Sponsored by American Panel Corporation
UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
18 Sep 18. IAI eyes UK AEW&C opportunity. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has expressed hope that the United Kingdom will launch an open tender for a new airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft for the Royal Air Force (RAF), Jane’s was told on 18 September. IAI’s subsidiary, Elta Systems, has been holding a preliminary dialogue with a number of UK defence companies that could act as local partners in any potential future contract, a senior Elta executive said. Elta Systems supplied two Gulfstream 550 Conformal Airborne Early Warning (G550 CAEW) aircraft to Italy in 2016, which the company believes puts it in a strong position for any potential UK tender. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
18 Sep 18. Czech Republic, Slovakia eye joint armored vehicle, howitzer acquisitions. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and his Slovak counterpart, Peter Pellegrini, have announced the two countries will cooperate on joint purchases of weapons and military equipment.
“The governments of both countries perceive potential in the field of armament to modernize their armed forces. They also consider cooperation of their defense industries as very promising,” the Czech prime minister’s office said in a statement. Speaking at a joint session of the two cabinets in the Slovak city of Kosice, Babis noted the Czech Republic produces armored vehicles and Slovakia makes howitzers, owing to which their armed forces could perform joint acquisitions of this gear, as reported by local news agency CTK. France’s Nexter Group and Czech vehicle-maker Tatra Trucks jointly produce the Titus six-wheel drive armored vehicle. Slovakia’s DMD Group makes the Zuzana 2 155mm self-propelled howitzer.
Pellegrini said that, as the state of the international security environment continues to decline, the European Union and NATO should increase their focus on fostering defense cooperation among their member states.
Babis said this closer defense cooperation format could also include neighboring Poland and Hungary. After years of sluggish spending, Prague and Bratislava both moved to increase their respective defense budgets following Russia’s alleged military intervention in Ukraine’s eastern part and its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. (Source: Defense News)
17 Sep 18. The US Navy is going to need a bigger boat, and it’s getting ready to buy one. The U.S. surface Navy is moving rapidly toward buying a new large surface ship that will replace the aging cruisers, a ship that Navy leaders and experts say will need to be spacious to accommodate future upgrades and weapon systems. The office of the Chief of Naval Operations Director of Surface Warfare, or OPNAV N96, has convened a “large surface combatant requirements evaluation team” to figure out what the Navy’s next large ship will look like and what it will need to do. The goal, according to the N96 head Rear Adm. Ron Boxall, will be to buy the first cruiser replacement in 2023 or 2024. The acquisition process should kick off formally next year once a capabilities development document is completed, but a few main factors are driving the size requirement, Boxall said. The fleet is pushing towards designs that can easily be upgraded without a major overhaul. To do that, the Navy thinks its going to need a lot of extra power for more energy-intensive weapons in the future, such as electromagnetic rail guns and laser weapons.
“You need something that can host the [size, weight, power and cooling], so it’s probably going to be a little bigger,” Boxall said. “Flexibility and adaptability, the ability to upgrade quickly, is going to be a key requirement capability. It’s got to have room to grow.
“Power is going to become more important, not just for the Air and Missile Defense Radar, but to add power for directed energy, for rail guns and things like that. How much? We don’t know. But we have to be adaptable.”
It also wants to be able to get into areas such as the Combat Information Center (the combat system nerve center of the ship) to swap out large consoles and computers without cutting holes in the hull to do so. That means the ship will have to be designed with some kind of removable panels, as well as incorporating extra space to add new consoles and systems if they are needed in the future.
Future missiles are also driving the need for a larger ship. Missiles fired by surface combatants are going to need to travel further and faster. That means the vertical launch system launchers will need to get bigger to accommodate a larger missile.
“We are going to need, we expect, space for longer range missiles. They are going to be bigger. So the idea that you could make a bigger cell, even if you don’t use it for one big missile, you could use it for multiple missiles — quad-pack, eight-pack, whatever.”
The new ship will incorporate Raytheon’s AN/SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar, the same way the new DDG Flight III has incorporated it. The next large surface combatant will have the Flight III requirements as a baseline with room to grow into later, he said. That approach, using an existing set of requirements and adapting them for use in later hulls, has served the Navy well in the past.
Boxall pointed to altering the Spruance-class destroyers into the Ticonderoga-class cruisers as an example of what the Navy is trying to accomplish, but added that the new ship would likely borrow elements from both the current DDGs and the Zumwalt-class destroyers now entering the fleet.
“We looked at the things we already knew was out there,” he said. “We looked at the DDG-1000 hull – there are things about that we like, there are things we would do differently. There are things about DDG Flight III that we like, and things we don’t like.
“So I think you are going to see a merge of different types of things. [Space, weight, power and cooling], the ability to host a [admiral’s] staff, larger weapons. Bigger than a DDG Flight III.”
Integral to any future ship will be the ability to host unmanned vehicles, Boxall said.
The Navy is starting down a path of incorporating drones into almost every aspect of their war fighting, from over-the-horizon sensors, to aerial refueling drones such as the MQ-25 awarded to Boeing in late August, to creating datalink networks on the fly if other links are compromised.
Designing a surface combatant with that in mind will be key to its success, said Bryan McGrath, a retired destroyer skipper and head of the defense consultancy The FerryBridge Group.
“What is crucial to me is that, in addition to its size, sensors, and weapons, this ship must be able to one day accommodate several medium altitude long endurance [unmanned aerial vehicles] capable of dramatically extending both the sensor and weapons range of the ship.
“For the fleet concept of Distributed Maritime Operations to succeed, we have to break the reliance of distributed surface forces on external intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance sources. They need robust, organic ISR.”
ISR assets attached to the aircraft carriers can perform those functions for surface ships, but the Surface Navy has argued in recent years that it can be highly effective in anti-access environments such as the South China Sea if they break free of the carrier and spread out, posing threats for multiple angles and stressing China’s targeting and ISR capabilities.
The surface Navy has made progress integrating drones in recent years. The MQ-8 Fire Scout, an unmanned helicopter that can fly off a cruiser, destroyer or littoral combat ship’s flight deck and be used for targeting. In August 2017, the Fire Scout was used to kill a target with a Harpoon launched off the littoral combat ship Coronado.
The ranges at which ships will need to fight in the future, however, might mean longer-range drones will be needed to be effective in that kind of scenario. (Source: Defense News)
17 Sep 18. USAF finds new KC-46 deficiencies, jeopardizing planned delivery date. The U.S. Air Force has added two new technical issues to the KC-46 tanker’s list of problems, potentially throwing a wrench into the projected delivery of the first tanker in October. The service confirmed to Defense News on Sept. 17 that both deficiencies are category-1, the most serious designation of technical problems, and revolve around the tanker’s refueling boom system. At this point, the Air Force is unsure whether the two problems will be solved in time for KC-46 manufacturer Boeing to deliver the first tanker next month, said Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek.
“Boeing and the program office are still reviewing the test data and assessing the risk and potential solutions to these deficiencies, and proceeding in parallel to aircraft delivery,” she said in a statement.
The first new deficiency, which the service has labeled “No Indication of Inadvertent Boom Loads,” refers to situations where boom operators unintentionally provide an input into the flight control stick that induces loads on the boom while it is in contact with a receiver aircraft. The KC-46 currently has no way to notify that operator that this is happening.
The second deficiency was found when pilots of receiver aircraft reported that the boom is too stiff during the part of the process when the receiver plane moves forward into the fuel transfer zone.
“We discovered these deficiencies during the course of flight testing,” Stefanek said. “As the program progresses through receiver certification testing, we are still in discovery phase with the tanker/receiver pairs. … The test team is still writing the test reports, but submitted the DRs [deficiency reports] in advance to assist in accelerating root cause, corrective action development.”
In a statement, Boeing said that it continues to work with the Air Force to determine a path forward.
“These are not safety of flight issues and we are confident in the unmatched capabilities of the KC-46 tanker aircraft,” the company said. “To date we have completed more than 4,000 contacts during flights with F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, KC-10 and A-10 aircraft. The refueling system has been tested extensively — we have a well-tested system that works.”
The Air Force can accept tankers at its own discretion, with or without active deficiencies. However, both Boeing and the Air Force have worked under the assumption that the service will not do so until all category-1 issues have been worked out or downgraded to category-2, which signifies that a workaround has been put into place.
The news of two more deficiencies is a blow to Boeing, which had been hoping to deliver the first tanker in October after finally coming to an agreement with the Air Force earlier this year on a proposed schedule. The KC-46 program has been notoriously above cost, and Boeing’s fixed-price contract with the Air Force has forced it to pay out more than $3.4bin to cover those overruns.
It has also run years behind schedule: The company was initially slated to deliver the first 18 certified tankers by August 2017. Boeing now has until October 2018 to meet that deadline — called required assets available— but will almost surely miss it, as the Air Force does not have the resources to absorb 18 new tankers in a month.
Over the past year, Boeing has been racing to resolve three additional category-1 deficiencies. Two involve the tanker’s remote vision system, or RVS, a series of cameras and sensors that allow the boom operator to direct fuel into a receiver aircraft.
Unlike legacy tanker operators, KC-46 boomers will be unable to look out a window in order to see the refueling process happen — making them entirely reliant on the RVS. However, certain lighting conditions make it difficult to see the receiver aircraft’s receptacle, leading to incidents where the boom has scraped the plane being refueled.
To fix the issue, Boeing has developed and tested a fix to the RVS’ software. The Air Force is currently reviewing that data, and both RVS-related deficiencies are still in effect.
The final issue involves the system centerline drogue system, which has a mechanical lock that sometimes inadvertently disconnects during a refueling. Boeing plans to create a software fix to ameliorate that problem, too, but it remains a category-1 deficiency. (Source: Defense News)
17 Sep 18. USAF aims to move startups from pitch to contract award in 24 hours. A fledgling five-person software start-up has just wrapped up their pitch to what could be a key investor. The pressure has been intense, but the customer decides to bite, sliding a credit card through a Square reader to award money to the company’s Paypal account. This isn’t an episode of Shark Tank, or a successful bid to get investment dollars from a Silicon Valley angel investor. The customer in this scenario is the Air Force — or at least, its acquisition executive would like it to be. During the Air Force Association’s annual conference, Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, will announce a series of “Startup Days” targeted toward involving startup companies in Air Force acquisition by rapidly awarding contracts in less than 24 hours.
“From the company’s view, it will be a single day. From our view, we could probably turn it as quickly as a few days to a week — we put a call out, someone submits their idea, we analyze their idea, we check their company profile, we then invite a subset that have met the criteria,” he told Defense News in an exclusive Sept. 7 interview.
“But then, when they come in to pitch their idea, they have a reasonable expectation of leaving with funding. We’re ready to go or not go on a single day,” he continued. “And the contract length? One page.”
When Defense News spoke with Roper, he had just gotten the green light to move ahead with this new way of awarding contracts. The effort remains in its early stages, and dates for Startup Day have not been chosen, although Roper believes the service could hold a series of Startup Days as soon as the end of this year or early 2019.
The exact format is still being worked out as well: Program managers will be able to suggest precise technical problems that they’d like to see solutions for, but he’d also like to give companies the latitude to pitch their products for requirements the Air Force doesn’t even know it has.
Companies will submit proposals, which will be evaluated by Air Force program and contacting officials who will also analyze the company’s profile — its number of employees, business type, product maturity and potential impact. But the goal is to have the actual events structured like a meeting with an angel investor, not the typical PowerPoint-laden gatherings of military officials and defense primes.
“We’ve got to make this look more like Kickstarter than a defense industry day,” Roper said. “We may even put them on contract swiping a Square reader. We have government purchase cards that we’re able to use for small purchases — up to $150k per transaction. That may be the mechanism we use because most companies that are startups, I’m going to guess, have a Paypal account.”
An industry day geared specifically for start-up companies is just the latest way the Air Force is trying to harness a commercial technology boom where innovation has often been led by startups. Last year, the service announced the creation of a new organization called AFWERX that it began to help engage elements of the private sector that don’t usually work with the government.
However, even with AFWERX in operation, it takes the Air Force six to eight weeks to award a contract at its very fastest. And that’s still too slow of a pace to enable it to work effectively with startup companies, Roper said.
“There’s this artificial ceiling that small companies can’t reach to work with the government simply because they’re too small to wait for a paycheck. If they’re not on contract with us now, they’ve got to work with an investor fast enough to fund cash flow rates that startups need to grow,” he said.
Roper doesn’t expect all investments to bear fruit, but efforts like Startup Day have other advantages, he said. It gets Air Force contracting officers more comfortable with executing rapid contracts, potentially gives program managers a more effective way of spending their small business dollars and allows the service to have a voice in the kinds of technologies that cutting-edge companies develop.
“I hope that will mean that every year when we do this — if it’s successful, we’ll do it every year—companies will have us on their radar screen and think, ‘The Air Force is a great way for us to get from being a company of five to a company of 50…and then we’ll go off and become billionaires working with Amazon and Google,’” he said. “But this way they’ll know us and their products and projects will have been influenced by us, hopefully for the betterment of the Air Force.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
REST OF THE WORLD
21 Sep 18. Public accounts committee concerned about progress of Australian Army ARH. The parliamentary joint committee of public accounts says it’s concerned that the Army’s Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) project has received its second qualified audit finding in a row. In its examination of the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) Defence Major Projects Report (MPR) for 2016-17, the committee said there was a significant and continuing issue. Specifically, the ANAO found that ARH Project Data Summary Sheets did not “accurately or completely represent the project’s maturity at June 30, 2017”.
ARH has experienced a number of problems, with the aircraft requiring substantial development and running almost seven years late.
ANAO said the ARH project maturity score in project data sheets indicated it achieved 69 or 70, or almost 99 per cent, at the time of transition from acquisition to sustainment in April 2017.
“Noting the caveats, capability deficiencies and obsolescence issues at the declaration of FOC (final operational capability) in April 2016, and considering that only two of the nine caveats applying at FOC have been lifted by the capability manager (in July 2017), this score does not accurately or completely represent the project’s maturity as at June 30, 2017,” ANAO said in the report.
The committee noted that the ARH project received a second qualified audit finding in a row.
“While it is encouraging that two remaining caveats are expected to be resolved within the next 18 months, the Tiger helicopters project will remain on the MPR into the future and this project will continue to receive close scrutiny by the committee,” it said.
Committee chairman Liberal senator Dean Smith said this year’s MPR reviewed risks, challenges and complexities facing major projects in general, as well as the status of 27 selected major projects in terms of cost, schedule and forecast capability.
“Every year the Department of Defence and the Australian National Audit Office work together to produce a consolidated review of selected major Defence acquisition projects, with the resulting report called the Major Projects Report, or MPR,” he said.
The committee made three recommendations aimed at continuing to drive improvements in transparent reporting of Defence major project expenditure.
It recommended that Defence report on progress in updating project maturity scores within three months.
Defence should also adopt a methodology that shows how acquisition projects can transition from spreadsheet risk registers to tools with better version control measures.
Defence should report the outcomes of the sea trials for the new Landing Helicopter Dock Landing Craft within three months.
The MPR was developed by Defence in conjunction with the ANAO with the aim of improving accountability and transparency of Defence acquisitions for the benefit of Parliament and other stakeholders.
Each year the MPR is automatically referred to the JCPAA in accordance with its statutory obligations to examine all reports of the Auditor-General. (Source: Defence Connect)
19 Sep 18. Future Pakistan-Turkish defense cooperation likely to be incremental, for now. Pakistan’s ambassador to Turkey pledged this week to increase defense cooperation between the two countries to new levels, but after a string of recent deals, analysts believe further cooperation will be incremental. Speaking to Turkey’s Daily Sabah, Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi highlighted defense relations such as recent deals for platforms like the T-129 helicopter gunships and Milgem corvettes, which he said would further improve as the countries continue to explore new opportunities. The existing deals alone are likely to see substantial offsets and technological input for Pakistani industry, and build upon existing supply of defense technology critical for all three branches of Pakistan’s military. Pakistan’s defense industry generally lags behind other nations, and has struggled to offer much in return bar a deal for the PAC Super Mushak basic training aircraft, further highlighting the importance of the relationship between Ankara and Islamabad.
Asked exactly how that relationship may further improve, Brian Cloughley, and author, analyst, and former Australian defense attaché to Islamabad, said there is room to do so. He highlighted training as one area of cooperation, thanks to tensions between Pakistan and the U.S., along with armored personnel carriers and future orders of helicopters. While Turkish AFV-related technology is already finding its way onto Pakistani APCs and tanks, Pakistan is exploring options to supplement or even replace its M113 type APCs, perhaps with an IFV design, with Turkey’s Kaplan or Tulpar IFV programs potentially of interest. Turkey’s T625 multirole transport helicopter may also be considered to replace Pakistan’s range of legacy types.
Both countries also have active fifth generation fighter development projects, but analysts believe this level of cooperation is presently a step too far.
Justin Bronk, an analyst with the RUSI think tank, raises concerns given “the lack of any proven domestic capacity in both Pakistan and Turkey to produce a fifth-generation fighter, than with any issues around security or industrial interests. Neither country is in any position to develop such capabilities for the foreseeable future without massive external assistance and technology transfer.”
That idea is echoed by author, analyst, and former air force pilot Kaiser Tufail, who nevertheless stresses their respective fifth generation programs “must continue for a long-term goal of manufacture”.
Tufail believes both nations should co-operate on an interim type of jet, with some of the technical characteristics of a full fifth-generation fighter “rather than jumping straight to a full-capability fifth generation fighter.”
Though new to aircraft manufacture, he believes Pakistan has gained a slight edge over its potential partner, having co-produced the JF-17, “essentially a Chinese design based on PAF’s specifications”, though there is still “need for collaboration in design and production of any new fighter.” Turkey in comparison, though having license produced F-16s, lacks comparable modern fighter design experience.
Their close relationship makes fighter co-production “logical” though, he said.
Therefore, present co-operation “could well take the shape of a ‘Block-4’ JF-17 developed by Turkey and Pakistan” to be “considered for joint design and co-production”, after which “a stealth fighter would then be a logical next step.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
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American Panel Corporation (APC) since 1998, specializes in display products installed in defence land systems, as well as military and commercial aerospace platforms, having delivered well over 100,000 displays worldwide. Military aviators worldwide operate their aircraft and perform their missions using APC displays, including F-22, F-18, F-16, F-15, Euro-fighter Typhoon, Mirage 2000, C-130, C-17, P-3, S-3, U-2, AH-64 Apache Helicopter, V-22 tilt-rotor, as well as numerous other military and commercial aviation aircraft including Boeing 717 – 787 aircraft and several Airbus aircraft. APC panels are found in nearly every tactical aircraft in the US and around the world.
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