UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
19 May 22. UK military feels out industry on a £1 bn helicopter buy.
A £1bn ($1.25bn) competition to acquire a new fleet of medium-size helicopters for the British military was officially triggered by the Ministry of Defence this week.
The government on May 18 released procurement details to acquire up to 44 helicopters when it gave potential contenders for the contract until June 20 to respond to a pre-qualification questionnaire scoping out their interest.
The envisioned New Medium Helicopter “will provide a common medium-lift, multi-role helicopter, fitted for, but not with, specialist mission role equipment and able to operate in all environments in support of defense tasks,” said the industry solicitation
The race will see the Airbus H175 M, Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky Blackhawk, Leonardo AW146 and others make a pitch for a program mainly aimed at replacing 23 long-serving Puma machines, as well as consolidating the British support helicopter capabilities by axing smaller Bell 412, Bell 212 and Airbus Dauphin fleets.
Bell Textron with the 525 Relentless and a little known British company called AceHawk Aerospace offering second-hand Blackhawks refurbished at a site on Teeside, northeast England, are also among other possible contenders.
Officials from the U.S. helicopter maker have previously signaled the New Medium Helicopter competition might have come a little early for the new 525.
The industry questionnaire said the government envisages five bids for the requirement.
The British government’s prosperity agenda, aimed at driving up defense jobs and skills from defense procurements, will likely be a likely key factor in the procurement.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace made the point speaking in Parliament earlier this year.
“Whoever wins this [NMH] competition, it is important that they contribute to the prosperity and job opportunities for U.K. citizens. I am not interested in ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ suppliers for this,” he said Jan. 10.
Some 10 percent of the tender evaluation criteria will be accounted for along those lines, according to the the industry questionnaire.
Leonardo Helicopters is the long-time domestic builder here but others are looking to nullify the potential advantage the Yoevil-based company has by setting up U.K. operations of their own.
Airbus Helicopters, which has a substantial civil and military presence in the helicopter market here already, has committed to setting up an assembly site at Broughton, north Wales, where the company employs thousands of workers building wings for civil airliners.
Speaking to Defense News earlier this year, Colin James, the Airbus Helicopters managing director in the UK said: “The U.K. government with the new defense strategy have made it very clear what they are looking for, both in military terms but also in industrial terms.”
“When it comes to capability, we believe we have a very good offering with the H175M and also what they are looking for in terms of independence of operation, contribution to technical development, intellectual property creation, skills and then also making it sustainable through export,” he said.
Lockheed Martin, the third of the likely front runners for the deal, will generate U.K. involvement in its bid but is expected to offer Blackhawk S70M machines built at its factory in Poland.
That may not be the disadvantage it may have seemed at one time.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has strengthened relations between London and Warsaw, and that is reflected in the increasingly close industrial relationship with Britain securing several significant naval and missile contracts in recent months.
“We believe the S-70 Black Hawk, specifically designed to military standards and built in Poland, which has a strategic defense partnership with the U.K., would be an ideal solution for the British armed forces’ operational needs even in the toughest of operational environments,” Lockheed said in a May 19 statement.
The Ministry of Defence has put the procurement budget at between £900 m and £1.2 bn, including simulators, training and support elements.
An invitation to tender is scheduled to be issued at the end of September. The industry questionnaire doesn’t give a contract award target or a first delivery date, but it does say the contract completion should be within 84 months of signing the deal.
Wallace said earlier this year he hoped the delivery date would be mid-decade. (Source: Defense News)
16 May 22. £30m dry dock contract supports 300 Scottish jobs. £30m contract for dry-dock maintenance for the Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) aircraft carriers has been awarded to Babcock International Group, in Scotland
- £30m to provide dry dock maintenance for Queen Elizabeth Class carriers
- 300 jobs supported across Rosyth dockyard and wider supply chain
- Follows both QEC carriers undertaking international engagements with allies
The 10-year agreement will ensure the two warships – HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales – are able to undergo dry dockings for planned maintenance and repair at Babcock’s Rosyth facilities, meaning the vessels continue to operate safely and remain available for defence operations, both for the UK and its allies.
The work will help to sustain 300 jobs across the Rosyth facility and the wider supply chain, contributing to UK prosperity, strengthening the Union and supporting the government’s levelling-up ambitions.
Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin said:
The Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers are the flagships of our Royal Navy and it’s crucial they remain ready to protect and defend the UK and our allies.
Both carriers had their final construction in Rosyth, and I’m pleased they will return for their dry-dock maintenance, supporting vital jobs and skills in Scotland.
QECs require dry-docking periodically throughout their lives to undertake maintenance and repair activities that will ensure the UK continues to have a flexible and modern naval force that can respond to future threats.
The QECs continue to uphold security both in UK waters and overseas. HMS Prince of Wales recently supported Exercise Cold Response with her sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth carrying out vital training and exercises in waters close to the UK to keep her ready for operations anywhere in the world.
Steve Coates, DE&S Queen Elizabeth Class Group Leader, said: “Securing this contract is another important step on the QEC journey. The agreed partnership is a real testament to the great working relationship forged between the MOD and industry. The work that will take place will help to sustain vital jobs and skills at the Rosyth shipyard where the carriers were built and, by drawing on an extensive supply chain, will contribute to wider UK prosperity.”
The contract was awarded by Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) through a robust and transparent competition, encouraging strong bids from viable dockyards with the requisite facilities and experience of docking large vessels, whether military or civilian.
Sean Donaldson, Babcock’s Managing Director of Marine Engineering and Systems and the Rosyth site, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the contract to provide dry dockings for the aircraft carriers over the next decade. The investments in our Rosyth infrastructure and facilities over the last 10-years mean we are ideally placed to deliver projects of this size and scale. The programme will also benefit from the extensive knowledge and expertise of Babcock’s skilled workforce which is steeped in carrier experience. It’s a really proud moment for us.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
18 May 22. Swiss to sign deal to buy F-35 fighters before referendum. The Swiss government will sign a contract by the end of March to buy 36 Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) F-35A Lightning II fighter jets, it said on Wednesday, pressing ahead without waiting for a referendum on the $5.5 bn deal.
Switzerland chose the F-35 last year as its next-generation fighter jet, angering opponents who said they would ensure a referendum was held to overturn what they called an unnecessary “Ferrari” option.
The government said it was unclear whether the purchase could take place under the same conditions if the deal had to be renegotiated once the offer expires next year.
Many countries have stepped up spending on weapons systems, it said, saying Finland had decided to buy 64 F-35As, Germany wanted to purchase up to 35 and Canada would buy 88.
“Against this background, the risk of a delay in delivery has increased significantly. However, the aircraft must be delivered as planned from 2027 to ensure that the population is protected from threats from the air after 2030,” it said. (Source: Reuters)
18 May 22. Greece seeks to join F-35 program as it lobbies against Turkey F-16 sale. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited the White House and Congress this week to make his country’s case for acquiring the F-35 stealth fighter jet while lobbying against Turkey’s attempts to upgrade its aging fleet of F-16s and acquire additional aircraft.
Not to be outdone, Turkish officials will visit Washington later this week to make their case for Congress to consent to an approximately $400 m deal to upgrade their F-16 jets with new missiles, radar and electronics — a prospect made more complicated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent vows to block Sweden and Finland from joining NATO.
On Monday, Mitsotakis announced after a meeting with President Joe Biden that Greece will move forward with its bid to acquire the F-35 after 2028.
“We will launch the process for the acquisition of a squadron of F-35 aircraft, and we do hope to be able to add this fantastic plane to the Greek Air Force before the end of this decade,” Mitsotakis said at the White House.
He also noted Lockheed Martin — which produces F-35s and F-16s — “officially expressed its interest in investing in Hellenic aerospace” last week, right before his visit to Washington.
Media outlets in Greece cited Greek government officials as noting Lockheed Martin has invited Athens to join the F-35 co-production program.
“Building on our partnership of more than 75 years, we are honored the Greek government is interested in the F-35, and we will provide any support the U.S. government requires in discussions about an acquisition,” Lockheed Martin told Defense News in a statement.
Turkey has some explaining to do
The United States kicked Turkey out of the F-35 program in 2019 over Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system amid fears its advanced radar system could allow Moscow to spy on the F-35 stealth fighter jets.
In addition to the F-16 upgrades that the Biden administration notified Congress of last week, Erdogan has also sought to buy 40 Block 70 F-16 fighter jets. He has framed the roughly $6 bn purchase as compensation for Turkey’s financial losses in the F-35 program.
But Mitsotakis used an address to a joint meeting of Congress on Tuesday to issue a thinly veiled warning to lawmakers against allowing the F-16 sale to Turkey to proceed.
“We will not accept open acts of aggression that violate our sovereignty and our territorial rights,” he said in reference to recent Turkish incursions of Greek airspace. “These include overflights over Greek islands, which must stop immediately.”
“The last thing that NATO needs at a time when our focus is helping defeat Russian aggression is another source of instability on NATO’s southeastern flank,” Mitsotakis added to applause from lawmakers. “I ask you to take this into account when you make defense procurement decisions concerning the eastern Mediterranean.”
Mitsotakis pressed his case in separate meetings with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as well as the bipartisan, bicameral leaders of the foreign affairs committees, who can unilaterally block arms sales. Those meetings included coffee with Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, D-N.J., one of Turkey’s staunchest opponents on Capitol Hill.
Still, Menendez’s less hardline counterparts recently signaled a cautious openness to greenlighting the F-16 sale for Turkey given its support for Ukraine. But Ankara’s recent threats to tank Sweden and Finland’s bids for NATO membership have created uncertainty over whether those same lawmakers will allow the F-16 sale to proceed.
“Turkey has some explaining to do,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., told Defense News. “They’ve been doing the right thing — I think — to a large degree. That’s important to me, but there’s other things that I still have problems with that we need to have a dialogue and conversation.”
Meeks said that dialogue would include Turkish opposition to Swedish and Finnish NATO membership. Erdogan has accused both countries of supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey designates a terrorist group.
Erdogan has demanded Sweden and Finland rescind an arms embargo on Ankara instated after Turkey’s 2019 offensive against the northeast Syrian Kurdish-dominated administration with close ties to the PKK. Every country in NATO must consent to adding a new member to the alliance, allowing Turkey to unilaterally tank the bid.
Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned Erdogan’s blockade of the two potential new NATO allies could sink the F-16 sale.
“Greece has been a very good ally with Ukraine, but then again so has Turkey,” McCaul told Defense News. “The big hiccup with Turkey is when Erdogan came out indicating that he may not support Finland [and] Sweden being in NATO. That would be problematic for Turkey.”
McCaul suggested Turkey could ship its S-400 system to Ukraine, which has desperately sought advanced air defense systems against Russian aerial power. In return, he said the U.S. could send Turkey a Patriot missile system — an arrangement similar to the one Washington struck with Slovakia after it dispatched its S-300 system to Ukraine.
He could have an opportunity to raise that prospect when Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusgolu visits Washington on Wednesday. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
13 May 22. France seeks mini attack drones. The Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), the French defence procurement agency, and the L’Agence de l’Innovation de Défense (AID), the country’s defence innovation agency, have released two calls for projects for low-cost mini attack drones. French Ministry of Armed Forces spokesperson Hervé Grandjean told a press conference on 12 May that the first call is for the Larinae project for a system to neutralise targets at a range of over 50 km, and the second is for the complementary Colibri project for a system to neutralise targets in the area of contact with the enemy at a range of over 5km. (Source: Janes)
13 May 22. Kongsberg to deliver ICT solutions to the Norwegian Armed Forces. The company signed a partnership agreement with NDMA to become the strategic partner of the Mime Combat ICT programme.
Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KDA) has been selected as a strategic partner in the Mime Combat information and communication technology (ICT) programme for the Norwegian Armed Forces.
Combat ICT solutions help to support mobile operational activities in the defence forces.
The company entered into a partnership agreement with the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (NDMA) to become the strategic partner of the programme.
As agreed, KDA will offer ICT services, and will also undertake system integration.
The partnership comprises several regulatory sub-agreements and the company may also deliver products and solutions to the Mime programme, subject to procurement regulations and the market situation.
NDMA director Gro Jære said: “We have a close, good, and long-standing collaboration with Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace and, through this agreement, we will establish a structure for a strategic partnership during times of peace, crisis, and war.
“With this agreement, KDA will be responsible for developing comprehensive ICT solutions for the Armed Forces. The agreement also allows KDA to create good cooperation arenas for small and medium-sized suppliers who, together, will create the solutions the Armed Forces demand.”
Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace president Eirik Lie said: “We are proud to have been chosen as a strategic partner in combat ICT and to be entrusted with the responsibility to ensure the entire ecosystem of suppliers work together as a team to develop the best, and most modern, solutions for the Norwegian Armed Forces.”
The partnership is expected to further develop, with KDA assuming more responsibility for Combat ICT. The company is also expected to increase the ecosystem of suppliers to meet the Armed Forces’ requirements and benefit the domestic defence businesses. Last year, Milrem Robotics partnered with KDA to build a new robotic combat vehicle. (Source: army-technology.com)
18 May 22. Special ops force calls for ‘untethered’ tool for recon and resupply. Special operations experts are looking for ways to untether much of their gear, from moving beyond radio frequencies to looking at institutions such as NASA for logistics lessons in austere locations.
Those were some of the priorities laid out by program managers for various portfolios of U.S. Special Operations Command this week at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association in Florida.
In a session with reporters Monday, David Breede, program executive officer for the command’s special reconnaissance office, said SOCOM wants to untether itself from radio frequencies. That move will allow systems to operate on their own in contested communications environments.
“From GPS satellites to command and control, how do I operate completely in an untethered way?” Breede said.
For the past two decades, radio frequencies were open, and it was uncommon for those deployed to encounter extensive jamming or interception. That’s not the case when facing more advanced adversaries like Russia or China, as opposed to terrorist organizations.
Media reports and official statements in recent years noted extensive jamming in Syria near Russian forces.
“It’s tough, it’s hard, it’s not something we can do right now,” Breede said of the untethered concept.
The special reconnaissance group also focuses on adding autonomy to its systems, especially its aerial drones. Those systems are small in order to avoid detection. Breede and his team are looking to at “portable autonomy” to give operators software and control algorithms for a variety of devices; that way, even if jammed through traditional radio frequency channels, they can still function.
But there are trade-offs on small drones.
“It becomes tougher and tougher when you get down to the really small stuff,” Breede said. If designers add more capability on top of what’s already on the platform, he added, then something else usually has to go.
“Whether that’s time on station, whether that’s speed or the other payload onboard,” he explained.
And that’s a major initiative of the head of SOCOM, Gen. Richard Clarke, who said in a separate event Tuesday that the command will divest single-use drones.
The force needed drones for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions throughout the past two decades. But the next generation of drones must do more, he said.
Getting artificial intelligence on platforms will help, Breede noted, which is in line with Clark’s other major goal: a SOCOM data strategy.
“This absolutely goes back to data,” Clark said. “The No. 1 thing. [Artificial intelligence] is great, but if we don’t get the data and pull that in and [are] able to search it, it’s not worthwhile.”
That goes a long way in helping battlefield commanders see, sense and shoot with the right information, he added.
Certainly the sensing and shooting is key, but what about operators on the ground?
Army Col. Joseph Blanton, program executive officer for the command’s support activity office, echoed Breede’s untethered theme while talking to reporter, saying his team is looking at untethered logistics.
And they’re not reinventing the wheel. While Blanton did not specify specific communications, he did say providing key gear, equipment, materials and resupply in austere locations has been done before.
“So historically you think you have a rucksack, some days of supply on your back; and in some days when that’s gone, you have to get resupplied,” Blanton said.
And that resupply has to come from somewhere. “How do you extend that initial period of time so operators stay forward, untethered from a larger resupply network?” Blanton said.
The colonel said looking at outer space and operations that other agencies do could provide lessons.
“We’re trying to understand that space, untethered logistics, a limited class of supply at the tactical edge,” Blanton said. (Source: Defense News)
18 May 22. Bantec, through Howco, is looking into the feasibility of selling attack drones directly to the US Department of Defense. Bantec, Inc. (OTCPINK: BANT) (“Bantec” or the “Company”), Bantec, Inc., a product and services company, announces that it is looking into selling the Bantec Hunter and Bantec Hunter Max, loitering munition attack drones, to the U.S. Government.
Michael Bannon, Bantec’s Chairman and CEO stated: “For the first time we are looking to have Howco sell our product to the U.S. Department of Defense. This will add a new revenue stream to Howco’s existing business of acting as a middleman for government sales. We engaged with a drone development company, a NATO company, to investigate the costs and logistics involved in manufacturing battery and fuel operating drones that will deliver explosive devices to eliminate enemy combatants and armed military vehicles. The drones will likely be called the Bantec Hunter and Bantec Hunter Max. Both, when developed, will be able to be used for surveillance and reconnaissance or a one-time kamikaze style mission. We are also investigating the permits and licenses necessary for Howco to enter this market. In light of the current political climate, we believe this has the potential of generating additional sales for Howco in 2022 and beyond.”
Bantec, Inc, a product and services company, through its subsidiaries and divisions, sells to facility managers, engineers, maintenance managers, purchasing managers and contract officers who work for hospitals, universities, manufacturers, commercial businesses, local and state governments, and the US government. Our difference that matters consists of establishing lifelong customer and supplier friendships, responding immediately to our customers’ needs, and providing products and services through a highly technically trained, motivated, and incentivized workforce.
Howco Distributing Co., (“Howco”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bantec, provides product procurement, distribution, and logistics services to the United States Department of Defense and Defense Logistics Agency.
Certain statements in this press release may be considered “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements may include projections of matters that affect revenue, operating expenses, or net earnings; projections of growth; and assumptions relating to the foregoing. Such forward-looking statements are generally qualified by terms such as: “plans, “anticipates,” “expects,” “believes” or similar words. Forward-looking statements are inherently subject to risks and uncertainties, some of which cannot be predicted or qualified. Future events and actual results could differ materially from those set forth in, contemplated by, or underlying the forward-looking information. These factors are discussed in greater detail in our Form 10-K filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. (Source: PR Newswire)
18 May 22. Spec ops optics: US forces seek new sights and ways to defeat fog. Having eyes on the battlefield can mean the difference between hitting the right or wrong target, or even hitting the target at all, which is why U.S. special operators are looking to upgrade a host of optics items.
Those include a new close-quarters scope, clear glass that can display data and a solution to the vexing problem of fogged-up lens. More specifically, Special Operations Command wants to replace its SU-231 and SU-231A enhanced close-quarters weapon sights, a lieutenant colonel with the command’s lethality office said Tuesday at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Florida.
Per media coverage rules at this conference, names of representatives at or below the rank of O-5 cannot be identified due to the sensitive nature of their work.
The Su-231 technology is a holographic sight that projects a dot into the shooter’s field of view on the weapon’s sight glass, but it’s not visible on the actual target. The sight is a quick-target and aiming-point device, and it’s a substantial improvement on open sights and traditional scopes.
But the bearded door kickers want more, and they’re going to release details to industry in either July or August. For now, the command is willing to publicly say it wants to “incorporate some of the visual augmentation, being able to display data in a see-through screen,” the O-5 said.
The officer added that SOCOM wants the shooter to be able to see relevant data such as range to target or an azimuth for better situational awareness. “You won’t have to raise your eyes from your reticle to get the range to your target,” he said.
“And it will obviously have to be configurable because not every operator wants stuff in his glass,” the officer added. “Lots of operators hate that.”
In other words, the user must be able to turn that feature on and off.
The sight would hopefully be available in the near term. The Army recently contracted with Vortex Optics and Sheltered Wings to provide the Next Generation Squad Weapon-Fire Control, Army Times reported.
That weapon sight will feed ballistics calculator data, directions and networking to other devices on the Army’s newest rifle and machine gun combo, the NGSW.
The command is also looking to add visual augmentation in a clear glass during daytime. Current and forthcoming night vision as well as items such as the Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System offer a lot of digital data in the sight at night.
The command also wants it thin enough to fit under existing night vision tech. That’s because SOCOM just bought a lot of night vision devices, and its personnel won’t be getting anymore for at least a few years, the officer said.
That “Google Glass”-type proposal is going out to industry by the end of this year or early next year, he added.
Another representative from the command’s survival, support and equipment systems office, said they’re looking for a lens solution of a different kind. That individual cited a perennial problem: fogging.
“There’s been no real gamechanger in anti-fog,” he said. “Every lens, every coating that we’ve ever tested at some point always fogs.”
The representative did not share a specific request for proposals item or schedule, but did ask for industry solutions in open submission. (Source: Defense News)
13 May 22. USN effort to cancel LCS mission package triggers new cost breach. As the U.S. Navy moves to cancel its anti-submarine warfare mission package for littoral combat ships, it has triggered another cost breach for the LCS mission modules program.
The Navy in its fiscal 2023 budget announced its intention to cancel the anti-submarine warfare mission package, one of three warfare-specific packages the LCS ships can carry. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday has said the package was not performing well in testing and that the Navy would get better sub-hunting performance out of the Constellation-class frigates that will deliver from the Wisconsin-based Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard later this decade.
Though the decision is meant to prevent the service from spending on a system it doesn’t want, it means the broader mission modules program will produce fewer quantities, resulting in a spike in the per-unit cost.
The sea service informed Congress May 13 the unit cost on the LCS mission modules program now exceeds the original baseline estimate by 37.3% and exceeds the current baseline by 18%, Navy spokesman Capt. Clay Doss told Defense News.
This Nunn-McCurdy cost breach, named for 1982 legislation that established the reporting requirements, requires congressional notification but is not significant enough for the program to be recertified or canceled.
The LCS mission package program also faced a Nunn-McCurdy breach in 2018, when the Navy reduced the number of planned mission packages across all warfare areas.
The Navy in the early 2000s mapped out an LCS program based on fast and inexpensive hulls and mission modules that could be plugged into the ships and then swapped out as the mission changed. The Navy developed three mission modules: surface warfare, mine countermeasures and anti-submarine warfare.
The surface warfare package is in use today, and pieces of the mine countermeasure package are in use in the Pacific, with the entire mission module nearing completion.
The anti-submarine warfare mission package got off to a promising start, but has repeatedly fallen behind in testing.
Gilday said this week in a House Armed Services Committee hearing the ASW package “did not work out technically. So after about a year and a half study, I refused to put an additional dollar against a system that would not be able to track a high-end submarine in today’s environment.”
He has previously said the LCS program and its mission packages were planned nearly two decades ago, with diesel submarines as the primary target for the ASW package. Today, Russia has a growing number of sophisticated nuclear-powered submarines that will force the U.S. Navy to field a better ASW capability than the LCS towing the ASW mission package could provide.
The Navy, as a result, canceled its work with Raytheon Technologies on the AN/SQS-62 Variable Depth Sonar, also called the Dual-mode Array Transmitter, which was at a heart of the ASW mission package.
The Constellation frigates will use the CAPTAS-4, or Combined Active Passive Towed Array Sonar, made by Advanced Acoustics Concepts.
As a result of ditching the ASW package, the Navy is also arguing it needs fewer LCS ships and has proposed decommissioning early nine Freedom-variant hulls. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
12 May 22. Department of Defense Announces Fiscal Year 2021 Defense Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCoR) Awards.
The DoD announced today $14.6m in DEPSCoR awards to 23 collaborative teams following two FY2021 competitions. DEPSCoR is a capacity-building program that is designed to strengthen the basic research infrastructure at institutions of higher education in under-utilized states/territories.
“The Department’s research mission relies on an ecosystem of creative and insightful researchers in every State of the nation. DEPSCoR enhances our science and engineering research capacity both now and in the long term, and increases the number of researchers pursing research in DoD-relevant areas. It is crucial that we build a research infrastructure that strategically uses the research capabilities found across the country,” said Dr. Bindu Nair, Director of the DoD’s Basic Research Office.
The Research Collaboration competition of DEPSCoR was open to tenured and tenure-track faculty members with appointments in the 37 States/Territories eligible to compete for DEPSCoR funds, helping to introduce potential researchers to the DoD’s unique research challenges and its supportive research ecosystem.
For the FY21 Research Collaboration competition, the DoD received over 120 white papers, from which subject-matter experts in the military services selected the final 21 collaborative teams. The selected teams will be led by universities in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Each team will receive up to $600,000 over a three-year period of performance to pursue science and engineering research in areas relevant to DoD initiatives supporting the National Defense Strategy.
DEPSCoR’s Capacity Building competition supports the strategic objectives of Institutes of Higher Education (either individually or in partnership with others) in DEPSCoR States/Territories to enhance their academic research and development competitiveness and achieve basic research excellence in areas that are relevant to the DoD.
For the FY21 Capacity Building competition, the DoD received over 20 white papers, from which subject-matter experts in the DoD selected the two team finalists. The selected teams will be led by the Executive Offices at New Mexico State University and the University of North Dakota. Each team will receive up to $1,000,000 over a two-year period of performance to pursue capacity-building activities to build basic research excellence in areas relevant to the DoD.
Here is a list of the winning Research Collaboration teams: https://media.defense.gov/2022/May/13/2002996635/-1/-1/0/FY21-DEPSCOR-AWARD-SELECTIONS.PDF?source=GovDelivery
The Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (USD(R&E) is the Chief Technology Officer of the Department of Defense. The USD(R&E) champions research, science, technology, engineering, and innovation to maintain the United States military’s technological advantage. Learn more at www.cto.mil, follow us on Twitter @DoDCTO, or visit us on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/ousdre: (Source: US DoD)
REST OF THE WORLD
14 May 22. Ellida offers logistical support ship for RAN SEA 2200 programme. BMT is offering its Ellida logistics ship design for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN’s) SEA 2200 joint support ship project.
A spokesperson for BMT told AMR at the Indo-Pacific 2022 exhibition in Sydney that the company is bidding for the project and that its Ellida family of vessels are a cost-effective solution for logistics support and amphibious operations. Under the SEA 2200 programme, the RAN wants to procure two 16,500t joint support ships for between $3-4 bn that have roll-on/roll-off capabilities to transport cargo and conduct replenishment-at-sea operations and must be equipped with a well-deck.
The Ellida family of ship designs was launched by BMT in 2019 and utilise reconfigurable spaces to optimistheir role to serve different functions. The spokesperson said that these include amphibious landings using the well-deck, strategic transportation of bulk military supplies, medical support up to Role 2 or Role 3, replenishment of solid stores at sea or to land forces and the ability to conduct humanitarian and disaster relief missions or non-combatant evacuation operations.
For logistics support the larger Ellida 200 design has two helicopter spots on a flight deck positioned aft to allow for vertical replenishment operations by air. The ship has port and starboard delivery stations for replenishment-at-sea (RAS). It also has an enclosed vehicle deck with up to 700 metres of space for military vehicles that can access the ship via a side door and ramp.
A lower holding area features an additional 176m of space for lighter vehicles, cargo or fuel and on the weather deck there is stowage for 24 containers or 200m lanes of vehicle storage. The well-deck can host two landing craft of the size of its Caimen 90 fast landing craft utility (LCU) and davits can support the launch and recovery of smaller boats and fast craft. BMT has developed the design through its experience providing the Aegir design for the UK Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Royal Norwegian Navy. (Source: AMR)
18 May 22. India, world’s biggest buyer of Russian arms, looks to diversify suppliers.
- Search gets more urgent as Russia faces economic sanctions
- India steps up emphasis on making equipment at home
- Also scouring Eastern European nations for spares
- Western partners signal willingness to enhance offers
India is looking to domestic firms and eastern European nations for military gear and ammunition, as the world’s biggest buyer of Russian arms seeks alternative suppliers at a time when Moscow is fighting a war with Ukraine and facing sanctions.
New Delhi has long talked of diversifying the suppliers to its huge armed forces, and even making more equipment at home, objectives that have taken on new urgency since Russia’s invasion, two government officials and a defence source said.
India has identified 25.15 bn rupees ($324 m) worth of defence equipment it wants domestic firms to make this year, and avoid buying abroad, according to an online platform where the defence ministry lists its needs.
“The present world order and geopolitical scenario, which is very, very turbulent, has also taught us a lesson,” Air Marshal Vibhas Pande, who leads maintenance operations for the Indian Air Force, said this month.
“If we want to provide certainty and stability … the only option is to have a totally self-reliant or self-sustained supply chain mechanism established within the country,” Pande told defence manufacturers in New Delhi.
However, he did not specifically mention the conflict in Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”.
The Indian air force is looking for equipment such as ejection pods for Russian-designed Sukhoi fighter jets and propellers for Ukraine-made Antonov transport aircraft, another document showed.
Within three years, Pande said, the air force aimed to source all tyres and batteries for critical aircraft fleets from domestic firms such as MRF (MRF.NS).
India aims to produce as much as half its defence equipment at home, a senior government official said on condition of anonymity.
The defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on India’s reliance on Moscow for military hardware and whether the war in Ukraine and Russia’s slow progress, were concerns.
Brahma Chellaney, a defence and strategic affairs analyst in New Delhi, said Russian equipment have served India well in the past though in recent years it has stepped up purchases from countries such as the United States, France and Israel.
“Defence transition is always a slow evolutionary process. You can’t overnight switch suppliers,” he said.
India employs 1.38 m people in its armed forces and is one of the world’s largest arms importers, spending $12.4 bn between 2018 and 2021, with Russia accounting for $5.51 bn, the SIPRI Arms Transfers Database shows.
The Indian Army is equipped with Russian-made tanks and Kalashnikov rifles. Its air force uses Sukhoi fighter jets and Mi-17 transport helicopters, while the navy’s aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya was formerly part of the Russian naval fleet.
In recent months, some of India’s Western partners, including Britain and the United States, have signalled a willingness to enhance their defence offerings to New Delhi.
The army, which expends considerable effort guarding India’s lengthy borders with China and Pakistan, having fought wars with both neighbours, is working on a three-pronged approach to maintain readiness, the second government official said.
The government is examining which eastern European nations use weapons and platforms similar to the Indian military, and might provide spares and ammunitions.
“In case (Russian) supply lines are strained, we have alternative options,” said the official, who sought anonymity as the matter is sensitive.
Indian authorities are also urging Russian counterparts to deliver on some key projects already agreed, the official added.
These include supplying S-400 missile systems and a deal to produce more than 600,000 Kalashnikov AK-203 assault rifles at a new factory in northern India.
Some Indian firms are already feeling the impact of the push to diversify and indigenise.
At PLR Systems, a joint venture of conglomerate the Adani Group and Israel Weapon Industries, which makes small arms in India, enquiries for assault rifles have increased since the Ukraine conflict, an industry source said.
PLR Systems offers the Israel-designed Galil ACE assault rifle as a replacement for Russian Kalashnikov weapons.
“The demand for rifles is from states and the central armed police forces also,” said the source, who declined to be identified as the discussions were private. “Right now, none of them can get it from outside.” ($1=77.8130 rupees) (Source: Reuters)
17 May 22. Reutech supplying weapons and radars for Biro, Hotel.
Reutech is supplying Super Sea Rogue turrets, machinegun turrets and radars for the four vessels being acquired by the South African Navy under Projects Biro and Hotel.
Reutech is supplying three 20 mm Super Sea Rogue turrets for the three new multi-mission inshore patrol vessels (MMIPVs) being built by Damen Shipyards Cape Town under Project Biro, and four 12.7 mm turrets for the hydrographic survey vessel being acquired from Southern African Shipyards under Project Hotel. The machinegun turrets will be the same as those already fitted to the SA Navy’s four Valour class frigates. The turrets are being built by Reutech Solutions in a batch.
Reutech Radar Systems is building radars for the vessels – each MMIPV is getting an RTS 3200 Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) Optronics Radar Tracker (FORT). This was developed in response to requests for a niche light-weight electro-optic radar tracker as a cost-effective alternative to conventional electro-optic trackers that struggle under adverse weather conditions.
The FORT radar can be integrated with various optronics sensors including thermal imagers, infra-red sensors, laser range finders and vessel self-protection countermeasures such as laser dazzlers. It has been tested aboard the SA Navy’s Valour-class frigate SAS Spioenkop.
Reutech Communications is providing telecommunications equipment to Biro and Hotel and this includes V/UHF radios incorporating the Link-ZA datalink system.
The FORT system on the SA Navy’s MMIPVs is a good advertisement as that is how Reutech’s RSR 210N radar ended up on the Royal Norwegian Navy’s Fridtjof Nansen class frigates – the South African Navy told them the radar installed on its Valour class frigates was very good, and the Norwegians subsequently bought the system.
There is interest in FORT from clients in Southeast Asia, especially for vessel refurbishment. One system has already been sold.
The first MMIPV, SAS Sekukhune (P1571) will be handed over to the SA Navy on 18 May in Simon’s Town. Damen Shipyards Cape Town was contracted in January 2018 to deliver three Biro vessels, with the second (P1572) to be handed over in June 2023 and P1573 in September 2024. Deliveries were originally scheduled to start from mid-2021 – the first keel was laid in February 2019. The hull of P1572 (SAS Adam Kok) is 75% complete.
16 May 22. ICAO Issues Call for Drone Airspace Management Innovations.
ICAO has issued new requests for information (RFIs) from public- and private-sector innovators for its upcoming DRONE ENABLE event, designed to advance next generation global standards and solutions for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), UAS traffic management (UTM), and advanced air mobility (AAM).
The deadline for the latest round of RFI submissions is 15 July, with 2022 submitters being asked to contribute either their latest experiences and best practices based on recent UTM deployments, or new insights and proposals relating to UTM data requirements.
More detailed instructions for prospective RFI contributors are available here.
“Governments and innovators expect DRONE ENABLE to deliver global solutions for them, and the focus now is on how the next evolution of aircraft, both manned and unmanned, can safely integrate into finite airspace,”
commented ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar.
“All DRONE ENABLE RFI responses will be evaluated by a group of international experts, and selected presenters will earn the opportunity to help shape the future of how highly automated drones, “air taxis”, and other new and emerging aircraft will serve societies and businesses for years to come.”
The 2022 ICAO DRONE ENABLE will take place from 14 to 16 November 2022 at ICAO Headquarters, as part of a year-long series of ICAO Unmanned Aviation activities.
DRONE ENABLE RFI submissions greatly assist States as they continue to work through ICAO to harmonize UAS and UTM-related regulatory frameworks and guidance material, with the ultimate objective of deploying safe, efficient, and effective UTM systems which are globally interoperable and accessible. (Source: UAS VISION)
16 May 22. India halts Ka-31 helicopter deal with Russia.
India has halted negotiations with Russia for the former to acquire 10 Kamov Ka-31 airborne early warning helicopters for $520 m, following uncertainties in arms supplies amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Indian government indefinitely suspended the negotiations with Rosoboronexport and original equipment manufacturer Russian Helicopters, an Indian Defence Ministry official told Defense New on condition of anonymity. The official, who was not authorized to speak to the press, said the government-to-government deal added that the suspension is due to concerns over Moscow’s ability to execute orders as well as issues related to payment transfers.
Indian Navy officials have said the suspension represents a setback for the service because the Ka-31 helicopters are needed for the country’s second aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, which was locally built and will be commissioned in July.
Amit Cowshish, a former financial adviser for acquisitions with the ministry, said the suspension could also be due to geopolitical pressure as the international community condems Russia’s attack on Ukraine, which began Feb. 24. Other factors, he added, could include budgetary constraints and India’s preference to acquire locally developed helicopters.
And a stalemate in negotiations over technical and financial issues could have also played a role, he noted.
India asked to buy Ka-31 helicopters from Russia in May 2019, but the acquisition program faced inordinate delays due to the coronavirus pandemic and the platform’s high price tag.
Acquisition talks resumed in February 2022 after negotiators settled on a price of $520 m for 10 Ka-31 helicopters, but the effort hit another snag when officials couldn’t agree on a rupee-ruble currency mechanism.
The MoD official said India’s central bank, Reserve Bank of India, has worked overtime since March 2022 to establish an alternative payment mechanism, but negotiators have been unable to come to an agreement.
Neither ministry nor Navy officials would discuss whether India is exploring alternatives to the airborne early warning craft.
The Navy currently operates 14 Ka-31 helicopters, which were inducted progressively — four in 2003, five in 2005 and five in 2013 — and are dependent on the original equipment manufacturer for spare parts, repairs and overhaul support. (Source: Defense News)
16 May 22. Green paper on industry policy open for consultation. The NSW Government is calling for public submissions to help shape industry policy to strengthen the state’s economic performance over the next decade.
Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade Stuart Ayres said the Securing Future Innovation and Global Competitiveness in NSW – Green Paper is now open for submissions from the public.
“As our industries adopt new technologies and ways of working, we need to ensure we have fit-for-purpose policies in place to support them,” Mr Ayres said.
“There are currently 10 different industry strategies shaping the way we think about industry policy in NSW. We need a way to simply and clearly integrate these to best support businesses, while reflecting domestic and global trends we can forecast and effectively respond to.”
Responses to the public consultation will inform the release of the first White Paper on Industry Policy for NSW, which will shape interventions that will tackle key trends impacting NSW industries to ensure they flourish into the future.
“Policies that help foster economic growth will support jobs growth and long-term improvements in living standards across the state,” Mr Ayres added.
“By putting industry at the center of this consultation and working proactively with the community to develop the White Paper, we are putting NSW in an enviable position of transitioning all parts of the economy smoothly and efficiently.”
The Green Paper seeks feedback from peak bodies, research institutions and established and emerging industries such as defence and aerospace, agriculture, medical and life sciences and clean energy, as well as the public.
Following widespread consultation, a prominent independent expert will advise the NSW Government in drafting the White Paper on Industry Policy.
The Green Paper is open for community consultation until Monday 6 June 2022
Have your say on the Securing Future Innovation and Global Competitiveness in NSW – Green Paper
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