighter
- Though challenges exist with developing and acquiring advanced communications technology, respondents did report their agencies are upgrading equipment to minimize challenges created by outdated legacy IT.
- Advanced satellite communications, analytics and 5G technology were flagged by respondents as the top next-gen technologies their agency must leverage to advance defense communications capabilities.
- Respondents also believe cloud computing is worthy of investment, noting their organizations were prioritizing it in order to outpace competitive adversaries. Specifically, 36% of respondents reported a concerted agency push for cloud computing technologies within the past 12 months.
“In its second year, the State of Military Communications survey once again spotlighted the need for enhanced communications to help bridge the multi-domain battlefield and support our warfighters,” said Ken Peterman, president, Government Systems, Viasat. “Status-quo acquisition models anchored in cultural complacency must evolve, the pace of technology deployment must align with the speed of relevancy and a focus on security, cloud computing, communications and analytics are all needed to ensure our U.S. competitive military advantage does not erode. Viasat is at the vanguard of the New Defense Industrial Base, focused on bringing innovative business models and game-changing technologies to the defense sector with the goal of creating unprecedented warfighter capabilities and mission outcomes.”
A complete copy of the Second Annual State of Military Communications Study can be found here: https://www.viasat.com/sites/default/files/media/documents/state-of-mil_comms_final_report.pdf
On December 15th the UK announced new SME Procurement Plans. New plans to overhaul procurement rules, cutting red tape and making it easier for smaller businesses to win government contracts were launched. The measures, which have been developed over the last 14 months by a team of specialists in international procurement and set out in a green paper, take advantage of new powers now that we have left the European Union. Every year, the government buys some £292bn of services from the private sector. Today’s measures will transform the current procurement regime to put value for money at the heart of the new approach, by allowing more flexibility for buyers, enabling government to be more strategic and save the taxpayer money. This will also drive increased competition through much simpler procurement procedures. The changes will make UK procurement rules more modern, flexible, innovative and diverse, by allowing government to consider wider social value when picking suppliers . This will ensure that taxpayers money goes further and has more of a wider benefit for society.
In another new move, also published today, the government will allow the public sector to buy British for contracts not subject to international trade rules, by allowing competitions for government contracts under £4.m for public works and £122k for goods and services to be limited to small businesses, voluntary, community and social enterprises, or to a certain geographical area. These new rules will support SMEs by opening up new opportunities to them and making it easier for them to win contracts, in turn helping to drive local growth, promote innovation, support local recruitment and level up communities across the UK. Specific changes to the rules proposed today include:
- Removing over 300 complex regulations, to create a single uniform rulebook
- Overhauling inflexible and complex procedures, replacing them with three simple modern procedures. This will allow more freedom for suppliers and the public sector to work together and innovate
- Allowing buyers to include wider social benefits of the supplier, such as economic, social and environmental factors, when assessing who to award a contract to, while also still considering value for money
- Giving buyers the power to properly take account of a bidder’s past performance, allowing them to exclude suppliers who have failed to deliver in the past
- A new unit to oversee public procurement with powers to improve commercial skills of public sector contractors
- A single digital platform for registering contracts, improving transparency and making life significantly simpler for business
The green paper is available here Transforming public procurement green paper (PDF, 509KB, 82 pages)
On December 15th NCC and Dstl announced an innovation in composite structures for combat aircraft. This exciting new partnership has launched a competition for organisations to pitch their ideas and capabilities, and influence the direction of future research. An exciting new partnership has been formed to explore the art of the possible for the next generation of lightweight, strong and resilient combat aircraft composite structures. This will range from innovative approaches to overall structural layout, manufacturing and assembly to the optimal combination of detail features, and material selection.
The National Composites Centre (NCC) and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) are leading the programme through their joint steering group and wider community, which will bring together the greatest minds from academia, leading defence primes, SMEs and other parties outside of the traditional defence sector. The Advanced Design of Composites Structures for Future Combat Aircraft (ADCoSCA) programme includes a balance of intramural research at NCC, and extramural research, both of which could be influenced by the community. The partnership kicks off with a competitive invitation to organisations to pitch their design and research ideas in order to influence the content of the project, and where and how aspects of it are undertaken. The steering group will then work with the community to develop and downselect these ideas into a coordinated series of funded research projects. The UK needs to be at the forefront of cutting-edge technology with its defence and combat capabilities to support our national security interests, to protect our people, and to safeguard our prosperity. Investing in advanced research across the range of potential combat aircraft concepts is essential to ensure the defence and security needs of our front-line commands are met. This spans next-generation manned combat aircraft, unmanned adjuncts, and the associated range of development and procurement approaches (such as spiral development).
Composites are used in all areas of modern society to make things lighter, stronger, smarter, more durable, and more sustainable. Thanks to the extensive use of composite materials, 15,000km non-stop flights from the UK to Australia are now possible. Wind turbine blades now measure in excess of 100m, generating more clean energy to drive the UK towards a carbon neutral and electrified future. High performance vehicles including modern fighter jets (such as the Typhoon) and Formula 1 cars are 80% made from composite materials, which equates to 40% of the total weight for the jet and just 25% for the Formula 1 car. This proves just how effective composites are. However, we know that composite technologies still have a lot more to offer. The NCC and Dstl will innovate, push boundaries and exploit composite technologies for combat aircraft even further through this new partnership. As a world-leading composites research facility with an unrivalled breadth of industrial scale capabilities, the NCC already works with large defence organisations and others to develop and de-risk their technology, and it works on future product development programmes related to the defence sector. The steering group is holding a webinar on Wednesday 13 January 2021 from 2 to 4pm, for anyone interested in applying to find out more and ask any questions. You can sign up for the webinar through Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/advanced-design-of-composites-structures-for-future-combat-aircraft-webinar-tickets-132267570865
On December 15th Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE:OSK) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Pratt & Miller, which specializes in advanced engineering, technology and innovation across the motorsport and multiple ground vehicle markets, for a cash-free, debt-free purchase price of $115m. Additional terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Pratt & Miller will maintain its name, team members, facilities and branding elements. Founded in 1989 and headquartered in New Hudson, Mich., Pratt & Miller brings over 30 years of experience solving its customers’ most complex and technical challenges. Led by its world-class engineering and motorsports heritage, Pratt Miller has made significant advances in dynamic growth areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous and connected systems and electrification. The transaction is expected to close in the first calendar quarter of 2021 and is subject to customary closing conditions.
On December 20th Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT) today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AJRD) for $56 per share in cash, which is expected to be reduced to $51 per share after the payment of a pre-closing special dividend. This represents a post-dividend equity value of $4.6bn and a total transaction value of $4.4bn including the assumption of net cash. As part of approving the transaction, Aerojet Rocketdyne announced a special cash dividend, revocable at its option through the payment date, of $5 per share to its holders of record of common stock and convertible senior notes (on an as-converted basis) as of the close of business on March 10, 2021, and payable on March 24, 2021. With 2019 revenue of approximately $2bn, nearly 5,000 employees, and 15 primary operations sites across the United States, Aerojet Rocketdyne is a world-recognized aerospace and defense rocket engine manufacturer. Aerojet Rocketdyne has deep customer relationships and significant demand for its innovative technologies. The proposed acquisition adds substantial expertise in propulsion to Lockheed Martin’s portfolio, and expands on the solid foundation built by Lockheed Martin and Aerojet Rocketdyne over many years. Aerojet Rocketdyne’s propulsion systems are already a key component of Lockheed Martin’s supply chain and several advanced systems across its Aeronautics, Missiles and Fire Control and Space business areas. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2021 and is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals and approval by Aerojet Rocketdyne’s stockholders. Lockheed Martin has a history of successful integrations and will work to efficiently deliver the many strategic and financial benefits of this transaction. A transition team will be formed to allow for a seamless integration and ensure continuity for customers, employees and other stakeholders.
23 Dec 20. CNN reported tonight that President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed the sweeping defense bill that both chambers of Congress recently passed by veto-proof majorities. He had previously threatened to do so because it doesn’t include a repeal of Section 230, a law that shields internet companies from being liable for what is posted on their websites by them or third parties.
“Unfortunately,” the President wrote in his veto message to Congress, “the Act fails to include critical national security measures, includes provisions that fail to respect our veterans and our military’s history, and contradicts efforts by my Administration to put America first in our national security and foreign policy actions. It is a ‘gift’ to China and Russia.”
Trump’s veto sparked an immediate rebuke from GOP Sen. Jim Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who said that the defense bill must become law.
“The NDAA has become law every year for 59 years straight because it’s absolutely vital to our national security and our troops. This year must not be an exception. Our men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform shouldn’t be denied what they need— ever,” Inhofe tweeted.
The Oklahoma Republican went on to say that the defense bill “cements all the remarkable gains our military has made thanks to @realDonaldTrump’s leadership,” adding, “I hope all of my colleagues in Congress will join me in making sure our troops have the resources and equipment they need to defend this nation.”
The bill includes provisions to limit how much money Trump can move around for his border wall and another that would require the military to rename bases that were named after figures from the Confederacy. The Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve the massive funding bill with a veto-proof majority of 84 to 13, a major rebuke to the President. Trump’s position on the bill sharply divided GOP lawmakers, forcing them to choose between loyalty to the President and legislation that sets defense policy for the country. The House of Representatives also recently passed the bill with a veto-proof majority. It’s unclear if Republicans will again defy the President and vote to override his veto. Multiple House lawmakers, including the top Democrat and Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, however, previously said they will cut their holidays short for Congress to return to Washington to override a veto if necessary. A new vote has yet to be scheduled. The $740bn bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act also includes pay raises for America’s soldiers, modernizations for equipment and provisions to require more scrutiny before troops are withdrawn from Germany or Afghanistan.
However, on December 29th, CNN announced that The House of Representatives on Monday voted to override President Donald Trump’s veto of the sweeping defense bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act, delivering a bipartisan rebuke to the President.
The bill initially passed both the House and Senate with veto-proof majorities, but amid Trump’s continued opposition, it had been unclear if the override attempt would be successful or if the veto would be sustained. The vote forced Republican lawmakers to choose between loyalty to the President and legislation that sets defense policy for the country. (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.23 ISSUE 01, 04 January 2021 NEWS IN BRIEF – USA, House votes to override Trump’s veto of defense bill.)
Technology Predictions For 2021
The Editor sees the growing competition to develop hypersonic weapons will intensify between the USA, China and Russia. At the same time counter-hypersonic systems, particularly in space and at sea to protect the US carrier fleet will be speeded up.
In the UK, Europe, NATO and the US we see a drive towards multi-domain warfare to counter the growing developments of multi-domain warfare by China in particular.
Space and its protection from escalation to a Star Wars type scenario will be a major factor appearing during 2021. We see armed drones as being the norm alongside development of more advanced sC-UAS systems to counter the huge array of small drones appearing on the market.
In the ground segment area, UGV development will be at the forefront as well as development of optionally manned vehicles. Smaller, better armed systems such as the development of a JLTV range of variants with missile and weapons mounts. In the UK we will see the eventual size and mix of vehicles in the armoured vehicle fleet.
In the comms arena, the goal will be the development of 5G systems to complement or replace legacy system with developments of more agile satcom systems which will combine leasing civil networks such as those provided by the likes of Viasat with dedicated government owned networks. In the UK this will be spearheaded by the Morpheus and Skynet 6 Programmes.
We will also watch with interest developments of the two European 5th Generation fighter programmes FCAS and Tempest. Will they merge into one or will Dassault and Airbus fall out forcing a merger? Or will the Tempest consortium join Lockheed to develop the next generation F-35?
The Full Text Of All these Stories can be found by clicking on the ‘Update’ tab at www.battle-technology.com
May we wish you all a very Happy New Year!