Sponsored by American Panel Corporation
UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
17 Jan 20. UK MoD announces £4m AI warship contracts. The UK’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) has announced the first wave £4m ($7.5m) worth of funding to develop revolutionary warships make decisions and process thousands of strands of intelligence and data by using artificial intelligence (AI).
Nine projects will share an initial £1m to develop technology and innovative solutions to overcome increasing ‘information overload’ faced by crews as part of DASA’s Intelligent Ship – The Next Generation competition.
Intelligent Ship is focused on inventive approaches for Human-AI and AI-AI teaming for defence platforms – such as warships, aircraft and land vehicles – in 2040 and beyond.
Defence Minister James Heappey said, “The astonishing pace at which global threats are evolving requires new approaches and fresh-thinking to the way we develop our ideas and technology. The funding will research pioneering projects into how AI and automation can support our armed forces in their essential day-to-day work.”
DASA, on behalf of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), is looking at how future defence platforms can be designed and optimised to exploit current and future advances in:
- Machine learning; and
- Artificial intelligence.
These key areas of research will look to address the complex and constantly evolving threats to national security.
This work will inform requirements then develop applications essential to the future force in an increasingly complex and AI driven environment.
Julia Tagg, technical lead from Dstl, said, “This DASA competition has the potential to lead the transformation of our defence platforms, leading to a sea change in the relationships between AI and human teams. This will ensure UK defence remains an effective, capable force for good in a rapidly changing technological landscape.”
Although titled Intelligent Ship, a warship is just the prototype demonstrator for this competition – the project will inform development relevant to all defence equipment and military services.
“Crews are already facing information overload with thousands of sources of data, intelligence and information. By harnessing automation, autonomy, machine learning and artificial intelligence with the real-life skill and experience of our men and women, we can revolutionise the way future fleets are put together and operate to keep the UK safe,” Tagg added.
The competition, currently backed by a total of £4m ($7.5m) over two phases, has the potential to transform the way the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force equipment platforms are designed, work together, operated and manned by the 2040s.
DASA delivery manager Adam Moore said, “DASA brings together the brightest minds in science, industry and academia to turbocharge innovations to keep the UK, as well as those who protect us, safe from emerging and evolving threats to our way of life.”
Innovations developed in phase one of the competition could later help determine the different platform types, size and role of future platforms, as well as potentially being adapted and integrated into the existing fleet.
“This project will ensure the Royal Navy and all our armed forces stays one step ahead of our adversaries,” Moore added. (Source: Defence Connect)
20 Jan 20. German Naval Yards Kiel Takes Legal Actions Against MKS 180 Procurement. The Kiel-based shipyard German Naval Yards (GNYK) will take legal action against the procurement decision of the Federal Ministry of Defence to grant the MKS project to a Dutch led consortium. “After a thorough examination, we have decided to file a complaint against the award decision,” said a spokesman of the shipyard. He added: “We have serious doubts about the legality of the decision and will therefore exhaust all legal possibilities at our disposal.” GNYK is thus exercising its right under public procurement law to have the decision reviewed. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/German Naval Yards)
17 Jan 20. USAF Warns Boeing’s New CEO That It’s Not Happy Either.
‘We also rely on a relationship of trust,’ he wrote to new CEO
The Air Force’s top military officer has sent Boeing Co.’s new CEO a blunt reminder that the ill-fated 737 Max passenger jet isn’t the only troubled project he has to rescue.
There’s also the company’s failure to provide a combat-ready refueling tanker, nine years after Boeing won a competition for the $44bn project.
“We require your attention and improved focus on the KC-46” tanker, General David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, warned in a letter four days before Dave Calhoun took over as chief executive officer of the company. “The Air Force continues to accept deliveries of a tanker incapable of performing its primary operational mission.”
Calhoun has been entrusted with turning around a company that is reeling from a pair of crashes of the Max that killed 346 people and resulted in the grounding of its best selling jet, sent its stock into a swoon and raised questions about its commitment to safety.
“As one of your largest military customers, we also rely on a relationship of trust and confidence in not only Boeing’s products” but also the long-term sustainment effort needed for equipment that “our warfighters require,” Goldfein said in the Jan. 9 letter made available to Bloomberg News.
Calhoun is leading a once-proud company whose reputation for engineering prowess is now in tatters. On top of the grounding of its best-selling plane, Boeing has suffered delays to its 777X jetliner and an embarrassing mishap that caused its new space capsule to miss a rendezvous with the International Space Station.
The letter got Calhoun’s attention: He met with Goldfein on Wednesday, according to a Boeing official familiar with the issue. The same day at the White House signing ceremony for the initial trade agreement with China, President Donald Trump singled out Calhoun, quipping that “he’s got a very easy company to run. He just took over Boeing.” The president added, “Let me tell you, it’s not your fault, you just got there.”
Larry Chambers, a spokesman for Chicago-based Boeing, declined to comment on the meeting with Goldfein or the letter. “Boeing is fully committed to addressing the Air Force concerns with the KC-46 program and devoting resources required to make the KC-46 fully mission capable,” he said.
Brigadier General Ed Thomas, a spokesman for Goldfein, said “at this point the chief intends for any communications with our industry partners to be between himself and them.”
In the letter, Goldfein expressed concern about the tanker’s crucial “Remote Vision System” and “additional unmet requirements.” The plane has multiple cameras used by an airman sitting at a console behind the cockpit to guide a 59-foot-long extended boom to connect with a plane needing fuel and then to monitor the procedure.
Shadows or the glare of the sun can hamper the cameras’ view on occasion, possibly resulting in scraping the plane being refueled or difficulty in performing the operation, according to the Air Force. Boeing officials have said they’ve deployed a software solution expected to overcome the main hurdle.
Despite agreement on a plan to repair the Remote Vision System, Goldfein said in the letter, “to date, progress has been unsatisfactory. More than a year has elapsed and Boeing has yet to provide” a design “that instills confidence in the way forward.”
“None of the timelines” in the agreement “has been met,” he said, “and Boeing’s latest proposal slips delivery of the final fix to the warfighter by over two years,” which he called unacceptable.
The Air Force has taken delivery of 30 tankers to start aircrew and logistics training even as Boeing continues to work on fixes. The service last year started to withhold a percentage of final payment per aircraft that’s now at about $800m, according to Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek.
“If we elect to continue accepting aircraft deliveries at the current rate” the service will possess 70 “partially mission-capable” tankers by next year, Goldfein wrote.
The tanker also has started combat testing conducted by Pentagon evaluators and so far “over 500 deficiencies have been tracked to date and we’ve only just begun” that evaluation, Goldfein wrote. A Boeing official said none of the deficiencies are of the most serious category.
Goldfein told Calhoun he expects lawmakers to question during fiscal 2021 budget hearings why the Air Force continues to take delivery of an aircraft “not meeting multiple key performance parameters and a host of other requirements.”
Without a change in course, Goldfein wrote, “we will not be able to answer positively and we will have to acknowledge our serious concerns in two areas — trust and safety.” (Source: Bloomberg)
15 Jan 20. Pentagon seeks proposals for future Pilot Training Next prototypes. Key Points:
- The Pentagon has issued a solicitation to further its Pilot Training Next work
- Desired technologies include network and data architecture and simulation environment
The Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) is soliciting proposals from industry to build upon the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) Pilot Training Next (PTN) experiment.
PTN is the USAF’s effort to decrease the time and cost of pilot training without sacrificing the depth of learning. This commercial solutions opening’s (CSO’s) initial prototype will focus on training in the Beechcraft T-6A Texan II, the primary trainer aircraft for the US Air Force (USAF) and US Navy (USN). The Northrop T-38C Talon will also be an initial area of focus.
Prototypes ready for initial test and evaluation by about September 2020 are highly desired. However, novel approaches requiring additional development that offer significant increases in effectiveness, suitability, or affordability will also be considered. Affordability, portability of the system, and technical maturity will all be considered as factors in the selection of vendors.
DIUx spokesperson Johanna Spangenberg Jones said on 13 January that the CSO is a very business-oriented contract that attempts to work at the speed of business with data rights and intellectual property (IP) that are negotiable. DIUx uses other transaction agreements (OTAs) to partner with both non-traditional and traditional defence contractors and non-profit research institutions to carry out prototype projects.
The Pentagon may award one or more awards based on the responses from industry. Spangenberg Jones said that it is possible that a single company responds with optimal solutions to the programme’s subproblems but DIUx is leaving an opportunity to both company-negotiated and government-directed teaming arrangements. She declined to say how much money DIUx budgeted for this solicitation.
Any prototype OTA awarded for this programme may result in the award of a follow-on production contract or transaction without the use of further competitive procedures. (Source: Jane’s)
REST OF THE WORLD
24 Jan 20. Bangladesh down-selects Apache for attack helicopter requirement. Bangladesh has confirmed the selection of the AH-64E Apache as the country’s attack helicopter of choice after a broader request to the US to acquire advanced equipment, including multi-role combat fighters, surface-to-air missiles and lift helicopters.
Boeing has confirmed the down-selection made by the Bangladeshi government, which will see the south Asian country participating in a foreign military sale program with the US government.
Bangladesh will acquire the latest AH-64E variant of the venerable Apache attack helicopter, which is flown by the US and 15 other countries and has recorded more than 4.5 million flight hours with the US Army alone. There are currently 1,180 Apaches in service today.
During a media briefing, Boeing’s Terry Jamison, senior manager for global sales and marketing for attack and cargo helicopter programs, explained, “[In Bangladesh] we have been down-selected not just based on capability, but we went head-to-head with some of our competitors and we were down-selected based on price.”
Currently there are three contenders for the LAND 4503 program, including Boeing with the AH-64 Apache, Bell Aerospace offering the AH-1Z Viper and Airbus promising enhanced reliability and capability for the Army’s existing fleet of Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters (ARH). (Source: Defence Connect)
21 Jan 20. P75I race to build six new Indian conventional submarines: Adani Group out, MDL and L&T in the hunt. For the P 75 (I) whichever company – MDL or L&T is down selected they will get to choose OEMs which include — French Naval Group `Scorpene’; Russian Rubin Design Bureau `Amur 1650’; German Thyssenkrupp `Type 214’, Spanish Navantia `S80’ and South Korea’s DSME. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by the defence minister Rajnath Singh rejected the joint bid by Adani Group & Hindustan Shipyard Limited on technical grounds for the $6.3bn Project 75(I) programme to build 6 new diesel-electric submarines. This means that Mumbai based Mazagon Docks Ltd (MDL) and Larsen &Turbo (L&T) have been approved as the Indian Strategic Partners (SP) and will now compete to be chosen for constructing six submarines in India. Whichever company finally wins will be working with five foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM).
For the P 75 (I) whichever company – MDL or L&T is down selected they will get to choose OEMs which include — French Naval Group `Scorpene’; Russian Rubin Design Bureau `Amur 1650’; German Thyssenkrupp `Type 214’, Spanish Navantia `S80’ and South Korea’s DSME. Both Swedish Saab Kockums A26 and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Soryu-class had dropped out from the OEM race earlier in the competition.
As has been reported earlier by Financial Express Online, the state-owned MDL already has an active production line and has so far delivered the first two of six Scorpene-class submarines to the Indian Navy. These submarines are being constructed in venture with the French Naval Group.
On the rejection of Adani Group which had sought to be considered as an SP in a tie-up with HSL, informed sources said “During the DAC meeting on Tuesday, defence minister Rajnath Singh took a principled stand that the SP Model will be followed strictly and no exceptions will be made for anyone.”
“The competition between MDL and L&T is expected to be interesting. Mumbai based MDL is already working on the `Scorpene’ class submarines with the Naval Group.”
The down selected SP along with OEMs have to set up dedicated manufacturing lines for these submarines in the country and help in making India the global hub for submarine design and production.
As reported earlier, Russia has offered state-of-the-art “Lada” class diesel-electric submarine which is the export modification of Amur-1650 and will have the capability to be loaded with BrahMos Missile.
Also, in the submarines to be built under the P75 (I) programme there is a provision for the air-independent propulsion (AIP) technology, being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
Presently the Indian Navy is operating two different types of submarines — Russian Kilo-class and German Type 209 conventional submarines. And one `Scorpene’ class submarine is the new one inducted in the Indian Navy.
22 Jan 20. Russian Engineering Troops to receive more than 600 new systems in 2020. Russia’s Engineering Troops are set to receive more than 600 systems in 2020, the service’s commander, Lieutenant General Yuri Stavitskiy, told Ministry of Defence newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) on 20 January. He reported that the troops received more than 500 engineering systems, including maintenance vehicles, PP-2005M pontoon bridges, TMT-K mine rollers, and BMK-MO boats last year. “In 2019 the military adopted the IMP-3, MG-1I penetrating radar, and PPO-2I dual mine detectors, BMK-MT and BMK-MO boats for pontoon bridges, and other kit,” said Lt Gen Stavitskiy. Two new engineering unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) are under development. “The IMRTK-RT UGV is designed to clear paths through minefields and for minesweeping in remote control mode, while the IMRTK-ShR UGV will be capable of conducting engineering tasks under fire and supporting engineering assault teams in urban environments,” Lt Gen Stavitskiy explained. (Source: Jane’s)
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.
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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.