UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
06 May 21. Publications of Interest – Project Theseus – The MOD is inviting tenders for Project Theseus which is a commercial Framework Agreement for experimentation tasking(s) in the field of Autonomous Logistics. Framework tasking can range in scope and scale from small-scale procurement or funded demonstrations, to financial contributions towards development of a complete technological solution to Project Theseus. The tender value is £12.5m (ex VAT) and responses are to be submitted before 19 May 2021. Further information is available here or by contacting Bradley Hayward. (Source: Team Defence)
30 Apr 21. Saab Delivers its Best and Final Offer for Finland. Saab has, with strong support from the Swedish Government, submitted its Best and Final Offer (BAFO) to the Finnish defence procurement agency for the Finnish HX fighter procurement. The proposal comprises 64 Gripen E fighter aircraft and an extensive weapons package, as well as two GlobalEye Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft. This constitutes the response to the customer’s January 2021 request for a BAFO. Finland is replacing the capability provided by its current fleet of F/A-18 C/D Hornet aircraft.
The proposed solution features the latest cutting-edge technology for the continuously changing and very challenging operational environment. Gripen is built to defeat the threats of our region and responds very well to the customer’s requirements. It is furthermore designed for road-base operations in a harsh climate and to enable easy maintenance by conscript mechanics. The offering includes some of the most advanced weapons, such as the Meteor for air targets at medium to long distance, the IRIS-T for air targets at short distance, SPEAR for ground targets at medium distance and the KEPD350/Taurus for long-range strike missions against ground targets.
GlobalEye brings unique additional sensor capabilities – for joint operations with Gripen as well as providing benefits for the entire Finnish defence forces. As a strategic asset, GlobalEye will serve across the entire operational spectrum, providing vital information for Finland. The combined effect of Gripen and GlobalEye will be very powerful.
“With Gripen’s outstanding capabilities and availability, Finland can renew its fighter fleet without compromising on the number of fighters. Thanks to a truly competitive life-cycle cost, the Finnish Defence Forces will be able to stay within the budgetary targets, and even secure a margin for other vital defence capabilities over the years to come,” says Micael Johansson, President and CEO of Saab.
“With GlobalEye, we bring significant additional sensor capabilities that will provide strategic and real-time information to Gripen and the entire joint defence forces. We are happy to include GlobalEye as the world´s most advanced AEW&C platform,” Johansson continues.
The proposal also comprises the necessary equipment and associated services needed for operating the system through an extensive industrial co-operation programme, with the aim to build national capabilities in Finland for Security of Supply. This includes transfer to local industry of maintenance, repair and overhaul capabilities, parts production, as well as final assembly of engines and aircraft. Saab will also establish a Gripen & GlobalEye System Centre in Finland, to ensure independent operations and continuous capability growth of the systems until 2060.
According to the customer’s planning, a procurement decision is foreseen late 2021.
Finland is an important market for Saab. The company has a long history in the country and is constantly expanding its activities and establishing partnerships with local industry and academia. More recently Saab has initiated extensive research co-operation with the Aalto University, established a Technology Centre in Tampere, currently employing over 50 engineers, and has extensive co-operation with the research institute VTT and several Finnish defence companies. (Source: ASD Network)
29 Apr 21. Pencils down: bids in for Finland’s HX fighter programme. Finland has received final quotations from suppliers vying to supply the country’s next fighter jet. Lockheed Martin, Saab, Dassault, Eurofighter and Boeing are all in the running to replace the country’s ageing fleet of F/A-18 C/D Hornets.
Boeing Super Hornet and Growler
Local Finnish media have reported that Boeing is offering 50 F/A-18 Block III Super Hornets and 14 EA-18G Growlers for a total of 64 aircraft.
In a short statement issued on Twitter, Boeing said: “It’s official: we have submitted our best and final offer in response to Finland’s #HXHanke. Our offer includes options for the F/A-18 Block III #SuperHornet, the electronic warfare #EA18G Growler and a robust industrial engagement plan for Finnish industry.”
Previously, Boeing told Air Force Technology that as a follow-up to the Hornet, the Finnish Air Force’s infrastructure in flying the Super Hornet essentially already exists. With many existing industry partners in Finland already up and running, it would be possible to perform assembly of the aircraft or components in the country.
Boeing emphasised this easy switch, saying: “You could have a Hornet flying today and a Super Hornet flying tomorrow.”
It is estimated that around 60% of existing Hornet tooling can be used to support the new Super Hornet – increasing potential cost savings.
Lockheed Martin F-35A
Lockheed Martin is offering a package of F-35A aircraft and a ‘sustainment solution’ it says is tailored to meet Finland’s security of supply needs. The company’s F-35 offer also is said to include many ‘first-of-a-kind’ opportunities for Finnish industry to work on the production and sustain of the fighter.
F-35 programme vice president and general manager Bridget Lauderdale said: “The F-35 will provide Finnish industries high technology job opportunities that no other competitor can offer,
“The production work will continue for more than 20 years, and the F-35 sustainment work will continue into the 2050s. Not only will Finland support its own F-35s, but it will directly support the global fleet of F-35s through the production of major components.”
Unlike some bidders, Lockheed Martin did not say how many aircraft it had offered Finland.
Lockheed Martin said that through ‘indirect industrial participation’ outside of F-35 production, it would build partnerships with the Finnish industry and academia to develop ‘advancing security collaborations.’
Previously, the company said the use of the aircraft within Europe could increase partnership opportunities and cost-sharing ability, which would also help reduce through-life costs.
To date, 630 F-35s are in service in 13 countries.
Eurofighter’s Typhoon bid is backed by the partner nations of the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain and includes more than 80 work packages for Finnish companies including a final assembly line and access to research and development projects headed up by MBDA.
Speaking at a press briefing on the Typhoon submission, UK Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quinn said: “The Eurofighter partnership on offer represents the best all-round package for Finland.
“It is affordable within the Finnish budget; it provides security of supply through industrial participation that delivers high-tech jobs for the duration of the aircraft’s service life, and it delivers outstanding military capability, all underpinned by a Government-to-Government partnership.”
BAE Systems did not say how many aircraft it was offering Finland as part of its best and final offer.
Like many of the other fighters on offer, the Typhoon has seen extensive service with European Air Forces including the German Luftwaffe, the UK Royal Air Force and the Italian Aeronautica Militare.
BAE Systems – Air Europe and International managing director Andrea Thompson said that the Eurofighter offer ‘exceeded’ the direct and indirect industrial partnership targets set by Finland.
Thompson added: “The jobs that we are offering are high quality, long term jobs equating to over 20 million man-hours over 30 years, with the knock-on benefit to the wider economy driving this figure even higher, and I am proud to be part of the team submitting this offer into Finland today.”
Dassault has not as of yet released any details of its best and final offer.
The aircraft is the main fighter of the French Air Force and used by several foreign customers, including India, Egypt and Qatar.
The aircraft comes in several variants, including a carrier fighter. Finland has been offered the Rafale C aircraft; a twin-seater Rafale B is also available, which can be used for training and more intensive missions.
Previously, Air Force Technology reported that the company had offered Finland the ability to operate the aircraft independently from France and potentially build the airframes in the country.
Dassault describes the aircraft on its website as “the right answer to the capability approach selected by an increasing number of governments,” adding that the Rafale offers the ability to “carry out the widest range of roles with the smallest number of aircraft.”
Dassault describes the fighter jet as ‘omnirole’ rather than multi-role, saying that the Rafale is: “relevant against both traditional and asymmetrical threats, it addresses the emerging needs of the armed forces in a changing geopolitical context, and it remains at the forefront of technical innovation.”
Detailing its best and final offer, Saab confirmed its proposal comprised of 64 Gripen E fighter aircraft, a weapons package and two GlobalEye Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft.
Commenting on the company’s bid, Saab CEO and president Micael Johansson said: “With Gripen’s outstanding capabilities and availability, Finland can renew its fighter fleet without compromising on the number of fighters.
“Thanks to a truly competitive life-cycle cost, the Finnish Defence Forces will be able to stay within the budgetary targets, and even secure a margin for other vital defence capabilities over the years to come.”
The Saab offer includes several weapons systems, including Meteor, IRIS-T, SPEAR and KEPD350/Taurus.
The company touted the benefits of the inclusion of the two GlobalEye aircraft as a ‘strategic’ asset for the entire Finnish Defence Forces.
Saab is offering the final assembly of the engines and aircraft in Finland and the transfer of maintenance, repair, and overhaul capabilities to the local industry.
Johansson added: “With GlobalEye, we bring significant additional sensor capabilities that will provide strategic and real-time information to Gripen and the entire joint defence forces. We are happy to include GlobalEye as the world´s most advanced AEW&C platform,”
The company said it would also establish a ‘Gripen & GlobalEye System Centre’ in Finland designed to ensure ‘independent operations and continuous capability growth of the systems until 2060.’
Several countries already use the Gripen, including Sweden and Hungary, and other customers across the world. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
06 May 21. Sierra Nevada protests US Air Force’s planned award to Sikorsky for HH-60W upgrades. Sierra Nevada Corp (SNC) is contesting the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) intention to sole-source a USD980m contract to Sikorsky for HH-60W Jolly Green II combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopter upgrades.
The bid protest, filed in the US Court of Federal Claims, alleges that the USAF’s intent to sole-source this contract violated the Competition in Contracting Act (CICA), which requires full and open competition in acquisition for supplies and services by US federal agencies. In its 19 April filing, SNC said that while the CICA permits an exception to the use of competitive procedures when there is only one responsible source, an agency must first provide an opportunity for all responsible sources to submit capability statements.
Members of a HH-60W aircrew prepare for a 27 July 2020 flight at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Sierra Nevada is protesting the US Air Force’s intent to sole-source a contract to HH-60W developer Sikorsky for aircraft upgrades. (US Air Force)
The agency must then consider those capability statements before invoking the exception to competition. SNC alleges that the USAF did not comply with these mandatory requirements and that other responsible sources, such as SNC, did not have a fair opportunity to compete for the award.
SNC alleges that the USAF justified its sole-source award to Sikorsky because the 1–2 years required to conduct a competition would result in delays to the HH-60W capability upgrades. However, the company said this argument ignores that about 17 months passed since the USAF posted its sources-sought synopsis on 1 October 2019. The USAF issued its intent to sole-source the contract to Sikorsky on 11 February. (Source: Jane’s)
06 May 21. The US Army seeks AI-enabled analytics in constrained environments. In a world of rapid data proliferation, the US Army xTechGlobal Artificial Intelligence (AI) Challenge seeks to find an AI-based solution to data analytics. The ability to collect, process and interpret data quickly and efficiently is vital across the broad spectrum of defence and security. However, in a world where more and more data is generated from a growing number of sources, the capability to effectively assess data information is hindered by issues such as insufficient computing power and limited bandwidth at the point of need.
Fortunately, our colleagues in the US Army have an ongoing competition that aims to address data analytics challenges, which will be of particular interest to UK defence innovators in the AI-enabled analytic space.
The xTech Global Artificial Intelligence (AI) Challenge is a two-round competition, where up to ten finalists will receive an award of $10,000 each and pitch their dual-use technologies at the Innovation Hub (I-HUB) Imperial College London this July 2021, where DASA has its London office.
In conjunction with the pitch event, DASA will host UK Venture capitalists who are looking to invest in the AI technology area.
Check out their website for more details.
xTech Global Artificial Intelligence (AI) Challenge
The xTech Global Artificial Intelligence (AI) Challenge is the first international tri-service competition that aims to engage with international small to medium enterprises in the US Army combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Atlantic Area of responsibility, which includes Europe.
It is also the first international prize competition held by the United States Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (ASA(ALT)).
What is the aim of the competition?
The Department of Defence (DoD) is seeking AI-enabled capabilities to manage, process and reason disparate data/information sources for rapid decision making. The competition has a particular focus on AI/Machine learning (ML) algorithms and software tools that enable data analytics, especially in resource-constrained environments.
When is the deadline?
The xTechGlobal AI Challenge will comprise a two-round competition:
- a call for white papers
- a finalist pitch event
The deadline to submit a white paper proposal is 12 May 2021, where up to ten finalists of this round will win $10,000 each. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
03 May 21. US Air Force seeks suppliers for C-UAS contracting hub to link research, operational units. The US Air Force has extended its deadline for its request for proposals to industry for a counter small UAS contracting vehicle (FA875021R1000) from 22 January 2021 to 14 May 2021. According to the tender document:
“The Air Force Research Laboratory, Information Directorate, Rome NY (AFRL/RI) has a requirement to provide a focused yet flexible, rapid, agile contracting vehicle between Air Force Research Laboratory, its Products Centers, and the Operational Community to support rapid research, development, prototyping, demonstration, evaluation, and transition of Counter small Unmanned Aircraft System (C-sUAS) capabilities. These capabilities are to be used in combating Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS)—and others leveraging COTS technology—presently being used by our adversaries in asymmetric warfare against U.S. military personnel and materiel. Emphasis will be placed on: a) development of technology capability solutions that address specific user requirements; b) delivery of prototype technologies for evaluation and feedback in the context of the user’s operational environment; and c) provision of a mechanism for user acquisition of limited product quantities required for operational introduction of technologies. Anticipated deliverables include software, hardware, technical documentation and technical reports.
“For the aforementioned requirements, the Government anticipates a single award Indefinite-Delivery, Indefinite-Quantity (ID/IQ) research and development (R&D) contract with Cost-Plus-Fixed-Fee Completion (CPFF/C) Task Orders, an ordering period of seventy-two (72) months, and a maximum ordering amount of approximately $490,400,000.
Tender number: FA875021R1000
Responsible organisation: US Air Force
Deadline 14 May 2021 (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
REST OF THE WORLD
04 May 21. Egypt bumps up its Rafale fleet by 30 new planes. has bought 30 more Rafale aircraft from France, according to statements issued on Tuesday by the Egyptian and French defense ministries as well as Dassault Aviation, the aircraft’s manufacturer.
The new acquisition complements the first Egyptian purchase of 24 Rafales six years ago and will up the Rafale fleet in the Egyptian Air Force to 54, making it the second-largest Rafale fleet in the world after France.
The first aircraft of this new contract will be delivered three years after the contract takes effect, according to a French Defense Ministry statement, but nobody at the ministry was available to specify when that would be.
According to the investigative, not-for-profit website Disclose, the deal, signed on April 26, is worth almost €4bn (U.S. $5bn). The Egyptian Defense Ministry said the purchase would be financed through a loan that would be repaid over at least 10 years, but the government gave no further details.
Egyptian officials were expected at the French Ministry for the Economy and Finance on Tuesday to sign the financing deal linked to the contract.
Besides the main contract with Dassault, also included in the pact are deals with Safran Electronics & Defense as well as with missile-maker MBDA for a combined $240m.
Florence Parly, the French armed force minister, said in a statement that the new deal “reinforces the strategic and military partnership between France and Egypt.” She added that “this contract illustrates the strategic nature of the partnership that France maintains with Egypt, while our two countries are resolutely committed to the fight against terrorism and are working for stability in their regional environment.”
Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation, said: “This new order is proof of the unfailing bond that unites Egypt, the first foreign user of the Rafale, as it was for the Mirage 2000, with Dassault Aviation for nearly 50 years. It is also a tribute to the Rafale’s operational quality. (Source: Defense News)