Sponsored by APC a wholly owned subsidiary of Mercury Computer Systems Inc.
UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
17 Dec 20. Hosted by John Neilson of Lockheed Martin UK, Steve Callaghan of Lockheed Martin in the USA and Peter Ruddock of Lockheed Martin UK gave an upbeat brief of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Economic Impact Assessment for the UK economy.
- KPMG economic impact study validates the positive benefit of the UK’s commitment to the F-35 program, its plan to acquire 138 aircraft, and the significant economic contribution it will continue to bring to UK industry over the next 50 years.
- The study considers directly managed Lockheed Martin contracts in the UK. It does not include additional added economic value from other companies e.g.: Rolls-Royce and GE.
o The F-35 programme will contribute £40.6bn in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK Economy between 2007 and 2038.
o Of this, £34.2bn is from Lockheed Martin-managed contracts, with £9bn generated to date.
o For every £1 of direct GVA by the programme, an additional £326 of indirect GVA is also generated.
o The greatest GVA impact is in the North West, which will see roughly £14.8bn of the total.
Capital, Taxes, and Other Investments:
o The program has enabled £13.5bn in exports for the UK.
o Lockheed Martin has a capital investment programme in the UK of £601.8m.
o The program has enabled £3.3bn of knowledge transfer and £29.7m in training and technical assistance to UK companies. This training and technical transfer includes areas such as digital manufacturing and low-observable technologies.
Tax Revenue: Across Lockheed Martin and Rolls Royce contracts, the F-35 programme is expected to generate £17.0bn in tax revenues through 2038.
o On average, the F-35 programme will sustain over 20,000 high-value engineering jobs per year for the UK until at least 2038.
o The average GVA per full-time equivalent job is £88,049; this is greater than average for the industry (£79,516) and the UK as a whole (£59,802).
o In other words, the jobs created by the F-35 programme are more productive, higher-skilled and higher-earning.
o The greatest employment impact is in the North West, with between 7,340 and 7,527 annual full-time equivalent jobs.
- 2020 KPMG economic impact study used the latest data from the F-35 programme’s execution and an assessment of work through to 2038.
- This new study backs up the 2010 jobs estimate and increases estimates for total Gross Value Added.
- The 2020 update includes only those contracts that are directly managed by Lockheed Martin.
o While referenced using the 2010 data, contracts placed directly with Pratt & Whitney (and, through them, Rolls-Royce) are not included.
o Neither are contracts placed directly by the F-35 Joint Program Office and the UK MOD directly with UK organisations.
o A prime example is the UK’s Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul and & Upgrade entity for Europe, Sealand Support Services Ltd, which has initial work of £500m and projected work of £2bn.
o These contracts represent additional and significant benefit to UK industry arising from the F-35 programme, beyond the scope of KPMG’s study.
o Our partnership extends far beyond just delivering jets to the UK
o F-35 has delivered world-class training and maintenance facilities to its main operating base, RAF Marham
o Four Full Mission Simulators, four Deployable Mission Rehearsal Trainers and several maintenance trainers
o F-35 is a critical element of the UK’s national security & combat air strategy
o The Combat Air Strategy notes that UK airpower will be based around the F-35 for coming decades.
o The F-35 is the only aircraft today that can meet current and evolving threats
o Its unique short take-off and vertical landing capabilities give the Royal Navy a strategic carrier strike advantage, enabling anti-sub and anti-surface missions
National Value Framework:
o F-35 supports the 4 National Value Framework elements
o Capability: 5th Gen capabilities address threats today and secure operational advantage into the future
o Prosperity & Industrial Capability: Generates long-term sustainment of jobs and skills, and significant UK export potential
o Budget: F-35 is committed to affordability; we’ve gotten F-35 unit cost down to 4th gen levels and are applying full focus to similarly drive down through-life cost
o International Influence: Continued participation on the F-35 programme will enable the UK to continue to be world-leading in combat air – designing, producing, training and operating alongside your closest allies
Joint Operations & Interchangeability:
o The F-35 is fully interoperable with the assets of key UK partners, including the United States, NATO and European Allies
o The US and UK demonstrated this with this year’s successful deployment of U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II strike fighters alongside the 617th Dambusters Squadron F-35Bs on the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth
o As PACAF Commander Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach noted recently, referring to the F-35, people often underestimate the strategic importance and operational benefits of allies operating the same system. Clearly, F-35 enables the interoperability and interchangeability that the UK requires.
BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold asked whether, in their opinion, that the FCAS Tempest being developed by the UK, Italy and Sweden with companies which include BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Leonardo and MBDA and other partners such as SAAB, would morph into a future variant of the F-35. Steve Callaghan stressed that the F-35 is likely to remain key part of any country’s Combat Air Strategy and that it was continuously being refined through the Lockheed Martin C2D2 Programme. He said that Lockheed was open to offers of collaboration on future Programs. Peter Ruddock said that the F-35 was unique in UK fighter Programmes since the Spitfire which had as many as 20 variants i in that the F-35 was subject to ongoing upgrades but he stressed that any future technology should be engineered in at an early stage in the Programme. Both Steve and Peter expected the UK to eventually order more than the 138 slated in the 2015 SDSR. When asked about the COVID effect on the F-35 Programme, Steve Callaghan said that Lockheed had predicted 141 deliveries in 2020, which due to COVID would now slip to around 121 an 18024 drop in numbers.
The UK has around 15% of the total F-35 Programme which will only continue to grow in value to the economy beyond the 600 aircraft already delivered with Switzerland, Finland and Canada looking at buying the aircraft with Singapore and Poland already committed. The numbers are impressive, 600 aircraft already delivered (UK – 21), 26 Bases worldwide taking F-35 (UK RAF Marham, Land IOC – 2018, Maritime – Dec. 2020?), USS Essex, Wasp and America, Makin Island, HMS Queen Elizabeth base F-35; Training Simulators and Maintenance Trainers delivered (UK – 4).
As a tailpiece the Editor asked about the rumours that the USAF, Japan and Australia had requested a re-start to the F-22 Production line. Neither Steve nor Peter could comment but had also heard the rumours!
18 Dec 20. Greece’s Rafale buy gets the green light. The Greek government’s Parliamentary Subcommittee for Defence Procurement agreed on 17 December to proceed with the acquisition of 18 Dassault Rafale multirole fighters for the Hellenic Air Force (HAF). Although according to Greek law no vote was required for the decision, all political parties agreed that the aircraft were needed. The total cost of the programme will be EUR1.92bn (USD2.35bn), according to Ministry of National Defence sources, while another EUR400m will be used to purchase Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles and to upgrade missiles already in the HAF inventory (namely Mica air-to-air missiles, Scalp cruise missiles, and Exocet anti-ship missiles) for carriage by the Rafales. These missiles are currently used to arm the HAF’s Dassault Mirage 2000 and Mirage 2000-5 aircraft. Twelve of the 18 Rafales (10 single seaters and two twin seaters) will be former French Air Force aircraft, with delivery of the first six expected to start six months after the signing of the contract, estimated to occur in June 2021. Deliveries will continue at a rate of one per month. On the 20th month after the handover of the initial six aircraft, the delivery of brand-new Rafales will begin and continue at a rate of one per month. Finally, 26 months after the contract is signed, delivery of the last six second-hand fighters will occur. The first four HAF pilots will start training in France early in 2021. (Source: Jane’s)
16 Dec 20. Air Force in Europe Seeks Defense Against Chinese Drones and Russian Cruise Missiles. The U.S. Air Force wants help defending military bases in Europe from hypothetical attacks by Chinese drones and Russian cruise missiles, and it’s willing to pay close to $1bn to get it. The service recently put out a $925m contract notice that calls for bidders to come up with an “Air Base Air Defense” plan for U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa.
“The USAF is adapting its power-projection and defense concepts to operate under a greater threat of attack,” the service said in its notice.
Specifically, the Air Force wants help from the defense industry to maintain Ramstein Air Base’s defense system, and to develop and deploy air base defense systems for other locations in Europe. Prospective contractors must factor in a scenario in which a U.S. base in Germany has received multiple intelligence reports of imminent airborne attack threats, the contract notice stated. Within the first hour of the hypothetical attack, the base experiences 15 separate drone intrusions from the Chinese-made “Da-Jiang Innovations variant” that “have the potential to threaten the base from any direction.” Then within the second hour, the base must prepare for an attack by five Russian-made AS-23A cruise missiles.
“There will be a minimum of 30 seconds between each cruise missile arrival. The cruise missiles will strike various sections of the base,” the Air Force scenario stated. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Stars and Stripes)
16 Dec 20. SATLANTIS Kick-starts the First Project Under the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP). The Spanish company SATLANTIS MICROSATS signed in October a grant agreement with the European Commission within the first edition of the EDIDP Programme (European Defence Industrial Development Programme) through the project OPTISSE.
In it, SATLANTIS is leading a Consortium of five companies from five European countries: ColomboSky (Italy), Syrlinks (France), Astro- und Feinwerktechnik (Germany), Solaris Optics (Poland), plus Everis Aerospace and Defense (Spain) as associated partner. The Call for Proposal addressed innovative SMEs and required the support of the Ministries of Defence whose companies are represented in the Consortium. Therefore, all the Ministries will be involved in the project, acting as potential final users and generating the operational requirements.
One of the most important objectives of the EDIDP Programme is to demonstrate the contribution that European SMEs can provide to the Defence sector, with the scope to build a technological supply chain for the Union autonomy and strengthen the role of SMEs in the industrial landscape.
To celebrate the project start, the Consortium gathered in a Virtual Kick-off Meeting held on November 3rd, with the participation of the European Commission, through the Project Officer assigned to the action, and of Spain Ministry of Defence that, due to SATLANTIS leadership in the Consortium, will represent the Defence community.
The OPTISSE project consists of the development of four critical technologies for maritime surveillance missions, specifically: an advanced opto-mechanical system, an agile attitude control system, a real-time detection filter, a high data-rate transceiver for data download.
The project represents a challenge for each member of the Consortium, and especially for SATLANTIS, whose aim is to reach a 0,5m spatial resolution with a miniaturized optical payload. The company CEO, Juan Tomás Hernani, stated: “only two scenarios are foreseen within the project: one in which we will achieve the objectives with no issues, and the other one in which we will have to face important mechanical challenges. In any case, we don’t question the success of the project and the excellence of our partners.”
Maik Hartmann, Vice Director of Astrofein affirmed: “the Agility requirements that the project is demanding will translate into an advancement of the state-of-the-art for attitude control systems”.
Because success of the project and highest standards of excellence are not in question, OPTISSE may serve as an ideal testbed for subsequent endeavours. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
18 Dec 20. OMFV: Army Wants Your Weird Ideas For Bradley Replacement. Want to make a mini-tank that carries two passengers in back? Or put the heavy weapons on one vehicle and the passengers in another? Go for it, the Army’s armor modernization director told industry.
The Army has redesigned its Request For Proposals to replace the Bradley troop carrier to give industry “maximum latitude” to innovate, Brig. Gen. Richard Coffman told reporters this morning. It’s even removed all classified data to let foreign companies participate fully. But one thing will be absolutely mandatory: compliance with a new set of technical standards and interfaces – known as a Modular Open Systems Architecture – that the service is developing for all its future combat vehicles.
Most Infantry Fighting Vehicles on the global market – including the only publicly announced contender, the Rheinmetall Lynx – look a lot like the Reagan-era M2 Bradley: They’re tracked machines with a driver in the hull, a commander and gunner in the turret, and five to nine infantry soldiers in the back, transported under armor protection until they jump out for the final assault.
In previous attempts to replace the Bradley, the Army gave industry rigid requirements, specifying everything from passenger capacity to gun caliber to maximum weight. But the new Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle will be different. While the Army has mandated a crew of two, both sitting in the hull with an unmanned turret, it will let industry’s design teams suggest all the other specs.
Preston Dunlap, Chief Architect of the U.S Air and Space Force, sits down with Breaking Defense editor Colin Clark to discuss the future of All Domain Operations, JADC2, and ABMS.
“We’ve got companies out there… that have come and said, hey listen, ‘we don’t want to have to six/eight/10 people in the back. We want to have two, and we want to make a very small vehicle,” said Coffman, the director of Next Generation Combat Vehicles at Army Future Command. “We may need 15 OMFVs to move [a platoon of] 30,” he said, instead of today’s platoon of four Bradleys – and the new RFP would allow that.
“Or maybe they can find an innovative way to move 10 soldiers with only three vehicles and make it small and light and powerful, I don’t know,” Coffman continued. “Perhaps not every vehicle looks the same. perhaps one has the weapon system on it … while another is carrying just the soldiers and gear.”
“We don’t know what each industry partner’s solution will be, but we’re giving them maximum latitude to show us,” he said.
The current RFP, for what’s called Phase II of OMFV, asks only for digital “concept designs,” not fully detailed construction plans: The Army will see how these designs perform in simulations, get feedback from actual combat soldiers, and give industry a chance to make changes. At some point, this refinement process will get into classified data, but by that time the Army expects any interested foreign companies to be able to get the necessary clearances.
Then in 2023, the Army will hold another competition to design (Phase III) and build (Phase IV) actual prototype vehicles. Companies don’t have to win a Phase II concept design award in 2021 to be eligible to compete for the Phase III award in 2023. That said, the Phase II winners will have the advantage of getting to improve their designs with government funding and regular feedback, putting them in prime position for Phase III.
Meanwhile, in parallel, the Army will start drafting its formal requirements for OMFV. But, Coffman promised, it won’t lock those down before it’s gone through multiple rounds of back and forth with industry over multiple years. That’s a stark contrast to traditional programs – including an earlier, cancelled attempt at OMFV – that tried to prescribe strict performance specifications at the start.
“No decision before its time” is a driving principle of the new program, Coffman said. “Previous programs have required the government to be omniscient, and we all know that we’re not omniscient. We can’t predict what’s going to happen in seven years or eight years or nine….so we are not going to put a nail in a single requirement until we have to.”
Instead of strict technical requirements, the Army is specifying broad “Characteristics Of Need” (CON) for its Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle.
But when those requirements are finalized, they will be as binding as on any old-school program. In fact, in some ways, contractors may find the final requirements more restrictive than they’re used to, because the US government has gotten sick of companies selling it proprietary technology that isn’t compatible with other companies’ products and can only be upgraded by the original manufacturer, for a hefty fee. Instead, over the next several years, it will work with industry to develop technical standards and common interfaces that ensure everything works together and new upgrades are simply plug-and-play.
Several sets of standards already exist, such as the VICTORY architecture used on the latest models of the M1 Abrams and the 8×8 Stryker. But they need to be combined, updated, and expanded to handle the technical complexity, not only of OMFV, but of other future Army combat vehicles.
“This is broader than just OMFV,” said Brig. Gen. Glenn Dean, who as Program Executive Officer for Ground Combat Systems (PEO-GCS) will run the program. “This is for combat vehicles in general. Tactical vehicles [i.e. trucks] will share an element of this, and certainly robotic systems.”
The Army is already experimenting with Robotic Combat Vehicles, built by various contractors but using common autonomy software developed by the Army. Parts of that RCV “kernel” may be ported over to OMFV to let it operate unmanned in certain missions – hence the “optionally manned” part of the name. But, Coffman said, “we’ll work with industry if they have a better kernel”: That’s one of the things he’s looking forward to finding out in back-and-forth of OFMV concept designs.
It’ll be hard enough developing compatible code and common physical components for use across multiple types of manned and unmanned vehicles. But the Army’s ambitions are bigger than that: In exercises like Project Convergence, it’s experimenting with ways for ground vehicles to share tactical data on targets and threats with long-range artillery and aircraft – and it wants to link in foot soldiers as well.
The Modular Open Systems Architecture, Dean said, must connect OMFV “seamlessly” to the targeting goggles worn by its infantry passengers, a militarized Microsoft HoloLens known as the Integrated Visual Augmentation System. That will allow the foot troops to see through the vehicle’s sensors and get a better sense of the situation before they get out and expose themselves to fire. (Though Dean didn’t say so, this could work in reverse as well: Once the infantry get out, the vehicle crew could see through the built-in cameras in their goggles, giving them a much wider view).
“Our combat vehicles need to be architected in such a way that they can not only connect back to the network, but connect to and can feed the IVAS system,” Dean said. “We’re doing some of that effort on Stryker right now… but OMFV needs to be built with that from the ground up.”
How important is this kind of technical compatibility across disparate systems? It’s so important that the Army will weigh it as heavily as physical performance in evaluating industry proposals.
“Industry’s going to be graded principally on two things,” Dean said. One is their approach to meeting the nine broad “characteristics” – from survivability to mobility to ease of training – laid out for the OMFV itself. The other is “how are they going to incorporate common Modular Open Systems Architecture?”
Companies now have 120 days to submit bids to the government, Dean said. That’s longer than the draft timeline the Army proposed back in July, because companies asked for more time to put together their proposals. (The extra time up front should also cut about two months out of what had been a four-month gap in the original funding plan for 2023). Meanwhile, in January, the Army will formally launch a new public-private consortium – an increasingly common approach – to work on MOSA.
“Industry’s proposals are due back 16th April,” Dean told reporters. “We anticipate contract award in July.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
18 Dec 20. US Air Force seeks radar solutions for Saudi air defence. The US Air Force directorate tasked with overseeing Foreign Military Sales (FMS) is soliciting industry solutions for long-range, elevated air defence radar systems, which will be tapped for future foreign sale to Saudi Arabia.
The request for information (RFI) issued on 11 December by the digital directorate of the FMS division of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center will evaluate potential elevated radar capabilities for use by Saudi Arabian armed forces, or other regional allies and partner nations – focusing on platform capability, exportability, cyber-security capabilities, and estimated cost and delivery schedules. In the end, service officials anticipate that information derived from the RFI will lead to an FMS-driven acquisition strategy for delivery and technical support for 13 advanced elevated radar systems.
“These solutions provide partner nations with secure mission capability, able to interoperate both within sovereign space and with U.S. and Allied military forces,” service officials said in the RFI. The eventual radar solution selected for the Saudi armed forces will provide “day [and] night persistent detection, tracking and monitoring capability against diverse air-breathing threats, including the difficult low radar-cross-section unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), cruise missiles and low flying inbound aircraft within its area of coverage”, the RFI added. (Source: Jane’s)
17 Dec 20. Global Ordnance, LLC is awarded contract for supplying NORA Wheeled Howitzer for the US Army 155mm Mobile Gun System. Global Military Products, Inc. (GMP), a subsidiary of Global Ordnance, LLC (GO) has been awarded a Contract from the United States Army to provide a 155 mm Mobile Howitzer System to compete in a “shoot off” evaluation event at Yuma Proving Grounds in 2021. GMP, an industry leader in non-standard weapon systems, has partnered with our long-standing partner in Serbia, Yugoimport, to provide the highly-capable and proven NORA B-52 155mm wheeled howitzer. The United States Army is conducting a “shoot off” evaluation of mobile 155mm howitzers to determine which systems best fit the Army’s needs through variety of prioritized tasks. The best performers may be asked to provide proposals for the production, delivery, fielding, training and support for use by the United States Army.
Yugoimport’s NORA B-52 will be a formidable competitor with outstanding performance and unmatched value in its class. The NORA provides a very reliable, capable and fielded wheeled 155mm artillery system. NORA features a fully automatic auto loader and a move-shoot-move while under armor capability to protect the entire crew on the battlefield. The NORA was designed to combat the battlefield doctrine of maneuver by fire employed by nations with large armored and artillery forces. This doctrine masses large quantities of artillery on a key target to rapidly overwhelm and eliminate it. The NORA will move to a position while syncing the fire control system, emplace, fire, and displace, before counter battery or maneuver forces can fix them. Over the past few years, the NORA has been undergoing modernizations and upgrades that are sure to get the attention of the U.S. Army. The upgraded version, provides enhanced mobility, a larger chamber, automation, and speed. GMP is excited to present the NORA to the U.S. Army as an effective and lethal system to add to the U.S. arsenal.
GO maintains a long-established business relationship with Yugoimport to support the United States military and International allied countries. This has included non-standard weapons up to 120mm mortar weapons systems, non-standard ammunition up to 152mm artillery rounds. GO also partners with Yugoimport to supply 9mm and 7.62x39mm commercial ammunition to the U.S. commercial market from Belom, their small caliber factory in Serbia.
Marc Morales, President of Global Ordnance, LLC, expressed both his excitement and gratitude to the U.S. Army and Yugoimport,
“This is an excellent opportunity to bring a fantastic piece of equipment at an unmatched value to the U.S. Army soldier. Global Ordnance is proud to be the company to offer the NORA and is excited to show the U.S. Army what it can do in the shoot-off.” – Marc Morales, President
The latest award for GO represents a logical step in its growth into systems contracting for larger more complex systems. With sales approaching $200M in 2020, GO has grown exponentially over the past seven years from a provider of non-standard ammunition for U.S. allies, to now having four distinct and robust business lines, including Non-Standard Ammunition and Weapons, Energetics, Personal Protective Equipment, and Commercial Ammunition and Outdoor Equipment. Each division has had significant success and growth, which has been the result of careful strategic planning and execution that put capability before taking on new challenges. In mid-2019, GO purchased a part of Chemring Defense to bolster its already strong non-standard ammunition and weapons capability. The Chemring entity became GMP and is integrated within GO. With the acquisition, GO added strong systems and engineering talent which it is now leveraging to compete for more complex defense systems contracts. GO strategically added more industry talent in 2020 and is poised for growth in 2021, both organically and through acquisition. (Source: PR Newswire)
17 Dec 20. Elbit Systems of America’s mobile howitzer selected by U.S. Army for shoot-off evaluation. Elbit Systems of America’s Autonomous Truck Mounted Ordnance System (ATMOS) Iron Sabre is a mobile howitzer selected to participate in the United States Army’s 155mm Mobile Howitzer Shoot-Off Evaluation. The event, which will occur during the first quarter of 2021, provides the Army an opportunity to review various solutions from industry and then select a production-ready system that demonstrates increases in range, rate of fire, and mobility over current artillery systems available to Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCTs).
Elbit Systems of America is a market leader in providing artillery solutions and is confident its system will perform well at the shoot-off, being evaluated as “ready now.” ATMOS Iron Sabre is a proven, fielded system from a family of howitzers that have supported international customers for more than 30 years. Compatible with all existing US projectiles and propellant charges, it fulfils the Army’s mobile howitzer needs immediately, delivering on the modernization and capability improvements defined by Army Futures Command Long Range Precision Fires objective.
“US Army Fires needs solutions that can keep up with the SBCT, can shoot faster and farther, and most importantly are low risk and ready now. Elbit Systems of America’s ATMOS Iron Sabre addresses all of these needs,” said Ridge Sower, Vice President of Ground Combat & Precision Targeting at the company. “We are pleased to be selected for this evaluation and stand ready for rapid delivery from our hot production line if selected for production and fielding.”
16 Dec 20. Rethinking computing for next-level problems. With the volume, variety, velocity and complexity of data threatening to overmatch systems sifting through ever increasing amounts of data, intelligence and defense agencies are looking for new approaches to solving data-intensive problems. Currently, data the intelligence community focuses on is increasingly sparse, random and heterogeneous, creating data-intensive problems that today’s computers were not designed to solve, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) said in a Dec. 11 broad agency announcement.
IARPA’s Advanced Graphic Intelligence Logical Computing Environment (AGILE) program seeks to transform “massive, random, heterogeneous data streams and structures into actionable knowledge.“ That task will require “system-level intelligent mechanisms for moving, accessing and storing large, random, time-varying data streams and structures that allow for the scalable and efficient execution of dynamic graph analytics workflows,” the agency said in the BAA.
Rather than enhancing system components like memory or processing, AGILE is looking for fresh approaches that fundamentally reimagine computer systems for current and future data-intensive operations. In fact, IARPA said that “proposed designs should not be constrained by existing component interfaces and protocols, legacy architectures, or current practices.”
AGILE will require new memory and interconnection architectures, massive data throughput, rapidly accessible high-density storage as well as innovative advanced microelectronics. Architectural designs should demonstrate scaling and efficiency requirements, optimization of the full integrated system and a technology pathway for future performance gains, the BAA said.
A proposers’ day will be held Dec. 22.
The Pentagon, meanwhile, is taking a more evolutionary approach.
The Defense Department’s High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP), which operates world-class supercomputing centers, the high-bandwidth Defense Research and Engineering Network along with sophisticated software and security infrastructure, is looking to move its high-performance computing and data analysis to the commercial cloud.
Traditionally, HPCMP upgraded its capabilities by bringing new supercomputers online and increasing security, bandwidth, coverage and performance by software and networking updates.
Now, after a decade of watching how cloud computing has been optimized for artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data analytics and digital engineering, HPCMP “recognizes a convergence of forces that suggest the time is right to consider augmenting its on-premise ecosystem with an investment in commercial cloud-based infrastructure,” it said in a Dec. 8 request for information.
Since commercial cloud vendors invest more in their systems, offer flexible capacity and pricing, run environments for experimentation and can provide access to new architectures faster than HPCMP, commercial cloud makes sense, the RFI said, especially if moving some unclassified workloads to the cloud would create more capacity for inherently government workloads.
Additionally, HPCMP said it may be called to support new missions, such as AI, digital transformation and digital engineering, areas currently outside its mandate, where the cloud could be beneficial.
HPCMP said it is looking for a cloud-agnostic, high-end computing ecosystem to augment its on-premise environment and solve its research engineering, test, evaluation and acquisition engineering problem sets. Ultimately, it said it wants a commercial cloud that can “interface with the HPCMP ecosystem in a way that complements/augments on-premise assets and improves overall operating efficiencies and costs.”
Responses to the DOD solicitation are due Feb. 15. (Source: Defense Systems)
REST OF THE WORLD
21 Dec 20. Ukraine to buy Turkish warships, co-produce drones. Turkey is selling four locally made stealth corvettes to its littoral Black Sea neighbor Ukraine as part of a larger framework agreement to enhance bilateral cooperation in defense procurement.
The agreement, signed Dec. 15, also involves the transfer of Turkish technology to Ukraine and co-production of Turkish-made armed drones. It was signed by Ukrainian Defence Minister Andriy Taran and Turkey’s top defense procurement official, Ismail Demir.
The warship deal could be worth about $1bn, a government source told Defense News on condition of anonymity.
In 2018, Turkish state-controlled defense technologies company STM won a contract to produce and sell four MILGEM corvettes to the Pakistan Navy. STM pledged to deliver the first small, multirole warship by the end of 2021. The contract entails construction of two corvettes in Turkey, with the other two slated for production at Pakistan’s Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works.
One Turkish procurement official said that a similar production pattern may be applied to the Ukrainian contract.
Industry sources say STM may have to substitute some American-made parts in the MILGEM architecture with locally made components due to a recent U.S. decision to sanction Turkey’s procurement agency, the Presidency of Defense Industries.
The U.S. move came as part of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act in response to a Turkish decision to procure and deploy the Russian-made S-400 air defense system. Turkey is the first NATO member state to deploy a Russian-made air defense system. (Source: Defense News)
18 Dec 20. Right on time: Hunter Class frigate prototyping kickstarts next phase. In a major milestone for Australia’s largest surface shipbuilding program, BAE Systems Australia has announced the beginning of prototyping on the Royal Australian Navy’s multibillion-dollar Hunter Class frigate fleet.
At the world-class Osborne shipyard in South Australia, Minister for Finance, senator Simon Birmingham, SA Premier Steven Marshall and BAE Systems Australia chief executive Gabby Costigan were joined by BAE Systems Maritime Australia employees as Australian steel was cut to officially launch the Hunter program’s prototyping phase.
During prototyping, five representative ship blocks will be manufactured and assembled using Australian steel, and the systems, processes, facilities and workforce competencies will be established and tested, providing a solid operational foundation before construction starts on the first Hunter Class frigate in 2022.
The 1,000th employee recently joined the business, and up to 1,000 more people – including apprentices and graduates – will be recruited in 2021 as the program continues to ramp up.
Costigan said, “To start prototyping just two years after the contract to deliver the Hunter program was signed in 2018 is an incredible achievement. The pace of the program has been swift. We have moved into a modern, digitally advanced shipyard, progressed the design of the ship and significantly expanded our workforce.”
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds CSC said this was the culmination of two-and-half years of hard work since the completion of the Competitive Evaluation Process in June 2018.
“As this government has always said, the Hunter Class program is on schedule to meet its milestone of beginning prototyping in 2020 and beginning construction of the first of class by end 2022,” Minister Reynolds said.
“I commend the work of Australian Naval Infrastructure. They built a state-of-the-art digital facility at Osborne Naval Shipyard-South with a $535m investment from the Morrison government. Now we are building nine of the world’s most advanced anti-submarine warfare frigates for our Navy here in Australia,” Minister Reynolds added.
Minister Birmingham said one of world’s most advanced fleets of warfare frigates was starting to become reality with the first steel being cut for the prototyping phase.
“These frigates will be built from some of the best steel in the world. Over 1,500 tonnes of Australian steel has been contracted for the construction of the Hunter Class Frigate Program,” Minister Birmingham said.
“This is providing enormous opportunities for many Australian businesses while driving job creation, apprenticeships and skills training at a critical time.
“The Morrison government’s record investments in naval shipbuilding will see our Navy equipped with world-class capabilities as well as creating a long-term pipeline of employment opportunities.”
Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price said the official start of the prototyping phase marks the beginning of a decades-long program that will be the cornerstone of continuous naval shipbuilding in Australia.
“Today is not only a celebration of a major milestone for Australian shipbuilding, but also for Australian industry and for Australian workers,” Minister Price said.
“We are not just cutting steel – we are cutting Australian steel, in a yard built by Australian workers, and one supported by Australian industry. This truly world-leading digital shipyard will help our people and Australian industry do their job, raising the capability of Australia’s shipbuilding industry.”
Minister Price added, “During the modernisation of this shipyard, 66 of 68 subcontracts were awarded to Australian companies. Australian companies have been engaged to provide the steel to construct the blocks, to prepare and paint the blocks for construction, to make the jig wagons that will transport steel around the yard, and to provide non-destructive testing services.”
BAE Systems Maritime Australia managing director Craig Lockhart added, “The next two years of prototyping will be incredibly important as we prove our systems and manufacturing processes ahead of construction starting at the end of 2022. Australian companies will play a significant role in the prototyping phase – the overwhelming majority of the content provided will be from Australian-sourced materials and services.”
Lockhart said, “In parallel, we’re also working with Australian industry and academia to explore and test local technologies that could contribute to the efficiency of the construction phase.”
BAE Systems Maritime Australia will build nine submarine-hunting warships for the Royal Australian Navy over the next three decades using advanced manufacturing technologies that link digital engineer design with automated technologies and digitise work packs for shipbuilders on the ground.
Nearly 1,400 Australian businesses have registered their interest in the program via the online Industry Capability Network.
The Hunter Class frigate is based on the Type 26 Global Combat Ship design, which supports a close partnership between the UK Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Australian Navy, all of whom have selected a variant of the design for their anti-submarine frigate programs, supporting greater operational, training and intelligence ties.
The prototyping phase of the Hunter Class Frigate Program is integral to enabling the delivery of the Hunter Class frigates and leading to a Continuous Naval Shipbuilding industry in Australia.
The prototyping phase of the Hunter Class Frigate Program will run for three years until 2023. The construction phase of the Hunter program is scheduled to commence by end 2022.
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 percent 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)
16 Dec 20. India Plans Major Indigenous Project for Six AWACS Aircraft. India plans to launch a major Rs 10,500 crore project to indigenously develop six airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft, which act as powerful “eyes in the sky” to look deep into enemy territory in modern-day warfare. Defence sources on Wednesday said the project, which entails mounting indigenous 360-degree coverage AESA (active electronically scanned array) radars on six aircraft acquired from Air India, is set to soon get the initial approval or “acceptance of necessity” by the Rajnath Singh-led Defence Acquisitions Council. The new project, which will involve cost-sharing between the IAF and DRDO, is actually a recast of an earlier plan to mount the indigenous AESA radar on two new Airbus A-330 wide-body jets, which was hanging fire for the last five years. Under the new project, DRDO will acquire six smaller A-320 variants from the existing Air India fleet, get the airframes modified, and then mount the radars on them.
“This project for six AWACS or advanced AEW&C (airborne early-warning and control) aircraft will be much more cost-effective than the earlier one of acquiring two new A-330s from the European multi-national company. DRDO has promised to deliver the six AWACS in a four-to-seven year timeframe,” said a source. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Times of India)
15 Dec 20. Japan Plans To Spend $48bn To Field F-X Stealth Fighters By 2035 That Would Outperform F-35 And Chinese Fighters. Last week, Japan’s Nikkei newspaper revealed new details of Tokyo’s ambitious plans to domestically develop a sixth-generation F-X stealth fighter that can keep China’s increasingly capable air force at bay—at an estimated program cost of over 5trn yen ($48bn).
A development timeline foresees construction of a prototype in 2024, with a first flight to follow in 2028. Series production of the F-X (sometimes dubbed the F-3) would begin in 2031, with entry into service following in 2035. The Japanese Air Self Defense Force would procure around 90 of the advanced stealth fighters.
The twin-engine F-X will integrate advanced technologies including remote drone control capabilities, a VR-style helmet-mounted display, and a radar that can double as a microwave weapon to fry enemy missiles. It will be designed to exchange sensor data with Japanese and U.S. forces, and have a capacity for at least six internally-stowed weapons, including air-to-ground and anti-ship missiles—though air-to-air will be its primary mission.
However, Japan isn’t going entirely solo on its domestic stealth fighter. Tokyo confirmed in December that F-35 manufacturer Lockheed-Martin LMT 0.0% will be its primary international partner. And Japanese engineers would still also like input from Northrop-Grumman and British defense giant BAE if they’re amenable.
Tokyo’s timeline may seem optimistic given the lengthy development cycle and numerous delays that plagued the fifth-generation U.S. F-35 stealth jet. However, Japan’s Ministry of Defense may hope its starting ahead of the game thanks to extensive domestic research of component technologies, including tests of radars, engines, networking systems and even a flying stealth demonstrator jet called the X-2 Shinshin with thrust-vectoring engines.
Tech transfers from Lockheed, BAE or Northrop-Grumman may also shorten the F-X development cycle, as might agile development methods leveraging computer simulation capabilities.
Context: Japan is Worried About China’s Air Force
Over the last decade, consternation has mounted in Tokyo as China’s military aviation has surpassed Japan’s Air Self Defense Force not only in quantitative terms (currently by a roughly 6:1 ration in combat aircraft), but also by some qualitative metrics as Beijing deploys stealth aircraft and replaces more and more of its Cold War-era jets with capable 4.5-generation multi-role fighters like the J-10 and J-11B.
Furthermore, Chinese and Russian fighters and bombers have sustained extremely frequent probes around Japanese airspace, threatening to exceed the JASDF’s ability to respond to every intrusion. These have resulted in tense encounters over the Pacific, including a four-way aerial confrontation in 2019 over disputed isles which also involved the South Korean military.
These circumstances have left Tokyo eager for a next-generation air superiority fighter that could replace its 97 F-16-derived F-2 fighter in the 2030s, and the older half of its roughly 200 F-15Js currently being retired.
Japan is procuring roughly 142 Lockheed F-35A and F-35B Lightning stealth fighters (primarily assembled in Japan), but they aren’t a perfect replacement as they’re optimized more for the strike role than air superiority. And the F-22, the air-to-air stealth jet Tokyo has wanted since the 1990s, is no longer in production. In 2018 Tokyo looked into ordering hybrid F-22/F-35 jets from Lockheed, but found the cost prohibitive.
That means the F-X will be Japan’s first truly domestic jet design in nearly a half-century following the Mitsubishi F-1 fighter, which first flew in 1975.
Given the estimated total program cost of $48bn, Tokyo is willing to pay the equivalent of over a half billion dollars for each of its 90 F-Xs jets, rather than purchasing two or three times as many F-35s or notional F-22/-35 hybrids. But Japan’s self-defense force is more constrained by personnel than money, and the F-X could be a generation ahead of the F-35 and rival Chinese and Russian stealth fighters.
Perhaps even more importantly, money spent on F-X will not only (mostly) cycle into Japanese companies, but could transform Japan into a first-rate military aerospace power no longer as dependent on U.S. companies and export policy.
Since Japan relaxed restrictions on arms exports in 2014, Tokyo may seek to export the F-X to make back some of the costs—if it can find a likeminded partner countries (say for example Australia) deemed sufficiently trustworthy and able to afford the premium prices of Japanese defense products.
F-X Technologies and Companies
Though Japan’s premier defense manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is unsurprisingly the program lead, the massive outlays will be disbursed widely across over a thousand Japanese companies.
The F-X design concept is known to feature electrically actuated control surfaces (hydraulics were too bulky and maintenance intensive), a fiber-optic flight control system (or “fly-by-light”), and serpentine air intakes to reduce radar cross-section and heat signature.
Additional measures intended to make the F-X stealthier include electromagnetic wave absorbers, metamaterial application and using ionized gas (plasma stealth) to reduce radar cross-section.
Heat shields and an integrated bonded structure made of composite materials will be used to decrease weight, enabling the F-X to fly out to substantial ranges to allow flexible basing from central Japanese islands.
IHI Corporation meanwhile has been testing the jet’s XF9-1 low-bypass turbofan engines since 2018. These incorporate exotic materials to reduce size and increase heat tolerance to 1,800 C. The XF-9-1 produces up to 12 U.S. tons of thrust or up to 16.5 tons with afterburners, slightly less than the F119 engines on an F-22 Raptor. However, the XF9-1s are slimmer, and each generates 180 KW energy—cumulatively more than for any U.S. fighter.
Japan has also been testing thrust-vectoring nozzles for the XF9-1 which could allow extremely tight maneuvers. The U.S. F-22 and Russian Su-30 and Su-35 jets feature thrust vectoring, and China has been testing thrust-vectoring engines on its J-10 and J-20 fighters.
Electronics manufacturers Toshiba and the Fujitsu group will take the lead in developing the F-X’s Gallium-Nitride AESA radar, which can also be powered up for use as a microwave weapon against incoming missiles.
The radar will be supplemented by an infrared sensor and an electromagnetic sensor (ESM).
Mitsubishi Electric will focus on mission systems and electronic warfare capabilities, particularly self-defense jamming. Japan has also researched high-speed datalink tech called Integrated Fire Control for Fighters (IFCF) that could allow Japanese (and possibly U.S.) fighters to pool together their sensor and missile targeting capabilities, enhancing the accuracy of beyond visual range missiles.
Subaru will develop F-X landing systems. Though better known as an automobile manufacturer, Subaru’s aerospace division builds wings and landing gear components for the Boeing 777 airliner.
Each F-X jet will be capable of controlling up to three “loyal wingman” styles drones using a shared basic design called the Combat Support Unmanned Aircraft: which can be outfitted either as sensor/scout platforms, or weapons-carrying missile mules. Both drones could improve the F-X’s offensive capability while greatly reducing the manned jet’s exposure to enemy attack.
Lockheed Martin will provide technical support to Mitsubishi regarding airframe design and systems integration. The former almost will undoubtedly involve consultation on the radar-absorbent materials developed by Lockheed Martin, as well as other techniques used by the firm to reduce the radar-cross section of its F-22 and F-35 fighters.
But systems integration is a big deal too, as this proved a vexing challenge in the development of F-35 due to the constantly evolving nature of its concurrently developed sub-systems.
Japan also hopes to pick the brains at Northrop Grumman NOC +0.2%, particularly regarding sensor and networked warfare technologies which are prominent in Grumman’s Super Hornet jets, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning and control planes, and the F-35’s Distributed Aperture System multi-sensor.
Tokyo has also indicated a desire to get input from BAE on the design, particularly with an eye towards electronic warfare/self-defense jamming. BAE is the builder of the F-35 Lightning’s AN/ASQ-239 electronic warfare suite.
Middle Powers Lead The Charge For 6th-Generation Stealth Jets
In just a few years Berlin/Paris, London and Tokyo have all tangibly committed to development of a domestic stealth jet despite predictions that enormous price tags ($40+bn) would dissuade them. Arguably, these nations are motivated as much by economics and politics as military considerations.
Tokyo initially balked in 2018 at the price of a domestic stealth jet before deciding to commit to that path when the shortcomings of alternatives grew clear. In the U.K., the British defense budget simply lacked the funding to match official enthusiasm for the Tempest stealth jet program—only for a defense spending bill to send more money its way this November. And Berlin, Paris and Madrid’s dedication to their Future Combat Air System (combining drones and a Next Generation Fighter) has long been apparent.
These programs reveal defense ministries of many U.S. allies have concluded two things: first, that manned stealth fighters (backed up by loyal wingman drones) will remain decisive and necessary weapon systems through at least the mid-21st century due to the increasing capabilities of Chinese and Russian surface-to-air missiles and combat aircraft.
And second, expensive domestic development of such a fighters is required to retain an independent military aviation industrial base, lest these countries become dependent on the U.S. companies and to the whims of Washington. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Forbes)
15 Dec 20. Saab proposes to build Gripen in Canada and strengthen aerospace innovation. Saab will build its Gripen E in Canada if the aircraft is selected as the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF’s) next-generation fighter jet. The Gripen E is one of three options currently being considered by the Canadian government to replace the RCAF’s fleet of legacy CF-188 Hornets. Saab, supported by the Swedish government, submitted its offer of 88 aircraft, sustainment and training services in late July. The other two bids, backed by the United States government, are the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II and the Boeing Block III Super Hornet.
“If the Gripen is selected . . . Saab is committed to build, support, sustain, enhance and upgrade Canada’s Gripen in Canada by Canadians,” Micael Johansson, president of Saab, said on the opening day of the International Aerospace Week forum, hosted virtually by Aero Montreal, on Dec. 14.
While assembly of the aircraft would done by IMP Aerospace & Defence at its facility in Enfield, N.S., the combat mission systems would be built and maintained at one of two new research facilities proposed for the Montreal area.
As part of its Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) package, Saab is offering to establish a Gripen Centre that would provide management of the mission system program, and support research and development of enhanced capabilities for the fighter “to respond to ever-evolving threats,” said Johansson. “[It would] play a key role in sustainment of the Gripen and its associated systems, including upgrades, fleet management, repairs and modification.”
The centre would become a focal point for the transfer of knowledge and intellectual property (IP) associated with the sensors, electronic warfare and combat systems, giving Canada greater control over its ability to meet NORAD and NATO mission requirements, he noted.
“That’s really the important thing [to] being able to support and sustain the fighter for the life of the program,” added Patrick Palmer, executive vice-president and head of sales and marketing in Canada, during a press briefing after the announcement.
The Gripen centre would be staffed primarily by members of a Canadian team announced in March 2020, which includes IMP, CAE, Peraton Canada and GE Aviation. But there could be additional opportunities for Canadian companies, noted Palmer. The team is “as we have defined it, [but] there are other elements on the team that are going to be coming forth over the next period of time.”
Saab has adopted a somewhat similar approach with Brazil, the only current foreign customer for the Gripen E, establishing the Gripen Design and Development Network to serve as a hub for technology transfer and development of the fighters. The Brazilian Air Force took possession and flew its first F-39 aircraft in September 2020. Though the Gripen Centre in Montreal would be unique to Canada, Saab will capitalize on its Brazilian experience with IP and knowledge transfer “to mitigate any risks,” said Palmer.
Johansson also announced an Aerospace Research & Development Centre, co-located with the Gripen Centre, to focus on “developing a rich ecosystem for research and innovation, . . . a key component of Saab’s long-term vision in Canada.”
The second centre would collaborate with Canadian engineers, scientists, academia and governments to “develop, test and produce next-generation aerospace systems and components to compliment the existing aerospace industry,” he explained.
While R&D might overlap with some elements of the Gripen E program, the broader aim would be to spur innovation in “a number of different areas . . . that we are very interested in looking at, such as autonomous systems, capabilities to make a greener aircraft and artificial intelligence,” Simon Carroll, president of Saab Canada, said during the media briefing. “To do that, we are looking to engage with numerous other partners, other defence and government organizations, and university and other academia. We are looking at a really collaborative space.”
More important for Canadian industry, the goal would be to develop systems and components for global export. The fighter program, observed Johansson, could mean “generational economic benefits” for the aerospace sector.
In all, the two centres and the work generated by the acquisition program, such as training system development by CAE, could create several thousand long-term jobs in the province, he said.
In a closing statement to the forum, Anna Hallberg, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Trade and Nordic Affairs, emphasized the similarities between Canada and Sweden, including production of NHL players. Canada is Sweden’s eighth largest export market and shares numerous R&D interests, she noted. “I believe the defence sector has the potential to increase our bilateral trade and investment exchange even further.” (Source: Google/https://www.skiesmag.com)
11 Dec 20. Mitsubishi Heavy to Lead Japan’s Fighter Project with Lockheed. The Japanese government has outlined the country’s next-generation fighter jet project, selecting Mitsubishi Heavy Industries as the main contractor to lead Japanese and U.S. companies, with American defense contractor Lockheed Martin providing technological support, Nikkei has learned.
The plan for the homegrown fighter jet, which will be jointly operated by Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and the American military, is set to be announced the Ministry of Defense imminently. The move comes as Japan hopes to strengthen its alliance with the U.S in the face of increased Chinese military activity in the Asian region.
Japan plans to manufacture about 90 jets, which will succeed the aging F-2, with deployment slated for 2035. The cost of the project is expected to exceed 5trn yen ($48bn). The initial planning costs will be included in the fiscal 2021 budget draft to be approved by the Japanese cabinet later this month.
The Tokyo government stated in its medium-term defense capability development plan in 2018 that it would develop its next fighter aircraft mainly via its domestic defense industry.
In October, the Ministry of Defense signed a contract with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries as the main developer. The manufacturer is responsible for the design of the aircraft and systems integration. While engineering corporation IHI will develop the engine, auto and aerospace manufacturer Subaru will be in charge of the landing device, and Toshiba and IT group Fujitsu will produce its radar. Its mission system, which controls electronic warfare, will be developed by Mitsubishi Electric. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Nikkei Asian Review)
14 Dec 20. Government backing Aussie know-how for Army comms prototyping. Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has announced the Commonwealth government is investing up to $35m in the remaining phase of a program in which 18 small businesses are designing, developing and manufacturing a military communications prototype.
The Command, Control, Communications and Computing Evolutionary Digital Ground Environment (C4 EDGE) program highlights Australian industry’s ability to deliver critical sovereign communication solutions for the Australian Army.
The small businesses will complete their prototypes by the end of 2021.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the C4 EDGE program had enabled small businesses from almost every state and territory to deliver a proof-of-concept for mobile tactical communications systems.
Minister Price said software and hardware builds and testing activities would follow.
“Up to 53 jobs are expected to be generated across the project’s entire 18-month lifespan, which will include local design and manufacturing of critical defence capabilities, such as mobile tactical communications systems,” Minister Price said.
C4 EDGE is a defence industry co-operative of C4 subject matter experts leading a communications program scoping the demonstration of a sovereign land battlegroup and below communications environment for the Australian Army.
Minister Price added, “The remaining phase of the project includes the development of the tactical communications prototype, which includes waveform, cryptography, satellite-enabled friendly-force tracking, radio and hardware manufacture.”
The C4 EDGE program will leverage internationally agreed open standards to grow and demonstrate Australian C4 (command control communications and computers) industry capacity and ability to deliver a battlegroup and below C4 capability demonstration.
Minister Price said, “This project delivers on the Morrison government’s vision to maximise Australia’s defence industry involvement in the acquisition, operation and sustainment of defence capability over the next decade.”
Ultimately, by the end of 2021 the program will have delivered a proof of concept demonstration that shows the capability of Australian industry to further develop a protected, integrated and supportable sovereign system: one that delivers agile and resilient C2 functionality to meet the flexible, scalable and interoperability needs of a battlegroup operating independently or with partners.
Defence has invested $3.85m in the first phase of the C4 EDGE project, which concluded in early October, with all deliverables completed on schedule and within budget. (Source: Defence Connect)
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