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UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
09 Dec 20. British F-35 buy is still a moving target, defense ministry tells lawmakers. British Ministry of Defence officials have confirmed the military will buy more than the 48 F-35B combat jets already on order, but they were reluctant to be drawn on exactly when and how many aircraft may eventually be involved when they gave evidence to the parliamentary Defence committee Dec 8. The number and profile of a future order will in part be decided by the outcome of assessment work the British are doing on their future combat air strategy, Air Marshal Richard Knighton, the deputy chief of the defense staff for capability, told the committee hearing.
“We know we need to increase the number of F-35Bs to support the [Royal Navy] carrier through to its out-of-service date. The precise number will dependent a bit on the work we do and the investment we are making on the FCAS,” he said, referring to the UK-led Tempest program. “We expect to make a definitive judgement around the total future fleet in the 2025 timeframe,” Knighton added.
Britain originally committed to buy 138 of the Lockheed Martin short take-off vertical landing combat jets to equip a joint force of Royal Navy/Royal Air Force aircraft. The F-35Bs are principally scheduled to equip two new 65,000 tonne aircraft carriers.
Knighton said the final number could be up to the 138 commitment, or less. “We need to do the analysis and work to ensure we get the right number,” he told the committee.
To date the British have ordered 48 of the jets. So far 21 have been delivered, with the remaining aircraft under contract due to be delivered by 2025.
The first of the carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is scheduled to make its first operational deployment next year to the Indian Ocean with a mix of British and U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs onboard.
The British plan to only deploy one carrier at any given time due to a lack of resources. Some 24 jets are expected to be the full complement of fighters on board even though senior Royal Navy officers have said the ships could operate with up to 72 jets at a squeeze.
Knighton said the British “will be able to operate up to 24 aircaft from 2023 onwards, that’s been the milestone for some time. If we want to order aircraft to be delivered in the later part of the decade we will need to allocate some of the funding that we anticipate [being available] to do that. That is part of the analysis and thinking that we are doing with ministers at the moment.”
Defence committee chairman Tobias Ellwood commented on the small number of jets the British plan to operate from the carriers, saying: “We are going to end up with a fantastic looking aircraft carrier, very bespoke aircraft, but not many of them onboard.”
Sir Stephen Lovegrove, the permanent secretary at the MoD, told the committee that while it was certain Britain would order more jets it wouldn’t be anytime soon.
“It’s inevitable we are going to buy more than 48 jets, otherwise we won’t be able to operate the carriers probably. Not for the next four years, though, it’s about the 48 [jets on order].”
“There are certainly plans and conversation with Lockheed Martin about the future purchases, we just haven’t got to the stage of contract yet,” said Lovegrove.
The permanent secretary, the MoD’s top civil servant, suggested the aircraft wouldn’t be available quickly even if Britain had the funds to buy them.
“Even if tomorrow we discover the magic money tree and we decided we wanted to buy 200 F-35B we couldn’t get them just like that anyway. They take forever to manufacture, we will make our orders when they are available,” he said.
Other take-aways from the committee hearings included MoD permanent secretary Sir Stephen revealing that Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is to make a statement soon outlining program cuts ahead of publication of the government’s integrated strategy review set for publication in late January.
The government recently announced a £16bn increase in MoD funding over the four years starting in April 2021, much of that will go to equipment and other capital programs.
Despite that, Lovegrove signaled there were some painful cuts coming to programs that don’t support the government’s swing towards cyber, space , underwater and other high-tech programs and away from legacy platforms.
Lovegrove said the time for “sentimentality” was over on legacy programs. There were some “difficult decisions to be made” in what he termed “disinvestment.”
Pentagon officials who had been kept informed of British intentions were said to have approved of the British moves.
Knighton said a program to update the British Army’s Challenger 2 fleet is due to go the MoD’s investment approvals board in the next few days. The program was in good shape, he said.
A reduction in Challenger 2 numbers has been touted by analysts and media as being in the government sights for months. (Source: Defense News)
08 Dec 20. Naval Group welcomes the decision of the President of the French Republic to launch the studies of a future Aircraft Carrier.
The President of the Republic announced the launch of studies for the replacement of the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier by a new nuclear-powered aircraft carrier by 2038. Naval Group is delighted with this decision and will be involved in this historic project with its major industrial partners Chantiers de l’Atlantique, TechnicAtome and Dassault Aviation. Naval Group’s know-how and skills will be fully mobilised to meet the French armed forces’ expectations. The President of the French Republic’s choice is a major boost for the French defence industrial and technological base and the nuclear industry as this project will mobilise several hundred jobs in France, and then several thousand each year in the implementation phase.
Pierre Eric Pommellet, Chairman and CEO of Naval Group said: “We are delighted with the announcement by the President of the French Republic, which will enable France to maintain its position in the very restricted circle of major powers holding a nuclear aircraft carrier. This project will help develop jobs in the defence industrial and technological base and ensure the continuity of our skills in the current health and economic crisis. Naval Group, its partners and its entire ecosystem will enable the French Navy to benefit from the best naval systems for its flagship. We are committed, as an overall architect, to respond, together with our partners Chantiers de l’Atlantique and TechnicAtome, as well as Dassault Aviation, to the expression of needs of the French general armament directorate (DGA) and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). Finally, this project will make it possible to develop innovation in the fields of propulsion and high added-value military systems, thus maintaining France’s technological lead and its position as a key geostrategic player. This is a huge pride for Naval Group to begin the building of the biggest warship France has ever built”.
Naval Group has been contributing for 60 years to the design, construction and maintenance in operational condition of the French aircraft carriers
As the European leader in naval defence, Naval Group has for many decades ensured the technological superiority of the vessels of the French Navy and its international customers. Their operational excellence has been regularly demonstrated.
Among its many accomplishments, Naval Group has contributed to the design, construction and maintenance in operational condition of the three aircraft carriers of the French Navy: the Clémenceau, the Foch and the Charles de Gaulle. These ships have contributed to France’s influence in many conflict areas around the world. Naval Group is one of a very small number of industrial companies capable of building aircraft carriers.
More specifically, Naval Group has also built and integrated, in partnership with the CEA and TechnicAtome, the two nuclear boilers on-board the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, the first French aircraft carrier equipped with nuclear propulsion. This nuclear-powered vessel has proven her reliability and safety. Nuclear propulsion gives this ship a considerable autonomy at sea and a great flexibility of use.
Having entered active service in 2001, the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle will be in service until approximately 2038.
Naval Group’s exceptional skills, unique in Europe, will be fully mobilised
Naval Group, as a system integrator and prime contractor for the French Navy’s submarines and surface vessels, has developed advanced and rare skills. Among its expertise, Naval Group has skills in three key areas in particular: the activities of architect and overall prime contractor, of systems integrator of complex naval weapon systems, and concerning nuclear propulsion, the manufacture and assembly of reactors, and the maintenance in operational condition of nuclear boilers.
Naval Group also has unique expertise in Europe in the integration and implementation of an aircraft carrier equipped with catapults and landing brakes as well as her air group. Integrating more than 200,000 pieces of equipment in 2,500 premises, producing more than 10,000 drawings, managing more than 3,000 contracts, and assembling 1,200 km of cables and 300 km of piping require a cutting-edge expertise. This expertise also covers the integration of the combat and navigation systems. Fully interconnected with allies units, the combat system enables to prepare, coordinate and lead the aircraft carrier’s actions and those of the naval aviation group in real time. The combat system also ensures the ship self-defence and the security of internal as well as external communications.
In addition, Naval Group masters the implementation of fighter aviation on aircraft
carriers with catapults and arresting strands. The aircraft is the central element of the aircraft carrier, whose main function is that of a mobile air base capable of operating on all the seas of the globe.
In addition, Naval Group has infrastructures dedicated to these areas of expertise. For nuclear propulsion, for example, there is a test platform for turbo-alternator modules at the Naval Group site in Nantes-Indret. The company also has integration platforms for combat systems and control systems, and a unique tool for simulating flows on the flight deck of aeronautical munitions combined with virtual reality visualization.
The project for the future aircraft carrier guarantees the durability of skills and jobs for the entire French defence industrial and technological base
The development and construction of the new generation aircraft carrier represents an investment of nearly twenty years, from 2021 to 2038. After a sketch phase, Naval Group andits industrial partners will now be in charge of carrying out a two-year preliminary design study, which will be followed by detailed design studies that will finally precede the development and construction of the aircraft carrier, a product of rare complexity.
The nuclear component of the propulsion, the implementation of on-board aviation and the operation of the new-generation aircraft carrier will lead Naval Group to reinforce key skills of engineers, technicians and workers at all Naval Group sites: Lorient, Nantes-Indret, Toulon, Angoulême-Ruelle and Brest, as well as those of its major partners Chantiers de l’Atlantique, TechnicAtome and Dassault Aviation.
10 Dec 20. Greek Aircraft Deal to Be Sealed Before New Year. Greece’s purchase of Rafale fighter jets, whose acquisition is expected to be approved by the Greek Parliament next week, was discussed on Tuesday by Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos and his French counterpart Florence Parly. The French minister, who also discussed wider bilateral relations with Panagiotopoulos, will visit Athens shortly after Parliament’s approval of the purchase, most likely on December 17, in order to sign the supply contract. Her visit is scheduled to take place before Christmas, on December 19-20, a plan that is, of course, subject to possible changes due to the pandemic. In any case, it is the expressed will of both parties that the deal be inked before the new year.
The total contract for the supply of 18 Rafale fighters (12 used and six new), fully armed with Meteor, SCALP and Exocet missiles, is expected to amount to approximately 2.5bn euros.
The General Staff of the Hellenic Air Force is in a race against time to select the first four pilots who will go to France for training at the beginning of the year, so that by May at the latest, the first – slightly used – Rafale will have landed at the Tanagra base and be ready to fully integrate into the air force fleet.
The contracts also include the maintenance of the existing Mirage-2000 MK-2 aircraft, as well as the renewal of all types of systems available to the armed forces – including electronic and weapons systems. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Ekathimerini)
09 Dec 20. Despite progress, industry faces ‘very tough roadmap’ to field FCAS by 2040. After the decade that has been the year 2020, it may seem like 2040 is centuries away. But for Airbus, the scheduled in-service date for Europe’s next-generation combat aircraft and weapon system feels just around the corner.
The Future Combat Air System (FCAS) industry partners have made significant progress on the pan-European, multi-system effort despite the hurdles of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Airbus, along with its co-contractors Dassault Aviation and Indra, face a “very tough roadmap” to finalize system designs, begin preliminary development, launch production, and get the systems into service, said Bruno Fichefeux, FCAS leader for Airbus, during the company’s annual trade media briefing Dec. 9. The 18-month Joint Concept Study and Phase 1A of the demonstrator portion are progressing well, but the companies need to move quickly to reach key technology maturation phases, he said. “This is a major de-risking and speeding approach towards the future development program, to ensure that we are on time on expectation.”
France, Germany and Spain have teamed up on the FCAS program, which includes seven next-generation technology pillars: a sixth-generation fighter jet, multiple “remote carrier” drones, a next-generation weapon system, a brand new jet engine, advanced sensors and stealth technologies, and an “air combat cloud.”
In September, the nations’ three air forces worked together to down-select the five preferred architectures that will help inform the program’s follow-on phases, Fichefeux said at the virtual briefing.
The goal for 2021 is for FCAS to enter the preliminary demonstrator development phase for the next-generation fighter and the remote carrier aircraft. Those contracts are currently in negotiations, he noted. Starting in 2021, the FCAS will go from spending a “few million” euros to “billions,” he added. “It’s a massive step forward [that] we want to initiate next year.”
Observers can expect to see some major design choices after those negotiations are complete; for example, whether the next-generation fighter will have one or two seats, Fichefeux said.
Airbus’ unmanned aerial systems team has moved forward with efforts related to the remote carrier and manned-unmanned teaming technologies. Jana Rosenmann, the company’s UAS leader, said at the briefing that her team had submitted their proposal for Phase 1B of the FCAS demonstrator portion that is scheduled to begin next year.
The team is studying two remote carrier designs. “We are looking at both a smaller, expendable remote carrier, as well as a larger, conventional-sized remote carrier, looking in the direction of a loyal wingman to fly together with the combat aircraft,” Rosenmann said. Airbus is the lead contractor for the remote carrier pillar.
The program has some new partners on board, Fichefeux shared Wednesday. In April, Airbus teamed up with the German Ministry of Defence for an eight-month pilot program bringing non-traditional startups and research institutes into the FCAS fold.
Eighteen organizations worked on 14 separate program elements, spanning the entire range of technology pillars. Those efforts have led to concrete results, to include a first flight-test-approved launcher of an unmanned aerial system from a transport aircraft; a secure combat cloud demonstrator; and a demonstrator of applied artificial intelligence on radio frequency analysis.
These 18 partners could be picked up for subcontracts later on in the program, Fichefeux noted.
The plan is to “mature these pilots step by step, and then it could develop into real contracting participation within the FCAS development,” he said. “There is a perspective to bring them on board at a later stage.”
Meanwhile, Airbus also announced Wednesday that its Spanish subsidiary was selected as lead contractor for the low-observability pillar of the program. Airbus Spain will also lead Madrid’s contribution to the next-generation fighter pillar. Indra serves as national lead for the entire program since Spain joined FCAS in early 2020, and also heads the sensor pillar while contributing to the combat cloud and simulations efforts.
The finalization of the low-observability contract “completes Spain’s onboarding as an equal nation across all FCAS activities,” Airbus said in a release. “The signature closes a ten-month process of onboarding Spain as the third nation.”
The program will begin testing low-observability technologies early in the demonstrator phase, Fichefeux confirmed. Both the fighter aircraft demonstrator and the remote carrier will have stealth capabilities when they begin flight tests, which are expected as early as 2026. Then the team will need to work on issues such as how to factor in the future engine’s heat signature, and how to integrate sensors and antennae, Fichefeux said. Low-observability “is part of almost all pillars, and the aim of this maturation is to prove” what works and what won’t work, he noted.
Along with a personal deadline, the FCAS program may also face schedule pressure from Europe’s second sixth-generation fighter program. The United Kingdom, Italy and Sweden have teamed up on the Tempest program, with a current goal of delivering new fighter aircraft to the nations’ militaries by 2035.
When asked whether the two fighter programs may converge at some point, Fichefeux noted that that would ultimately be a government decision.
“That is our responsibility, on the industry side, is just not to lose time waiting,” he said. “If the governments want to define a path of convergence, we will support it in due time.” (Source: Defense News)
09 Dec 20. “Innovations for FCAS”: Airbus concludes cooperative pilot phase with startup companies in Germany. Airbus has concluded a pilot phase of the “Innovations for FCAS” (I4 FCAS) initiative which aims at involving German non-traditional defence players -covering startups, small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and research institutes- in the development of Future Combat Air System (FCAS). This initiative which was launched in April 2020 was funded by the German Ministry of Defence.
“The initiative shows that FCAS does not compare with previous larger defence projects. By implementing young and innovative players, some of whom have never been in touch with the defence sector, we ensure to leverage all competencies available for a game-changing high-tech programme such as FCAS”, said Dirk Hoke, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Defence and Space. “It will also foster technological spill-overs between the military and civil worlds. It is our ambition to continue the initiative in 2021 and beyond, and make it a cornerstone of our FCAS innovation strategy.”
During the pilot phase, 18 innovative players worked on 14 projects in different areas, covering the whole range of FCAS elements: combat cloud, connectivity, new generation fighter, remote carriers, system of systems, sensors. Among these 14 projects, Airbus engineers have worked closely with SMEs and startups to achieve concrete results such as:
- A first flight-test approved launcher of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) from of a transport aircraft. This project is the result of a cooperation between Airbus as A400M integrator, Geradts GmbH for the launcher and SFL GmbH from Stuttgart for UAV integration and supported by DLR simulations. An agile design and development approach allowed for rapid prototyping and flight readiness in only 6 months.
- A secure combat cloud demonstrator: a first time transfer of secured operating systems into a cloud environment. Kernkonzept GmbH from Dresden together with Airbus CyberSecurity have shown how IT security can be used for highest security requirements on a governmental cloud system.
- A demonstrator of applied artificial intelligence on radio frequency analysis. Hellsicht GmbH from Munich trained their algorithms on Airbus-provided datasets, allowing for a unique capability of real time fingerprinting of certain emitters, such as radars.
As Europe’s largest defence programme in the coming decades, FCAS aims at pushing the innovation and technological boundaries. Its development will bring disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, manned-unmanned teaming, combat cloud or cybersecurity to the forefront.
09 Dec 20. German defense ministry targets new US channel for buying heavy cargo helicopters. The German defense ministry is eyeing something of a redo of its failed acquisition strategy for new heavy cargo helicopters, banking on the U.S. foreign military sales process to yield contracts for either the Lockheed Martin King Stallion or Boeing Chinook by the end of 2022.
The strategy appears in the ministry’s latest report on major weapon systems, released this week. The previous acquisition track, abandoned in September, saw the Berlin government deal directly with the two vendors, dictating a host of special requirements for the aircraft that ended up making their offers too expensive.
By picking the FMS route, the German defense ministry is expected to work more closely with the U.S. government in the eventual purchase of a replacement for the Bundeswehr’s CH-53G helicopters by 2030. The process allows foreign governments buying U.S. kit some leeway in customizing their equipment, but the push for standard-issue equipment is generally more pronounced than in direct commercial sales.
That kind of discipline may be a welcome constraint for the German military-acquisition office, which had added a litany of special requirements for communications equipment and sensors, like a new weather radar, into the previous program. In the end, industry officials said, the eventual wish list released by the defense ministry was a far cry from the original desire for a no-frills workhorse helicopter on the battlefield.
At the same time, industry sources caution that there would have to be some adjustments made to U.S. aircraft in order to get them certified to fly here. Countries also typically want their own communications gear that fits with national security standards.
The prospect of an election here next year, which usually means large-scale acquisition decisions must wait, has the defense ministry scrambling to make decisions, perhaps as soon as this month.
“We are currently re-evaluating the project,” a spokeswoman told Defense News. “A decision about how, and whether, we will continue has yet to be made.”
The newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported over the weekend that defense officials had lodged a formal FMS request with the Pentagon on Nov. 20, asking for responses by Dec. 4. Such a turnaround time would be extraordinary when accounting for the Thanksgiving holiday and Washington’s lame-duck spirit after a grueling presidential race.
The apparent rush has already caught the attention of industry. “We appreciate that the acquisition process will continue but we are wondering about the fast pace,” Dennis Goege, Lockheed’s vice president for central and eastern Europe, told the Handelsblatt newspaper. “We aim for a competition that ensures a fair comparison of both aircraft,” he added. (Source: Defense News)
09 Dec 20. Airbus to offer Tranche 5 Eurofighters to replace German Tornados. Airbus is to offer a Tranche 5 standard of the Eurofighter combat aircraft to replace Germany’s fleet of Panavia Tornados, a company official said on 9 December.
Speaking at a virtual running of the company’s annual Trade Media Briefing (TMB), the head of combat aircraft business development, Wolfgang Gammel, said that this future standard will be offered to the Luftwaffe as the service looks to replace 90 Tornado Interdiction and Strike (IDS) and Electronic Combat Reconnaissance (ECR) aircraft with 85 new aircraft from 2030.
As noted by Gammel, this Tranche 5 standard will take the E-Scan active electronically scanned-array (AESA) radar, as well as defensive aids and human-machine interface (HMI) enhancements included in the latest Tranche 4 under contract for Germany (Project Quadriga) and Spain (Project Halcon), and add some or all of the upgrades being developed for the Long Term Evolution (LTE) package.
First unveiled at the Paris Airshow in June 2019, the LTE plan aims to take the aircraft’s capabilities out to beyond the performance enhancement packages that are being rolled out across the partner countries of Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. An initial 19-month study contract for the aircraft and nine months for the Eurojet EJ200 powerplant were launched at that event.
The technology areas being explored for the LTE include mission system architecture, defensive aids, the HMI, operational flexibility, and engine performance. (Source: Jane’s)
09 Dec 20. Airbus expects Eurodrone contract early 2021. Airbus expects the four partner nations to the Eurodrone unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to award a contract for production early next year.
Speaking at a virtual running of the company’s annual Trade Media briefing (TMB) on 9 December, the company’s head of UAS development, Jana Rosenmann, said that with terms of the planned procurement recently agreed between the nations of Germany, Italy, France, and Spain, and the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), a signature is expected in the first quarter of 2021.
“Since June we have had interesting and lively discussions with OCCAR, and on the table now we have a fair and reasonable offer for both sides [of the nations and OCCAR]. On 19 November the nations approved this agreement, and now all four are now running their own procurement processes,” Rosenmann said, adding that the final signature date will be dependent on the speed of these individual processes.
As noted by Rosenmann, while Airbus, Leonardo, and Dassault will each have a hand in the development of the Eurodrone (including the manufacture of the main fuselage by Airbus Spain), final assembly will take place only at Airbus’ Manching facility in Germany. (Source: Jane’s)
10 Dec 20. Study Calls for Building Navy Force Structure to Counter Great Power Competitors. The world of great power competition requires a United States Navy and Marine Corps capable of deterring foes, reassuring allies and ensuring trade. To continue to maintain U.S. maritime superiority, the Department of the Navy released the annual 30-year shipbuilding plan, Dec. 10. The plan outlines a larger, modernized force that is fiscally informed.
“The plan calls for a larger fleet of both manned and unmanned vessels prepared to face greater challenges on, above or under the sea by accelerating submarine construction, modernizing aircraft, extending the service life of cruisers and increasing the number of destroyers,” David L. Norquist, deputy secretary of defense said.
“Our updated 30-year shipbuilding plan is a credible, affordable road map for achieving maritime supremacy — all while tightening our belts — and sending a strong message to our adversaries like China,” Russell Vought, office of management and budget director, said.
The plan is based on the classified Future Naval Force Structure study presented to Congress earlier this month, which looks for the best ways to keep the peace today and in the future, defense officials said.
The United States is the dominant naval power on the globe today. In order to maintain maritime dominance, the study found the naval force needs to grow in capacity and modernize to continue to outpace global threats.
“Our vision of a free and open international order depends upon our ability to maintain U.S. maritime dominance and freedom of maneuver,” Norquist said. “To build this future force, the United States must expand its industrial base to support the fleet we need and not limit the future fleet to the capacity of the industrial base we have.”
The Department of the Navy worked with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff to conduct the Future Naval Force Structure Study. This looked at three different fleets that would be required in fiscal 2045. The Navy calls it “Battle Force 2045.”
The study sees a huge growth in unmanned vessels both surface and subsurface. “Although we reach 355 ships by the 2030s, the plan is about more than numbers of ships. It is about equipping our future force for the enduring defense of our nation,” Norquist said.
The study looks to assess naval force options to ensure U.S. Navy and Marine Corps maritime dominance in the era of great power competition. “The focus of the study was to identify the benefits and associated risks of three alternate future fleet architectures in order to inform future naval force structure decisions and the 30-year shipbuilding plan,” officials said.
The Navy will still sail proven, traditional capabilities, such as attack submarines, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and air wings, and logistics forces. But the study also looked at building more small multi-mission combatants such as Constellation class frigates. This would enable more efficient distribution of missions across the surface fleet, freeing other assets for critical high-end missions.
The study also looked at large unmanned surface vessels, which would add substantial offensive and defensive fire capacity to the fleet at an affordable cost, officials said. “In the near term, LUSVs are best employed as adjunct fires magazines, with further development potential in future iterations,” officials said.
The study also looked at medium unmanned surface vessels, which show promise as low-cost forward sensors and command-and-control nodes.
Statement From Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist on the Department of the Navy’s Report to Congress on the Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels
Today, the Department of the Navy released the annual 30-year shipbuilding plan. Over the last four years, the Trump administration has steadily increased the number and readiness of battle-force ships. This plan moves to continue that buildup and is resourced to achieve a 355-ship naval fleet.
The 30-year shipbuilding plan is consistent with the National Defense Strategy (NDS) which recognizes China and Russia as near peer threats. To ensure that we maintain superiority over these threats, the NDS requires a modern, ready force to operate in the Pacific maritime region. The Department has realigned more than $45B over the Future Years Defense Program to Navy Shipbuilding and other priorities as described in the Office of Management and Budget’s fiscal framework.
The shipbuilding plan is based on naval operational experience and extensive analytics. The Department of the Navy, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation recently completed a comprehensive Future Naval Force Study – an extensive analytical effort to inform the design of the future of America’s naval force. The team assessed various naval force structure options to maintain our current overmatch and identified the need for a larger, more modern fleet. Another key finding was the need to expand the U.S. industrial base to support new ship construction and modernization.
The plan calls for a larger fleet of both manned and unmanned vessels prepared to face greater challenges on, above, or under the sea by accelerating submarine construction, modernizing aircraft, extending the service life of cruisers, and increasing the number of destroyers. Although we reach 355 ships by the early 2030s, the plan is about more than numbers of ships. It is about equipping our future force for the enduring defense of our nation. (Source: US DoD)
10 Dec 20. Army preps for competition limited to Bell and Sikorsky for long-range assault helicopter. The Army is taking its final steps before starting a competition to acquire a Future Long Range Assault Aircraft, and has done so by issuing an intent to solicit bids using means “other than full and open competition,” according to a Dec. 9 post on on the government contracts website Beta.Sam.Gov.
This step means that unless a surprise vendor can meet all of the Army’s technical and production requirements for FLRAA in the next two weeks, the future aircraft will be supplied by either Bell or Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky.
Bell and a Sikorsky-Boeing team have been pitted against one another for years to build and fly technology demonstrators to inform requirements ahead of the FLRAA competition and both are part of a competitive demonstration and risk reduction phase. Bell’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor had it’s first flight nearly three years ago and Sikorsky and Boeing’s SB-1 Defiant coaxial helicopter flew for the first time in March 2019.
The draft request for proposals is expected to be released by the end of the year with a final solicitations expected in fiscal 2021.
Modernizing its vertical lift fleet is the Army’s third highest priority behind Long-Range Precision Fires and Next-Generation Combat Vehicle development. The Army intends to field both a FLRAA and Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft by roughly FY30.
Bell and Lockheed Martin are also competing against each other in the FARA competition. Bell’s offering is the 360 Invictus and Lockheed’s entry is the Raider X.
In the case of FLRAA, the winner must build eight production aircraft for the first unit equipped by FY30.
The plan is to award a contract to a winner in FY22. The winner will proceed to deliver a preliminary design review roughly eight months following the award.
According to the pre-solicitation, “the Army has determined through extensive market research, including a July 2020 sources sought, that only two sources exist in the market space that have the capability and capacity of developing, manufacturing, testing and delivering both prototype and initial production FLRAA in the time allocated to achieve the Army’s goal of an FUE in FY 2030.”
The Army stated that Bell and Sikorsky are those two sources, but notes that “any other responsible, qualified sources, … that can develop and produce the FLRAA weapon system to achieve First Unit Equipped (FUE) no later than 2030 are encouraged to full identify their interest and capabilities in accordance with the requirements,” within 15 days after publication of the pre-solicitation.
Such a vendor would need to deliver a preliminary design review in FY22, start building prototype aircraft in the third quarter of FY23 and eight production aircraft by 2030. Vendors must also prove they are able to build 24 aircraft per year at full-rate production.
Those aircraft must be able to fly at 2,000 feet pressure altitude in 85 degree heat with a full payload that consists of 12 troops at 290 lbs each and four crew at 281 lbs each.
When the draft RFP drops, it is likely to contain a schedule to deliver air vehicle prototypes and mission systems. The Army was debating between two schedule options to deliver prototypes by roughly mid-2026.
The FLRAA program has strong support from Congress. This year’s annual defense policy bill authorized $5m in increased investment in FLRAA advanced component development and prototyping on top of the Army’s nearly $648m request. The FY21 spending bill has yet to go through conference committee, but both the House and Senate proposed additional funding for FLRAA. The House Appropriations Committee proposed a $20m increase while the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee proposed a $79m addition.
Lawmakers added $76m in funding to FLRAA’s top line in FY20 to drive down technical risk and speed up delivery through the competitive demonstration and risk reduction effort.
In FY20, Congress cut $34m from the Army’s other future vertical lift effort — the FARA program — which threatened the service’s ability to provide some of its government-furnished equipment to competitors chosen to build and fly prototypes. The Army is supplying its new Improved Turbine Engine Program engine, a 20mm gun, an integrated munitions launcher and its modular open-systems architecture. The Army has since shored up that funding, according to service aviation leadership. (Source: Defense News)
09 Dec 20. DISA releases final solicitation for $11bn IT contract. The U.S Defense Information Systems Agency released its final solicitation for a highly anticipated IT consolidation contract that is potentially worth billions of dollars.
The Defense Enclave Services contract, potentially worth up to about $11.7bn over a decade, will consolidate the IT systems of Pentagon’s Fourth Estate agencies, which handle business tasks and don’t sit under a military department. The award will go to a single provider and is an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract.
The contract, released Tuesday, stems from a 2019 policy that established DISA as the single IT service provider for fourth estate agencies. The company that wins the contract will unify the common-use IT systems and provide “integrated, standardized and cost-effective IT services, while improving security, network availability and reliability for 22 DAFAs within the Fourth Estate,” the RFP description states.
“The DES effort will establish the modern infrastructure foundation and united frame of thought needed to deliver cohesive combat support capabilities to the war fighter,” it says.
DISA expects to award the contract in the first quarter of fiscal 2022. RFP responses are due Feb. 8.
The agency originally slated the RFP for release at the end of September, but it was delayed several months due a final review by DoD CIO Dana Deasy. At a media roundtable last week, Danielle Metz, acting deputy CIO for information enterprise, said the review was normal procedure.
“This is an incredibly important endeavor that we are embarking on,” Metz said. “It is one of the crown jewels that we have as part of our IT reform initiative under the [National Defense Strategy], and so we thought that a little bit more due diligence was important to make sure that we were doing what was right for the department.” (Source: Defense News)
09 Dec 20. US Army greenlights soft-kill APS hunt, eyes 2022 contract award. The US Army wants to outfit its ground combat vehicles with a soft-kill active protection system (SK APS) and plans to select a vendor in early 2022. On 7 December the service issued a SK APS request for information calling for interested vendors to submit paperwork about their respective technologies by 21 December. The army will then host an industry day in January 2021 before issuing a request for prototype proposals in July 2021. If all proceeds smoothly, the army will make a contract award decision in January 2022.
The army Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs (G8) “has recommended approval for the development of a SK APS capability and integration on several ground combat platforms,” the service wrote. It went on to note that the Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Systems approved the proposed acquisition strategy in late October and will pursue a rapid prototyping pathway under the middle-tier acquisition umbrella.
APSs – both the SK and hard-kill versions – are designed to protect vehicles from inbound rounds such as anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), rocket-propelled grenades, and recoilless rifles.
“A SK APS senses the environment for required threat information and employs a countermeasure (CM) in the form of an obscurant(s) or electronic warfare (EW) devices to interfere with the guidance mechanism(s) or the operator of the susceptible threat(s) thus causing the threat to miss the protected vehicle,” the army wrote.
While the army launches its new SK APS hunt, it has been evaluating the hard-kill options for decades and is now interested in a layered approach. (Source: Jane’s)
07 Dec 20. Defense Department Brings Small Business Innovation to Research & Engineering Support. The Department of Defense announced on November 19, 2020, a new contracting vehicle for procuring research, engineering, and technical expertise from small businesses to promote innovation and advance the Department’s technological superiority.
The five-year vehicle, called the Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, Engineering, and Technical Support (RETS) is designed as a small business set-aside, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract with a ceiling of $496,000,000. The contract was awarded to American Systems Corp., of Chantilly, Virginia; Applied Research Associates Inc., of Alexandria, Virginia; and Modern Technology Solutions Inc., Alexandria, Virginia.
The Director of Defense Research and Engineering for Advanced Capabilities, James A. Faist, spearheaded the effort within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)). “As the Department’s lead for engineering, we in Advanced Capabilities had to secure the flexibility and the engineering talent to take the Department into the future,” said Faist. “With this contract, we have the agility to get the right analysis and technical support as DOD looks to maintain U.S. technological superiority.”
RETS will improve business operations by providing the Department with greater access to innovative technical solutions and talent. RETS also better aligns business operations to the National Defense Strategy line of effort to reform the Department for greater performance and affordability. By consolidating legacy contracts and leveraging small business innovation, RETS will improve efficiency and offer cost savings for performance of the following tasks:
- Modeling & Simulation
- Operations Research
- Mission Engineering
- Developmental Test & Evaluation
- Prototyping, Experimentation, and Demonstration
- Science and Technology (S&T) Research and Assessment
- Data Management & Analysis
The first task under RETS for Mission Engineering support, valued at $6.9m, was awarded on November 25, 2020 to Modern Technology Solutions Inc., a small business. Ms. Amy Murray, Director of the Office of Small Business Programs and Deputy DASD for Industrial Policy, applauded the R&E team’s approach to utilize the RETS contract as a set-aside for small business offerors. “This award highlights the value and innovation that our small business engineering and technical services community brings to the Department of Defense,” said Murray. “They are great partners who provide technical expertise, rigor, and agility to meet the Department’s contracted engineering needs.”
The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering is responsible for the research, development, and prototyping activities across the Department of Defense. OUSD(R&E) fosters technological dominance across the DoD ensuring the unquestioned superiority of the American joint force. Learn more at www.cto.mil or follow us on Twitter: @DoDCTO. (Source: US DoD)
04 Dec 20. Upgrade funding, accelerated procurement drives USAF HH-60W cost growth. Capability upgrades identified in 2019 and accelerated aircraft procurement of the US Air Force (USAF) Sikorsky HH-60W Jolly Green II combat search-and-rescue (CSAR) helicopter are responsible for programme cost growth, according to the Pentagon. The HH-60W’s programme costs increased by USD933m, or 10.2%, from USD9.2bn to 10.1bn, as reported in the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) Selected Acquisition Reports (SARs) released in November 2020. This information, for the December 2019 reporting period, is based on the SARs through the first quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2020, as updated by the FY 2021 budget request submitted on 26 May 2020. USAF spokesman Captain Joshua Benedetti said on 23 November that the FY 2021 budget request accelerates aircraft procurement and increases initial spares funding to account for the HH-60W unique spares requirement not previously captured in the original acquisition programme baseline (APB). The Future Years Defense Program (FYDP), which projects Pentagon funding, manpower, and force structure needed over a five-year period, includes an additional three aircraft in FY 2021, seven more aircraft in FY 2022, eight additional platforms in FY 2023, and five more HH-60Ws in FY 2024. Funding is available for a total procurement of 108 platforms, including 10 test aircraft, within the 113 platform limit of the current contract. The requirements for the HH-60W programme were set in 2012 and approved at Milestone B in 2014. Capt Benedetti said that the mission needs and threats have evolved since the original contract award. (Source: Jane’s)
REST OF THE WORLD
08 Dec 20. Rafael offers its next-gen combat vehicle suite to South Korea. Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has offered South Korea its Next-Generation Combat Vehicle Suite (NGCV-S) as the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) prepares to upgrade its K1A2 main battle tanks (MBTs) and procure some 600 Hyundai-made armoured personnel carriers (APCs) as part of its Tiger 4.0 modernisation programme. Rafael has submitted requests for information from South Korea on both the MBT and APC programmes.
Udi N, head of marketing at Rafael’s land manoeuvre systems directorate, told Janes that the NGCV-S offers several capabilities for armoured vehicles to boost their lethality, survivability, and ability to engage multiple targets simultaneously.
He said the suite includes the company’s Armor Shield P passive add-on armour and the Trophy active protection system (APS), the latter of which is used on US Army MBTs as well as on the Israeli military’s Namer heavy APCs.
Other offers as part of the suite include reactive armour kits and the Samson medium-calibre remote weapon station (RWS). The station is designed to mount a 30 mm or 40 mm gun and co-axial 7.62 mm machine gun that be integrated with Rafael’s Spike missile launcher as well as the fifth-generation Spike anti-tank guided electro-optical missile for mid- and long-range attacks.
“Combining the Spike missile system with the Samson Integrated 30 mm RWS and its combat management systems transforms the remote-controlled weapon station and the vehicle into a versatile fighting machine – able to simultaneously neutralise targets at multiple ranges, with the pinpoint accuracy required in the urban arena as well as in GPS-denied zones,” said Rafael in a statement. (Source: Jane’s)
American Panel Corporation (APC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Mercury Systems, Mission Division, Mission Displays is a custom display manufacturer, providing purpose-built optical display components installed in military defense avionics and vetronics systems and commercial aerospace platforms. Our customers include: Astronautics, Collins Aerospace, Elbit Systems, Korry Electronics, CMC Electronics, Scioteq, General Dynamics Land Systems, Honeywell, Industrial Electrical Engineering (IEE), Intellisense, Kent Modular Electronics (KME), SAAB, TECNOBIT, and others. We supply optical display components for the following platforms: M1A2 and M1A2 SEPV3/4 Abrams, M2 / M3 Bradley, and M1128 Stryker vehicles, Spanish Dragon 8×8 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC); Military and commercial aircrew worldwide use APC displays, including F-35, F-22, F-18, F-16, F-15, EF-1000 Typhoon, Mirage 2000, C-130, C-17, P-3, S-3, U-2, AH-64 Apache, V-22, as well as numerous other military and commercial aviation aircraft including all Boeing 717 through 787 aircraft and several Airbus aircraft. Mercury Systems, Mission Displays offers a wide range of panel size and configuration offerings, applying both legacy and developing new technologies to meet customer requirements.