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UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO

09 Sep 20. The UK MoD is continuing its autonomy journey investigating the benefits that UAVs and UGVs can bring to the British Army. The DE&S Future Capability Group have now reopened their community of interest for new companies to join and be part of the capability investigation journey. If you have tech in these areas and would like to be involved in these projects, for example: the Nano Unmanned Air Systems (nUAS) and the Robotic Platoon Vehicle (RPV), please check out the DCI platform for further details https://www.contracts.mod.uk/

EUROPE

10 Sep 20. Poland opens tender for armoured recovery vehicles. Focused on improving the mobility of its ground troops, the Armament Inspectorate of the Polish MoD is running a €428,000 ($506,000) tender to procure 29 armoured recovery vehicles (Kajman in Polish).

An MoD spokesperson told Shephard that the tender includes the option to acquire another 37 of these tracked armoured vehicles. Defence companies must submit applications to join the competition by 28 September.

The contract notice was published on the EU online tender database in late August.

Kajman will replace WZT-2 and WZT-3 vehicles currently in service with the Polish Armed Forces. Delivery of the new platforms is envisaged to be completed by November 2035.

Poland intends to field the vehicles for technical reconnaissance missions and recovery of heavy tracked platforms weighing more than 63t. As such, Kajman will operate with Leopard 2PL and Leopard 2A5 MBTs, as well as with Krab self-propelled howitzers.

Also, Kajman crews must be able to perform repair tasks of damaged military vehicles as well as to provide first aid to the wounded and injured.

Equipment on Kajman must include: a rotary lifting device; a ploughshare for removing damaged vehicles; two winches (main and auxiliary); an air-conditioning and heating system; an additional power generator; day-night observation and targeting devices; and an internal and external communication system.

In terms of lethality and protection, the MoD stipulates a remote-controlled armament module; a ‘counter weapons of mass destruction system’; a contamination detection and filtering system; a ballistic and fire protection system; a combat recovery system; and an omnidirectional observation system.

The MoD spokesperson explained that, at this point, Poland has not a preferred model or supplier in mind for Kajman.

‘Due to the competitive tender procedure, the identification of potential contractors shall be possible after the deadline for submission of applications for participation in the procedure,’ the spokesperson pointed out. (Source: Shephard)

09 Sep 20. Four European armored vehicles qualify for Polish competition. Poland has accepted four offers to move forward in a competition to potentially provide several hundred armored personnel carriers to the country’s military, the Ministry of Defence announced.

Out of the 12 vehicles submitted in the initial stage of the tender, the ministry accepted four APCs:

  • Fortress MK2, jointly offered by France’s Arquus and Poland’s H. Cegielski-Poznan plant.
  • Hawkei, developed by French firm Thales.
  • Patriot II, offered by Polish manufacturer Huta Stalowa Wola and Czech defense group Tatra Export.
  • Tur V, developed by Polish vehicle-maker AMZ Kutno.

The Fortress MK2 weighs 14.5 tons, and its engine is enabled with a 340-horsepower (250-kilowatt) capacity.

The Hawkei is a 7-ton vehicle, and its engine offers 268-horsepower.

The Patriot II weighs 13-17 tons, depending on the version, and its engine enabled with 362-402-horsepower capacity.

Weighing 9 tons, the Tur V is fitted with an engine that offers a 322-horsepower capacity.

By the end of this year, the Polish ministry is expected to provide the tender’s participants with detailed technical specifications. Under the plan, the vehicle will be produced in Poland, and the first units are to be delivered to the Polish military two years after the contract is awarded. (Source: Defense News)

08 Sep 20. Sweden Offers Gripen to Croatia. Today, Sweden submitted its proposal of 12 new Gripen C/D fighter aircraft to Croatia. Representatives of the Swedish Defence Material Administration (FMV) and the Swedish Embassy in Croatia submitted the government-to-government proposal of 12 new Gripen C/D fighter aircraft to the Croatian authorities.

Parallel to Sweden’s proposal, Saab is offering a tailored made strategic cooperation package that will boost the Croatian defence industry, and benefit Croatian security by building a long-term partnership with strategic sectors.

“Sweden and Saab are offering a comprehensive and long-term solution for Croatian homeland security that will protect Croatia’s people and borders for decades to come. If Croatia chooses Gripen, Saab is ready to transfer know-how and technology and establish a Regional Aeronautical & Support Service Centre in Croatia. This would develop long term cooperation with local defence industry as well as the academic sector, generating some 500 high-tech jobs,” says Jonas Hjelm, Senior Vice President and head of Saab business area Aeronautics.

Gripen C/D is a modern and proven multi-role fighter that uses the latest technology and performs an extensive range of air-to-air, air-to-ground and reconnaissance missions. The aircraft is in operational service with the air forces of Sweden, Hungary, the Czech Republic, South Africa and Thailand.

Gripen fighters of the Czech and Hungarian Air Forces participate regularly in NATO operations and exercises, proving the fighter’s full NATO interoperability.

Gripen C/D stays ahead of its opponents through an on-going evolution of its systems and the weapons it can use, and the fighter will remain operational for decades.

Saab serves the global market with world-leading products, services and solutions within military defence and civil security. Saab has operations and employees on all continents around the world. Through innovative, collaborative and pragmatic thinking, Saab develops, adopts and improves new technology to meet customers’ changing needs. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Saab)

08 Sep 20. Rafael eyes Polish short-range air defense tender. Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems hopes it will secure a deal to supply the SkyCeptor interceptors under Poland’s much-awaited, short-range Narew air defense tender. At the MSPO defense industry show in Kielce, Rafael’s representatives said the company was determined to further develop its longstanding cooperation with the Polish industry as part of this program. Since 2004, local state-owned Mesko plant has produced the Spike LR anti-tank guided missile under a license acquired from Rafael. Poland has selected Raytheon’s Patriot missiles to provide the country’s medium-range air defense capacities, and the Israeli producer claims its system will be highly compatible with the U.S. missiles owing to the companies’ cooperation.

“Our technology is combat-proven and modular, and Poland would be able to perfectly integrate it with other layers of its air defense system. This technology is state-of-the-art, and we would also ensure it is transferred to the Polish defense industry, just like we did with the Spike contract,” Roland Steinbrecher, the regional director for international marketing and business development at Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, told Defense News.

Under the medium-range Wisla program, the Polish Ministry of Defence awarded a $4.75bn deal to Raytheon in 2018. The Narew program is expected to be worth a further $5.3bn. (Source: Defense News)

08 Sep 20. Lockheed offers drones to complement Poland’s future F-35 jets. With Poland set to acquire 32 F-35A fighter jets under a deal signed in January, the aircraft’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, is gearing up to supply the country with long-range drones to enhance the F-35′s operational capacities.

“Both the U.S. and Poland are interested in a next-generation UAS capability,” Jack O’Banion, the vice president for strategy and customer requirements at Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works division, said at a press briefing ahead of the MSPO defense industry show. “We’ve seen the Polish Ministry of Defence’s Technical Modernization Plan, which was released last year, which outlines the UAS need.”

O’Banion said the company saw “a significant overlap” between the U.S. and Polish tactical requirements for new drones, and it is highly interested in creating partnerships with local defense manufacturers to jointly develop and produce unmanned aerial systems.

Deliveries of the F-35 are expected to begin in 2024. Poland will add the fighters to its fleet of 48 F-16 C/D Block 52+ jets.

The $4.6bn contract for the jets will allow Poland to replace its outdated Soviet-designed Sukhoi Su-22 and Mikoyan MiG-29 aircraft with fifth-generation fighters. (Source: Defense News)

08 Sep 20. Bell hopes Czech helicopter deal will spur regional expansion. In early September, Bell obtained a foreign military deal worth $272m from the U.S. Navy to supply eight UH-1Y Venom and four AH-1Z Viper helos to the Czech Republic. With the 12 copters scheduled to be produced for the Czech Air Force until November 2023, the U.S. manufacturer is on the prowl for further aircraft orders across the region.

At the MSPO defense-industry show in Kielce, company representatives presented their offer for the Polish military which aims to acquire 32 multirole helos under the Perkoz program, and a further 32 combat helos under the Kruk program in the coming years. Bell says it is offering the AH-1Z Viper for the Kruk program.

“The Czech Republic is the first European country to buy both platforms together,” said Joel Best, the director for global military sales and strategy at Bell. “When you look for a package that would also fit the Perkoz program, we have the capacity to mix different functionalities” with these two helos, he said.

Poland’s two copter acquisitions are to be be carried out as part of the Polish Defence Ministry’s Technical Modernization Plan until 2026. The plan foresees a number of military acquisitions for a total of PLN 185bn ($49bn). (Source: Defense News)

USA

10 Sep 20. International militaries reveal interest in US Army’s Future Vertical Lift program. The U.S. Army’s Future Vertical Lift program is getting “significant” levels of attention from militaries around the globe, eight of which have already sent letters of interest to the service, the head of the FVL program said Sept. 10.

“We’re working with multiple international partners on bilateral agreements … and we’re pursuing those letters of interest,” Brig. Gen. Wally Rugen, director of the Army’s Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team, said during a panel at the Defense News Conference.

Rugen declined to comment on what nations have expressed interest in the program but said that the Army has remained engaged with those countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve done a number of virtual meetings with our partners to keep the momentum up during COVID, and we have very good planning on our 2021 engagements going forward,” he said. “The exportability, interoperability and the cooperation is being studied deeply. [We’re] talking about [liaison officers] coming into the FVL office.”

The Army intends to develop and field two rotorcraft in the early 2030s as part of the FVL program: future attack reconnaissance aircraft, which will take over the reconnaissance mission currently performed by a mix of the AH-64 Apache helicopter and RQ-7 Shadow drone; and the future long-range attack aircraft, which will replace the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.

Both are on budget and on schedule, Rugen said.

The service recently awarded 10 contracts worth a total of $29.75m to companies that will develop a series of “air-launched effects” for its future vertical lift aircraft, which could include sensors, mesh networking technologies and other payloads. Future contracts for air-launched effects could present sales opportunities for foreign defense contractors, Rugen said during the panel.

“There’s a lot of opportunity for our international partners in this space. I think it’s very wide open. And the reason it’s so wide open is” is that such technologies are “affordable and effective,” he said.

In addition to the effort focused on air-launched effects, the Army is in the middle of multiple future tactical UAV demonstrations, which will ultimately pave the way for a replacement of the Shadow drone. Soldiers are assessing the four candidate systems through a series of field tests and exercises: the V-Bat system offered by Martin UAV and Northrop Grumman; Textron’s Aerosonde HQ; the Arcturus UAV JUMP 20; and L3Harris’ FVR-90.

“The soldiers are extremely excited but giving us good feedback,” Rugen said. “They’re not being easy on us [on] what to fix, what to do different. And that’s the kind of data and information that’s going to give us just a rock-solid requirement that we can move out on and get this into units where it’s militarized, ruggedized and ready to go.” (Source: Defense News)

10 Sep 20. Pentagon plans AI dogfight competition with full-scale aircraft starting in late 2022.

The Pentagon plans to hold a dogfight competition involving artificial intelligence (AI)-operated, full-scale tactical aircraft starting in October 2022.

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) spokesman Jared Adams said on 9 September that the first full-scale airborne events will feature tactical fighter-class aircraft. These are slated to be Aero L-39s, but could end up being Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons, with safety pilots on board playing a role in experimentation and to lend assistance if something goes wrong.

Pilots, Adams said, will be given higher cognitive level battle management tasks while their aircraft fly dogfights, and there will be human factors sensors measuring attention and stress to gauge how well the human pilots trust the AI. These AI-operated dogfights are a continuation of DARPA’s Air Combat Evolution (ACE) effort, which seeks to increase trust in combat autonomy by using human-machine collaborative dogfighting as its challenge problem.

Adams said the current schedule is 1v1 live airborne dogfights in January-March 2023, 2v1 in July-September 2023, and 2v2 in October-December 2024. The test series will feature both symmetrical and asymmetrical matchups.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on 9 September that the AI algorithm’s recent victory in the AlphaDogfight Trials over a human US Air Force (USAF) F-16 pilot demonstrated the ability of advanced algorithms to outperform humans in virtual dogfights. An AI algorithm created by Heron Systems defeated the USAF weapons school-trained pilot on 20 August. (Source: Jane’s)

08 Sep 20. US Army Seeks New Mid-Range Missile Prototype By 2023. Meant to target Chinese warships and Russia’s rear bases, the new intermediate-range missile will fill the gap between the 500+ km PrSM and the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon.

Army wargames against Russia and China found a major gap in the service’s planned arsenal of long-range precision weapons, a gap it now plans to fill with a new intermediate-range missile that could fly as far as 2,000 miles. To speed development, the weapon will probably be derived from a missile already used by another service, such as the famous Tomahawk.

“[Navy] SM-6s and Tomahawks, that’s a capability I can see us as having in the future,” the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. James McConville, told a DefenseOne webcast this morning. “We are working that, [and] the Marine Corps is doing the same thing. If you don’t have to develop your own system, if you already have something that already works… it’s in all of our interest to go ahead and pursue those.”

Now, McConville didn’t address the intermediate-range missile specifically, whose existence was first reported by our Defense News colleague Jen Judson just last week. But in an exclusive interview about the new weapon, the artillery modernization director at Army Futures Command told me the service is looking at “existing missiles capable of flying at various speeds and altitudes.”

That way, Brig. Gen. John Rafferty told me, prototypes of the new mid-range weapon can be operational in 2023, alongside several other new weapons – revolutionizing the Army’s long-neglected artillery branch to hit targets once reachable only by airstrikes.

“2023’s a big year,” said Rafferty. If all the programs in his portfolio stay on schedule, which of course is never guaranteed, that year will see

  • the first battalion of the Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) upgrade to the venerable M109 Paladin armored howitzer, doubling its range to over 65 kilometers (40+ miles).
  • the first prototype battery of the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM), which will replace the Cold War-era ATACMS, upping the range of the Army’s MLRS and HIMARS missile launchers from 300 km to over 500, with a future upgrade aiming for 700-800 km.
  • the first prototype battery of the new intermediate-range missile, to be developed by the Rapid Capabilities & Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) also working on hypersonics and laser weapons. The Army doesn’t want to lock down rigid technical requirements too early, Rafferty told me, but he said the weapon’s range could be up to 1,500 or even 2,000 km. (Of the Navy missiles McConville mentioned, the SM-6 couldn’t reach this range, though it might have other missions; the Tomahawk definitely could).
  • the first full-range test shots for the experimental Strategic Long-Range Cannon (SLRC), which aims to use gunpowder and rocket-boosted shells to reach 1,500 km-plus ranges previously reachable only by missiles;
  • the first prototype battery of the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW), whose range, Rafferty said, will be “thousands of kilometers.”

Why this variety? Adversaries are combining various types of long-range sensors and missiles – anti-ship, anti-aircraft, and surface-to-surface – to create an Anti-Access/Area Denial threat to US forces, Gen. McConville said: “There’s nothing to say we can’t do the same.”

“What we want to do is provide arrows in the quiver… options to our combatant commanders that present multiple dilemmas to our competitors,” he said. “That’s how we deter.”

The new PrSM missile, in and of itself, will extend the range of Army artillery far beyond anything they have today – yet in the context of the future force, it’s relatively short-ranged. “It’s ironic,” Rafferty told me.

That said, PrSM will be the mainstay of the Army’s future missile arsenal, Rafferty said. Why? First, it can fire from a large number of existing launchers, both the tracked MLRS and the wheeled HIMARS. Second, it should be cheaper than the longer-ranged and faster-flying hypersonic missiles.

In fact, Rafferty once described the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon as an “exquisite” high-performance system that will likely be reserved for the most critical and difficult targets, such as hardened command bunkers. A big part of the attraction of the Strategic Long-Range Cannon is that it could fire larger numbers of cheaper projectiles at similar ranges – but its novel technology remains highly experimental.

So as the Army studied future conflict – with extensive input from the other services and the joint Combatant Commanders around the world – it found a whole category of targets too distant to hit with PrSM but too numerous to handle with hypersonics.

“The strategic fires study was done with combatant commands’ input, as well as others from the operational force,” Rafferty told me. “[It] showed that if we could address some of the high payoff targets in the mid-range space that we would really begin to change the calculus in the Pacific and in Europe – in really different ways.”

In the vast expanses of the Pacific, Rafferty said, the primary target for the intermediate-range weapon would be Chinese warships – which means it must be able to track and home in on moving targets. PrSM will eventually have an anti-ship seeker as well, but its 500-plus km range doesn’t get you that far across the Pacific; hence the value of an intermediate-range weapon.

“If you can mix and match short-, mid- and long-range capabilities in a variety of different locations, you can really create a dilemma” for the adversary, Rafferty told me. “He may not know what’s on what island” – which means he must treat any US outpost as a long-range threat until intelligence proves otherwise.

By contrast, Europe is a smaller warzone, mostly on land, where the intermediate-range weapon could strike targets deep in Russian territory. In the 1980s, the ability of Army Pershing missiles to threaten Moscow from bases in Western Europe helped lead to the now-defunct INF Treaty, which banned such weapons and got the Army out of the long-range missile business for a generation.

By recreating an intermediate-range capability in Europe, Raffety said, “you begin to put all of the adversary assets at risk in depth. Now there is not sanctuary for him to hide.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)

09 Sep 20. Defense Acquisition System Directive Goes Into Effect. On Sep. 8, 2020, Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist signed into effect DoD Directive 5000.01, The Defense Acquisition System. In support of the National Defense Strategy, the Defense Acquisition System develops a more lethal force based on U.S. technological innovation and a culture of performance that yields a decisive and sustained U.S. military advantage.

DoDD 5000.01 is the overarching directive that describes the principles governing the acquisition process and emphasizes six main tenets of acquisition implemented via the Adaptive Acquisition Framework. Representing one of the most transformational changes to acquisition policy in decades, the DoDD 5000.01 re-write was part of a comprehensive redesign of the DoD 5000 Series acquisition policies, which were streamlined and modernized to empower program managers, facilitate flexibility and enhance our ability to deliver capability at the speed of relevance.

DoDD 5000.01 can be found at https://www.esd.whs.mil/Directives/issuances/dodd/. To learn more about the Adaptive Acquisition Framework, visit https://aaf.dau.edu/. (Source: US DoD)

08 Sep 20. DISA releases draft solicitation for $11.7bn IT contract. The U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency released its draft request for proposals Sept. 4 for a single-award contract potentially worth $11.7bn to consolidate the networks at 22 Pentagon agencies.

The 10-year, indefinite delivery, indefinitely quantity contract from DISA, called Defense Enclave Services, will transition many so-called fourth estate agencies to common IT systems under a single vendor. Fourth estate agencies are Defense Department entities that do not sit squarely under the military departments, such as the Missile Defense Agency or the Defense Logistics Agency.

DISA’s effort is meant to reduce redundant IT costs, improve cybersecurity and standardize IT support services among the fourth estate agencies.

“DISA desires to partner with industry to provide commercial Information Technology (IT) services, decrease redundant IT costs, enhance cybersecurity posture, and standardize IT services across disparate networks,” the draft RFP stated. “Defense Enclave Services will unify the 4th Estate’s Common Use IT systems, personnel, functions, and program elements associated with the support of those systems and technologies under a Single Service Provider (SSP) architecture managed, operated, and supported by DISA.”

Under the draft RFP, the single provider will provide “all required transition, infrastructure, network operations and management engineering and innovation, cybersecurity, and technical refresh support services” under nine performance areas.

Migration to a consolidated network will take place in two phases. Agencies involved in the first phase will complete “integration and sustainment” by fiscal 2025, and those involved in the second phase will complete migration by fiscal 2026. The network will include the Non-classified Internet Protocol Router Network and the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network.

DISA estimates the performance period will be from Dec. 7, 2021, to Dec. 6, 2031, with a four-year base period and three two-year options.

According to a pre-solicitation industry day script from August, five agencies will be part of the first task order: Defense Media Activity, Defense Technical Information Center, Defense Information Systems Agency, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and Defense Microelectronics Activity. Those five components include 20,000 users, 81 global sites and 40,000 end points, the presentation stated.

DISA has been under pressure from lawmakers and top Pentagon officials in recent years to find ways to save money. Last year, DISA officials told reporters that the agency’s Fourth Estate Network Optimization initiative would provide cost savings to the agency. The initiative was directed by the deputy secretary of defense in August last year.

Phase one agencies include:

  • Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA-HQ)
  • Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC)
  • Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency (DPAA)
  • Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA)
  • Defense Media Activity (DMA)
  • Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA-Field Sites)
  • Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA)
  • Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA)
  • Defense Human Resources Agency/Defense Manpower Data Center (DHRA/DMDC)
  • Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS)
  • Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)
  • Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)
  • Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
  • Missile Defense Agency (MDA)

Phase two agencies include:

  • Defense Health Agency (DHA)
  • Defense Legal Services Agency (DLSA)
  • Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA)
  • Defense Technology Security Agency (DTSA)
  • Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS)
  • Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD)
  • Personnel Force Protection Agency (PFPA)
  • Washington Headquarters Services (WHS)
  • Joint Service Provider (JSP)

According to the posting on beta.sam.gov, the final RFP will be released the last week of September. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

07 Sep 20. USAF to compete F-15EX engine production. The US Air Force (USAF) is to open up to competition its requirement for engines for the Boeing F-15EX Advanced Eagle combat aircraft. While the US Air Force has already contracted General Electric to deliver its F110-GE-129 powerplant (pictured) for Lot 1 production of the F-15EX, it has opened up Lots 2 to 8 to competition from other vendors. An RFP is expected in November. A presolicitation notification posted on the beta.sam.gov government procurement website on 3 September said that a request for proposals (RFP) for up to 461 engines to cover Lots 2 to 8 of aircraft production will be issued in November. Deliveries would begin in June 2023.

“The Department of Defense, United States Air Force (USAF), Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC), Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC), Propulsion Acquisition Division (LPAK), anticipates issuing a solicitation for its F-15EX Propulsion Procurement Lots 2-8. The requirement is for a complete propulsion system (e.g. engine and associated components) that is fully integrated into the F-15EX weapon system in order to meet propulsion and aircraft production delivery schedules,” the notification said.

This announcement comes two months after a contract for engines for Lot 1 aircraft production was awarded to General Electric (GE) for the F110-GE-129 powerplant. That award, valued at USD101.3m, will run through to 30 November 2022, at which time GE and/or another vendor will receive contracts for further production. (Source: Jane’s)

04 Sep 20. US Navy Awards Study Contracts On Large Unmanned Ship – As Congress Watches Closely. Today’s deals for designs — Large Unmanned Surface Vessels displacing 2-3,000 tons — reflect the ‘take it slow’ approach being forced on the service.

The Navy took another step toward building a fleet of robotic ships today, awarding several shipbuilders contracts worth a cumulative $41m to begin developing requirements and potential designs for a new class of Large Unmanned Surface Vessels.

The LUSV has been the object of sustained interest from members of Congress wary of the Navy’s spotty track record of building first-in class ships, who’ve demanded the service take it slow and get its requirements in order before bending steel.

The ship is being envisioned as a critical part of a radically modernized fleet that will rely heavily on unmanned ships to scout ahead of manned vessels, conduct electronic jamming and deception, launch long-range missiles at targets found by other forces, and act as a picket line to keep Chinese and Russian ships and submarines away from American aircraft carriers, and far-flung bases.

Today’s contracts are a mix of requirements analysis and alternative design approaches that will help the Navy figure out exactly what it wants, and avoid the ire of skeptical lawmakers who are watching the program closely.

Huntington Ingalls; Lockheed Martin; Bollinger Shipyards; Marinette Marine; Gibbs & Cox Inc.; and Austal USA were each awarded $7m contracts for the LUSV studies. Each contract includes an option for engineering support, that if exercised, would bring the cumulative value to to $59m.

The bipartisan consensus is aimed at putting pressure on the Pentagon to deliver long-delayed shipbuilding and modernization plans, and reflects a wider uneasiness on Capitol Hill over the Navy’s ability to build first-in-class ships on time and on budget.

The awards today are part of the effort to take a relatively slow approach to buy the new ships, which are envisioned as coming in about 200 feet to 300 feet in length and having full load displacements of 1,000 to 2,000 tons. The idea is to use existing commercial ship designs to build low-cost, high-endurance, reconfigurable ships capable of carrying a variety of anti-ship and land-attack missiles.

But in the 2020 budget, Congress mandated that the Navy wait on designing the vertical launch tubes until the basic design of the ship was finished, and they were briefed by the Navy’s top acquisition official.

The Navy is using a mix of land-based prototyping and at-sea experimentation to build requirements for the LUSV, something it failed to do on the USS Gerald Ford, the first of the new Ford-class of aircraft carriers. That $13bn ship has already gone over budget, and is years behind schedule, due to the lack of land-based testing for critical new technologies.

Navy spokesman Capt. Danny Hernandez told me today the service “is pursuing this balanced approach in consultation with Congress and in part in response to Congressional concerns.”

The LUSV is following on the heels of the Medium Unmanned Surface Vessel program, which saw a $34.9m contract award in July to L3 Technologies Inc. for a prototype for what could be as many as 40 ships. The contract included an option for up to eight additional ships, making the contract potentially worth $281m through June 2027.

The Medium USV will likely clock in at between 45 to 190 feet long, with a displacement of roughly 500 tons. The medium ships will likely serve the role as mission modules revolving around intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payloads and electronic warfare systems.

As of right now, the Navy isn’t prepared to deploy or sustain a new fleet of unmanned vessels, Capt. Pete Small, program manager for unmanned maritime systems said in May. “Our infrastructure right now is optimized around manned warships,” Small said. “We’re gonna have to shift that infrastructure for how we prepare, deploy, and transit” over large bodies of water before the navy begins churning out unmanned ships in greater numbers, he added. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)

REST OF THE WORLD

10 Sep 20. India strengthens ‘local content’ requirements. The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has issued new guidelines that support its efforts to maximise the local defence industrial base’s involvement in defence production programmes.

The measures, published in a notification in late August, are aligned with an earlier revision of an Indian public procurement order that seeks to ensure preference is given to goods and services that have more than 50% local content.

This order, which was updated by the government in June 2020 in line with efforts to boost the economy, is known as the ‘Preference to Make in India’ directive and is intended to “promote the manufacturing of goods and services in India, with a view to enhance income and employment” across all industrial sectors.

The MoD said that its new notification aligns requirements in previously published defence procurement guidelines with definitions in the updated ‘Preference to Make in India’ directive for different classes of local suppliers.

These definitions include ‘Class-I local suppliers’ that produce goods that have more than 50% local content; ‘Class-II local suppliers’ that produce goods that have between 20% and 50% local content; and the inclusion of a ‘margin of purchase preference’, allowing local purchases even if the procured product is not the cheapest.

The MoD notification also states that ‘Class-I local suppliers’ shall be eligible to bid for contracts irrespective of purchase value, and that in defence procurements valued at less than INR2bn (USD27.2m) only ‘Class-I local suppliers’ and ‘Class-II local suppliers’ can bid for contracts, except those that are being procured through a global tender. (Source: Jane’s)

10 Sep 20. Australia announces latest SICP grant recipients. Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has announced the latest round of Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority (SICP) Grants worth more than $11m to 20 Australian small businesses.

Minister Price said the latest funding support awarded through the SICP Grants Program will also boost innovation and investment in Australian Defence Force capability.

Funding for Australian businesses to build industrial capabilities that fit with Defence’s Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities – small-to-medium sized businesses with an Australian business number (ABN). The business must be a company incorporated in Australia or an incorporated trustee on behalf of a trust.

“These grants make a vital contribution to growing Australia’s sovereign defence industrial base. This funding will allow for even greater co-operation and innovation activities across industry and with Defence,” Minister Price explained.

The SICP Grants Program helps drive innovation in small businesses and make them more competitive, especially in the face of COVID-19 challenges. The SICP Grants announced on Wednesday are:

Phasor Innovation $98,138

Establish a specialised radio frequency laboratory to enhance testing and design capabilities.

VIC

Athinian Valley $189,654

Fund plant and equipment that will increase technical capability and capacity.

SA

Indra Australia $146,772

Establish a secure facility to enable collaboration with Defence and other businesses in the defence sector.

NSW

Clearbox Systems $202,570

Upgrade security of is facilities to enable enhanced capabilities when developing sensitive technologies.

ACT

Q-Ctrl $468,645

Hiring of appropriately qualified staff and purchase software to enable the development of electronic warfare capabilities.

NSW

Franmarine Underwater Services $949,171

Establish a facility to service Royal Australian Navy vessels in maintenance activities.

WA

Holmwood Highgate $1,000,000

Enhance their ability to manufacture bulk liquid transport equipment serving the commercial, aviation and defence industries.

QLD

Aurumtown $1,000,000

Upgrade their facilities to increase storage and manufacturing capabilities.

VIC

Mactaggart Scott Australia $267,377

Enhance its ability to deliver enhanced submarine testing capabilities.

SA

Team Zenith $1,000,000

Upgrade capital equipment and increase productivity.

SA

RUAG Australia $918,935

Enhance manufacture of aerospace platform components.

VIC

Agent Oriented Software $510,634

Enhance ability to test future generation of ADF autonomous, unmanned ground vehicles.

VIC

Precision Metal Group $1,000,000

Enhance ability to manufacture specialised metal components.

NSW

Supacat $541,153

Enhance ICT security infrastructure, design engineering capabilities and supply chain integration.

VIC

Southern Launch $128,977

Develop an overland rocket test range to support sub-orbital launches and satellite recovery for testing and validation of rockets and satellite subsystems.

SA

MultiMedia Concepts $137,513

Enhance its ability to produce bespoke computer-based training and simulations.

NSW

BMP Engineering $757,282

Enhance ability to engineer and manufacture complex and precision defence, aerospace and munitions components.

VIC

IKAD Engineering $1,000,000

Enhance ability to manufacture complex components to support continuous shipbuilding program and Collins Class submarine SICPs.

WA

Vipac Engineers and Scientists $164,950

Purchase and commission of a Shock Testing System to enhance shock test capabilities.

VIC

Boss Investments Australia $132,686

Purchase of an edge rounding machine to enhance capability to manufacture precision sheet metal components.

QLD

Minister Price added, “For example, WA-based Franmarine Underwater Services is contributing to our Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise by establishing a new facility to better support underwater maintenance activities.

“Franmarine’s investment will improve the effectiveness and speed of maintenance activities, helping keep our critical naval vessels available for deployment,” Minister Price said.

Grant applications can be made at any time and can be submitted through the Centre for Defence Industry Capability.

Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities are capabilities that are critical to Defence and must be developed or supported by Australian industry. This means Australia must have access to, or control over, the skills, technology, intellectual property, financial resources and infrastructure that underpin the priorities.

The priorities represent a subset of the industrial capabilities that Defence relies on to deliver its core objectives and will be managed closely across defence and industry planning.

A SICP Grants Program will support the development, maintenance or enhancement of the capability of Australian small to medium enterprises that contribute to one or more of the Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities.

Grants of up to $1m will be available for capital expenditure or non-recurring engineering costs, subject to a 50:50 matched funding requirement.  (Source: Defence Connect)

07 Sep 20. Austria Agrees to Discuss Eurofighter Sale to Indonesia. Austria has agreed to discuss the sale of its fleet of 15 Eurofighter combat aircraft to Indonesia, whose defense minister made an informal, unsolicited offer for the aircraft earlier this summer.

“The Austrian Armed Forces are facing major challenges in air surveillance in the coming years. We are, therefore, happy to accept your interest in purchasing the 15 Austrian Eurofighters to modernize your air fleet and will now evaluate and examine this in detail,” Austrian Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner said in a Sept. 4 letter to her Indonesian colleague, Prabowo Subianto. A photograph of the letter was published on Sunday by the Vienna newspaper Krone Zeitung, which first reported its existence.

“My experts will contact your offices to clarify further detailed questions. We will be happy to inform you of the result after our assessments have been completed,” Tanner concluded.

Col. Michael Bauer, the Austrian defense minister’s spokesman, confirmed the Krone Zeitung report, the letter’s authenticity and that Austria is ready to open negotiations on the sale. No statement is planned now, but “We will issue one when the negotiations are completed,” he told Defense-Aerospace.com in a telephone interview this morning.

Tanner’s letter is a belated reply to a July 10 letter in which the Indonesian minister proposed to buy Austria’s 15 Eurofighters, which successive defense ministers have said they want to retire and replace with fighters better suited to the country’s needs.

The Eurofighter issue is controversial in Austria, whose government has sued Airbus, from which it bought the aircraft in 2004, to recover illicit payments it said were paid by the company to secure the sale.

After Airbus signed Deferred Prosecution Agreements with the British and American governments on January 31, and agreed to pay €3.6bn in fines for what Britain’s Serious Fraud Office described as “part the world’s largest global resolution for bribery,” Klaudia Tanner issued a strongly worded statement in which she reaffirmed Austria’s intention of suing Airbus to recover at least €183.4m in illicit payments and to withdraw the Eurofighters from service.

Krone Zeitung on Sunday quoted Tanner as saying that “Now, we are informing Indonesia that we will examine legal aspects of the sale legally and hold talks with everyone involved. That is our responsibility to all taxpayers – and the exit from the Eurofighter system is our declared goal.”

The sale of Austria’s Eurofighters to Indonesia would at the same time satisfy Austria’s stated desire to get rid of its Eurofighters, while also allowing Indonesia to acquire upgraded combat aircraft at an attractive price, as its plans to buy Russian Su-35s and additional US-made F-16s have not yet materialized.

Such a sale, however, would require clearing two major obstacles. First of all, Austria must obtain a re-export agreement from the four Eurofighter partner countries – Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom – as well as the United States, as the aircraft also include US-made equipment. This is probably unrealistic, given German reluctance to export weapons, and British and Italian intentions to sell their early production Tranche 1 Eurofighters.

A separate obstacle exists in Indonesia, where the Jakarta Post reported today that “Law No. 16/2012 on the defense industry mandates foreign weapon purchase to come with some kind of countertrade, local content and offset schemes.” (Source: defense-aerospace.com)

04 Sep 20. Mitsui, T7 sign deal to supply naval vessels to Vietnam. Japan’s Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding and the maritime division of T7 Global Berhad, an investment holding group based in Malaysia, have entered an agreement to co-operate on building ships for the Vietnam People’s Navy (VPN) and Vietnam Coast Guard (VCG).

The new agreement – signed in late August and announced in early September – highlights increasing efforts under way in Japan to explore defence export opportunities in Southeast Asia.

In a filing to the Bursa Malaysia stock exchange, T7 Global said the memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed by T7 Marine – its wholly owned subsidiary – and focuses on collaboration with Mitsui across “various activities and to explore new business opportunities to supply ships” to the VPN and VCG.

According to the MOU, the two companies will leverage each other’s experience and expertise in exploring shipbuilding opportunities in Vietnam and look to secure new business contracts in that Southeast Asian country. The MOU runs for three years, with an option to extend.

The MOU offered no additional details about the companies’ joint engagement in Vietnam.

Mitsui is one of Japan’s biggest naval shipbuilders. The company’s experience and capabilities include the construction of destroyers, survey ships, patrol vessels, and landing platform docks for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).

In June 2019 Mitsui unveiled its design proposal to fulfil a new JMSDF programme to procure 12 offshore patrol vessels, and in January the company launched the third Hibiki-class ocean surveillance ship for the JMSDF. The first two ships in the class entered service in the early 1990s. (Source: Jane’s)

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American Panel Corporation

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

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

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

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