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UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
19 Mar 19. UK cancels ASDOT aggressor programme. The UK has cancelled its effort to provide air combat training for its pilots using private contractors, with a Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesperson telling Jane’s that it is re-examining its options. The decision to cancel the Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) project, which was first reported by the Telegraph and confirmed to Jane’s on 20 March, comes about six months after a contract was due to be awarded and less than 12 months before the programme was set to begin.
“We received a number of industry proposals in response to the Air Support to Defence Operational Training Invitation to Negotiation. We will now re-assess the parameters for the programme,” the MoD told Jane’s.
The ASDOT programme was meant to cover the provision of contractor-owned and operated (COCO) aircraft to meet MoD training requirements for air-to-air combat; air-to-surface combat; Joint Terminal Attack Controller/Forward Air Controller (Airborne); electronic warfare (EW); air traffic control, ground-based air defence, and airspace battle management; and live gunnery. It was a tri-service effort involving the Royal Air Force (RAF), Fleet Air Arm (FAA), and Army Air Corps (AAC).
In terms of industry proposals, the MoD had received submissions from teams led by Babcock Aerospace, Cobham Aviation Services, Leonardo, and Thales UK. An initial 10-year contract valued at about USD1.5bn was expected in September 2018, with the programme set to formally begin in January 2020. Jane’s understands that the effort has been cancelled as all of the bids exceeded the estimates for the programme. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
18 Mar 19. UK Government launches opportunity for industry to collaborate on the development of next-generation air power. Companies from across the UK defence industry have come together in the first opportunity for suppliers to engage with the Government and Team Tempest partners over the future of Combat Air System development in the UK.
The event in Farnborough was launched by Minister for Defence Procurement, Stuart Andrew MP, and saw 300 delegates including SMEs and technology-led organisations attending to build connections and take part in a series of briefings outlining the capabilities and skills needed to shape the future of Combat Air System delivery in the UK.
The Tempest programme aims to harness and develop UK capabilities that are critical for Next Generation (NextGen) Combat Air capability and to retain the UK’s position as a globally competitive leader through understanding of future concepts, technologies and capabilities. It is a fundamental pillar of the Combat Air Strategy announced last year, providing a catalyst for STEM generation by opening opportunities for industry collaboration on a new level. Novel partnerships will be formed where there is opportunity to contribute capability, technology or intellectual property to the development of NextGen military air capability in the UK.
Stuart Andrew MP, Minister for Defence and Procurement said: “The Tempest programme guarantees the UK’s position as a world-leader in air power into the future and is a huge boost for the UK defence sector. Delivering this ambitious vision will see the Ministry of Defence drawing on the innovation and creativity of the UK defence sector, which already supports over 18,000 highly skilled jobs across the country.”
Air Marshal Mike Wigston, Deputy Commander Capability said: “Continuing to develop Typhoon and growing our F-35 fleet provides the route to the near-term, but we must prepare for the future now. The Combat Air Strategy with its clear commitment to an enduring UK Combat Air industrial sector is important to the Royal Air Force, as it is that sector that provides daily support to our war fighters.
“The stand-up of the Combat Air Acquisition Programme, to replace what is currently delivered by Typhoon, is recognition that we must start now if we are to deliver a coherent and continuous capability in the future. The Future Combat Air System Technology Initiative is the practical embodiment of the enterprise today, and the £2bn investment demonstrates how seriously we take the challenge.”
ADS Chief Executive Paul Everitt said: “The UK’s future Combat Air capability is essential for our national security and the long-term health of the UK defence industry.
“It is great to see Team Tempest reaching out to the wider UK industry and ensuring this important project is a genuine national endeavour. The UK has world leading capability and a diverse range of businesses with the experience and expertise to support this important work.
“ADS is delighted to host today’s event and look forward to contributing to this fantastic project in the months and years ahead.”
Hosted by Team Tempest (a co-funded technology initiative bringing together the Royal Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, Dstl, DE&S, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Leonardo and MBDA) and facilitated by ADS, the event offered a briefing for UK industry to better understand the Tempest programme and its role in supporting the UK MoD’s Combat Air Strategy. It was followed by a separate, classified briefing.
The event presents an opportunity for a joint Government and industry approach to meeting the strategic intent of the UK’s Combat Air Strategy in a novel manner. The UK is already a world-leader in the Combat Air sector, with a mix of skills and technologies unique in Europe, supporting over 18,000 highly skilled jobs. The sector delivers a turnover in excess of £6bn a year and has made up over 80% of defence exports from the UK over the last ten years.
The Tempest programme will directly inform the UK’s acquisition programme to succeed Typhoon. Representatives of the acquisition team were on hand at the event to explain their programme and how it interacts with the Tempest programme.
The event today has set into motion a series of discussions to develop the right capabilities, the right technologies, and the right level of agility and collaborative working to meet the demands of this future acquisition programme, delivering a prosperous and sustainable sector.
18 Mar 19. Shortlist of the Type 31e frigate competitors for the UK. Team Leander (BAE Systems and Cammell Laird), Babcock’s Team31 (Babcock with BMT and Thales), and Atlas Elektronik UK in association with Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems have been shortlisted for the building of the UK’s Type 31e frigate.
The Type 31 frigate, also known as the Type 31e frigate or General Purpose Frigate (GPFF), is a planned class of frigate for the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy intended to enter service in the 2020s alongside the more capable Type 26 frigate (The MoD wants the first of the five frigates to be delivered in 2023). It is intended that the Type 31 frigate will replace some of the Type 23 frigates. The preferred bidder will be announced by the end of 2019.
Team Leander, lead by Cammell Laird (scheduled to prime, build and assemble the vessels), and supported by BAE Systems (providing design and combat systems for the vessel), propose the Leander frigate to the Royal Navy, based on the design of the Khareef class corvettes.
Babcock’s Team 31, a consortium lead by Babcock and regrouping BMT and Thales, has proposed its Arrowhead 140, based on the proven in-service Iver Huitfeldt frigate design. Babcock would be in charge of the design and the building of the vessels.
Atlas Elektronik UK (leading a consortium that includes British shipyards Harland & Wolff and Ferguson Marine Engineering), in association with Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, propose the MEKO A-200 Derivitive, which would be a frigate based on the existing MEKO A-200 vessels. (Source: News Now/https://www.navyrecognition.com)
21 Mar 19. Decision On Naval Ship Probably Not Before End of the Year. The decision to launch the German Navy’s new MKS 180 class of multipurpose frigates is unlikely before the end of the year, and could well slide into the first quarter of 2020, the President of the German Senate, Daniel Günther, told the DPA news agency in Paris.
The multi-purpose MKS 180 is considered the future flagship of the German Navy and intended for long-duration missions and blue-water operations, and will have air-defense, anti-ship and anti-submarine capabilities, as well as having the capability to carry and land commandos or marine infantry troops. Two groups are bidding for the contract: German Naval Yards in Kiel, teamed with Germany’s TKMS, and the Dutch shipyard Damen Shipyards and its German partner Blohm &Voss. The Navy hopes for a decision in the current tendering process in the spring and the required parliamentary approval in the second half of the year. The program, which is considered as a prestige program for the German Navy, is operationally significant because its current frigates, including the latest F125 class, were designed to operate in the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the North Atlantic, and have an endurance of about 30 days at sea. The MKS 180 class was initially due to cost around 4bn euros for four ships, but is expected to end up costing over 5bn euros. (Source: defense-aerospace.com)
21 Mar 19. Thales reinforces its position in Romania with the inauguration of a Group Engineering Competence Centre.
- A first-of-its-kind Engineering Competence Centre is inaugurated today in Romania to develop civil and defence activities serving Thales’s global needs.
- The Centre will significantly contribute to job creations and skills development in Romania; Thales plans to exceed 1000 people by the end of 2021.
- Unique in Romania, this Engineering Competence Centre operates in the 5 markets Thales is present in: ground transportation, space, aerospace, defence, and security.
With the opening of the its new Engineering Competence Centre (ECC) in Bucharest, Thales leverages its global footprint, to reinforce its capability across all its core domains: from space and defence, to security and aerospace and transportation.
20 Mar 19. Final tranche of EUR525m for EU-funded pilot defence projects to be released soon. The European Commission announced on 19 March how it will spend the remaining balance of EUR525m (almost USD600m) from its three-year pilot European Defence Fund (EDF) for co-financing defence capability and research projects with the member states.
Ranging from precision strike capabilities to research into future disruptive technologies, the projects cover 2019-20 and set the scene for the EDF’s formal launch in 2021 with a planned budget of EUR13.4bn until the end of 2027.
“These projects are European priorities and not national ones,” Elżbieta Bieńkowska, commissioner for industry policy and the internal market, told reporters when unveiling the pilot’s final work programme with her Commission colleague, Jyrki Katainen, responsible for growth and investment policy. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
18 Mar 19. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), tactical reconnaissance radars, and electro-optic surveillance systems, announced that it will host two events in Belgium to identify companies interested in supporting the development of MQ-9B SkyGuardian. This outreach effort follows the Government of Belgium’s selection of GA-ASI’s SkyGuardian to meet the RPA requirements of Belgian Defense.
The goal of the events – called “Blue Magic Belgium” – is to increase the number of Belgian technology companies that can provide research and development (R&D) and innovation to support GA-ASI.
Meetings will be offered in two locations:
Liège on Wednesday, 15 May 2019
Sint-Truiden on Thursday, 16 May 2019
GA-ASI is looking to partner and potentially invest in Belgian companies with aerospace and defense technology that can provide support in these areas:
- State-of-the-art innovative manufacturing developments related to Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Airframe and Aircraft Systems
- Sensor data processing, automation, utilization & distribution technology developments
- Air Space Integration technologies and related developments to MALE Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Companies wishing to meet with GA-ASI representatives during the event should visit http://theomxevents.com/BlueMagicBelgium for additional information and event registration.
“GA-ASI’s commitment to providing the best available RPA technology to Belgian Defense means identifying and establishing relationships with companies across Belgium that can assist with that effort,” said David R. Alexander, president, GA-ASI.
In January, GA-ASI announced its industry collaborations with several Belgium-based businesses, including SABCA, Thales Belgium, Esterline, DronePort, and Newtec.
19 Mar 19. The US Navy, facing a shortfall, aims to ink an enormous attack sub contract next month. The U.S. Navy is preparing to sign a contract with General Dynamics Electric Boat and subcontractor Huntington Ingalls Industries for the next tranche of Virginia-class submarines, according to budget documents submitted to Congress this week.
The 10-ship contract, which will include nine of the 84-foot Virginia Payload Module upgrades, is planned for April, the documents say. The VPM is designed to triple the Tomahawk cruise missile capacity of the Virginia-class subs, a move designed to offset the pending retirement of the Ohio-class guided-missile subs, which have a 154-Tomahawk capacity. Each Virginia Payload Module sub will have a 40-Tomahawk loadout.
The first Virginia Payload Module ship, SSN-803, will be awarded as part of the block buy and is slated for a 2025 delivery, the documents say.
The contract is sure to be the largest submarine contract since 2014, when the Navy signed a 10-sub, $17.6bn contract with Electric Boat and HII for the Block IV Virginia subs. The first of the Block IV ships, the attack submarine Vermont, is slated to be delivered in October, according to budget materials, with the final Block IV slated to be delivered in 2023.
The contract could still face delays, however. Last year’s budget materials listed the contract date for the Block V boats as October 2018, which has come and gone.
The Navy is pushing to boost attack submarine production ahead of an expected dip in attack boat numbers. The Navy expects to drop from 52 to 42 attack boats by the late 2020s, a move that prompted the Navy this year to add a third SSN to the budget and bump the start of LPD Flight II construction.
The Navy’s top officer said the move is meant to get the Navy closer to its required SSN levels.
“We’re much farther away from our war-fighting requirement in SSNs than we are in amphibs,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said at a March 13 roundtable. “So that was just a war-fighting priority.”
Richardson also sounded a cautious note on service-life extensions for Los Angeles-class attack submarines, saying the service is looking at each sub individually.
“It’s kind of a case-by-case basis,” Richardson said. “These submarines, the usage over their life is varying. You have to do it hull by hull. Overall, though, I’m pretty optimistic that that’s going to help us meet our requirements and attack submarine numbers.” (Source: Defense News)
18 Mar 19. Lockheed F-35 Dinged as Boeing’s F-15X Wins in Air Force’s Plan. The U.S. Air Force outlined a five-year plan that showed the extent of the Pentagon’s push to bring back Boeing Co.’s F-15 fighter in an upgraded version, a $7.8bn investment that would jump from eight of the planes next year to 18 each year through 2024. While Lockheed Martin Corp.’s newer F-35 would get $37.5bn over the five years, the more advanced plane would still take a hit. The service now plans to buy 48 F-35s each year from fiscal 2021 through 2023 instead of the 54 previously planned. A week after President Donald Trump presented his proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins in October, the Air Force spelled out a longer-range five-year plan on Monday that’s sure to set off fierce congressional debate, including over the plan to buy 80 F-15X models and slow the trajectory of the F-35. That debate already has begun.
“As our nation’s only fifth-generation stealth fighter being built today, an investment in additional production and support for the F-35 fighter fleet is critical to ensuring the U.S. maintains air superiority,” five senators said in a letter last month. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Bloomberg News)
18 Mar 19. Once again, the US Navy looks to scrap its largest combatants to save money. The U.S. Navy is eyeing canceling six planned service-life extensions on its oldest cruisers, meaning the Navy will be short six of its current 22 largest surface combatants by 2022, according to defense officials who spoke to Defense News on background.
The plan as it will be proposed to Congress is to decommission the cruisers Bunker Hill, Mobile Bay, Antietam, Leyte Gulf, San Jacinto and Lake Champlain in 2021 and 2022, foregoing plans for service life extensions that have been supported in Congress in the past.
All the ships will be at or near the end of their 35-year service lives when they are decommissioned, but the Navy has yet to decide on a replacement for the cruisers, the largest combatants in the fleet with 122 vertical launch systems cells. This comes at a time when the Navy needs as many missiles downrange as it can field as it squares off with the threat from Chinese and Russian anti-ship missiles.
Cruisers have 26 more VLS cells per hull than their Arleigh Burke Flight IIA destroyer counterparts, and 32 more than the Flight I Burkes.
But the cruisers, which act as the lead air defense ship in a carrier strike group, have been notoriously difficult to maintain as the fleet has managed everything from cracking hulls to aging pipes and mechanical systems. The ships’ SPY-1 radars have also been difficult to maintain, as components age and need constant attention from technicians to keep up.
In the past, Congress has outright rejected any plans to decommission the cruisers without the Navy having a replacement program. But the tone on the House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Projection Forces has begun to shift on this issue.
When asked about his position on the Navy’s plan to decommission the six oldest cruisers beginning in 2021, HASC Seapower Chairman Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., did not dismiss the idea outright.
“The Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee has engaged in robust debate over the years on the best path to maintain our fleet of cruisers,” Courtney said in a statement. “In previous years, we have put significant restrictions on the retirement and life-extensions to ensure that the fleet maintains a capable cruiser fleet. I fully anticipate that the subcommittee will again review tradeoffs as it relates to the cruiser fleet as we begin our work on the FY20 NDAA.”
Courtney’s Republican counterpart on the committee, ranking member Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., also sounded a cautious note when asked about the decision.
““I believe we should be looking holistically as to options to meet the 355 ship Navy requirement,” Wittman said. “I think that we need to carefully review Navy’s recommendation that reverses their service life extension recommendation of last year. These cruisers are integral to the carrier battle group and in the end, we need to ensure that the Navy has the right force structure to meet combatant commander requirements.”
The shift in Congress is likely because lawmakers are coming to terms with the deteriorating condition of the ships, said Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain an expert with the Telemus Group.
“I think there is a growing recognition that the material condition of the ships is going to limit most of them to their rated service life,” Hendrix said. “But I think there will be an effort to see if some number of the cruisers can be saved. I think with the announcement of the follow-on large surface combatant that it’s clear that the Navy is ready to move on and identify a successor for the Ticonderoga class.”
The Navy has announced that it plans to buy a replacement large surface combatant, but recently delayed the first buy from 2023 to 2025, according to a report from USNI News.
The Navy’s top officer told reporters in a roundtable March 14 that the service was working through the requirements process.
“We’re early in the discussion of requirements on the large surface combatant. I’ve got to tell you, given kind of the discussion that’s happened already, the first question that we have to do is prove to ourselves that we need a large surface combatant,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson. “What is the unique contribution of something like that in the face of all of these emerging technologies?
Richardson said early analysis showed that the big sensors and missile capacity were a pressing need, but said discussions were ongoing.
The fate of the cruisers has been a nearly annual fight on Capitol Hill as the Navy has tried desperately to divest themselves of the troublesome class. The service repeatedly drew the ire of former HASC Seapower chairman Randy Forbes, R-Va., who said the Navy couldn’t be trusted not to decommission the ships and who wrote clear language into several NDAA bills prohibiting the move.
The Navy ultimately agreed to the so-called 2-4-6 plan in 2015, which allowed the Navy to lay up two cruisers a year, for no more than four years and allow no more than six of the ships to undergo modernization at any one time. The Navy began modernizing the cruisers Cowpens and Gettysburg last year in accordance with the plan.
Both Cowpens and Gettysburg were put into phased modernization in 2015, meaning they’ll need to come out in 2019.
The Navy’s cruiser modernization efforts will likely continue in 2019. The cruisers Vicksburg and Chosin were inducted into phased modernization in 2016, meaning they will be within their year window next year. Furthermore, the Navy asked for funding for six cruiser service-life extensions in 2019, according to its most recent 30-year shipbuilding plan.
The Navy plans to release an updated 30-year shipbuilding plan in the coming days and declined to comment on the plan for the cruisers until the plan is made public. The Navy has been making the most of the ships while they have them, however. The cruiser Mobile Bay in 2017 became the first ship in the fleet to have the latest and greatest version of Aegis, Baseline 9, installed on its older open-architecture Baseline 8 system, an experiment to prove that new installs on older ships could be done in a matter of weeks, not months and years, a system the Navy wants to employ in all ships going forward. (Source: glstrade.com/Defense News)
18 Mar 19. Air Force One: New Estimate Bumps Total Cost By Nearly One-Third. The $5.3bn price tag is the Pentagon’s first public accounting to include the new hangars and various other costs. The cost of buying, equipping, and preparing to operate the two Boeing 747s that will become the next Air Force One presidential transport aircraft is now pegged at $5.3bn, nearly one-third more than the figure routinely touted by the White House, according to Air Force officials and Pentagon budget documents.
The projected price tag — included in the Pentagon’s fiscal 2020 budget proposal — marks the first time the Defense Department has provided a total cost estimate for the project. It includes not only the cost of the planes themselves, but also work to build a new hangar complex at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland and other administrative, engineering, and development work.
“The total VC-25B acquisition cost…is $5.3bn and encompasses all costs associated with fielding the system,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek wrote in an email Monday, referring to the new Air Force One by its military designation.
The Pentagon’s 2020 budget request gives the total cost of the planes and the conversion work as $4.68bn. This is the first time defense officials have projected these numbers in its budget. In previous years, the budget documents have simply said “continuing.”
“The additional costs beyond the $3.90bn are for standard work outside of the Boeing contract scope for two aircraft,” Stefanek wrote. “These include government testing, initial spares, support equipment, product support, training and military facilities construction. These additional costs are standard costs typically separate from the prime contractor work to deliver the system on acquisition programs and are part of nearly every system the government acquires.”
The Air Force has asked Congress for $758m in 2020 to begin converting the two commercial 747 jetliners purchased in 2017 into a flying White House configuration. That work includes “management, detailed design, integration, modification, test/verification, certification, and product support to deliver two Presidential mission-ready…aircraft,” budget documents state. The physical work on the two jetliners is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020, according to a project schedule.
There’s also another $86 m request to start work on a new hangar complex at Joint Base Andrews, the two planes’ eventual home.
Air Force officials have always privately conceded that the program was going to cost more than the $3.9bn figure touted by the White House last year, when the Air Force signed a deal with Boeing to convert two 747s it purchased in 2017 into Air Force One configuration. Now the projected costs are out in the open. (Source: Defense One)
17 Mar 19. President Trump Makes Presidential Determination on AN/ SSQ Series Sonobuoys – (84 Fed. Reg. 9691) – By the authority vested in him as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 303 of the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (the “Act”) (50 U.S.C. 4533), President Donald J. Trump has determined, pursuant to section 303(a)(5) of the Act, that the domestic production capability for AN/SSQ series sonobuoys is essential to the national defense. President Trump has further determined that without action under section 303 of the Act, U.S. industry cannot reasonably be expected to provide the production capability for AN/ SSQ series sonobuoys adequately and in a timely manner. Further, purchases, purchase commitments, or other action pursuant to section 303 of the Act are the most cost-effective, expedient, and practical alternative method for meeting the need for this critical capability. [Editor’s Note: See DoD’s DPA Title III Overview for further information on the scope of Defense Production Act (DPA) Title III program. See also Defense Production Act Title III Technology Market Research Regarding AN/SSQ-101B Sonobuoy Production Capability Solicitation Number: FA8650-19-S-5014.] (Source: glstrade.com)
14 Mar 19. Army ‘Big Six’ Ramp Up in 2021: Learning From FCS. All told, the Army’s investing $57bn in modernization over five years — but it wants to take time to test new technologies before it commits to them. Army modernization will really hit the gas in 2021, officials said today, ramping up rapidly from the 2020 budget request released this week. But the service has learned from past disasters to “try before you buy” and will give itself time to test how new technology works against real-world threats, said Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy, himself a veteran of the Army’s Future Combat Systems debacle. As each of 31 top-priority technologies matures — and not before — the service will move money into it and out of current programs, he said.
“How fast is the pace and when are they going to get there?” McCarthy told reporters in his Pentagon office this morning. But the Army can’t just buy everything it wants next year, especially since a lot of it isn’t invented yet.
“You’re developing a lot of those systems, so it takes time,” McCarthy said. “We’ve laid the dollars in over that five-year horizon” — the Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP) for 2020-2024 — “based on when they needed it.”
Show Me The Money
It’s not that 2020 budget is insubstantial. All told, as the Army’s chief balancer of budgets and capabilities, Lt. Gen. James Pasquarette, laid out at yesterday’s McAleese/Credit Suisse conference, the Army is requesting $8.6bn in 2020 — a $3.6bn increase over previous long-term plans — for its modernization priorities.
From 2020 through 2024, Pasquarette said, the priority programs will get $57bn. That’s a whopping $33bn increase — 74 percent — over prior plans, funded by cutting or cancelling 186 lesser priorities from helicopters to trucks to personnel. (The Army still wants to grow to 500,000 active duty troops, but it won’t get there by 2024 as originally planned).
Divide $57bn by five years, and you get an average of $11.4 bn, well above what the Army’s requesting for 2020. That’s because ’20 is just the start and modernization funding will “steadily grow from ’20 to ’24,” Pasquarette said, as investment in older “legacy programs” steadily falls.
“The crossover point is about FY [fiscal year] ’21,” he said, “when the investments overall in RDA [Research, Development & Acquisition] accounts for our modernization priorities will be more than the like [i.e. comparable] legacy platforms.”
The Army’s 31 initiatives — not all of them full-fledged acquisition programs of record, yet — cluster in six broad categories. Each of the Big Six is getting a big increase from 2019 to 2020 and even bigger increases in subsequent years. In order of importance:
- Long-Range Precision Fires (LRPF), the top priority — essentially artillery, including missiles shooting more than 1,000 miles — gets $5.7bn over 2020-2024. That starts with $1.3 bn in the 2020 request, up 190 percent from 2019.
- Next-Generation Combat Vehicles (NGCV) — i.e. armor, both manned and robotic — gets $13.2bn over ’20-24. $2bn of it comes in ’20, up 55 percent from ’19.
- Future Vertical Lift (FVL) — high-speed aircraft to replace existing helicopters — gets $4.7bn over ’20-24. $800m of it is in ’20, up 400 percent from ’19.
- The network — which commands and coordinates everything else — gets $12.5bn over ’20-24. $2.3bn is in ’20, up 15 percent from ’19.
- Air & Missile Defense (AMD) — which protects the rest — gets $8.8bn over ’20-24. $1.4bn of it is in ’20, up 90 percent from ’19.
- Soldier Lethality (SL) — primarily infantry gear — gets $6.7bn over ’20-24. $845m of it in ’20, also up 90 percent.
In addition, there’s another $5bn over 2020-2024 the Army has set aside for modernization but not yet allocated to a specific priority or program. That allows them flexibility as new technologies and threats emerge or when programs do markedly better or worse than expected.
Note that the No. 1 priority, artillery, doesn’t get the largest amount of money, either in 2020 or overall. The top spender for ’20-24 is No. 2, ground vehicles, and the biggest in ’20 is actually No. 4, the network. Why?
“If Long-Range Precision Fires needed more money, they’d get it, but that’s what they asked for,” McCarthy said. “The dollar volume associated with a priority is whatever dollars you need to meet that requirement.”
Basically, you fill the most important bucket first (LRPF), then fill No. 2 (NGCV), then down the line with what you have left — but the first bucket isn’t the biggest. Some of the priority areas are inherently more expensive than others, McCarthy said. LRPF is mostly missiles, ammunition, and upgrades to existing howitzers, while NGCV and FVL are building entire vehicles.
Equally important, not all the technologies are equally ready for prime time. Fed up with cumbersome government-led IT programs that get left in the dust by the private sector, the Army now wants to buy as much of its network as possible off-the-shelf, using commercial electronics and software. That’s ready now. The most urgent Next-Gen Combat Vehicle program, which is replacing the 1980s-vintage is looking at prototypes already built by industry (on spec), but only one candidate is actually in mass production. The longest of the Long-Range Precision Fires will come from hypersonic missiles and a giant cannon that shoots cruise missiles, both still experimental technologies.
Concepts cost less than experiments, which cost less than prototypes, which cost less than production, so an initiative’s cost ramps up over time as it matures. That means the Army can dial up its commitment over time as a new technology proves its worth. It also means Army doesn’t need or want to cut back on any given tried-and-true technology until it’s reasonably confident in the replacement.
Legacy Lives (For Now)
The Army’s already at work on its budget plan for 2021-2025, and its four top leaders — Secretary Mark Esper, Undersecretary McCarthy, Chief of Staff Milley, and Vice-Chief McConville — will personally keep an eye on the most important programs. That includes the 31 modernization initiatives “in particular,” McCarthy said, but not just them. “There’s also systems that are extremely important that are in the legacy portfolio,” he said, “and you’ll see a lot of those investments in this budget, [e.g.] Double-V-Hull Strykers and Abrams.”
In fact, the Army is actually increasing spending on the 8×8 Stryker, M1 Abrams tank, and even the M2 Bradley troop carrier in the near term — even as it races to replace the Bradley with a Next-Generation Combat Vehicle.
The M1’s getting another $1.7bn for upgrades in 2020, a 64 percent increase over 2019. The NGCV program wants to replace it eventually, perhaps with a much smaller and more expendable robotic vehicle, but that project’s just in the brainstorming stage right now.
The Army will also keep buying Stryker armored vehicles throughout the 2020-24 plan: $550m a year for a half-brigade of the latest DVH A1 models.
Even the Bradley’s getting $635 m in 2020, up 37 percent. But in 2023, once the Army’s finished buying five brigades of the newest Bradley model, it’ll start buying the next-gen vehicle instead. That’ll let the Army start retiring the oldest and most obsolescent Bradleys, the Operation Desert Storm variant.
Likewise, the Army will increase investment in its current mainstay helicopter, the UH-60 Black Hawk, by 37 percent in 2020, to $635m, while it lets the Future Vertical Lift aircraft mature.
It’ll also buy a last few CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters in ’20. Neither of the two FVL variants now envisioned is actually big enough to replace the Chinook, but the service already has 10 percent more heavy-lifters than it needs, McCarthy said, and they’ve all been recently upgraded, so the buy stops there. (Production of the Special Operations variant, the MH-47G, will continue).
On the flipside, the Army is actually slowing down two of its newest programs because they were equipping support troops rather than frontline fighters. Those would be the tracked Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV), a turretless utility variant of the Bradley, and the wheeled Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), a better-protected replacement for the Humvee.
It’s not clear if the Army plans to buy the same number of AMPVs eventually and just take longer doing it. But for JLTV, McCarthy said explicitly the Army would buy 1,900 fewer overall. That still leaves a fleet of 49,000 JLTVs by 2028, enough to carry almost 200,000 soldiers at once. But in a future war with Russia, the Army doesn’t plan to tool around in trucks the way it did in Iraq. So it made sense to shift funding from JLTV to things like tanks. That’s the kind of adaption that the cancelled Future Combat System failed to do as the world changed out from under it, McCarthy argued.
The Gates Theorem
The do-or-die question for each of the Army’s new investments, McCarthy said, “is this capability going to work for you in a combat setting?” And that’s a very specific combat setting, driven by the threat of Russia in the near term and China further out.
“The Army has had challenges with major defense acquisition programs in the last 20 or so years, because we don’t lock in threat, operating concept, and ultimately materiel and have it all come together,” McCarthy said. “That’s where you see big weapons systems fail, is if the operators aren’t saying how we’re going to use it to prosecute a target in this type of fight.” To help prevent that, each of the Big Six priorities has a dedicated modernization team lead by a one- or two-star combat veteran.
By contrast, Defense Secretary Robert Gates killed the ill-fated Future Combat System in 2009 because he didn’t see how FCS’s light armored vehicles, which sacrificed armor protection for easier deployment by air, fit with how the Army would actually fight.
McCarthy was a young aide to Gates at the time. “The approach that he used,” McCarthy recalled, boiled down to Gates’ own Pythagorean Theorem, three questions whose answers had to fit together for the program to pass. “What’s the threat?” McCarthy recounted “How does this capability threat fit in the operating scheme? And is the technology too immature to be brought online now?”
McCarthy and other Army leaders applied the same theorem when they reviewed the entire Army budget in a series of “Night Court” reviews last year, he said. Informed by extensive wargames of how current and proposed weapons would work in a major war, he said, “we kept consistently asking those kinds of questions.”
Now McCarthy and his colleagues will face some harsh questioning themselves.
“It’s going to take a lot of heart to go up there and explain it… to Congress and others,” McCarthy said. “This will affect production lines” — and jobs– “but we have to make some adjustments.” (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
14 Mar 19. Dunford: New F-15 Buy for Air Force Fills F-35 Capacity and Capability Shortfall. The Pentagon’s decision to add new F-15EXs to its budget request for the Air Force, a move not requested by the service itself, was based on a lack of capability and capacity of the current fleet and the presumptive cheaper cost of the Eagles, the military’s top uniformed officer told lawmakers on Thursday. The Pentagon’s fiscal 2020 budget request includes about $1bn for eight F-15EX “advanced Eagles,” a decision that stemmed from former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee the “framework” of the decision came from a study of the future needs of the military’s tactical aircraft fleet, which showed the Air Force had a shortage in its number of aircraft and the amount of ordnance those aircraft could carry.
“Then they had the F-15C, which was aging out in the 2027-2028 period,” he said “So, within the next five or 10 years the best solution was to go to the F-15, called the EX, platform to backfill the F-15. Eventually we’ll get to an all F-35 program, but from both a cost perspective and a capability perspective, this particular mix of aircraft for the near term was determined to be the right mix of aircraft.” (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Air Force Magazine)
REST OF THE WORLD
20 Mar 19. Australia to extend service life of Anzac-class frigates amid concerns about sustainment. The Anzac-class frigates of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) are to have their service life extended by up to 10 years amid potential concerns about their future seaworthiness and capability. According to a report on sustainment of the eight-ship class released on 18 March by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), the government was advised by the country’s Department of Defence (DoD) in June 2018 that it would be necessary to extend the life of the class pending the entry into service of the replacement Hunter class, the first of which is expected to enter service in 2027. The oldest of the Anzac-class fleet, HMAS Anzac, was due to retire in 2025 but will not be withdrawn until 2030, while the youngest ship, HMAS Perth, was to have been withdrawn in 2032–33 but will now remain in service until 2043, the ANAO stated. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
19 Mar 19. Brazil considers helicopter carrier modernisation. The Brazilian Navy has started initial studies for the installation of new systems meant to improve its PHM Atlantico (A140) multipurpose helicopter carrier. The potential modernisation would improve key capabilities of the navy’s flagship vessel, including navigation and protection systems. Among the components being considered for replacement, installation, or mondernisation are navigation and precision approach radar systems, a command-and-control system at the operational level for use by an embarked command force, and a new self-protection system to complement the existing four 30 mm DS30M Mk2 remote-controlled weapon stations. The navy is looking at an existing system – either gun- or missile-based – as a possible replacement. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
20 Mar 19. DST and Future Submarine Project request expressions of interest for RN-UDS. Australian universities are being called upon to help establish the Research Network for Undersea Decision Superiority (RN-UDS) with DST and the Future Submarine Project. The network looks to “build world-class research capabilities and capacities in Australian partner universities and leverage the significant skills, expertise, networks and infrastructure of Australia’s research base for sovereign benefit”.
The RN-UDS launched on 25 February 2019, with a call for expressions of interest from any Australian university that is a signatory to the Defence Science Partnering Deed (DSPD).
The initiative will focus on the human element in undersea decision making, and will provide a mechanism to fund and oversee research projects that lead to “improved decision making in the context of future submarine operations”.
Up to $2m in funding will be available annually for suitable projects and “other network activities”, such as seminars, scholarships and administration, and academics from network members will be able to apply directly for project funding opportunities.
Non-member academics from DSPD signatory universities are able to participate in projects “through collaboration with network members through the usual subcontracting processes under the DSPD”.
These projects will be lead by academics from network members.
Three universities are foundation members for the RN-UDS: Curtin University, Edith Cowan University and the University of Western Australia, with Curtin initially acting as the network agent.
An advisory board made up of representatives from DST and network members, will govern the RN-UDS, with an interim board to be appointed for the first 12 months of operation.
The interim advisory board is chaired by retired submariner Commodore (Ret’d) Steve Davies of Nova Systems, supported by independent members Dr Margaret Law (Naval Group) and Pat Hall (independent director), DST representative Dr David Gamble, and university representatives Dr Andrew Dowse (Edith Cowan University), Pru Ayling (University of Western Australia) and Tim Walton (Curtin University). (Source: Defence Connect)
18 Mar 19. Argentine Army receives more equipment. The Argentine Army continues to receive additional equipment with a view to controlling its northern border. On 15 March Argentine President Mauricio Macri announced the delivery of 250 new radios (including Elbit VRC 950 HDR and Harris RF 7800H sets), 27 Carl Gustav M4 rocket launchers, and 30 FN M240B machine guns. In addition, 29 81mm mortars, 8 M113 armoured personnel carriers, 1 TAM medium tank, 1 TAM VCTP armoured vehicle, and 18 Mercedes-Benz Unimog 416 trucks were delivered following extensive overhauls. Finally, 344 FAL carbines have been delivered after being modernised and converted from rifles. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
18 Mar 19. Airbus Helicopters offers H145M for Australian SOF role. Airbus Helicopters has confirmed it is to bid its H145M battlefield support helicopter for Australia’s special forces requirement. The announcement, made by the company on 18 March, comes eight months after Jane’s first reported that Airbus was discussing with a potential customer a requirement to airlift up to four H145Ms aboard a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft for rapid forward deployment. While the head of H145M marketing, Christian Fachini, declined at that time to identify the prospective customer, Australia was known to have such a requirement for its special operations forces (SOFs). Australia’s Land 2097 Phase 4 requirement for an SOF helicopter came to light in the country’s Defence Integrated Investment Programme (DIIP), which was published in 2016. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
18 Mar 19. $2.46bn to enhance Air Force’s electronic warfare capabilities. Defence Minister Christopher Pyne and Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds have confirmed a multibillion-dollar acquisition to expand the electronic warfare and multi-domain capabilities of the ADF. Minister Pyne made the announcement alongside Minister Reynolds, and said the acquisition originally identified as part of the 2016 Defence White Paper and the 2017 Integrated Investment Plan would “enable Defence to actively strengthen electronic warfare support to naval, air and land forces for operations in complex electromagnetic environments”.
“The Peregrine is a new airborne electronic warfare capability that will be integrated into Defence’s joint warfighting networks, providing a critical link between platforms, including the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, E-7A Wedgetail, EA-18G Growler, Navy’s surface combatants and amphibious assault ships and ground assets to support the warfighter,” Minister Pyne said.
The airborne intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic warfare (AISREW) mission systems aircraft will be based at RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia – yet another piece in a broader ISR precinct being developed at the Super Base, which is already home to the Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
RAAF Base Edinburgh will also serve as the headquarters for the RAAF’s fleet of unmanned Tritons and armed unmanned Reaper variant.
“This capability and the people who operate it will bring Air Force a step closer to becoming a fully networked fifth-generation force and further exploit the joint combat multiplier effects on exercises and operations,” Minister Pyne explained.
Minister Reynolds added, “The Liberal National government remains committed to opening up new opportunities for Australian small and medium enterprises in the defence industry.”
Italy, Israel and Singapore operate Gulfstream G550s modified by IAI with large conformal antennas and other enhancements in the AEW&C role, and the US Navy has also ordered a similarly configured aircraft for range-control work. Various other special-mission G550s serve with the US government and other countries.
“About $425m will be spent with Australian companies during the acquisition phase of the project, including $257m to be invested in new facilities at RAAF Base Edinburgh. There will be further significant opportunities for Australian industry, estimated to be over $2bn, in the sustainment of the aircraft over the 25 years life-of-type,” Minister Reynolds said.
Australia requested the possible sale of up to five Gulfstream G550 with AISREW mission systems, GPS capability, secure communications, aircraft defensive systems; spares, including whole-life costs of airborne and ground segments; aircraft modification and integration; ground systems for data processing and crew training; ground support equipment; publications and technical data; US government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services; flight test and certification; and other related elements of logistical and program support. (Source: Defence Connect)
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