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EUROPE

15 May 20. Multi-Purpose Combat Ship 180 Continues to Gain Momentum. The award procedure for the multipurpose combat ship 180 is legally effective. The company Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding B.V. company has been officially announced in the bidding competition for the construction of the ship as the winner of the tender.

Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (AKK) expressed her satisfaction at the recent development: “I am very pleased that the award procedure for the Multipurpose Combat Ship 180 (MKS180) can now continue. Before the summer break, I will ask Parliament to approve the budget, and I am very optimistic that we can conclude a contract for the MKS 180 this year.”

German defense minister says MKS180 warship program back on track as public procurement tribunal has completed its review, clearing the way for parliamentary approval in summer and a subsequent contract award later this year.

Procurement Court clears the way

The company German Naval Yards Kiel GmbH (GNYK), a limited liability company, on May 14th, 2020, withdrew the complaint it had filed with the Federal Procurement Court requesting a review of the award decision for the multipurpose combat ship 180. As a result, the tribunal officially ended the review procedure.

The Federal Ministry of Defense very much welcomes the fact that the legal obstacle has been eliminated and that the procurement process can be resumed.

The next step is for the German Bundestag to examine the procurement program and vote to approve the required budget before the summer break. This approval is required in Germany for all defense procurement projects costing over 25m euros. Multi-purpose combat ship 180: a wide range of capabilities. The MKS multi-purpose combat ship 180 will in future provide the full range of capabilities required for the entire range of missions and tasks of the German Navy, and also provide additional capabilities. This new ship will shape the face of the Navy for a long time. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/German Ministry of Defence)

18 May 20. Finnish Defence Command Blamed for Favouring F-35 in Fighter Jet Procurement. The Armed Forces’ senior leadership has been accused of favouring US firm Lockheed Martin’s F-35 in the ongoing competition for Finland’s fighter jet fleet upgrade. Former Armed Forces commander Jarmo Lindberg allegedly instructed his subordinates to ensure that the choice in the competition falls on the F-35, the Finnish newspaper Suomen Kuvalehti reported, citing anonymous sources with insight in the process.

According to Suomen Kuvalehti, both Lindberg and other top military officials have tried to ignore and downplay the weaker sides of the F-35 in various reports and other contexts, while emphasising the weaknesses of the other four candidates.

Jarmo Lindberg left his command post in the summer of 2019, but in April 2020 it emerged that he had signed a consulting agreement with Lockheed Martin. Just days later, Lockheed Martin terminated the contract over lobbying.

The F-35 is marketed as a fifth-generation fighter jet with stealth features and advanced sensor technology. The plan’s operating costs are generally considered to be higher compared to the other competitors, and the question is whether Finland’s acquisition would be viable in the long run.

According to Suomen Kuvalehti’s sources, the F-35 is significantly more expensive to operate than the other competitors, as the user country commits itself to paying a fixed annual fee covering service and spare parts. The agreement is similar to a lease, and ultimately becomes disproportionately expensive.

Suomen Kuvalehti also anonymously interviewed members of the parliamentary defence committee, who admitted that they have not received sufficient information on imporLauri Puranentant details, such as the jets’ operating costs.

Both Jarmo Lindberg himself and other members of the defence team refuted Suomen Kuvalehti’s information. Defence Ministry programme director described the allegations as “absurd”.

Puranen confirmed that Lockheed Martin has a service and operating cost model that differs from the other four candidates, but refused to go into detail as negotiations with the plane manufacturers are still ongoing.

“Our goal is to negotiate as favourable a deal as possible”, Puranen told national broadcaster Yle.

The final cost level for all five plane types will not be fixed until the final, binding offer round, which is scheduled to begin this fall. Puranen and his colleagues will conduct a final round of negotiations with the five manufacturers during the late summer and early autumn.

Lockheed Martin is one of five fighter jet manufacturers vying for the up to €10bn ($10.9bn) contract to replace Finland’s ageing fighter jet fleet.

In Finland’s so-called HX Competition, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 is pitted against Boeing’s Super Hornet, Eurofighter’s Typhoon, Saab’s Gripen, and Dassault’s Rafale. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has reportedly put a damper on the negotiations, as these talks are only held face-to-face due to the sensitive nature of the issues discussed. (Source: News Now/Sputnik)

USA

21 May 20. US Army advances ALE concept. The US Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Cross-Functional Team (CFT) will continue flight trials in the fourth quarter of this year as it transitions into the next phase of its Air Launched Effects (ALE) programme, service officials have disclosed.

The decision follows initial flights tests conducted at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, between February and March, during which theArea-I Altius 600 unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) were for the first time forward-launched at low altitudes in the hover position from UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters in support of the ALE concept. The Altius 600 UAS being launched from a UH-60 helicopter at low altitudes and in the hover position during a trial.

Speaking to Janes from the FVL CFT’s headquarters at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) Integration Lead and Plans/Requirements Officer Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Freude and Jeff McCoy, Product Lead for the Command, Control and Effects Product Office, PM Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) confirmed the forthcoming flight tests would be designated ‘Project Convergence’.

Industry sources told Janes that flight tests were scheduled to be conducted in September.

The ALE programme has been designed to enhance the army’s ability to conduct multi-domain operations by using autonomous air vehicles as part of a wider FARA “eco-system”.

Expected to penetrate enemy air-defence systems, air vehicles must be capable of creating “chaos in enemy decision spaces” to enable freedom of movement for friendly forces across a battlespace.

Air vehicle mission sets have been divided by the CFT into detect, identify, locate, and report (DLIR); disrupt; decoy; and lethal categories. Mission sets will be enabled by a series of active and passive payloads that could “stimulate” and confuse enemy air-defence systems, service officials added. (Source: Jane’s)

20 May 20. More than one company could get cash to build the Air Force’s AI-equipped Skyborg drone. The U.S. Air Force has kicked off a competition for one of its most highly anticipated tech programs, a drone known as Skyborg that will use artificial intelligence to make decisions in battle. The service released a solicitation May 15 for Skyborg prototypes, which will merge autonomous, low-cost aircraft with a suite of artificial intelligence capabilities.

The Air Force envisions Skyborg as a family of drones — each designed for a specific mission or set of missions — with modular hardware and software payloads and a common AI backbone, which will allow software to be rapidly updated across the fleet.

The Air Force intends to give multiple companies $400m to develop different versions of the Skyborg system, although it reserves the right to award just one or no contracts. Proposals are due June 15, with awards projected around July 8, according to the solicitation.

Once under contract, companies will “conduct research to develop, demonstrate, integrate and transition air vehicle, payload and autonomy technologies and systems that will provide affordable, revolutionary capabilities to the warfighter through the Skyborg program,” the Air Force said.

The service previously intended to use experimentation and prototyping to have Skyborg operational by 2023.

Skyborg will be what the service calls an attritable system, meaning that aircraft loss is expected and can be tolerated even though the system is not considered expendable and can be reused.

Aircraft should “generate massed combat power with minimal logistical footprints,” with cost per unit and the price of operating and maintaining the air vehicles a “small fraction” for that of the Air Force’s existing fighter inventory, according to the solicitation.

Air Force acquisition executive Will Roper has compared Skyborg to R2-D2, the Star Wars droid that feeds Luke Skywalker helpful information while piloting an X-Wing. Skyborg would build up efficacy on its own via artificial intelligence by working with manned pilots, who would issue commands to the drone and provide feedback on the data presented by it.

Last year, Roper told Defense News that the service was exploring the possibility of teaming Skyborg both with the Lockheed Martin F-35 and the Boeing F-15EX aircraft. The ability to team manned fighter jets with smart, autonomous drones could “open up the door for an entirely different way to do aerial combat,” he said in May 2019.

“We can take risk with some systems to keep others safer,” he said at the time. “We can separate the sensor and the shooter. Right now they’re collocated on a single platform with a person in it. In the future, we can separate them out, put sensors ahead of shooters, put our manned systems behind the unmanned.”

Numerous aircraft companies are expected to bid on the Skyborg solicitation.

Kratos Defense and Security Solutions is already working with the Air Force on its XQ-58A Valkyrie drone, which logged its fourth successful flight test in January as part of the Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology program.

Earlier this month, Boeing rolled out its own loyal wingman drone, the Airpower Teaming System. The Royal Australian Air Force has committed to buy three of those systems for experimentation under its Loyal Wingman Advanced Development Program.

General Atomics and Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works each plan to offer their own aircraft proposals, according to Air Force Magazine.

In fiscal 2021, the Air Force intends to spend $157.6m across its three “vanguard programs,” which includes the Skyborg effort. The service also included an additional $25m for Skyborg on its unfunded priorities list, which would allow it to begin integrating UAVs with artificial intelligence software. (Source: Defense News)

20 May 20. USMC seeks BLOS upgrade for Harvest HAWK gunships. The US Marine Corps (USMC) is looking to upgrade the Harvest Hercules Airborne Weapons Kit (HAWK) mission package for its Lockheed Martin KC-130J tanker-transport aircraft with a beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) capability.

An airman poses next to the operational ‘kill’ markings stencilled onto the fuselage of a Harvest HAWK in Afghanistan during the war fighting stage of the conflict, giving an indication of the type’s work rate in the CAS role. The USMC is now looking to enhance the aircraft’s capability with a BLOS capability.

The request for information (RFI), issued by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) on 19 May, covers the design, manufacture, test, integration, and installation of a new Harvest HAWK Plus (HH+) BLOS standard.

“The BLOS upgrade addresses the void of battlespace commanders’ situational awareness by providing full-motion video and enhanced communications capability within the HH+ Mission Operator Pallet (MOP) via hardware and [Sierra Nevada Corporation] Burma software modifications,” the RFI said, noting that responses are due by 17:00 EST on 30 May.

Originally developed to fulfil an urgent operational requirement in Afghanistan, the Harvest HAWK conversion programme equipped the KC-130J with a roll-on/roll-off, dual-screen, fire-control console mounted in a removable cargo platform in the aircraft’s cargo compartment, a Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control AN/AAQ-30 Target Sight Sensor mounted under the port-side wing fuel tank, and a Common Data Link. The aircraft’s weapons fit comprises four AGM-114P Hellfire II laser-guided, air-to-surface missiles mounted on the port-side refuelling pylon, and MBDA GBU-44/E Viper Strike and Raytheon Griffin A air-to-surface missiles launched from a ramp-mounted 10-round rack and a pressurised dispenser dubbed the ‘Derringer Door’. A sideways-firing Mk 44 30 mm cannon has been deferred to a later Block III upgrade set to be implemented from fiscal year 2023. (Source: Jane’s)

18 May 20. Decision in the Matter of Airbus Helicopters, Inc. The decision issued on the date above was subject to a GAO Protective Order. This redacted version has been approved for public release.

DIGEST:

  1. Protest challenging the agency’s evaluation of offerors’ technical proposals is denied where the protest allegations are not supported by the record, and the evaluation and source selection decision were reasonable and consistent with the solicitation.
  2. Protest that the agency engaged in disparate treatment is denied where the differences in the evaluation stemmed from differences between the offerors’ proposals.

DECISION:

Airbus Helicopters, Inc., of Grand Prairie, Texas, protests the award of a contract to AgustaWestland Philadelphia Corp. (Leonardo),[1] of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, under request for proposals (RFP) No. N61340-19-R-0007, issued by the Department of the Navy, Naval Air Systems Command, for 130 commercial helicopters certified under the instrument flight rules to be used for an advanced undergraduate helicopter pilot training systems program. The protester challenges various aspects of the agency’s evaluation of offerors’ proposals and source selection decision.

We deny the protest.

BACKGROUND:

The RFP was issued on January 28, 2019, pursuant to Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) parts 12 and 15. The RFP contemplated award of a fixed-price contract for a base period and four option periods. The purpose of the RFP is to procure an advanced helicopter training system consisting of specified aircraft, a corresponding ground-based training system, and contractor logistics support and maintenance.

The RFP informed offerors that the agency would evaluate proposals using two factors, technical and price, where the technical factor would be significantly more important than price.

The technical factor included two subfactors listed in descending order of importance: (1) aircraft system; and (2) management and support. The RFP advised that the agency would assign a technical rating and a technical risk rating to offerors’ proposals under the technical factor, based on the technical rating and technical risk rating assigned under each of the two technical subfactors.

The RFP described the technical rating as an assessment of compliance with the solicitation requirements that also considers the benefits and detriments related to program performance and operations.

The technical risk rating would assess the risk associated with the technical approach in meeting the requirements, considering the potential for disruption of schedule, increase in costs, degradation of performance, need to increase government oversight, or likelihood of unsuccessful contract performance.

When evaluating the technical factor and subfactors, the following technical ratings would be used: outstanding, good, acceptable, marginal, and unacceptable. In addition, the following technical risk ratings would be used: low, moderate, high, and unacceptable.

As relevant here, for the aircraft system subfactor, the RFP instructed offerors to provide documentation “demonstrating how the Offeror’s proposed aircraft meets or exceeds the system attributes as identified [in the RFP] and in the respective paragraphs of the [performance-based specifications (PBS)].”

Under this subfactor, the RFP further specified that the agency would evaluate the proposal’s compliance with the solicitation requirements and risk associated with the offeror’s approach in the following five elements: (1) overall compliance; (2) instrument training; (3) navigation training; (4) warfighting skills training; and (5) safety.

The RFP further indicated that emphasis would be on the first two elements of overall compliance and instrument training. The RFP explained that the agency may assess one or more strengths, risk reducers, weaknesses, or significant weaknesses for each element (except for overall compliance, for which strengths would not be assessed) “based on the degree to which the Offeror’s proposed attribute solutions, as a whole, provide[] the highest quality solution.”[3]

The RFP advised offerors that the agency would evaluate each offeror’s written proposal in conjunction with the system performance demonstration (SPD), which would not be rated separately, but would be used to facilitate the agency’s evaluation of the aircraft system subfactor and “may affect the Aircraft System risk rating.”

The RFP warned offerors that “requirements specified in the SPD that cannot be evaluated and that are not adequately addressed in the written proposal may receive a significant weakness or deficiency.”

The agency was to conduct both flight and ground SPDs, and provide four agency helicopter pilots and one flight test engineer. Each offeror was to provide one aircraft with a representative cockpit configuration and a subject matter expert to assist the pilots in understanding the cockpit controls, at a minimum.

Regarding price, the RFP advised that the agency would evaluate each offeror’s total evaluated price for unbalanced pricing and to ensure that the proposed price is within the stated budgetary constraints on a per-contract line item number (CLIN) basis and cumulative basis. The total evaluated price would consist of the sum of all fixed-price CLINs and a 10-year projected operation and support cost calculated using the Conklin & de Decker Life Cycle Cost Product.

The RFP informed offerors that the agency intended to evaluate each proposal and award a contract after discussions to the responsible offeror whose proposal, conforming to the solicitation, provides the best value to the government, all factors considered. The agency received proposals from five offerors, including Airbus and Leonardo. After receipt of written proposals, the agency conducted SPDs with each offeror’s aircraft. The agency eliminated one offeror from the competitive range and conducted multiple rounds of discussions with the remaining offerors, including Airbus and Leonardo.

Discussions consisted of issuing evaluation notices (EN), holding oral discussions “to ensure the ENs were well understood prior to the submittal of written responses,” and permitting the offerors to submit proposal revisions.

The agency received final proposal revisions from the remaining offerors, including Airbus and Leonardo, prior to the due date of October 31.

As relevant here, for the aircraft system subfactor, the agency assigned the following to Airbus’s proposal: one significant weakness, two weaknesses, and eight risk reducers under the overall compliance element; one strength under the warfighting skills training element; and one strength under the safety element.

For the same subfactor, the agency assigned the following to Leonardo’s proposal: five risk reducers under the overall compliance element; and one strength each under the instrument training, navigation training, warfighting skills training, and safety elements. After reviewing the SSEB’s evaluations and the SSAC’s analysis and conducting an independent assessment of the merits of the offerors’ proposals, the source selection authority (SSA) concluded that Leonardo’s proposal provided the best value to the government.

On January 13, 2020, the agency awarded the contract to Leonardo and notified Airbus. Following a debriefing that concluded on January 29, Airbus filed this protest.

DISCUSSION

The protester primarily argues that the agency unreasonably and disparately evaluated the offerors’ technical proposals under the aircraft system subfactor. The protester also challenges the source selection decision as unreasonable and based on a flawed technical evaluation. As discussed below, we find no basis to sustain the protest. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/US Government Accountability Office; dated May 12, issued May 18, 2020)

13 May 20. US military updates CUxS application process in response to “overwhelming” interest. The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has updated the Request for Information (RFI) issued last month for white papers from industry regarding its Counter Unmanned Systems (CUxS) Systems Integration Partner (SIP).

The purpose of the Request for Information (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 updated request states:

“Due to overwhelming interest in One-on-One meetings, the Government has changed and expanded the meeting dates. Due to this vast interest, the Government may not be able to accommodate all requests for a One-on-One at this time.  Please understand that a request for One-on-One or white paper submission does not guarantee a One-on-One.  The Government reserves the right to conduct informal Q&As through email based on your white paper responses and available timeslots.”

The results of the RFI will be used to create an overview of vendor capabilities and experience in the field of FoS integration and related disciplines. The Government is anticipating a contract comprised of a one-year base period, with four one-year optional periods, and five one-year incentive option term periods. This anticipated contract would comprise a total of ten (10) years if all incentive option terms are earned and exercised. The Government anticipates contract award late 1st QTR CY 2021.

Point of contact: Chris Paitson  john.paitson@socom.mil

Contracting Office: SOF ATL-KP 7701 TAMPA POINT BOULEVARD, TAMPA FL 33621-5323

NAICS Code: 334511

Original Published Date: Apr 17

Updated Published Date: May 11

Original Response Date: May 13

Updated Response Date: May 13

For more information visit:

https://beta.sam.gov

(Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)

15 May 20. US Navy seeks jet aircraft for land- and sea-based carrier training. The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has issued a request for information (RFI) for a jet aircraft to perform some aspects of land- and ship-based carrier training in support of the Undergraduate Jet Training System (UJTS) programme. The US Navy currently conducts all elements of carrier-based pilot training using the Boeing T-45C Goshawk (pictured). An RFI for a land-based aircraft to conduct those elements of carrier training that do not include arrested landings or catapult-assisted take-offs has been issued, as it perhaps looks to divide its future carrier training requirements between different aircraft types.

The RFI, issued on 14 May, calls for information on the suitability of an existing twin-seat land-based jet trainer aircraft design to satisfy certain requirements under consideration for the next generation USN undergraduate jet trainer aircraft.

Specifically, the solicitation noted the capability of this non-developmental aircraft to perform land-based Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) events and ship-based carrier touch-and-go events for USN and US Marine Corps (USMC) pilots.

According to the RFI, the aircraft is not required to conduct either arrested landing or catapult-assisted take-offs, although it does need to be able to withstand the very high sink-rates associated with carrier landings.

Performance specifications listed by NAVAIR include a top speed in excess of Mach 0.84, an operational ceiling of 41,000 ft, synthetic radar and other sensors, as well as simulated air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons employment. It should also have two rocket/bomb-capable pylons (Source: Jane’s)

REST OF THE WORLD

22 May 20. L3Harris Technologies, Ultra Electronics and Indianic Group form local alliance for SEA 1350 bid. L3Harris Technologies has announced an alliance agreement with Ultra Electronics and Indianic Group for the development of the Royal Australian Navy’s new Magnetic Treatment Facility (MTF) to be installed in Western Australia under the SEA 1350 Phase 2 program.

The SEA 1350 program aims to replace and upgrade the existing RAN facilities in Western Australia, enabling the submarine fleet to undergo a pre-deployment process, which aims to reduce or eliminate the magnetism of a steel hull to enhance stealth capability, preventing submarines from triggering magnetic mines or attracting certain types of torpedoes.

L3Harris’ Oceania business, based in Fremantle, provides the acoustic undersea range systems supporting signature management and live-firing exercises and supports many other RAN systems including maritime navigation and hydrographic mission systems.

“Reducing ships’ magnetic signatures is a key capability for the RAN,” said Alan Titheridge, managing director of L3Harris Australia Group.

“If we’re successful, we would also subcontract a number of other Western Australian-based subject matter experts (SME) to support the design, construction and maintenance of the new facility – delivering sovereign superiority in the region.”

Ultra’s UK business, PMES, currently supplies the RAN’s existing MTF located at Fleet Base West as well as all in-service open sea magnetic ranges. If successful, Ultra would transfer skills and technology to its South Australian-based business to grow Australian industry’s signature management capability and enable sovereign sustainment.

“Ultra has been supplying naval electromagnetic signature management capability to both the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy for over four decades and we look forward to continuing this close relationship by supplying the next generation of Australian capability with our SEA 1350 partners L3Harris and Indianic,” said Doug Burd, managing director, Ultra Electronics Australia.

The third company under the memorandum of understanding (MOU) is WA-based SME Indianic Group, which specialises in marine and subsea infrastructure. Indianic Group currently maintains and operates the existing magnetic measurement and deperming facilities at Fleet Base West.

“We have been involved with the magnetic treatment facility for the past 15 years, maintaining and sustaining the facility on a daily basis,” said Michael Gray, managing director of Indianic Group.

“We look forward to joining forces with L3Harris and Ultra to provide combined and enhanced support offering to the RAN.”

The formal tender process for Phase 2 of the SEA 1350 program has recently opened with an initial operating capability planned for 2023.

The partnership would extend to the SEA 1350 Phase 3 Maritime Underwater Tracking Range, covering the upgrade of the fixed and portable acoustic tracking ranges, which is planned to be tendered in late 2020.

L3Harris and Ultra have also successfully partnered on other Australian projects across sonar, communications and electronic warfare technologies. (Source: Defence Connect)

22 May 20. BAE and ASC Hunter Class shipbuilding briefing steams ahead. Ahead of ASC Shipbuilding awarding contracts to Australian businesses to support the Hunter Class Frigate Program’s (HCFP) prototyping phase, which starts in December, more than 470 Australian companies have registered to participate in a virtual briefing on the program on Friday.

ASC Shipbuilding’s supply chain team had scheduled face-to-face briefings on the Hunter program for Australian suppliers this month in Adelaide. Due to COVID-19, ASC Shipbuilding will instead host a 90-minute webinar to provide program updates to small and large Australian businesses, as well as providing them with an opportunity to ask questions.

ASC Shipbuilding managing director Craig Lockhart and First Assistant Secretary Ships at CASG Sheryl Lutz will provide program overviews. ASC Shipbuilding supply chain experts will also provide updates to businesses whose equipment and services we will require during the prototyping phase, and beyond.

Only businesses that have expressed interest in the HCFP through the ICN Gateway are participating in the webinar.

Lockhart said, “I’m really pleased that in spite of COVID-19, we have been able to progress with this important supplier engagement. The large number of Australian businesses registered to take part shows the enthusiasm and support for the Hunter program as we head towards prototyping.”

During prototyping, five ship ‘blocks’ will be built and all the processes, systems, tools, facilities and workforce competencies will be tested and refined before construction on the first frigate starts in 2022.

ASC Shipbuilding has already released 27 work packages to the Australian market and to date has received 388 expressions of interest against those work packages. Twenty-two requests for quotes have also been issued.

In June 2018, the Commonwealth government announced BAE Systems Australia as the successful tender for the $35bn SEA 5000 Future Frigate program.

The nine Hunter Class frigates will be based on the BAE Systems Type 26 Global Combat Ship currently under construction for the Royal Navy and will replace the eight Anzac Class frigates when they enter service beginning in the late 2020s.

The Hunter Class is billed as an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) centric vessel delivering an advanced ASW capability to the Royal Australian Navy at a time when 50 per cent of the world’s submarines will be operating in the Indo-Pacific region.

BAE Systems Australia announced that it had selected Lockheed Martin Australia and Saab Australia as combat systems integration industry partners, responsible for delivering the Australian designed CEAFAR 2 active phased array radar, Lockheed Martin designed Aegis combat management system and Saab Australia 9LV tactical interface.

Aegis is capable of simultaneously defending against attack from land targets, submarines and surface ships while automatically protecting the fleet against aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles. (Source: Defence Connect)

19 May 20. 83 LCA-MK1A Deal High Priority: IAF Chief. The Indian Air Force (IAF) will set up the second squadron of indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas by month-end, said Air Chief Marshal (ACM) R.K.S. Bhadauria on Monday, while the “high priority” deal for 83 LCA-MK1A jets was expected to be signed in three months. Stressing on the effort to shift to indigenous production as much as possible, the IAF chief said the challenge was for the domestic industry to catch up.

“We will get the first LCA in Final Operations Clearance (FOC) standard likely by next week. We are targeting formation of the second LCA squadron at Sulur next week, before the end of the month. We have already done the resurrection of the squadron but induction of aircraft and inauguration got stalled due to COVID,” ACM Bhadauria said in an exclusive interaction with The Hindu.

Tender for fighters

On the tender for 114 fighters to be built under Make in India, stating that it was a “different class” of fighter than the LCA which would be built in India and not imported, he said the global responses to the tender were being analysed after which they would go to the government for the grant of Acceptance of Necessity (AoN). “We will finalise the way forward on the 114 tender.”

Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat had earlier said large imports could not be done and they had to be staggered. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/The Hindu)

18 May 20. HMT Extenda Mk2 joins Canadian NGFV tests. DEW Engineering and Development and Supacat have submitted their High Mobility Transporter (HMT) for the voluntary industry vehicle demonstration of the Next Generation Fighting Vehicle (NGFV) programme for the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM). The two companies confirmed to Shephard earlier this month that they joined have the demonstration at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa (Ontario) with the Extenda Mk2 version of the HMT expeditionary vehicle. The NGFV procurement process is currently in the options analysis phase. This project to acquire 55-75 vehicles is estimated to cost between C$100m and C$249m ($70m to $176m).

According to Shephard Defence Insight, other potential contenders in the programme are the Ocelot/Foxhound 4×4 from General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada (GDLS-C), as well as the Sherpa Light 4×4 from Arquus/Mack Defense.

A Department of National Defence (DND) spokesperson explained that Canada intends to acquire 55 to 75 NGFVs to equip CANSOFCOM. This platform will replace the existing fleet of M1113 and M1117 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs).

An earlier replacement programme was cancelled in 2010. Although originally anticipated in 2015, an RfI for the NGFV was not released until 2019. An RfP is scheduled to be released in early 2021, followed by a contract awarded in 2024-2025, first deliveries in 2026-2027 and final deliveries in 2028-2029.

The DND spokesperson stressed that the NGFV will be a ‘modern and diverse multi-role vehicle capable of transporting the prescribed equipment and weapons load, ensuring mobility, survivability of the crew and vehicle and sustainment inherently required in the execution of special operations tasks’.

It ‘must have the ability for the crew to engage various adversaries without dismounting from the protection of the vehicle, and also be protected from kinetic attacks from adversaries,’ the spokesperson highlighted.

The HMT vehicle is designed to transport personnel and equipment into deployed zones including directly onto objectives and to support the withdrawal of other assets.

This vehicle provides lower user fatigue and is robust and well-protected, enabling long-range and enhanced mission duration. Also, it has an airbag suspension to provide stability to fire.

The Extenda Mk2 model — an upgraded version of which was unveiled during the DSEI 2019 trade show — can be converted between 4×4 and 6×6 configuration in hours by adding or removing a third axle module.

In addition, users can select between different levels of protection, seating layouts, payload configurations and an open or enclosed cab.

The HMT can be fitted with NATO Generic Vehicle Architecture to enable the integration of a wide variety of mission systems, including a remote weapon system as well as ISR and C4 systems.

Additionally, this platform is air-transportable in aircraft such as the C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules and CH-47 Chinook (depending on the configuration of helicopter and vehicle).

Nicky Yeoman, head of marketing and sales operations at SC Group-Global (which includes Supacat), confirmed to Shephard that 950 units of the HMT platform in various configurations are in service with Australia, Denmark, Norway, New Zealand, the UK, the US and another undisclosed customer. (Source: Shephard)

15 May 20. Russia Launches Production of Su-35 Fighter Jets for Egypt — source. Russia has launched the production of its advanced Su-35 fighter jets under a contract with Egypt, a military diplomatic source told TASS on Saturday.

“The Gagarin Aircraft Plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur has launched the production of Su-35, intended to be delivered to the Egyptian Air Force under the contract signed in 2018,” the source said.

“The timeframe for first batch’s delivery to the Egyptian side has not been set yet, due to restrictions imposed by the novel coronavirus outbreak,” he added.

TASS has been unable to officially confirm the information by the time of the publication.

Russia’s Kommersant daily reported in March 2019 that Egypt had decided to purchase several Russian-made Su-35 fighter jets for about $2bn. The signing of the deal has never been confirmed by official sources.

China has become the first foreign country to buy Su-35 when it signed a $2.5bn deal with Russia for 24 aircraft. The deal also envisaged supplies of ground equipment and spare engines. The delivery of the aircraft to China was completed in 2019. The Su-35S is a heavily upgraded generation 4++ supermaneuverable multipurpose fighter jet developed on the basis of fifth-generation technologies. The Su-35S is distinguished by its new avionics suite based on the information control system, the new radar, plasma ignition engines of the increased capacity and thrust vectoring. These engines meet the requirements for the powerplant of fifth-generation fighters as they allow developing supersonic speed without using an afterburner.

The Su-35S supersonic fighter jet performed its debut flight on February 19, 2008. The fighter jet is a derivative of the Su-27 plane. The Su-35S weighs 19 tonnes, has a service ceiling of 20,000 meters, can develop a maximum speed of 2,500 km/h and has a crew of one pilot. The fighter jet’s armament includes a 30mm aircraft gun, up to 8 tonnes of the weapon payload (missiles and bombs of various types) on 12 underwing hardpoints. The Su-35S has been in service with the Russian Army since 2015. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/TASS)

18 May 20. Defence Global Competitiveness Grants awarded. Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price unveiled the latest round of Defence Global Competitiveness Grant awards on 15 May. The scheme provides grants to SMEs of up to $150,000, covering a maximum of half the cost of investing in projects that build export capability towards a stronger, more sustainable and globally competitive Australian defence industry.

“This funding helps Australian small businesses overcome barriers to accessing export opportunities, and help build their resilience,” said the minister.

“By supporting the defence export capability of small and innovative Australian businesses, we are growing our defence industry sector. These grants are another way the Morrison government is supporting our defence industry to keep their wheels turning both during and beyond COVID-19.”

Four companies from Queensland, two from South Australia and one each from Tasmania, Victoria and NSW are the recipients of a total of nearly $1m in funding.

Minister Price said Pivot Maritime International is the first Tasmanian company to receive a grant under the program, and will use the funding to help build a mission maritime bridge simulator system, opening up additional export opportunities.  (Source: Defence Connect)

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American Panel Corporation

American Panel Corporation (APC) since 1998, specializes in display products installed in defence land systems, as well as military and commercial aerospace platforms, having delivered well over 100,000 displays worldwide. Military aviators worldwide operate their aircraft and perform their missions using APC displays, including F-22, F-18, F-16, F-15, Euro-fighter Typhoon, Mirage 2000, C-130, C-17, P-3, S-3, U-2, AH-64 Apache Helicopter, V-22 tilt-rotor, as well as numerous other military and commercial aviation aircraft including Boeing 717 – 787 aircraft and several Airbus aircraft. APC panels are found in nearly every tactical aircraft in the US and around the world.

APC manufactures the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Large Area Display (LAD) display (20 inch by 8 inch) with dual pixel fields, power and video interfaces to provide complete display redundancy. At DSEI 2017 we are exhibiting the LAD with a more advanced design, dual display on single substrate with redundant characteristics and a bespoke purpose 8 inch by 6 inch armoured vehicle display.

In order to fully meet the demanding environmental and optical requirements without sacrificing critical tradeoffs in performance, APC designs, develops and manufactures these highly specialized displays in multiple sizes and configurations, controlling all AMLCD optical panel, mechanical and electrical design aspects. APC provides both ITAR and non-ITAR displays across the globe to OEM Prime and tiered vetronics and avionics integrators.

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