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16 Apr 20. EDA launches call for papers on integration of military air capabilities in a changing aviation sector. EDA has launched a first call for papers from defence industry, academia and research institutes on the topic of Integration of military air capabilities in a changing context of the civil aviation sector in the framework of EDA’s upcoming Single European Sky Workshops. The purpose of the workshop is to provide industry with a deeper insight into the Strategic Context Case (SCC) 10 (Integration of military air capabilities in a changing aviation sector) and develop a common understanding by gathering industry proposals on new R&D and validation activities needed within the Single European Sky (SES) domain.
This call for papers is part of a broader approach to SCC 10, and aims to initiate and consolidate cooperative projects in the following domains:
- Military access to airspace, in particular in a Single European Sky context. The aim is to improve, for existing and future manned and unmanned air capabilities, the ability to train and conduct security and defence missions particularly in peacetime, but also in crisis and conflict.
- Protect the confidentiality of mission critical information and ensure a resilient and robust data sharing network in the changing context of the civil aviation sector.
- Coordination with civilian aviation authorities and structures, infrastructures and procedures while maintaining military-to-military interoperability to enable the effective contribution to operations in multinational coalitions.
- The adaptation of Military AIR/SPACE C2 capability and Communication Navigation Surveillance (CNS) capability to the changing context of the civil aviation sector including the deployment of ATM technologies and the development of the U-Space concept.
The responses to this call for papers will drive the ideation of potential project proposals during the second formal workshop which will take place at EDA on 25 June 2020*.
How to submit
- Download the call for papers
- Download the questionnaire
- Send your completed files to
- Deadline for submissions is 15 May 2020.
Submissions are sought from a wide range of industries involved in ATM (Air Traffic Management)/SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research). Though responses to all questions in this call for papers are encouraged, submitters may develop answers to specific questions in greater detail based on their area of expertise.
Submissions will be judged on their innovativeness and relevance as well as ability to stimulate discussion on future ATM/SES in a military context. Participation in this call for papers is open to companies of any size as well as academic, research institutes and associations or groupings of industrial suppliers.
*The workshop will be subject to any recommendations put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please check the EDA website for any updates. (Source: EDA)
07 Apr 20. Preparatory Action on Defence Research: Projects selected following 2019 calls. Following calls for proposals launched by the European Defence Agency (EDA) in 2019, seven new defence research projects have been selected for funding under the Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR) for a total of more than €19m. The seven selected projects focus on technologies with a high disruptive potential in the defence sector such as artificial intelligence and quantum technologies, as well as critical defence technologies for electronic warfare and interoperability standards for military unmanned systems.
The consortia that submitted the selected proposals consist of 65 leading-edge European system integrators, original equipment manufacturers, high-tech MidCap and SMEs and research institutes located in 15 EU Member States. EDA will now start Grant Agreement preparations with the consortia of the top-ranking proposals. The Grant Agreements are foreseen to be signed in the second half of 2020.
PADR implementation is run by the European Defence Agency following the mandate of a Delegation Agreement between the European Commission and EDA signed on 31st May 2017. By this agreement the Commission entrusts EDA with the management and implementation of the research projects to be launched within the PADR. The first PADR calls for proposals were launched in 2017 for 25 M€, followed by calls in 2018 for 40 M€ and subsequently in 2019.
The Preparatory Action on Defence Research is a concrete step aimed at assessing and demonstrating the added value of EU supported defence research and technology (R&T). The relevant results are expected to further deepen European defence cooperation, addressing capability shortfalls, and to strengthen European defence stakeholders.
https://eda.europa.eu/docs/default-source/documents/padr-calls-factsheet-v2.pdf (Source: EDA)
27 Apr 20. Statement Regarding Revised Offer and Negotiations with TKMS. Norway and Germany will procure identical submarines together. A revised offer was received from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems in February and negotiations are now ongoing. Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems delivered a revised offer for new submarines. NDMA and BAAINBw have now started formal negotiations with TKMS. This is a large and complex contract, where a significant amount of taxpayer money is being spent. Therefor it is important to use the time necessary to ensure a solid contract that delivers good submarines for both nations. The negotiations will therefore continue until such a contract is in place. The aim is to have a ready to sign contract in 2020. The COVID 19 pandemic may, however, influence the negotiation process. Steps have been taken to reduce to the impact. Delivery date and schedule of the new submarines will be set as part of the contract. Norway has six submarines of the Ula-class. Studies indicate that the Ula-class can be kept operational somewhat longer than initially planned. Norway will therefore keep its submarine capability even if the new submarines are delayed. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Norwegian Ministry of Defence)
29 Apr 20. USAF issues solicitation for hypersonic cruise missile capabilities statements. The US Air Force (USAF) has initiated the research process for the potential acquisition of an air-launched hypersonic conventional air-to-surface cruise missile. According to the provisions of a ‘Future Hypersonics Program’ Sources Sought notification issued on 28 April in conjunction with the US Department of Defense (DoD), US Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC), and US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) Armament Directorate, the USAF “is currently conducting market research seeking capabilities statements from potential sources … for an effort involving systems integration of a Weapon Open System Architecture (WOSA)-based, solid-rocket boosted, air-breathing, hypersonic conventional cruise missile, air-launched from existing fighter/bomber aircraft into a preliminary design”. (Source: Jane’s)
28 Apr 20. Navy Readies To Buy New Frigates As Industrial Base Wobbles. The Navy will recompete the program after the first 10 ships are under contract, leading to a new award and another bite at the apple for the bidders who lost out the first time around. The Navy will award the first contract for an ambitious new class of frigates in the coming days, several sources with knowledge of the plan said, speeding up a program that wasn’t slated to get underway until later this year.
After the first award for ten ships, the Navy will launch a new competition for the next ten, possibly splitting the class and giving other shipbuilders another bite at the apple.
Moving forward the buy of the first of what should be 20 frigates serves more than one purpose. It locks in place one of the service’s top priorities while also pushing work to the winning shipbuilder months ahead of the original schedule, just as the Pentagon worries about the cratering of global manufacturing supply chains as a result to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The country’s largest shipbuilders are competing for the $1.2bn first ship, with the price settling in at a projected $900 to $950m per ship after that.
In the running are Huntington Ingalls Industries, which is thought to be offering a more lethal version of its national security cutter. There’s also a joint effort between Navantia and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works with a version of its F-100 design already in use by the Spanish navy. Fincantieri Marinette Marine is offering a version of its FREMM frigate in use by the Italian navy. Finally, Austal is trying with a version of its aluminum trimaran Littoral Combat Ship.
Fincantieri and Lockheed also make a version of the LCS, but decided not to submit it to the competition.
Hanging over any new start shipbuilding program however is the specter of the long-troubled LCS, a vessel still working to find a role and mission within the fleet. Despite its problems, the Navy has ordered 38 of them but is walking away from the class to pursue the new frigate.
Unveiling the fiscal 2021 budget earlier this year, Rear Adm. Randy Crites, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget, acknowledged “we don’t want to have a repeat of some of the lessons of LCS where we got going too fast,” on the frigate effort, despite speeding up the initial award.
Plans call for the FFG(X) to be a small, multi-mission ship loaded out with the Aegis combat system, 32 vertical launch cells and the new SPY-6 radar system.
The ship will be smaller than the Arleigh Burke destroyer, the Navy’s current workhorse, but outfitted with more power generation capabilities and advanced electronic warfare systems, along with radar and anti-submarine warfare gear.
Navy spokesman Capt. Danny Hernandez said in an email that the frigate “will provide increased range, endurance and survivability over previous small surface combatants,” as well as improvements in surface warfare, electromagnetic maneuver warfare and air warfare, “with design flexibility for future growth.”
That’s a lot of capability to fit in a relatively small package at less than $1 billion per ship. But the Navy’s top brass and Defense Secretary Mark Esper have declared the fleet needs to be faster, lighter, more maneuverable and more numerous to meet the challenges of modern Chinese and Russian navies.
“It’s clear they need fewer large surface combatants and more smaller surface combatants,” a congressional source told me. “But whether the frigate is considered by the Secretary of Defense as being small enough” is an open question.
Getting the frigate in place early will provide some stability in an uncertain time for the Navy and its industrial base. The service’s long-term plans were thrown into flux in February when Secretary Mark Esper held up the release of the Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan and the long-awaited Integrated Force Structure Assessment (INFSA), after he found the Navy’s draft wanting. He assigned Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist to lead a group through a months-long review of the plans before making them public this summer.
In a letter to the House Armed Services Committee, Esper said he wants the force to grow larger than the much-discussed 355 ship fleet Navy leaders have long aspired to, with many of those new ships being smaller than the ones currently at sea, and many others unmanned.
“Three months ago, I would have said, ‘oh yeah they’re gonna want to build more than 20’” frigates,” the congressional source said. “But now with the intervention of the Secretary of Defense it’s unclear. Maybe he’s fine with just 20, and he wants them to build a lot more of something that’s considerably smaller still.”
Two of the shipbuilders competing, Fincantieri in Wisconsin and Austal in Alabama have a lot riding on the contract, as their big-ticket work on LCS runs out in coming years. Huntington’s yards are somewhat protected because it is the only shipbuilder in America capable of building aircraft carriers, and has two more Ford-class big decks to build over the next decade, along with large amphibious ships.
Lawmakers in Wisconsin, well aware of what’s at stake, sent a letter to President Trump earlier this year promoting the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard as best suited for the work.
“We have witnessed what the loss of opportunity does to the Midwest,” the letter said. “When industry departs, so does hope.” Wrapping up the pitch for close to $20 billion worth of work over the 20 ship contract, the senators concluded by telling the president his “leadership and attention to this opportunity is vital.”
There is no indication that any political weight is being put on the Navy in awarding the contract, but in an election year, with an industrial base staggering through supply chain meltdowns, the frigate contract is looming large. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
29 Apr 20. US Air Force Kicks Off Search for a Flying Car. Will Roper, the Air Force’s assistant secretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics speaks with Col. Nathan Diller, the team lead for Agility Prime, on April 27, 2020, during the kick off of the week-long Agility Prime virtual conference. The US Air Force on April 27 kicked off Agility Prime, a new effort to help industry create a “flying car” for both commercial and military. The goal of Agility Prime is to avoid the “cautionary tale” of a previous transformative technology: small unmanned aerial systems, said Will Roper, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, during the virtual event. Early in the development of the personal drones, the Pentagon sat on the sideline without engaging with the companies building the systems. As a result, the supply chain went overseas to China, which now dominates the drone market, and “those foreign systems represent a security risk to us,” Roper said.
With Agility Prime, the Air Force is working directly with companies of all sizes to start the development of an electric or hybrid vertical take-off and landing aircraft, which the Air Force can use for mobility missions and that can eventually be adopted by the broader American public for transportation.
“There is a path for the military market to accelerate domestic use,” Roper said. “We’re putting that out with the launch of Agility Prime.”
This new type of aircraft “represent[s] a truly transformative leap ahead in transportation,” he said. For the Air Force, small commercially produced aircraft can help with special operations missions, search and rescue, point-to-point logistics, and defense support to civil authorities missions.
The first solicitation for the process calls for vehicles with the capability to carry three to eight people at speeds greater than 100 mph, at a range of more than 100 miles, and with an endurance of more than one hour. The service wants first full-scale flights by Dec. 17, with the goal of a small, operational fleet by 2023.
As opposed to traditional procurement processes, where much of the interaction between the service and a contractor comes solely from the transfer of money and requirements, the Air Force wants to be more active in development through the use of its testing ranges and by having engineers actively help with safety issues. Development and regular use of the new technology within the Air Force will in turn build public confidence in the systems, Roper said.
The Air Force has deep history in training and flight certification, and “there’s no better place in the world to think through these different issues,” said Brig. Gen. Clinton Hinote, the deputy director of Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability.
During the weeklong Agility Prime virtual conference speakers from the U.S. Air Force, the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration, Defense Innovation Unit, individual companies, and lawmakers will discuss their goals with the development of eVTOL systems and the expected acquisition process.
“Agility Prime will change the game on future battlefields and supply chains,” Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett said. “The sky is not the limit, it is just the beginning.”
The event will culminate with “the first-ever flying car virtual trade show” and the unveiling of new aircraft on May 1. The service has not yet named the companies that will participate in that event or what designs they will display. Sabrewing Aircraft Company, Inc., which received a $3.25m contract through the Air Force’s Agility Prime program, however, has said it will unveil its Rhaegal-A on May 1.
The production version of Rhaegal will have “a capacity of a 5,400 pounds (2,450 kg) of payload to and from locations without any runway, bringing tons of cargo to the remotest parts of the world. It has a range of 1,000 nautical miles at altitudes of 22,000 feet (6,700 meters) at speeds of up to 200 knots (370 kph),” according to a company release. “In addition, the Rhaegal can fly like a conventional aircraft, taking off from one airport and landing at another with a payload of over 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg). The aircraft uses electric motors to turn fans within ducts that provide lift during takeoff and landing, but uses a main wing to provide lift during cruise flight.” (Source: UAS VISION/Air Force Magazine)
26 Apr 20. US Army seeks tethered UAV for laser-designating. The US Army is looking to acquire tethered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to laser-designate ground targets from stand-off distances. A solicitation posted on 24 April by the Department of the Army calls for information on a tethered-UAV that can be used by Air National Guard (ANG) Special Tactics Operators (STOs) to observe and engage hostile ground forces using laser-guided weapons from greater stand-off distances.
“The required product will allow STOs to develop tactics, techniques, and procedures for observing and engaging hostile forces with low-collateral, long stand-off, laser-guided weapons fired or released from weapons systems that are unable to self-designate and expedite targeting for systems that can self-designate but have not yet identified a target’s location,” the request for information (RFI) noted.
Performance standards for the tethered UAV set out in the RFI comprise the ability to reach 200 ft above ground level (AGL); 24-hour flight on a 2 kw or smaller generator; a 5 lb (2.3 kg) payload capacity; AES 256 encryption of the UAV control and video data; ability for open architecture use of the UAV’s onboard computer; gimballed camera with co-witness laser designator capability of 30 mj or better, laser spot tracker, and laser rangefinder (which would reduce the 5 lb payload); the ability to generate target co-ordinates; an untethered communications link range of 8 km or better; remote handoff capability desired; an untethered flight duration of at least 45 min with 3 lb payload; autonomous delivery capability of 4 lb; multiple hot-swappable payloads and batteries (ability to change payload and batteries without powering down); the ability to operate in high winds of more than 40 mph (64 kph); the ability to operate in precipitation- industry standard IP54 or better; a temperature capability of -10°F to + 120°F (-23°C to 49°C); a hover capability and forward flight speed of 35 mph or better; target recognition artificial intelligence (AI) capable for people and vehicles; an Android Team Awareness Kit (ATAK) integrated plugin; and the ability to operate and navigate in GPS and radar-denied environments. (Source: Jane’s)
27 Apr 20. US DoD seeks industry participation in new air defence concept trials at Eglin AFB in June. The US Department of Defense has published a Special Notice for the Weapons Conference (WEPCON) hosted by Eglin AFB, FL on 2-3 June 2020. This also serves as a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) and is related to programs currently managed at Eglin Air Force Base by the Armament Directorate (AFLCMC/EB), and the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Det-1.
According to the UD governments beta.sam site: “Mission areas for gap mitigation include base defense, Long Range Strike, Close Control Strike, Intra-Theater Strike, and Offensive & Defensive Counter-Air (to include Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD)/ Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses (DEAD)). Desired weapon capabilities include but are not limited to defeat of fighters, bombers, support aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise missiles, integrated air defense systems (IADS), ballistic missiles, fixed and moving targets, hard & deeply buried targets (HDBTs), area targets, maritime systems, and weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Weapon technologies and concepts that provide U.S. forces the ability to retain air superiority and global precision attack capabilities are highly desired. Technologies and methodologies to improve the cost, schedule and performance of development and manufacturing for any concept and existing legacy system are requested.
“Technologies and/or processes that enable the development, testing, and fielding of capability in these focus areas should be considered. These may include but are not limited to: guidance, navigation, and control, sensors (e.g. seekers, inertial measurement units, datalinks, etc.), software/algorithms, new materials, flight terminations systems, and telemetry/instrumentation systems.
Proposals shall be submitted no later than 29 April 2020, 4:00 P.M. Central Standard Time (CST). It is the Government’s intent to award firm fixed price contracts.
For more information
24 Apr 20. Pentagon releases request for proposals on Next Generation Interceptor. The fight to build America’s next missile interceptor has officially begun. The Missile Defense Agency on Friday released its request for proposal for its Next-Generation Interceptor (NGI). The RFP aims to downselect to two companies who will then compete for the right to build the interceptor, which will form the core of America’s homeland missile defense going forward.
Proposals are due July 31, but the MDA notes that there may be some give in that schedule due to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The agency requested $664.1m in fiscal year 2021 for the NGI program, as part of a $4.9bn five-year budget plan.
Mark Wright, a spokesman for MDA, called the RFP “a vital step forward in designing, developing, and fielding the finest capabilities of both the DoD and American industry for the extraordinarily important purpose of defending the American homeland.”
“Notably, the intention of awarding two contracts for simultaneous development of the NGI effort promotes a healthy competition between the two contractor teams to produce the best NGI possible in the shortest time feasible,” Wright added.
In August, the Pentagon made the surprise decision to cancel the Redesigned Kill Vehicle program, with DoD research and engineering head Mike Griffin saying he didn’t want to keep throwing money at a program with fundamental technical issues.
RKV would have upgraded the U.S. homeland defense system’s interceptors designed to go after ballistic missile defense threats. The Pentagon decided that no more ground-based interceptors for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System (GMD) would be built and all future interceptors that are fielded as part of the GMD system will be the new interceptor – that is, the NGI program.
Critics of the decision to cancel RKV and start over with a new design have raised concerns over the timeline, which could extend past 2030. But speaking in March, MDA head Vice Adm. Jon Hill said that waiting that long for the new capability is “unacceptable from a war fighter view” and “unacceptable to me as a program manager.”
Hill said once bids are on the table, the agency will be able to take a harder look at schedule and once an award has been made, it will hold industry accountable to meet “all the wickets.” If that happens, the schedule can be pulled to the left. (Source: Defense News)
22 Apr 20. US defence agency seeks systems integration partner for counter unmanned systems. US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has issued a Request For Information (RFI) from industry to submit white papers regarding a systems integration partner (SIP) for counter unmanned systems (CUxS). The purpose of the RFI is to conduct market research, which will be used to plan and implement an acquisition strategy to procure supplies/services related to integration of a CUxS Family of Systems (FoS) with the initial focus being Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (CUAS). USSOCOM is seeking interested vendors, or teaming ventures, which have the ability to serve as the CUxS SIP. The Government is particularly interested in Industry recommendations and feedback to improve contract requirements, contract structure/type, and performance incentives.
The open competition is due to be followed by a Request For Proposal in 3Q2020 and estimated contract award in 1Q2021.
USSOCOM envisions the CUxS SIP responsibilities to include:
- Integration of a family of CUAS sensors and systems, both Government-owned and vendor recommended (based on the set of sensor requirements provided by the Government), to provide a layered defense for SOF Operators in a variety of OCONUS environments.
- Provide modular and scalable recommendations on the optimal sensor/system package for a given mission set or deployment location, based on Government-provided intelligence, operator inputs, site surveys, and their own expertise of the various available sensors.
- Coordinate with the Government logistics team in the fielding of packaged solutions. The SIP may be required to provide installation and/or field service representative (FSR, Tier 1 repair & maintenance support) support at OCONUS locations.
- Provide initial system training for any sensor introduced to the FoS and augment a Military Training Team (MTT), as necessary, to provide pre-deployment and refresher training to SOF Operators.
- Be responsible for specific maintenance activities, such as software and firmware updates, pre-planned product improvements to sensors, tracking of predictive analytics (i.e. Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), Mean time to repair (MTTR), and Mean time between failure (MTBF)) of the sensors/systems in the FoS. Support shall be provided at both permanent Government/Contractor facilities and deployed locations in order to accomplish priorities and tasks described below.
Interested vendors should submit white papers, not exceeding 15 pages, that address the following areas:
- Discuss your experience with commonly employed CUxS sensors and systems to include, but not limited to: Passive and Active detection, Radio Frequency defeat, Kinetic defeat, Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning (ML), and any other emerging technologies.
- Describe your previous or current experience integrating various hardware systems into a tailorable, fieldable solution.
- The Government anticipates an “over the air” evaluation, at a Government test facility, as a portion of the technical evaluation. Please address your company’s ability to demonstrate the rapid integration of a sensor solution (est. two weeks to integrate a provided sensor) during the course of a 30 day proposal period.
- Discuss the subject matter expertise employed by your company to perform evaluation of competing hardware solutions. All personnel supporting this effort shall be U.S. citizens and possess a SECRET security clearance.
- Discuss your efforts in assisting the Government to maintain systems or FoS. Include your methodology for collecting and reporting predictive analytics.
- Discuss any recommendations your company may have to optimize the concept of a CUxS SIP, to include, but not limited to:
- Requirements of the Contract
- Contract Type (C or D)
- Pricing Arrangement (Fixed Price or Cost Plus or Multiple)
- Single or Multiple Award
- If recommending MA, then discuss how all awardees would be required to address configuration control and interoperability.
- Can a SIP be sourced as a service?
- If yes, explain.
- If incentive option terms were included in a resultant award, what key metric(s) would you propose the government evaluate to determine if the Contractor has earned the incentive option term?
- Is there a different relationship besides a “Systems Integration Partner” that the Government should consider? If yes, please provide details.
- Provide recommendations on NAICS, SIC, PSC, and/or FSC.
Notice ID: CUxSSIP_17April2020
Date of issue: 17 April 2020
Response date: 13 May 2020
Point of contact:
Office: SOF ATL-KP 7701 Tampa Point Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33621-5323, US
For more information visit:
https://beta.sam.gov/opp/1c08665bcb0a46de9f94c69ee172b978/view?keywords=unmanned&sort=-relevance&index=opp&is_active=true&page=1&inactive_filter_values=false&opp_publish_date_filter_model=%7B%22dateRange%22:%7B%22startDate%22:%222020-04-15%22,%22endDate%22:%222020-04-21%22%7D%7D&opp_response_date_filter_model=%7B%22dateRange%22:%7B%22startDate%22:%22%22,%22endDate%22:%22%22%7D%7D&date_filter_index=0 (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
REST OF THE WORLD
27 Apr 20. South Korea to locally develop combat system for RoKN’s future KDDX destroyers. South Korea’s Defense Project Promotion Committee approved on 27 April a project to locally develop and build a combat system for the Republic of Korea Navy’s (RoKN’s) six-ship Korea Destroyer Next Generation (KDDX) programme. In a statement issued that same day the country’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said the system will be used “for detecting and tracking ballistic missiles” as well as to help defend against ships, aerial, and land-based threats. The budget for research and development has been set at KRW670bn (USD546m), with the first contract set to be signed in the fourth quarter of 2020. (Source: Jane’s)
27 Apr 20. LAND 400 Phase 3 Roadshow moves online. Hundreds of Australian companies will still get the chance to pitch their capabilities to Defence and LAND 400 Phase 3 tenderers, as the Australian Industry Capability Roadshow moves online in response to COVID-19 social distancing regulations. Companies in Darwin, Perth, Launceston, Adelaide, Newcastle, Sydney and Canberra will take part in the virtual Roadshow from today.
Registered companies will be allocated a new time for both shortlisted tenderers to receive their pitch via a digital videoconferencing facility. The virtual Roadshow will essentially provide companies a similar experience using digital methods to what was provided face to face. The LAND 400 Phase 3 Project Office will be in contact with companies to reschedule a time and provide an overview of how the process will now be conducted.
The virtual Roadshow is anticipated to recommence in late April 2020 and will conclude late May 2020. The indicative schedule is as follows:
- Week commencing 27 April 2020 – Darwin, Perth, Launceston, Adelaide;
- Week commencing 4 May 2020 – Adelaide, Newcastle;
- Week commencing 11 May 2020 – Newcastle, Sydney;
- Week commencing 18 May 2020 – Sydney, Canberra; and
- Week commencing 25 May 2020 – contingency.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the virtual roadshow will help local companies to join the Morrison government’s multibillion-dollar investment to replace the Army’s fleet of infantry fighting vehicles.
Shortlisted tenderers Rheinmetall Defence Australia and Hanwha Defense Australia have already met with more than 200 businesses across Victoria and Queensland.
“It is important that we continue the momentum of the roadshow, especially in the COVID-19 environment,” Minister Price said.
“The virtual roadshow will provide companies with a similar experience using digital methods to what was provided face to face. It is critical we continue to move forward with major acquisition projects like LAND 400 Phase 3, as these projects will help to fuel our post-COVID economic recovery.”
Local companies will have the opportunity to meet both Hanwha and Rheinmetall in a virtual meeting room. Each company will deliver a pitch on their capabilities, followed by questions from the shortlisted tenderers. (Source: Defence Connect)
27 Apr 20. CSBA CEO calls for serious US consideration of Aussie B-21 collaboration. Thomas Mahnken, CEO of the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) think tank has called for renewed US support to accommodate a potential Australian request to participate in and acquire a fleet of the next-generation B-21 Raider bombers to support maximise the strategic impacts of America’s defence expenditure and investment.
The US Air Force has long held the position of the world’s premier air dominance and long-range strategic strike force enjoying both a qualitative and quantitative edge of peer and near-peer competitors as a result of decades of investment and doctrine perfecting during the Cold War.
Long-range strike is typically conducted by a range of platforms, ranging from strategic and tactical strike bombers or smaller fighters supported by air-to-air refuelling and airborne early warning and command aircraft.
This is perfectly encapsulated by the 2020 National Defense Autorization Act will see a number of major acquisitions, organisational restructures and modernisation programs to support America’s shift away from decades of conflict in Afghanistan and the Middle East towards the great power competition focus of the Indo-Pacific.
A core focus of the US pivot towards the Indo-Pacific and countering the economic, political and strategic assertiveness of China is modernising and expanding the capability of the US Air Force and it’s Indo-Pacific-based Air Force assets.
Supporting this is a US$15bn ($22. bn) increase to the US acquisition budget, bringing the Pentagon’s total acquisition budget to US$146bn ($217.3bn) – despite this, it isn’t all good news for the US Air Force.
Much like the Army and Navy, the US Air Force’s budget is dominated by large, big-ticket, expensive research and development and acquisition programs, like the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and Northrop Grumman’s B-21 Raider long-range strategic bomber and Ground Based Strategic Deterrence Minuteman recapitalisation programs.
This focus on large-scale programs has long hampered the USAF’s ability to meet its global commitments as increasingly expensive, complex weapons systems hinder the ability to deploy based on available numbers and manpower resourcing further complicating tactical and strategic capability.
In response, the US Air Force’s ageing platforms, namely Cold War-era strategic enablers such as the aerial refuelling platforms including the KC-135 and KC-10 platforms, alongside the long-range strike B-1 Lancer fleet and the venerable A-10 Thunderbolt II close air support aircraft, will account for modernisation and expansion programs.
As part of this, the Pentagon has asked for US$56.9bn ($84.7 bn) for a number of major capability investments, including: US$11.4bn ($16.9bn) for 79 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, US$1.6bn ($2.3bn) for new-build Boeing F-15EX Advanced Eagle fighter aircraft and US$3 bn ($4.46 bn) for the troubled, but next-generation KC-46 aerial refuelling tankers.
US Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein said in January, “We didn’t get everything we put on the table. Some was walked back. But we got a lot of what we put on the table.”
A key focus of this is the planned retirement of the Cold War-era B-1 Lancer aircraft and the planned retirement of the B-2 Spirit stealth bombers following the planned introduction and nuclear certification of its successor, the B-21 Raider, planned at the earliest for later this decade, but more realistically in the 2030s.
Explaining this to US law makers of the House Armed Services subcommittee on seapower and projection forces, Lieutenant General David Nahom, Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs, stressed the importance of preparing the US Air Force for a period of ‘great power competition’ and preparing for a conflict with a peer or near-peer nation such as China or Russia.
Lt Gen Nahom expanded the importance of the US Air Force’s strategic bomber force, stating, “On the bomber fleet, there’s nothing more important to the Air Force. If you look at what the bombers bring, no one else brings it. Our joint partners don’t bring it, our coalition partners don’t bring it.”
Despite these reassurances, the US strategic bomber fleet is without doubt starting to feel the pressure of age and overuse as a result of continuous combat operations in the Middle East, at a time when the US Air Force will be required to play an increasingly important role in countering great power rivals.
Enter Thomas Mahnken, president and CEO of the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), who has penned a piece for DefenseNews, titled ‘Six ways the US can maximise its strategic benefit from defense spending’ , in which he sets out a number of powerful points for consideration within the US defence establishment, but one with a uniquely, Australian flavour.
If the Aussies ask, let’s show them some love
Mahnken cites the wildly growing research and development costs associated with a number of next-generation platforms fielded by the US, which has resulted in a smaller acquisition and increased unit costs, namely, Mahnken notes the F-22 Raptor development and acquisition program, with similar examples able to made, including the B-2 Spirit and Seawolf Class attack submarines.
In order to resolve these challenges, Mahnken believes that spreading research and development costs, combined with including export options from the beginning of the development phase would enable greater cost savings and flow on economic benefits for the US defence industrial base as a result of increased acquisition and sustainment numbers.
“Finally, the United States should take every opportunity to promote arms exports, which both create jobs and increase the security of our allies. Much more should be done to increase the speed and predictability of the arms export process,” Mahnken states.
“In addition, with few exceptions, US weapons should be developed with export in mind. We should avoid a repetition of the case of the F-22 aircraft, which was designed from birth never to be exported.”
Turning his attentions to Australia, Mahnken see’s growing support from within Australia’s strategic policy community for the acquisition or lease of the B-21 Raider as a perfect opportunity for both nations to collaborate and support mutual tactical and strategic objectives in the Indo-Pacific.
Mahnken articulates, “We need to learn from the past in developing the next generation of weapons. For example, in recent months, Australian defence analysts have discussed the attractiveness of the B-21 Raider stealth bomber for Australia’s defence needs.
“Export of the B-21 to a close ally such as Australia, should Canberra so desire, should be given serious consideration.”
Such an acquisition would not only serve to fill the long-range strike capability gap Australia has experienced since the retirement of the F-111, but equally support the US recapitalise its own fleet of ageing strategic bomber platforms at reduced unit costs, while promoting greater interoperability with a key regional and global ally.
“The current situation is challenging, with even more difficult times to come. If we are smart, however, we can both keep Americans at work and get what we need for national defence,” Mahnken adds.
Acting Secretary of the US Air Force Matthew Donovan said during the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference, “The first flight of the Raider will take it from Palmdale to Edwards Air Force Base, where the legacy of excellence will continue with the reactivation of the 420th Flight Test Squadron.”
According to the US Air Force, the B-21 is a “new, high-tech long-range bomber that will eventually replace the Air Force’s ageing bomber fleet” and “must be able to penetrate highly contested environments, have top-end low observability characteristics and loiter capability”.
The Air Force’s original plan for the B-21 contract called for “80 to 100” aircraft, but USAF leaders over the past two years have been touting “at least 100” airplanes. However, this could grow to 150-200 airframes in light of growing great power competition.
The first aircraft is currently under construction at Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale facility and is expected to be rolled out to the public in the next 20 months, making its first flight a few months later.
The B-21 is believed to be somewhat smaller than the B-2, with a payload of approximately 13,600 kilograms and estimated unrefuelled range similar to that of its predecessor at 19,000 kilometres, and is just large enough to carry one GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator precision-guided conventional bomb, the largest in the Air Force inventory.
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