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27 Sep 18. Programme Agreement For German-Norwegian Submarines. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on joint procurement and operation of six identical submarines by the German and Norwegian armed forces was signed on September 10, 2018 by the German defence procurement agency BAAINBw and the Norwegian Defense Materiel Agency (NDMA). This follows a decision of Norway in 2017 to chose Germany as Norway’s strategic partner in the submarine area. This partnership includes not only the acquisition of identical submarines, but also cooperation in the training, operation, maintenance and support of the new submarines. Through the programme agreement, Germany has committed itself, among other things, to carry out parts of the planned repair of the submarines in Norway. A future operational organisation will be estab-lished by both nations and will be set up in connection with a new maintenance hall in Haakonsvern. The programme agreement is a major milestone on the way to the final offer from the German company Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (tkMS), which is expected by the end of October. Norway has budgeted €4.4bn for its four new sub-marines. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
26 Sep 18. What will launch from France’s future aircraft carrier? The government and Navy are teaming up to find out. The French procurement office and the Navy will submit proposals to the Armed Forces Ministry based on definition studies for a future aircraft carrier, according to the head of the naval armaments operations unit at the Direction Générale de l’Armement. The DGA and the Navy have been working on a “reflection for definition studies,” with those studies required to launch the carrier project, Laurent Sellier told Defense News on Sept. 24. Industry has served as observer, while the procurement office and service lead the discussions. The studies will consider the future carrier’s capability to carry the Rafale fighter jet and its successor, as well as drones, he said. It will be up to the ministry to “greenlight” the contracts for the carrier. Sellier was speaking on the sidelines of a news conference held by Gican, the industry association backing the Euronaval trade show, which opens Oct. 23.
Dassault Aviation, shipbuilder Naval Group and electronics specialist Thales have been sitting in on the discussions led by DGA and the Navy, an industry executive told Defense News. “There is close teamwork on tackling the overall problem,” the executive said.
The DGA and the Navy launched the first study at the end of August, examining lessons learned on aircraft carriers in operation and reviewing operational requirements of the future carrier, the executive said.
Thales could contribute its experience from working on the British carrier Queen Elizabeth. Other companies, such as MBDA, could be invited to take part in the studies.
A second study, largely steered by the DGA, will focus on technology and overall architecture, including onboard combat systems, system of systems and naval architecture, the executive said. That study is expected to be launched toward the end of October or early November. The overall dossier comprising the two studies is expected to be completed at the end of 2019 or early 2020, and will allow the authorities to decide the capabilities of the ship. The studies will consider key factors such as size of the vessel, propulsion — both conventional and nuclear — and aircraft-launching capabilities. The aircraft will not be included in the carrier budget but will be a major element in design and construction of the ship, which will be a system of systems. The studies will help determine the budget for the carrier.
There have been three large carriers built in the West — the U.S. Navy’s Gerald R. Ford and America, and the British Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth — since France launched the Charles de Gaulle, said Robbin Laird, an analyst with consultancy ICSA, based in Washington and Paris.
Any French study should look at those ships and see the technology available for a new carrier, such as an electromagnetic aircraft-launch system, he said. The French should consider the impact from an “evolving force system,” such as the use of direct-energy weapons for close-in defense and the integration of air and sea systems, he added.
Another major factor in designing a new carrier could involve France’s adaptation of the planned Franco-German jet fighter to a carrier-based version, he said. That future fighter will replace the Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon.
Britain and Italy will fly the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter from their carriers, he said. That deployment of the F-35 calls for interoperability of the future French carrier and its aircraft with operators of the jet.
French Navy pilots have flown the Rafale from U.S. carriers as part of training, French Navy Rear Adm. Gilles Boidevezi told news conference attendees. The French Navy sent pilots, support staff, 12 Rafale jets and a Hawkeye spy plane to the U.S. earlier this year to qualify and train with the U.S. Navy. The French pilots flew from the George H.W. Bush carrier, sailing out of Newport naval base. The Charles de Gaulle recently began sea trials from Toulon naval base after some 18 months of a major overhaul in dry dock. The upgrade included replacing onboard nuclear fuel and modernization of the combat and telecommunications systems. The carrier will now solely fly the Rafale, having withdrawn from service the Super Etendard fighter. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
24 Sep 18. Germany delays tender for military helicopters: document. Germany’s planned 4bn euro ($4.71bn) tender to buy new heavy-lift helicopters that was due to be issued this autumn will be delayed, according to an official document seen by Reuters on Wednesday. The planned start of the tender by the end of September would be “delayed until further notice,” the office in charge of military procurement said in a letter to several defense firms. The procurement office did not give a reason for the delay or say when the tender would be launched. “As soon as a new date is fixed, we will inform you immediately”, it said in the short letter. The Bundeswehr, the German military, is due to receive 45 to 60 heavy-lift transport helicopters in the coming decade. Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen earlier indicated the tender could be delayed as financing of the project was not yet secured in the ongoing parliamentary budget negotiations.
Von der Leyen, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, is pushing for steeper military spending hikes, but she faces resistance from the Social Democrat-led finance ministry, which prefers more spending on infrastructure and digitalization. ($1 = 0.8497 euros) (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Reuters)
24 Sep 18. Dutch defense chief opens door for more F-35s. Dutch defense minister Ank Bijleveld has eliminated the country’s budget cap for F-35 purchases, opening the possibility of buying more planes in the future, a spokesman confirmed to Defense News. The defense ministry spokesman described the move as “just a formality” that would not require parliamentary approval, as the Dutch objective of buying 37 copies of the Lockheed Martin-made jet for €4.7bn remains in place. But it means “we leave the option open to buy new planes” beyond those already envisioned in the budget, the spokesman said. The development was first reported by the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, which wrote that the air force was angling to eventually get 67 aircraft. That amount would be enough to field four squadrons in the Netherlands, according to the newspaper.
Dick Zandee, a defense analyst at the Dutch Clingendael foreign policy think tank, said the recently released 2019 budget still reflects the government’s target of buying 37 planes. But the budget cap elimination at this time could set the stage for additional contracts in a few years’ time, once deliveries of the batch already on order are nearing completion. The Dutch are set to take delivery of eight F-35s in 2019. That’s in addition to two test aircraft already produced. The fifth-generation aircraft are meant to replace the country’s fleet of 60 or so F-16s, with yearly deliveries scheduled between six to eight planes until the target number of 37 is reached. That inventory will allow the Netherlands to field four F-35s for operations, considering that a certain number is always set aside for training, undergoing maintenance or otherwise unavailable to deploy, said Zandee.
“There is a lot of pressure from NATO that 37 are not enough,” he said, adding that there has been talk in Dutch defense circles to up the number to 52. “The air force always wants more” of the planes, and the service would consider an increase to 52 as an intermediate step to get an even greater number later, Zandee told Defense News.
Meanwhile, the jet is facing some pushback in the Netherlands over its development price tag and the high cost of ownership. “The criticism is that you’re buying an aircraft that is not fully developed yet,” said Zandee. But, he added, “The attitude is that the Americans are throwing so many billions at the program that problems will be solved.”
22 Sep 18. France wants to buy Airbus tankers sooner. France renewed a pledge to speed up by two years delivery of 12 Airbus A330 multirole transport tanker jets for the French Air Force by 2023. “At the ministerial investment committee, the Direction Générale de l’Armement received the mission to accelerate the delivery of the A330 MRTT Phénix,” the armed forces ministry said in a Sept. 20 statement. A 12-strong fleet of the A330 MRTT by 2023 brings forward delivery of the air tankers by two years, the ministry said. A further three units will be ordered to bring the total fleet to 15 in the following years, the ministry added. No dates were given for a contract for the A330 MRTT or the value of the planned order. No date was set for a further batch of three more units. That boost for inflight refuelling was among the equipment modernization measures included in the 2019-2025 military budget law, formally signed by French president Emmanuel Macron just before an official garden party on July 13. The French Air Force has long lobbied for renewing the aerial capability, as the present aging tanker fleet is a key element in the airborne nuclear deterrent. French air operations in allied operations in the sub-Saharan Sahel region and the Middle East rely heavily on U.S. air tankers. The A330 MRTT will replace a mixed fleet of C-135FR and KC-135R tankers — some of which are close to 60 years old — and A310 and A340 strategic troop and transport aircraft. The A330 MRTT is a military conversion of the Airbus A330 airliner. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
28 Sep 18. News overnight that the Boeing which, together with its risk sharing partner Saab Aerospace, had designed, developed and flight tested two all-new, purpose-built trainer jets in order to prove system design and repeatability in manufacturing and training capability, had succeeded in beating off competition from Lockheed Martin/Korea Air (T-50A) trainer and separately, that of the T-100 trainer proposal from Leonardo (based on the M-346 trainer aircraft) for the much coveted $9.2bn Advanced Pilot Training Program was not surprisingly the cause of much cheer in the Boeing Defense, Space and Security headquarters in St. Louis last evening just as it was also, no doubt, in Boeing Chicago Head Office. Well done Boeing and Saab. The initial award is not only a win for the Boeing/Saab T-X design combination but also for the US Air Force which, until new T-X aircraft and training systems begin to enter service in a few years’ time, will continue to be reliant on the remaining fleet of 400 plus Northrop built T-38 jet trainers the last of which entered service as long ago as 1972. In regard of fast jet trainer aircraft, the US Navy and US Marine Corps also operate a fleet of much younger T-45 ‘Goshawk’ trainers, a modified US McDonnell Douglas built (now part of Boeing) BAE Systems Hawk Fast Jet Trainer derivative together with a fleet of T-45 carrier based trainers.
Developed to replace a large fleet of now troublesome T-38 fast jet trainer aircraft that began to enter service in the mid 1960’s, although the formal US Air Force plan is to initially acquire around 351 T-X jets together with 46 simulators, reports suggest the probability that this could increase to 475 jets and 120 simulators over time. Not including the potential for exports, US based analysts are suggesting the potential for a total of 600 T-X planes being built over the next twenty years.
For Boeing’s risk sharing partner, Stockholm based Saab Group which has played a significant role in T-X aircraft design and development, I would assume that the forward plan now will be that, following receipt of orders from Boeing, the company will invest in US based manufacturing facilities. The initial $813 million contract award to Boeing which was announced last night covers engineering and manufacturing development of the first five aircraft and seven simulators.
The T-X program is eventually expected to support 17,000 jobs in 34 different states. Leanne Caret, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space and Security said overnight that winning the T-X pilot training programme was a direct result of our joint investment in developing a system centred on the unique requirements of the US Air Force and that we expect T-X to be a franchise program for much of this century. According to Teal Group Vice President of Analysis, Richard Aboulafia in an interesting article published in Forbes Magazine earlier this week, Boeing has probably invested around $1.5bn on the creation of the new T-X design and development. Likely to be the last manned new aircraft programme for some considerable time, T-X is a great award for Boeing to win. In what was in any event clearly turning out to be a good year for Boeing Defense in respect of contract awards, the T-X award provides yet another boost. Well done to all involved and commiserations to those that lost out. (Source: Howard Wheeldon, FRAeS, Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd.)
27 Sep 18. U.S. Air Force pilots will soon train for combat with T-X jets and simulators from Boeing [NYSE: BA]. “Today’s announcement is the culmination of years of unwavering focus by the Boeing and Saab team,” said Leanne Caret, president and CEO, Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “It is a direct result of our joint investment in developing a system centered on the unique requirements of the U.S. Air Force. We expect T-X to be a franchise program for much of this century.”
Boeing and its risk-sharing partner Saab designed, developed, and flight tested two all-new, purpose-built jets ― proving out the system’s design, repeatability in manufacturing and training capability.
“This selection allows our two companies to deliver on a commitment we jointly made nearly five years ago,” said Håkan Buskhe, president and CEO of Saab. “It is a major accomplishment for our partnership with Boeing and our joint team, and I look forward to delivering the first trainer aircraft to the Air Force.”
Boeing is now clear to begin placing orders with its suppliers, including Saab. More than 90 percent of Boeing’s offering will be made in America, supporting more than 17,000 jobs in 34 states. Saab serves the global market with world-leading products, services and solutions within military defense and civil security. Saab has operations and employees on all continents around the world. Through innovative, collaborative and pragmatic thinking, Saab develops, adopts and improves new technology to meet customers’ changing needs.
Defense News reported that Boeing’s award for the T-X trainer program marks the third major victory by the company in about a month, following an $805m contract to build the Navy’s first four MQ-25 unmanned tankers, and a contract worth up to $2.38bn to manufacture the Air Force’s Huey replacement helicopter. The T-X downselect was first reported by Reuters.
As the winners of the competition, Boeing and Swedish aerospace firm Saab are set to capture sales of at least 351 training jets to the U.S. Air Force, with possibly more in the international market. The program promises to keep Boeing’s tactical aircraft business strong after the F-15 and F/A-18 Super Hornet lines disappear in the next decade.
“Today’s announcement is the culmination of years of unwavering focus by the Boeing and Saab team,” said Leanne Caret, president and CEO of Boeing’s defense business. “It is a direct result of our joint investment in developing a system centered on the unique requirements of the U.S. Air Force. We expect T-X to be a franchise program for much of this century.”
The indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract will allow the Air Force to buy up to 475 aircraft and 120 simulators, the Air Force said in a Sept. 27 statement, although the current plan is to buy 351 T-X aircraft, 46 simulators and associated ground equipment.
The Air Force stated that the T-X program originally was to cost about $19.7bn, and that Boeing’s bid shaved $10bn off that amount.
“This new aircraft will provide the advanced training capabilities we need to increase the lethality and effectiveness of future Air Force pilots,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in the news release. “Through competition we will save at least $10bn on the T-X program.”
Although the contract could be worth up to $9.2bn, that sum is by no means a sure thing for Boeing.
During a briefing with reporters on Thursday afternoon, Will Roper, the service’s acquisition executive, and Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, its top uniformed acquisition official, said the $9.2bn amount would be obligated to Boeing if the service executes all of options that would allow it to buy more aircraft at a quicker pace, purchasing all 475 planes.
Additionally, Boeing assumes the preponderance of the risk with the T-X program, which starts as a fixed-price incentive fee contract, but at the fifth lot will transition to a firm-fixed price structure, Roper and Bunch said.
Boeing and Saab’s clean-sheet trainer, designed specifically for the Air Force, beat out Leonardo DRS and a Lockheed Martin-Korea Aerospace Industries partnership. Throughout the competition, the Boeing-Saab jet was seen as the front-runner by analysts like Roman Schweizer of Cowen Washington Research Group, who pointed to Boeing’s aggressive bidding strategy and ability to absorb financial losses on programs like the KC-46 tanker aircraft.
The T-X program is the Air Force’s last major aircraft procurement opportunity up for grabs for some time, as the service’s contracts for its next-generation fighter, tanker and bomber have already been awarded, as have the last remaining new-start helicopter contracts. As such, the decision could potentially trigger a protest with the Government Accountability Office.
But Roper and Bunch pointed to the repeated interaction with industry through the competition, which could shield it from a protest, and lessons learned from previous programs on how to structure a competition.
Roper also defended the service’s selection of Boeing’s design, which was the only proposed aircraft that was not a modified version of an existing plane.
“We have a very deliberate process to evaluate risk, cost, and technical factors in the program and so its rigorous because we do have to evaluate things that have variances in them. The team looked at that, rolled up cost benefit, technical factors and risk, to give best value to the government and overall our assessment was Boeing had a proposal that was best value,” Roper said.
Under the initial $813m award, Boeing will be responsible for delivering five T-X aircraft and seven simulators, with the first simulators arriving at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, in 2023. According to the T-X request for proposals issued in December 2016, the Air Force will then execute contract options for two batches of low-rate production and eight rounds of full-rate production. The contract also includes ground training systems, mission planning and processing systems, support equipment, and spares.
Initial operating capability is planned by the end of fiscal 2024 when the first squadron and its associated simulators are all available for training. Full operational capability is projected for 2034. Beyond the 351-aircraft program of record, analysts have speculated there could be significant international interest in T-X from countries that plan to fly the F-35 fighter jet or from the U.S. Air Force as it considers buying new aggressor aircraft for air-to-air combat training, making the opportunity potentially even more lucrative. Although each of the three competing teams offered very different trainers to the Air Force, they were united by their cooperation with international aircraft manufacturers. Boeing partnered with Saab, which is building the aircraft’s aft fuselage and other systems.
The team produced two single-engine, twin-tailed prototypes, which were unveiled at Boeing’s St. Louis, Missouri, facility to much fanfare in 2016. Saab promised that, should the partnership emerge victorious, it would build a new plant in the United States for its T-X work, although a location has not been announced.
Leonardo DRS and Lockheed Martin offered modified versions of existent designs, hoping that a mature aircraft would be more palatable as the U.S. Air Force continues to foresee budgetary challenges in its future.
DRS’ T-100 is based on the Leonardo M-346 trainer, which is being sold to two F-35 users — Italy and Israel — as well as Singapore. Leonardo initially looked to partner with a big-name U.S. defense prime, first joining with General Dynamics and then, when that teaming agreement fell apart, Raytheon.
Ultimately, Leonardo and Raytheon couldn’t agree on pricing for the T-100, leading that partnership to also break up in January 2017.
After Leonardo DRS was tapped to prime the program, the company announced its intention to do structural subassembly, final assembly and check out of the aircraft stateside at Moton Field in Tuskegee, Alabama, where it would build a new $200m facility.
Lockheed Martin meanwhile joined with Korea Aerospace Industries — a longtime collaborator who manufactured South Korea’s version of the F-16 — for a modified version of KAI’s T-50. Lockheed said that its T-50A would be built in Greenville, South Carolina, where it also plans to fabricate the F-16 in the future.
26 Sep 18. Boeing building fuselage for MH-139 after UH-1N replacement win. Key Points:
- Boeing is building the first fuselage for its MH-139 aircraft, which won the UH-1N replacement competition
- The company was awarded a preliminary contract for the first four helicopters
Boeing is already building the fuselage that will go in its first MH-139 after it won the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) UH-1N replacement programme contract on 24 September, according to a company official.
Rick Lemaster, Boeing UH-1N capture team lead, told Jane’s on 25 September that Boeing will be pulling AgustaWestland AW139 fuselages off the production line to match USAF requirements as the programme proceeds. The frame for the AW139 aircraft, upon which the MH-139 is based, will be built in Poland and Turkey.
Lemaster said it was sensible for Boeing to build the MH-139 fuselage in Europe, as opposed to the US, as Leonardo has a supply chain set up to maximise efficiency and reduce costs. He said Boeing will install hydraulics, fuel lines, wiring, landing gear, and other parts at Leonardo’s AgustaWestland facility in northeast Philadelphia.
The USAF awarded Boeing USD375m on 24 September, the first part of a potential USD2.4bn firm-fixed price contract. This first award is for the first four helicopters and includes the integration of non-developmental items (NDI). Boeing beat Sikorsky, which offered its HH-60U, and Sierra Nevada Corp (SNC), which offered a modernised (A-to-L) conversion of UH-60L Black Hawks purchased and converted through the US Army. The total cost for the UH-1N replacement programme reflects the exercise of all options and provides for the acquisition and sustainment of up to 84 MH-139 helicopters, training devices, and associated support equipment, according to a USAF statement. Boeing’s offer may not have been the lowest of the bids as Lemaster said the USAF ran a best-value competition. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
25 Sep 18. Pentagon Extends JEDI Deadline Again—With a Catch. Companies bidding on the Defense Department’s multibillion-dollar Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract will need to hand-deliver their proposals.
“In lieu of electronic submission, an offeror’s entire proposal shall be captured on one or more DVDs and submitted in person only. No other forms of submission will be accepted,” the department said in an amendment to the JEDI request for proposal posted Monday.
The department also pushed the deadline back a few days. Bidders must contact JEDI procurement officials by 5 p.m. Eastern time Oct. 10 to get logistical details for turning in their proposals in person on Oct. 12.
It’s the second time the department extended JEDI’s original Sept. 17 deadline, following other amendments that answered industry questions and a pre-award bid protest from Oracle.
Defense officials describe the JEDI acquisition as the foundation for hosting mission-critical data for warfighters around the world. But since it was announced a year ago, the procurement has drawn scrutiny from industry and lawmakers for requiring a single cloud service provider instead of multiple vendors. The contract could be worth up to $10bn over 10 years if all the follow-on options are exercised.
But before the project sees a cent, Congress wants more insight into JEDI and the rest of the department’s cloud computing projects. In the final conference report for the Defense-related minibus, appropriators order the defense secretary to deliver a cloud-centric budget accounting plan and a detailed, enterprisewide cloud computing strategy that includes “defining opportunities for multiple cloud service providers.” The department would be prohibited from spending anything on JEDI or the Defense Enterprise Office Solutions—another multibillion-dollar cloud contract—until 90 days after those plans are delivered to defense committees.
“The conferees believe cloud computing, if implemented properly, will have far-reaching benefits for improving the efficiency of day-to-day operations of the Department of Defense, as well as enabling new military capabilities critical to maintaining a tactical advantage over adversaries,” lawmakers wrote in the joint explanatory statement.
The Senate passed the minibus—which also includes labor, health, education and a continuing resolution—last week. The House is scheduled to vote on the package this week. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/www.nextgov.com)
26 Sep 18. Northrop’s B-2 Bomber Upgrade to Evade Enemies May Run Late. The U.S. Air Force is working to keep its aging B-2 bombers adept at evading the improving air defenses of rivals from China and Russia to Iran and North Korea, but the most significant upgrade yet may be as much as 21 months late for initial deployment. The improved electronic warfare system from Northrop Grumman Corp. for the 1990s-era stealth bomber is projected to cost about $390m more than planned, or about 14 percent more than the cost that the service calculated in 2015, according to officials and an updated Air Force estimate. When the Air Force gave the company the initial major development contract for the Defensive Management System Modernization in 2016 it projected enough of the nation’s 20 B-2s would be upgraded by about May 2022 to declare the fleet had an initial improved combat capability. The system is intended to detect, identify and precisely locate enemy radar in dense integrated air defenses. It works in combination with the B-2’s composite materials, special coatings and flying-wing design.
Finding the Money
But the Air Force’s independent cost estimators now forecast that the date may slip to March 2024 and what was projected in October 2015 to be a $2.68bn program is now estimated at $3.07bn, according to documents and Air Force and Pentagon statements. That increase must be funded through 2025, so after making up some of the difference the Air Force must find an additional $300m in its budgets to cover the rest.
Northrop Grumman, the original B-2 contractor, is also the prime contractor on the coming B-21 bomber, so its performance has drawn particular Pentagon scrutiny.
The projected delay and cost increase stems from a confluence of events, including the Air Force adopting a new acquisition approach that’s taken longer to make final and Northrop’s failure until recently to fully staff the program’s demanding software development.
The Air Force Global Strike Command, which is responsible for bomber operations, “is tracking a possible delay,” a spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Uriah Orland, said in an email. The timeline “associated with any delay will not be fully known until after” the service conducts its next major review of the system’s design, which is scheduled between Oct. 1 and year’s end, he said.
“We remain committed to delivering this critical capability as quickly as possible,” he said.
Kosovo to Guam
First used in 1999 over Kosovo, the B-2 bomber is the only aircraft that can carry the U.S.’s heaviest non-nuclear bomb, the 30,000-pound GBU-57 bunker buster.
Three B-2 bombers were deployed to Guam in January in what the Air Force said was a planned rotation as the U.S. executed its “maximum pressure” diplomatic campaign against North Korea to prompt denuclearization talks with the U.S.
Captain Hope Cronin, an Air Force spokeswoman, said in an email said that the program office for the B-2 upgrade “is confident that the slip” in initial combat capability will be “significantly less than” forecast. Cronin said “much of the schedule pressure is due to changes in acquisition direction, the time to enter into a new contract structure and the time required to finalize” the defensive system’s configuration.
Tim Paynter, a spokesman for Falls Church, Virginia-based Northrop, said the company is “fully staffed on the program, and in partnership with the U.S. Air Force, is on track for certification” of the system. “As the largest modernization effort undertaken” on the B-2 evolving “the aircraft for tomorrow’s threat environment is critical to national security,” he said.
Ellen Lord, the Defense Department’s chief weapons buyer, signaled her concern in June by declining to delegate full oversight of the program to the Air Force, as the service had requested.
In a June 20 memo, Lord’s staff said Northrop’s performance “has been substandard” and that “it is unclear if the Air Force can afford this program, which has seen substantial cost and schedule growth” since the first major development contract in 2016.
Lord’s intention “is to ensure that the program is fully funded” in the next budget cycle and “well-positioned for success before” it’s turned over for Air Force oversight, her spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews, said in an email.
Lord’s office assessed that delays in software development “were due to insufficient contractor staffing” but that Northrop “is making progress” on the development contract and conducted a successful preliminary design review in March, he said.
A June 4 memo by Pamela Schwenke, the Air Force’s deputy assistant secretary for cost analysis, that laid out the new estimates, said integrating hardware from another classified program as well as “hardware obsolescence” were identified as risks. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Bloomberg)
24 Sep 18. With a big cash infusion, Congress is all-in on the amphibious Navy. Congress sent a message this year that it wants the Navy to build amphibious ships, and it’s going to put up the money to do it. Overall the Navy’s shipbuilding account got a $2.2bn boost over the $21.9bn it asked for, but amphibs fared especially well in the deal. The minibus spending bill that advanced out of the Senate and is headed to the House for its final vote funded $350m for accelerated acquisition of the LPD-17 Flight II, a somewhat streamlined version of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock. That move comes on the heels of the Navy awarding Huntington Ingalls Industries a $165.5m contract for purchasing long-lead time materials in August. The ship, which is destined to cost $1.64bn for the first ship and $1.4bn for each subsequent ship, will replace the old dock-landing ships designed to launch both helicopters and amphibious vehicles onto the beach. But the spending spree on amphibs didn’t stop with LPD-17 Flight II. Congress added three ship-to-shore connector craft for a total of eight in 2019, a $182.5m plus-up over what the Navy requested. Congress also added $350m for the advance procurement of Landing Helicopter Assault Ship 9, and added an expeditionary fast-transport ship (a fast ferry) to the budget for a total of $225m.
The congressional largess toward amphibious shipbuilding is driven both by Congress’ desire to push the Navy to a 355-ship fleet as fast as possible, and by the evolving role played by amphibious ships in the Navy’s strategic thinking, said Bryan Clark, a retired submarine officer and analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
Clark, who worked on one of the Navy’s recent studies to choose a composition of the future fleet, said the Navy is increasingly using the amphibs and their aircraft in combat roles and keeping the carriers in more blue water environments.
“They are using the amphibs more as front-line capital ships, with the carriers being more of a strategic force that you keep maybe not as close to the enemy shoreline,” he said.
Anti-access, area denial
This move is being driven by China and Russia, which have made the capability of long-range anti-ship strike from shore batteries a priority in order to keep the U.S. Navy’s carriers at bay.
But to combat this dynamic, the Navy has increasingly looked to the Marine Corps and its amphibious force as a way to throw off the calculations of adversaries, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, said Dakota Wood, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and now analyst with The Heritage Foundation.
The thinking goes that the Marine Corps can slip into the range of Chinese missiles, land a force on a feature or island, and start fighting back with missiles and sensors of their own. This will force the Chinese to expend resources to address the Marine threat, creating opportunities for the Navy to use its hefty strike capabilities.
“A Marine landing force on an island or feature has to present a problem to the enemy that is credible — anti-ship cruise missiles, short-range air defense, a sensor node contributing to the air or surface picture,” Wood said. “It has to be able to thin out the enemy’s fire power, sensor grid and attention span to give the Navy the chance to get inside the envelope, close and have an impact.”
Congress is also worried about attracting and keeping shipyards in business and skilled workers in the shipyards to support a growing fleet. Pumping money into shipbuilding is the best way lawmakers know to do that.
“The plus-up is really across the board in shipbuilding,” said Clark, the CSBA analyst. “You look at the three littoral combat ships Congress is buying, two of which the Navy didn’t ask for. They are buying as many attack subs as the industrial base can deliver, and they are pushing toward allowing the Navy to procure two carriers at once to get the economic order quantity there.”
But in the case of amphibs, Congress is doing something new by spending on advance procurement. Generally the Navy has purchased amphibious ships one at a time, without multiyear contracts or a lot of advanced procurement money, Clark said.
Even for a 13-ship class like the LPD-17 Flight I, the ships were purchased as the money became available.
Congress adding money to advance procurement is an attempt to save funds by creating a more regular rhythm for the way the service buys its destroyers, littoral combat ships and attack submarines, Clark said. (Source: Defense News)
24 Sep 18. Boeing [NYSE: BA] will provide its MH-139 helicopter and related support to the U.S. Air Force to replace the more than 40-year-old UH-1N “Huey” helicopters used to protect America’s intercontinental ballistic missile bases. The program awarded today is valued at $2.4bn for up to 84 helicopters, training devices and associated support equipment.
“We’re grateful for the Air Force’s confidence in our MH-139 team,” said David Koopersmith, vice president and general manager, Boeing Vertical Lift. “The MH-139 exceeds mission requirements, it’s also ideal for VIP transport, and it offers the Air Force up to $1bn in acquisition and lifecycle cost savings.”
The MH-139 derives from the Leonardo AW139, which is used by more than 270 governments, militaries and companies worldwide. Leonardo will assemble the helicopters at its northeast Philadelphia plant, with Boeing integrating military-specific components at its facility south of that city. The contract also includes operations, maintenance, training systems and support equipment for the MH-139 aircraft.
“We’re proud to provide the U.S. Air Force with solutions across the entire services ecosystem,” said Ed Dolanski, president of U.S. Government Services, Boeing Global Services. “With the AW139 platform’s more than 2 m flight hours and established supply chain, we look forward to applying our expertise to drive cost savings while supporting mission readiness.”
Defense News reported that, in an upset, a Boeing-Leonardo team has won a $2.38bn contract to manufacture a new batch of helicopters to replace the Air Force’s UH-1N Huey used to guard the service’s nuclear missile silos.
Boeing and Leonardo’s MH-139, a militarized version of the commercial AW139 manufactured by Leonardo subsidiary AgustaWestland in Philadelphia, beat out Lockheed Martin Sikorsky and Sierra Nevada Corp., which both offered versions of the UH-60 Black Hawk — which some analysts saw as the service’s aircraft of choice going into the competition. As such, the Sept. 24 contract announcement is a major victory for the Boeing-Leonardo team, which received an initial $375m for the first four helicopters and the integration of military-specific items needed to bring the AW139 to the Air Force’s requirements. The Air Force touted the program of an example of cost savings, noting that the service was able to bring down the price of the program from its original $4.1bn cost estimate.
“Strong competition drove down costs for the program, resulting in $1.7bn in savings to the taxpayer,” Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said in a statement.
The Air Force plans on buying 84 new helicopters over the course of the program, with the first aircraft being delivered in fiscal year 2021.
“We’re grateful for the Air Force’s confidence in our MH-139 team,” said David Koopersmith, vice president and general manager for Boeing’s vertical lift business. “The MH-139 exceeds mission requirements, it’s also ideal for VIP transport, and it offers the Air Force up to $1bn in acquisition and lifecycle cost savings.”
Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst at the Teal Group, said the win was, for Leonardo, “the U.S. helicopter market breakthrough they’ve been waiting for” and “a solid endorsement of [Boeing’s] plan to work with other airframe partners.” Now that a winner has been declared, the biggest remaining question is whether the other competitors will protest the decision, a likely possibility given that the Huey replacement program is one of the few remaining ongoing aircraft contests planned by the Air Force for some time. Throughout the course of the competition, Sikorsky’s HH-60U was seen as the frontrunner by analysts who pointed to the fact that the Air Force had initially sought to sole-source UH-60 Black Hawks to replace the UH-1N. The U-model was differentiated from the Army’s Black Hawk by the addition of a rescue hoist and electro-optical sensor, among other modifications.
“We are disappointed in the U.S. Air Force’s decision but remain confident the HH-60U Black Hawk is the strongest, most capable solution for the UH-1N Huey Replacement Program’s critical no-fail mission of protecting our nation’s nuclear missile silos and supporting the continuity-of-government mission,” Steve Callaghan, Sikorsky’s vice president for business development.
Sierra Nevada Corp. also proposed a version of the Black Hawk that it designated “Sierra Force.” However, it looked to cut down costs even further than Sikorsky by taking used UH-60As that had been divested by the Army and upgrading them to a modified UH-60L configuration with new General Electric T-701D engines, updated avionics and a glass cockpit. Throughout the competition, company officials from Boeing-Leonardo team claimed the companies would be able to offer the most low-cost aircraft by being able to bank on the efficiencies that come along with large-scale commercial production. The new MH-139 will be able to carry nine fully loaded troops. The aircraft should be able to hit a 135 knot cruise speed and fly at least three hours — and a minimum distance of 225 nautical miles — without needing to be refueled. The Air Force has relied on UH-1N Hueys since the 1970s for missions that run the gamut from personnel and VIP transport to protecting the ICBM fields that run along the northern tier of the continental United States.
But an effort to replace the aging aircraft has drawn out for about a decade, with the Air Force initially trying to sole source UH-60s in the early 2010s before pivoting to a new program called Common Vertical Lift Support Platform in 2011, which was later cancelled. The Air Force finally restarted its Huey replacement program in 2015, deciding in 2016 to make it a competitive procurement, according to Flight Global.
Throughout the process, U.S. Strategic Command leaders lamented the pace of the program, with current head Gen. John Hyten saying in August that, “we are going to get a new helicopter if I have to die trying or if I have to kill somebody to do it,” according to Military.com.
Even after the latest iteration of the program was restarted, it has not been without hiccups. The Air Force was forced to push back the release of its final request for proposals because none of the interested bidders could offer an off-the-shelf solution that met its threshold requirements. The delay gave companies a couple extra months to do non-developmental integration for mission-specific equipment like a rescue hoist. Then, in February, Lockheed Martin filed a protest with the Government Accountability Officeover a disagreement over technical data rights—a rare legal dispute filed before the service had decided on the winner. Lockheed argued that, in its solicitation, the Air Force used too broad a definition of “operations, maintenance, installation and training data,” which by statute is turned over to the government for its unlimited use.
The GAO ultimately dismissed Lockheed’s protest in May after the Air Force sent a letter to competitors clarifying that it would not compel companies to hand over software code or proprietary data. However, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson acknowledged that the protest had affected the service’s plan to award the Huey replacement contract in June, with a fall 2018 date more likely. (Source: Defense News)
REST OF THE WORLD
27 Sep 18. Colombia may purchase new anti-aircraft missiles – sources. Colombia is looking into possibly buying a new system of anti-aircraft missiles as part of a bid to modernize its aerial defence, military sources said on Thursday. Three armed forces sources told Reuters that manufacturers from the United States, France and Israel were in the running to provide the system, which could cost more than $300m (229.3m pounds).
President Ivan Duque has pledged to devote most government investment to education, healthcare and food and housing help for the poorest Colombians, but said this week that defence systems must meet the country’s needs.
“The country, without getting into any kind of arms race, must have the resources that its national security requires. Colombia has historically made acquisitions of equipment and we want to make them within the needs of the country, without any bellicose motivations,” Duque told journalists during a trip to New York.
The purchase would be part of a renewal programme for Air Force equipment and arms. Despite a 2016 peace agreement with the longtime FARC rebels, Colombia’s military remains at war with the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels, drug-trafficking crime gangs and dissident FARC who refused to demobilize under the peace deal. In 2005 Colombia bought 25 Super Tucano A-29B planes from Brazil’s Embraer for $234.5m, its largest-ever military purchase. At the beginning of 2015 the Andean country added 32 Canadian-made armoured vehicles to a unit close to the border with Venezuela, at a cost of $84m. (Source: Reuters)
24 Sep 18. Germany looking to sell costly, rarely used drone to Canada. Germany is looking to sell a secondhand surveillance drone that has cost the country more than 700m euros ($823m) to Canada — without many core components it needs to fly. A defense ministry reply to lawmakers from the opposition Left Party states that Germany has decided to “begin concrete negotiations with Canada for the sale of the Euro Hawk aircraft, two ground stations and possibly certain spare parts.”
The government response, dated Sept. 19 and obtained by The Associated Press, adds that Germany isn’t currently in talks with any other country or organization about the sale of the drone.
In a statement Monday, Germany’s defense ministry confirmed talks with Canada were planned, but declined to comment on a possible sales price or date. Officials at the Canadian Embassy in Berlin weren’t immediately able to comment.
Germany ordered the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk variant in 2000 to use for long-distance reconnaissance, but later canceled the order because of skyrocketing costs and revelations that the prototype wouldn’t be certified to fly in Europe. Then-Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere acknowledged in 2013 that the drone was a write-off, telling lawmakers it was better to have a “horrible end than a horror without end.”
Last year, the government acknowledged that the development and procurement of the prototype, a signals-intelligence sensor called “ISIS” and spare parts, and the completion of seven test flights had cost about 681m euros since 2007. A further 24m euros were spent on preparing for a resumption of temporary test flights.
According to the government’s latest response to Left Party lawmakers, which hasn’t been published yet, the drone has already been “demilitarized.” This entailed the removal of American-made radio equipment, the GPS receiver and aerials, as well as all encryption and the flight control system. Rather than laboriously delete individual software components, technicians chose to perform a “hardware uninstallation” — removing all hard drives containing sensitive U.S.-made software.
“The question is what a buyer would do with such a gutted aircraft,” said Thomas Wiegold, a German journalist who runs the defense website Augen Geradeaus. “Without GPS navigation and in particular without flight control systems, the drone would hardly be able to fly.”
Andrej Hunko, one of the Left Party lawmakers who submitted questions to the government, said the drone now only has “scrap value.”
“The sale will therefore recoup at best a small portion of the tax money spent,” he said. “I expect the loss will amount to several hundred million euros (dollars).”
Hunko, whose party objects to airborne military surveillance, said the drone’s ground stations might still fetch a market price. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
25 Sep 18. South Korean military to upgrade ‘friend or foe’ ID capability. Thousands of South Korean jet fighters, helicopters, warships and missile systems will be fitted with sophisticated identifications technologies by the mid-2020s under a major weapons upgrade program, according to the military and defense companies. For the $2.2bn deal to switch the decades-old Mode-4 Identification Friend or Foe, or IFF, system to the latest Mode-5, South Korea’s arms procurement agency has started issuing a request for proposals.
“The number of equipment eligible for the Mode-5 upgrade account approximately 2,000 related to 70 weapons systems,” according to a spokesman for the Defense Acquisition Program Administration. “The request for proposals will continued to be issued separately by the types of weapons systems over the coming weeks.”
The upgrade program is in line with the transfer of IFF systems to the Mode-5 version by the U.S military, as the South Korean military conducts key operations with U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula under the authority of the Combined Forces Command. By 2020, all NATO nations are required to introduce the Mode-5 systems, using advanced cryptographic techniques to secure their systems against electronic deception by adversaries.
“This is a huge program as for the numbers and budget, and is strategically important to upgrading the battlefield capability of the South Korean military and its joint operations with allied forces,” said Kim Dae-young, a military analyst at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy.
“The new encrypted system will allow South Korean and its allied troops to work safely together, reducing the risk of friendly fire incidents, and it will also offer commanders a better view of the battlefield,” Kim added.
IFF works by sending coded signals, with equipment on friendly planes and ships able to receive and instantly decode the encrypted challenge message, then send the appropriate response to identify themselves.
Three South Korean defense manufacturers are competing for the IFF upgrade contract by teaming up with foreign IFF developers. They are Hanwha Systems, teaming up with U.S. company Raytheon and Hensoldt of Germany; LIG Nex1, with Italy’s Leonardo and Thales of France; and Korea Aerospace Industries, joining hands with BAE Systems of the United Kingdom.
Unlike the installation of the Mode-4, the technologies of which belong to foreign IFF makers, domestic companies are involved in the Mode-5 systems development and will locally produce the equipment for cost-effectiveness and sustainable integrated logistics support, according to Defense Acquisition Program Administration officials.
Hanwha Systems, a leading defense electronics company formerly known as Samsung Thales, claims it has the advantage of having know-how related to IFF integration and design.
“Our company was in charge of almost all Mode-4 upgrade programs in cooperation with foreign partners,” said Yoon Seok-joon, a consultant with Hanwha Systems’ avionics business team. “Through the experience, we have much better knowledge of IFF design and functions than other local competitors. This is a clear advantage.”
LIG Nex1, a precision missile developer, formed a task force in 2016 for Mode-5 upgrade work to seek related technology for localization.
As a result, the company successfully localized a Mode-5 system for its KP-SAM Shin-Gung (or Chiron) shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles with the help of Thales, which is contracted to provide Mode-5 technologies for ground weapons systems.
“Based on the successful development of a Mode-5 device for Shin-Gung, we’re now able to independently develop Mode-5 equipment for other weapons systems, such as Hybrid Biho air defense system; Chunma short-range surface-to-air missile; and TPS-830K low-altitude radar,” said Park Jung-ho, program manager of LIG Nex1’s Mode-5 upgrade team.
To help facilitate the certification of its Mode-5 systems by the U.S. Defense Department, LIG Nex1 recently signed an agreement with the U.S. defense system certification contractor KBR.
Korea Aerospace Industries is expected to win contracts for Mode-5 devices to be fitted on advanced aircraft, including F-15K fighters, T-50 trainer jets and Surion utility helicopters. KAI develops the Surion platform.
“We own thousands of platforms around the world with this product, so we have lots of experiences in the U.S. and other countries as well as with this IFF piece of equipment,” said Rob Peer, president of BAE Systems in Korea. “It’s advanced technology with low weight, low power and cost effective. All of those things make it very effective.”
Peer stressed that he feels BAE Systems’ Mode-5 is the best fit for the systems of the F-35 fighter jet, which South Korea is to deploy in the coming years. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
24 Sep 18. Can your innovation help the US Air Force? The CDIC is encouraging Australian industry to submit proposals for two AFWERX challenges run by the US Air Force, which is seeking solutions to strengthen its air combat and training capabilities. AFWERX is a product of the USAF, directly envisioned by Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. Her vision of AFWERX is to solve some of the toughest challenges that the Air Force faces through innovation and collaboration among top subject matter experts. The world is changing quickly – new technologies, new threats and new opportunities. AFWERX taps into the power of creativity and empowers intentional innovation that unleashes emergent approaches for the warfighter through a community of entrepreneurs, industry, academia and non-traditional contributors. The two challenges open for Australian industry to submit proposals are:
- USAF Helmet System Open Challenge: The USAF has allocated up to US$20m to redesign and replace the fixed wing (plane) helmet used by pilots and aircrew.
This challenge is a new initiative for USAF and uses the AFWERX team and process to find people with the ideas, components, materials and technologies to improve the fixed wing aircrew helmet. The helmet of tomorrow needs to be lightweight, comfortable, stable, improved noise protection, have better thermal management and the ability to tailor the helmet for different needs.
- Pilot Training Next v2.0 Challenge: The USAF is short 2,000 pilots and needs to train new aviators faster but with the same quality. To do this, the USAF has committed to revolutionising pilot training with the launch of the “Pilot Training Next” initiative. Endorsed by the most senior leaders of the Air Force, this experimental program is prepared to spend US$300,000 or more for the right set of upgrades and solution trials as it launches the next pilot training cohort. If proven successful, technologies and solutions adapted now will be the foundation of a total redesign of the program, which has the potential to reach US$100m or more in contracts over time.
General Stephen Wilson, Vice Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, said, “We’ve got to innovate to maintain America’s security. We’ve created the AFWERX Challenge to accelerate inventive ideas from start-ups, industry, academia and research labs in the most collaborative way and get them to America’s Airmen at the speed of relevance.” (Source: Defence Connect)
24 Sep 18. Philippines sets aside USD25m for naval amphibious aircraft. The Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) has allocated some PHP1.3tn (USD25m) towards the acquisition of one multi-purpose amphibious aircraft, and has invited eligible contractors to bid for the project. The airframe, which will be operated by the Philippine Navy, is being acquired as part of efforts to bolster the country’s aerial maritime surveillance, and search-and-rescue (SAR) capabilities. The programme has been established as part of the second phase of an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernisation plan that runs from 2018 to 2023. Potential suppliers of the aircraft must have completed a similar project within the last five years, and the airframe must be delivered within 730 days from the contract signing. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
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