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03 Sep 20. Poland, Romania tee up helicopter tenders, target 2 percent defense spending. A number of Eastern European allies aim to maintain their defense expenditures at 2 percent of their respective gross domestic products despite the current economic downturn.
Poland and Romania are at the forefront of the region’s military modernization efforts, and both plan to spend billions of dollars on helicopters in the near future. However, local observers say the countries’ defense acquisitions are facing delays due to organizational limitations.
In a sign of commitment to modernizing its military with Western-made gear despite budget cuts, Poland decided to host the MSPO defense industry show in Kielce this year. The pandemic has forced the event’s organizers to cut the show to three days, Sept. 8-10, as travel restrictions forced the majority of foreign defense companies to skip the event.
Over the past years, Warsaw has increasingly focused its efforts on large procurements by foreign manufacturers, such as the $4.75bn deal to buy Raytheon’s Patriot air-and-missile defense system and the $4.6bn contract to acquire 32 F-35 Lightning II fighter jets from Lockheed Martin. Due to this, some observers claim Poland’s defense industry is in urgent need of orders, or partnerships with foreign producers, to stay financially afloat.
“A situation in which Poland only buys ready weapons off the rack is a bad one,” retired Gen. Mirosaw Róaski, president of the Stratpoints Foundation and former General Commander of the Polish Armed Forces, told Defense News. “Developing the defense capabilities of any country cannot solely consist of acquiring the most modern types of weapons, but also enabling its local industry to service and repair, and preferably to produce, or at least jointly produce them with foreign partners.”
“As long as Polish officials will claim that we can build submarines or tanks on our own, this won’t lead us anywhere. We must build partnerships, just like the rest of the world does. The flagship F-35 project is driven by an elite group of nine countries,” Róaski said, adding that past plans to integrate Poland’s leading, state-run defense group PGZ within a large international defense group represented a missed opportunity.
Slawomir Kulakowski, the head of the Polish Chamber of National Defense Manufacturers, told Defense News most of Poland’s defense companies supply their products to the country’s military as export sales have lagged. Their increased cooperation with foreign players could pave the way for the introduction of various new weapons, according to Kulakowski.
“In some foreign defense contracts, the Polish government includes the requirement for foreign companies to cooperate with the Polish industry. Other deals include offset requirements, but these are often criticized for boosting the weapons’ prices without generating comparable benefits,” Kulakowski said. “Better contracts foresee transfers of technology to Polish plants, allowing them … to modernize their offer, expand to new markets.”
Some of the country’s much-awaited defense tenders include the planned acquisitions of new helicopters for the Polish Air Force. These include the 32 multirole copters under the Perkoz program, with the first squadron to be delivered by 2026, bolstering the military’s transport, combat support, command, and reconnaissance capacities. They are to replace the Air Force’s outdated Mil Mi-2 and W-3 Sokol copters. The ministry also aims to buy 32 combat helos under the Kruk program, with the first squadron to be supplied until 2026, and a second one after 2026. The aircraft are to replace Poland’s Soviet-designed Mil Mi-24 helos.
With the two programs facing delays, though, the ministry has turned to smaller acquisitions. In January 2019, Warsaw signed a contract to buy four S-70i Black Hawk copters from Lockheed Martin’s subsidiary Sikorsky for some 683.4m zloty (U.S. $186m). Three months later, Poland signed a deal with Leonardo to acquire four AW101 helicopters for some €380m (U.S. $454m).
Kulakowski said the much-awaited transformation of the Armament Inspectorate, the ministry’s unit that handles acquisitions of military gear, into an Armaments Agency, fitted with broader competencies and increased workforce, could accelerate procurements.
According to Róaski, to reform Poland’s defense acquisition system, the potential Armaments Agency should be established as a government entity, and not a unit subordinated to the ministry.
“Two conditions must be met for such an endeavor to be successful. Defense acquisitions must be taken out of party politics, and they must be delegated to a team of competent, politically neutral experts that will be responsible for long-term planning and execution of our modernization programs,” Róaski said.
Contenders in Romania
In Romania, the country’s defense establishment has been mulling plans to purchase new copters since 2015, but a decision to launch a tender has yet to be made.
George Visan, the coordinator of the Black Sea Security Program at the Bucharest-based think tank Romania Energy Center, told Defense News the Defense Ministry “would like to acquire two types of military helicopter: an attack helicopter and medium-size transport type helicopter. Before the pandemic, a helicopter procurement program was to start this year or in 2021.”
With these purchases in mind, Romania has filed a request for information with the U.S. government for a potential acquisition of 24 attack helicopters and 21 medium-size transport helicopters. There are three U.S. and European helo producers that are expected to compete for the order. This said, Bucharest will most likely select an offer that brings manufacturing jobs to Romania through partnerships with local businesses. Eyeing the contract, Airbus Helicopters has shifted its assembly line for the H215M copter to Romania, and established a partnership to make medium-size helicopters with local aircraft plant IAR Brasov, according to Visan.
“Airbus wants to sell its H215M and build it here in Brasov, the company is also offering the H145M which is presented as an attack helicopter. The second contender is Bell with the AH-1Z Viper and the UH-1Y Venom,” Visan said. “Finally, the third contender is Lockheed Martin with the Sikorsky UH-60M.” (Source: Defense News)
02 Sep 20. France and Greece Discussing Sale of Frigates, Rafale Jets. France and Greece are discussing a major arms package but no deal has been concluded, a senior French government official said Sept. 1. The package could initially include two frigates, Rafale combat aircraft and other weapons, including air-launched missiles, according to reliable sources.
The talks received a new impulse after French President Emmanuel Macron in mid-August publicly stated his support for Greece’s position in the increasingly tense situation with Turkey over drilling rights and territorial waters in the Eastern Mediterranean. France also deployed two Rafale fighters and a frigate to Cyprus in a show of support for Greece.
Greece is looking for ways to quickly boost its military capabilities, and according to some local reports is expecting the French side to present formal offer in the coming weeks for the delivery of two frigates and 12 to 18 Rafales. Greece was discussing a Rafale buy in 2008, but dropped that plan in the wake of the 2007 financial crisis.
The French official would not comment media reports that Greece has already received a proposal for the sale of Rafales, and that a more detailed offer was expected by the end of September as part of a wider, ‘strategic partnership’ agreement.
“There is no agreement as reported in the Greek press. We are discussing several subjects, and we will make an announcement when we have something to say,” the French official said in a Sept. 1 telephone interview.
The official would also not confirm talks on the sale of two Naval Group frigates, which Greece was ready to order in early July before it suspended talks after receiving a US offer four Littoral Combat Ships at a comparable price.
“We are in talks with France, and not only with France, in order to increase our country’s defense potential,” Reuters reported Tuesday quoting a Greek government official. “Within this framework, there is a discussion which includes the purchase of aircraft,” adding that no final decisions had been made.
According to sources, a major element in the package being discussed are long-range, stand-off cruise missiles like the ship-launched MdcN/Naval Strike Missiles as well as additional air-launched Scalp cruise missiles, to reinforce Greece’s strategically important attack capability. Both missiles are made by MBDA, as are other weapons that Greece would like to acquire, including ground-based air defense and modern air-to-air missiles like the new-generation MICA-NG. The company would not confirm a report that a sales team is due to visit Greece this week to discuss the sale of missiles.
Greece also wants to buy at least two frigates, but with a heavier weapon suite than that proposed by Naval Group for its new FDI-class frigates. Greece wants MdCN cruise missiles and Aster air-defense missiles, which with other systems would boost their cost to over 2bn euros when training and infrastructure costs are added, according to Greek media.
No early version Rafales
Reports claiming that France would supply a dozen second-hand Rafale F.1 and F.2 standard aircraft are clearly wrong, however, as all Rafale aircraft in French service have been upgraded to the latest F.3R standard. But a sale of new-build Rafales to Greece would nicely fill a production gap for Dassault Aviation, the Rafale prime contractor, as its current order book is projected to run out in late 2024. At that time, Dassault will have completed deliveries to Qatar, India and the French Air Force, which has 28 aircraft remaining from its last order.
Dassault has asked the French Armed Forces Ministry to bring forward to 2025 the delivery of its fifth and final Rafale production batch, currently planned for 2027, to fill this gap, which a sale to Greece would partially close.
To meet the apparent urgency of Greece’s request, one option would be for the French Air Force to lease or sell some of its existing Rafale fleet to Greece, and replace them with new-build aircraft tacked on to the final 28 remaining to be delivered. These aircraft could then be funded by Greek payments, as part of a larger package that could include the frigates and other weapons, and be at least partially funded or guaranteed by France.
Greek media have also reported that France would buy back some of the Mirage 2000-5 fighters currently operated by the Greek Air Force. Most have been upgraded to Mk 2 configuration, but one or two squadrons remain in the original version which can launch the AM-39 Exocet anti-ship missile, which the Mk 2 cannot. (Source: defense-aerospace.com)
28 Aug 20. Saab unveils broad package for HX bid. Sweden’s Saab provided an outline of a significant package as part of its bid for Finland’s HX fighter procurement programme on 28 August, including the development of a new lightweight air-launched decoy missile. As part of the company’s offering for the HX programme, an in-country development and sustainment centre will be established to provide a variety of work including parts production and the assembly of engines and aircraft in Finland through a support and maintenance, repair, and overhaul facility. The company is currently engaged in supporting 10 research projects on microwave technology in Finland, with more than 100 industrial participation programmes agreed in support of the company’s HX bid.
“This presence will be a very good base to support and sustain the Gripen and GlobalEye in operation, ensuring security of supply,” Micael Johannson, President and CEO of Saab, said.
Other research programmes currently supported by Saab in Finland include those for sensors and artificial intelligence.
The new air-launched decoy missile system, which was revealed for the first time during the press briefing, has benefited from substantial development work by the Saab Technology Centre in Tampere, Finland.
“Here we are combining the knowledge, long-term, in Sweden and in Finland, in microwave electronics,” HX programme campaign director for Saab Magnus Skogberg said. Development of the decoy missile will also support an expansion of the facility in Tampere.
Chief of Operations for the Swedish Air Force Colonel Carl-Fredrik Edström said that a Finnish acquisition of the Gripen and GlobalEye will create new possibilities for the two air forces. (Source: Jane’s)
02 Sep 20. Busy HX Autumn Ahead For Finland. A response to a request for information, two rounds of calls for tenders, several weeks of negotiations with each tenderer, evaluation events abroad and a successful HX Challenge in Finland. This is a summary of the data acquisition history of the HX project in recent years. Although a lot of information has been obtained, the main goal of the HX project in the coming months is clear: Missing test events abroad and the fourth week of negotiations in Finland will be conducted despite the exceptional situation, but in accordance with all restrictions and rules related to the pandemic.
The condition for sending a final invitation to tender is that there is a sufficiently detailed understanding with the tenderer of the entire offer. In addition, the goal of contract negotiations is to achieve sufficient contract readiness with each bidder so that we can move toward the procurement decision. The order of march is thus clear: Negotiations and test events should be completed before final bids are requested.
What does this mean in practice?
This means that a detailed plan is made with each HX provider for the corona arrangements for negotiations and test events, i.e. travel, secure appointments and quarantines. On the basis of these detailed plans, the remaining testing and verification activities, and the fourth round of negotiations, will be carried out by the end of 2020. Under the current schedule, the final bid can be requested during January 2021, and the procurement decision will continue to be made during 2021 under the guidance of the government program.
So, one round of negotiations is still ahead, but the HX project and the negotiations have by no means been on hold due to the corona situation. In fact, there has been a great deal of negotiation on the issues that can be discussed at a distance. I’m even a little surprised at how well we have been able to take advantage of the vacancy exercise of the negotiating week of time for other critical preparatory work and the promotion of the project.
Translation: “Test events abroad and the 4th negotiation weeks in Finland will be conducted despite the exceptional situation, but in accordance with all restrictions and rules related to the epidemic situation.”
With regard to all bidders, it can be said that there is still enough to negotiate, for example, for final procurement packages, which will therefore include armaments, in addition to cost accounting and industrial cooperation.
All negotiation and testing activities aim to ensure that Finland has all the necessary information to support decision-making and that Finland receives five offers for HX systems of the highest possible quality and meeting the other conditions of the procurement for the final performance comparison.
The task of the Defense Administration is to present a procurement with the content that will produce the greatest possible performance for the defense system until the 2060s. The responsibility is great and therefore the groundwork is done very carefully and very thoroughly. It is for this reason that missing negotiations and test events are so important.
Building defense capability requires decades of design work. The delay in negotiating or testing an HX project is unfortunate, of course that annoyance must also be put in the right proportions in these anomalous circumstances. In the big picture, the delay in negotiating or testing the HX project is not significant, although of course the back end of using modern equipment is still at the turn of the decade.
I dare say that the HX project is progressing as planned. The criteria for procurement have not changed; The performance of the outgoing Hornets will be fully compensated in accordance with the requirements of the security environment.
The funding of EUR 10bn set in the Committee of Ministers for Economic Policy in autumn 2019 can fully compensate for outgoing performance in terms of both quality and quantity. Furthermore, I can also say that all the tenderers have shown their commitment to the tender. Thanks for that once again.
Program director Lauri Puranen has been the Program Director of Strategic Projects at the Ministry of Defense since the beginning of 2016. Prior to that, Puranen chaired the Hornet Performance Replacement Preliminary Study Group. Major General (ret’d.) Puranen served as Commander of the Air Force in 2012-2014.
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Finnish Ministry of Defence)
01 Sep 20. Pentagon’s central AI office wants to standardize its acquisition process. The Pentagon’s top artificial intelligence office released a request for information Aug. 28 outlining interest in establishing a new acquisition approach for standardizing the development and procurement process for AI tools.
According to the solicitation, the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center is “considering” starting a competition for a 501(c) nonprofit manager or managers of its prototype “Artificial Intelligence Acquisition Business Model” that looks to use other transaction authorities to more quickly purchase AI products.
The JAIC’s prototype business model could deliver “AI capabilities through meaningful market research/front-end collaboration and optimal teaming arrangements of both traditional and non-traditional companies for AI product procurement,” the RFI said. If the plan moves forward, the JAIC would also “explore the possibilities of using the model to enable agile AI acquisition processes to the DoD at scale.”
The JAIC is the Defense Department’s main hub for artificial intelligence and is responsible for increasing adoption of AI across the department. It works with the services and combatant commands to develop AI tools that have practical use.
To meet the military’s needs, the JAIC uses the traditional government contracting process, known as Federal Acquisition Regulation-based contracts, and works with the General Services Administration, the Defense Information Systems Agency and the Defense Innovation Unit. The traditional acquisition strategy currently being used is unlikely sufficient enough to help the JAIC carry out its mission, the RFI stated.
“To scale this strategy to other DoD service requirements or respond to emergent requirements such as COVID-19 is challenging and may not be the most efficient use of acquisition tools,” the RFI read. “The JAIC will therefore prototype a new AI Acquisition Business Model to assess the potential for non-FAR-based contracts mixed with FAR-based contracts to meet JAIC requirements.”
JAIC’s goals are to streamline awards while maintaining flexibility between FAR and non-FAR awards, and to maximize competition while minimizing restrictions, the RFI explained.
The JAIC recently awarded major contracts through DISA and GSA. In May, it awarded a five-year contract with an $800m ceiling to Booz Allen Hamilton through the GSA for its new joint war-fighting national mission initiative, though JAIC officials have continuously noted that the value of the contract won’t hit $800m.
The JAIC also announced a $106m contract award to the consulting firm Deloitte for its Joint Common Foundation, a critical element for sharing datasets and AI tools across Department of Defense components.
The JAIC has said for several months that it needs its own acquisition authority to be effective. Before he retired in June from his position as JAIC director, Air Force Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan called on Congress to give the center its own acquisition authority. He said on a webinar in late May that the center’s lack of acquisition tools will hinder the organization’s ability to increase AI use across the DoD.
“It’s not going to be fast enough as we start putting more and more money into this capability development,” Shanahan said, speaking on a webinar hosted by the AFCEA Washington, D.C., chapter. “We need our own acquisition authority. We have to move faster.”
The solicitation outlined six “high-level goals” for the prototype AI Acquisition Business Model.
- “Maximize outreach to non-traditional (e.g.., small business) industry and academic partners.
- “Create an acquisition model that is utilized by the Services and DoD agencies.
- “Maximize use of automated processes (e.g., online portal for requirements definition, collaboration, source selection, and performance monitoring).
- “Facilitate integration and transition to Acquisition programs of record (PoR) using agile and DevSecOps practices.
- “Increase use of agile methods for training, tools, and policy development.
- “Maximize utilization of the JAIC’s Joint Common Foundation (JCF) AI Development Platform.”
Responses are due Sept. 16. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
31 Aug 20. New and old aircraft programs could get axed as top US Air Force general seeks ‘ruthless prioritization’ of capabilities. With stagnant budgets on the horizon, the U.S. Air Force is hurtling toward “the most difficult force structure decisions in generations” and must cancel programs and sacrifice some of its existing aircraft inventory to prepare for a potential fight against Russia or China, the service’s top general said Monday.
A future war with either country could entail combat losses on par with those of a major conflict like World War II, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown wrote in a paper titled “Accelerate Change or Lose,” which outlines his vision as the service’s new top uniformed leader. Brown became chief of staff of the Air Force on Aug. 6.
Although the Defense Department has focused on war with an advanced, near-peer nation since 2016, Brown raised concerns that the Air Force’s sense of urgency is not strong enough and warned of potential mission failure unless the service accelerates the pace of change.
A “ruthless prioritization” of the service’s requirements is in order, he said.
“We must reframe platform-centric debates to focus instead on capabilities to execute the mission relative to our adversaries,” he wrote. “Programs that once held promise, but are no longer affordable or will not deliver needed capabilities on competition-relevant timelines, must be divested or terminated. Cost, schedule, and performance metrics alone are no longer sufficient metrics of acquisition success.”
The Air Force must be responsive to the actions of its adversaries, pivoting when necessary to stay ahead and creating technologies that can be cost-effectively operated and maintained, Brown added.
“Capabilities must be conceived, developed, and fielded inside competitors’ fielding timelines — knowing we will need to adapt and adjust over time. Innovative ideas from our Airmen need viable sustainment pathways. If we are to beat our competitors in conflict, we must also beat them in development and fielding of capability,” he said.
It’s unclear what existing capabilities could be on the chopping block, but more details on the Air Force’s path forward are expected. During a Aug. 31 roundtable, Brown told reporters that the service is working on action orders associated with his strategic vision that will be unveiled at the Air Force Association’s conference during the week of Sept. 14.
Brown’s call for rapid change could pave the way for another bloody budget rollout when the Air Force’s plan for fiscal 2022 is revealed next year.
During its FY21 budget deliberations, service leaders alluded to “controversial changes” such as fleetwide divestments, but ultimately the Air Force proposed retiring handfuls of older platforms rather than entire aircraft types.
Congress has attempted to curtail some of those changes, putting strict limits on the amount of tankers and bombers permitted to be retired each year.
Brown acknowledged that if he’s to make radical changes to force structure, he will need to have tough conversations with other Air Force and Pentagon leaders, Congress, and industry to determine where risk can be taken.
“When we work in various silos, we’re all trying to make our particular program or platform as capable as we can be. But we can’t afford all of those,” he said. The difficulty is getting “the right set of full programs” and not “a number of broken programs” that “balance the checkbook at the expense of our capability.”
Brown’s priorities for the Air Force extend beyond changes to existing force structure and modernization plans. Like his predecessor, Gen. Dave Goldfein, Brown stressed the importance of the military’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control concept, as well as increased interoperability and data sharing with allies.
Brown also hinted that a restructure of the Air Force could be forthcoming, and that the creation of the Space Force provides an opportunity to review the roles and missions of his service.
“Sometimes the model we use in the deployed environment is different than the model we use at home,” he said. “You want to train like you’re going to fight. From that aspect, we’ve got to take a look at ourselves.” (Source: Defense News)
01 Sep. 20. US Army Wants Industry Input For Reliable Exoskeleton (Not Iron Man, Yet!) SOCOM couldn’t build a bulletproof Iron Man. But Army experiments with more modest lower-body exoskeletons have shown real-world potential to help overburdened foot troops.
US Army Futures Command is drafting a formal requirement for a military exoskeleton and will seek feedback from manufacturers at a November industry day. The Army’s top priority, officials told me: rapidly prototyping a system that helps the wearer “move faster, travel further, and carry heavier loads” – without breaking down in the heat of battle.
“Reliability is a huge issue that needs to be resolved,” said Ted Maciuba, deputy director of robotic requirements for Futures Command.
Now, don’t expect a full-body bulletproof suit that can fly and access huge databases out of science fiction. “We are not going after the Starship Troopers/Iron Man system right off the bat,” said Rich Cofer, a former infantry soldier who’s now the Army’s lead “capabilities developer” on the exoskeleton project. “We’re not going to jump right in and expect Tony Stark… Expectation management is key.”
(That’s a stark contrast to Special Operations Command’s highly publicized TALOS program, which explicitly compared itself to Iron Man but produced nothing of the kind).
So instead of Iron Man, think Iron Leg. In a “soldier touchpoint” last December at Fort Drum, NY, Army soldiers from more than two dozen Military Occupational Specialties — ranging from infantry to supply — tried out various types of “lower-body exoskeletons,” including the Lockheed Martin ONYX that our own Paul McLeary tries out in this video. In essence, these are motorized knee braces and other wearable reinforcements for the legs that lighten the load on overburdened soldiers as they march for hours with heavy packs, manhandle artillery shells and such. The goal isn’t to give the wearer superpowers, but to reduce fatigue and risk of injury.
During the Fort Drum trials, “there were significant increases in the effectiveness of soldiers,” Maciuba told me. “The soldiers were able to do more with the exoskeleton than they could without.”
That said, “we learned [that] there needs to be enough reliability engineered into our systems so that there is a very high probability they will not fail in use,” Maciuba continued. “It’s one thing to be wearing a boot whose sole flips off. You can always take some 100-mile-an-hour tape and tape that back on your foot. It’s another thing to be wearing an exoskeleton” that requires specialized training and tools to fix. So reliability will be a high priority when the Army speaks to potential vendors in mid-November.
By that point, Maciuba & co. expect to have a draft Abbreviated Capabilities Development Document for industry to review and offer comment on. (Army Futures Command officially gave them the go-ahead to write the ACDD on Aug. 14th; the exoskeleton project falls under the command’s Soldier Lethality team, with input from PEO-Soldier acquisition officials, Natick Soldier Systems Center researchers, and capability managers for infantry, armored, and Stryker units). While unclassified, the document will be considered sensitive and only released to qualified contractors.
While the ACDD is formally considered a requirements document, Maciuba told me, it’s not going to set rigid technical specs as would a traditional Army requirement. The technology is advancing way too fast to get that detailed at this early stage. Instead, he said, it will outline “desirable characteristics” but leave industry plenty of leeway to innovate on specific ways to achieve them – and the Army is open to revising those desires based on what industry says is actually achievable.
“We want industry to grade our work,” Maciuba said. The industry day – which will be held online unless there’s some miraculous breakthrough with COVID-19 – will include both a general session open to all contractors and one-on-one meetings with specific contractors so they can discuss their technology without competitors listening. Afterwards, Maciuba, Cofer, & co. will compile the feedback from all the companies, revise the ACDD, and send it to Army leaders for approval.
The final Abbreviated Capabilities Development Document should be out by the end of 2021, Cofer estimated. The next step? Use a streamlined acquisition process known as Section 804, intended to field a working prototype within five years – that is, Maciuba cautioned, if the Army can find the funding. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
REST OF THE WORLD
04 Sep 20. Lockheed Martin expands AIC participation for multi-domain capabilities. Lockheed Martin Australia has recently invested in a series of online engagement sessions with industry in Australia and New Zealand to discuss development and collaboration opportunities for next-gen technologies across defence multi-domains to support Australia’s future security needs.
The online industry sessions covered a range of topics including integrated air and missile defence, battle management systems, strike weapons, precision fires, and close combat systems and sensors.
These focused engagement sessions were successful in our aim of making it easier and more accessible for Australian industry to engage with Lockheed Martin Australia.
Joe North, chief executive Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand, said Lockheed Martin Australia is committed to shaping Australia’s future defence force with smarter, fifth-generation technologies that meet the needs of our customers.
“Our approach is to work hand in glove with small to medium Australian enterprises to discover and evolve the best of breed technology and to build that capability for Australia and the global customers. By partnering with industry, we provide the opportunity to showcase their technology on the world stage and with it the potential for industry to access global supply chain,” North explained.
Lockheed Martin Australia actively supports Australian defence industry capability through the employment of a highly-skilled sovereign workforce of over 1,000 people across the country who work alongside its customers in the delivery, integration and sustainment of advanced technology solutions.
Further, Lockheed Martin Australia programs and projects directly support nearly 5,000 Australian jobs including many in the advanced manufacturing and high technology industries that provide Australia with a critical sovereign capability.
North added, “We’re absolutely committed to identifying industry partners with the ability to develop, integrate, build, supply and maintain future technologies and capabilities within Australia and New Zealand to ensure the Australian Defence Force remains at the forefront of the best technology and achieves its vision for a fifth-generation Air Force.”
Christopher Hess, Lockheed Martin Australia’s head of industrial development, leads the Office of Australian Industrial Participation (OAIP), which is a dedicated team that researches local industry capabilities and matches these with identified business opportunities for Australian companies, both locally and globally.
“Lockheed Martin Australia’s role is to build SMEs’ capability. By partnering with state and territory governments and our industry association networks to identify and target world-class capability we can together nurture Australian companies, helping them to be more globally competitive,” Hess said.
He added, “We are proud of our success to date, with Australian SMEs and research organisations winning nearly two-thirds of the export opportunities we have identified, demonstrating the strength and depth of Australia’s defence industry.
“The virtual industry engagement sessions in Australia and New Zealand were an immense success, drawing 230 industry attendees. We are proud of partnering with hundreds of Australian companies across our direct suppliers and their tiered partners to deliver sovereign industrial capability to the Australian government across air, sea, land and space domains.”
Headquartered in Canberra, Lockheed Martin Australia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation. The company employs more than 1,000 people in Australia working on a wide range of major programs spanning the aerospace, defence and civil sectors. (Source: Defence Connect)
04 Sep 20. Skilling Australia’s Defence Industry Grants program launched. Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has announced the launch of grants up to half a million dollars as part of Skilling Australia’s Defence Industry (SADI) Grants program.
The Commonwealth government’s SADI program will deliver $39m over the next three years, with $17m per year in 2020-21 and 2021-22, to support a skilled workforce in the defence industry sector.
The funding is part of the government’s $1bn investment package to boost Australia’s defence industry and support thousands of jobs across the country.
Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price welcomed the announcement and the role the grants would play in supporting the development of Australia’s defence industry, with SMEs in particular set to receive a boost.
“I am proud to support small-to-medium Australian businesses in the defence sector by providing opportunities to upskill and retrain their staff through the SADI Grants program,” Minister Price said.
Funding is also available for industry associations to facilitate training for defence industry small-to-medium businesses to meet their Defence capability training requirements.
Minister Price added, “This initiative will provide certainty to businesses looking for ways to grow their workforce skills and ensure those skills are up-to-date. This is just one of the ways the Morrison government is supporting small businesses during this time of economic uncertainty.”
The program is a key initiative of the government’s 2019 Defence Industry Skilling and STEM Strategy, and will be delivered through the Centre for Defence Industry Capability.
“The development of a robust, resilient and internationally competitive defence industry is key to supporting Defence capability needs and will foster economic growth. I encourage businesses nationwide to take advantage of this unique skills program,” Minister Price added.
For more details, including how to apply, visit: www.business.gov.au/cdic/grants-for-defence-industry. (Source: Defence Connect)
03 Sep 20. Australia announces request for tender for Army Protected Mobile Fires. Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds and Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price have announced the request for tender to locally-build 30 self-propelled howitzers as part of the Protected Mobile Fires project.
The ‘K9 Thunder’ SPH will provide significant capability enhancement for the Australian Army. As the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of the K9 Thunder, Hanwha is ready to build and assemble 30 K9 Thunder SPHs and supporting systems in Australia.
The request for tender will be released to preferred supplier Hanwha Defence Australia, to build and maintain 30 self-propelled howitzers and 15 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles, and their supporting systems.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said it marks a key step in progressing the project that was a key election commitment.
“Through this project, this government is delivering the capability Army needs while creating local jobs in and around Geelong that will grow our highly skilled workforce. The acquisition of this capability will provide the ADF with the mobility, lethality and protection required to support Joint Force operations in the land domain,” Minister Reynolds explained. (Source: Defence Connect)
31 Aug 20. India to procure six submarines for Navy. India is set to reportedly launch the bidding process for six submarines for the Navy, under a project worth Rs 550bn ($7.5bn). Media reports have stated that the process is expected to commence in October, citing government officials. The submarines will be constructed in the country in partnership with foreign defence majors to produce military platforms in an effort reduce the dependence on imports.
PTI reported that the specifications and other important requirements to issue the request for proposal (RFP) is completed by different defence ministry and Indian Navy teams.
This project, P-75 I, is said to be the biggest ‘Make in India’ initiatives in the country.
The Defence Ministry of India has shortlisted two shipyards in India, L&T group and Mazagaon Docks and five foreign companies which include, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, Navantia and Naval Group are foreign partners.
The Indian Navy has planned to buy 24 new submarines which include six nuclear attack submarines in a bid to increase its fighting capability underwater. Its fleet includes two nuclear submarines and 15 conventional submarines.
This is said to be in response to the increased presence of the Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean region.
Last week, India reportedly planned to upgrade the infrastructure at its two island territories, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep.
The Chinese Navy has increased its presence in the region with ports in Myanmar, Pakistan and Iran.
In a separate development, Indian Navy has deployed its frontline warship to the South China Sea.
Last month, the Indian Navy expanded its deployment of frontline warships and submarines in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
India had deployed its ships in the IOR amid border clashes with China in the Galwan Valley in June that led to the death of 20 Indian Army personnel. (Source: naval-technology.com)
28 Aug 20. Thai submarine purchase hits rough seas. Thailand’s intention to buy two more submarines from China has run into vociferous resistance, with the country’s main opposition party questioning the need to go ahead with the acquisition against the backdrop of the economic slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Critics have also questioned the utility of the submarines, which resulted in the Royal Thai Navy holding a media conference Monday to defend the purchase.
Thailand decided in 2015 to acquire three S26T diesel-electric submarines, an export version of the Type 039A, or Yuan class. The $390m contract for the first boat was signed in 2017 by the military government in power at that time, with delivery expected in 2024.
A nine-member parliamentary subcommittee scrutinizing the government’s major projects had narrowly approved the $717m two-sub acquisition, with the chairman casting the deciding vote to break the deadlock.
Defending the purchase at Monday’s media conference in the Thai capital Bangkok, Royal Thai Navy Chief of Staff Adm. Sittiporn Maskasem said the service needs more submarines as part of its defense strategy. An accompanying presentation noted the number of submarines already in service or being introduced by regional navies as justification for the purchase.
However, Collin Koh, a research fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said “there had been little offered to convince the domestic constituents why submarines are so critical for the country’s maritime defense and security interests,” adding on Twitter that “keeping up with the Joneses” has been a recurring theme in justifying the purchase. The phrase is used to describe a situation where one wants the same items as others out of concern the individual will fall behind in importance.
While acknowledging submarines will help with deterrence and naval warfare, Koh said pointed to some of the questionable reasons previously given by the Royal Thai Navy for the vessels, including their use for countering piracy and illegal fishing, as well as assisting in humanitarian missions and disaster relief.
He also tweeted that exaggerating the submarines’ usefulness can provoke more skepticism among the Thai public for the purchase, particularly given the economic problems that had previously prompted the government to decide in May to halt allocating funds for the subs.
Thailand’s economy, which is highly dependent on international tourism, has been severely battered by border closures and travel restrictions caused by the spread of COVID-19. The most optimistic projection for the number of visitors to Thailand this year is 8 million, a far cry from the 19 million tourists who visited in 2019. (Source: Defense News)
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