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UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
26 June 19. Bids in for UK’s Type 31e frigate competition. Rival industry teams bidding for the UK Royal Navy’s Type 31e frigate programme have submitted their technical and commercial proposals to the UK’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation. In December 2018 Atlas Elektronik UK, Babcock, and BAE Systems were each awarded competitive design phase contracts, worth GBP5m (USD6.37m) apiece, to mature their candidate design, build strategy, and commercial proposals over a seven-month period. Bids for the design and build phase were received by DE&S on 24 June. Forming the centrepiece of the government’s National Shipbuilding Strategy, the Type 31e programme calls for the acquisition of a class of five globally deployable general-purpose frigates geared towards forward-deployed maritime security, presence, and defence engagement operations. (Source: News Now/IHS Jane’s)
26 June 19. Air2030: Federal Council Approves the Message on the Planning Order for the New Fighter. The Federal Council wants the army to protect our country against air attacks, also in future. The current fighter planes will reach the end of their useful life by 2030 at the latest. In order to ensure the continued protection of the country and its population, the Federal Council wants to renew the defense of airspace. At its meeting of June 26, 2019, the Federal Council approved a message to Parliament concerning a planning decree for the acquisition of new fighter jets. This is to give the population the opportunity to vote on their acquisition by taking a vote in principle.
The Federal Council has made several pronouncements in recent years on the acquisition of new fighter jets. On May 15, 2019, it decided that the possibility of a referendum on the principle of the purchase of new fighter jets should be offered by means of a planning order of Parliament. The Federal Council has also laid down the essential elements of this planning decree and instructed the DDPS to quickly submit a message.
Elements of the planning order
The Federal Council has therefore approved the said message and the draft planning order for Parliament. The order deals with the following elements:
- The Federal Council is responsible for renewing the means of protecting the airspace by acquiring new fighter jets. Their service introduction must be completed by the end of 2030.
- The financial envelope for this acquisition should not exceed CHF 6bn (based on the consumer price index for January 2018).
- The foreign companies that will be awarded contracts in the context of this acquisition will have to compensate 60% of the contract value by granting contracts in Switzerland (offsets), of which 20% will be direct and 40% indirect, in the security-related technological and industrial sectors.
- The acquisition will be the subject of a submission to the Federal Assembly as part of an annual armaments program.
- The acquisition of new fighter jets will be coordinated, both technically and in terms of time-frame, with that of the long-range air defense system.
- This decree is subject to referendum.
Protection against aerial attacks: a major issue
Arms acquisitions are usually decided by the Federal Assembly, without a possible referendum. For the acquisition of new fighter jets, the Federal Council wants to allow a referendum, since this is a question of major importance.
- Current aircraft are nearing the end of their service life. If they are not replaced in time, Switzerland will no longer be able to protect, much less defend, its airspace after 2030, and the military will no longer be able to fulfill the tasks for which it is responsible under the Constitution and the law on the armed forces. Protection against air attacks – whether by armed forces or terrorist groups – is a crucial issue for our State, one of whose essential tasks is to ensure the security of Switzerland and its people.
- The political importance of the acquisition is underscored by the fact that the last two fighter aircraft acquisition projects resulted in popular ballots: in 1993, on the basis of an initiative, and in 2014, on the basis of a referendum. If it does not result in a right to a referendum, it nevertheless gives rise to an expectation that must be taken into account politically.
The project will extend over more than ten years, which requires as much security as possible in its planning. This is why the Federal Council intends to involve Parliament and the public in this process as soon as possible.
If Parliament adopts the planning decree and the referendum request is accepted, citizens will be able to decide on the principle, namely the acquisition or not; of new fighter jets to replace all current fighter jets (30 F/A-18 C/D and 26 F-5 E/F).
The choice of the combat aircraft to be acquired will then be made by the Federal Council. This procedure was the subject of a motion tabled by Parliament.
Parallel acquisition of the ground-to-air defense system
It is planned to acquire the new long-range ground-to-air defense system in the usual way, without the possibility of a referendum. Due to obvious correlations, the acquisition will be in parallel with that of the combat aircraft, according to the same schedule and the same technical aspects.
The Federal Council is planning a total of CHF 8bn for the new means of protecting the airspace. This will be complemented by acquisitions for other parts of the military, including land forces, cyber defense and driving systems. For the financing of all these projects, the Federal Council grants the armed forces a budget growth rate of around 1.4% per year. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Swiss Federal Council)
25 Jun 19. Germany and Netherlands to sign MOU to pursue joint C4I programme. Defence ministers from Germany and the Netherlands will sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on 26 June to pursue the Tactical Edge Networking (TEN) programme, defence officials have disclosed to Jane’s.
The MOU, which is expected to be signed on the fringes of the 26-27 June at the NATO defence ministers meeting in Brussels, marks the next step in the development of the multinational command, control, and communications (C3) programme that binds together the Bundeswehr’s digitisation of land based operations (D-LBO) and the Dutch Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) Foxtrot efforts. The MOU will follow the signature of a letter of intent agreed by the German and Dutch ministries of defence on 17 May 2018, with the aim of working towards the digital integration of both armed forces.(Source: IHS Jane’s)
21 June 19. Czech Republic plans to procure C295s and upgrade T-72M tanks. Czech Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar has submitted three contracts totalling nearly CZK4bn (USD176.6m), including VAT, to the government for two C295 transport aircraft, the upgrade of 33 T-72M tanks, and a flight planning system, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported on its website on 17 June.
“The Army of the Czech Republic [ACR] needs to increase its transport capacity and replace the obsolete Yak-40s,” Metnar said, adding that the new aircraft would “be more economical, with greater range and more modern systems than the ones previously acquired.” He pointed to the reliability and low operating costs of the ACR’s current four C295s, which are used for training and troop and VIP transport.
The MoD said Airbus offered the Czech Republic the two C295s for 2020-21, with the possibility of deferring payment until 2022-23, the original delivery dates. The Czech MoD put the total cost of the two aircraft at CZK2.7bn, including VAT. Airbus declined to comment on an ongoing campaign. The obsolete or irreparable systems and components of the 33 T-72M tanks will be replaced in 2020-23 under a CZK908m contract to be awarded to state-owned company VOP CZ by the end of the year. The MoD said this would enable the tanks to continue to fulfill the ACR’s international commitments until the acquisition of new tanks by the end of the decade, after which the upgraded T-72Ms would be placed in reserve. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
25 June 19. Want to improve the Army’s infantry? The Army is in the market for robots and artificial intelligence technology to support its ground infantry troops, increasing their lethality, mobility, protection, situational awareness, endurance, persistence and depth.
An announcement — intended primarily for members of the National Advanced Mobility Consortium, but out there for industry in general — alerts interested parties that the Army is hoping to gain insight into paths that could inform dismounted infantry platoon capabilities through manned-unmanned teaming. A request for white papers on robotic ground, air, water and virtual systems is expected to be issued in early July by the Army Contracting Command – Warren (ACC-WRN), according to the special notice on FedBizOpps. In the week following the release, the government is hoping to hold a “Virtual Industry Day” to give clearer guidelines regarding government requirements. The government is expected to then release a Request for Prototype Proposals in October to those who are chosen during the first phase, according to the notice. The government does not intend, however, to enter into a follow-on production effort. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
25 June 19. Will foreign sales save the Chinook production line? The U.S. Army is hotly pursuing foreign military sales of its CH-47 F-model Chinook cargo helicopters in the hopes it will soften the blow from cuts made to its intended buy of the newest variant, according to the service’s undersecretary. But will foreign purchases fill the void? Earlier this year, Boeing didn’t think so. By working to push these deals through, the Army is hoping Boeing will take less of a hit to its production line after the service decided not to buy Block II Chinook helicopters for the regular Army as part of its fiscal 2020 budget request. That latest budget request focused on shifting money toward major modernization efforts to include the purchase of two brand-new vertical-lift aircraft. The service plans to field Block II helos — as G-model CH-47s — to the special operators only.
Upgrades in the Block II version include newly designed rotorblades, major changes to the drive system and other improvements like non-segmented fuel cells. The aircraft is expected to buy back roughly 4,000 pounds of additional load capacity and adds range capability.
The Army approved the Chinook Block II effort to move into the engineering and manufacturing development phase in April 2017, and the program officially began in July 2017.
“The reality of this is this is a production line that depends heavily on U.S. Army production,” Randy Rotte, Boeing’s director of business development for cargo helicopters, said at the Army Aviation Association of America’s annual summit in April.
There are more than 900 Chinooks around the world, he said, and 542 of them are U.S. aircraft. “All the internationals in the world, if they come back to upgrade to Block II, is going to have a hard time in any real quantities sustaining that production base,” he added.
The Army’s original plan, ahead of the FY20 budget request, was to build 542 Block II Chinooks — 473 “F” models and 69 “G” models. Boeing already had a plan to cope with a four-year gap between the ramping down of Block I production and the ramping up of Block II. The reality of that delta has been known for some time, according to Chuck Dabundo, Boeing’s H-47 program manager. The goal was to bridge the gap with international orders.
With no F-model Block II aircraft to build for the conventional force, Dabundo said, “it would be very difficult to fill a bathtub that wide” if another five years went by with no orders for the active Army.
But there is some interest in Europe and the Middle East, for instance. Germany and Israel are in the market for cargo helicopters, and Boeing is competing in both locations. But for Boeing, that’s not going to be enough.
Army Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy said at a press briefing at Fort Myer, Virginia, last week that the service is working two potential Block II Chinook sales — one with the United Kingdom and another with the United Arab Emirates — and in the more distant future the service could supply Chinooks to the Afghan National Security Forces.
McCarthy told reporters that the deals weren’t on the near horizon, despite one of those possible buys appearing on the Defense Security Cooperation Agency website in October 2018.
He said those orders could keep the Chinook production line running at “optimal levels,” but did not say for how long.
Boeing confirmed to Defense News that both the U.K. and the UAE plan to buy more Chinooks, but not Block II versions. That version won’t complete qualification testing with the U.S. Army until 2021 and therefore can’t be offered to a foreign country until the helicopters pass through that phase.
The U.K., according to the DSCA website, wants to buy the extended-range version of the helicopter, a variant with larger fuel tanks that is similar to the Canadian version. The U.S. State Department cleared the possible sale for 16 of the Chinooks for an estimated $3.5bn.
The UAE’s possible request has not yet posted to the DSCA website, but would amount to a smaller number than the U.K. buy, according to an industry source. The UAE is already a Chinook customer and would look to add to its fleet of 20 aircraft.
With the potential sales to the U.K. and the UAE, that amounts to less than 30 aircraft, far less than the number of Block II Chinooks the Army originally intended to buy for the regular force.
Boeing is now under contract to build 15 MH-47Gs. The first “G” model is scheduled to begin final assembly this year.
Meanwhile, Boeing is seeing some support on Capitol Hill. House appropriators, in their version of the FY20 defense spending bill, added $28m to continue to produce CH-47 Block IIs and told the service to restore more than $900m across a five-year period that would have paid to build the variant for the regular force.
House authorizers bumped the Army’s request from $18m to $46m to support the Block II program and requested a report on the impact of delaying the build of F-model Block II Chinooks until after 2024 in its version of the FY20 defense policy bill. The Senate Armed Services Committee opted to side with the Army and did not move to restore any funding to the program. The matter will be hashed out between the House and Senate in conference. (Source: Defense News)
25 June 19. Watch this space: Air Force announcing pitch days. The Air Force wants to bypass the traditional lengthy contract award period, so it’s holding a number of pitch days including one devoted to space.
Made popular by shows like Shark Tank, pitch competitions have become widely adopted in the commercial sector. In a typical event, dozens of individuals and businesses will share proposals with a group of judges who will then allot funding as they see fit. Using this model, the Air Force is getting around the months that can pass between a proposal submission and the eventual awarding of money. In a matter of hours the Air Force will hear proposals from a number of companies, and some successful participants can be awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research contracts within just minutes of pitching their ideas.
“Events like Pitch Day simplify proposal and shorten evaluation timelines to get new capabilities in the hands of the war fighter with epic speed. Additionally, it fosters partnerships with non-traditional and small businesses and the Air Force. Both speed and partnerships are key to the new way [Space and Missile Command] does business,” read a Space and Missile Systems Center news release.
The Air Force is holding a dozen of these pitch days this year, seeking partners in areas such as space, hypersonics or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems. Space Pitch Day is slated for Nov. 6 in San Francisco, and will see 20 to 30 companies present their proposals. Specifically, the Air Force is looking for ideas related to launch systems, data mining, space visualization and space communications. The first Air Force Pitch Day, which was held back in March in New York City, doled out $8.75m split between 51 companies. There were 417 submissions for that initial event and, ultimately, the Air Force invited 59 businesses to come pitch their proposals.
Awards were granted far more quickly than they would be in the typical acquisitions process. An Air Force press release noted that the fastest an award of this type had been granted previously was 90 days. In comparison, the Air Force boasted that they were able to award a contract in just three minutes at Pitch Day, and the average time between pitch and award was just 15 minutes.
“We have to do this across the country, across all places that do Air Force acquisition,” said Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, following the initial event. “Now that we’ve wrung all the lessons out of the process, we’re ready to box it up as a tool that can be executed by the work force out in the field.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
17 June 19. US Air Force seeks contractor to deliver Silent Archer C-UAS components. The Air Force Materiel Command, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Battle Management Directorate, Force Protection Systems Division, Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS) Branch AFLCMC/HBUC, Hanscom AFB, MA is issuing a Sources Sought Synopsis to identify companies that have the capabilities to provide Silent Archer hardware and support services. AFLCMC/HBUC is planning to issue a sole source contract award for the purchase of production and sustainment, hardware and services, of the following Silent Archer Family of Systems and their assorted variants: Duke V4 AN/VLQ-12(V4), Duke V5 (AN/VLQ-12 (V5), AF-LSTAR Radar (AN/TPQ-50), and Nighthawk High-Definition (HD) Camera under a new indefinite delivery indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract vehicle.
Solicitation Number: C-UAS-19-001
Deadline for responses: 26 June 2019
Responsible organisation: US Air Force (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
21 June 19. Navy Shipbuilding Plan Could Soon Be Tossed Overboard. The Navy’s new 30-year shipbuilding plan is intended to send a strong demand signal and pro-vide predictability for the industrial base. However, trends that are informing a new force structure assessment could soon upend the blueprint. In March, the service submitted its fiscal year 2020 long-term shipbuilding strategy to Congress. The version released last year was criticized by lawmakers and analysts for being too conservative with the timeline for increasing the number of battle force ships in the service’s inventory. Under that construct, the Navy would not have reached its goal of a 355-ship fleet until the 2050s. However, this year’s plan is much more aggressive.
“Through the judicious application of predictable shipbuilding profiles and stable, on-time funding, the timeframe for achieving the overall inventory [goal] was accelerated by 20 years,” the document said.
The service currently has 289 battle force ships. Under the new schedule, the fleet would grow to 314 ships by 2024 and 355 vessels by 2034. The blueprint includes the procurement of 55 ships over the next five years, but service life extensions of DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are the principle driver of the 20-year acceleration of the proposed fleet expansion, the report noted. Promoting the health of the industrial base by implementing a predictable shipbuilding plan was a key theme in the strategy.
“We are at a level of fragility that without consistent and continuous commitment to steady acquisition profiles as proposed in this plan, the industrial base will continue to struggle and some elements may not survive another ‘boom/bust’ cycle,” it said.
However, a new Navy force structure assessment is underway, and the results are expected to be released by the end of the year.
Ronald O’Rourke, a naval affairs specialist at the Congressional Research Service, said the assessment could lead to a change in both the total ship count goal and the mix of ships in the future fleet.
“They have dropped a lot of hints that there could be a change in the fleet architecture that could especially affect the surface force so that you’d have fewer large ships, more smaller ships, and … large unmanned surface vehicles,” O’Rourke said during a panel discussion at the Heritage Foundation after the 2020 plan was released.
Earlier this year, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson suggested the 355 number is not set in stone.
“Technology is moving fast, and so how that [number] may change in response to these new technologies that are emerging, we’re very open to that,” he said during remarks at the Brookings Institution.
Moreover, a number of trends could make it difficult for the Navy to maintain the steady acquisition profiles that the 2020 plan envisions.
Strains on the industrial base could create hiccups, officials and analysts noted.
“We’re relying very heavily on industry to tell us when we’ve reached the limits, and we’re seeing that in a couple specific shipbuilding lines,” Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems Vice Adm. William Merz said at this year’s annual Sea-Air-Space symposium. “We’re focusing on what we can to do to keep that capacity open.”
Shipbuilders are already taking steps to increase their capacity, including hiring more workers, he said.
There is particular concern about submarine construction. In a few years, General Dynamics’ Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding will be trying to produce two types of submarines, Virginia-class attack subs and Columbia-class ballistic missile subs, at the same time.
“It’s a huge ramp up that we’re doing in the submarine industrial base,” said Eric Labs, a senior analyst for naval force and weapons at the Congressional Budget Office. “We’ve already seen some perturbations, some delays in Virginia-class submarine deliveries.”
The Columbia-class, which is intended to replace the Navy’s aging Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, is the Navy’s No. 1 acquisition priority. Procurement of the lead ship is scheduled for fiscal year 2021, and the service plans to buy a total of 12 boats. The program is on a tight schedule, and officials have said the vessels will receive priority if funding or production tradeoffs are necessary.
“We are still very concerned regarding the Columbia-class class SSBN going into serial production,” Merz said. “It’s a very expensive ship … [and] we will pay for it by balancing the other ship lines to make sure she stays on track.”
In a report released in April titled, “Columbia-Class Submarine: Overly Optimistic Cost Estimate Will Likely Lead to Budget Increases,” the Government Accountability Office said the Navy’s $115bn procurement cost estimate for the program is not reliable, partly due to overly optimistic assumptions about labor hours required and cost saving measures.
In its official response to the report, the Navy pushed back against the findings, but noted that it will provide updated cost estimates with current data before requesting funding for lead ship construction in 2021.
Labs said there is a long history of cost growth for lead ships in a new class of vessels. Over the next five to six years, the Navy will introduce several new lead ships including the Columbia, a new frigate, a new large surface combatant and unmanned vessels, he noted.
The Navy estimates that its 30-year plan will require an average of $20.3bn across the future years defense program for its shipbuilding and conversion account, and $26bn to $28bn annually in subsequent years.
Analysts say those funding levels might be feasible, given Congress’ strong support for shipbuilding in recent years and during previous eras of naval buildups. Lawmakers have appropriated more than $20bn annually for shipbuilding budgets over the past three fiscal years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. However, growing operations and sustainment costs could sink the plan, analysts warn.
The programmed sustainment cost for the 30-year plan is $24bn in 2020, which rises to $30bn in 2024. When the battle force inventory reaches 355 in 2034, the estimated cost to sustain the fleet will approach $40 bn, according to the Navy.
“I would argue that this shipbuilding plan is more or less a placeholder that the Navy put out to describe how you would get to 355 ships if you thought that this was the objective that you were intending to reach,” said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and a former Navy officer. “The challenge with this fleet is it’s going to cost way too much to sustain and to man compared to what the Navy is likely to have available in funding, so this is probably not achievable.”
Changing the mix of large and small surface combatants and relying more on robotic systems might offer the opportunity to “break this linkage” between number of ships, number of personnel and sustainment costs, Clark said.
Unmanned surface vessels and unmanned underwater vessels, by definition, won’t need sailors onboard to operate them, and they could be less costly to maintain, he noted.
“Your cost curve starts to change” as USVs and UUVs are substituted for large manned platforms, he said.
“What the Navy is likely to do in your next budget [and shipbuilding plan] is look at ways to start reducing the size of the fleet as measured in traditional ways like numbers of manned hulls, and look at new ways to evaluate naval capability … as they seek to decompose this manned fleet into smaller units of issue that might be less manpower intensive and less expensive to maintain.”
If the Navy keeps its 355-ship goal, it might have to make some changes in the way it counts battle force ships, said Robert Levinson, a senior defense analyst with Bloomberg Government.
“The only way you would probably get there by 2034, I think, with realistic projections about budget is you’re going to have to count some of these unmanned ships” that the Navy plans to procure, he said during a recent briefing for members of industry.
Richardson warned against using accounting gimmicks to reach force level goals.
“The thing that really matters is how much naval power do those platforms deliver, … and not so much ship count,” he said at the Sea-Air-Space conference.
At some point, USVs and UUVs might count against the battle force, he said. “But we have to be very careful to make sure that we’re not constructing something that … counts on a tally but doesn’t deliver naval power at the end of the day.”
However, as the quantity and capability of robotic systems grow, they could reduce the requirements for manned ships, he said. “You can anticipate some adjustments within the composition of the naval force.”
Officials are already exploring those possibilities as part of the ongoing force structure assessment.
“We are expending a lot of effort examining the anticipated role of unmanned systems and how that might affect the shipbuilding plan,” Merz said. “We are all-in on developing the capability and getting it in the field as quickly as we can … [but] we are not in a position yet to really discuss how or when we’re going to start replacing battle force ships.”
The Navy’s interest in developing this type of technology was unmistakable at the Pentagon’s Lab Day exhibition in April, where the Office of Naval Research and Naval Sea Systems Command had a number of booths where they showed off a variety of the USV and UUV projects they’re working on.
Last fall, the Sea Hunter USV prototype — which has a 132-foot hull — reached a major milestone when it sailed more than 3,000 nautical miles from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to San Diego without human intervention, said Jeromy DeJaco, the Sea Hunter test director at ONR.
A second platform is being built by Leidos. ONR is aiming to transition the Sea Hunter to Naval Sea Systems Command in 2020 to further the technology.
In April, NAVSEA released a draft request for proposals for a medium unmanned surface vehicle, or MUSV. And over the next five years, the service plans to procure 10 large USVs, 108 Mk-18 undersea vehicles, 44 small/medium UUVs, three large diameter undersea vehicles, and nine extra-large UUVs, according to the latest shipbuilding plan.
“Our commitment in our last budget to the tune of almost $3 bn for just unmanned surface vessels should be enough signal to industry that we’re very serious about this,” Merz said.
However, President Donald Trump recently threw a wrench in the Navy’s plans to retire the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier in 2024 rather than refuel it. The decision to forgo the re-fueling was meant to free up money for autonomous systems and other emerging technologies. In the wake of congressional pushback against the idea, Trump announced in a tweet that he had reversed the decision and the Truman would remain in the fleet. Unless Congress adds additional funding to the budget to continue bankrolling the Truman, the service will have to figure out how to pay for it.
“It’s about $3.5bn,” Levinson said. “They may have to dig it out of … some of these other ships.”
In the coming years, the procurement of robotic platforms could help the Navy expand its industrial base — which has shrunk to seven private new-construction shipyards and four prime contractors — said Jerry Hendrix, vice president of the Telemus Group and a former Navy officer.
“You can build that [type of system] at the existing defense shipbuilding yards,” he said. “But there’s also other yards on the Gulf Coast. There’s also yards on the Mississippi and even up into the Ohio that have the capability of doing that … because these platforms have different configurations and don’t require as big a graving docks or construction facilities.”
Merz said there’s going to be “a lot of work for the whole spectrum of shipyards” as these systems proliferate and increase in size.
Levinson noted that there are “lots of players” working on the technology.
While the Navy and industry are bullish on unmanned platforms, Congress ultimately holds the power of the purse to buy them. Some lawmakers have vested political interests in having manned ships constructed in their districts.
Nevertheless, “there’s very much a receptive audience to bring that [unmanned capability] in as part of the Navy combat fleet,” Labs said. “At the same time, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily going to let go of the larger [manned vessels] … right away.”
Analysts say the uncertainty engendered by the ongoing force structure assessment, and questions about how other trends will affect the long-term shipbuilding plan, creates challenges for industry.
“Navy officials and industry officials state repeatedly that stability and predictability is beneficial for industry,” O’Rourke said.
However, “the kind of developments we’ve been talking about … are going to create a complicated situation where industry is going to have to address a situation of evolution in requirements, evolution in technology and program plans,” he added. “They will have to adjust to that … as we move into this new period where we will have to be apparently making changes in programs due to the changing threat and emerging technological opportunity.” (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
21 June 19. US Army seeking new sensors for ground combat vehicles. The US Army is looking to outfit its ground combat vehicles with new sensors that will enable the crew inside to better visualise their surroundings. In a 19 June request for information posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website, the service announced that it is seeking “affordable and mature” uncooled long-wave infrared (LWIR) sensors with a wide field of view (FOV) to feed high-definition (HD) video to crews inside its fleet of ground combat vehicles. “The proposed system must provide a capability to allow the vehicle crew [driver, commander, squad], in both open and closed hatch operations, to visualise their immediate surroundings while stationary and on the move, day and night,” the service wrote. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
REST OF THE WORLD
26 June 19. Upgrades for the CF-18 to Be Operational Until 2032. In the report released in fall 2018, the Auditor General found that, other than some weapons upgrades in 2011, National Defence had not significantly upgraded the CF-18 for combat since 2008. The Auditor General concluded that the CF-18’s capabilities are not up to date with most modern combat aircraft and air defence systems and that the problem would get worse with time.
As such, the Auditor General requested that National Defence analyze the upgrades required for CF-18 fighter aircraft to be operationally relevant until 2032 and to seek approval for those which were achievable.
The Department of National Defence agreed to the Auditor General’s recommendation. The Department’s response highlighted plans to seek approval on regulatory and interoperability upgrades to continue flying the CF-18 until 2032. In addition, the Department stated that the Royal Canadian Air Force is conducting an analysis of required combat system upgrades. The Management Action Plan provided further information on the timelines for these commitments.
As committed to in the Department’s response to the Auditor General’s report, the Royal Canadian Air Force is moving forward with seeking approval for a number of enhancements and upgrades to extend the life of the CF-18 fleet until transition to the permanent replacement fleet. These enhancements and upgrades are to be delivered under one project in two phases.
— Phase 1: This phase will provide upgrades to address CF-18 interoperability and regulatory deficiencies to address new and changing standards. These upgrades will maintain CF-18 compliance with both evolving aviation regulatory requirements, and updated allied interoperability standards, until the permanent replacement aircraft is in place, expected in 2032.
Phase 1 of the project is expected to begin in summer 2019, with upgrades completed by 2025.
— Phase 2: This phase will aim to provide combat enhancements to the aircraft that are both operationally effective and technically feasible, through to 2032. The Royal Canadian Air Force’s analysis is underway to confirm combat systems upgrades. National Defence has a robust process to determine the required upgrades. This includes the work of the Fighter Capability Office, which continually assesses fleet readiness and capability.
The CAF also uses multi-national training exercises, such as exercise Maple Flag, to assess the capability of Canada’s fighter fleet in comparison to Canada’s allies, as well as against modern air and ground threat systems. The above is excerpted from the Canadian Government’s response to the autumn 2018 report by the Auditor-General of Canada on “Canada’s Fighter Force.” Full response (7 PDF pages) on the Canada House of Commons website.
https://www.ourcommons.ca/content/Committee/421/PACP/GovResponse/RP10592466/421_PACP_Rpt60_GR/421_PACP_Rpt60_GR-e.pdf (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Canadian Department of National Defence)
27 June 19. BAE Systems to award Hunter-class frigate prototyping phase contracts. BAE Systems has announced that it will award contracts to businesses in Australia for the prototyping phase of the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) Hunter-class frigate programme. The Australian Government awarded a contract worth A$35bn ($24.37bn) to BAE Systems last year to construct nine Hunter-class frigates for RAN under the SEA 5000 programme. To be built by the company’s subsidiary ASC Shipbuilding, Hunter-class frigates are a new class of anti-submarine warfare vessels that will replace the existing ANZAC-class frigates.
BAE Systems held an event in Adelaide that was attended by more than 150 businesses. The event set the stage for the process to bid for contract work during the programme’s prototyping phase, which is expected to start next year. ASC expects to build five ship blocks at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia, beginning in December next year. Construction on the first frigate will begin in 2022. The process will be open to Australian businesses that supply minor equipment and services such as scaffolding and pipes to deck coverings and insulation, with an opportunity to secure an estimated A$20m ($13.92m) in contracts.
The contracts will be awarded across two specific supplier categories. One of these categories, known as ‘category D’, aims to procure all services from domestic suppliers.
ASC Shipbuilding managing director Craig Lockhart said: “The Hunter programme is committed to maximising opportunities for Australian suppliers through supply contracts and initiatives to nurture and grow small-to-medium sized businesses.
“Today’s procurement update is not just an information session, this is a genuine opportunity for our team to help Australian businesses bid for upcoming contracts to supply equipment and materials for the prototyping blocks, like scaffolding, pipes, steel, deck coverings, cables and insulation, as well as services, like outfitting and painting.” (Source: naval-technology.com)
24 June 19. Lockheed Teams With Airbus, ELTA, Rafael For Israeli Contracts & US Cash. New restrictions on US aid to Israel is driving companies to seek American partners. Lockheed Martin is teaming up with Israeli partners seeking US business and with Europeans seeking Israeli contracts. It’s part of a wider trend that has some Israeli observers fretting over the “Americanization” of their proud defense industry. Israel’s current political crisis is compounding the problem, with the country headed into its second general election in five months after embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition. But a long-term driver is a change the US made to its Foreign Military Financing (FMF) loans to Israel, requiring Tel Aviv to spend an ever-growing share of FMF funds — eventually, as of 2028, 100 percent — on US contractors.
With the Israeli defense budget long dependent on US subsidies, the rule change pushes Tel Aviv to favor US firms and US-led teams for contracts. That, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) says, is why the Israeli government won’t even give it a chance to compete for a new Israeli Air Force tanker. Even Israeli exports are affected by the Americanization trend, with Rafael teaming with Lockheed on its SPICE and Spike smart weapons — and IAI’s own ELTA subsidiary is joining forces with Lockheed on radar.
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Mid-air refueling is crucial to extend the range of modern jet fighters — for example, if Israel decides to strike Iran, almost a thousand miles away. But the Israeli Air Force relies on aging tankers converted from the venerable Boeing 707, first built in 1959. One tanker was recently retired after 34 years in service. Old aircraft can only be refitted and upgraded so many times, and the IAF says it urgently needs six to eight new tankers and any further delays in buying replacements could result in “serious operational problems.”
So, on May 16, the Israeli defense ministry issued a formal Letter Of Request (LOR) to buy two of Boeing’s brand-new — and so far badly buggy — KC-46As, derived from the civilian 767. Israeli sources say Tel Aviv may ask the US Air Force to divert two aircraft from the production line to the IAF so the first tanker can arrive in Israel in 2022.
But not even two weeks after the request for KC-46As came out, on May 29th, Netanyahu failed to form a coalition and dissolved the Knesset, with new elections set for September. Amidst the turmoil, a joint delegation of Boeing’s biggest rivals, Lockheed Martin and Airbus, came to the Israeli government with their own tanker proposal. They offered the Airbus A-330 MMRT, to be assembled not in Europe but at an Airbus facility in Mobile, Alabama.
That could drive the tankers up to the 50 percent US-built threshold that would allow Israel to buy them with American FMF dollars. Lockheed and Airbus refused to answer questions about their joint offer. But the two companies did sign an agreement in December to explore tanker sales and services worldwide, a move widely seen as aimed at countries receiving American FMF funds.
Meanwhile, Israel’s own IAI has offered to convert used Boeing 767s — the same aircraft from which the KC-46A derives — to serve as new tankers for the Israeli Air Force. IAI claims that the Israeli defense ministry has not even given it the chance to compete for the tanker replacement.
Of course, it’s possible that the IAF is sick of old aircraft and has demanded brand-new 767 tankers straight from Boeing, not reconditioned ones via IAI. That said, it’s also significant that Tel Aviv can’t spend FMF funds on an IAI contract, but it can on a Lockheed-Airbus bid.
Bombs, Missiles, & Radars
While IAI looks for slingstones to take down the American Goliath, its Israeli arch rival has decided to join the gentile giant. On May 16th — the same day Tel Aviv formally asked to buy Boeing tankers — Rafael and Lockheed Martin announced a partnership “to jointly develop, market, manufacture and support Rafael’s Smart, Precise Impact and Cost-Effective (SPICE™) guidance kits for U.S. sale.” The two companies had already joined forces to market Rafael’s Spike missiles to the US Army the year before.
(Yes, Rafael really offers two related products whose names are just one letter apart, a branding faux-pas of the first order).
SPICE-equipped smart bombs have been a crucial tool in Israeli airstrikes on Iranian-linked facilities in Syria, where there’s intense political imperative to limit collateral damage, especially to Russian advisors nearby. The Lebanese press has reported that SPICE fragments were found at strike sites.
So SPICE has been a quintessentially Israeli instrument. But Rafael exec Gideon Weiss said that the “Americanization” of the weapon will allow Lockheed to offer it to customers worldwide, especially operators of Lockheed’s F-16 Falcon and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. (Israeli flies both).
Meanwhile, IAI’s own electronics subsidiary, ELTA, is partnering with Lockheed for the US Army’s Lower-Tier Air & Missile Defense Sensor radar competition. LTAMDS evolved from an effort to modernize the Patriot’s radar but is now intended to play a wider role in the Army’s future air and missile defense network. The Lockheed-ELTA offering is based on the Israeli company’s S-Band Multi-Missile Radar (MMR) used on one of the Israeli defense industry’s star systems, Iron Dome, which the US Army is buying as a stop-gap missile defense.
So what does Lockheed bring to this partnership? To start with, access to the US market and US dollars — which will be increasingly critical to Israeli arms makers as the clock counts down to 2028.(Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
25 June 19. Australian businesses to build Hunter Class frigate prototyping blocks. Australian businesses that supply equipment and services, from scaffolding and pipes to deck coverings and insulation, will today learn how to secure an estimated $20m in contracts through the Hunter Class Frigate Program. More than 150 businesses from around Australia will converge in Adelaide for a procurement update that launches the process to bid for work during the Hunter program’s prototyping phase, which commences next year. During the program’s prototyping phase, due to begin in December 2020, five prototyping blocks will be built at the Osborne Naval Shipyard, in South Australia.
During this phase, Australian businesses that supply minor equipment, materials and services can bid for an estimated $20m in contracts across two specific supplier categories. In one of those categories, known as ‘category D’, the Hunter program is committed to achieving 100 per cent Australian suppliers.
Managing director of ASC Shipbuilding Craig Lockhart said, “The Hunter program is committed to maximising opportunities for Australian suppliers through supply contracts and initiatives to nurture and grow small-to-medium sized businesses.”
The prototyping phase is a crucial stage in the program where all the processes, systems, tools, facilities and workforce competencies will be tested and refined before construction on the first frigate commences in 2022.
“By maximising opportunities for local suppliers through contracts for supply and initiatives to nurture and grow small-to-medium sized businesses, we are raising the Australian defence industry’s ability to compete for and win domestic and international maritime work,” Lockhart said.
The prototyping phase is committed to achieving 100 per cent Australian category D suppliers and will maximise as much as possible the number of local category C suppliers.
Lockhart added, “Today’s procurement update is not a just an information session – this is a genuine opportunity for our team to help Australian businesses bid for upcoming contracts to supply equipment and materials for the prototyping blocks, like scaffolding, pipes, steel, deck coverings, cables and insulation, as well as services, like outfitting and painting.”
During the production phase of the Hunter Class frigates, the Hunter program has committed to the Australian government that 100 per cent of category D suppliers will be Australian and a minimum of 50 per cent category C suppliers will be local.
One representative from 150 Australian companies will attend today’s update, and businesses that have pre-qualified to work on the Hunter program and have expressed interest in the update, but can’t make it to Adelaide, will receive a recording. To date, more than 800 businesses based across Australia and several in New Zealand have pre-qualified through the Industry Capability Network (ICN) Gateway to work on the Hunter program.
“That’s one of our strategies and commitments to building a world-class, sovereign capability for continuous naval shipbuilding for this country,” Mr Lockhart said.
The nine Hunter Class frigates will be based on the BAE Systems Type 26 Global Combat Ship currently under construction for the Royal Navy and will replace the eight Anzac Class frigates when they enter service beginning in the late 2020s.
The Hunter Class is billed as an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) centric vessel delivering an advanced ASW capability to the Royal Australian Navy at a time when 50 per cent of the world’s submarines will be operating in the Indo-Pacific region.
BAE Systems Australia announced that it had selected Lockheed Martin Australia and Saab Australia as combat systems integration industry partners, responsible for delivering the Australian designed CEAFAR 2 Active Phased Array Radar, Lockheed Martin designed Aegis combat management system and Saab Australia 9LV tactical interface.
The $35bn program sees ASC Shipbuilding become a subsidiary of BAE Systems throughout the build process beginning in 2020 at the Osborne Shipyard in South Australia, creating more than 4,000 jobs.
BAE Systems expects the Australian industry content for the Hunter Class build will be 65-70 per cent, which will create and secure thousands of jobs for decades. 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.
SEA 5000 is expected to support over 500 Australian businesses who have been pre-qualified to be part of the Hunter Class supply chain, with the Australian steel industry in particular benefiting from the 48,000 tonnes of steel required to build the ships
If you’re a supplier and you would like to register your interest in working on the Hunter program, visit www.icn.org.au. (Source: Defence Connect)
24 June 19. Brazil selects Niterói-class frigates for CMS MLU. The Brazilian Navy’s Niterói-class Mark 10 frigates Liberal (F43), Independência (F44), and União (F45) will have their SICONTA MK II (Sistema de Controle Tático e de Armas) combat management systems (CMSs) modernised to the SICONTA MK II Mod 1 configuration, the service told Jane’s. The CMS mid-life upgrade (MLU), which consists of modernising hardware and software, will start in 2020, the navy added. The three ships also will undergo maintenance. The MLU is scheduled to be completed by 6 December 2021. A 12 December 2013 contract between the Navy Weapon Systems Directorate and local firm Consub Defesa e Tecnologia covered the MLU of CMSs in all the six Niterói-class ships and two land-based systems. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
21 June 19. The Cost of Canada’s Surface Combatants: 2019 Update. This report provides an updated cost estimate of the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) program from the 2017 PBO report, “The Cost of Canada’s Surface Combatants.” At the time of the previous cost analysis, the government had not yet selected a design for the new generation of warships. This update considers characteristics specific to the Type 26 design chosen by the government while incorporating updated information on the project’s timeline.
Our estimate of the total cost of the CSC program is $69.8bn over 26 years, consisting of: $5.3bn in pre-production costs; $53.2bn in production costs; and, $11.4bn in project-wide costs (all in nominal dollars).
In comparison, the 2017 PBO report estimated a total program cost of $61.8bn, $8bn less than the updated estimation. The difference in these estimates is due to new information on project specifications provided by the Department of National Defence (DND); in particular, ship construction will begin later (increasing inflation costs), the ship will be larger than assumed in the previous report (increasing real construction costs), and we exclude the cost of spares beyond the initial two years (reducing real program costs).
In 2017, the Government of Canada revised their original 2008 program cost estimate of $26.2bn to $56-60bn, with costs to be revisited at the completion of the development phase. There is therefore a difference of $9.8-$13.8bn between the DND and the updated PBO estimates.
Click here for the full report (25 PDF pages) on the PBO website. https://www.pbo-dpb.gc.ca/web/default/files/Documents/Reports/2019/Canada-Surface-Combatants-update/CSC_Update_2019_Report_E.pdf
(defense-aerospace.com EDITOR’S NOTE: As we reported a fortnight ago, Canada was already paying well over 2.5 times as much as the UK to build its own Type 26 frigates. Now, with the cost increasing by over C$9.8bn in just two years, it will end up paying an additional C$666m per ship.
This raises the cost of the Canadian CSC program to over €3bn per ship, while the UK’s Royal Navy is paying €1.42bn – less than half — for the same basic design.) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Canadian Parliamentary Budget Officer)
24 June 19. India invites bids for six Project 75-I submarines construction. The Indian Government has issued an expression of interest (EoI) to identify interested domestic companies to build six conventional submarines under the national navy’s Project 75-I. The Rs450bn ($6.45bn) P-75(I) project is a big boost to the government’s Make in India programme. India’s P-75(I) project is the second project to reach out to private firms under the latest Strategic Partnership (SP) Model.
Earlier, the government invited companies for the procurement of 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH) for the navy through an EoI in February.
In a statement, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said: “This would provide a major boost to the indigenous design and construction capability of submarines in India, in addition to bringing in the latest submarine design and technologies as part of the project.”
The MoD will roll-out another EoI to shortlist original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for the project in two weeks.
The selected Indian SP and the OEM will work in partnership to construct the submarines in India.
Chosen Indian SPs are also required to establish dedicated manufacturing lines for these submarines in India to domestically build all six vessels under the P-75(I) project in partnership with the foreign firm.
Furthermore, the project includes an option to manufacture a further six submarines.
The MoD added: “The project would not only aid in boosting the core submarine/ shipbuilding industry but would also greatly enhance manufacturing / industrial sector, especially the MSMEs by development of an industrial eco-system for manufacture of associated spares/ systems/ equipment related to submarines.”
Indian companies looking to participate in this Make in India project will have to respond to the EoI within two months.
Following responses, the government will consider eligibility criteria such as the capability for integration of systems, experience in shipbuilding and financial strength. (Source: naval-technology.com)
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American Panel Corporation (APC) since 1998, specializes in display products installed in defence land systems, as well as military and commercial aerospace platforms, having delivered well over 100,000 displays worldwide. Military aviators worldwide operate their aircraft and perform their missions using APC displays, including F-22, F-18, F-16, F-15, Euro-fighter Typhoon, Mirage 2000, C-130, C-17, P-3, S-3, U-2, AH-64 Apache Helicopter, V-22 tilt-rotor, as well as numerous other military and commercial aviation aircraft including Boeing 717 – 787 aircraft and several Airbus aircraft. APC panels are found in nearly every tactical aircraft in the US and around the world.
APC manufactures the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Large Area Display (LAD) display (20 inch by 8 inch) with dual pixel fields, power and video interfaces to provide complete display redundancy. At DSEI 2017 we are exhibiting the LAD with a more advanced design, dual display on single substrate with redundant characteristics and a bespoke purpose 8 inch by 6 inch armoured vehicle display.
In order to fully meet the demanding environmental and optical requirements without sacrificing critical tradeoffs in performance, APC designs, develops and manufactures these highly specialized displays in multiple sizes and configurations, controlling all AMLCD optical panel, mechanical and electrical design aspects. APC provides both ITAR and non-ITAR displays across the globe to OEM Prime and tiered vetronics and avionics integrators.