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UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
15 Sep 20. Innovation call for urban drone technology. The Ministry of Defence is seeking new ways to assist military drone operators in urban environments in a new funding competition. The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) and Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) are seeking innovative and novel solutions to assist military drone operators to improve usability in challenging and complex urban operations.
This cross-departmental requirement between DASA and DE&S is designed for the rapid exploitation of technology and is the first of its kind.
Up to £900,000 is available for successful proposals that can help the Ministry of Defence overcome three challenges.
The first challenge is the development of an optimised Unmanned Air System suitable for use in urban environments.
The second challenge is to develop a human-controlled lethal payload that could integrate with a platform outlined in the first challenge.
The third challenge is to demonstrate a full Unmanned Air System with an integrated payload, bringing together the separate elements of challenges 1 and 2.
We are looking for ideas that reduce the mental strain on operators and to improve performance – but solutions must ensure that they remain under full human control at all times.
It is envisaged that these innovations could in future contribute to a new capability that can remove service personnel and military dogs from complex and dangerous urban warfare situations where their lives are put at significant risk.
This competition will be run using a framework agreement. To be considered for inclusion on the framework, suppliers must first complete the compulsory Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) and Cyber Risk Assessment, by Thursday 15 October at midday BST. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
14 Sep 20. ‘Industrially illiterate’ to not build Fleet Solid Support ships in the UK, says union leader. Prospect Union Deputy General Secretary Garry Graham warned that it would be ‘economically and industrially illiterate’ to build the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s (RFA) new Fleet Solid Support ships abroad.
The union leader made the comments during a Defence Select committee hearing on the UK’s defence industrial policy, which focused on the much-debated procurement of new Fleet Solid Support (FSS) ships worth an expected £1.5bn.
During the hearing, Graham said: “The issue of FSS has become – quite rightly – totemic in people’s eyes. Certainly, I cannot imagine other European nations and other major defence nations around the world making a similar decision.
“The potential decision to send FSS construction abroad is economically and industrially illiterate.”
The ships were not classified as warships as they will be operated by the RFA and only carry defensive weapons. The vessels are seen as vital to the UK’s plans for Carrier Strike groups and will keep the UK’s two Queen-Elizabeth aircraft carriers stocked with stores while at sea.
Graham added that ‘European competitors’ as a result of Covid-19 have been bringing forward defence contracts to be ‘fulfilled in their domestic markets’ in a bid to boost their economies.
During the same session, Plymouth City Council Leader Councillor Tudor Evans OBE said the local council were ‘surprised’ at the decision not to classify the vessels as warships. Evans added: “Had they been, they could already have been finding their way to UK yards. We find that puzzling. We would be happy to see those FSS ships done here.”
Plymouth is home to HMNB Devonport, the largest naval base in Western Europe, the base of the UK’s Amphibious Assault Ship fleet, and half of the Royal Navy’s Type 23 Frigates. Evans added that FSS work would provide the local area with ‘well-paid’ design jobs.
GMB Shipbuilding national officer Ross Murdoch told the committee that work on the three FSS ships was ‘the only game in town at the moment’ for UK shipbuilding outside of work on Type 26 and Type 31 Frigates.
Murdoch added: “We have heard talk about hospital ships, fishery protection vessels and littoral strike support ships, but they are all at some point in the future.
“The orders themselves are uncertain, and it appears that no one is planning on the assumption that they will definitely be required, so FSS really is the big-ticket item for the members we represent.”
Murdoch said that the FSS vessels had the potential to be built in a modular style similar to the Queen-Elizabeth class aircraft carriers which would allow work to be split across a number of shipyards in the UK. Murdoch said that taking this approach would ‘spread the prosperity impact across a number of yards and secure their medium-term future.’
MPs were also warned that international bidders had an advantage over UK shipbuilders on cost due to subsidies from their governments. Unite Aerospace and Shipbuilding national officer Rhys McCarthy said: “One of the favoured international bidders is a Spanish state-owned company receiving Spanish state aid, and it has an unfair advantage.
“We have seen this previously with other shipbuilding that has gone on, with South Korea for example. I think it is not a fair playing field. It is something that must change, and we have really got to have a situation where the prosperity dividend is in contracts.”
South Korean shipbuilder Daewoo manufactured the RFA’s Tide-class tankers following an order in 2012. A number of British companies participated in the competition for the ships, but ultimately none submitted a final bid for vessel’s tender.
In August the UK Labour Party renewed a plea for the ships to built in the UK by a British shipbuilding consortium, the party called for a “Built in Britain” test for defence and security spending in a bid to ensure work on the vessels stays in the UK.
At the time, Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey told Naval Technology in a statement: “For five years, Defence ministers have dithered over this decision when it’s a no-brainer to build these vital new ships in Britain. (Source: naval-technology.com)
18 Sep 20. Boeing announces Chinook engine support teaming for Germany. Boeing is to team with Honeywell Aerospace and Rolls-Royce Deutschland Ltd to provide engine support for its wider bid to supply the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) with its H-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter.
The partnership, announced on 18 September, will cover in-service support of the Honeywell T-55 engine should the Luftwaffe select the Chinook to fulfil its Schwerer Transporthubschrauber (STH) heavy-lift helicopter requirement. Under the agreement, Honeywell will license Rolls-Royce Deutschland as its partner in Germany to perform depot-level maintenance of the Chinook T-55 engine operated by the Luftwaffe.
“The partnership between Honeywell, Rolls-Royce Deutschland and our industry team members provides an established local supply base for around-the-clock parts availability, NATO interoperability and streamlined aircraft maintenance procedures,” Vice President of Boeing Defense, Space and Security in Germany, Michael Hostetter, was quoted as saying. “The Luftwaffe will have access to training and sustainment solutions that ensures the H-47 Chinook’s readiness for any mission.”
Both Honeywell Aerospace and Rolls-Royce Deutschland Ltd were already part of the original Chinook Germany Industry Team that was launched in 2018, though the details of their involvement had not been made clear until now. Other companies signed up to the industry team comprise Aero Bildung, CAE, Aircraft Philipp, Cotesa Composites, Diehl Defence, Liebherr, Reiser, and Rockwell Collins (now Collins Aerospace).
The Luftwaffe has a requirement for between 40–60 new heavy-lift helicopters to replace the 70 ageing VFW-Sikorsky CH-53GA/GS/GE Stallion platforms. (Source: Jane’s)
14 Sep 20. Procurement of New Swedish Training Aircraft Suspended. The SK 60 training aircraft, which has been around for many years, will be replaced with a complete so-called Basic Trainer Aircraft system. FMV has started a procurement and requested tenders. But the procurement has now been canceled, and FMV has informed all bidders of that.
“We canceled the procurement in August. We had not received a tender that met all the requirements,” said Andreas Säf Pernselius, Project manager at FMV.
Right now, the situation at both FMV and the Swedish Armed Forces is being analyzed, where preparatory work is underway.
The need for a replacement for SK 60 remains. The goal is for the new training system to be ready at Malmen in Linköping for the first batch of pilot students in the summer of 2023. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Swedish Defense Materiel Agency, FMV)
18 Sep 20. DOD Seeks Industry Input Into Dynamic Spectrum Sharing. The Department of Defense issued a request Sept. 18 for industry to develop information papers on dynamic spectrum sharing. This request for information, or RFI, seeks insight into innovative solutions and technologies for dynamic sharing of the department’s current spectrum allocation to accelerate spectrum sharing and 5G deployment. The intent is to ensure the greatest effective and efficient use of the Department of Defense’s spectrum for training, readiness, and lethality.
“We hope our industry partners will come forward with innovative ideas to address the questions in this RFI,” said DOD Chief Information Officer, Honorable Dana Deasy. “DOD’s partnership with industry is imperative in this extremely technical and competitive field. What we learn in this effort has potential to benefit the entire nation and keep the U.S. as the global leader of 5G technology for many years to come.”
The scope of the effort, according to the RFI, is to have vendors look at the “broad range of spectrum DOD currently uses in order to understand both the art of the possible, as well as current industry trends in spectrum utilization.” The scope is intended to cover all approaches to spectrum management, including the best methods for sharing spectrum with both military and civilian users.
DOD looks forward to industry’s input on this important topic. Responses are due on Oct. 19. (Source: US DoD)
18 Sep 20. US industry gears up for Reaper replacement with focus on long-range, strike. A collection of US defence contractors are lining up to provide the US Air Force with a replacement for its MQ-9 Reaper series of UAS, with the focus shifting to low-observability, ultra-long-range ISR and, of major interest to Australia, strike capabilities.
Deterrence theory is as old as warfare and international relations. While the methods have changed throughout history, the concept and doctrine remains constant, albeit significantly more lethal.
In the contemporary context, deterrence is best broken down into two distinct concepts as identified by US academic Paul Huth in his journal article ‘Deterrence and International Conflict: Empirical Findings and Theoretical Debates’, which states that a policy of deterrence can fit into two distinct categories, namely:
- Direct deterrence: Preventing an armed attack against a state’s own territory; and
- Extended deterrence: Preventing an armed attack against another state.
The advent of nuclear weapons and strategic force multiplier platforms like aircraft carriers, ballistic missile and attack submarines and long-range strategic bomber aircraft, supported by air-to-air refuelling capabilities, fundamentally rewrote the rules of deterrence capabilities.
Australia has enjoyed the benefits of extended deterrence provided by the global reach and capability of the US since the end of the Second World War and, in particular, following the end of Vietnam and the nation’s shift towards a policy of continental defence.
However, the changing geo-political, strategic and economic reality of the Indo-Pacific and the emergence of peer and near-peer competitors across the region has served to undermine the qualitative and quantitative edge long enjoyed by the US and allies like the UK, Australia and Japan.
For Australia in particular, the introduction of the ‘Defence of Australia’ doctrine directly impacted the force structure and platform acquisition of the Australian Defence Force, as defending the nation’s northern approaches and the vaunted ‘sea-air gap’ became paramount in the minds of strategic and political leaders alike.
“Until the late 1960s, Australian defence planning and policy assumed that our forces would normally operate in conjunction with allies, and well forward of the continent. We saw our security inextricably linked with the security of others,” author of the 1986 Dibb report, Paul Dibb, explains.
This doctrine advocated for the retreat of Australia’s forward military presence in the Indo-Pacific and a focus on the defence of the Australian continent and its direct approaches effectively limited the nation’s capacity to act as an offshore balancer.
A key component of this policy was Australia’s acquisition and long-term operation of the F-111 strike platform, originally pursued to replace the ageing Canberra bombers during the Vietnam War, and introduced in 1973 served as a linchpin of Australia’s post-Vietnam force posture, doctrine and force structures.
The increasing proliferation and reliability of autonomous and uncrewed aerial combat vehicles (UCAV) provides an interesting option for serious consideration and implementation for armed forces seeking to maximise their tactical and strategic capabilities.
While much of the development has been focused on providing persistent close air support and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for ground forces during the campaigns in Afghanistan, the return of great power rivalry is prompting a major rethink for the US Air Force, with a number of defence contractors preparing to replace the capable, yet vulnerable MQ-9 Reaper series UAS/UCAV.
Enter the long-range, stealth, ISR/strike package
As peer competitors, namely Russia and China, continue to introduce increasingly sophisticated integrated air defence networks, the US Air Force has raised serious concerns about the survivability in contested battle zones, prompting the branch to begin a shift away from the platforms towards an entirely new beast.
The US Air Force request for information (RFI) released in early June details the specifics of what they are looking for and describes a markedly different platform to the MQ-9 and its predecessor, the MQ-1 series of UAS:
“With the MQ-9 platform planning for end of service life, a need to identify a solution that continues to provide for this demand is imperative. The purpose of this RFI is to research potential solutions for the Next Generation UAS ISR/Strike platform, the Next Generation Medium Altitude UAS and potential follow-on program to the MQ-9 weapon system.”
While the US Air Force is already well into the development phase of its next-generation strategic bomber, the B-21 Raider, currently under development by Northrop Grumman, it seems that this proposed platform will fill a niche role, with overlapping tactical and strategic deterrence roles.
Entering the race to build the proposed UCAV are a range of major defence contractors, each drawing on decades of research, development and program experience developed to support broader US military requirements.
General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have all entered the fray with the ‘flying wing’ designs, while Boeing and Kratos have responded to the solicitation but are yet to provide any details about their proposals.
Dr Will Roper, the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, used a virtual round table at the Air Force Association’s 2020 Virtual Air, Space and Cyber conference with industry partners and journalists to detail the varying scale of the proposals and partners identifying interest, explaining that a family of platforms may be more effective and efficient to operate.
In particular, Dr Roper explained that a conventional ‘high-low’ mix of platforms, with the ‘high’ end focused on penetrating strike and reconnaissance missions, with the ‘low’ end platforms being drawn from commercial drone manufacturers, with a COTS option to minimise attrition and survivability costs.
Now, what does this mean for Australia? It has been well publicised that since the retirement of the F-111 the nation has lacked a serious, long-range strike capability and, while the government has committed to rectifying this capability gap, at least in some part, the gap remains.
Addressing the capability gap?
A key component of this policy was Australia’s acquisition and long-term operation of the F-111 strike platform, originally pursued to replace the ageing Canberra bombers during the Vietnam War and introduced in 1973, which served as a linchpin of Australia’s post-Vietnam force posture, doctrine and force structures.
Mike Scrafton raised some interesting points in his piece for ASPI, ‘Strategic strike, deterrence and the ghost of the F-111’, in which he discusses the impact the F-111 platform has had in shaping Australia’s current tactical and strategic force structure, doctrine and the role the mythos of the platform is playing in shaping current and future requirements.
Australia’s own long-range aerial strike force is not alone in its growing obsolescence, as the US Air Force struggles to maintain enough strategic bombers in fighting condition and the UK’s Royal Air Force lacks any significant aerial long-range strike capability since the retirement of the Avro Vulcan strategic bombers.
This is exemplified by former US Air Force vice chief of staff, General (Ret’d) John Loh, who has identified the key challenges facing America’s declining bomber force as a result of ageing airframes, shrinking budgets and the narrowing qualitative and quantitative gaps between American and peer/near-peer competitor platforms.
“America’s bomber force is now in crisis. In the Air Force’s fiscal 2021 budget request, one-third of the B-1 fleet is set for retirement, B-2 survivability, modernisation is cancelled and the new B-21 is at least a decade away from contributing significantly to the bomber force. The venerable B-52 requires new engines and other upgrades to be effective,” Loh explains, setting the scene.
“The number of bombers are at their lowest ever, but demand for bombers increases every year, particularly in the vast and most-stressed region of the Indo-Pacific. Bombers are the preferred weapon system there because of their long range and huge payload capacity.”
While the US is pushing forward with its development and acquisition of the next-generation B-21 Raider strategic bombers, developments in unmanned and autonomous systems, particularly platforms like Lockheed Martin’s RQ-170, BAE’s Taranis, Northrop Grumman’s X-47B and Boeing Australia’s Boeing Air Power Teaming System (BATS), provide some interesting avenues for development.
There has been a growing conversation within both Australian and American strategic policy and defence industry ecosystems seeking to support the development of an Australian long-range strike capability, leveraging America’s B-21 program.
Collective allied capability
Enter Thomas Mahnken, president and CEO of the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), who has penned a piece for DefenseNews, titled ‘Six ways the US can maximise its strategic benefit from defense spending’, in which he sets out a number of powerful points for consideration within the US defence establishment, but one with a uniquely Australian flavour.
Mahnken cites the wildly growing research and development costs associated with a number of next-generation platforms fielded by the US, which has resulted in a smaller acquisition and increased unit costs, namely the F-22 Raptor development and acquisition program, with similar examples able to be made, including the B-2 Spirit and Seawolf Class attack submarines.
In order to resolve these challenges, Mahnken believes that spreading research and development costs, combined with including export options from the beginning of the development phase, would enable greater cost savings and flow on economic benefits for the US defence industrial base as a result of increased acquisition and sustainment numbers.
“Finally, the United States should take every opportunity to promote arms exports, which both create jobs and increase the security of our allies. Much more should be done to increase the speed and predictability of the arms export process,” Mahnken states.
“In addition, with few exceptions, US weapons should be developed with export in mind. We should avoid a repetition of the case of the F-22 aircraft, which was designed from birth never to be exported.”
Turning his attentions to Australia, Mahnken sees growing support from within Australia’s strategic policy community for the acquisition or lease of the B-21 Raider as a perfect opportunity for both nations to collaborate and support mutual tactical and strategic objectives in the Indo-Pacific.
Mahnken articulates, “We need to learn from the past in developing the next generation of weapons. For example, in recent months, Australian defence analysts have discussed the attractiveness of the B-21 Raider stealth bomber for Australia’s defence needs.
“Export of the B-21 to a close ally such as Australia, should Canberra so desire, should be given serious consideration.”
Such an acquisition would not only serve to fill the long-range strike capability gap Australia has experienced since the retirement of the F-111, but equally support the US recapitalise its own fleet of ageing strategic bomber platforms at reduced unit costs, while promoting greater interoperability with a key regional and global ally.
However, as previously mentioned, Australia is not the only US ally that will require a credible long-range aerial strike capability, as both Russia and China continue to enhance their own advanced integrated air defence, fifth-generation fighter and strategic bomber capabilities, with the Royal Air Force a prime candidate for joining an allied collaboration program.
The costs associated with acquiring and sustaining even a moderate number of B-21 platforms would serve as a cost prohibitive proposition for both the Royal Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force – however, this doesn’t mean developing a smaller, unmanned or semi/autonomous aerial long-range strike platform is without its merits.
The precedent already established by the collaboration between Defence Science and Technology and Boeing on the development of the BATS concept provides avenues for Australia to partner with defence industry primes and global allies to develop a long-range, unmanned, low observable strike platform with a payload capacity similar to, or indeed greater than, the approximately 15-tonne payload of the retired F-111.
The US has developed increasingly capable long-range, low observable unmanned platforms, including the Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel; the highly secretive Northrop Grumman RQ-180 high-altitude, long-endurance, low observable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft; and Northrop Grumman’s X-47 series of carrier-based, low observable strike platforms.
While the details of the platforms proposed by General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing and Kratos remain sketchy, there is clearly a base within industry to draw upon and work collaboratively with key allies to develop a common, interoperable platform to the benefit of all. (Source: Defence Connect)
17 Sep 20. US Army tweaks Integrated Fire Control System requirements for M3E1 MAAWS rifle. The US Army is once again looking for vendors to provide an Integrated Fire Control System (IFCS) for its M3E1 Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System (MAAWS) recoilless rifle but with a few changes. In a 16 September market survey, the service updated a 2018 sources sought notice for an IFCS with two “major revisions”. First, it can now be a digital only solution and not just a direct-view optic, and, secondly, it now must have an integrated night vision capability.
“Warfighters require a fire control device to increase probability of hit…and decrease engagement time when using the M3E1 MAAWS against both static and moving targets,” the army wrote. “The fire control device described provides target acquisition, gun sighting, range to target, and an in-scope ballistic firing solution. The IFCS shall be used for engagements of targets in both day and night conditions, adverse weather, obscured visibility, and dirty battlefield conditions.”
Saab Dynamics’s 84 mm Lightweight Carl Gustaf rifle currently fills the army’s M3E1 MAAWS programme. The recoilless rifle designed to engage lightly armoured targets at ranges out to 500 meters and soft targets out to 800 meters. By adding an IFCS to the weapon, the service wants users to be able to recognise and acquire range to vehicle-sized targets out to 1,300m in the day and 800m at night and be able to track targets moving up to 20km/h. (Source: Jane’s)
11 Sep 20. Lockheed-Boeing Battle Heats Up as USAF Looks to Buy F-15EX. The F-35 maker is fighting to keep its monopoly on the Air Force’s fighter-jet shopping list. While it’s not unusual for companies to battle one another for weapons deals, these fights often occur behind the scenes, as lobbyists and executives spar inside the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill. But the fight over whether the U.S. Air Force should buy one or two types of $80m fighter jets is spilling into the public view, in the pages of the trade press and in think tank reports. Air Force leaders say they need both the F-35 Lightning II, the newest fighter in the U.S. military arsenal, and the F-15EX, the latest version of the twin-engine jet first flown in 1972.
Early last year, Lockheed began to fight back against Boeing’s reappearance on the service’s tactical-jet shopping list.The battle became a war in July when the Air Force placed a $1.2bn order for eight jets and said it might spend up to $23bn to buy up to 144 new F-15s in the coming years.
It’s rare for a conservative think tank to explicitly call for canceling defense programs; typically, they argue for increasing defense spending and buying more weapons. But the influential Heritage Foundation has consistently urged the Air Force not to buy the F-15EX.
“I’m just kind of surprised by the broadsides that have been occurring lately,” Jeff Shockey, vice president of global sales and marketing for Boeing Defense, Space & Security and Boeing Global Services’ government services portfolio, said in an interview Friday.
The stakes are also higher now as defense spending has flattened and not expected to grow in the coming years. The latest attacks on the F-15 come as Congress is reviewing the fiscal 2021 defense spending and policy bills.
J.V. Venable, a retired Air Force F-16 pilot who is a senior research fellow at Heritage, compared the F-15EX to antiquated dial-up internet. “In deciding to fund the acquisition of the F-15EX, Congress has chosen the dial-up option,” he argued in Defense One last month. “When the Air Force signs that contract, it will be stuck with already-dated equipment for the next 30 years.”
This week, the Mitchell Institute, the Air Force Association’s internal think tank, published a report that argues the F-15EX “ may address immediate shortfalls, but it ultimately fails to anticipate or prepare for a much more demanding future combat environment.”
More than a decade ago, as the F-35 struggled with a long list of development problems and cost overruns, Boeing and its surrogates pushed Air Force leaders to consider buying new F-15s or even Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets. Now as the service prepares to buy new F-15s for the first time in nearly two decades, the script has flipped.
The Air Force appears to have been persuaded by arguments that the F-15 is cheaper to fly than the F-35, and can more easily accept new applications and weapons.
But Lockheed is firing back with arguments that the fifth-generation F-35 has stealth, weapons, sensors, and data capabilities that make it a far superior choice.
“We believe the F-35 is a superior platform,” said Michele Evans, the president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, in an interview Thursday. “With its fifth-[generation] capabilities, we believe it brings capabilities that other platforms can’t.”
The F-15EX is intended to replace F-15C Eagles, planes that are largely flown by the Air National Guard for homeland defense. The F-15C is considered an air superiority fighter — meaning it’s fine-tuned for air-to-air combat — and cannot strike ground targets. But the Air Force also flies the ground-pounding F-15E Strike Eagle, of which the F-15EX is a modernized derivative.
“The F-35 and [F-15]EX are very complementary to one another,” Shockey said. “They do very different mission sets.”
Evans, who oversees Lockheed’s combat aircraft projects, said she does not view the F-15EX as a threat to the F-35.
“I certainly respect the Air Force, that they’ve made a decision to procure the F-15EX and we’re going to continue to make sure that we’re driving upgrades and capabilities into the F-35 to keep it competitive and keep it the platform of choice for the U.S. Air Force, the Navy, the Marine Corps and our partner and [foreign military sales] nations,” she said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense One)
11 Sep 20. Lockheed: New Demand for F-16s Could Push Type Past 5,000 Mark. After nearly shutting down production several times, Lockheed Martin is getting a surge of orders for the F-16. With a current backlog of 130 jets, and several countries on the cusp of making orders, the company sees a possibility of surpassing the 5,000th airplane of the type, Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President of Aeronautic Michele A. Evans said Sept. 9.
“We’re seeing a … resurgence of the F-16 business,” Evans said in an interview with Air Force Magazine. The company is producing Block 70 Falcons for Bahrain, Bulgaria, and Slovakia at its Greenville, S.C., plant, where it moved the F-16 line last year, freeing up space at its Fort Worth, Texas, plant for the F-35 production line.
“We’re up to about 4,600 aircraft delivered and can see possibly getting up to 5,000,” Evans said.
Production is ramping up to four aircraft a month at Greenville, which has increased its workforce to 400 employees, she noted. It is also operating under an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity Air Force contract to supply F-16s to Morocco and Taiwan and potential future or repeat customers. The IDIQ vehicle will streamline and speed up contracting so there is a “base configuration” of aircraft to be built, “and then we propose only the unique capabilities for each country,” in the form of specific sensors or capabilities, she said. “We then just negotiate that contract with those countries.”
The backlog does not include India, where Lockheed is seeking a contract for an advanced version of the F-16 to be called the F-21. Along with partner Tata, Lockheed would build 114 airplanes in India, under license, if it wins the competition.
The F-16 sales could also create future F-35 customers, Evans said. “For a lot of these countries, … as we get them capable with the F-16, we believe the next step for many … is future procurement of the F-35.”
Evans said the U.S. Air Force is seeking more operational flight program and software updates for its own F-16s, and may be interested in other improvements as well. The Air Force is “looking to advance the capability” of its Falcons, she said.
The current backlog will keep the F-16 in production through 2025, Evans noted, but Lockheed would consider increasing the rate of production if demand increases. Hitting 5,000 Falcons delivered would likely take more than seven years of sustained work, she said. However, “We don’t see any issues in terms of being able to meet customer demand,” she added. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Airforce Magazine)
14 Sep 20. US Army plans full and open competition for FTUAS. The US Army is planning to hold a full and open competition for its Future Tactical Unmanned Aerial System (FTUAS) programme, with a request for information (RFI) expected to be released in the next few months.
Major John Holcomb, Programme Executive Office (PEO) Aviation, FTUAS assistant product manager, said on 9 September that this competition would not be limited to the four companies participating in the current FTUAS capabilities assessment, which are Martin UAV-Northrop Grumman Technology Services (NGTS), Textron, L3Harris, and Arcturus UAV.
Maj Holcomb said the US Army will go to the Army Requirements Oversight Council (AROC) for an approved requirement after it releases its RFI. Once that requirement is approved, the service will have a programme of record and will be able to start procuring systems.
The goal, Maj Holcomb said, is to have some competitive prototyping and integration with an engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) effort.
“I want you to bring the best flying aircraft you can with all those…built-in sustainability and maintainability aspects,” Maj Holcomb said at the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) defence conference. “Then we can work together on the kind of integration of these mission equipment and payloads (for) what we need to go toward in the future.”
Casey Still, Tactical UAS chief engineer, said on 9 September that the US Army is looking for industry solutions in four technical areas. One is a microatomic clock or a microatomic clock timing solution. The US Army wants to make sure it has solutions for when the Global Positioning System (GPS) is denied or has performance issues. (Source: Jane’s)
09 Sep 20. FAA seeks four airport operators to participate in UAS detection and mitigation research programme. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is seeking airport operators willing to host a portion of the FAA’s Airport Unmanned Aircraft System(s) (UAS) Detection and Mitigation Research Programme. The Department of Transport (DoT) agency issued solicitation 692M15-20-R-00028 on 4 September 2020.
The FAA anticipates selecting four airport operators. Each selected airport operator will be required to enter into a Firm-Fixed-Price Agreement with the FAA.
Questions and comments that arise from this solicitation should be submitted via e-mail by 5:00 P.M. EST, October 8, 2020. Responses must be submitted by 5:00 P.M. EST, October 22, 2020 in accordance with the DoT document titled “692M15-20-R-00028 Solicitation for Airport Operators Interested in Hosting FAA UAS Detection and Mitigation Research Program.”
Responses to this solicitation reflect an expression of interest only and do not commit the FAA or the airport operator. The FAA will not pay for any information received or costs incurred in preparing responses to this solicitation. Therefore, any cost associated with the solicitation is solely at the interested airport operator’s expense.
Submission date: 22 October 2020
Point of contact: Karen.C.Thorngren@faa.gov
For more information visit:
www.beta.sam.gov (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
REST OF THE WORLD
17 Sep 20. Local industry tapped for Hunter Class Frigate Program. Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price have announced that three Australian defence industry firms have been asked to participate in feasibility studies to explore potential opportunities for the local production of materials for the Hunter Class Frigate Program.
ASC Shipbuilding, a subsidiary of BAE Systems Australia, has asked three local defence industry firms to undertake feasibility studies to determine whether they can contribute to the construction of Hunter Class frigates as part of the government’s SEA 5000 Future Frigate program.
The prime contractor has engaged:
- Queensland-based Craig International Ballistics to investigate an Australian solution for ship bridge windows and armour protection;
- Adelaide-based REDARC Defence Systems to explore an Australian solution to LED lighting; and
- Western Australia-based propeller manufacturer VEEV to examine security requirements for local propeller manufacture in Australia.
This forms part of ASC Shipbuilding’s commitment to achieve 58 per cent Australian industry content over the life of the Hunter Class frigate contract.
“With a 30-year life span, the building of nine submarine hunting warships provides an enormous opportunity for the nation to advance our sovereign shipbuilding capability and create long-term prospects for Australian industry,” ASC Shipbuilding managing director Craig Lockhart said.
“I have absolute confidence in Australian industry to bring ingenuity and innovation to the Hunter program, while at the same time providing valuable employment opportunities in the nation’s advanced manufacturing sector at a time when we’ve never needed it more.”
VEEM’s managing director, Mark Miocevich, welcomed the opportunity to participate in the study.
“VEEM operates the most advanced commercial propeller manufacturing facility in the world, and being considered for the manufacture of the new anti-submarine warfare frigates is an exciting proposition,” he said.
“BAE Systems has a long history in defence in Australia and has shown over that time its commitment to supporting Australian industry content across a broad range of programs.”
Mike Hartas, REDARC Defence Systems general manager, sales, acknowledged that while the preliminary contract “does not guarantee work”, it would enable the firm to demonstrate the value of its proposition to the government as it progresses with its National Shipbuilding and Sustainment Plan.
Craig International Ballistics CEO James Craig added: “As a provider of ballistic protection to many Australian Defence Force assets, we welcome the opportunity to showcase our Australian industry capability for the Hunter Class Frigate Program.”
Following the announcement, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the feasibility studies build on the Morrison government’s commitment to “maximising Australian industry content” in the construction of the new anti-submarine warfare frigates.
“We are on track to begin the prototyping phase of the Hunter Class Program at the end of this year, which is why it’s vital we continue to form new partnerships with Australian industry as we look ahead to the build phase,” Minister Reynolds said.
“These feasibility studies announced today build on a feasibility study already underway into locally manufactured main reduction gearboxes for future Hunter batches.”
Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price added that the feasibility studies – which are expected to be completed by the end of the year – would ensure Australian companies are given “every chance to contribute” to the broader Naval Shipbuilding Program.
The launch of the feasibility studies comes just days after the ministers announced that ASC Shipbuilding signed a contract with South Australian company Infrabuild Steel Centre to support the manufacturing of the Hunter Class Frigates at the Osborne South shipyard.
The contract is for the supply of around 120 tonnes of Australian steel that will be used to support the manufacturing of the Hunter Class frigates.
In June 2018, the Commonwealth government announced BAE Systems Australia as the successful tender for the $35bn SEA 5000 Future Frigate program.
The nine Hunter Class frigates will be based on the BAE Systems Type 26 Global Combat Ship currently under construction for the Royal Navy and will replace the eight Anzac Class frigates when they enter service beginning in the late 2020s.
The Hunter Class is billed as an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) centric vessel delivering an advanced ASW capability to the Royal Australian Navy at a time when 50 per cent of the world’s submarines will be operating in the Indo-Pacific region.
BAE Systems Australia announced that it had selected Lockheed Martin Australia and Saab Australia as combat systems integration industry partners, responsible for delivering the Australian designed CEAFAR 2 Active Phased Array Radar, Lockheed Martin-designed Aegis combat management system and Saab Australia 9LV tactical interface.
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 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)
15 Sep 20. Apache takes aim at Australian attack helicopter deal. Boeing has outlined key selling points for its AH-64E Apache offering in Australia’s Project Land 4503 requirement for 29 armed reconnaissance helicopters. During a virtual media tour, TJ Jamison, Boeing’s director of vertical lift for international sales, discussed the capabilities of the AH-64E. The company also provided a cockpit demonstration about how the Apache identifies and engages targets, as well as a virtual tour of its Mesa, Arizona production facility.
The Land 4503 acquisition will see the Australian army replace its 22 Airbus Helicopters Tigers with a new rotorcraft. The deal has also attracted strong interest from Bell with the AH-1Z Zulu and incumbent Airbus Helicopters, which has said it can take the Tiger platform “beyond 2040”, and save Australian taxpayers a claimed A$3bn ($2.2bn).
At the outset of the Boeing briefing, Jamison was quick to address the issue of ‘marinisation’, or how well the Apache can operate from ships amid salty littoral conditions. Canberra has stressed that the helicopter it chooses must be capable of operating from ships, such as the amphibious assault vessels HMAS Adelaide and Canberra.
Jamison notes that the UK has had extensive experience operating its Apaches from vessels at sea, and that this has generated learnings about such things as freshwater cleaning procedures. The Apache’s rotors can also be manually folded for shipboard storage.
Bell, one of Boeing’s rivals in the Australian competition, has consistently trumpeted the maritime capabilities of the AH-1Z. The US Marine Corps routinely deploys the type aboard its amphibious assault ships.
The Australian army has also embarked Tigers aboard naval vessels. This included a 2019 deployment that saw four of the type deployed aboard Canberra as part of a special voyage through Southeast Asia. He also stresses that the AH-64E’s Block 6 hardware and software update includes an advanced maritime capability for the helicopter’s Lockheed Martin/Northrop Grumman APG-78 Longbow fire control radar, allowing it to detect and classify contacts at sea.
The APG-78, originally designed to detect tanks and other vehicles, should ideally equip one out of three Apaches, he says, as an Apache with the radar set can share contact data with other Apaches and platforms.
Other benefits of the Apache, according to Jamison, are interoperability with a broad number of allies who operate the type, cost certainty under the US government’s Foreign Military Sales process, and a long upgrade roadmap stemming from the US Army’s plans to operate the type until at least 2060. Canberra is expected to release a request for tender related to its Land 4503 requirement in 2021. (Source: Flightglobal)
15 Sep 20. Australia looks to boost local sourcing on frigate project. The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) has announced three new feasibility studies aimed at expanding local industrial involvement in the programme to construct BAE Systems Hunter-class frigates for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
The DoD said on 16 September that the studies – led by ASC Shipbuilding, a subsidiary of BAE Systems Australia – will feature the sourcing of bridge windows, armour protection, LED lighting systems, and propeller manufacturing.
Under related arrangements, ASC has entered agreements with Queensland-based Craig International Ballistics to investigate a local solution for ship bridge windows and armour protection, while Redarc Defence Systems, in Adelaide, is assessing solutions for LED lighting.
The DoD said that a third Australian company, Western Australia-based Veem, is conducting a study to examine security requirements for local propeller production activity in Australia.
It added that other feasibility studies are being assessed to support further local opportunities in the design, production, testing and installation of equipment on the frigates. A study to support the local production of gearboxes for the frigates is also under way, it said.
Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the studies demonstrate the government’s commitment to maximising Australian industry content in the construction of the new frigates.
”We are on track to begin the prototyping phase of the Hunter-class programme at the end of this year, which is why it’s vital we continue to form new partnerships with Australian industry as we look ahead to the build phase,” she said. (Source: Jane’s)
15 Sep 20. Australian Defence Innovation Hub receives funding boost. The federal government has invested an additional $32m in SMEs across the defence industry to support innovation and stimulate the economy as part of its response to the COVID-19 crisis. The Morrison government has announced it will provide SMEs across the defence industry with an additional $32m over the next two years via the Defence Innovation Hub.
The investment is aimed at providing SMEs with cash flow support to accelerate the development of defence capability, while also forming part of the government’s broader economic response to the COVID-19 crisis.
“COVID-19 has presented our defence industrial base with unprecedented challenges,” Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said.
“Australian small businesses are a critical part of this sector and we are expanding the funding available to help them develop their technologies and grow their businesses.
“The 2020 Force Structure Plan is strengthening the link between the Defence Industry Capability Plan and industry policy initiatives, bringing together industry, defence and technical experts to support the development of innovative ideas and shape future capability.”
The Defence Innovation Hub, established in 2016, has awarded over $265m in innovation contracts, 83 per cent of which has been provided to Australian SMEs.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said investment through the Defence Innovation Hub had generated more than 600 jobs across the economy, with more than 100 Australian SMEs benefiting from the cash flow support.
“This additional funding will support further jobs growth in the sector at a critical time for the nation and our economy,” Minister Price said.
“It will strengthen the ability of our local defence industry to continue developing cutting-edge technologies as they navigate the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is further evidence of the Morrison government’s commitment to growing our sovereign capability.” (Source: Defence Connect)
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.
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