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18 Jul 19. UK MoD kicks off planning for C2-focused 2020 Army Warfighting Experiment. The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has issued a request for information (RFI) for the 2020 British Army Warfighting Experiment (AWE20), the next iteration in this series of annual events “to identify specific capabilities for rapid exploitation”.
According to the RFI, the army “has established a Capability Spotlight to focus on the question ‘how can the army exploit developments in the agile command, control, and communications [C3] space?'”.
The aim of the AWE series is to leverage emerging technology that is “able to operate in complex and dangerous environments where an enemy might seek to deny use of normal channels of communication”.(Source: IHS Jane’s)
17 Jul 19. US Army To Hold Open Competition For OMFV Production Phase, Award Scheduled For FY ’23. The US Army will award a production contract for its Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle program in the third quarter of fiscal year 2023, with the competition to remain open for vendors that do not participate in the upcoming prototype phase headed for a downselect decision next March. Officials from the Army’s Next-Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team (CFT) told reporters on Tuesday the team is encouraging industry to continue making investments in advanced technologies, including emerging autonomy tools, for the program to replace its Bradleys with the OMFV as it looks to field the vehicles in the beginning of FY ’26.
“One of the concerns from industry that the CFT kind of drilled in on really fast was this perception that it’s winner-take-all for 40 years and there’s never any competition after that. So we will do [a competition] all over again, and even a company that doesn’t play today could come in with their own dark horse submission and win,” said Col. John Bryan, project manager for NGCV.
The Army released a Request for Proposals at the end of March for the OMFV prototype phase, with plans to accept bid samples this October. A downselect decision is scheduled for March 2020 when prototype deals to deliver 14 vehicles will be awarded to up to two vendors. Bryan and Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the NGCV CFT, both said there will be a full, open competition for the production phase to encourage companies to continue working on technology solutions for their platforms that may not be ready for October and the prototype period.
“It could be a company that wasn’t select on this [prototype] phase or it could be a company that never even proposed on this phase,” Bryan said. “A company could conceivably watch the program, develop with their own dollars what they believe is a better proposal and then we’ll do it over again.”
Coffman noted an increase in discussion with industry before releasing the RFP to understand the capacity for realistically delivering advanced technologies for OMFV, a change he said was to avoid previous modernization missteps the Army made with rigid requirements.
“We knew that we were going to have to roll in new technologies, more computing power, more power for the vehicle, as well as more electronic generation. So we wrote in SWAP growth to enable that. Industry has come back and let us know what they thought was achievable, and we’ve kind of mirrored that within our requirements,” Coffman told reporters.
The CFT is specifically looking at advancements in the autonomy space, and monitoring industry’s progress beyond teleoperation and obstacle avoidance technology, according to Coffman.
“What we’re really trying to do, and what we think is achievable within the next three to five years, is lower the amount of touch points and intervention by a human to five per mission,” Coffman said. “We’re not talking about killer robots that you just let out to conduct a mission and then come back. What we’re talking about is being able to understand terrain and its impacts, how the enemy would use that, moving to a position of relative advantage to enableother robots or humans to accomplish the mission. That’s something we’re striving for, but we’re years, if not a decade, away from that. (Source: Defense Daily)
10 Jul 19. Defense Community Must Help Lower-Tier Suppliers. The American public has witnessed the rollout and christening of the most advance, sophisticated and complex defense systems in the world on a regular basis. The accolades to Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Huntington Ingalls and Electric Boat, to name a few, are certainly well deserved. Without their vision, design and leadership, these marvelous systems would never be fielded. The rollout and commissioning ceremonies are witness to the Who’s Who in the defense community and government. When queried, key executives in these tier 1 companies are the first to acknowledge that none of this would be possible without an immense subcontractor and supplier base, in many cases over 1,000 companies. We do not see them at rollout ceremonies or receiving praise from politicians even though none of this work would be possible without them.
Employees in these lower-tiered companies have no idea where their part will end up, for security reasons or for the fact that they are layers below the major defense companies.
Yet, the number of suppliers is fewer and fewer with each passing day. This staggering reduction is a major concern to the government and the defense community.
Many of these suppliers, some incredibly small, are nestled in industrial parks in communities across the United States. Small companies fabricate some pieces with the most demanding manufacturing processes. With computer numerical control (CNC) machining, multiple spindle cutting, metal lathes and milling equipment for titanium and other unique and challenging alloys, these companies provide finished items with tolerances only a handful of fabricators around the world can accomplish.
Likewise, look deeper inside these weapon systems and we find computers, foundational equipment in virtually every system, processing terabits of information and using complex operational and application software. Not all software is exclusively produced by large corporations, such as Microsoft, Alphabet or IBM. Instead, extremely capable software engineers in office buildings scattered across the United States design sophisticated algorithms and develop uniquely specific code. They work in environments not shackled by corporate policy and behavior guidelines. Many have achieved high levels in the Capability Maturity Model Integration improvement training and appraisal program.
Such sophisticated software development labs enable algorithm development, coding and systems integration. Like the small hardware manufacturing facilities, these software houses are critical to the operational success of major defense companies.
Smaller suppliers focus on exceptional workmanship in niche areas where major defense companies have elected to outsource. Subsequently, these small suppliers, some with fewer than 100 employees, work extremely hard at preserving their unique expertise. Each week they make payroll while trying to set aside funds for next-generation capital expenditures. Their business management process works well when defense budgets and corresponding defense programs remain stable; however, the changing political climate brings unwanted cycles in the budget.
Defense spending is a discretionary line item in the government’s budget, which contributes to the volatility seen year after year. When budgets are significantly reduced, such as during sequestration, major defense companies pull in-house business from suppliers to preserve their own workforce. The smaller the supplier, the more turbulence it realizes in its business operation from budget swings and program delays or cancelations. This makes it difficult for owner-operator defense suppliers to stay in business.
The Dec. 14, 2017, Defense News article “American Exodus? 17,000 U.S. Defense Suppliers May Have Left the Defense Sector,” highlights the budget reductions from comparison years (2009–2010) through 2015, which have been significant. The Budget Control Act, commonly referred to as sequestration, caused defense obligations in 2013–2015 to decline an alarming 23 percent. Such a major financial drawdown in defense expenditures is felt across the defense community; however, the smaller suppliers with little financial flexibility are impacted to the greatest extent.
According to Lockheed Martin data generated in accordance with acceptable economic forecasting, the F-35 program team includes over 1,500 domestic suppliers. As a tier 1 major defense contractor, Lockheed Martin can weather financial cycles better with its large portfolio of government programs, swinging employees from one to another, whereas small suppliers, in some cases, are fortunate if they have just two or three programs. One loss could be devastating.
The resiliency of these small U.S. defense suppliers is most admirable but difficult to understand without a greater appreciation for their business objectives. When you ask owner-operators of small defense supply companies about what drives them to stay the course in such a shifting business environment, they typically answer in common.
First, a move to commercial is virtually impossible with the cheaper imports flooding the market.
Second, profit margins provide an agreeable income even though considerably less than commercial business.
Third, they all share a sense of patriotism, knowing they have contributed in some degree to preserving our national security.
Finally, the workforces of these small suppliers are like an extended family, and meeting payroll provides owners with the satisfaction of helping families pay their rent, mortgages, and put a little aside for their children’s education. You must admire these small companies for weathering the business turbulence while providing a profession to their employees and, in turn, contributing to the health of their communities.
Meanwhile, financial reality has eliminated a multitude of lower-tier companies. U.S. suppliers for chaff and flare makers are down to one or two manufacturers, a concern documented in the September 2018 interagency task force report, “Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States.”
In the first two years of the current administration, considerable assessment, analysis and recognition has occurred regarding the decline of the defense supplier base and the subsequent impact on national security. Perhaps a more insidious threat is supplier reliance on foreign machining and tooling to produce precision parts for defense systems.
Some of the best machinery and laser cutting equipment are provided by companies outside the United States, such as Trumpf in Germany, Bystronic in Switzerland and Amada in Japan. This may not be a concern because they support U.S. policy for the most part; however, a closer look reveals other items are sourced from countries that may not side with the United States during times of increased tension.
The administration is searching for methods to prevent further erosion in the supplier community. Recent corporate tax and pass-through tax reductions have certainly been well received by the defense community, but are they enough? As the government continues to search for ways to shore up suppliers, the defense community must take immediate responsibility. They cannot wait for a government bureaucracy, even with the best intentions, to solve this issue.
Major defense companies work diligently to increase their sales, first domestically and then in the overseas market. To be successful in the foreign market, they must provide local content, as mandated by respective governments, which usually results in U.S. suppliers feeling the impact. Budgetary swings, program delays or cancelations, and work shifted to foreign companies are negative factors affecting our supplier base. Achieving or exceeding near-term financial objectives is priority one for all companies, but the long-term impact must be considered if the supplier community is to remain healthy and viable.
With each major weapon system purchase, follow-on lot buys are negotiated with pressure to reduce cost. This is a justifiable challenge as the manufacturing learning curve goes up, but at some point, this curve flattens out, considerably quicker for small suppliers. For these companies, the only means to continue to reduce costs is through acquiring the latest automated machinery. Subsequently, after weathering all the financial turbulence expressed above, small suppliers must then increase their capital equipment purchases.
The financial struggle can be all-consuming.
It is time for major contractors to take some of the pressure off the small defense suppliers. Tangible action is needed. We must take a sincere look at: providing longer-term contracts; fulfilling offset requirements in areas outside the limited domestic base; exercising cooperative research and development to facilitate niche market expertise; and lessening pressure to reduce cost year after year because suppliers need to self-invest in their future.
We cannot allow suppliers to continue to struggle and eventually close their doors because the negative impact will be felt at all levels of industry and in the government.
These 1,000 or more points of light that make up the supplier community may not radiate the same brilliance as a major defense contractor, but when we view the most majestic sight known to humankind, the heavens, we quickly realize the beauty is in the totality of the mosaic, not in any one bright light.
The night sky provides a glow seen around the globe, a glow not dissimilar to that of the design, manufacturing and fielding of the most sophisticated and complex defense systems known to humankind. (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
13 Jul 19. GAO looks at where Pentagon contract awards end up. The U.S. government awarded more money in contracts to foreign-owned firms located abroad than U.S.-based subsidiaries of foreign-owned firms, according to a government watchdog.
A May 2019 report by the Government Accountability Office analyzed U.S. government contracts during fiscal 2015. In total, the U.S. government awarded $290.9bn in contracts; of this, $12bn went to firms located outside of the United States, the GAO found. The Department of Defense awarded 80 percent of those contracts awarded to firms out of the country, according to the report. Many of those contracts went toward U.S. military efforts in the individual country.
In fiscal 2015, nearly 11,000 defense contracts were awarded for a total of $9.8bn. This accounts for 26 percent of all U.S. government contracts to foreign firms.
“About a quarter of DOD’s $9.8bn in aggregate award value were for purchases of fuel, oil, lubricant, and wax. About 9 percent were for education and training services, and about 7 to 8 percent each were for construction of buildings and housekeeping services,” the GAO said. (Source: glstrade.com/Defense News)
17 Jul 19. Army to Hold Future Long Range Assault Aircraft Industry Day July 31. The office of the U.S. Army program manager for Future Vertical Lift-Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) plans to hold an industry day in Huntsville, Alabama, on July 31 to furnish insight to contractors on the Army’s FLRAA acquisition approach. The Army’s wants FLRAA to focus on assuming the Sikorsky [LMT] UH-60 Black Hawk with a utility/assault mission rather than developing an attack version as a replacement for the
Boeing [BA] AH-64E Apache. The two most likely competitors for FLRAA are the Boeing-Sikorsky SB-1 Defiant and the V-280 advanced tiltrotor by Bell, a division of Textron [TXT]. Both aircraft have participated in the
Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR-TD) program.
“We continue with the flight testing and demonstration activities of our Valor V-280,” Textron
CEO Scott Donnelly said July 17 during a call with analysts to discuss Textron’s second quarter earnings. “We have now demonstrated Army Level 1 Handling Qualities, successfully proving the aircraft’s maneuverability in pitch, roll and yaw. This represents the highest performance standards for agility, which is critical to the Army mission.” The V-280 demonstrated such level 1 handling qualities in May, according to Bell.
“We are also encouraged by the Army’s recent actions regarding the potential acceleration of the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft program,” Donnelly said. “These actions include an industry day scheduled at the end of this month that should allow potential contractors to gain
more insight into the Army’s acquisition approach, proposed alternate procurement path through the Other Transaction Authority [OTA] mechanism to be awarded in February, and the identification of an Engineering, Manufacturing and Development program or middle tier acquisition award date estimated to occur 19 months following the OTA award.”
The Senate Armed Services Committee wants the Army to consider an acceleration of FLRAA and has directed the service to submit a tailored acquisition plan by Oct. 1. In its report on the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act last month, the committee said it wants the Secretary of the Army to provide a briefing on “a course of action to accelerate the FLRAA program, to include potential use of tailored acquisition strategies, procedures, and authorities with appropriate oversight, management, and technical rigor.”
The Boeing/Sikorsky SB-1 Defiant features a different technical approach than the V-280. The Defiant has a coaxial, rigid-rotor design and eight rotor blades, four each on two counterrotating main rotors and a rear 11-foot wide eight-bladed pusher-propulsor — basically a backward propeller — to provide forward thrust. The blades’ pitch is variable to maximize thrust and perform quietly at high speed. That rear propulsor will increase aircraft agility in a low altitude environment and thus survivability, as the rotor craft will be able to dive quickly coming over a hill when facing possible threats, Boeing said.
Boeing has said Defiant is “a 160-knot aircraft” with the propeller not turning and that with the propeller turning, “it’s a 260 knot machine.”
The company plans to expand the flight test envelope and start rear propeller testing this year, including possible “reverse feather” testing to show that the aircraft can rapidly decelerate. Sikorsky and Boeing officials said that they will be able to meet the Army’s FLRAA goal for 280 knots maximum continuous cruise speed at max power through modifications, which would likely mean bigger engines and transmissions and a larger air frame and more horsepower going through the rear pusher prop, a higher horsepower generation that would mean higher drag and less efficiency. (Source: Defense Daily)
17 Jul 19. USAF issues RFP for EMD phase of GBSD ICBM programme. The US Air Force (USAF) has issued a request for proposals for the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of its ground-based strategic deterrent (GBSD) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) weapon system programme. The RFP includes five production lot options to produce and deploy the weapon system. Boeing and Northrop Grumman are set to take part in the competition for the EMD contract. These two companies are also contractors for GBSD’s ongoing Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction phase under which both firms received nearly $350m. The EMD contract is anticipated to be awarded in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2020.
The USAF’s Boeing LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM first became operational in the mid-1960s. The service intends to replace the ageing platform with the GBSD. The legacy platform has been maintained over the years through upgrades to some components and subsystems.
In May, US undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment Ellen Lord called for the purchase of advanced nuclear capability to maintain a deterrence edge.
Stating that keeping the existing Minuteman III ICBMs alive by continuous upgrades is not financially feasible, Lord emphasised the need to operationalise the new GBSD.
Lord said: “There is no margin to do another service-life extension programme on Minuteman III, because not only would it be more expensive than developing GBSD, but you would not have the resiliency in the capability because you would not have the modern equipment, you would not have the actual capabilities from a functional range point of view (or) warhead capability. So we need to, by 2028, start replacing (ICBMs).”
Her call to replace Minuteman III with the new weapon system is echoed by senior USAF leaders.
At a congressional committee hearing in April, USAF Chief of Staff general David Goldfein said: “If you look at the threat that we face, Russia just completed their modernisation of their triad this year…because they know they cannot defeat us, and certainly can’t defeat Nato, conventionally.
“So, our modernisation and recap of the triad is just in time because in the missile leg, key parts of that programme expire right about the time that we bring on the new GBSD to replace it.”
Air Force will start GBSD deployment in 2027. The weapon system is expected to remain in service through 2075.
Last week, Textron received a contract modification for the Minuteman III multiprobe antenna procurement. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
16 Jul 19. Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) announced the submission of its Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor proposal to the U.S. Army as part of the competition for a new air and missile defense radar. Raytheon’s LTAMDS solution is a simultaneous 360-degree, Active Electronically Scanned Array radar powered by Raytheon-manufactured Gallium Nitride, a substance that strengthens the radar signal and enhances its sensitivity.
“Our proposal offers the Army a brand-new radar that overmatches the future threat,” said Tom Laliberty, Raytheon Vice President of Integrated Air and Missile Defense. “We brought our LTAMDS solution to the U.S. Army’s sensor demonstration and validated our ability to meet their 2022 urgent material release date.”
Raytheon’s LTAMDS offering was demonstrated in an event known as a sense-off, which put Raytheon’s LTAMDS solution through a series of challenging scenarios. Raytheon completed its sense-off participation on May 15.
“We created a new radar because a redesigned, modified or upgraded radar simply can’t defeat the type of advanced threats the U.S. Army will face,”
said Doug Burgess, Raytheon’s LTAMDS program director. “Our solution is proof that the Army can have it all — a capable next generation radar, at an affordable price, fielded as quickly as possible.”
Raytheon assembled a team of U.S.-based partners who played a strategic role in Raytheon’s proposed LTAMDS solution. They are:
Crane Aerospace & Electronics Cummings Aerospace IERUS Technologies Kord Technologies Mercury Systems nLogic
16 Jul 19. USAF to proceed with next-gen area attack weapon production. The US Air Force (USAF) is to shortly move ahead with production of its next-generation area-attack weapon, with the disclosure on 15 July that it is to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for manufacture of the BLU-136/B warhead.
A pre-solicitation notification posted by the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) on the Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) website says that the service will issue an RFP for production of an undisclosed quantity of BLU-136/B warheads on or about 31 July. No contract value was given.
“The Direct Attack Munitions Branch (AFLCMC/EBDA), Direct Attack Division (AFLCMC/EBD), Armament Directorate (AFLCMC/EB), Eglin [Air Force Base] AFB, Florida, plans to award a firm-fixed price multiple award indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract for the production of the BLU-136/B area attack warhead,” the solicitation said.
The notification comes about four months after Jane’s reported the USAF’s plan to more than double the number of BLU-136/B warheads it is to procure to replace the cluster munitions it is obligated to retire. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
15 Jul 19. US Air Force seeks information on Combat Rescue Helicopter aircrew training system. Key Points:
- The US Air Force seeks industry information for a possible HH-60W aircrew trainer
- This could lead to an acquisition programme
The US Air Force (USAF) seeks information from industry on potential capabilities supporting a ground-based aircrew trainer (GBAT) for the new Sikorsky HH-60W “Delta” Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH).
The USAF wants to field a training device that provides aircrew members training on pre-mission procedures, exterior and interior pre-flight inspections, mission equipment and hoist pre-flight inspections, weapons pre-flights, instrument equipment tests, aircraft system reviews, and checklist procedures, among others. This training device will be fielded in support of HH-60W training at Kirtland Air Force Base (AFB) in New Mexico.
The GBAT should be designed to provide an operational availability rate of 95% for 16 hours per day, five days per week, and 50 weeks per year for an operating life of 20 years, according to a request for information (RFI) posted on Federal Business Opportunities (FBO). The trainer delivery, if sourced, is required no later than 1 October 2021 for fielding. The USAF anticipates this to be a firm-fixed-price with limited use of cost-reimbursement no-fee contract line item numbers (CLINs) intended for travel expenses. The service expects a Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 16 task order under the Training System Acquisition (TSA) III multiple-award indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contract for acquisition and interim contractor support (ICS) support requirements. Responses to the RFI are due 7 August 2019.
CAE USA plans to respond to this RFI. Company spokesperson Chris Stellwag said on 9 July that CAE USA has not determined what it might offer as this is only a RFI. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
17 Jul 19. US Navy Releases MUSV RFP, Official Stresses Experimentation Before Use. The Navy released the final request for proposals (RFP) for the development of a Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MUSV) on July 16.
MUSV will be a pier-launched, self-deploying modular surface vessel that uses open architecture. The Navy said it will be capable of autonomous navigation and mission execution. The Navy defines a MUSV as being 39 to 164 feet long. It plans to conduct a full and open competitive procurement this year and expects to award a
single MUSV prototype in the first quarter of FY 2020. The first MUSV prototype is expected to be delivered in FY ’22.
The RFP also includes options for additional MUSVs, the Navy said.
“Accelerating Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) and payload development and warfighting integration will provide an inflection point in delivering a more distributed force in support of the National Defense Strategy,” Naval Sea Systems Command said in a statement. Previously, the service released its draft MUSV performance specification and had a MUSV industry day in February.
The Navy said this RFP incorporates months of dialogue and feedback with industry. A June Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report noted the Navy plans to award a contract for the second MUSV in FY ’23. It said the Navy wants these vessels to be low-cost, high endurance, reconfigurable ships. Initial payloads will be intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance (ISR) and electronic warfare systems.
MUSV is building on Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) work with its Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) with the Office of Naval Research, which resulted in the construction and testing of the Sea Hunter USV. Responses to the RFP are due by Sept. 30. On Wednesday, Rear Adm. Gene Black, Director of Surface Warfare Division (OPNAV N96), said
they are now exploring how to best use MUSVs and other unmanned surface vessels.
“We’re figuring out how we’re going to use these things, but it’s certainly not in the next couple years that we turn an unmanned vehicle loose on the West Coast and send it off on a mission.
There’s a lot of learning that has to go on. I think we need to come to terms with, are these
manned, unmanned, are they optionally manned? When would you man them, when would you not man them? We’re working through all that and we don’t have any of those answers right now,” Black said during a Surface Navy Association event.
Black noted the service recently stood up the Surface Development Squadron on the West Coast in May and will have to experiment and figure out how to best use the vessels. The squadron aims to integrate medium and large unmanned surface vessels and support fleet
experimentation to bring new warfighting concepts and capabilities to the fleet. It is responsible for maintenance, training, and manning oversight of the Zumwalt-class destroyers and MUSVs/LUSVs like the Sea Hunter and under-construction Sea Hunter II.
Black said his staff is partnering with the squadron and thinks sailors will eventually figure out
new and innovative ways to use the unmanned vessels.
“Candidly, we’re going to get some of these things, we’re going to buy them, and I know what I
think we’re going to do, but the fact of the matter is the young guys and gals in the audience are going to use them for totally different ways that are much better than any idea that I ever had. So we’re figuring out how we’re going to do it.”
Black, who until recently served as the commander of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, said if he had a MUSV at his disposal, “[he’d] have pushed it out in front of me, certainly when I went up into the high north. It gives me sensors and eyes and connectivity way out in front of the strike group and an awareness of what’s going on so that I can decide if I want to go in another direction or do something completely different.”
While Black served as commander of the strike group in 2018, it deployed both the to Eastern Mediterranean and north of the Arctic Circle during the Trident Juncture exercise. (Source: Defense Daily)
REST OF THE WORLD
18 Jul 19. Bell, Boeing position for Australian helicopter gunship program. Bell and Boeing are positioning their respective attack helicopter offerings for Australia, which has unexpectedly kicked off an acquisition process to replace its Eurocopter Tiger helicopters.
Bell is offering its AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter, noting in a media statement that “the Bell AH-1Z is the only marinized attack helicopter in the world that is designed and built for maritime operations and is proven in operations with the United States Marines Corps.”, noting that in addition to protection against saltwater the type is designed and built from the outset to conform with shipboard operations.
Meanwhile, Boeing Australia has said it will put forward the AH-64E Apache for the Australian program, noting in a statement to Defense News that the AH-64E “is an affordable, proven and low-risk platform that meets or exceeds the Commonwealth of Australia’s capability requirements under the LAND-4503 program.”
Australia’s Capability, Acquisition and Sustainment Group or CASG had issued a Request for Information, or RFI, on July 1 for a “proven and mature, manned, off-the-shelf armed helicopter” to replace its fleet of 22 Eurocopter Tiger armed reconnaissance aircraft.
The program seeks a total of 29 helicopters for the Australian Army, with 24 helicopters for operational taskings and the remainder as training aircraft. The primary role of the chosen type would be to perform “reconnaissance, attack and security operations” that include the ability to share the tactical picture of the battlespace with friendly elements and force commanders.
Key requirements in the Australian RFI include its ability to support Australia’s growing amphibious capabilities, including the ability to operate onboard its Canberra-class amphibious assault ships for “extended periods of time.”
Other requirements that respondents to the RFI will need to answer for are the ability of the helicopter’s to be transported by the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III airlifter and other transport aircraft, interoperability with unmanned aircraft systems to STANAG 4586 standards, as well as its onboard communication systems such as datalinks. Australia wants a chosen helicopter type to be able to deliver 12 aircraft by 2025 or 2026 for an initial operating capability, with all 29 aircraft and training system to be set up so as to declare full operating capability by 2028 or 2029. The RFI is also seeking information on the availability of local industrial capability to support delivery and operation of aircraft and support systems, in line with recent efforts to boost the local defense industry.
The release of the RFI has taken observers by surprise, as it was widely expected that Australia would persist with operating its Tiger fleet for a little while longer despite initially planning in its 2016 defense white paper to seek a replacement by the middle of the next decade.
This was due to recent improvements in aircraft availability and capabilities despite its troubled history in Australian service, due in a large part to serviceability issues. Australia is also seeking a special forces support helicopter under a separate program, while its white paper also envisages a future “fast medevac” capability. (Source: Defense News)
19 Jul 19. Naval Group reveals proposal to strengthen Australian defence industry capabilities. Naval Group, parent company for the Royal Australian Navy’s Attack Class submarines, has submitted a proposal to partner with Australian businesses and industry to locally produce the latest generation torpedo countermeasure technology, CANTO.
Outlined in the proposal is a commitment to transfer skills and knowledge to Australian industry for the manufacture of world-leading torpedo defence technology. This sharing of expertise and experience will not only contribute to Australia’s defence landscape, but boost local manufacturing.
Francois Romanet, Naval Group general delegate for Australia, said, “Naval Group’s mission in Australia is to strengthen the country’s sovereign defence capability, by sharing innovative technology and techniques that have been developed and refined over our 400-year history.”
CANTO represents a breakthrough in the field of anti-torpedo defence. The counter-measure is unique as it applies the ‘dilution/confusion’ concept to defend a vessel. This involves generating a high-level, 360-degree acoustic signal as soon as it enters the water to jam the full frequency range of an attacking torpedo.
The CANTO system then generates hundreds of false targets, forcing the attacking torpedo to recalibrate and reposition an attack vector. This overwhelms the torpedo’s sonar and data processing, ultimately depleting its energy reserves.
“The excellent performance, interoperability and application of CANTO makes it a valuable defence asset. The French Navy has already selected CANTO for its SSN submarine and surface fleet. Partnering with local industry will further strengthen our partnership, and with Australia’s defence capabilities,” explained Romanet.
CANTO is compatible with over 50 platforms, and is used in conjunction with the CONTRALTO reaction module from Naval Group. Once a threat is detected, CONTRALTO suggests an optimised evasive manoeuvre along with CANTO countermeasures. This makes it one of the most successful systems in defeating torpedo attacks.
The dual role of dilution/confusion also means CANTO requires less space when compared with separate systems that fulfil a single purpose. This is incredibly valuable for submarines, which have a limited number of launch tubes and countermeasures to face subsequent attacks.
Naval Group is the European leader in naval defence. As an international high-tech company, Naval Group uses its know-how, unique industrial resources and capacity to arrange innovative strategic partnerships to meet its customers’ requirements.
The group designs, builds and supports submarines and surface ships. It also supplies services to shipyards and naval bases. In addition, the group offers a wide range of marine renewable energy solutions. (Source: Defence Connect)
15 Jul 19. Indian Navy Floats Tender for Underwater Weapons Systems for its French-Origin Submarines. Months after India’s French-origin Scorpene-class submarine started operating without primary underwater weapons systems, the Indian Navy has finally launched a tender worth over $300m to arm its diesel-electric submarines. One in six Scorpene-class submarines has been operating for the last two years without heavyweight torpedoes – the primary underwater weapons systems – for attacking and defending against enemy attacks by submarines and surface warships.
“The tender for acquiring around 100 heavyweight torpedoes for Indian Navy submarines was issued 10 days ago by the Defence Ministry,” Indian news agency ANI quoted Defence Ministry sources as saying.
Construction of the five remaining Scorpene-class submarines – which are capable of carrying and launching 18 heavyweight torpedoes from the sea – is underway at the Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL) shipyard in Mumbai. The Indian Navy has contacted Rosoboronexport of Russia, French Naval Group, German ThyssenKrupp, and Swedish SAAB to bid on supplying 108 heavyweight torpedoes.
The official said that the navy wanted a limited number of heavyweight torpedoes as an immediate requirement, while the long-term bulk requirement would be fulfilled through the ‘Make in India’ route. The Indian navy signed $170 million in contracts for over 70 heavyweight torpedoes, believed to be for warships, developed by state-funded Defence Research and Development Organisation.
Project 75, under which Scorpene-class submarines are being built with the help of French firm Naval Group (DCNS), had originally envisaged equipping the submarines with Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes as their primary weapons.
However, in June 2016, the Indian government cancelled the $200m deal with Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei (WASS), a subsidiary of the Italian arms manufacturer Finmeccanica, due to corruption allegations involving another Finmeccanica subsidiary, Agusta Westland. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Sputnik News)
17 Jul 19. Defence Innovation Network calls for Pilot Project grant submissions. The Defence Innovation Network 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.
In 2019-20, the DIN Pilot Project grant scheme has $650,000 of funding available. In June 2019, the NSW DIN hosted a number of workshops attended by representatives from ADF, DST Group and industry. The workshops delivered various problem statements, which are the subject of this call.
Submissions are invited by university researchers for proposed collaborative research grants. DIN will provide funding support for a limited number of proposals that directly address these problem statements and demonstrate the best team fit and inter-university collaboration.
DIN Pilot Project Funding Scheme aims to conduct a rapid feasibility study on new ideas for Defence and develop these ideas into concept or technology that can attract further investment from the government or industry.
All applicants are expected to communicate with their university co-ordinator to ensure that they have optimum visibility of progress and intended submissions. Applicants are expected to get in touch with the problem originator, during the proposal drafting stage, to ensure the clarity of the objectives of the problem and alignment with end-user requirements.
DIN is seeking to respond to a number of problem statements, including:
- Soldier navigation in GPS-denied environments;
- Soldier data analytics;
- Soldier cognitive performance;
- AI-enabled wargaming;
- Laser-based corrosion management for naval platforms;
- Sensor for JORN;
- Miniaturised active radar; and
- Self-aware artificial intelligence navigation and control system.
Proposals should be submitted to by the due date 2 September 2019. Further information, including details about the problem statements, is available here. (Source: Defence Connect)
American Panel Corporation
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.