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UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
02 Apr 19. UK releases RFI for new self-propelled howitzer. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has released an initial request for information (RFI) for a new 155 mm self-propelled howitzer (SPH), known as the Mobile Fires Platform (MPF), which could be introduced into service as early as 2026. According to the RFI, the MFP will be able to deliver an all-weather, day and night, 24/7 indirect fire capability, enabling “kinetic effect” at extended range in support of the British Army’s deployable warfighting division, as well as increased range and mobility for supporting Strike and armoured infantry operations. MFP falls under the MoD’s Close Support Fires Programme and has been approved for concept and assessment phases as a category A project. (Source: News Now/IHS Jane’s)
04 Apr 19. Pentagon eyes F-35 sales to Greece, Romania and Poland -U.S. official. The United States is considering expanding sales of Lockheed Martin Corp-made F-35 fighter jets to five new nations including Romania, Greece and Poland as European allies bulk up their defences in the face of a strengthening Russia, a Pentagon official told Congress on Thursday.
In written testimony submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives and seen by Reuters, Vice Admiral Mathias Winter – the head of the Pentagon’s F-35 office – said that “future potential Foreign Military Sales customers include Singapore, Greece, Romania, Spain and Poland.”
News of the new customers coincides with U.S. tension with F-35 development partner Turkey over Ankara’s plans to buy a Russian missile defence system.
Foreign military sales like those of the F-35 are considered government-to-government deals where the Pentagon acts as an intermediary between the defence contractor and a foreign government.
Other U.S. allies have been eyeing a purchase of the stealthy jet including Finland, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
Winter’s full written testimony, which will be made public as soon as Friday, said the United States would respond to all official requests for information about the jet.
Last year, Belgium was the first new customer for the F-35 in years, choosing it over the Eurofighter Typhoon to replace its ageing F-16s in a 4bn euro ($4.55bn) deal.
Under President Donald Trump the United States has rolled out a “Buy American” plan that relaxed restrictions on sales and encouraged U.S. officials to take a bigger role in increasing business overseas for the U.S. weapons industry.
Lockheed, the jet’s prime contractor, is developing and building three models of the new warplanes for the U.S. military and 10 other countries that have signed up to buy the jets: Britain, Australia, Italy, Turkey, Norway, the Netherlands, Israel, Japan, South Korea and Belgium.
U.S. arms sales to foreign governments rose 13 percent to $192.3bn in the year ending Sept. 30, the State Department said in November.
Lockheed delivered 91 F-35 fighter jets to the United States and its allies in calendar 2018. (Source: Reuters)
29 Mar 19. Construction of Five F-110 Frigates. The Council of Ministers has approved an agreement for the execution of the order for the construction of five F-110 frigates, for an estimated value of 4,317m euros. The object of the authorized execution order is the acquisition by the Ministry of Defense of five F-110 frigates built by the Navantia company. At present, the Navy has two types of frigates: five of the “Álvaro de Bazán” class (F-100) and six of the “Santa María” class (FFG or F-80). The FFG frigates entered service from 1986, and all of them are in their last third of life. In 2021, they begin to their 35th year of service, so to maintain their current capabilities it will be necessary to replace them with the F-110 frigates. The proposed program covers the need to replace the current F-80 frigates which are at the end of their operational life, so that the current capabilities of the Navy can be maintained and also cover future needs that could be derived from new operational scenarios, in which new threats and new missions are included. This acquisition is of great economic, industrial and social relevance for the entire national industry, given the complexity of the design, the integration of its advanced systems and the construction of the platforms themselves. The F-110 program includes the following main objectives:
— Construction of five frigates, including the corresponding accoutrements (life jackets, interior safety equipment, mooring ropes, etc.) and first installation parts of each vessel needed to ensure safe navigation without external support.
— Obtaining Integrated Logistic Support for the F-110 class, which entails the logistic information of the ship, the obtaining of logistic documentation (Maintenance Plan, Procurement Plan and Training Plan, technical manuals, maintenance documentation, support documentation to provisioning), as well as the necessary systems for the implementation of the Digital Model and Twin.
— Industrial training, operation and maintenance for the personnel of the Ministry of Defense involved in the construction of ships and equipment.
The authorized enforcement order comes from the current agreement between the Ministry of Defense and Navantia, and the payment schedule begins in 2019, ending in 2032. The delivery of the first unit is scheduled for the year 2026, and the last for the year 2031.
(defense-aerospace.com EDITOR’S NOTE: The future F-110 frigates will be 145 meters long, have a beam of 18 meters, will displace 5,900 tonnes and have a crew of 145 people. Their unit cost is €740m. In addition to the frigates, the Cabinet also authorized the award of contracts for two other major defense programs:
— €2.1bn euros for the development and production of the Spanish Army’s ‘Dragon’ 8×8 wheeled armored vehicle;
— €906m for the upgrade of the Eurofighter combat aircraft; this will be financed by raising the financial ceiling for the program to the year 2023, since the allocated budget of €9,254m has been exhausted.) (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Spanish Government Cabinet)
29 Mar 19. Norway’s Mime programme seeks all-domain C2 information systems. Norwegian Armed Forces expect to soon field significant enhancements in command-and-control information systems (C2IS) as the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (NDMA) works up plans to execute its ‘Mime’ Integrated Tactical Information Infrastructure programme.
Mime is to provide the Norwegian Armed Forces with “integrated digital services” including deployable, mobile, and portable solutions. According to programme officials, Mime’s main effort is to optimise the ‘operational effects’ of tactical formations, based around a series of technology upgrades designed to provide them with relevant and timely intelligence reporting. Speaking to Jane’s on 5 March at the NDMA’s Communications and Information Systems (CIS) headquarters in Kolsås, programme officials said an establishment phase has been running since the middle of 2018. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
04 Apr 19. US Army Releases RFI For New Small UAS. The US Army is looking for input on industry’s ability to deliver a new small unmanned aerial system (sUAS) for its squads that is capable of being “rapidly deployable in austere, harsh environments.” A Request for Information released Wednesday details the Army’s initial efforts to find a Squad sUAS that can fit in a soldier’s pack, carry an electro-optical/infrared camera payload, and potentially stay operational for up to 90 minutes. “This [RFI] is for a Squad sUAS asset for small combat outposts, route clearance elements, and retrograde operations to provide force protection and maneuver elements real time and near real time situational awareness on the battlefield,” officials wrote. Officials added they’re looking for a developed, tested capability, which is specifically designed to handle vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and be rapidly deployable in harsh environments. Initial requirements for the Squad sUAS include the ability to handle encrypted communication, provide a data link with ranges of up to at least 5 km., work from a single hand controller, weigh less than 10 pounds and operate in temperatures between -30 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Industry has also been asked to identify whether a capability may be able to operate for up to 90 minutes with the payload in use, conduct VTOL from a confined space, operate in high winds and retain functions in a Precision, Navigation and Timing-denied environment. (Source: Defense Daily)
04 Apr 19. Army Reveals Official Requirements For Future Black Hawk Replacement. The Army could have a speedy, long-range Black Hawk replacement within 10 years, provided the service sticks to its own schedule, as long as the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) comes in at about $40m per copy, according to a request for information (RFI) from industry published April 4. A contract for FLRAA should be awarded in late fiscal 2021 followed by a preliminary design review the following year, with a critical design review in fiscal 2024. First flight is to occur in the second half of fiscal 2024, the Army’s published program schedule says. Whichever aircraft the Army chooses should come in at no more than $43m a copy in 2018 dollars, according to the RFI. For basic performance parameters, the Army is looking for a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft capable of 100 percent maximum continuous power to perform a 500 feet-per-minute vertical rate of climb from a hover out of ground effect at mission start, at an altitude of 6,000 feet on a 95-degree Fahrenheit day, with 12 passengers and sufficient fuel to achieve a 122nm combat radius and a 30-minute reserve.
A rundown of the Army’s other objective requirements includes:
- 10-12 passengers, ideally 12 crash-resistant seats at least 23 inches wide;
- 300 nautical mile unrefueled combat radius;
- 2,440 nm one-way unrefueled range;
- 280 knots maximum continuous cruise speed at max power;
- Minimum 300 pounds cabin floor capacity per square foot with tie-downs capable of
holding 5,000 pounds each;
- External cargo hook with no less than 13,100 pounds capacity;
- Capable of 200 flight hours in 60 days between scheduled field maintenance;
- Structural engineering that will allow for installation of an in-flight refueling system; and
- 92 percent operational readiness.
FLRAA is structured as a multi-service program with the Army in the lead and Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the Marine Corps acquisition programs following about two years later. The RFI lays out specific requirements both for SOCOM and Marines. Topping SOCOM’s bespoke list is structural engineering to allow for aerial refueling and installation of a probe, plumbing pumps and fuel management system so the aircraft can both give and receive gas in flight. A Special Operations variant also should fit inside a single C-17. The Marine Corps is considering both a modified version of the Army’s FLRAA and a possible stand-alone derivative “if considered unfeasible or cost prohibitive to modify the Army variant,” according to the RFI. Proposals for the Marine Corps FLRAA should include both an attack and utility variant, of which the service plans to buy 349, the RFI says. Most of the Marine-unique requirements relate to outfitting the aircraft against the harsh marine environments where they operate, like the “ability to operate in all weather conditions and … the ability to operate from and be based on all L-class ships and meet all ship suitability requirements.” The Marine Corps wants an unrefueled combat radius of 450 nm with 30 minutes on station at maximum payload on various missions — attack, V-22 escort, utility, troop insertion — profiled in the document. The Marines also want a maximum continuous cruise speed of 295 knots at 90 percent power and a sprint speed of 330 knots. Both the attack and utility version of the Marine Corps variant will be heavily armed or capable of carrying multiple offensive weapons, including a turreted or fixed gun system, Hellfire or Joint Air-to-Ground missiles, guided or unguided rockets and the ability to launch tactical unmanned aerial vehicles in flight. The two most likely competitors for FLRAA are the operational prototype aircraft participating in the Army’s ongoing Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR-TD) program. They are Bell’s [TXT] V-280 Valor advanced tiltrotor and the Sikorsky [LMT]-Boeing [BA] SB-1 Defiant coaxial-rotor compound helicopter.
The Army has been granted $20m to continue that work — Karem Aircraft and AVX also are involved — in its fiscal 2020 spending plan and included $75.6m more on its list of unfunded priorities that would “expand” JMR and possibly quicken entry to a FLRAA competition. Plans are to choose up to three manufacturers to build competitive prototypes. (Source: Defense Daily)
04 Apr 19. The US Navy, seeking savings, shakes up its plans for more lethal attack submarines. The U.S. Navy is shaking up its plan for acquiring a new, much larger and more deadly version of its Virginia-class attack submarine it aims to start buying this year.
The plan heading into this year was to start a contract on the 5th block of Virginias in October, beginning with an upgraded version of the block-four Virginia (a “straight-stick” Virginia), then the second boat in 2019 would be the first boat with the added with 84-foot section known as the Virginia Payload Module, designed to expand the Virginia’s Tomahawk strike missile load-out from 12 to 40. The rest of the 10-ship buy was suppose to have the VPM, a move designed to offset the retirement of the four 154-Tomahawk-packing guided missile submarines in the mid-2020s. But the Navy is looking for savings and things have changed heading into the 2020 budget cycle.
Instead of nine of 10 block-five Virginias being VPM boats, the Navy is proposing to Congress that they add a third Virginia in 2020, but the first boat will be another “straight-stick.” Then in 2021, the Navy will return to buying two Virginias, but the first boat again will be a straight-stick and the second will have VPM. All the block five boats, VPM and otherwise, will have acoustic upgrades.
The net effect will be one fewer Virginia Payload Module in the block-five buy. Instead of nine of 10 boats in the buy having VPM, the Navy is proposing that eight of 11 boats have the VPM, deferring the VPM presumably to Virginia Block Six, which is slated to begin in 2024.
The last-minute shuffling of the deck on Virginia, which includes pushing out VPM boats for which Congress had already appropriated advanced procurement money, shifts what was originally supposed to be the end of the straight-stick Virginias this year to buying one new straight stick a year for the next three years. This has raised concerns among those in the submarine building industry because of the potential for disruptions in the workflow at the yards, which is carefully planned out years in advance, and could even bleed over into the new, strategically vital Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program.
“Just like there is one rule in real estate (‘location, location, location’), there is one rule in building ships: Predictability, predictability, predictability,” said Dan Gouré, a former Bush Administration defense official and military analyst with the Arlington-based Lexington Institute. “And they are messing with that now, for the first time in quite a while. And that makes no sense.”
The late changes have also affected the timeline for contract negotiations, and a source with knowledge of the details said a planned April contract date for block five is now unlikely. The date had already slipped from the beginning of the fiscal year in October, according to 2018 budget documents.
The Virginia-class program has begun seeing creeping delays which the Navy acknowledged this year will likely be between four and seven months on each boat for the foreseeable future. The service says it has struggled to meet more aggressive construction timelines because of issues within the supplier base, which are causing delays.
A spokesman for the Navy’s research, development and acquisition office said he wouldn’t comment on precisely what savings would be achieved with the strategy, citing ongoing negotiations, but said the move of a matter of competing priorities within the budget. He also said the changes in the VPM schedule were not part of ongoing supplier challenges.
“To support the Navy’s PB-20 request the decision to delay VPMs in FY-20 and 21 was based on competing requirements,” said Capt. Danny Hernandez, RD&A spokesman. “This was not based on any issues with shipbuilding or supply chain.”
The third boat in 2020 also adds a wrinkle to the schedule. According to the Navy’s justification books, the third boat will not start construction until 2023, which is the year before the service plans to buy a second Columbia-class boomer.
That means the shipyards will be building three Virginias in 2023.
The Virginia Payload Module strategy of continuing to buy straight-stick Virginias into 2021, ensures that General Dynamics Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Newport News will be building both straight sticks and Virginia Payload Module Virginia-class boats and the Columbia class simultaneously through 2026 and beyond, according to Navy budget documents.
That will stress the yards and the supplier base, raising the risk that Columbia could run late, according to an industry source who spoke on background.
“The juxtaposition of Virginia VPM and Columbia will be an added challenge for the shipyards,” the source said. “VPM and Columbia will have no learning curves when both projects are started. As we saw with Seawolf and Virginia (and every other first of a class ship the Navy has ever built) first ships are late and over cost.
“Unfortunately, with the delay to the original program, Congress and the Navy have run the clock down, so there is no margin for Columbia to be late.”
The mounting challenges within the submarine building enterprise prompted RD&A chief James Geurts to stand up a new program office specifically for the Columbia class, which was previously organized under Program Executive Office Submarines. Rear Adm. Scott Pappano is heading the new enterprise.
“My concern was with Columbia being our No. 1 acquisition priority and all the other submarine activities we have going on, do we have enough leadership bandwidth available to oversee and run all those programs simultaneously?” Geurts said in an early March roundtable with reporters.
“As I understand the challenges going forward, [I wanted to] get PEO-level support to that program as it starts ramping up. And I didn’t want to wait for a crisis for that to occur; I wanted to make sure we are proactively working the program.” (Source: Defense News)
04 Apr 19. US Air Force defends F-15X buy to skeptical Inhofe, Reed. U.S. Air Force officials on Thursday defended their reversal to pursue Boeing’s F-15X, a fourth-generation fighter jet, saying it will not derail plans to buy Lockheed Martin’s F-35, a fifth-generation fighter jet. At a Senate Armed Services Committee on the Air Force’s fiscal 2020 budget request, the service’s top official said the decision to seek eight F-15X aircraft is a short-term patch, as 800 fewer F-35s are operational than planned. They pitched the move as the most cost-effective way to replace the retiring F-15C Eagle, using the same hangers, equipment and maintainers.
“We absolutely [are] adamant that the F-35 program, the program of record, absolutely stays on track and we don’t take a dime out of the F-35,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, calling the jet the “quarterback of the joint penetrating team.”
Goldfein also reassured lawmakers who recalled the cancellation of Lockheed’s fifth-generation F-22 Raptor that there would be no repeat. The plan is still for its fleet to be made up of 80% fifth-generation aircraft by the 2040s, he said.
Both the panel’s chairman, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and ranking member, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., questioned the decision, after years of strongly declining to request F-15 or F-16 funding, to ask for $1.1bn for the F-15X in 2020. The budget includes 48 F-35s in 2020 and $7.9bn for 80 F-15s over five years.
“It seems to me that we’re getting back into the fourth generation that we’re hoping to be out of,” Inhofe said. “Sometimes we forget what happened to our F-22s. Started out that was going to be 750, ended up being 187, and we paid dearly for that ever since then. That was a huge mistake, should not have happened.”
After the hearing, Inhofe told reporters that Air Force officials were defending an approach they did not agree with. “They didn’t like it any better than I like it. You don’t expand your force by going from a fifth generation to the fourth generation, which is essentially what your doing,” Inhofe said.
During the hearing, Reed likened the service’s reversal to other “abrupt Air Force changes of direction” on the A-10, Compass Call, U2 and Global Hawk, and asked of the F-15X: “It is a wise acquisition?”
To manage its aging fleet and fulfill its missions, the Air Force would need to buy 72 aircraft a year, Goldfein told lawmakers. Three of its four fourth-generation aircraft will last into the 2030s, but not the F-15C. An F-15 variant was the most cost-effective means of maintaining fourth-generation jet capability, already bolstered by recent Saudi and Qatari purchases of the platform.
Amid questions from another skeptic, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Goldfein said the F-15X would have a 20,000-hour service-life expectancy — but he was adamant that would not impact the F-35.
“Ma’am, if we ever get to a point where we are trading F-15s for F-35s, that is a bad choice,” he said. “The F-15 is not an F-35, it will never be an F-35.”
Outside of the hearing, Duckworth told reporters she fears that F-15s will be too tempting an alternative to the F-35 if defense budgets fall in the future — especially as the Air Force seeks development funding for sixth-generation aircraft.
“I am concerned this decision is based on the funding levels of the last two years,” she said, “and not a realistic view of where we will be in the next several years.” (Source: Defense News)
03 Apr 19. Lockheed’s $31bn Marine Helicopters Are Running 19 Months Late. Lockheed Martin Corp.’s $31bn King Stallion helicopter program for the U.S. Marines may miss its first key milestone by more than 19 months because of a growing checklist of flaws discovered in development testing. The Naval Air Systems Command acknowledged that the helicopter designed to carry heavy cargo won’t meet its December target date for initial combat capability. The roster of unresolved technical deficiencies has grown to 106 items from about 94 logged in December, according to Navy documents. A proposed new date — between July and September 2021 — “has not been finalized and is pending the final decision” on a request before Congress to shift $158m into the testing program to pay for fixes and more test flights, Greg Kuntz, a spokesman for the command, said in an email. The latest delays for the King Stallion, which was the first major acquisition program given a go-ahead by former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, make it a prime candidate for congressional scrutiny. That questioning may begin during hearings on Navy and Marine Corps aviation before a Senate Armed Services subcommittee on Wednesday and its House counterpart on Thursday.
The King Stallion, designated CH-53K, will be the same size as its predecessor, the Super Stallion, but will be able to haul almost triple the cargo, lifting 27,000 pounds (12,200 kilograms), according to Lockheed. The Navy’s plans to buy 200 copters for the Marines was a prime motivation for Lockheed’s $9bn acquisition of Sikorsky Aircraft from United Technologies Corp. in 2015.
The delay of 19 months or more is “not expected to impact” the aircraft’s first planned combat deployment in 2023, Kuntz said. The list of aircraft deficiencies “will continue to fluctuate as the program continues through flight test discovery,” Kuntz said.
James Geurts, the Navy’s assistant secretary for acquisition, “continues to closely monitor the program,” the service said in a separate statement. “He recently approved the restructure plan.”
“Close cooperation and risk-sharing” with Lockheed “will be critical to achieving success,” according to the statement.
The Marines reduced the number of helicopters requested for fiscal 2020 to six from nine, because of “late discovery of technical issues” requiring more time and test flights, Captain Christopher Harrison, a Marine Corps spokesman, said in an email. The issues “necessitated a decrease in near-term procurement” to “ensure uninterrupted testing,” he said.
Bill Falk, the King Stallion program manager for Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed, said in a statement that the contractor and the Navy “remain aligned on a joint program plan” to support the first deployment in 2023 to 2024.
“We have flown more than 1,300 test flight hours and completed high-altitude, hot temperature, and degraded visual environment flight tests demonstrating the CH-53K’s unmatched capabilities,” he said.
The cost per aircraft, including research, production and military construction, is now estimated at $141.5m, or about 22 percent more than the original program baseline in 2005. That’s 2 percent over a revised April 2017 target, according to Navy figures.
The Navy has the first two production choppers under contract. For the next two contracts for 14 more helicopters, Geurts wants to reduce the risk of concurrent development and production that’s plagued Lockheed’s F-35 jet program and was once labeled “acquisition malpractice” by former weapons buyer Frank Kendall.
The service wants to put three stringent milestones or “gates” in place that the company must pass through — tying payments to resolving technical issues. One such gate allows payment for four aircraft only after Lockheed demonstrates this year that it’s solved the helicopter’s most significant unresolved problem: exhaust gas sucked back into an engine.
Lockheed’s Sikorsky unit is operating under a $4bn “cost-plus incentive fee” development contract and as of late January was earning the “minimum fee,” according to a program briefing slide.
Sikorsky also has a separate $715m contract to build and deliver as many as six test helicopters. Three have been delivered. But the Pentagon’s testing office said in its latest internal program assessment that parts on the fourth copter are being removed and placed on the first three to keep them flying.
The fifth and sixth ones are delayed and scheduled for delivery in 2022 because “development contract overruns resulted in insufficient funding levels to continue work on” them, Kuntz said. The contract “was modified to avoid further expenditure.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Bloomberg)
03 Apr 19. Bids Are In For New Navy Training Helicopter. Bids are in and the decision on which new helicopter trainer to buy resides with the Navy, which can select from three well-known challengers. April 2 was the deadline for companies to submit final proposals to build the Advanced Helicopter Training System (AHTS), designated TH-XX, that will replace the Bell [TXT] TH-57 Sea Rangers on which all Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard rotorcraft pilots learn to fly. Leonardo Helicopters was first out the gate April 2 with a lengthy announcement it had submitted the single-engine TH-119. Airbus Helicopters submitted the twin-engine H135P3 for the program. Incumbent Bell confirmed it has submitted the 407GXi — a high-tech modern evolution of the 206 on which the TH-57 is based. It is shaping up to be a battle between twin and single-engine aircraft and whether the latter can achieve instrument flight rules certification by the FAA in time to meet the Navy’s deadline for that milestone later this year.
The TH-119 earlier this year achieved FAA certification to fly with its new Genesys Aerosystems glass cockpit but has not been cleared to fly under instrument flight rules (IFR), a Navy requirement. The aircraft “has completed its flight tests and meets all FAA requirements and safety standards for IFR certification,” Leonardo said. A company spokesperson told sister publication R&WI next month is the target for gaining IFR certification for the TH-119. Bell also is working diligently to get the GXi IFR certified this year. “The team is confident and working towards the Navy’s mid-fourth quarter deadline,” a company spokesperson told R&WI in an email.
Airbus is ahead of the pack because the H135 is already IFR certified, but some industry analysts have questioned whether a twin-engine aircraft, with its added weight, can perform repeated autorotations to the ground, a maneuver that puts a lot of stress on the airframe and is currently a part of the sea services’ basic pilot training curriculum. The Navy’s published requirements are “engine agnostic,” meaning there is no specified powerplant or number of engines it wants in a new trainer. Airbus counters that its twin-engine aircraft eliminates the need to perform autorotations all the way to the ground and that it can persuade the Navy to change its curriculum based on the H135’s capabilities.
“As an OEM with a proven history in military helicopter training, we are confident our commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) solution provides the U.S. Navy with the Best-Value capability of producing the world’s best maritime rotary wing pilots,” an Airbus spokesperson said in a prepared statement. Of the three, Leonardo’s TH-119 is the only helicopter currently built in the U.S., at the company’s facility outside Philadelphia. Airbus builds the H135 in Germany, but has plans to build the aircraft in Texas if it wins. Bell builds the 407 in Mirabel, Canada, but would bring assembly to Texas if it is awarded the contract. The Navy on Jan. 28 published the final request for proposals to build a replacement for its fleet of TH-57 training helicopters. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) anticipates awarding a single firm-fixed-price contract for a total procurement of 130 commercial aircraft through a base and up to four options. Contract award is anticipated in the first quarter of fiscal 2020. Plans are to start buying new trainers in fiscal 2020 and have the entire TH-57 fleet divested by 2023. (Source: Defense Daily)
03 Apr 19. Ship-to-Shore Connector FOC Pushed Back Three Years, Increases Cost Growth Risk. The Navy said delays and challenges with Textron’s [TXT] Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC) Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC)-100 craft have pushed back full operational capability (FOC) three years and increased cost and risks in the program. Textron’s SSCs are set to replace the existing aging fleet of hovercraft that are reaching the end of their service lives. The new LCAC-100s are designed to serve for 30 years and land surface forces at over-the-horizon distances from amphibious ships and mobile landing platforms. The LCAC-100 has improved engines, fly-by-wire controls, higher payloads, a reduced crew, and simpler maintenance. The Navy expects to procure 72 operational craft and one test and training (T&T) craft. However, in the Navy’s FY 2020 budget request documents, the service cut procurement of the SSCs over the Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP) due to contractual and delivery delays. “This resulted in program under execution, which eliminates the need for the FY 2020 SSC request,” budget documents said (Defense Daily, March 15). Navy spokeswoman Colleen O’Rourke told Defense Daily the reduction is due to “challenges” in testing. Specifically, electrical systems stability and command, control, communications, computers and navigation (C4N) integration “remain the critical path to acceptance trials,” she added. The Navy expects the T&T vessel to finish the acceptance trials and be delivered to the Navy this year. These delays are increasing cost and risk in the program while pushing back operational dates.
Although the 73 total craft is still the program requirement, “the change in procurement profile proposed in PB ’20 shifts SSC’s Full Operational Capability (FOC) date to FY ’32. That is a shift of three years when compared to PB ’19,” O’Rourke said.
In FY ’19, the Navy originally planned to buy eight SSCs from FY ’20-’23, for 32 vessels. The FY ’20 budget instead cut that to zero craft in FY ’20, four in FY ’21, five in FY ’23, and five in FY ’24. This includes cuts of $315m in FY ’20 and an additional $248m over the FYDP. Navy acquisition chief James Geurts told reporters on March 27 that part of the problem “has been getting reliability up. We’ve had some issues. A system like that tends to have issues with the EMI and EMC, so electronic compatability, and making sure that we’ve got a robust power control system.”
Geurts noted that the SSCs have a lot of power in the engines.
“I would say it’s not any technical issues that we see in terms of the overall design. Most of it’s now just the integration pieces of it, and making sure we’ve got those under control. From a production-producability standpoint, they’re doing a good job there. We’ve just got to get through kind of final builders trials. And then we can move to acceptance trials on those ships,” Geurts said.
O’Rourke noted that allotting zero vessels in FY ’20 increases “risk for growth in acquisition cost, lifecycle cost, and industrial base instability.” However, she said once the technical issues are “resolved during these early stages of progress” the Navy will be better informed about the vessel’s capabilities and “plans to reassess the long-term acquisition strategy to meet the fleet’s needs.” The Navy’s FY ’20 budget documents pointed to Textron’s contractual delays in FY 2017, 2018 and 2019 and delivery delays of craft awarded in FY 2015 and 2016. In December, Textron won a $314m modification for more work on LCACs 109-123, including long-lead time materials for LCAC-109 – 118, continuing pre-fabrication activities for LCAC-109 – 112, and initial procurement of long-lead time material for LCAC-119 – 123. Textron started the first at-sea on-water testing of the SSCs about a year ago. A company official told Defense Daily at the time the company was also looking to also sell the system via Foreign Military Sales to Japan, because it previously bought six legacy LCACs (Defense Daily, April 18, 2018). (Source: Defense Daily)
03 Apr 19. Navy Announces SIOP Program Office Before Industry Day. Ahead of an upcoming industry day, the Navy on Wednesday announced it had actually established a program office last year to recapitalize and modernize the infrastructure at the public shipyards. The Naval Sea System Command’s (NAVSEA) Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan (SIOP) Program Office, PMS-555, was established in June 2018. PMS-555 is working with the commander of Navy Installation Command (CNIC) and Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) “to recapitalize and modernize the infrastructure at the four public nuclear shipyards.”
Improving the infrastructure includes dry dock repairs, restoring shipyard facilities and optimizing their placement, and replacing aging/deteriorating capital equipment. The Navy said executing the plan will improve the yards’ productivity and increase maintenance throughput to support combat readiness. The Navy previously announced the SIOP project last year as a 20-year $21bn plan to modernize and optimize the public shipyards. At the time the Navy said it planned to focus on repairing and upgrading the drydocks as an initial priority (Defense Daily, April 18, 2018). Developing, programming, and executing the plan is the responsibility of PMS-555. The Navy’s recently released first long-range maintenance and modernization plan further explained the SIOP “will restore badly outdated facilities while simultaneously reducing total personnel and material travel and movement by an average of 65 percent, which equates to recovering 328K man-days per year” (Defense Daily, March 22). The Navy’s four public shipyards conduct maintenance and repair work on nuclear-powered vessels. They include Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va.; Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine; Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Wash.; and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
NAVSEA announced the first milestone PMS-555 is set to achieve is the development of a “digital twin” of the shipyards. A digital twin is a virtual representation of the shipyards to be used “to conduct modeling and simulations of the shipyard environment to aid in evaluations and decisions for the future shipyard infrastructure.”
Steven Lagana, PMS-555 program manager noted the plan, frames the vision of shipyard infrastructure through three connected components: dry docks, facilities, and capital equipment. The SIOP sees “these configurations are fundamentally linked to the shipyards’ ability to execute the mission they are tasked to do,” Lagana said in a statement.
“We are utilizing modeling and simulation as a tool to integrate these components to better inform the desired infrastructure layout. Through this, the Navy will be in a better position to make meaningful, long-lasting investments that not only address the condition of the facilities and equipment but also change the way the work is conducted,” Lagana added. The office is hosting its first industry day at the Washington Navy Yard on April 8.
“We’re sold out. We have more than 100 companies from 19 states and the District of Columbia who are coming to hear about the program and see how they can be part of this once-in-acentury team that will deliver the shipyards the Navy needs,” Lagana said.
The Navy said the office consists of industrial engineers, process improvement specialists, facilities engineers, regulatory compliance specialists, strategic and financial analysts, Civil Engineer Corps officers, construction managers and construction schedulers from NAVSEA, CNIC and NAVFAC. (Source: Defense Daily)
01 Apr 19. OFFSET Seeks Proposals to Accelerate Swarm Tactics in Virtual Environments. Program awards contract for third swarm sprint, solicits ideas for fourth sprint to develop synthetic technologies and AI applications leveraging game-based swarm simulators.
DARPA is soliciting creative proposals for the fourth swarm sprint in its OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program. OFFSET envisions swarms of 250 collaborative autonomous systems providing critical capabilities to ground units in urban areas where challenges such as tall buildings, tight spaces, and limited sight lines constrain essential communications, sensing, maneuverability, and autonomous operations.
The swarm sprints aim to encourage rapid innovation and continuous incorporation of breakthrough technologies. Each of the five core sprints emphasizes one of the key OFFSET thrust areas – swarm tactics, swarm autonomy, human-swarm teaming, virtual environment, and physical testbed – to ultimately enable cross-cutting breakthroughs in swarm systems capabilities.
The fourth swarm sprint consists of two topics areas: developing synthetic technologies in the OFFSET virtual environments and identifying applications of artificial intelligence (AI) to discover and learn novel swarm tactics.
For the first topic area, proposers will seek to develop and implement synthetic capabilities in simulation, representing potential future technologies, such as distributed “see-through-wall” sensors, passive swarm communications, or enhanced sensor/computing arrays, to enable and demonstrate novel swarm tactics. Proposed technologies could be near-term advances that are being prototyped in laboratories or far-term ideas that are primarily conceptual but physically grounded.
The second topic area represents an ad hoc sprint for leveraging artificial Intelligence for accelerating swarm tactics design, for which sprinters will discover, learn, and harden novel swarm tactics by applying artificial intelligence frameworks via enhancements of the OFFSET virtual environments.
“With OFFSET, we are expanding the tactics available to warfighters, leveraging advances in autonomous systems to address complex challenges in urban environments,” says Timothy Chung, program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO). “Exploring and developing swarm technologies in virtual environments today can yield insights and impact for real-world breakthrough capabilities tomorrow.”
DARPA also has awarded separate contracts for the third swarm sprint to Carnegie Mellon University and Soar Technology Inc., each of which will focus on development of advanced swarm tactics. The third swarm sprint aims to augment the growing collection of swarm tactics in the OFFSET ecosystem, employing heterogeneous swarms of air and ground robots, and also to explore innovative technologies to enhance human-swarm teaming or how humans interact with autonomous swarms. (Source: ASD Network)
01 Apr 19. Cyber Command Releases RFP To Support J9 Policy Development, Strategic Coordination. U.S. Cyber Command released a request for proposals on March 29 officially beginning the search to find its first industry partner to support its joint cyberspace capability development office with policy development and strategic coordination.
“The scope of this effort is to provide a full range of program support, policy support and advisory and assistance services to support the needs of the USCYBERCOM J9 Executive Front Office,” officials wrote in the RFP notice. “These services will assist in long range planning, development of strategic communications, review of policies and procedures, recommending documentation and policy updates, consulting, and reporting.”
This is a new contract for Cyber Command which has previously leveraged support work for J9 through host agencies since 2017. The eventual contract award will cover a six-month initial period of performance followed by four one-year options and a fifth six-month option. Cyber Command is asking industry to assist the J9 office with cyber strategy and policy support and offering strategic coordination with agency partners and offering preparation. Contractors will be tasked with providing technical expertise for cyber strategy initiatives, overseeing document reviews, offering task analysis and assist J9 leadership with implementing
Cyber Command initiatives.
“This work includes development and coordination of command-wide positions, interaction with internal and external constituencies, research and synchronization of policies related to cyber, with internal and external initiatives and processes related to DoD strategic and operational planning initiatives,” officials wrote in the notice.
The RFP also asks industry to detail how they plan to coordinate interagency policy and concepts of operation efforts among DoD, the Department of Homeland Security and the Intelligence Community. Work will take place primarily at Cyber Command’s facilities in Ft. Meade, Md., and interested vendors are required to have a Top Secret facility clearance. Responses to the RFP are due by April 25. (Source: Defense Daily)
01 Apr 19. Navy Official Explains Third Virginia Sub in FY 2020. This week, in Congressional hearings, the Navy’s top acquisition official explained the Navy’s thinking in requesting a third Virginia-class attack submarine (SSN) in the FY 2020 budget request. The Navy’s request is asking for nearly $10bn to buy three Virginia boats, one more than last year. Two are set to be in the Block V group and will feature the Virginia Payload Module (VPM) that will allow it to carry additional Tomahawk cruise missiles. These submarines are in the second year of a 10 vessel multi-year procurement contract for submarines, dividing the work between shipbuilders General Dynamics’ [GD] Electric Boat (GDEB) and Huntington Ingalls Industries [HII]. The contract is for five years. James Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, told Senators during a Senate Armed Services Seapower subcommittee hearing that the service’s biggest shortfall is in attack submarines and “we’re looking for any opportunity to accelerate that versus the other fleets we have.”
When pressed by ranking member Sen. Mazi Hirono (D-Hawaii) on why the Navy is paying for the third submarine entirely in FY 2020 funds when the vessel will not start procurement until 2023, Geurts said it relates to the submarine being outside of the block buy.
“While normally we would have just done the advanced procurement, since this is outside of the block buy, and because of the criticality of adding the submarines and trying to get that left of the Columbia production ramp up, we chose to fully fund that in ‘20, when we had – we made the hard decision to fully fund that in ‘20 vs. over a couple of years,” Geurts said. He was referring to the Columbia ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) program that is set to start procurement in the mid-2020s. While the Navy’s contracts to GDEB and HII included options for additional boats, Guerts meant since the Navy already awarded the economic order quantity contracts for advance procurement of materials for 10 submarines, a third boat would cost more since the parts will not be subject to the lower rate of buying parts in volume. Given those constraints, the Navy is paying for the third FY ’20 submarine in 2020 dollars entirely, rather than starting with single submarine advance procurement funds before FY 2023. 2020 Navy budget request documents explained “the third FY20 SSN was added during the PB2020 cycle without historical two-year and one-year Advance Procurement (AP) or Economic Order Quantity (EOQ]) and thus will require three years to procure long lead time material (LLTM). As a result, the third FY20 SSN will begin construction in FY23.”
In contrast, there is economic order quantity funding in FY ’18-21 and advance procurement funding for FY ’17-22 for LLTM for 10 submarines. The budget documents said there is “no AP/EOQ included for the third FY20 SSN.”
At a House Armed Services Seapower subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, Geurts underscored the Columbia element in the decision on the third SSN. It is important to keep in mind “Columbia coming along and making sure, as we look at it, by loading it now it gives us the most time to figure out how to use that efficiently as a risk reduction element for Columbia, i.e. we can get some of the additional workforce trained up, get some more of the supplier base and get some of those supplier bills out of the way before Columbia gets here,” he said.
Last year the House Seapower subcommittee leaders pushed for an amendment to add $1bn to the defense appropriations bill for advanced procurement for three Virginia submarines in both FY ’22 and 23, but the effort failed amid opposition by the Defense Department (Defense Daily, June 28, 2018).
Geurts explained that “our analysis last year wasn’t mature enough to commit to [buying the third submarine]. This year we felt more comfortable, recognizing both the state of the program and the urgency of the requirement.” The Navy has a requirement for 66 submarines but currently has 51. (Source: Defense Daily)
01 Apr 19. Wicker Pushes For Advanced Work On Amphibious Ships. While the FY ’19 budget appropriated $350m in advanced procurement for the Navy to spend on the unnamed America-class amphibious assault ship LHA-9 and the second San Antonio-class Flight II Landing Platform Dock LPD-31, the FY ’20 request does not fund either. ship. Instead, the service is delaying LPD-31 to FY ’21 in the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) to buy a third Virginia-class attack submarine (Defense Daily, March 14). The FYDP also pushed LHA-9 funding back to FY ’24. During a Senate Armed Services Seapower subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, Wicker said this will hurt ship suppliers.
“This move has the potential to disrupt the amphibious warship industrial base, as there is a long-lead time requirement for parts and materials, as we all know,” Wicker said. He asked the Navy’s top acquisitions official, “instead of deferring procurement to 2021 and 2024 [for LPD-31 and LHA-9, respectively], could the Navy apply incremental funding to the LPD and LHA in FY ‘20? Is incremental funding more advantageous than deferring procurement? If Congress approves incremental funding in FY ’20 NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] for the LHA and LPD, would it allow the Navy to accelerate how it spends the $350m that was appropriated in FY ’19?”
James Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, responded if Congress gave the Navy that authority, it could start moving on the long-lead material. He noted the Navy has used the authority previously for LHAs and LPDs and they are looking at moving up LHA-9 procurement in next year’s budget.
He also said next year the Navy will try to pull LHA-9 procurement back from FY ’24. While LHA-9 was delayed to 2024 “from an affordability standpoint,” Geurts said the service is “going to look hard in the ’21 budget at potentially moving that to the left as funding allows because I’m also concerned with the seven-year break in that ship and I do not want to lose the excellent workforce we have cranking out LHAs right now.”
Buying LHA-9 in FY ’24 would lead to a seven-year gap between buying the future USS Bougainville (LHA-8) and LHA-9.
“So it’s in the budget right now in ’24, that’s something we’re all motivated to do, both from a workforce standpoint as well as its contention with Columbia as it starts ramping up in ’24. Incremental authority on both those ships would allow us to get at that faster.” The Navy plans to buy the first new Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) in 2021 and the second in 2024 before moving on to serial production. The service is concerned that as it ramps up Columbia production that it not strain funding or the supply base for other shipbuilding programs.
After the hearing, Geurts told reporters that “the challenge is, without incremental funding authority, I can’t start work on those [amphibious ships] and using the funds that were authorized and appropriated in (FY) ‘19 until I have a full budget. So the idea would be with incremental funding authority we could start buying some of the long-lead [materials] and start getting work on those, not having a workforce, workload gap.” Geurts said the seven-year gap between LHAs is longer than ideal from an acquisition and industrial base standpoint, so he plans to work within the Navy budget to see if it can fund that ship earlier to get closer to a five-year gap “which would be – I’d say more appropriate for that class of ship.”
The Navy previously funded the first LPD Flight II, LPD-30, in FY ’18 and on Tuesday the Navy awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries [HII] $1.47bn for the ship’s detail design and construction (DD&C) (Defense Daily, March 27). HII builds both the LHA and LPD Flight II in its Pascagoula, Miss., shipyard. (Source: Defense Daily)
01 Apr 19. Abrams Replacement. The Army has set 2023 as its target date to determine a path for replacing its Abrams tanks. Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the Next-Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team, said this week the Army has two concurrent studies right now to evaluate Abrams replacement options, adding the eventual option may not even be a tank. “In the future a decision will be made for an Abrams replacement. This is about decisive lethality that has to fight in really, really bad places. Is it a tank? I don’t know. But it will be decisive and lethal,” Coffman said at the AUSA Global Force Symposium. The Army Science Board and the Ground Vehicle Systems Center, formerly TARDEC, are each running one of the studies. (Source: Defense Daily)
01 Apr 19. USAF Requires $632m in Above-Threshold Requirements Funding to Launch New Early Warning Satellites by 2025. As the Air Force continues to develop its next generation of early missile warning satellites, it requires an additional $632m in fiscal year 2019 to meet an initial launch capability of 2025 for its first satellite, officials said this week. Last year, the service set an ambitious goal of fielding the first next-generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next-Gen OPIR) space vehicle by 2023, within five years of the program’s launch. Air Force Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Will Roper said in a May release that “This is an important system for the nation, and to ‘go for the gold’ by targeting five years instead of nine years allows us to pick up the pace to defend the nation.”
However, the service has fallen behind on that “gold medal” goal and will require additional funding from Congress to meet a 2025 initial launch timeline, Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (AFSMC) Commander Lt. Gen. John T. Thompson said March 27 during a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee on Capitol Hill.
“We originally envisioned being able to go as fast as 2023. However, the costs in the budget were just not able to make us to that gold-medal level,” Thompson said in response to questions from SASC Strategic Forces Chair Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.).
Further, the service is requesting two above-threshold reprogramming (ATR) authorities – one for fiscal year 2018 funds and one for FY ’19 funds – that would allow it to remain on track for a 2025 initial launch, he added.
“We are still looking for about $600m worth of above-threshold-reprogrammings that
we’re working very closely with the [Defense] Department and the Hill” to approve, he said.
“The FY ‘18 ATR was approved by the Hill … but not all of the sources were. So we’re trying to get the sources in line.” The service is requesting $400m in FY ’19 ATR authorities, Thompson said.
Congress approved $344m in above-threshold reprogramming in the FY ’18 budget, the Air Force said in an email to Defense Daily March 28. “However, the sources approved were only sufficient to fund $112m of the requirement, leaving a remaining unfunded balance of $232m,” Maj. Will Russell, an Air Force spokesman, said. “Adding this shortfall to the $400m unfunded requirement in FY ’19 brings the total FY ’19 reprogramming requirement to $632m.”
Over half of that request would go toward payload development, increasing personnel support and expediting design, engineering and requirements development, the Air Force said. The remaining funds would pay for increasing spacecraft development personnel in support of systems engineering and requirements development, support long-lead item procurement for communications and other hardware, and “restore full efforts to design and build other key bus components.”
Thompson noted that the service has still managed to accelerate the program two years ahead of what would typically be expected under a traditional procurement program, stating that the Section 804 authorities that Congress approved for the Air Force have been “a godsend” for keeping the program on track.
“Using those rapid prototyping authorities from section 804, we were able to put both layers, if you will, of our Next-Gen OPIR on contract within six months, saving at least a year of time from the standpoint of what we’ve had to do when we were conducting a traditional source selection,” he said.
The Air Force has a quarterly requirement to come to the Hill and update lawmakers on the program, along with the rest of its Section 804-related efforts, Thompson noted. “We want to make sure that the rigor and the robustness of the oversight that we’re providing the contractors is there from the get go. We also want to make sure that our board of directors – the Congress – is kept fully appraised of what we are doing.”
The Next-Gen OPIR program is slated to replace the Air Force’s current constellation of Space-Based Infrared Surveillance satellites with five systems in Geosynchronous orbit and two Polar satellites. The service last May announced its intent to award a sole-source contract to Lockheed Martin Space [LMT] to define requirements, create the initial design and identify and procure flight hardware for a satellite to operate in geosynchronous orbit. It awarded the not-to-exceed $2.9bn contract for three Next-Gen OPIR satellites under Block 0 in August 2018 (Defense Daily, Aug. 14, 2018).
It awarded a second sole-source contract worth $47m to Northrop Grumman
Aerospace Systems [NOC] to analyze system and program requirements for the polar satellites. Lockheed Martin this past October down-selected Raytheon [RTN] and a Northrop Grumman-Ball Aerospace [BLL] team to compete to provide the Next-Gen OPIR mission payload, with a final provider to be selected in 2020 following critical design review (Defense Daily, Oct. 4, 2018). (Source: Defense Daily)
REST OF THE WORLD
04 Apr 19. BAE offer Queen Elizabeth carrier design to India. It has been reported that BAE Systems is offering its Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier design to the Indian Navy. Australian Defence first reported here that, speaking at the 2019 Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) exhibition last week, a BAE Systems representative confirmed that the company is offering its Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier design to the Indian Navy. The Indian Government is understood to have a requirement for a carrier in the 65,000 tonne range, similar to HMS Queen Elizabeth, to be known as the INS Vishal.
BAE Systems said: “BAE Systems is pleased to have begun discussions with India about the potential for basing development of the second Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-2) project on the Queen Elizabeth class design,” the representative said.
“The design is adaptable to offer either ski-jump or catapult launch and can be modified to meet Indian Navy and local industry requirements.”
“The UK carrier design has now been proven at sea and is a near match to the Indian Navy’s requirement for a 65,000-tonne carrier with Integrated Full Electric Propulsion (IFEP), that could be constructed under the country’s ‘Make in India’ programme,” the representative said.
As we reported here, Indian Navy officials recently visited BAE Systems’ shipyard at Rosyth, near Edinburgh. Indian Admiral Lanba was given a tour of HMS Queen Elizabeth and an insight into how the Royal Navy worked with key industrial partners to develop the aircraft carrier and her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales. (Source: News Now/https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk)
04 Apr 19. Universities answer call for human performance research submissions. The Human Performance Research network’s (HPRnet) recent call for submissions has received over 100 study proposals from 28 universities across Australia, nearly double the submissions received when HPRnet was originally formed in 2016. Defence’s selection panel, which is made up of representatives from Army, Navy, Air Force and Defence Science and Technology (DST), said it was “impressed by the quality and breadth of innovative ideas set out within these proposals”.
The selection panel is currently shortlisting proposals from the 120-strong candidacies, based on their assessment against the published criteria. Shortlisted proposals will be asked to provide a more detailed submission for the final selection of studies to fund.
“The warfighter is at the core of ADF capability and HPRnet is helping the ADF maintain its capability edge through its people,” Dr Nick Beagley, DST program lead of enhanced human performance, said.
“Given the number of submissions, there will be many worthy proposals that Defence will be unable to support in this HPRnet expansion, however we will be exploring opportunities to connect a number of the teams outside of this selection process with other Defence stakeholders who may be able to offer a path to investment and utilisation of their research for capability enhancement.
“Although we would like to fund many more studies, it is clear HPRnet is growing as a community of experts across the country with an interest in applying their science to the emerging challenges and opportunities for the enhancement of human performance for Defence.”
HPRnet added that they expect to “more than double” the number of funded research collaborations from the current seven Army-focused studies to address human performance research priorities of all three services.
Selected partners could receive funding of up to $500,000 over a period of up to four years beginning early in the next financial year. (Source: Defence Connect)
04 Apr 19. Australian/French joint venture chasing SEA 1350 contract. Australian marine technology firm AMOG Ventures has formed a Melbourne-based joint venture with French naval technology specialist ECA Group to pursue the SEA 1350 contract from the Royal Australian Navy.
Victorian Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade Martin Pakula, as well as the French government’s Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) representative General Yannick Cailliez, witnessed the birth of the new 50:50 company, Advanced Magnetic Ranges Australia (AMRA), with a signing of a preliminary memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the Euronaval 2018 show in Paris.
AMRA confirmed it will bid for the forthcoming Project SEA 1350, which is worth up to $100m and will see RAN’s existing and new submarines, as well as surface ships, “undergo a vital pre-deployment process called deperming, which reduces or eliminates the magnetism of a steel hull and so aids its stealth, preventing it triggering magnetic mines or attracting certain types of torpedo”.
“It is great to see Victorian-based company AMOG Ventures joining forces with French company ECA GROUP to establish this new joint-venture, which we are delighted will be based here in Victoria,” said Minister Pakula.
“Advanced Magnetic Ranges Australia will leverage the cutting-edge capability of Victoria’s defence supply chain to bid for projects such as the Australian Defence Force’s SEA 1350 Magnetic Treatment Facility. This is a great collaborative model that will help set them apart from competitors as they bid for future domestic and global maritime projects.”
If successful in winning the contract, AMRA said it would install the deperming system at Fleet Base West, near Perth.
“Our innovative solution to the continuous challenge of deperming is based on a tried, tested and approved method of demagnetising ships and submarines,” said Phillippe Novelli, chief commercial officer of ECA Group. “An important portfolio of military service expertise will be transferred from France to Australia. Today, ECA Group is a leading designer, manufacturer and operator of equipment for the submarine and sub-surface technology markets. Our proven and innovative ‘over-run’ solution can save the Commonwealth a great deal of time and money while keeping their military capacity, ships and crews safe. This know-how will become an Australian competency which could be exported to other countries.”
The system proposed by AMRA simplifies the laborious process of the deperming, with the company saying it would reduce the time required from 10 days to just one.
A traditional deperming process sees the entire body of a ship or submarine wrapped in a massive wire coil, which has electricity passed through it to reduce the magnetic ‘signature’ of the vessel.
AMRA’s approach uses wire coils laid down on the sea bed through which a specific current form is passed as the vessel moves over the coils. This ‘over-run’ process takes less than one day and “therefore provides a significant operational advantage when compared to the traditional wrapping, which can take up to 10 days”.(Source: Defence Connect)
04 Apr 19. Collaboration key to developing shipbuilding innovation and capability. As progress continues to surge ahead at the $535m future frigate shipyard at Osborne, prime contractor BAE Systems Australia has reinforced the importance of innovation and collaboration between industry partners to support the delivery of the $35bn Hunter Class frigate program.
SEA 5000 represents one of the largest recapitalisation and modernisation programs of Australia’s surface fleet in the Navy’s history. The $35bn program is serving as the one of the major linchpin programs of the government’s $90bn Naval Shipbuilding Plan and is responsible for transforming Australia’s sovereign shipbuilding industry.
The complexity of the Hunter Class program and the challenges resulting from establishing an entirely new naval shipbuilding industry is providing an opportunity for innovation and collaboration between prime contractors like BAE Systems Australia and the DMTC to further develop Australia’s sovereign industry capability, with avenues for export opportunities.
BAE Systems Australia chief technology officer Brad Yelland, in an address to the DMTC Conference, outlined the opportunities for collaboration and innovation between industry partners to support the sustainable development of Australia’s broader defence industry development, using the DMTC and its involvement with the $35bn Hunter Class frigate program as a project template.
“I am pleased to be talking here today as the keynote speaker at this conference because, from BAE Systems’ experience of more than a decade of working with the DMTC model, we think this is a model that really works. The DMTC model has proven successful in bringing industry, academia and Defence together with a clear common focus and with the flexibility required to be agile,” Yelland explained.
As part of BAE Systems Australia’s tender, the company offer the ‘digital shipyard’ concept that will see the joint BAE/ASC workforce deliver the vessels from the early-to-mid 2020s, with a focus on:
- Growing Australian shipbuilding;
- Creating a continuous Australian shipbuilding capability; and
- Growing Australian jobs ( 1,000 new apprentice and graduate positions over the next five years) and going some way to replacing what was lost with the demise of the car industry in Australia.
“BAE Systems Australia has committed significant investment in capability and technology as part of the Hunter Program. Our Australian Industry Capability Plan was one of the strengths of our SEA 5000 proposal and now we are focused on implementing it,” Yelland said.
The ‘digital shipyard’ concept will see BAE facilitate the transfer of intellectual property and technical data, including the digital ship design that has been optimised for the production of the new Hunter Class, combined with all the naval shipbuilding processes tailored to the specific requirements of the ASC shipyard in South Australia.
The digital shipyard concept will ensure that every aspect of the ship during the design and build and throughout its service life is live and accessible to the crew as well as all those involved in the maintenance and upgrades of the fleet and approved suppliers. People will be connected in their place of work to assured, readily understandable information and processes to evidence-based working in real-time.
Mr Yelland said, “We will establish a truly digital shipyard that is going to transform the way we build ships in Australia, putting us in the position of a world-leading shipbuilding nation.”
Digitisation will also bring the ‘ship to life’ during its service life. Intelligent systems, on board and linked to those ashore, will monitor the performance of the ship and its systems, allowing ship’s staff to focus on the right tasks and ensuring that the right parts and specialist help are available before they are needed.
BAE’s digital shipyard will include an inventory of parts, including cost and acoustic signature, suppliers and their details, providing Australian industry the opportunity to improve upon all parts and systems used in the construction of the Hunter Class frigates.
“Through this, we have facilitated relationships between Australian universities and those in the UK doing similar research and capability development, which further strengthens our transfer of capability into Australia. Our relationship with DMTC will play a significant role in realising our Hunter Australian Industry Plan.”
The Commonwealth government will retain a sovereign share in ASC Shipbuilding while BAE manages the $35bn SEA 5000 program. At the end of the program, the Commonwealth will resume complete ownership of ASC Shipbuilding, thereby ensuring the retention in Australia of intellectual property, a highly-skilled workforce and the associated equipment.
“We need to encourage Australian defence industry to embrace collaboration. To break down some of these walls we see all the time, that force competition and make it unnecessarily difficult around probity and that sort of stuff. Let’s truly embrace collaboration,” Yelland said.
The growing global fleet of the Type 26 Global Combat Ship, which the Hunter Class is based on, is providing extensive supply chain opportunities for Australian industry, but collaboration between industry, government, academia and research organisations like DMTC play a critical role in maximising the scope for Australian industry involvement in the British and Canadian frigate programs.
“Let’s truly embrace collaboration. I’m not just talking about the big primes, I’m talking about SMEs, academia and other research organisations. We all need to work together to ensure we’ve got the resources, so that Australia can take advantage of this boom we’re currently in,” Yelland explained.
BAE Systems was named in June this year as the preferred contractor for the $35bn Hunter Class frigate program. Construction of the frigates will begin at Adelaide’s Osborne Shipyard in 2020, creating and sustaining 4,000 jobs across the nation.
BAE Systems, through ASC Shipbuilding, will deliver a highly capable and versatile multi-mission frigate designed to support anti-submarine warfare, air defence and general-purpose operations anywhere on the world’s oceans. (Source: Defence Connect)
30 Mar 19. RMAF Plans to Acquire LCA Jets. The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) requires between RM6bn and RM7bn of funding from the government to acquire 36 light combat aircraft (LCA). RMAF chief General Datuk Seri Affendi Buang said the new requirement for the LCA would enable the air force to keep up with advanced technology and capability.
“Our BAE Hawks are now already passing 25 years in service.
“We have to do forward planning due to the aging factor as the maintenance for the fighter jet is getting costly and its capabilities are not up to date,” he told the New Straits Times at the RMAF office at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (Lima) 2019.
The fighter jets are currently being used to monitor the airspace at the South China Sea and the eastern part of Sabah.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said Malaysia would remain interested in acquiring new fighter aircraft, but was not in a hurry as the ones the air force operated now were still performing well. It is understood that the LCA contenders included the Korea-made T-50 Golden Eagle, Russia’s YAK-130, Leonardo M-346FA, BAE Systems Hawk, India’s Tejas and the JF-17 Thunder from Pakistan. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/New Straits Times)
01 Apr 19. Defence Innovation Network calling for ‘Pilot Project’ contributors. The NSW Defence Innovation Network is inviting industry and Defence stakeholders to participate in a program to help identify important defence challenges as part of a $200,000 grant program.
The Defence Innovation Network (DIN) offers up to $200,000 of funding to support collaboration between member universities, industry and Defence. Pilot Projects should demonstrate high potential to satisfy an existing or emerging Defence capability need or defence industry need.
The DIN is calling for a limited number of well-coordinated proposals which directly address the problem statements, and which demonstrate a best team fit and distinct collaboration between member universities.
For these projects, inter-university (at least two universities involved) collaboration is imperative: proposals that do not demonstrate inter-university collaboration will not be considered.
As part of the second round, the DIN is seeking to address the following defence challenges:
- Air traffic controllers analysis of cognitive load: Analysis of cognitive load (RAAF). Unanswered questions subserving this goal include the efficacy of different training methods to improve situational awareness under high cognitive load and the relative value of various personnel selection procedures designed to identify the most capable individuals.
- Autonomous analyst for Force Design: Autonomous analyst for researching and developing an intelligent decision support system capability to support Force Design.
- Demonstration of an architecture for a future Defence network: What would the Defence network look like if it were designed to facilitate information superiority and secondly, how could CIO Group evolve the existing networks from the current to future state without compromising information assurance along the journey?
- Support to decision making integrating kinetic and non-kinetic effects in ground/modern warfare: How can decision making be supported when facing changing circumstances in modern integrated warfare and in such a way that optimum combination of the complex array of systems available is employed? Each of the three military environments (maritime, land and air) has been considered and the problem statement seeks to generically capture the requirements of mission support for all three.
- Measuring of real-time and cumulative effects of stress: How can ADF measure real-time and cumulative effects of stress and present that data in order to enable detection and intervention of high risk individuals?
- Supporting reconnaissance missions: What emerging technologies are there that could assist a reconnaissance patrol in detecting and tagging mines allowing rapid passage through denied terrain? What advancements in technology can be applied to create novel PNT technologies to future proof ADF capability? How can natural language processing or other methods be utilised to transcribe radio transmissions in real time, creating a searchable database?
To be successful, Pilot Projects must meet the DIN’s selection criteria. Projects should be scoped in such a way as to be completed within a four to 12-month time frame, and preferably employing existing research capability and capacity.
In order to ensure substantive progress towards realistic goals, applicants may scope the project as part of a longer-term program of work, and may contain one or more milestones towards the achievement of goals towards solving the problem. (Source: Defence Connect)
28 Mar 19. Tamandaré Class Project: Marinha do Brasil Selects the Best Offer. The Brazilian Navy (MB), continuing the Strategic Program “Construction of the Naval Power Core,” announced today that the final proposal of the “Águas Azuis” Consortium, dated March 8 of 2019, was selected as the best offer for the construction project of the “Tamandaré” Class Corvettes.
1 – The Process of Selection of the Best Offer
The selection process, which employed the expertise of the MB staff, had technical support in specific areas from the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV) and the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES). Its development took 15 months from the disclosure of the RFP n° 40005 / 2017-001, on December 19, 2017. During this period, several successive phases were carried out: Questioning; Analysis and Refinement of Proposals; and Negotiation, involving the issue of 386 (three hundred and eighty-six) circulars between the project management and the bidders. The selection process adopted by MB was based on two basic decision-making tools: Multicriteria Decision Analysis (AMD) and Risk Analysis. AMD alone evaluated 215 criteria. These criteria were established in a matrix form, with the participation of specialists from the Technical Offices and the Budgetary / Financial Sector of MB, covering the following areas of analysis:
— Combat Systems;
— Communications & IT;
— Commercial Proposal and Taxes;
— Technical Capacity of National Shipyards;
— Life cycle; and
— Transfer of Technology, Compensation and Local Content.
The first level of the AMD was composed of four major criteria, which were the central areas of interest for the selection process:
— Ship Performance
— Business Model
— National Industry Share
The second instrument of the same degree of importance for the selection of the Best Offer was based on a permanent Risk Analysis in the various phases of the process, in the light of the guidelines issued in Decree No. 9.203 / 2017 and other related instruments and guidelines. These documents define the good practices of public governance, principles and guidelines, with the purpose of providing greater technical and legal security to the decision-making process. For the purpose of surveying the events (risks, problems, opportunities or benefits), similar to AMD structuring, the proposals were analyzed based on the same central areas of interest for the selection process, as previously described. In addition, the events related to the legal / fiscal and economic/financial capabilities of the Consortium shareholders’ companies, the companies identified as beneficiaries for the technology transfers of the Combat Management Systems and the Platform (ToT of the CMS and IPMS), as well as the national shipyards involved.
2 – The winning consortium and the future “Tamandaré” class
The selected consortium reached in the selection phase the Local Content Indexes of 31.6% for the first ship, and an average of 41% for the other ships in the class. It is formed by the companies ATECH Negócios em Tecnologias SA, Embraer SA and Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems GmbH (TKMS).
The following companies will be subcontracted: Atlas Elektronik, Alliance S.A. Shipyard and L3 MAPPS. The selected proposal presents a project of an Intellectual Property Ship (NAPIP) of the German company TKMS, based on the ships of the “MEKO A100” class. The future corvettes of the Tamandaré-class will have the following characteristics of the Platform and the Combat System:
— Length: 107.2 meters
— Beam: 15.95 meters
— Draught: 5.2 meters
— Displacement: 3,455 tonnes
— Propulsion: 4 MAN 12V 28/33 DSTC diesel engines
— Economic Cruising speed: 14 knots
— Electrical power: Caterpillar C32 diesel generators.
3 – EMGEPRON and the contractual formalization
EMGEPRON will initiate the actions for the signing of the contracts with the future SPE “Águas Azuis” as contractor of the procurement project for the construction of the Tamandaré-class corvettes.
The Principal Contract and the other Associated Contracts (Transfer of Technology, Integrated Logistic Support and Compensation), for the acquisition of up to four ships will be preferably signed by the end of this year, in accordance with the conditions set forth in RFP nº 40005 / 2017-00. In addition, the structuring of ship life cycle management, including the Service Support contract (after-sales maintenance), will be negotiated for the first time by the Brazilian Navy. This initiative, depending on the success achieved, will contribute to a greater operational availability of the future ships during their entire lifecycle, in addition to contributing to a greater business continuity for the Defence Industrial Base. The forecast of the definitive delivery of the ships to MB is planned for the period between 2024 and 2028, with the possibility of generating about 2,000 direct jobs and 6,000 indirect jobs. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Brazilian Navy)
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