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UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
07 May 20. Britain to restart competition for fleet solid support ships, but who’s allowed to bid? Britain is set to restart a competition later this year to build up to three large logistics ships to support deployment of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier fleet, having suspended the procurement effort last year.
Ministry of Defence officials are refusing to give an exact date for the restart, despite Defence Secretary Ben Wallace recently telling the parliamentary Defence Committee that he thought it would take place in September.
“It will be, I think, in September, but I can correct that if I am wrong. We are hopefully going to reissue the competition sooner rather than later,” he told lawmakers.
A Defence Committee spokeswomen said the panel is still waiting on a concrete date from the MoD.
“Following the session with the secretary of state for defense, Ben Wallace, the committee wrote to the department asking for clarification on a number of issues, including the timing of the Fleet Solid Support program. The committee has not yet heard back from the Ministry of Defence,” she said.
The competition to build up to three 40,000-ton vessels in a requirement known locally as the Fleet Solid Support program was expected to have been worth as much as £1.5bn (U.S. $1.9bn) at the time the competition was unexpectedly terminated Nov. 5.
The MoD said at the time that it took the action due to a failure to find a value-for-money solution in negotiations with shipbuilders. In his evidence to the committee, Wallace described the program as “ effectively delinquent.”
The warships, which will be operated by the Royal Navy’s logistics supplier, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, are a key element of Britain’s plan to replace aging Fort-class ships with modern support ships to supply ammunition, dry stores and spares to aircraft carrier strike groups and other maritime task groups.
The program had been mired in controversy since the Conservative government opted to open the design to international competition, rather that adopt a “Buy British” policy. The move caused an outcry from politicians, industry and unions who believed naval logistics vessels should be included in the list of warships, like frigates and destroyers, that are off limits to foreign shipbuilders.
Ministers and procurement officials argued they had no choice but to follow European Union competition rules, which say logistics ships are not warships and are therefore subject to regulations requiring open competition.
Critics pointed out that other European Union member states have previously blocked foreign bids for similar ships.
Industry executives suspected the the cash-strapped MoD was running an open competition to keep the procurement cost to a minimum, following in the example of its purchase of four new fleet oilers for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary built by South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering.
The U.K. has now left the European Union but is in a transitory period where trade rules still apply. That period is currently set to end Dec. 31.
The MoD declined to answer Defense News’ question on whether the new competition will be held under EU rules, or whether the U.K. will exempt itself from the rule, opening up the possibility for a British-only bid.
Defence Procurement Minister James Heappey told Parliament this year that the MoD is reviewing the procurement strategy, the requirements and the schedule ahead of the competition restart.
MoD officials said this week that the review is still underway.
Defense consultant Howard Wheeldon of Wheeldon Strategic Advisory said with the new coronavirus taking its toll on the country’s economy, there should be no question that the procurement is limited to local business.
“Having pulled the plug on the original plan, and with potential new U.K. players back in the fray, such as Harland and Wolff, the MoD would risk a very damaging backlash if it tried to do another foreign deal — and rightly so,” he said. “Buying on the basis of lowest cost is rarely the right solution for defense equipment procurement. The new world order that I see emerging elsewhere allows freedom to put national interests first. Thus for the U.K., the right decision on future solid support ships is that these vessels should be British-designed and -built.”
What about the original competition?
The MoD brought the original competition to a close on the eve of the Conservative government calling a general election for Dec. 12, 2019. Campaigners took that as a sign the government was moving toward a “Buy British” policy.
Their position was reinforced last autumn when the MoD published an updated, independent review of the nation’s national shipbuilding strategy, which advocated for a policy change that would see logistics ships and other types of vessels added to the list warships closed to foreign bids.
The review, conducted by former shipbuilding chief executive John Parker, said Britain was not currently adopting “the right strategic approach” in allowing ships like the fleet solid support vessels to be built overseas.
By the time the MoD suspended the competition, two of the five short-listed bidders remained: Navantia of Spain; and Team UK, a consortium of BAE Systems, Babcock International, Cammell Laird and Rolls-Royce.
A BAE Systems spokesperson told Defense News on Wednesday that the company is waiting for the MoD to show its hand on the procurement process, and in the meantime remains focused on its commitment to build Type 26 frigates for the Royal Navy.
“We are engaged with our U.K. partners and await guidance from the MoD on next steps in the procurement process for the Fleet Solid Support program. We have a long-term commitment to shipbuilding in the U.K. with continuity of production in Glasgow through into the 2030s, and we are focused on delivering our existing commitments,” the spokesperson said. (Source: Defense News)
07 May 20. MoD Awards Places on Specialist Nuclear Technical Services Framework. The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) has awarded places on a contract framework to provide specialist nuclear technical services to the Ministry of Defence.
ACA (Atkins Cavendish Alliance), KAD (KBR, Assystem, Doosan Babcock) and Nuvia have been chosen following a procurement process which included a measurement of collaboration and behaviours.
The Nuclear Technical Support Provider (NTSP) framework lasts 7years, with the option of a further 3 years. It will deliver specialist nuclear technical services valued between £250m and £400m to support DIO, Navy Command and other Ministry of Defence (MOD) organisations.
The framework will support the Clyde Infrastructure Programme (CIP) and wider Royal Navy and defence requirements. Its primary focus will be on delivering the refurbishment and upgrade of critical infrastructure at HMNB Clyde.
Charles Hoskins, DIO’s Clyde Infrastructure Programme Director, said: “The NTSP is vitally important to the delivery of our major infrastructure programme and wider operations at HMNB Clyde. We welcome all companies from our new NTSP delivery partners to our infrastructure family within the Clyde Community. We look forward to them joining our delivery team and the collaborative approach that we are embedding into all work we undertake at HMNB Clyde. This collaborative approach and the expertise from our new partners will be crucial to our success as we move forward into the exciting and challenging next chapter of our programme.”
Andy Albutt, on behalf of the ACA, said: “The Clyde Infrastructure Programme represents an incredible opportunity to help shape the UK’s defence capability and further strengthen the industry’s collective expertise in delivering highly specialised nuclear services. Atkins and Cavendish Nuclear are now focussed on working closely alongside the DIO and our framework partners to hit the ground running as part of this select delivery team.”
Ian Hudson, Framework Director for KAD Nuclear, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been selected as a supplier for the NTSP framework. KAD Nuclear has a clear and unique philosophy; we have the right people; we are ready to go and we will work collaboratively inside KAD and with other framework suppliers to find the best solution. At the heart of it all we are incredibly proud to have the chance to work on some of the most nationally significant projects of our time and create world-class infrastructure that will serve this country for decades to come.”
David Field, Framework Director for Nuvia, said: “This is a unique opportunity, one that Nuvia is proud to be a part of and contribute to. We look forward to working collaboratively across the framework and becoming part of the Clyde family.” (Source: ASD Network)
04 May 20. FMV Procures New Training Aircraft for the Swedish Armed Forces. The [Swedish] Air Force’s current training aircraft, the Saab SK 60, has many years of service, but now the government has given FMV an authorization to procure a complete flight training system for the first phase of the pilot training. This includes aircraft, simulators, safety equipment and maintenance.
Before the Swedish Armed Forces pilots flew Gripen, they had spent many hours side by side with an instructor in an SK 60, or Saab 105 as the plane is named in its civilian version. The twin-engined training airplane has been the basis of all flight training for pilots since the 1960s, now FMV is working to procure a new school airplane with associated equipment. The Air Force is in great need of a new school airplane as well as all associated systems for training future pilots. The existing school aircraft, SK60, flew for the first time in 1963. Since then, much has happened in the aviation industry and in the Air Force, both in terms of technology but also how it is intended that future pilots should be trained.
“The procurement that FMV is now carrying out and which the government has authorized is a complete so-called Basic Trainer Aircraft system for the first phase of the training,” says Andreas Säf Pernselius, FMV project manager.
The goal is for the education system to be ready at Malmen in Linköping for the first batch of pilot students in the summer of 2023. And before that, flight instructors should be able to fly into the system.
“It is a very tight timeline but the Air Force’s clear requirement is that the system should be based on existing products and that there should be no Swedish special solutions. The supplier will also be responsible for maintenance for the first three years with an option for another two years. The idea then is to postpone the competitive maintenance contract,” says Malin Olofsson, strategic buyer.
It is a team effort to develop the documentation required for a competitive procurement of this kind. It is important that the bidders receive a good basis for their tenders, which also facilitates when we evaluate the tenders. This is stated by strategic buyer Malin Olofsson and project manager Andreas Säf Pernselius.
FMV has conducted feasibility studies at different times and with different intensity, conducted a market study via a so-called RFI and developed a basis for the procurement of a complete education system. Due to various reasons, the procurement has on several occasions been postponed in the future. When FMV received information that the government was close to deciding on the issue, a project team was quickly put together.
“We gathered staff from different areas of expertise within FMV. The team worked on compiling the procurement documentation such as the technical specification, the specification for the undertaking and the request documentation,” says Malin Olofsson.
The challenges during the completion of the tender documentation for the procurement have been to gather all stakeholders affected by the school aviation system, including several departments and competencies within FMV. The project also works closely with the Air Force’s representatives.
“Creating such a comprehensive foundation as we have now done is not possible without all the stakeholders from the beginning and that everyone has an open mind to the task and can handle rapid changes, it is best done together as a team,” says Andreas Säf Pernselius .
The parts that will be included in the contract and the contract are:
— flight safety equipment (helmets, mask, lifejacket, parachute, etc.)
— Part Task Trainer (simpler PC type simulators)
— CBT (Computer Based Training)
— TLS (Through Life Support), engineering support for the product’s life
— aircraft maintenance (operational aircraft on the line and heavy maintenance)
— maintenance of simulators
The tender documentation will be available on the eAvrop website until 31 July 2020.
FMV then starts evaluating the tenders that have been received.
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Swedish Defence Matériel Agency, FMV)
05 May 20. The Army’s future vertical lift plan may have a supplier problem. Army rotorcraft programs could net industry an average of $8bn to 10bn per year over the next decade — but defense companies can expect major challenges for its lower-tier suppliers, some of whom might choose not to come along for the ride. Those are the findings of a new study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, released Wednesday. It follows a November report outlining cost concerns about the service’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) plan.
The Army plans to field a future attack reconnaissance aircraft, or FARA, by 2028 and a future long-range assault aircraft, or FLRAA, by 2030. The modernization program is one of the top priorities for the Army.
First, the good news for industry. The study found an annual market of $8bn to 10bn for Army rotorcraft programs over the next decade, with a potential dip occurring only in 2026, when the two new programs are spinning up. That’s a strong figure that should keep the major defense companies happy.
However, lower-tier companies may find themselves unprepared to actually manufacture FLRAA and FARA parts, given the newer production techniques the Army plans to use — things like additive manufacturing, robotics, artificial intelligence, digital twins, and data analytics. And if that happens, the service could face a supplier problem that could provide a major speed bump for its plans of having the systems ready to go at the end of the decade.
Convincing those suppliers, many of whom lack cash on hand for major internal investments at the best of times, to put money down in the near term to redevelop their facilities and retrain people is going to be an “expensive issue,” said Andrew Hunter, who co-authored the study for CSIS along with Rhys McCormick. “They need a really compelling reason to invest.”
“For a company that is devoted to the defense aviation market, they don’t necessarily have a choice to not make the transition,” Hunter told reporters in a Tuesday call. “However, there is a dollars and cents issue, which is you have to be able to access the capital. If you can’t, the primes will quickly go somewhere else.”
And some companies with a broader market share in the commercial world may decide investing in modernization isn’t worth the effort and simply leave the defense rotorcraft market, leaving the primes to scramble to find replacements. In that case, Hunter said, the primes could potentially look to bring that work in-house.
Companies “are looking at the equation” of the commercial versus defense markets when making these decisions, said Patrick Mason, the Army’s top aviation acquisition official. But he noted that the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which his hitting commercial aviation firms particularly hard, may cause some companies to consider the benefits of defense, which is historically smaller but more stable than the commercial aviation world.
Mason also emphasized the importance of keeping suppliers with experience in the unique heat requirements or material aspects as part of the service’s rotorcraft supply chain, saying “Those are the ones we remain focused on because those are the ones who could end up as a failure.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
05 May 20. USAF issues RFI for long range, high-speed, air-to-air missile technologies. The US Air Force (USAF), in association with the US Department of Defense (DoD), the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC), and Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Munitions Directorate, on 4 May issued a Request for Information (RFI) to US industry and government laboratories for “innovative long-range air-to-air missile technologies”.
Responses, which are due by 18 June, could lead to “possible government/industry collaboration for development of Joint Forces technology capabilities”, according to the notification. The technical focus of the RFI provides for “descriptions of innovative long-range air-to-air missile design concepts to existing full prototypes and key technologies that enable the capability”. (Source: Jane’s)
06 May 20. Leidos-led team pitches Bronco II to SOCOM. American defence and aviation giant Leidos announced on 4 May that the company has teamed up with Paramount Group US and Vertex Aerospace to deliver the Bronco II, a new purpose-built, multi-mission aircraft. The aircraft will provide support to the Armed Overwatch Prototype Program, run by US Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
According to Leidos, this strategic relationship will combine decades of experience integrating, manufacturing and delivering cutting-edge airborne solutions to the warfighter.
“Leidos has a long history as a premier provider of airborne solutions,” said Gerry Fasano, Leidos Defense Group president.
“The Bronco II demonstrates our commitment to providing the best-of-breed in technology, as well as our agility in meeting the needs of our country’s national security missions. This offering will leverage each company’s expertise to deliver cost-effective innovations for the warfighter.”
The company also stated that the model will be built to serve the specific needs of US SOCOM. Manufacturing will be carried out in Crestview, Florida.
“Our collaboration with Vertex and Leidos will present best of capabilities for what will undoubtedly be a critical program to enable US Air Force Special Operations Command to deal effectively with the challenges and rigours of modern day asymmetrical warfare,” said Steve Griessel, CEO of Paramount Group US.
“The Bronco II was designed specifically for asymmetrical warfare and will operate at a fraction of the procurement and life cycle costs of an aircraft with similar mission applications and capabilities.”
Paramount Group is a South African-based defence conglomerate, which was responsible for developing the AHRLAC (Advanced High Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft), more commonly known as the Bronco. Costing less than US$10m per unit, the model offers a cheap alternative to UAS or manned reconnaissance aircraft, and is the first military fixed-wing aircraft to be designed and built in Africa.
“We are proud to team with Leidos and Paramount, as we share a commitment to deliver affordable state-of-the-art capabilities to combat the challenges posed by modern, multi-domain operations,” said Ed Boyington, Vertex Aerospace CEO and President.
“With a long track record of delivering excellence to our customers, we look forward to producing and supporting the purpose-built Bronco II aircraft and weapons system as a transformational tool for our warfighters.” (Source: Defence Connect)
04 May 20. Armed Overwatch Aircraft on SOCOM’s Shopping List. In October of 2017, an infamous ambush near the village of Tongo Tongo, Niger, left four American and four local soldiers dead after taking enemy fire from militants from the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.
The tragic event was “emblematic of the type of environment where we have people on the ground that need to be supported,” said Lt. Gen. James C. “Jim” Slife, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command.
AFSOC is now pursuing a new fixed-wing aircraft program, known as Armed Overwatch, to provide a capability that could change the outcome of that type of ambush scenario in the future, he said.
The command is looking for a deployable and sustainable manned aircraft system that can fulfill close-air support; precision strike; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions in austere and permissive environments, according to a SOCOM industry day announcement released in February.
While SOCOM has the acquisition authority for the aircraft, Air Force Special Operations Command is drafting and providing input into the program’s requirements, Slife said during a media roundtable at the Air Force Association’s annual Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida.
“They may change that, they may modify it,” he said. But direction from leadership, including SOCOM Commander Gen. Richard Clarke, “up to this point has been to really kind of take the cue from AFSOC.”
The command has been pondering what is required to fill capability gaps, Slife said. “What SOCOM needs is a platform that it can operate from austere regions and provide surveillance and precision fires in support of small disaggregated ground teams.”
Special Operations Command has been toying with the idea of an Armed Overwatch platform for a decade or so, Slife said, but the concept really started to gain steam over the past three years.
“When Gen. Clarke took command in the early spring of last year, 2019, this was one of the things that he brought to the table,” he said.
Driving SOCOM’s vision for the aircraft is great power competition with Russia and China, which the National Defense Strategy identified as top threats, he said. High-end platforms that have aided special operators in counterinsurgency missions may be needed to take on advanced adversaries.
“As the larger joint force pivots towards great power competition and so forth, … we probably won’t enjoy the same support necessarily for those small disaggregated SOF teams because there will be higher priority things that the airplanes that have been performing this kind of mission” need to do, Slife said.
As Special Operations Command continues to battle violent extremists, it needs an affordable aircraft that can give its operators the right amount of support, he said.
“Using F-22s to support small disaggregated SOF teams is probably not a cost-effective way to do that,” he said. “So, what are the other ways that we can do it?”
SOCOM has been mindful to try and not be overly descriptive about its requirements for the platform because it wants industry to come forward with its best ideas, Slife said.
The command currently uses the U-28 Draco for manned ISR missions. While that aircraft has been effective, SOCOM will at some point move away from the U-28 to the Armed Overwatch system, he added. Commandos will still need close-air support during the transition.
“We use things like AC-130 gunships or A-10s or F-16s or a host of other platforms that can employ these precision fires. And so, the question is: ‘How do we find a low-cost, simple airplane that can … provide capability in both of these areas in a single airplane from a pretty austere operating footprint?” Slife said.
SOCOM envisions an adaptable system. One day it might be used heavily for ISR missions similar to the U-28. Another day it might perform like a light-attack airplane, he noted.
“The ability to kind of tailor the … capability of the airplane based on what the mission requires is kind of a key part of what we’re going to be looking for,” he said.
The command is also thinking about the type of pilots it will need for the new aircraft, with fighter pilots potentially making the list.
“The question of how you provide precision fires … matters because if your idea is that the way you’re going to provide that looks a little bit like the way a fighter is employed — strafing, dive bombing, high-G maneuvering, that kind of thing — then you might need a crew force that … has some fighter pilot expertise in it,” he said.
However, until the command figures out what the platform will look like, Slife said there is no way to know if SOCOM will need to recruit fighter pilots.
“My intent would be to not exacerbate the Air Force’s fighter pilot shortage by fielding something that requires a high degree of … fighter pilot expertise,” he said. “I’m open to it, but … I don’t want to create an additional demand signal that the Air Force would have to fill.”
The command plans to purchase 75 Armed Overwatch aircraft, Slife said. That number is based on SOCOM’s concept of force presentation, how many airplanes will be deployed at small sites and the amount needed to train the force.
“It’s really just kind of a math problem as we look at … how do we generate the force on a repeatable basis?” he said.
In President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2021 budget request, Special Operations Command asked for $101m in procurement funding for Armed Overwatch, which would cover the purchase and fielding of five initial aircraft as well as initial spares and required support equipment. Over the future years defense program, it plans to spend $893m to buy the planes.
The service also asked for $5m in research, development, test and evaluation funding in fiscal year 2021 for the program, which would go toward development, integration, prototype demonstrations, testing of SOF-unique capabilities and air worthiness efforts, according to budget documents.
SOCOM plans to pursue technologies via rapid prototyping and rapid fielding mechanisms, when appropriate, and is targeting flight demonstrations in fiscal year 2021, according to budget documents.
“The demonstrations will inform a best value decision for [a] follow-on production contract,” the documents said.
Following a prototype demonstration facilitated by other transaction authority, the command plans to issue a follow-on indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with a five-year base ordering period and a two-year option ordering period for 75 aircraft with associated support, according to the SOCOM industry day announcement.
Operational test awards are scheduled to occur in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2020, said Air Force Reserves Maj. Amanda Reeves, chief of operations for AFSOC’s public affairs department. A timeline for procurement will be dependent on the platform selected, she said in an email.
Slife said he was confident the program was fully funded in the president’s budget request.
“We think there are a host of vendors that have platforms that would allow us to get to a 75-airplane fleet within the funding that we have available,” he added.
Special Operations Command held an Armed Overwatch industry day in early March, just missing a large swath of event cancelations prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Representatives from 50 different companies attended, according to Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, a spokesperson for the command. As of late March, there had been no notable impacts to the program due to the emergence of the novel coronavirus, he added.
It is expected that companies that participated in the Air Force’s OA-X light attack experiments — which the service recently declined to move forward with in a program of record — will be interested in Armed Overwatch, said Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at the Teal Group, an aerospace and defense market analysis firm based in Fairfax, Virginia. They include companies such as Sierra Nevada Embraer, Textron/Beechcraft and Air Tractor.
Aboulafia was a staunch critic of the Air Force’s light attack effort, saying such platforms lacked survivability.
“There’s a reason that absolutely no country, no air force in the developed world operates these planes, not a one,” he said. Such aircraft — which fly slowly at low altitudes with light armor — make for easy targets, he added.
The countries that use such aircraft are typically ones that cannot afford anything better, Aboulafia said.
However, an Armed Overwatch platform could possibly come in handy for Special Operations Command, he said.
“You never know when you might find yourself in Chad and there’s that mission that maybe is a little too distant for a helicopter and maybe a bit more target rich than you could deal with with drones,” he said.
Such aircraft could only be employed in environments with very minimal air defenses, and where adversaries had no man-portable, anti-aircraft systems or anything heavier than 12.7mm weapons, he said.
While 75 aircraft is “a stretch,” it’s unlikely that SOCOM will have trouble acquiring the platforms, Aboulafia said.
The command is known for relatively rapid acquisitions compared with other elements of the Defense Department.
The “procurement mechanisms at SOCOM are different and easier and they can generally get a small number of anything they want,” Aboulafia said. If “you look at what’s in their menagerie, it’s pretty extraordinary and money isn’t much of an issue. Procurement rules aren’t much of an issue.”
The aircraft themselves should be inexpensive, costing about $12m to $14m per plane, he added.
To increase survivability, it is feasible that SOCOM could look into adding an autonomy package to the aircraft, Aboulafia said.
“Some sort of mechanism that allowed people to operate it via remote control … would be good,” he said. “It’s going to take some time. … It might be a 10-year story, but it’s conceivable.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/National Defense)
04 May 20. Leidos, Paramount USA, and Vertex Aerospace Team Up to Pursue U.S. Special Operations Command Armed Overwatch Prototype Program. Leidos (NYSE:LDOS), a FORTUNE® 500 science and technology leader, today announced a teaming agreement with Paramount Group USA and Vertex Aerospace to pursue a new contract to deliver the Bronco II, a new purpose-built, multi-mission aircraft. The aircraft will support the U.S. Special Operations Command’s Armed Overwatch program.
This strategic relationship, with Leidos as the prime contractor and Paramount and Vertex as primary teammates, will combine decades of experience integrating, manufacturing, and delivering cutting-edge airborne solutions to the warfighter.
The Bronco II is a rugged, affordable, and sustainable multi-mission aircraft that will be manufactured in Crestview, Fla. The Leidos offering is built to meet the specific needs of U.S. Special Operations Command.
“Leidos has a long history as a premier provider of airborne solutions,” said Gerry Fasano, Leidos Defense Group president. “The Bronco II demonstrates our commitment to providing the best-of-breed in technology, as well as our agility in meeting the needs of our country’s national security missions. This offering will leverage each company’s expertise to deliver cost-effective innovations for the warfighter.”
“Our collaboration with Vertex and Leidos will present best of capabilities for what will undoubtedly be a critical program to enable U.S Air Force Special Operations Command to deal effectively with the challenges and rigors of modern day asymmetrical warfare,” said Steve Griessel, CEO of Paramount Group USA. “The Bronco II was designed specifically for asymmetrical warfare and will operate at a fraction of the procurement and lifecycle costs of an aircraft with similar mission applications and capabilities.”
“We are proud to team with Leidos and Paramount, as we share a commitment to deliver affordable state-of-the-art capabilities to combat the challenges posed by modern, multi-domain operations,” said Ed Boyington, Vertex Aerospace CEO and President. “With a long track record of delivering excellence to our customers, we look forward to producing and supporting the purpose-built Bronco II aircraft and weapons system as a transformational tool for our warfighters.” (Source: PR Newswire)
04 May 20. US Army issues RFI for Link 16 network radio on Apache attack helicopters. US Army acquisition officials are seeking industry input for possible production of Link 16 tactical network radios for the service’s fleet of AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, according to a recently issued request for information (RFI). The effort, overseen by the US Army Contracting Command on behalf of the Project Manager for Apache Attack Helicopter (PM AAH) office within the Program Executive Office for Aviation (PEO AVN), “seeks to identify potential sources that possess the expertise, capabilities, and experience to meet the requirements for the AH-64E Link 16 solution, sourced directly to the [US] government to be provided to the AH-64E production line,” according to the RFI, issued on 23 April. (Source: Jane’s)
03 May 20. Flyt Aerospace bids its Red Hummingbird hoverbike for US Air Force’s Agility Prime. Key Points:
- Flyt Aerospace is bidding its Red Hummingbird electric eight-motor rotorcraft for the US Air Force Agility Prime eVTOL competition
- The Red Hummingbird is pilot-optional and can lift up to 113 kg
Flyt Aerospace is offering its Red Hummingbird pilot-optional, fully-electric hoverbike for the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) Agility Prime electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) procurement effort.
The eight-motor, multi-rotor Red Hummingbird is designed for speeds of 0-97 km/h in 5.1 seconds, payload capacity of up to 113 kg, a cost of USD2.40 worth of electricity per flight, and the ability to operate for 20-30 minutes per charge. The aircraft is also designed to create only 65 db of noise at 50 ft altitude. Flyt is offering the Red Hummingbird for the Agility Prime 1-2 person capacity area of interest (AOI) 2, according to company founder and CEO Ansel Misfeldt.
Misfeldt told Jane’s on 1 May that the Red Hummingbird has a fully-built prototype currently in flight testing, but that the aircraft has yet to fly with a human. Flyt has so far been flying the aircraft with weights in the pilot seat to ensure system checkout before flying with a pilot.
The Red Hummingbird was scheduled to have its first human flight in mid-March, but this was postponed due to coronavirus (Covid-19) shelter-in-place orders. Flyt will test-fly the Red Hummingbird with a human as soon as these shelter-in-place orders are lifted.
The Red Hummingbird has flown in flight tests without a human to 10 ft altitude and the aircraft is designed to fly to up to 4,000 ft. Misfeldt said Flyt has governed the aircraft to 10 ft altitude until the company builds a couple of hundred flight hours on the platform and adds a rocket-deployed ballistic parachute. As the Red Hummingbird does not have wings, it cannot glide. (Source: Jane’s)
REST OF THE WORLD
07 May 20. State clears Apache updates for Egypt, excess MRAPs for UAE.
— The U.S. State Department has cleared a pair of potential foreign military sales, with a combined price tag that could be worth $2.8bn for American defense contractors.
The first sale, reported on the website of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, would refurbish 43 AH-64E helicopters, with an estimated price tag of $2.3bn. The United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, was ok’d to buy up to 4,569 excess Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles from American stocks.
DSCA notifications are not final sales; once cleared by Congress, the sales enter negotiations, during which quantities and costs can shift.
The Egypt package would involve 88 T700-GE-701D engines, 47 AN/ASQ-170 Modernized Target Acquisition and Designation Sight/AN/AAR-11 Modernized Pilot Night Vision Sensors, 45 AAR-57 Common Missile Warning Systems, and 92 Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation Systems, among other equipment. Work would primarily be done by Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
The announcement of the package comes the day after a new report by the Center for International Policy called for a re-look into whether military aid to Egypt is in the best interests of America. Egypt receives significant foreign military financing — dollars from the U.S. that must then be sent on U.S. built defense equipment — every year, sitting at around $1.3 bn since fiscal year 2014.
“Egypt intends to use these refurbished AH-64 helicopters to modernize its armed forces to address the shared U.S.-Egyptian interest in countering terrorist activities emanating from the Sinai Peninsula, which threaten Egyptian and Israeli security and undermine regional stability,” according to the DSCA.
The UAE package dates back to a 2014 request to buy excess defense articles, and would give the UAE the chance to buy up to 4,569 MRAPs no longer being used by the U.S. Army. The package would be a mix of MaxxPro made Long Wheel Base (LWB), MaxxPro Recovery Vehicle (MRV), MaxxPro LWB chassis, MaxxPro Dash, MaxxPro Bases Capsule, MaxxPro MEAP Capsules, MaxxPro Plus, Caiman Multi-Terrain Vehicles without armor, Caiman Base, Caiman Plus, Caiman Capsule, and MRAP All-Terrain Vehicles.
“The UAE intends to utilize the MRAP vehicles to increase force protection, to conduct humanitarian assistance operations, and to protect critical infrastructure. Additionally, these MRAPs will enhance the UAE’s burden sharing capacity and defensive capabilities,” according to the DSCA announcement. “The UAE has been, and continues to be, a vital U.S. partner for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East. This sale is consistent with U.S. initiatives to provide key allies in the region with modern systems that will enhance interoperability with U.S. forces and increase security.”
Before today’s announcements, the UAE has been cleared for 11 FMS cases, with estimated price tags totaling $10.7bn, since the start of fiscal year 2017. In that same time frame, Egypt has been cleared for five cases, with an estimated total of $1.9bn. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
05 May 20. South Korea’s KF-X programme to benefit from local industry boost. The South Korean government will increase funding support to homegrown defence companies that produce indigenous components for major platforms and weapon systems, with the hope of stimulating the local defence industry and reducing the reliance on imported components, as well as boosting job creation, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced on 16 April.
Eleven ongoing procurement programmes have been targeted under this new scheme, with DAPA confirming that these include the Korean Fighter eXperimental (KF-X) under development by Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) that aims to develop a replacement for the Republic of Korea Air Force’s (RoKAF’s) ageing F-4E Phantom and F-5E Tiger II fleets.
DAPA also stated that approximately $24.42m (30bn won) will be earmarked to support the chosen companies through 2025, with the recipient companies announced in June.
Although intended to be an indigenously built next-generation multirole combat aircraft, the KF-X has evolved into a complex multinational effort that not only includes the participation of other local firms such as Hanwha and LIG Nex1, but also a growing number of foreign suppliers.
Foreign participation already comprises Cobham Mission Systems (missile eject-launchers), Collins Aerospace (engine start system components, environmental control system, speed constant frequency generator, etc), IAI ELTA (AESA radar development), Elbit Systems (terrain following/terrain avoidance TF/TA system), General Electric (F414-GE-400 engines), L3 Harris (BRU-47 and BRU-57 release systems), Meggitt (brake control system, carbon brakes, displays, wheels etc), and Saab (AESA radar development).
MBDA Missile Systems also announced that it would integrate its Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) onto the KF-X fighter.
According to DAPA, KAI is expected to complete construction of the first KF-X prototype by the first half of 2021 and conduct the first test flight within 2022.
Indonesia joined the KF-X programme in 2012, signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will enable the country to purchase the KF-X along with transfer of advanced fighter aircraft technologies and production techniques that would benefit local industries.
However, the Indonesian government has fallen short of its funding obligations in recent years, casting doubt over its ability to follow through with its earlier commitments. (Source: AMR)
07 May 20. Construction of Australia’s Future Submarine to start in 2024 but contract details yet to be decided. The head of Australia’s AUD50bn (USD32.2bn) Sea 1000 programme has confirmed that construction of the pressure hull for the first of 12 Attack-class conventionally powered submarines is scheduled to begin in 2024. This will follow the construction in 2023 of a hull qualification section to prove procedures, equipment, and skills at the submarine construction facility now being built at Osborne North near Adelaide by government-owned Australian Naval Infrastructure to the functional requirements of Sea 1000’s French-owned designer and build partner Naval Group.
Greg Sammut, general manager, submarines, in the Department of Defence’s (DoD’s) Capability and Sustainment Group (CASG), told Jane’s on 5 May that details of the first submarine construction contract were still under consideration.
“We may choose to sign a contract that combines detailed design, which is scheduled to start in May 2023, and construction of the first boat. This would enable Naval Group and [combat systems integrator] Lockheed Martin Australia to get into detailed design, produce the work instructions and have a seamless transition into construction,” said Sammut.
Work on the pressure hull could begin before the completion of the detailed design. While the number of submarines to be included in the first construction contract is still being decided, “it will certainly not be for 12”, said Sammut.
“We would want to make sure that we’ve got the opportunity to look at updates to technology over the life of the programme. We will also be considering the different pricing models that would apply to different stages of the programme as we get more familiar with the build process,” he added.
“You’re retiring risk as you build more boats and that means we might want different pricing models for subsequent boats.” (Source: Jane’s)
05 May 20. Office of National Intelligence seeks ‘smart’ satellites. The Office of National Intelligence (ONI) has put out a request for tender (RFT) seeking a provider of research and engineering services for the development, test, launch and operation of a prototype smart satellite.
According to the tender document published in the Australian government’s contracting platform, proposals are sought to “demonstrate the application of miniaturised satellite systems with on-board machine learning applications”.
“The service provider shall perform all activities necessary to manage, design, develop, construct, integrate, test, launch, commission and support the ‘smart’ satellite solution,” the RFT said.
“The service provider shall analyse the requirements… and work collaboratively with ONI and the NIC to develop and validate a design for the NICSAT Mission System and the requirements for the support, operating model and demonstration aspects.”
The scope of works performed under this contract also aims to “combine a systematic approach to research and development with commercial off-the-shelf solutions”. ONI estimates the value of the contract at between $4m and $5m.
ONI’s Innovation, Science & Research (ISR) branch is the contracting activity. ISR branch provides structured approaches to technological research and change not just within ONI, but also in support of the wider National Intelligence Community (NIC), which encompasses the 10 separate Australian security and intelligence agencies. A virtual industry briefing is scheduled for 14 May 2020. (Source: Space Connect)
05 May 20. Boeing expects to sign new ‘Pacific’ customer for Apache helo. Boeing expects to sign up a brand-new operator of the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, with the company noting only that it is in “the Pacific region” of the world. Speaking to Jane’s on 5 May, Terry Jamison, Director, Vertical Lift International Sales, said that the undisclosed Pacific customer is one of two new operators for the Apache that Boeing expects to have under contract within the next 12 months. The other, which has previously been disclosed, is Morocco.
“We expect the current 16 global operators of the Apache to go up to 18 in the next 12 months as we look to add two new users to the community that we like to call Team Apache. (Source: Jane’s)
05 May 20. Australian Defence seeks innovative partner to deliver the next generation of Integrated Soldier System. Defence has sought an industry partner to provide prime vendor services for product acquisition, integration and support to help deliver the Integrated Soldier System Project.
The establishment of this partnership is part of the Australian Defence Force’s continuous modernisation of the dismounted combatant capability, under the Integrated Soldier System Project (LAND 125) tranche two. This project aims to maintain a modern, well-equipped, dismounted combat capability with an advantage over current and emerging threats.
The project will further demonstrate the government’s commitment to Australian small and medium enterprises by engaging a strategic industry partner and also reinforce the government’s commitment to ensuring Australia’s capability through the implementation of its Sovereign Industry Capability Policy.
Defence will hold an online industry briefing in May 2020 on the project, which will then be advertised on AusTender under the ATM category of defence and law enforcement, and security and safety equipment and supplies.
LAND 125 is a multi-phase program dedicated to equipping the Australian Defence Force soldiers with advanced gear and equipment that meet the modern combat requirements and provide advanced features such as decreased detectability, enhanced protection and other improvements that increase the survivability and efficiency of the personnel in the modern battlefield. (Source: Defence Connect)
30 Apr 20. Argentina progresses aircraft procurement and upgrades. The Argentine Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Argentina: FAA) is progressing some of its chief procurement and upgrade programmes, despite both the Covid-19 and economic crises slowing the acquisition efforts of the wider armed forces. Speaking to Jane’s in late April, the Chief of Staff of the FAA, Brigadier Xavier Isaac, noted the key programmes currently under way.
According to Brig Isaac, the coronavirus has actually sped up Argentina’s efforts to modernise four of its Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules airlifters, whose delivery back to the FAA was being delayed. As well, the contract between Fábrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA) and the FAA for the work on a fifth aircraft was signed and the aircraft is expected to be ready by early 2021.
The single civil-variant L-100-30 of the air force is already at the factory and the FAA is expected to sign the contract for its modernisation this year or in early 2021. After that, the air force will analyse the possibility of modernising the only other complete C-130H not yet upgraded.
Also in the transport aircraft area, the FAA is moving forward with the tender to buy a second-hand Boeing 737-300, -400, or -700 series aircraft, and have it delivered before the end of the year to replace the current Fokker F.28. At the same time, works are under way aimed at returning a second F.28 into service, with the goal of fielding it until about 2024.
The purchase of 10 Beechcraft TC-12B Hurons from US Navy stocks has been completed and the first aircraft are expected to arrive in Argentina before the end of the year. They will be used to train the FAA’s transport pilots, instead of doing it with the Twin Otters, and to use them for liaison between the main bases. (Source: Jane’s)
30 Apr 20. Philippines cleared to buy Apache or Viper attack helos from US. The Philippines has been cleared to buy either the Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian or Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter from the United States, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on 30 April. The proposed deals, which both include six helicopters, equipment, weapons, spares, training, support, and other services, are valued at an estimated USD1.5bn for the Apache and USD450m for the Viper.
“The Philippines is considering either the AH-64E or the AH-1Z to modernise its attack helicopter capabilities,” the DSCA said. “The proposed sale will assist the Philippines in developing and maintaining strong self-defence, counter-terrorism, and critical infrastructure protection capabilities. The Philippines will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment and support into its armed forces.” The DSCA did not provide a timeline for any planned procurement.
While the Apache approval includes more equipment, it is not clear why there should be a more-than-USD1bn price differential between the two offerings. Boeing had not returned a request for information by the time of writing. The Philippine Air Force (PAF) currently fields eight AgustaWestland A109E Power helicopters in the light attack role that it received in 2015, as well as 12 much older MD Helicopters MD 500MG helicopters. In November 2019 the PAF received two surplus Bell AH-1 Cobra helicopters from Jordan. These will give the service and its personnel experience of fielding a dedicated attack helicopter before the arrival of whichever platform is eventually chosen by the Philippine government. The AH-64E improves on earlier model Apaches in that it features a new and improved drivetrain and a composite rotor system, giving it a 25kt-higher top speed than the AH-64D. It is also equipped with improved open-architecture avionics and the ability to control an unmanned aerial vehicle from the cockpit. (Source: Jane’s)
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American Panel Corporation (APC) since 1998, specializes in display products installed in defence land systems, as well as military and commercial aerospace platforms, having delivered well over 100,000 displays worldwide. Military aviators worldwide operate their aircraft and perform their missions using APC displays, including F-22, F-18, F-16, F-15, Euro-fighter Typhoon, Mirage 2000, C-130, C-17, P-3, S-3, U-2, AH-64 Apache Helicopter, V-22 tilt-rotor, as well as numerous other military and commercial aviation aircraft including Boeing 717 – 787 aircraft and several Airbus aircraft. APC panels are found in nearly every tactical aircraft in the US and around the world.
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