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UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
23 May 19. NCI Agency to release €1.4bn in business opportunities. The Nato Communications and Information (NCI) Agency has announced plans to release €1.4bn in business opportunities over the next 18 months.
During this period, the agency plans to issue bids or award contracts in areas such as cybersecurity, joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), and satellite communications.
The NCI Agency will award €189m worth of contracts in satellite communications transmission services for space, ground and control resources to support Nato operations from 2020 to 2034.
Additionally, a total of €129m is planned to be used for refreshing and optimising security technology for Nato’s communications and information systems.
The NCI Agency is also planning to award €153.2m in contracts on deployable communications and information systems (CIS), as well as capability enhancements.
Furthermore, Nato plans to make €15m to €20m of investments for a safe and secure nuclear deterrent in the face of new technologies and threats.
New software will be developed and IT equipment would be procured using the funds.
The agency plans to invest €10m in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) functional services to develop software, replace certain ageing tools and support command and control of CBRN assets.
In the area of joint ISR, Nato will issue a bid worth €17m to provide additional intelligence collecting and sharing capabilities to Nato commands.
The agency works to deliver technology and services to Nato nations and commands. It holds open competitions through invitations for bids (IFBs).
The NCI Agency acquires, deploys and defends communications systems for the alliance’s political decision-makers and commands.
22 May 19. US Marines want their phones and tablets to handle classified data. The USMC has selected several companies to bid on task orders that will allow warfighters to transmit secure on-the-move command-and-control and situational awareness data, including sending classified information through commercial smartphones and tablets.
The infantry community has long wanted to use wireless commercial devices for dismounted Marines for reference and tactical sharing. The Marine Common Handheld program will provide the Marine Air Ground Task Force secure mobile computing at the tactical edge enabling tactical combat, combat support and combat service support commanders, leaders and key command and control nodes by using digital communications.
At least two companies have announced they are eligible for task orders under the indefinite delivery-indefinite quantity contract: PacStar and iGov Technologies. The total value of the contract is $48m.
iGov was awarded $4.4m in the first delivery for the program.
In a May 21 announcement, PacStar said its portion of the award consists of components from the company’s Secure Wireless Command Post to be used for network infrastructure, encryption and cybersecurity. Specifically, PacStar’s system will provide secure, encrypted access to classified networks for smart mobile devices in the tactical network.
The Marines requested modular, man-portable equipment suite allowing units to quickly acquire targets in day, night and near all-weather visibility conditions as well as control close air support and artillery.
(Source: C4ISR & Networks)
21 May 19. Boeing’s International KC-46 Sales Pitch: Let USAF Pay For R&D. As Boeing gears up for the Paris Air Show, its sales pitch to countries shopping for a new or first aerial tanker capability will be that the US Air Force will pay to keep the worldwide KC-46 fleet up to date, saving countries money and assuring them the product will have long-term support.
In a briefing for international journalists on May 15, Boeing KC-46 and P-8 international sales director Matt Carreon said the Air Force is committed to a buy of at least 179 KC-46s, and supporting them with upgrades and modifications “for the next 30-plus years.” If a customer were to buy a tanker that didn’t have a large worldwide fleet, each customer would have to pay to develop upgrades, modifications, and new capabilities, he said. While the customer would pay for installations, the Air Force will develop the fleetwide enhancements at its own expense.
“We tell customers that’s the reason you buy the KC-46,” Carreon said. “If you buy a different tanker, a one-off, …who’s going to pay for that certification” of receiver aircraft types, and maintain certifications into the future? “The KC-46 will be certified for 64 aircraft, and any other aircraft the US Air Force deems appropriate,” he said, noting USAF will pay for performing those certifications, even those of aircraft it doesn’t operate, because of the value of being interoperable with allies.
That means there’s a lot of cost avoidance for customers choosing the Pegasus, he argued. Allies can also be assured that “Boeing will be there” to support the product for decades, and customers won’t have to worry about logistical and technical support evaporating.
Carreon declined to discuss quality control issues experienced with the KC-46 relative to its remote viewing system or foreign objects left in aircraft during manufacture. “Every aircraft has its problems,” he said, insisting that Boeing and the Air Force “will handle those.” (Source: defense-aerospace.com/ Air Force magazine)
17 May 19. US special ops command at odds with Air Force over need for light-attack aircraft. U.S. Special Operations Command is bullish at the prospect of buying a light-attack aircraft, according to the command’s top leaders — a marked contrast from the U.S. Air Force, which wants to expand the effort to other types of platforms. The Air Force this year postponed a competition to provide light-attack aircraft. The service had evaluated offerings in 2017 and was set to release a request for proposals at the end of 2018. The plan now is to continue with experimentation and broaden the scope of a possible program that might include rotorcraft, fixed-wing and unmanned options. But while the Air Force considers whether it needs a light-attack capability, SOCOM Commander Gen. Richard Clarke said a light-attack platform is essential for its forces and the mission it serves.
“Light attack is a need for SOCOM, and I think it’s a need for our nation,” Clarke said during a House Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee hearing in April.
“One, it will help our special operators on the ground for identification and protection from all our enemy forces,” he said. “Second reason, as we look at the foreign internal defense of other nations, there are many nations that are now developing their own air forces, and in many cases they are light attack.”
Special operators train foreign militaries as one of its central missions, particularly to counter terrorism.
“The most cost-effective [counterterrorism] effort is the one done by our partners and allies if we can help them be successful, and many of them simply don’t have the resources to put into fifth-generation fighters,” Mark Mitchell, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, said at the hearing. “From our strategic perspective, we think the flight hours for those fifth-generation fighters are best spent preparing and deterring our near-peer competitors.”
Air Force leaders are more tentative about the need for a light-attack capability. While Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has spoken about how a light-attack plane would allow the service to accomplish low-end missions more cheaply, he’s also said the service won’t divert funds from priorities like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, B-21 bomber or KC-46 tanker to pay for a light-attack program.
He has also said the Air Force’s experimentation campaign must be expanded to accommodate the needs of allies and partner nations who might benefit from a light-attack capability — as well as greater interoperability with the United States.
“What is the right mix and how do we bring allies and partners in right now with us — not just periodically parachute in — but how do we expand this experiment to bring them into the tent with us?” Goldfein told Defense News in January.
Over the next several years, the Air Force plans to buy a small number of light-attack aircraft and deploy them to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada — where Red Flag and a number of other high-profile training exercises take place — and Hurlburt Field, Florida, the home of Air Force Special Operations Command.
Earlier this month, the service released a presolicitation stating its intent to buy two to three A-29s from Sierra Nevada Corp. and Embraer by the end of the fiscal year. It plans to make a similar procurement of Textron’s AT-6 during the same time frame, an Air Force spokeswoman said.
However, it doesn’t plan to start a light-attack program of record until at least 2022.
Several lawmakers seem intent on preventing the Air Force from walking back on bringing additional light-attack capabilities online.
“It is my position there’s still a need for it though because F-35, F-22s are high-end,” Nebraska Republican Rep. Don Bacon said. “We need something [in a] permissive environment that’s cheaper to operate and more efficient to operate.”
And Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., said: “While we, of course, as a nation need things that fly far, fast and high, we need things that fly low, armored, and can loiter and can land in places like West Africa.”
Waltz said he will continue to press the Air Force on the capability because “we need it now.”
Mitchell added he was “hopeful” that SOCOM and the Air Force can come up with a “suitable solution.”
While he didn’t have specifics related to a possible program, Clarke said SOCOM will work with the Air Force and Goldfein “to look at the timing and the mix and where we go forward with that.” (Source: Defense News)
REST OF THE WORLD
21 May 19. India’s DGAC seeks industry partners to trial BVLOS and UTM concepts. India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has invited Expressions of Interest (EOI) from consortia of experts to conduct experimental beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) in India, leading to the submission of proof of concept (POC) for safe BVLOS operations.
Interested organisations can submit a detailed proposal to Hillol Biswas, director (Aircraft Engineering), Office of Director General of Civil Aviation. As per the note from G. Rajasekar, Joint DGCA, the experimental BVLOS operation followed by submission of POC must be completed before DGCA issues any regulations for BVLOS operations in the country.
The note also states that the objective of proposed experimental BVLOS operations must be to conduct experimental BVLOS operations of RPA systems in controlled conditions within identified and segregated low Indian territorial airspace for a period of at least two months. The scope of experiments includes BVLOS RPAS operation, UAS traffic management (UTM) system deployment, supplementary services for UTM (3D maps, weather data, surveillance and telemetry data of manned and unmanned aircraft, population, data etc.).
“If the experiments are successful, it can pave the way for air taxis, air deliveries etc. in India,” says the DGAC. “It may be noted that Uber claimed last year that its air taxi can cut travel time in a congested city like Mumbai by 90 per cent. It had named Dallas and Los Angeles in the US as the first two cities for the commercial launch of its aerial taxi service by 2023 and has been on the lookout to select an international city as its third partner. The company has shortlisted five countries – India, Japan, Australia, Brazil and France – and one of them will become the first Uber Air City outside of the US.”
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21 May 19. Indian Army looking to procure LMGs. A team of Indian Army (IA) officers is evaluating 7.62 mm (7.62×51) light machine guns (LMGs) manufactured by vendors in Bulgaria, Israel, and South Korea to meet the force’s immediate requirement for 16,400 LMGs.
Official sources told Jane’s that the IA-led group, which also includes Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials, left New Delhi around mid-May and will visit Arsenal JSCo in Bulgaria, Israel Weapon Industries (IWI), and S&T Motiv in South Korea to appraise the companies’ respective LMGs. Thereafter it will invite either all three, or at least two, of them to India for ‘confirmatory trials’ using indigenously made LMG ammunition before shortlisting one weapon system for purchase, starting price negotiations, and signing the deal. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
21 May 19. Seoul advances maritime helicopter procurement. South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has issued a tender to procure a second batch of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters for the Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN), it has been confirmed to Jane’s.
The programme – the Maritime Operation Helicopter (MOH) batch-two procurement – features the acquisition of 12 helicopters for about KRW900bn (USD804m). Under the MOH batch-one programme, Leonardo delivered eight AW159 Wildcat twin-engine multimission helicopters to the RoKN in 2016. The new tender, in the form of a Request for Proposals (RFP), comes after Leonardo emerged as the sole vendor for the batch-two programme in early 2018 after other bidders, including the US government, declined to respond to an RFP because of concerns about the value of the deal. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
16 May 19. Boeing to offer AH-6i for Australian SOF role. Boeing has confirmed it is to bid its AH-6i Little Bird light-attack and observation helicopter for Australia’s special forces requirement. Speaking at Boeing’s rotorcraft production facility in Philadelphia, David Koopersmith, vice-president and general manager, Vertical Lift, said that the company is waiting on a formal request from the Australian government, but that it stands ready to offer the AH-6i Little Bird once it does. Australia’s Land 2097 Phase 4 requirement is to airlift up to four special operations helicopters aboard a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft for rapid forward deployment. “We do believe we have a good fit with the Little Bird in Australia, and we will be looking to offer that,” Koopersmith said on 16 May.
Developed by Boeing from the Vietnam War-era Hughes OH-6 Cayuse scout helicopter, the AH-6i features an enhanced powerplant, payload, and avionics package, giving it enhanced ‘hot-and-high’ capabilities; a large and varied arsenal that includes 7.62 mm and 12.7 mm machine guns and AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles; and the same avionics suite as fitted to the latest-variant AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopter.
The Land 2097 Phase 4 requirement for a special mission helicopter came to light in the country’s Defence ‘Integrated Investment Program’ (DIIP), which was published in 2016. As noted in the DIIP, the new fleet of deployable light reconnaissance and attack helicopters to provide airmobility support for SOF missions is scheduled to be fielded beginning in about 2025. As previously reported by Jane’s, the helicopters will be able to be deployed rapidly from a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-17 as a small force element of three to four aircraft and personnel. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
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