UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
15 Jul 21. Portuguese Army seeks to modernise ground-based air defences. The Portuguese Army expects to receive its first platoon of four vehicle-mounted Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) systems between 2024 and 2025, Major Ricardo Jorge Parcelas Araújo e Silva, area co-ordinator at the army’s Forces Planning Division, told Janes. A second platoon of four VSHORAD systems is scheduled to be received after 2026. A request for proposal (RFP) is scheduled to be issued by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) by September, another army source told Janes. Interested competitors will have three months to deliver bids.
A sales agreement between the Portuguese Army and the NSPA in 2017 sought to buy, for EUR32m (plus EUR9m added in November 2020), a total of eight systems consisting of eight missile launchers, ammunition, eight 4×4 armoured tactical vehicles or eight 6×6 high-mobility trucks with armoured cabin, and two vehicle-mounted or trailer-mounted short-range 3D local warning radars. Either vehicle type would have mounts for a 7.62 mm and 12.7mm machine gun, or 40mm automatic grenade launcher.
The VSHORAD systems are to arm the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battery of the Mechanized Brigade and the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion of the Intervention Brigade, and will be integrated with the SICCA3 anti-aircraft artillery command-and-control system. Both were equipped with the legacy M48A2E1/A3 Chaparral.
The RFP also includes eight weapon terminals to integrate legacy Stinger manportable air defense systems (MANPADS) with the SICCA3 system.
The SICCA3 received by the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion in September 2016 consists of a sheltered Teknel Fire Detection Center (FDC) and Tactical Operations Center (TOC) and Arquus Kerax 4×4 trucks. (Source: Jane’s)
15 Jul 21. NATO launches next phase of effort to find AWACS replacement. NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control (NAEW&C) has launched a new phase in its effort to find a replacement for its Boeing E-3A Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) aircraft that are set to be retired in 2035. The NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) announced on 15 July that it had launched a new risk-reduction and feasibility study competition to analyse and develop concepts identified as potential replacements in the first round of its Alliance Future Surveillance and Control (AFSC) that was initiated in 2017.
“The AFSC Concept Stage was initiated by the North Atlantic Council in 2017 to redefine how NATO will conduct surveillance and command-and-control after the AWACS reach the end of their service life in 2035,” the NSPA said. “[The] NSPA is responsible to conduct studies and develop technical concepts that will help inform future decisions by allies for their long-term plans and acquisition of new capabilities. These could include different combinations of systems in the air, land, sea, space, and cyber domains.”
According to the NSPA, six unnamed companies delivered concept studies in March 2020. These were whittled down to three for the NSPA AFSC Project Office and the Strategic Commands to take forward for further analysis through separate risk-reduction and feasibility studies (RRFS). (Source: Jane’s)
13 Jul 21. Government fund will support new ideas for cleaning up space. Space firms are being invited to apply for a share of up to £800,000 in funding from the UK Space Agency to develop ideas for space debris removal missions. One of the biggest global challenges facing the space sector is orbital congestion and space debris. There are currently an estimated 900,000 pieces of space debris including old satellites, spent rocket bodies and even tools dropped by astronauts orbiting Earth. Space debris can stay in orbit for hundreds of years and present a real danger to the rapidly increasing number of new satellites being launched each year. The UK Space Agency is looking to fund two active debris removal feasibility studies through its Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST) programme, which aims to make space safer and more sustainable. The feasibility studies will develop a debris removal mission concept and system design. The deadline for applications is 19 July 2021 [Updated: 9 July] and the opportunity is open to businesses, non-profits and academics.
Jacob Geer, Head of Space Surveillance and Tracking at the UK Space Agency, said, “Space debris is a growing issue but there are real opportunities for the UK to lead the world in developing and marketing technologies to solve the problem. This funding could give space firms the scope and support to make real breakthroughs. As we progress further into this new age of space mega-constellations, the UK Space Agency will work with the industry and international partners to ensure humanity can utilise space safely and sustainably. The surge in new missions to refuel, repair or reposition old spacecraft in orbit could present a real opportunity for the UK.”
This is the latest investment the UK Space Agency is making in cleaning up space. In 2020 it awarded seven UK companies a share of over £1m to help track debris in space. It also recently awarded £2.5m to Astroscale to develop the technology to remove communication satellites. The UK is also the leading contributor to the European Space Agency’s Space Safety programme which provides collaboration and funding opportunities for UK scientists and industry.
One collision with space debris could create thousands of small, fast-moving fragments which can damage the satellites that provide everyday services such as communications, weather forecasting or satellite navigation.
Today’s announcement follows a new publication by UKSpace highlighting the importance of In-orbit servicing (IOS) capabilities for national security and economic growth. The report acknowledges the UK is ahead of the curve in important areas like close proximity operations, as demonstrated by Astroscale’s recent ELSA-d mission. It predicts that technologies and skills developed through IOS, including debris removal, could deliver massive benefits to society, with revenues worth tens of billions of pounds to the UK.
New figures released by the UK Space Agency this month show strong growth in the UK space sector. Income rising from £14.8bn in 2016/17o £16.4bn in 2018/19, representing a growth of 5.7 per cent in real terms, while employment is up by 3,200 from 41,900 to 45,100. Research and development spending rose 18 per cent in real terms from £595m in 2016/17 to £702m in 2018/19. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
15 Jul 21. Pentagon seeks F-35 engine options. The Pentagon is considering Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) engine options due to the propulsion system’s difficult sustainment and an expected need for better performance in the future.
Lieutenant General Eric Fick, F-35 program executive officer (PEO), told a House panel on 13 July that the Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100 turbofan’s costs and sustainment are challenging. The Pentagon, he said, will start to bear those costs in the sustainment of the air system as the programme approaches the 2,000 hour first scheduled engine removal.
Additionally, Lt Gen Fick said the Pentagon will probably need increased power and thermal management capability from the F-35’s propulsion system after Block 4 modifications and upgrades are implemented.
There is need to evaluate the F-35 engine options, he added.
“I will pledge to work with my US Air Force, US Navy, and US Marine Corps services as we work to explore options and alternatives to address the F-35’s propulsion system issues moving forward,” he said.
Lt Gen Fick said he toured a GE Aviation facility in Evendale, Ohio, about six weeks ago, and saw the company’s work on the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP). Although he said he was impressed, Lt Gen Fick added that there is a lot of work to be done before GE Aviation’s AETP system becomes a production engine. (Source: Jane’s)
12 Jul 21. US Army triggers competition for future long-range assault aircraft. The U.S. Army has launched its future long-range assault aircraft competition, quietly releasing a request for proposals limited to two industry teams. The service has also homed in on a schedule to deliver FLRAA prototypes after debating two different options to stay on schedule. The service weighed the option of pursuing both prototype builds for the airframe and the weapons systems at the same time, or on slightly separate schedules, which would have meant the difference between delivering full prototypes to the Army by the spring or the summer of 2025. The Army will choose a winner — after a faceoff between Textron’s Bell and a Sikorsky-Boeing team — in the third quarter of fiscal 2022. It appears the service is requiring prototype delivery to start in the third quarter of FY25 and wrap up a year later, according to a review of FY22 budget documents.
The FY21 budget justification documents had FLRAA prototype deliveries scheduled for the second quarter of FY25.
It is unclear whether two separate preliminary design reviews will occur for the airframe and the weapons systems, or if they will be done concurrently. The Army scheduled a preliminary and detailed design review to take place from the third quarter of FY22 to the second quarter of FY24, but that timeline is not broken down further in the FY22 budget documents.
The FY21 documents specifically lay out the preliminary design review, which was expected to begin in the second quarter of FY22 and wrap up in the fourth quarter of FY23. A detailed design review would begin directly following and run until the first quarter of FY25.
Based on the changes, it appears the Army will wrap up all its design phases nearly a year earlier.
But the schedule still evens out over time: Flight testing is now planned to begin in the third quarter of 2025, and wrap up in the fourth quarter of FY29, which is consistent in both FY21 and FY22 justification books.
The Army plans to equip the first unit with FLRAA in FY30.
The RFP is out
The Army delivered its RFP to industry on July 6, according to sources. The document was not posted publicly, but Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal confirmed to Defense News that the RFP was issued but limited to competitors based on a justification and approval signed by the Army acquisition chief.
The service posted a notice of intent to solicit a requirement using the acquisition vehicle “other than full and open competition” in December to the public contracting website SAM.gov.
According to an ACC spokesperson, the RFP “supports the FLRAA’s acquisition strategy to continue maximizing competition in order to increase both economic efficiency and innovation. This contract will encompass the development, prototyping, flight test and fielding of the FLRAA weapons system.”
As the service laid out in its request for information, the plan is for a head-to-head competition between Bell and the Sikorsky-Boeing team.
The Bell V-280 Valor technology demonstrator has retired from flight but will live on in the company’s solution it will soon submit to the Army’s future long-range assault aircraft competition.
The team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin-owned Sikorsky plan to submit its Defiant X coaxial aircraft based off its SB-1 Defiant technology demonstrator it built and is still flying for the Army as part of a competitive demonstration and risk reduction effort. The CDRR will run through the third quarter of FY22.
Bell has also been flying a technology demonstrator aircraft — the V-280 Valor tilt rotor — for the Army and is also participating in the CDRR. Bell recently retired its demonstrator, which had been flying since December 2017 but is still contributing data and analysis as part of the CDRR.
Bell is expected to submit a tilt-rotor design closely based on its demonstrator.
Bids are due in the fourth quarter of FY21, according to budget documents. The Army plans to evaluate proposals through the second quarter of FY22, when it will make an award to one bidder to build prototypes.
According to the documents, the Army plans to conduct a virtual prototyping phase beginning at the time of contract award through the first quarter of FY24 that will run concurrently with the preliminary and detailed design phase.
The selected team will begin building prototypes in the third quarter of FY23.
The RFP, obtained by Defense News, lays out a three-phased approach for delivering FLRAA beginning with the virtual prototype effort and a preliminary design review followed by a second phase that will include a critical design review and the building of six engineering and manufacturing development prototype aircraft, followed by two limited-user evaluation prototype aircraft.
Joint government and contractor testing and evaluation will happen in the second phase of the effort. In the third phase, the contractor will deliver eight low-rate initial production aircraft.
The RFP also lays out a detailed incentive plan for the contractor to deliver prototypes and move through test and evaluation more quickly. Incentives are also offered if the aircraft can exceed requirements for weight-growth capacity and external-load mission payloads.
The Army has set its threshold speed requirement for the aircraft at 230 knots, with an objective requirement of 280 knots, according to the RFP. The contract would set up an incentive to reach the objective speed requirement as well.
The Army also plans to buy a future attack reconnaissance aircraft, or FARA, over roughly the same timeline, but has already awarded competitive contracts to Bell and Lockheed Martin. Those companies are now bending metal to build flyable aircraft by the end of FY22.
The service plans to select a winner in the first quarter of FY24 following a yearlong flyoff over FY23.
The Army is requesting $448.4m in FY22 for FLRAA development efforts and $650.2 m for FARA efforts.
According to the FY21 Army budget documents, the service had planned to fund the FLRAA program in FY22 at just $178.2m. The FY21 documents showed the Army intended to fund FARA at a similar level of $611.1m.
The Army noted in its FY22 justification books that the additional $267.6m in the FLRAA funding line is to “support an extended [CDRR] II effort by continuing competition, accelerating preliminary design and setting the conditions to award the program of record contract.”
The service justifies the additional funding for FARA as a means to cover the cost of air vehicle design and mission systems integration risk reduction efforts, according to the documents.
The House Appropriations Committee was the first out of the gate to issue a draft FY22 spending bill at the end of June and would like to add an additional $388m for both of the future vertical lift programs. It is unclear whether other committees will follow suit, but if it carries, that would mean the Army will invest $1.1bn toward future vertical lift capabilities. (Source: Military Times)
REST OF THE WORLD
13 Jul 21. DISER opens up MMI Manufacturing Collaboration Stream grants.
The Defence Science Institute (DSI) reports that DISER is about to call for applications for grants worth up to $200m as part of its Manufacturing Collaboration Stream under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI). Applications will open on 11 August, closing 9 September, but it plans to run a series of online information sessions from 13 to 21 July. These will address things like eligibility requirements and key points from the assessment criteria. Potential applicants can register here.
The Manufacturing Collaboration Stream provides funding for businesses to collaborate on large-scale manufacturing projects that will either directly feature collaboration or will create and facilitate collaborative ecosystems.
Grants from $20m up to $200m are available for Australian large-scale manufacturers with business-to-business collaboration at their core and/or business-to-research collaboration at their core.
The stream will catalyse long-term transformation in the National Manufacturing Priority areas and focus private and public investment to help create the environment and incentives for Australian manufacturers to:
- Scale up
- Move towards higher value-added activities
- Become more competitive
(Source: Rumour Control)
06 Jul 21. Safran opens call for SEA 1000 Optronics and Navigation technologies.
Safran Electronics and Defense is seeking Expressions of Interest for the design, provision, integration and support of the navigation and optronics sensors that are a part of the Future Submarine Project Combat System.
The project consists of the design, provision, integration and support of the navigation and optronics sensors forming part of the Future Submarine Project Combat System. The project includes all of the outboard equipment and the supply and integration of elements of the inboard system. The project is a subcontract to Lockheed Martin Australia acting as the Combat System Integrator.
- Electronic Racks
- Radar-Absorbent Material
- Space and Weight Model
- Transport Boxes
To submit an initial ROI for the Work Scopes, companies must have an ICN Gateway company profile. Shortlisted SMEs will be invited to tender Work Packages as needed.
Headquartered in Sydney, Safran Electronics & Defense Australasia Pty Ltd (SEDA) delivers and supports various products including high performance optronics and inertial navigation equipment. (Source: Rumour Control)
13 Jul 21. Australia releases RFI for Sovereign Guided Weapons Enterprise. HMAS Arunta fires an Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile off the coast of Western Australia to test its missile systems after undergoing the Anzac Midlife Capability Assurance Program upgrade. Photo: Defence
The Department of Defence has issued a Request for Information (RFI) for the Sovereign Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise announced by the Prime Minister n 31 March this year. The RFI closes on 2 August.
The purpose of the RFI is to seek feedback from industry and academia to inform subsequent decisions by Defence, including defining the overall strategy for this project, identifying commercial models to support the government’s strategy and identifying potential industry partners to work with the Commonwealth. It identifies three key questions:
- Preferred commercial models and the potential role of an initial strategic industry partner
- Industry readiness
- Acceleration opportunities
The last two represent an opportunity for targeted R&D by industry, academia and DST Group. The RFI also explicitly seeks out feedback from SMEs on their existing and planned capabilities, how they might support the establishment of a sovereign GWEO capability and to identify areas for further Commonwealth focus and investment.
An online briefing will be held to provide further information on the Enterprise and RFI process – details will be published on AusTender when they become available. (Source: Rumour Control)
12 Jul 21. Rolls-Royce has reportedly opted out of a contract to supply Ukraine with waterjets for Kiev’s Centaur-class fast assault craft at the last minute. Yuri Biryukov, an advisor to former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, claims the British company pulled out of the contract to supply the waterjets just five days before their expected delivery, citing a lack of permission from authorities to export dual-use goods to Ukraine. Biryukov suggested that Rolls-Royce apparently has no problems supplying waterjets to Russia for its Raptor high-speed patrol boats.
Rolls-Royce has not commented on the ex-official’s remarks.
He went on to complain that the two competed Centaur-class boats are yet to be accepted into service years after being finished, apparently because the Defence Ministry has refused to create a commission to do so.
Ukraine’s Defence Ministry has characterised its Centaur-class patrol craft as a “worthy response” to the “much slower” and “outdated” ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
However, the head of the Kiev-based Ukrainian Military Centre NGO has suggested that the ships could not be commissioned due to their “poor quality” and “unfinished” state, and apparent inability to float on an even keel while stationary.
The patrol boats were built at the once-legendary Kuznya na Rybalskomu shipbuilding plant, owned by Poroshenko, who is one of Ukraine’s wealthiest men. Earlier this month, the head of the plant and Ukraine’s former deputy minister of defence were caught up in a scandal over the delivery of shoddy equipment to the military –including as it related to Centaur-class patrol boats.
Ukraine’s Navy formally has two Centaurs in its inventory, with both launched in September 2018, but yet to be commissioned. A third boat is under construction, with plans to build as many as five more. (Source: News Now/https://sputniknews.com/)
13 Jul 21. NZ Army eyes new utility vehicle fleet. Pinzgauer 6×6 vehicles of the New Zealand Army are up for replacement, and an exercise has started to find a replacement. The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is gathering ideas to replace its Pinzgauer 6×6 vehicle fleet, with an advanced notice of procurement for 99 light and 106 medium utility vehicles issued on 13 July. New Zealand wants either a military or commercial off-the-shelf solution, and more than one contract could be awarded depending on how many primes and/or platforms are selected. The right-hand-drive Utility Vehicles – Medium (UV-M) and Utility Vehicles – Light (UV-L), along with an appropriate integrated logistics support system and through-life support, form part of the NZDF’s Protected Mobility Capability Project (PMCP).
BATTLESPACE Comment: New Zealand was the first customer for the Armoured Pinzgauer, which turned out to be a disastrous acquisition, as the bodies were too heavy for the chassis making it impossible to climb some hills when full laden, they were soon taken out of service. (Source: News Now/Shephard)
09 Jul 21. Nigeria getting two presidential AW189 helicopters amongst other acquisitions. The Nigerian presidential air fleet will soon be receiving two new AW189 VIP helicopters from Italy’s Leonardo Helicopters, while Super Tucanos and Chinese unmanned aerial vehicles will be delivered this month.
The first AW189 (registration I-RAIW, apparently serial 40968) and painted in the colours of the Nigerian Air Force’s Presidential Air Fleet was seen undergoing test flights in Italy on 2 March. Then, on 30 June, a second AW189 in Nigerian Presidential colours was seen at Venegono where Leonardo Helicopters has its Aircraft Division. The second AW189 was wearing temporary registration I-RAIL.
The Presidential Air Fleet is based at Abuja/Nnamdi Azikiwe (Nigeria) and operates two Leonardo AW139 helicopters next to a fleet of fixed wing aircraft, which includes a Cessna 550, a Falcon 900, a Boeing 737-700, two Falcon 7X jets and a Gulfstream G550.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Air Force is expecting eight aircraft to be delivered this month, including light attack turboprops and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
This is according to the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, who was speaking to graduated recruits of the Nigerian Air Force Basic Military Training Course 41/2020 at the Military Training Centre, NAF Base, Kaduna, on 4 June.
He disclosed that the NAF was expecting six A-29 Super Tucano aircraft from the United States of America in July and two Wing Loong Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) from China.
The remaining six Super Tucanos on order, he said, would arrive in September while two CH-3 and four CH-4 UAVs would arrive in the country before the end of 2021. These additional aircraft, he said, would no doubt boost air power employment capabilities in support of joint operations and would be a game changer in various theatre of operations.