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UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
05 Aug 20. DASA launches competition to enhance explosive and weapon detection. The UK Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) has launched a £2.8m ($3.6m) competition seeking advanced technological solutions for enhanced detection of explosives, weapons and illicit drugs.
The cross-governmental programme, called Innovative Research Call (IRC) 2020 for Explosives and Weapons Detection, has sought proposals from industry and academia for the screening of people and/or their possessions, goods, vehicles, and buildings and areas.
DASA delivery manager Laurence Bickerton said: “We are looking for the best innovations to keep our communities safe from the deadliest threats we face.
“To tackle this challenge, we are looking for new concepts and advances in current technology, and we are appealing far and wide for the best ideas and innovative solutions to help create a safer future for all.”
The IRC competition is run on behalf of government departments and law enforcement agencies, including Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), Department for Transport (DfT), Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), Home Office’s Office of Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT), Metropolitan Police Service, US Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate, and UK Border Force.
Being conducted in two phases, up to £1m ($1.3m) is available for proposals under Phase 1. During this phase, proposal bids of £70,000 ($92,000) will have six months to develop a proof of concept.
The competition will consider proposals of a higher value only if they are ‘appropriately justified’ under Phase 1.
The deadline for proposal submissions under Phase 1 is 28 September 2020.
However, proposals with higher technical readiness that do not require funding under the first phase will still need to be submitted in this phase in the expectation of receiving funding under Phase 2.
Proposals under Phase 2 can avail funds of up to £1.8m ($2.3m).
This phase will require project development and evaluation of prototypes and demonstrators by September 2023.
Previously conducted in 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016, this is the fifth run of IRC. (Source: army-technology.com)
02 Aug 20. Babcock Team 31 Completes Whole Ship Preliminary Design Review. Team 31 has successfully completed its Whole Ship Preliminary Design Review (WSPDR) marking the end of the Engineering functional design phase. The review provides a key indicator of the compliance, maturity and engineering risk in proceeding into Detailed Design and maturing the 3D CAD model. The WSPDR was the whole ship culmination event of a large number of specific reviews which addressed the maturity of the individual systems comprising the Type 31 Ship.
WSPDR was held, virtually, over a period of 10 days in June, using an independent board comprising around fifteen subject matter experts, to review the design and interrogate the engineering team. Although this was a Team 31 milestone event, attendees and contributors also came from the Authority (the UK Ministry of Defence).
The independent board were impressed with the rate of progress made since contract award in November 2019, and the level of technical maturity of the design. The Engineering team in particular, and all contributors to the successful WSPDR, are to be commended for their efforts.
Graeme Thomson, Babcock Type 31 Programme Director said: “Completing the Whole Ship PDR is a key milestone for the Type 31 programme and signals our move into Detailed Design. I’d like to thank all involved, a lot of hard work went into achieving this positive outcome. I look forward to the next stage in this exciting and challenging programme.”
Progress on the Type 31 programme continues at pace. Babcock’s Rosyth facility has seen significant investment in the last decade and is embarking on a new era of digitising facilities and systems to bring advancements and efficiencies into the manufacturing, build and assembly process for the frigates. This includes the installation of additional Advanced Manufacturing capability and the construction of a new assembly hall capable of housing two Type 31 frigates. Ground breaking for the new hall took place in April, signalling the commencement of the civil works programme.
04 Aug 20. Offering £1bn Fleet Solid Support (FSS) Ship Contract To Overseas Bidders ‘Cold-Hearted Betrayal Of British Workers’ – GMB.
At a time when we desperately need to rebuild the UK economy, this Government offers other countries the chance to build Royal Navy support ships overseas says GMB Union
GMB, the union for shipbuilders, has called out the Government over its decision to put out a pre contract invitation to overseas shipyards to design and build the FSS programme.
Ross Murdoch, GMB National Officer and CSEU Chair, said:
“It is unbelievable at a time when we desperately need to rebuild the UK economy with good, well-paid jobs that bring significant tax returns to the UK Treasury, this Government offers the opportunity to other countries to help rebuild their own economy by building Royal Navy support ships overseas.
“These orders will be vital in safeguarding thousands of British jobs and bringing prosperity to shipbuilding communities.
“Yet despite the PM’s rhetoric of ‘build build build’, here is a golden opportunity missed.
“Before Brexit, the Government said EU rules meant it had to have an international competition to build these ships.
“In the context of sovereign defence capability GMB consistently challenged this position.
“Well, we’ve left the EU now and the Government still invites overseas companies to take part in a pre-contract engagement. It’s a cold-blooded betrayal of British workers.
“GMB and its sister unions fought hard to save a number of yards that either closed or went to the wire on possible closure.
“GMB will be calling on Team UK to ensure they submit an expression of interest for this stage of the contract and again we call on the Government to stand by its own National Shipbuilding Strategy in ensuring a steady drumbeat of orders to prevent a repeat of this by ensuring these ships are built in the UK.”
06 Aug 20. Eastern European NATO allies ramp up drone buys to protect their borders. As Russia’s military activities in the Baltic and Black seas are mounting pressure on NATO’s eastern flank, a number of Eastern European countries are developing programs to acquire unmanned aerial vehicles for their militaries.
In Romania, local analysts say the country’s Ministry of National Defence aims to boost the military’s surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence (SRI) capabilities by acquiring new drones, ensuring the country’s armed forces can efficiently monitor Romanian borders.
“Romania wants to increase its SRI capacity in the Black Sea, taking into account that the militarization of the region by Russia is intensively continuing,” George Scutaru, head of the Bucharest-based New Strategy Center think tank and a former member of parliament and government adviser, told Defense News. “At the end of last April, the joint Defense Committees of the Romanian parliament adopted the request of the Ministry of National Defence to start the procurement procedures for five new programs, including the acquisition of UAV systems. Within this program, an acquisition of seven tactical-operative UAV systems is to be carried out.”
Romania’s previous attempt at purchasing drones for its military came in 2018 under a procedure to buy tactical UAVs for some 250m lei (U.S. $56m). The bidders included American firm AAI Corporation, Israel’s Aeronautics Limited, BlueBird Aero Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries, as well as Romanian company Ymens Teamnet. However, a Romanian court canceled the tender after some bidders filed complaints.
George Visan, the coordinator of the Black Sea Security Program at the Bucharest-based think tank Romania Energy Center, told Defense News it was “known that Romania would like to acquire at least six medium-altitude, long-endurance UAVs as well as a number of smaller tactical UAVs.”
Similarly to the failed drone tender from 2018, the new competition is expected to attract bids from the United States, Israeli and Romanian companies. Anticipating the forthcoming procedure, last May, Israel’s Elbit Systems signed a memorandum of understanding with local state-run aircraft companies Avioane Craiova and Romaero.
“Elbit Systems can easily sell in Romania what it manufactures in Israel, but depending on the order, it is willing to integrate and transfer production here. Avioane Craiova used to produce trainers, IAR-99 aircraft and aero-structures for various manufacturers,” Visan said.
The analyst says that, in parallel to its drone procurement programs, the ministry is also funding the development of two UAVs, the medium-range Ultra-20 VTOL and the combat Ultra-20 V drone, by the state-run Research Agency for Military Hardware and Technologies, hoping to secure foreign partners and ensure transfer of technology.
“This doesn’t preclude other acquisitions,” Visan said.
Poland eyes combat, surveillance drones
Meanwhile, Poland’s Ministry of Defence is developing several acquisition programs to acquire UAVs. To date, the ministry has ordered short-range drones and mini drones, with more programs to procure surveillance and combat drones underway.
“In the long-term, the Polish Armed Forces are planning to acquire about a dozen sets of mid-range UAVs under the Gryf program, several MALE combat-reconnaissance UAVs under the Zefir program, and vertical take-off and landing short-range UAVs for the navy under the Albatros program,” a spokesperson for the Polish ministry told Defense News.
In 2018 and 2019, Polish privately-owned defense company WB Group secured two orders to deliver a total of 48 mini-drones to the Territorial Defense Forces (TDF), a military branch which comprises volunteers.
“We have supplied two types of drones to the Polish military. The first one is FlyEye which, in addition to the TDF, is also used by the artillery forces and special forces in Poland. It can be used in a variety of missions, including reconnaissance, artillery guidance, search and resuce, but also to extend the range of battle management systems. This drone can guide missiles, becoming the heart of an anti-tank system. We have developed FlyEye for more than ten years, and new variants continue to be designed,” company spokesman Remigiusz Wilk told Defense News. “The second one is Warmate which combines reconnaissance capabilities and combat capacities as loitering munition, owing to which it’s a highly precise weapon system.”
WB Group is also exporting its drones, with Warmate’s deliveries to four allies carried out through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency. Most recently, the manufacturer established a subsidiary in Ukraine where its UAVs have been operated by the country’s military.
“Our drones are combat-proven, and to date, not a single one has been lost over Ukrainian skies carrying out hundreds of challenging missions,” Wilk said.
Other countries in the region that plan to acquire drones include the Czech Republic. Last November, Czech President Milos Zeman spurred controversy when he called on the government to buy Israeli UAVs for the armed forces. Combat drones are to be acquired under the country’s military modernization program 2027, worth 100bn koruna (U.S. $4.25bn). (Source: Defense News)
29 Jul 20. Euphoria Evaporated – Norwegian-German Submarine Cooperation. In September 2018, when a programme agreement was signed between the German procurement authority BAAINBw and the Norwegian procurement agency Forsvarsmateriell, there was confidence that a supply contract could be concluded before the end of 2019.
However, this expectation has not been realised. A year earlier, in August 2017, Norway and Germany had signed a landmark intergovernmental agreement. In October 2017, the German industrial partner thyssenkrupp Marine Systems assumed that the contract would be in place by the end of 2019.
From the limited amount of information available, it can be concluded that the effort and time required to reach agreement on the operational requirements for the duration of the programme had been underestimated – or in other words, being able to adapt to the threat and technological developments in order to enable the necessary capability adjustments over the next 30 years. However, there were already different views on this.
In an interview with our sister journal “MarineForum”, RADM Nils Andreas Stensønes, Inspector of the Royal Norwegian Navy, put it like this: “Joint procurement means harmonising requirements to meet both German and Norwegian needs.” Put another way, with the signing of the intergovernmental and programme agreements, both navies faced roughly the same situation as newly-weds do before moving into a new home, namely being confronted with making sustainable decisions against the backdrop of previous social and living habits. It is a matter of systemic decisions (e.g. energy and furnishings) all the way to the supplier (e.g. the kitchen), which prolong the process and test the partnership.
Any fundamental differences in opinion seem to have been resolved over time – a compromise between signature reduction (stealth) and payload has been found, as has been the case with the application of certification agreements; according to reports from British defence analysts Shephard, the Naval Submarine Code will be applied. Compromises have also been found on other features, such as rescue equipment, the one versus two-chamber system, the command and weapon deployment system, armament, sensors, but details of these have not yet been made public, for good reasons. However, despite progress made so far, the programme is currently at a standstill.
According to Norwegian media reports in October 2019, thyssenkrupp Marine Systems is responsible for the delay: “The offer from the German supplier was simply not good enough,” the Norwegian online newspaper “Aldrimer.no” reported on 7 October. Other Norwegian reports quoted the price. These reports are partly based on information from the procurement authority, according to which the supplier was to submit an updated offer by the end of July 2019. Due to the upcoming budget discussions in the Norwegian Parliament, the issue has become highly contentious.
The Norwegian Procurement Authority foresees a cost ceiling of slightly more than €3.6Bn for the four Norwegian submarines, which includes VAT, a risk margin and implementation costs. In an earlier document (the 2017 issue of “Future Procurements in the Norwegian Defence Sector 2017 – 2025”), slightly under €1.3Bn was earmarked for the 6346 project “New Norwegian Submarine Capability” over the period 2018 to 2025.
The procurement, according to Forsvarsmateriell, is expected to take more than ten years, with the first submarine expected about seven years after the order has been placed with the remaining submarines to follow at annual intervals. When the Memorandum of Understanding was signed in February 2017, this was planned from 2025 – and was published as such. Germany is taking submarines number three and number six in the series, which is to be completed by 2032, according to a statement Forsvarsmateriell made at the time.
Given that the contract has still not been signed, a delay is inevitable. Norwegian media outlets report, citing the Norwegian MoD: “Delivery of the first submarine was planned for the end of 2026. This schedule is likely to be affected by the current situation and a new schedule will be determined by the upcoming contract negotiations.” In an interview with T2, a Norwegian television station, a staff officer familiar with the submarine project admitted that the contract would not be signed until later in 2020. T2 mentioned delays of several years compared to the original plan.
Oslo is already considering keeping the ULA class submarines in service for a longer period. In any case, the budget for 2017 – 2025 had already provided up to €130M for decommissioning measures. As life-extending measures for the four remaining ULA submarines, the projects P6345 (updating the ULA class), and P6370 (the interim solution ULA class), will be launched for an additional €51M.
In Norway, submarines are considered a strategic defence capability. In the medium-term planning 2021 – 2024 (roughly corresponding to the capability profile of the German Armed Forces), which was presented to parliament by the Inspector General of the Norwegian Armed Forces in October 2019 and presented to the public, at least four submarines are accommodated in each of the four options examined, while the two more demanding scenarios, which are very costly in terms of defence policy, involve five submarines each.
Comprehensive Norwegian Partnership
According to the Norwegian journal “Teknisk Ukeblad”, the Norwegian Parliament has set a balanced industrial cooperation and market access for the Norwegian defence industry as conditions to be met prior to the signing of contracts.
Some of this has already been carried out in advance on the German side. It was agreed to establish maintenance and repair capacities in Bergen, Norway. There are plans by the two navies for joint training, personnel deployment and life cycle management of the future U212CD project (common design, i.e. everything – with the exception of encryption technology – is largely identical). The Norwegian company, Kongsberg is to become the supplier of a naval strike missile (NSM) to be used by both navies. The Norwegian company is also involved in the development of IDAS (Interactive Defence and Attack System for Submarines) – a missile system designed primarily for the self-defence of submarines against airborne threats.
In addition, Kongsberg, thyssenkrupp Marine Systems and its subsidiary ATLAS ELEKTRONIK have established the joint venture kta Naval Systems in October 2017. This joint venture will be responsible for the development, production and maintenance of command and weapon deployment systems (Combat Systems). The company is based in Kongsberg, Norway, with a branch office in Bremen. Kongsberg and ATLAS ELEKTRONIK are each contributing 50% of the joint venture’s equity.
Hopefully, this joint project, which was launched with great enthusiasm, will not founder at this stage. For thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, U212CD was intended to set new standards in submarine construction with which the company wanted to profile itself as a leading systems house for conventional submarines, ready to develop the standards for the future, a company representative told an international audience at SUBCON 2019. After tkMS failed to secure a deal in Australia, U212CD is a lifeline for thyssenkrupp Marine Systems.
However, there is more than just the reputation of the company at stake. For the past 60 years, Norwegian submarines have exclusively been made in Germany. It is no coincidence that Norway has chosen Germany as its partner for a joint submarine project, despite negative experiences in the past. In this respect, it also needs political impetus. In 2017, the German MoD commented on the Norwegian decision on the “comprehensive strategic partnership” with Germany: “The Norwegian decision will also help to secure a future-oriented key technology for the next decades in Germany and to further develop it in close cooperation with our Norwegian partner.” In this respect, it is time for the “Berlin in-laws” to play their part. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
06 Aug 20. SOCOM industry day solicits proposals to update Global Analytics Platform. The US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is soliciting industry proposals to revamp its command-wide battlefield intelligence analytics programme, updating the legacy system with artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and cloud computing architectures to support current and future operations.
Potential industry participants in the Global Analytics Platform (GAP) update programme will lay out their tentative proposals to SOCOM acquisition officials, and members of the command’s science and technology directorates, during the upcoming GAP virtual industry day at the end of August. Industry proposals will focus on technological applications in data management and dissemination that are designed to support “the search, discovery, and collaborative analysis of large volumes of data within a suite of secure web-based applications,” the 3 August solicitation states.
“Companies with experience in information system environments that search, discover, and analyse large volumes of data within a suite of secure web-based applications across a multi security cloud architecture are highly desired,” the solicitation stated, regarding the upcoming industry day. “Additionally, companies with experience in data movement and transport, and data science are also encouraged to attend,” it added.
SOFWERX, in conjunction with SOCOM’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Center, will sponsor the three-day industry event, beginning on 25 August.
The main thrust of the 3 August solicitation is to “add, upgrade, and replace individual [GAP] components, tools, and services, using defined interoperability and interface controls to maintain a leading-edge capability” to keep pace with SOCOM’s evolving operational requirements, the solicitation stated. (Source: Jane’s)
30 Jul 20. F-15EX Could Replace Strike Eagle Fleet, in Addition to Older C/D Models, USAF Says. The Air Force may replace its 218 F-15Es with F-15EXs, which could expand the new program to over 400 aircraft, according to service documents justifying the sole-source contract to Boeing. The Air Force also claims buying the F-15EX will save some $3bn in military construction and support costs versus buying more advanced F-35s.
The revelations and assertions were contained in an F-15EX Justification and Approval (J&A) document, which was dated March 2018 but not released until mid-July, to coincide with the sole-source award to Boeing of the first F-15EX contract. The program, as it’s currently structured, could be worth up to $22.9bn if all options are exercised.
The heavily redacted document notes that the contract for Boeing posits a “rough order of magnitude” purchase of 200 airplanes, but the “most probable quantity” would be 144 fighters. However, it also notes that while the program is “initially” intended to refresh the aging F-15C/D, a decision to similarly replace the F-15E Strike Eagle fleet with the EX “has not been made, but remains an option.”
An Air Force spokesman said the Air Force’s position on the F-15E hasn’t changed.
“That decision has not been made,” the spokesman said. “Air Force leadership will determine that. The F-15E will continue to perform its mission for the foreseeable future.” The spokesman was not immediately able to say if the Air Force is conducting an analysis of alternatives regarding replacement of the F-15E fleet.
The Air Force fields about 234 F-15C/Ds, which are dedicated to air superiority, and 218 F-15Es, configured for ground attack while retaining air-to-air combat capability. Boeing recently described the F-15EX as a “multirole” aircraft. The Air Force’s previous statements that it is seeking up to 200 F-15EX to refresh the F-15C/D fleet indicates it is not planning to replace the Eagle on a one-for-one basis.
Plans dating back to the early 1990s called for the F-15C/D to be replaced by the F-22, but that aircraft’s production was terminated prematurely by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in 2009, at less than half the planned inventory of 381 airplanes. Former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III subsequently said the F-35 would have to pick up some of the air superiority mission, given the age of the F-15 and its looming retirement.
The F-35 was planned to replace the A-10 and F-16 in USAF service, while the F-22 was to replace the F-15C/D and the F-117 in the stealthy strike role. The Air Force has never identified publicly how it planned to replace the F-15E. Production of the E-model followed the C/D by almost exactly 10 years, so the F-15E will likely start reaching its planned retirement age in the early 2030s. The E-model was strengthened in some ways over the C/D version to help it sustain heavier loads.
The J&A document makes the case that the F-15C/D fleet is becoming unsafe to fly, and that a service life extension program would not be cost-effective. The document places a premium on speed-to-service, saying that no other company could produce a new fighter to replace the F-15C/D in a timely manner, and that it would take years to qualify a second source besides Boeing to make F-15s.
The service can “leverage” the several billion dollars of investment of other F-15 customer countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in advanced versions of the Eagle. The J&A document quoted the F-15 system program office as saying the EX will enjoy “90-95 percent commonality” with the F-15QA for Qatar.
The service asserted that wargaming and operational analysis shows that “a mix of fourth-generation capacity and fifth-generation capability is necessary in balancing near- and mid-term readiness with future needs.” USAF has “further concluded that performing a refresh of the existing F-15C/D fleet [long redaction] is the only way to improve readiness and to maintain the USAF fighter aircraft capacity.”
Making a virtue of necessity, the Air Force also argued that the EX saves money over buying the F-35, setting aside the differences in their capability.
“Utilizing a different airframe that is currently in production would require a cost-prohibitive and time-consuming effort to replace the existing F-15 air combat infrastructure,” the Air Force said in the justification. “Indeed, the USAF estimates that refreshing the F-15C/D fleet with F-15EXs will save USAF $3bn over the FYDP [Future Years Defense Program] compared to replacing the fleet with F-35s, by avoiding significant transition costs required for a new aircraft (i.e., MILCON, aircraft-unique facilities, operator and maintenance transitions costs, etc.).”
USAF estimated it will take “six months or less to transition from the F-15C/D to the F-15EX” given the commonality of the aircraft, their components, and ground support equipment, while transitioning from “F-15s to the F-35 (or any other airframe) will take approximately 18 months for an Active-duty squadron and 36 months for an Air National Guard squadron.” The document also emphasizes that, “no other aircraft will satisfy the USAF requirement to refresh the F-15C/D fleet.”
The Air Force never planned to resume buying the F-15 and did not initially request the F-15EX, preferring to stick with the stealthy, fifth-generation F-35. Former Chiefs of Staff Gens. John P. Jumper and T. Michael Moseley rejected buying “new-old” F-15s during their tenures. USAF’s current Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein has said on numerous occasions that the EX must not come at the expense of the F-35.
The EX was added to the Air Force’s budget by former Defense Secretary James N. Mattis at the urging of the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment Program Evaluation shop. Pentagon sources have said Mattis and other officials felt the F-15EX could serve as a competitive lever to pressure Lockheed Martin to reduce operating and acquisition costs on the F-35. While the F-15 costs more per copy than the F-35, its operating costs are pegged at $27,000 per hour versus $35,000 per hour on the F-35. The F-35 Joint Program Office says it has a plan to get the F-35’s operating and sustainment costs down to $25,000 per hour by 2025.
Boeing’s X-32 contender in the “winner take all” Joint Strike Fighter competition lost out to Lockheed Martin’s X-35 in 2001. At the time, members of Congress with Boeing constituencies argued that Lockheed, then also making the F-22, shouldn’t be the sole builder of advanced combat aircraft. They urged that Boeing should be given some of the F-35 work, but the Pentagon view prevailed that Lockheed had structured its winning bid with a certain team, and Boeing was not on it. The Pentagon said Boeing’s continuing work on the F/A-18 for the Navy and Marine Corps, coupled with residual orders for F-15s overseas and work on the stealthy Joint Unmanned Combat Aircraft System, would keep it in the running for a future USAF combat airplane competition in the 2025 timeframe.
Boeing is building the MQ-25 unmanned tanker aircraft for the Navy as well as the T-7A advanced trainer for the Air Force.
The Air Force is also pursuing the Next-Generation Air Dominance airplane, and the uninhabited Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft program, expected to yield operational air combat assets in the 2030 and 2026 timeframe, respectively. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Airforce Magazine)
REST OF THE WORLD
07 Aug 20. Billion-dollar cyber boost: A cash cow for defence SMEs? While the release of the national Cyber Security Strategy 2020 yesterday reflects an uptick in financial support for business, government, and household cyber resilience, much of the $1.67bn promised is pegged to defence – representing an unprecedented opportunity for defence SMEs to expand into the space.
Following on from months of review, the Commonwealth has finally handed down its grand strategy for “creating a more secure online world for Australians”. While some would argue the report – which replaces a 2016 iteration – is long overdue, others have argued it articulates a timely, robust response to mounting external pressures.
“We work to actively prevent cyber attacks, minimise damage, and respond to malicious cyber activity directed against our national interests. We deny and deter, while balancing the risk of escalation,” the strategy states in its opening paragraph.
“Our actions are lawful and aligned with the values we seek to uphold, and will therefore be proportionate, always contextual, and collaborative.”
The paper sets itself the lofty goal of evaluating:
- Action by governments to strengthen the protection of Australians, businesses and critical infrastructure from the most sophisticated threats;
- Action by businesses to secure their products and services and protect their customers from known cyber vulnerabilities; and
- Action by the community to practice secure online behaviours and make informed purchasing decisions.
The full package will see $1.67bn directed towards shoring up cyber resilience over the next 10 years, representing a marked increase on the $230 m laid out in the 2016 paper. Yet compared with the previous paper, the 2020 Strategy was remarkably clear about where this funding is being directed – and in large part, that’s towards defence.
As laid out yesterday, Canberra looks to ramp up funding towards intelligence cyber capabilities in the years to come. This comes, naturally, on the back of a rapidly shifting geostrategic environment – including, perhaps most ostensibly, a high-profile state-sponsored attack on the national infrastructure.
With a view to bolster offensive, as well as defensive, capability, just under one-third of the funding has been earmarked for the Australian Signals Directorate; $470m will be used to create some 500-odd jobs within the agency, as well as a further $62.3m spent on a “classified national situational awareness capability” to help ASD respond to threats.
As well as being handed a host of new cyber tools and legislative powers, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) is set to receive an additional $88m in funding – though no specifics were given regarding any additional roles added to the agency.
Cyber security training and employment has been high on the priority list for some time. AustCyber has previously estimated that the nation will need 17,000 extra cyber security professionals by 2026. It’s clear that, words aside, the strategy update is likely to create a surge in cyber security employment on the government side, as well as academia. But what of private business?
A role to play for SMEs
While a groundswell in support for government cyber security agencies is likely to lead to flow-on effects through the public-private supply chain, this year’s strategy also injects funding and opportunity directly into the private side of the equation.
One key aspect of the report, which seems to have been skimmed over by most commentators so far, is undoubtedly the $50m investment into the industry, referred to as the Cyber Security National Workforce Growth Program.
Split into four tranches, the blueprint for growth is designed to maximise SME involvement in both supply chains and critical government research initiatives – which, as we’ll discuss, is critical for protecting the contribution of SMEs as a whole.
There’s the $26.5m Cyber Skills Partnerships Innovation Fund, which seeks to bring businesses and academia together to partner on innovative skills projects that directly meet employers’ skills needs.
Whether it’s scholarships, apprenticeships, specialist cyber security courses for working professionals, or retraining initiatives (key in the current climate), this component of the strategy shouldn’t be overlooked for decreasing entry barriers for those looking to get into the profession.
Similarly, smaller packages dished out to specific institutions – like the Australian Cyber Security Centre ($6.3m) and Canberra’s Questacon ($14.9m) might not seem like much initially; but they represent a significant improvement on previous rounds of funding.
Training, mentoring and coaching programs are all important for bringing talent into the fold, but $2.5m has even been allocated towards data collection targeted at evaluating why there’s a cyber security skills shortage in the first place.
A self-protection mechanism?
Writing in ASPI’s The Strategist, Ian Bloomfield, Alison Howe and Max Heinrich make the case that small businesses are on the frontline of the nation’s battle with its cyber security woes. If correct, the Cyber Security National Workforce Growth Program could provide the perfect mixture of opportunity and incentive to stimulate defence SME involvement in the cyber sector over the next decade.
Drawing on years of experience in the field, the authors argue that taking cyber resilience more seriously improves the experience of small businesses and SMEs, and sets them up to succeed. Citing a survey of small and medium businesses conducted by the Australian Cyber Security Centre in 2019, they note that the sector is highly vulnerable to malicious cyber activity.
Now, while it’s far from often that Australia hits the headlines worldwide for cyber innovation, recent years have shown that we certainly have the talent to do so – and that much of it exists outside of government agencies and public research institutions.
Earlier in the year, Adelaide-based SME CyberOps proved it doesn’t shy away from complex, large-scale contracts – after the company took on a $299,000 contract to develop a security framework to support the nano-satellite development programs and operating systems in partnership with the Department of Defence.
And in February, Canberra-based Penten scored funding under a contract with AustCyber, the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network, to provide secure network access to a pilot group of regional SMEs and academia.
At the time, company CEO Matthew Wilson put it particularly succinctly. “SMEs are the future growth and innovation engine of the Australian cyber economy,” he said. “These businesses provide invaluable opportunities for Defence to gain advantage. Without them, we are missing out. Australia is missing out.” (Source: Defence Connect)
06 Aug 20. Navantia Australia’s role in supporting Hobart Class Aegis combat system upgrades. Navantia Australia will play a central role in supporting the combat system upgrade of the Royal Australian Navy’s Hobart class guided missile destroyers as the fleet prepares to receive the Baseline 9 upgrade for the Aegis combat system.
SEA 4000 Phase 6 has been established to modernise the class to integrate Aegis Baseline 9 into the Royal Australian Navy’s three Hobart Class guided missile destroyers (DDGs), HMA Ships Hobart, Brisbane and Sydney.
As the platform designer, Navantia Australia and parent company Navantia have an important role to play in supporting the combat system upgrade – fundamental to this support role for the major system upgrade is a thorough understanding of the platform design and operational capability, established from the original design architecture and specifications.
Gary Goetz, DDG design engineering manager, Navantia Australia, explained, “It is important to consider platform growth margins such as weight and weight distribution (that directly relates to ship stability, speed and range), electrical power supply and distribution, and heating and cooling capacity.”
As the designer of the Hobart Class, Navantia has this thorough understanding. Supported with the design heritage for the Hobart Class, Navantia Australia has established a highly-skilled, sovereign capability in Australia that is uniquely positioned to support the Navy in the implementation of the Aegis Weapon System Baseline 9 upgrade into the DDGs.
Throughout the construction, delivery and sustainment phases of the DDGs, Navantia provided platform system design and integration services for the three ships of the class.
Over this time, 3D models of the platform and systems along with in-depth analysis and documentation of system interfaces and platform system integration have been developed and maintained – these provide a critical basis for implementing an upgrade in an efficient manner, and reducing technical and program risks.
Maintaining the role of the ship designer for the overall ship integration design assures a holistic view of design integrity through the consistent application of design intent, principles, standards and system specification for the whole of the ship through life.
Goetz added, “Navantia considers the principle of maintaining the ship design baseline is essential to maintaining design integrity through life and is uniquely positioned to undertake the responsibility to assure design integrity is preserved through a consistent application of design processes and design baseline data management.”
In May 2020, Navantia Australia and the Department of Defence signed a strategic agreement, providing a framework to recognise Navantia as the platform system design agent for the Hobart Class – the strategic agreement underpins Navantia Australia’s commitment to the RAN in the provision of engineering services to the Hobart Class.
The three Hobart Class vessels, HMA Ships Hobart, Brisbane and Sydney, will primarily provide air defence for accompanying ships, in addition to land forces and infrastructure in coastal areas.
The Hobart Class’ Spanish counterparts entered service with the Spanish Navy beginning in the early 2000s, working alongside key NATO and US maritime assets.
When deployed to the Persian Gulf, the F100s became the first foreign Aegis-equipped ships to fully integrate into a US Navy Carrier Strike Group, while the class has also successfully deployed as the flagship of NATO’s Maritime Group Standing Reaction Force, highlighting the individual and interoperable capabilities of Navy’s new destroyers.
The vessels will be capable across the full spectrum of joint maritime operations, from area air defence and escort duties, right through to peacetime national tasking and diplomatic missions.
The Hobart Class combat system is built around the Aegis weapon system. Incorporating the state-of-the-art phased array radar, AN/SPY 1D(V), will provide an advanced air defence system capable of engaging enemy aircraft and missiles at ranges in excess of 150 kilometres.
While based upon the Spanish F100s, the Australian vessels incorporate a number of modifications and Australian-specific structural/design and combat system modifications to provide a uniquely Australian surface combatant with international provenance. (Source: Defence Connect)
06 Aug 20. Companies line up for potential Australian Hawk replacement opportunity. The Commonwealth’s Request For Information (RFI) for its proposed Lead In Fighter Trainer (LIFT) program to be delivered under Air 6002 Phase 1 closed on Friday, eliciting responses from at least three companies. Air 6002 Phase 1 is a $4 to $5bn program between 2022 and 2033 to replace the current LIFT capability, which is a system of simulators and training devices, based on the BAE Systems Hawk Mk.127 platform. The Planned Withdrawal Date (PWD) for the Hawk is currently set at 2026 and the new program aims to deliver a replacement capability that will be in service until around 2050. Beyond the RFI however, the Commonwealth is yet to define its requirements for the future LIFT capability and has not released any further milestones.
The RFI itself calls for a solution which has the primary role of training RAAF fast jet pilots and weapons systems operators (WSOs) in transition from the Pilatus PC-21 to the F/A-18F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler and F-35 Lightning II platforms. A secondary role is to support the ADF, either as a friendly or adversary force.
The solution is required to be “configurable and scalable” supported by a Defence Aviation Safety Authority (DASA) approved organisation and, in its secondary ADF support role, be capable of representing 4.0 and 4.5 generation forces and able to employ both kinetic and non-kinetic effects. While the document does not specify a military off the shelf (MOTS) solution, it does require respondents to state whether their proposed platform is either in service with, or is being acquired by, other defence forces. The Australian Industry Capability (AIC) aspect seeks to maximise opportunities for Australian industry.
Boeing Defence Australia
Boeing Defence Australia announced on August 2nd that it had submitted a response to the RFI, with a proposal based on the T-7A Red Hawk platform now under development for the US Air Force.
“The T-7 stands apart as a compelling solution for Australia’s future training requirements. We believe it meets Australia’s current and future fast-jet training needs with its next generation system that combines live, virtual and synthetic training requirements,” commented BDA vice president and general manager, Scott Carpendale.
The US Air Force will acquire 351 T-7As as part of its T-X program to replace the elderly Northrop T-38 Talon and expects an Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2024, with Final Operational Capability (FOC) to follow in 2034. The flight test program is currently 80 per cent complete at the current time and a Boeing spokesperson said the program is on track to meet the USAF’s entry into service requirements.
The USAF T-7A variant is not required to employ live weapons and it is not yet clear if the development of such a capability for export customers would affect Air 6002 timelines, or who would pay for it to be undertaken, however Boeing has previously said that the program has sufficient flexibility to accommodate export customers.
Korea Aerospace Industries
Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) had not responded to ADM’s request for information on any likely bid by press time, but the South Korean manufacturer is expected to have proposed a solution based on its T-50 Golden Eagle platform.
The T-50 variant is an advanced trainer, but the aircraft is also produced as a Lead-In Fighter Trainer/Light Combat Aircraft (LIFT/LCA) as the TA-50, and as a multi-role fighter (FA-50). Across the three variants the aircraft is already in service in the Asia-Pacific region, with the air forces of South Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines and also with the Iraqi Air Force.
Italy’s Leonardo has confirmed that is has responded to the Air 6002 RFI, with a solution based on its M-346 Master advanced trainer/LIFT aircraft. The M-346 is in service with several air forces around the world, including Italy, Israel and Poland and regionally by the Republic of Singapore Air Force, albeit with their aircraft physically based in Europe. The company is also developing a light fighter version, equipped with a radar and weapons capability, known as the M-346FA.
The Leonardo proposal is to replace the Hawk with the M-346 in the fast-jet training role immediately, while allowing the existing platform to continue in its ADF support role for several years longer.
“Our proposition to the ADF is that they can use the right solution at the right time without compromise. The RAAF can immediately have the best available solution for LIFT and advanced training, saving the life of the Hawk 127 fleet for the less technologically demanding mission such as ADF combat support,” a Leonardo spokesperson said to ADM.
The spokesperson added that the M-346 is already performing in the fast-jet transition role to the F-35 in Italian and Israeli service and will be doing the same for Poland and Singapore in the future.
“We are confident that our M-346 is a perfect match for Australia’s short-term requirements for LIFT and advanced training, but also in the longer term for ADF combat support,” the spokesperson said.
BAE Systems Australia
The Hawk Mk.127 has recently undergone upgrade to essentially the same standard as the RAF’s new-build Hawk T.2 under the Lead In Fighter Capability Assurance Program (Hawk LIFCAP) and is currently providing fast-jet transition training to the RAAF’s F-35, Super Hornet and Growler fleets. The aircraft is celebrating 20 years of operations in Australia this year and, despite the 2026 PWD being set some time back the average airframe age, in terms of flying hours, is only around one-third of its verified fatigue life.
Speaking with ADM recently, Head Air Force Capability Air Vice Marshal Cath Roberts said that, while Defence is yet to fully define its requirements, the option of retaining the Hawk will be considered in the Air 6002 context. Post-LIFCAP, Australia has signed a Commander’s Intent agreement with the UK, which is intended to create a “scalable, flexible, sustainable support and capability enhancement solution for the UK and Australian Hawk that delivers the required output at the optimal cost”.
This agreement sets the framework for future sustainment synergies should Hawk prove to be the preferred solution to Air 6002, including a spiral capability development upgrade process to ensure the platform and training systems continue to meet the Commonwealth’s requirements as they evolve.
“As part of our current role as the Hawk platform steward we have answered the Commonwealth’s questions as part of the RFI,” explained BAE Systems Australia’s director Aircraft Sustainment and Training Andrew Chapman. “We’re working on the basis that, with two-thirds of the Hawk’s fatigue life remaining, we think it is absolutely the most cost-effective way moving forward.” (Source: Google/https://www.australiandefence.com.au/)
04 Aug 20. MINDEF announces request for proposals for Aussie Special Forces. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has announced that a request for proposals to improve aviation support for Australia’s new Special Forces helicopters is now open to Australian defence industry.
Minister Reynolds welcomed the opening of the invitation to Australian industry, which will help ensure Australia’s helicopters remain at the cutting edge of special operations aviation.
Industry options will be explored by Defence for an agile upgrade pathway for the new fleet of light helicopters sought under LAND 2097 Phase 4.
“Australian industry have unique capabilities to offer the ADF and the broader global military light helicopter market in the design and manufacture of aviation systems. Small Australian companies are already competing on the world stage, providing innovative solutions to special mission aircraft,” Minister Reynolds said.
This follows a request for tender for a new fleet of helicopters and an initial support contract released earlier this year. The request for proposals has been released to market and will remain open for one month, with proposals to be evaluated by the end of 2020.
Minister Reynolds added, “The opportunity to harness these skills and grow them through collaboration on the special operations helicopter will benefit the ADF and local defence industry.”
In response to advances in technology and adaptation to the regional security environment, minor modifications and the development of new capabilities are expected to be required on an annual basis.
The Defence request for tender established that the helicopter should be a proven design (already in service either in commercial or military capacities), optimised for operating in dense urban environments and capable of rapid deployment by air transport in the Royal Australian Air Force’s C-17 Globemaster strategic airlifters.
The successful helicopters are intended for use by the Australian Army’s 6th Aviation Regiment, based at Holsworthy, south of Sydney, and will complement a squadron of larger MRH-90 Taipan helicopters. (Source: Defence Connect)
05 Aug 20. Access fast-tracked for Aussie SMEs looking to join BAE global supply chain. BAE Systems’ Global Access Program (GAP) has unveiled its new Industry Capability Network (ICN) portal for Australian SMEs, which now offers further training opportunities and masterclasses.
The portal will increase digital connectivity for small and medium-sized enterprises directly with members of the Global Access Program team, expediting pre-qualification processes to ascertain readiness to engage across BAE Systems’ global supply chain.
The GAP will also be providing additional awareness training in the areas of security, export controls and supplier quality assurance. This training is designed to provide SMEs with an increased knowledge of how to be successful in supplying to BAE Systems Australia and its global supply eco-system.
This also applies to existing BAE Systems supply chain partners and those seeking to offer products or services in the future.
GAP manager Tony Martin said, “There are significant opportunities for Australian industry in the BAE Systems global supply chain.”
Around 150 people representing Australian SMEs have already completed the estimating and pricing fundamentals training. This course provided key insights into how businesses can increase competitiveness in their bids by challenging an existing cost base and adding robustness to bids to ensure they stand up to investigation – all designed to achieve an increased probability of winning.
“Now more than ever, it is important that we look for ways to increase economic growth and prosperity and we can do this through exporting Australian made products and technologies,” Martin added.
Off the back of its success, a two-day masterclass course is also available, which delves deeper into detailed risk and opportunity concepts, greater awareness and practical application of variation on price techniques as well as methodologies across various contracting models and further explores evaluation of supplier quotations.
BAE Systems Australia has been a member of the global supply chain program since 2012, and has facilitated more than $65m worth of contracts for Australian industry.
Suppliers across Australia are encouraged to use this BAESystemsGAP.icn.org.au to register their interest in participating in defence projects and to highlight their unique capabilities, credibility and export ambitions.
In June 2018, the Commonwealth government announced BAE Systems Australia as the successful tenderer 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.
The $35bn program sees ASC Shipbuilding become a subsidiary of BAE Systems throughout the build process beginning in 2020 at the Osborne Shipyard in South Australia, creating more than 4,000 jobs.
BAE Systems expects the Australian industry content (AIC) for the Hunter Class build will be 65-70 per cent, which will create and secure thousands of jobs for decades.
At the end of the program the Commonwealth will resume complete ownership of ASC Shipbuilding, thereby ensuring the retention in Australia of intellectual property, a highly skilled workforce and the associated equipment.
SEA 5000 is expected to support over 500 Australian businesses who have been pre-qualified to be part of the Hunter Class supply chain, with the Australian steel industry, in particular, benefiting from the 48,000 tonnes of steel required to build the ships. (Source: Defence Connect)
04 Aug 20. $1.3bn tied to Australian UAS development in new investment package. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds CSC has announced up to $1.3bn in a new unmanned aircraft system (UAS) development program, which has the lofty goal of enhancing situational awareness across Australia’s vast maritime environment.
Defence said that the Maritime UAS Continuous Development program will ensure it maintains leading-edge maritime surveillance capabilities.
And according to Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds, this ties in directly to departmental requirements of such capabilities to better understand and adapt to the rapidly changing maritime domain.
“As detailed in the 2020 Defence Strategic Update, launched by the Prime Minister and I in July, Australia is at the centre of a dynamic strategic environment,” Minister Reynolds said.
“Now, more than ever, Defence requires an agile acquisition strategy to take advantage of state-of-the-art technology.
“This acquisition heralds a new intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting capability for Defence to ensure Australia keeps pace in this rapidly developing technology domain.”
Australia aims to acquire a range of UAVs, weighing in anywhere between 25 and 300 kilograms. A five-yearly investment cycle will ensure the Maritime UAS capability commencing in 2024 stays abreast of current trends and updated in line with international standards.
On its part, the government said that detailed advice on the invitation to register would be released on AusTender this month, including a call for tenders across all elements of the Maritime UAS program.
The news comes on the back of a marked uptick in investment into sovereign industrial capability, which looks to position the country to meet future challenges. (Source: Defence Connect)
03 Aug 20. Japan confirms single prime contractor for F-X. Japan’s Defence Minister Taro Kono confirmed on 31 July plans to nominate a “single prime” Japanese contractor to oversee the development of the country’s next-generation fighter aircraft.
In comments in a media briefing in Tokyo, Kono said the prime contractor – almost certainly Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) – will be expected to act as the lead systems integrator on the project, which has been dubbed F-X.
The Japanese MoD has confirmed that it will select a “single prime” to lead the project to develop the F-X fighter aircraft (pictured). The selected company is likely to be Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. (Japanese MoD)
“The MoD will adopt a single-prime system. [The selected company] will be responsible for integrating systems and the engine,” said Kono in comments published by the Ministry of Defense (MoD). Kano indicated that the MoD had now commenced the process for selecting companies to be involved in the development project but did not elaborate.
In the media briefing, Kono also confirmed that the MoD is currently considering developing the F-X alongside the United Kingdom and the United States. The latter is regarded as leading candidate, given its strong diplomatic, economic, strategic, and industrial ties with Japan.
The F-X project is led within the MoD by a dedicated office set up in April. According to the MoD, its responsibilities include technical investigations, budget execution, information security issues, and the control of intellectual property. (Source: Jane’s)
American Panel Corporation
American Panel Corporation (APC) since 1998, specializes in display products installed in defence land systems, as well as military and commercial aerospace platforms, having delivered well over 100,000 displays worldwide. Military aviators worldwide operate their aircraft and perform their missions using APC displays, including F-22, F-18, F-16, F-15, Euro-fighter Typhoon, Mirage 2000, C-130, C-17, P-3, S-3, U-2, AH-64 Apache Helicopter, V-22 tilt-rotor, as well as numerous other military and commercial aviation aircraft including Boeing 717 – 787 aircraft and several Airbus aircraft. APC panels are found in nearly every tactical aircraft in the US and around the world.
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.