UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
06 Jan 22. New Air Traffic system operational with 300 UK jobs supported. A cutting-edge Air Traffic Management System is operational at RAF Shawbury in a £1.5bn contract transforming air traffic management for the UK military.
- £1.5bn contract transforming Air Traffic Management for UK Armed Forces
- RAF Shawbury first to benefit from cutting-edge technology
- More than 300 jobs supported through the programme, with 150 of those in Fareham, Hampshire
Designed to ensure safe and resilient military flying operations, the contract will integrate and support modern, innovative equipment with existing infrastructure. Variations will be rolled out across more than 60 Ministry of Defence sites in the UK and overseas by 2024, including Cyprus, Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.
The equipment allows controllers improved situational awareness enhancing flight safety, with digital upgrades including touch screen communications, clearer radar pictures and improved flight information and positioning – all of which will be available on upgraded controller consoles.
Around 300 jobs have been secured in Fareham and other areas of the UK since the contract was awarded to Aquila Air Traffic Management Services Ltd in 2014 – a joint venture between Thales and National Air Traffic Services.
Minister for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin, said: “Ensuring our drones, fighter jets, helicopters and cargo aircraft operate safely and efficiently is critical to maintaining our capabilities and supporting our service personnel. This state-of-the-art system is another example of how we are putting innovation at the forefront of everything we do.”
The £1.5bn programme, known as Marshall, provides improved reliability, quality of service and cost savings by using Aquila Engineering teams to maintain the equipment. The programme is expected to save the UK taxpayer up to £317 million across the next 22 years.
The air traffic system includes a £400 million investment in advanced surveillance radars and a wide range of sophisticated equipment such as tower systems, new surveillance and navigation aids and radios.
Sir Simon Bollom, CEO of DE&S, the procurement arm of the MOD, said: “This is a key milestone in a programme that is vital to front-line capability. It is an excellent example of collaboration between DE&S, the RAF and industry to provide the Armed Forces with the technology to do their job safely and effectively.”
Squadron Leader Steve Leech, Senior Air Traffic Control Officer (SATCO) at RAF Shawbury said: “As the first unit to transition to full operational service, the last year has naturally been both a challenging and exciting period of change. I am immensely proud of my team in turning this advanced equipment into an operational capability. Working in ever-closer partnership with Aquila, controllers and duty holders now have a much deeper understanding of the air traffic management surveillance solution than ever before.”
Michael Stoller, CEO of Aquila said: “The full Marshall ATM Solution entering operational service at RAF Shawbury marks the achievement of a major milestone in the Marshall programme. This new technology will transform air traffic management for our military in the UK and overseas and enable our customer to realise significant operational and cost saving benefits.”
The programme supports implementation of the Integrated Review and Defence Command Paper, published last year, which placed an emphasis on more productive, active and globally deployed Armed Forces.
06 Jan 22. UK planning to purchase additional A400M transport aircraft. In a table detailing current and future Ministry of Defence expenditure, an entry is listed mentioning that the UK plans to purchase additional A400M Atlas transport aircraft later this decade.
An entry in the table under the heading ‘A400m Additional Purchase’ reads “Additional purchase of A400M planned for the late 2020s”. The increased fleet capacity was also hinted at in the Defence Command Paper, more on that below.
There is no number given however the UK has already ordered 22 A400M aircraft with 20 having been delivered so far. The remaining two are expected this year.
It’s worth remembering that the Royal Air Force will lose its entire fleet of C-130 Hercules aircraft by 2023. The Defence Command Paper released last year, titled ‘Defence in a Competitive Age‘, states:
“The Royal Air Force will retire the BAe146 as planned by 2022 and take the C130 Hercules out of service by 2023. The A400M Atlas force will increase its capacity and capability, operating alongside C 17 Globemaster and Voyager transport aircraft and tankers.”
The C-130J variants first entered service with the Royal Air Force in the late 1990s and some of the C-130s have been retired in recent years but the remaining 14 had originally been due to keep flying until the mid-2030s. It is understood that, where possible, their missions will be picked up by the fleet of larger A400M Atlas transport aircraft.
What does Atlas do?
According to the Royal Air Force website, Atlas has the ability to carry a 37-tonne payload over 2,000nm to established and remote civilian and military airfields, and short unprepared or semi-prepared strips. Capable of operating at altitudes up to 40,000ft, Atlas also offers impressive low-level capability.
“It will accommodate as many as 116 fully-equipped troops; vehicles; helicopters, including a Chinook; mixed loads, including nine aircraft pallets and 54 passengers, or combinations of vehicles, pallets and personnel, up to a payload of 37 tonnes.” (Source: News Now/https://ukdefencejournal)
05 Jan 22. Applying for Defence Innovations Loans is now even easier. Defence Innovation Loans will run continuously until 16 March 2022, which means no more cycles during this time. Find out what this update means for you and your application. The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) launched Defence Innovation Loans in 2021, to offer small and medium enterprises (SMEs) affordable funds to help commercialise their innovations.
After internal review, DASA has taken the decision to run a pilot scheme making the application process for Defence Innovation Loans even easier. Defence Innovation Loans are now continuously open for proposals, and once a proposal is submitted, it will be assessed with initial outcomes communicated within seven weeks. This means that you won’t have to wait until the end of a cycle to receive feedback and if you’re invited to resubmit you will be able to do it quicker. The pilot scheme will be under review and will end on 16 March 2022.
Rundown: Key changes to Defence Innovation Loans
Detailed below is a list of key changes to Defence Innovation Loans, and how these changes have made the application process more straightforward.
- Innovators can apply at any time, and can expect an initial outcome response within seven weeks. Applications are no longer tied to cycles.
- The initial outcome response is the DASA outcome. Success at this stage leads to an in-depth financial analysis by Innovate UK.
- The DASA stages of assessment remain the same. See the full Defence Innovation Loans document for more information.
- This new format is a pilot that will be reviewed; when the pilot ends on 16 March 2022 we might change the format of the Defence Innovation Loans e.g. returning to cycle-based assessment periods.
Join our upcoming webinar
Speak to the DASA Team behind Defence Innovation Loans and learn more about the pilot in our upcoming webinar.
Date: 24 January 2022, 10:30 – 11:30 GMT
Have the levels of funding for Defence Innovation loans changed?
The levels of funding available are the same. A total of £10m is available for the Defence Innovation Loans this year.
You can apply for a loan between £250,000 and £1.6m with a below market interest rate of 7.4% per annum. This loan can cover up to 100% of eligible project costs to aid the commercialisation of the solution and the overall term of the loan must not exceed 7 years.
Who can apply for a Defence Innovation Loan?
The applicant criteria for Defence Innovation Loans have not changed. To apply for a Defence Innovation Loan you must:
- be a UK registered SME
- intend to exploit the results in the UK or overseas to make a significant and positive impact on the UK economy and/or productivity
- give evidence that your business is suitable to take on a loan
- Please note, individuals, academic institutions, research organisations and large companies are not eligible for innovation loans.
Ready to apply?
Read the full DASA competition document here. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/competition-defence-innovation-loans (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
05 Jan 22. The New $1m-a-Year Research Grants AFRL Hopes Will Speed Up Space Tech. Proposals combining both basic and applied university research, with manufacturers looped in, could get technology to the Space Force faster. The theory is one that the Air Force Research Laboratory is testing in the pilot year of its Space University Research Initiative.
The lab’s leaders hope the SURI pilot program will also help it modernize how it manages space-related science.
AFRL awarded two teams grants worth $1m a year for three to five years. A team led by the University of Buffalo will figure out ways to inspect and repair satellites and do some on-orbit manufacturing. Its counterpart led by Carnegie Mellon University will work on algorithms for tracking manmade space objects.
AFRL commander Maj. Gen. Heather L. Pringle stressed that AFRL is “one lab” serving “two services” in a press call in December announcing SURI. She pointed out that “many technologies are domain-agnostic.”
Research performed under SURI theoretically “can go directly to industry for transition,” said AFRL’s Andrew Williams. “We can take it into flight experimentation with our advanced technology funding line because we’ve already integrated the university researchers with the AFRL researchers to accelerate that transition.”
On-Orbit Servicing and Manufacturing
Williams’ role of deputy technology executive officer for space, science, and technology is also new. Pringle described the role as bringing together space research “from all the nooks and crannies across the research lab.” For SURI, he’ll take part in the research landed by the proposal “Breaking the ‘Launch Once, Use Once’ Paradigm.”
Entered by Carnegie Mellon’s Howard Choset, the proposal draws on the expertise of fellow team members from Texas A&M University, the University of New Mexico, and Northrop Grumman. Williams said the proposed research includes aspects of:
- Intelligent on-orbit inspection—in other words, “How can we use machine vision to … detect anomalies,” Williams said.
- Dexterous on-orbit maintenance, meaning robots for repairing or upgrading vehicles.
- Agile on-orbit manufacturing such as “using technologies like some 3-D printing concepts in order to add additional capabilities on orbit.”
Space Domain Awareness
The topic of space domain awareness is front of mind for the Space Force, especially as it expands to cislunar space around the moon.
With USSF being “responsible for tracking all of the manmade objects in space and providing information to all satellite operators on potential collisions … this responsibility becomes more complex,” said Shery L. Welsh, director of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, which is part of AFRL.
Led by the University of Buffalo’s John L. Crassidis, the SURI proposal, “Space Object Understanding and Reconnaissance of Complex Events,” or SOURCE, includes team members from Pennsylvania State University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Purdue University.
The team is “really pushing state-of-the art techniques for analyzing sensor data,” Welsh said. She said the team will:
- Create “sophisticated methods to detect the thousands of objects, confidently identify them, and predict their trajectories and understand their correct characteristics and activities.”
- Develop “a scalable framework that has the ability to fuse data from many different disparate sources with orbital dynamic models.”
- Conduct “studies to significantly improve … dynamic modeling capability beyond geosynchronous orbit … while incorporating tools from astrodynamics and state-of-the-art machine learning techniques as well.”
- Investigate “new tracking approaches, which we desperately need, that significantly advance uncertainty quantification methods to enable accurate forecasting of space objects—as well as the tracking of maneuvering satellites.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/https://www.airforcemag.com/)
04 Jan 22. Leidos has filed a protest to challenge General Dynamics IT’s win of a $4.5bn cloud services contract with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. As is normal for any large award: General Dynamics IT is facing a challenge to its win of a $4.5bn cloud services contract with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
Leidos first filed the protest on Dec. 28 and made a supplemental filing on Jan. 3. A decision from the Government Accountability Office is expected by April 7.
The massive contract covers NGA’s user facing data center services that support multiple networks and security domains. NGA is seeking to upgrade its cloud computing and desktop environments intelligence mission.
The contract comes with a five-year base period and five individual option years. It is no wonder that an unsuccessful bidder would file a protest given the size, scope and customer. Leidos declined to comment. GDIT also has not responded to a request for comment.
We’ll track GAO’s protest docket to see if anyone else files, though the window is rapidly closing on new protests.
Generally, these kinds of protests challenge how the evaluation was conducted. We’ll update this post if we learn more.
Neither Deltek nor GovTribe list any incumbents for this contract, so this is likely a new procurement or one where several existing contracts are being bundled into one.
Like much of the intelligence community, NGA is rapidly moving to the cloud to gain several advantages including close to real time decision making, greater use of artificial intelligence, and more computing power at the edge. NGA also faces the challenge of efficiently working with and analyzing massive amounts of data. (Source: washingtontechnology.com)
03 Jan 22. F-35 Expands Global Presence in 2021. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) completed another successful year as the F-35 program continued to expand its global footprint and enhance operational capabilities.
In 2021, two new countries – Switzerland and Finland – selected the F-35 for their new fighter jet programs. Additionally, Denmark received its first F-35 and the Royal Netherlands Air Force became the ninth nation to declare their F-35 fleet ready for Initial Operational Capability. The F-35’s operational capabilities continued to advance and further demonstrated its value as the most advanced node in the 21st century battlespace. Last year alone, the F-35 successfully participated in a series of flight tests and exercises, including Project Hydra, Northern Edge, Orange Flag, Talisman Sabre and Flight Test-6.
“The F-35 joint enterprise team continues to provide unmatched combat capability to the 21st century battlespace through the F-35,” said Bridget Lauderdale, vice president and general manager of the F-35 program. “Providing unparalleled support to the growing fleet, participating in numerous Joint-All Domain exercises and meeting our delivery target during a global pandemic is no small feat while the F-35 was also chosen by Switzerland and Finland as their next fighter.”
The F-35’s operational performance remains strong. Some of the F-35A deployments and exercises demonstrated over 80% mission capable rates. As one of the most reliable aircraft in the U.S. fighter fleet, 93% of F-35 parts are performing better than predicted.
In the last year, F-35s were part of four base and ship activations and participated in more than 60 deployments and detachments, including the first U.S. Navy F-35C deployment aboard the USS Carl Vinson. During the first deployment of the Royal Navy’s flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth as part of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group 2021, F-35Bs from the U.S. Marine Corps and Royal Air Force flew nearly 1,300 sorties, more than 2,200 hours and conducted 44 combat missions.
These program achievements are enabled by employing digital technologies, which were vital to achieving 142 deliveries in 2021. Smart tools, connected machines and augmented realities all contribute to the delivery and sustainment of aircraft.
“Lockheed Martin is investing in digital technology that advances the F-35’s 5th Gen capabilities long after delivery,” Lauderdale added. “We’re embracing digital transformation to enable faster development and continuous deployment of software, using digital models and supercomputers to augment physical test data with simulation-based verification, and automating data processes to save time and glean insights that improve sustainment.”
With more than 750 aircraft operating from 30 bases and ships around the globe, the F-35 plays a critical role in the integrated deterrence of the U.S. and our allies. More than 1,585 pilots and 11,545 maintainers are trained, and the F-35 fleet has flown nearly 470,000 cumulative flight hours. Nine nations have F-35s operating from a base on their home soil, 12 services have declared Initial Operational Capability and six services have employed F-35s in combat.
REST OF THE WORLD
06 Jan 22. Tensions flare as Morocco and Algeria consider new fighter jets. A new arms race is brewing in North Africa, as both Morocco and Algeria look to procure the most advanced fighter jets available. In response to the reports that Algeria intends to purchase 14 Su-57s, Morocco has been making overtures to expand its Air Force and acquire the F-35. Israeli defence intelligence agency, JaFaj, reported that during a recent visit by Israeli Minister of Defence, Benny Gantz, to Morocco, his Moroccan counterpart requested aid in obtaining the platform.
JaFaj reports Abdellatif Loudiyi, the Moroccan Minister of Defence, asked for Israel’s help in ‘convincing the Biden administration to authorize the sale of F-35 to Morocco and in obtaining more advanced weaponry’.
Tensions in the region have been steadily rising due to conflicting interest in Western Sahara, with Algeria showing support to the Polisario Front.
In 2018, the Algerian Air Force placed an order for 18 Su-35 fighter jets to supplement its existing fleet of Su-30MKA fighters.
However, there have been reports that Algeria plans to scrap the Su-35 acquisition and instead procure the more advanced Su-57, which RT claims entered into service last year.
In 2019, the US approved a possible FMS of 25 F-16V Block 72 aircraft to Morocco for an estimated cost of $3.8bn. The nation now fears the F-16V would be outclassed by Algerian Su-57s, which prompted the push for the next-generation F-35. (Source: News Now/Shephard)
04 Jan 22. Russia struggles with loss of Su-35 fighter deals. Three nations, Algeria, Egypt and Indonesia, are reported to have pulled out of Su-35 fighter jet deals with Russia. The governments of Algeria, Egypt and Indonesia have rejected the acquisition of Russian Su-35 fighters amid economic sanctions against Russia, as first reported by Defence Blog. The economic sanctions have targeted Russia’s oil industry, defence, dual-use goods and sensitive technologies imports from the USA, Europe and Israel.
This has caused a block on the import of modern components required to manufacture the Su-35 fighters; in particular, there has been a failure to replace scanned array radar and avionics.
There have been multiple reports of Algerian plans to acquire the Su-35; however, it now appears the nation plans to upgrade its Su-30MKAs with Su-35 technologies while waiting to acquire the more advanced Su-57.
The Egyptian Air Force was set to become the first customer for the Su-35 in the Middle East area; however, concerns have been raised regarding the capabilities of the Su-35’s Irbis-E radar.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Air Force Air Chief Marshal, Fadjar Prasetyo, confirmed that the nation planned to abandon the Su-35 deal. The nation is supposedly now considering the Dassault Rafale and the Boeing F-15EX Eagle II. It is important to note that government officials from Egypt and Algeria have not yet confirmed their position. (Source: Shephard)
04 Jan 22. RoK to develop shipborne surveillance UAVs, amphibious attack helicopters. South Korea’s DAPA announced on 27 December that the country will develop its own amphibious assault helicopter for the RoKMC, as well as new shipborne surveillance and reconnaissance UAVs for the RoKN and possibly the RoKMC. (Korea Aerospace Industries)
South Korea has formally approved draft plans to indigenously develop shipborne surveillance and reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and amphibious attack helicopters, the country’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced on 27 December.
The Defense Project Promotion Committee said that the shipborne UAV project, which is slated to begin in 2023 and be completed by 2031, had been provisionally budgeted at KRW570bn (USD475.4m), according to DAPA.
The new UAVs, which will be operated onboard the Republic of Korea Navy’s (RoKN’s) KDX-II destroyer, will enhance the country’s capabilities to monitor in real time maritime areas and the north-western islands near the inter-Korean border, and to respond to potential security threats promptly and effectively, DAPA said. (Source: Janes)
04 Jan 22. Indian Navy to conduct flight tests of Rafale-M fighter jet. The Indian Navy is reportedly set to conduct flight tests of the Rafale-Maritime (Rafale-M) fighter aircraft from this week. The trials will be held at Naval Air Station INS Hansa, reported the Hindustan Times. They will evaluate if the jet is suitable for use on indigenous vessel INS Vikrant. Codenamed as Indigenous Aircraft Carrier 1 (IAC 1), INS Vikrant is an aircraft carrier constructed by the Cochin Shipyard for the Indian Navy. It is currently taking part in sea trials near the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. Hindustan Times reported that the Rafale-M fighter will be put through rigorous trials for around 12 days at the 283m mock-up ski jump facility at INS Hansa. According to the news agency, the flight trials of Rafale-M fighter will be conducted at the Shore Based Test Facility at INS Hansa in Goa from 6 January. The Rafale-M launched from the French Navy’s Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier. It is also the only non-US fighter cleared to operate from US carriers. The Indian Navy also intends to test F-18 Hornet fighter at the same facility in March this year. IAC 1 is expected to be commissioned as ‘INS Vikrant’ on 15 August this year. India already has a Rafale maintenance and flight training centre at Ambala air base. (Source: naval-technology.com)