UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
11 Oct 22. Raytheon Project Partner/Supplier Opportunity. Raytheon is engaging with Make UK Defence to seek out suppliers/partners in delivering a solution, in the event Raytheon decides to procure it.
Join Phillip Gouldbourn and his colleagues from Raytheon.
Raytheon is undertaking this engagement in order to seek the views and opinions of those capable organisations that may be interested in helping to deliver a solution, if Raytheon decides to procure it. Raytheon is still finalising the potential categories and solutions. Current interests are listed below and Raytheon welcomes innovative ideas from industry.
This engagement, and any subsequent information provided in response to it, does not form an integral part of any potential future procurement exercise and should only be considered as an attempt by Raytheon to engage with the potential market for the listed solutions.
The scope of the intended engagement activity will seek to hear from Suppliers for the following categories/services:
- Augmented reality / Virtual Reality – future capability;
- Digital Twins – training methodologies;
- Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning in Training-Biometrics Capture-Data Analytics methodology;
- Enterprise tools & simulation – tie into JTS;
- Transformative Technology based training methodologies;
- Assured information infrastructure;
- Relevant Cloud options;
- Quantum computing options;
- Complex Media development solutions and innovation;
- Train the Trainer solutions;
- Any other related/appropriate solutions.
(Source: MAKEUK Defence)
10 Oct 22. Bulgaria receives initial bids for fallback fighters.
Bulgaria’s Ministry of Defense has requested fighter jet lease offers from four countries, as the nation scrambles to secure its air-combat capabilities until the first eight American F-16s become operational in 2027 or 2028.
The development comes shortly after the country’s caretaker government decided to ask the parliament to approve a second F-16 order for a further eight jets, valued at about $1.3 bn.
To fill the ensuing air power gap, the ministry has requested offers from the United States, France, Sweden and Israel. To date, Sofia has received the replies of France and Sweden, and it is awaiting the answers of the remaining two countries, Defense Minister Dimitar Stoyanov said in a statement.
Bulgaria’s Soviet-designed Mikoyan MiG-29 fighters are to be withdrawn from service in 2023, according to Stoyanov. Two years later, Bulgaria aims to receive its first eight F-16s, but it will take the country’s Air Force between two and three years before it can fully benefit from the new aircraft’s capacities. Under the plan, a further eight F-16 are to be delivered to Bulgaria in 2027 if the proposed deal is signed, he said.
The minister said that Bulgaria plans to lease the aircraft from one of the four contacted countries.
“At this moment, our intention is not to buy, but only to use these aircraft for a certain period of time,” Stoyanov said.
Meanwhile, in anticipation of the Lockheed Martin-made jets, the ministry has launched a project to overhaul the Graf Ignatievo air base where the aircraft will be housed. (Source: Defense News)
12 Oct 22. US Army seeks defense against ‘kamikaze’ drone threats seen in Ukraine. The U.S. Army wants ideas from industry on how to protect against attacks from so-called kamikaze drones, a loitering weapon that is featuring heavily in the war in Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine have used thousands of loitering munitions since the start of the war. The explosive-carrying drone is known as a kamikaze weapon because of its one-way mission. One of the more well-known examples is AeroVironment’s Switchblade, which the Pentagon has supplied to Ukraine.
Col. Mike Parent, division chief for acquisition and resources in the Army’s Joint Counter-Unmanned Aircraft System Office, said the threat of loitering munitions is a high concern for his team.
“The one-way attack is something that we have been told again and again by [combatant commands] and the services that this is something that is evolving,” he said during an Oct. 12 briefing at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in Washington. “We must, therefore, evolve with it.”
The service is poised to issue a formal request for ideas, or white papers, from industry in the next week or two, Parent said, noting that the aim is to move quickly to respond to proposals and demonstrate the technology. The work will focus on countering threats from Group 3 drones, a class of small UAS that weigh between 55 and 1,320 pounds.
“We have an aggressive timeline,” he said. “We’re going to put that request for white papers out and we’re going to expect industry to come back very quickly.”
The Army is the U.S. Department of Defense’s executive agent for counter-UAS work and the Joint Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office, created in 2019, works closely with the other military services to shape requirements.
Maj. Gen. Sean Gainey, JCO director, said during the same Oct. 12 briefing that defending against one-way attacks is just one piece of the Pentagon’s layered approach to countering threats from UAS. The war in Ukraine has validated the strength of that approach, he added.
“I think what we’re learning is pretty much what we already knew . . . it takes a layered approach,” he said. “You leverage your air defense systems, you leverage your counter-UAS [electronic warfare systems] and you leverage whatever counter-UAS kinetic effectors you have to be able to get after the threat. Because the threat ranges.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/C4ISR & Networks)
12 Oct 22. US Service eyeing January 2023 release of draft RCV-L prototyping solicitation. The US Army is moving forward with plans to host a Robotic Combat Vehicle – Light (RCV-L) competition and will likely release a draft solicitation by early 2023, according to the Director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross Functional Team, Brigadier General Geoffrey Norman. Several army leaders provided reporters with an RCV-L update on 11 October at the 2022 Association of the US Army’s (AUSA’s) annual conference in Washington, DC, to include new details about plans to acquire these unmanned vehicles. Right now, the service wants to run two parallel efforts. The first is born out of the acquisition of four RCV-Ls from QinetiQ North America and Oshkosh Defense based on a ‘variant’ of the Expeditionary Modular Autonomous Vehicle (EMAV). The service has used these vehicles in a couple of soldier operational experiments, including one in mid-2022. (Source: Janes)
12 Oct 22. Sikorsky Continues Progress on RAIDER X Helicopter for US Army.
- Digital Factory, Additive Manufacturing and Flying Tech Demonstrator Reduce Risk and Deliver Unmatched Growth Potential for the U.S. Army’s FARA Program
Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company (NYSE: LMT) is completing early tests toward a safe flight test program for the RAIDER X® competitive prototype it is building for the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program.
“The RAIDER X prototype, which is 92% complete, draws on Lockheed Martin’s broad expertise in developing innovative weapons systems using the latest digital design and manufacturing techniques. These advancements will enable the Army to not only lower the acquisition cost, but also enable rapid, affordable upgrades to stay ahead of the evolving threat,” said Jay Macklin, director, Sikorsky Future Vertical Lift business development.
There are hundreds of additively manufactured parts installed on RAIDER X, including flight-critical parts. The 3D printing process has been so successful that first articles are 95% compliant, saving the team hundreds of hours compared to previous processes.
Sikorsky is also making progress on the second RAIDER X prototype, which is integrated into the team’s structural test program and will validate the flight and ground loads capability of the airframe. Structural testing is in progress and is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
The tests inform safety-of-flight processes for the first RAIDER X competitive prototype. Once structural testing is complete, the second RAIDER X prototype will be a viable test asset, further reducing risk for Sikorsky’s FARA offering.
RAIDER X Offers Unmatched Growth Margin for Speed, Combat Radius and Payload
RAIDER X features Modular Open Systems Architecture (MOSA)-based avionics and mission systems offering “plug-and-play” options for computing, sensors, survivability and weapons. X2 compound coaxial technology provides unmatched potential and growth margin for increased speed, combat radius and payload. This enables a broader range of aircraft configurations for specific mission requirements.
“The FARA program is important for Army modernization because it provides the speed, maneuverability, reach and the lethality needed on a 21st Century battlefield,” said Pete Germanowski, FARA Chief Engineer. “RAIDER X is also designed for growth. The modular open systems approach and digital backbone coupled with the mission system and sensors and communications capability give the Army a node to tie their battlefield network together and enhance the capabilities of the ground force in the process.”
RAIDER X Competitive Prototype Facts:
- Acceptance test procedures are more than 65% complete
- Power has been on RAIDER X since October 2021
- Sikorsky is the only company with a representative FARA flying technology demonstrator aircraft: S-97 RAIDER.
- The S-97 RAIDER flight test program informs design decisions, correlates to a virtual prototype and enables Sikorsky to experiment with the unique capabilities that X2 technology provides.
- (Source: ASD Network)
11 Oct 22. Army’s next-gen FLRAA helicopter will be chosen in ‘next few months,’ McConville says.
The timeline for the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft award is unclear after senior leaders seemed to push it back from an expected October announcement.
Army officials spent this year predicting that a decision on the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft could come in September, and then changed that to October. Industry speculation widely expected an announcement to come by the end of the month. But today, the Army’s top officer threw cold water on the excitement, hinting that the decision could continue to slide by several months.
“Within the next few months, we’ll downselect for the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft,” Gen. James McConville, the chief of staff of the Army, said during a speech during the annual Association of the United States Army conference.
The FLRAA is among the Army’s top 35 modernization priority programs, under the service’s future vertical lift portfolio. The future helicopter is set to replace the Army’s decades-old Black Hawk.
Bell Textron and Lockheed Martin Sikorsky are competing for the FLRAA contract, managed by the Army’s Program Executive Office for Aviation and the Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team. Bell is offering the Army a tiltrotor aircraft called the V-280 Valor, while the Sikorsky is offering the Defiant X with coaxial rotors.
Earlier in the day, Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth reportedly said at AUSA about the FLRAA decision that “I think it will be a little more time.”
The comments from the two senior leaders bring a new cloud of uncertainty over the FLRAA decision. Other Army leaders at the show have also avoided providing any insight into the apparent delay, or when the award will come.
Speaking at a media roundtable at the show yesterday, Maj. Gen. Walter Rugen, director of the Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team, declined to get into the reason for the wait, saying “I’m not going to get into that.”
Rodney Davis, acting deputy program executive officer for aviation, told reporters during the roundtable that the Army wouldn’t provide specific dates.
“We are in the quiet period for FLRAA. We’re working through a very event driven but rigorous process to get to that decision,” Davis said at the roundtable. “We’re not ready to release that today. But we are working through that. We expect that we’ll have a good decision in relatively short order. We’re not talking about exact dates.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
10 Oct 22. US AFLCMC issues RFI for potential near-term fielding of eVTOLs. The US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) has released a request for information (RFI) regarding the electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOLs).
The RFI was released by Mobility Flex Procurement, Heavy Airlift Division assigned under AFLCMC’s Mobility and Training Directorate.
Issued on 6 October, the RFI seeks to understand eVTOLs’ maturity for likely fielding in the near-term.
It is being led by the Programme Executive Office for Mobility and Training Aircraft.
The RFI primarily aims to assess the use of eVTOLs for business purposes, such as transporting distinguished visitors (DV) and conducting training range logistics support tasks as a supplement for the available Department of Defense’s (DoD) capabilities.
The eVTOLs will be used to transport military personnel in/around/between urban areas.
According to RFI, some common requirements for DV transport include around five to 30 hours of flight per month, while the vehicle should be capable of carrying three to six people and their belongings weighing up to 200lb per person.
With this RFI, Mobility Flex Procurement further aims to compare the runway/road independent eVTOLs with other traditional air transportation assets in terms of expenses ad basic capability metrics.
09 Oct 22. Competition heats up for Army’s future tactical UAS. The U.S. Army is poised to launch a competitive prototyping effort for a tactical drone after selecting AeroVironment’s Jump 20 earlier this year as an interim option. And according to Army aviation leaders, the pool of competitors appears significantly larger than when competition began in 2019. In 2018, the Army began considering requirements for a replacement for the Textron-made Shadow drone. The aircraft is widely used, but is one of the most accident-prone unmanned aerial systems in the service’s inventory. It is also difficult to deploy and has a loud engine, allowing for easy detection.
By 2019, the service narrowed the pool of competitors to two: a Martin UAV-Northrop Grumman team and Textron Systems’ AAI. Martin UAV supplied its V-Bat system, while Textron offered its Aerosonde HQ.
Shortly after, the Army added two more aircraft for evaluation: L3Harris Technologies’ FVR-90 and Arcturus UAV’s Jump 20. In 2021, AeroVironment acquired Arcturus for $405m.
For about a year, operational units evaluated the four different tactical drones, culminating in a rodeo in spring 2021 at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Two units received Arcturus’ offering, while the other systems went to one unit each. That approach was based on the number of systems readily available and the service’s desire to get platforms to five units.
At the Fort Benning rodeo, all five units tried each offering to compare them.
“Although the demonstrations were a critical portion of that to inform the requirements, they weren’t necessarily going to be used as source selection,” Maj. Gen. Robert Barrie, the Army’s program executive officer for aviation, told Defense News in a recent interview.
Demonstrations wrapped up in the first half of 2021, but it took until August 2022 for the Army to select one company to build an initial tranche of systems. The service was working through requirements, an acquisition strategy and waiting for congressionally approved funding.
The Army in August awarded AeroVironment an $8 m contract to pay for one Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System, which includes six air vehicles, ground data terminals and ground control stations. The system will go to a single brigade combat team.
“Increment 1 … really represents the current state of industry regarding performance capabilities that are going to get us rapidly deployable, runway independent, expeditionary, [a] vertical takeoff [capability],” Barrie said ahead of the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference. “Increment 1 allows us to field a capability today that’s available.”
Increment 2, in which the Army prepares for a competitive prototyping phase, “builds on that with all of those current demonstrated capabilities, [but] it’s going to increase range, [and] it’s going to incorporate a scalable control interface, which [gives] the ability for multiple soldiers in multiple places to be able to control an Increment 2,” Barrie said.
The second increment should also offer upgraded sensor capability — “specifically an enhanced laser designator,” he added. The system is expected to offer more interoperability through manned-unmanned teaming, for example, and provide an improved controller interface.
Additionally, he noted, the second increment must enable organic maintenance of the system so the Army can “break ourselves of contractor logistics support.”
Following the Increment 2 competitive process, which will involve multiple vendors, the Army plans to choose a winner and buy its system in larger quantities than in Increment 1.
“It will be an incremental downselect [process] to maximize all of the competition,” Barrie said.
Maj. Gen. Walter Rugen, who manages the Army’s future vertical lift technology development, said five units went through one of the longest soldier evaluations the Army has ever done, and by the end were “pretty much demanding that technology.”
Because of that demand, the Army decided to progress in an incremental fashion, providing a unit immediate capability, but then competing to pursue what the service considers to be a truly “transformational capability,” Rugen said.
The incremental approach and a competition for a second increment are meant to help the Army get the best value for the best capability, according to Barrie.
“One could argue: ‘OK, [AeroVironment] won … therefore they have a leg up.’ The other side is, we have well understood costs and capabilities and limitations with those systems,” Barrie added. “So as we go into a competitive environment, we will know very well what their system can do, and we’ll be able to compare it against other systems.”
Asked whether to expect more industry participation this time around, Barrie said: “100%, yes. In fact, I know we have a bigger pool.”
He wouldn’t provide a specific timeline on the Increment 2 prototyping effort, but said decisions will come in fiscal 2023.
According to FY23 Army budget documents, the service plans to enter FTUAS Increment 2 competitive prototyping in the first quarter of FY23 and wrap it up in the first quarter of FY25. The Army is slated to make a rapid fielding decision in the second quarter of FY25 and to hold an operational evaluation in the third quarter of FY25. The system is planned to then enter full-rate production in the second quarter of FY26. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
REST OF THE WORLD
12 Oct 22. Northrop Grumman Australia formalises push for AIR6500.
The defence contractor has placed an official bid to deliver Australia’s future joint air battle management capability.
Northrop Grumman Australia has submitted its response to the AIR6500 Phase 1 Joint Air Battle Management System (JABMS), Competitive Evaluation Process Stage 2 (CEP2).
The prime is one of two shortlisted companies selected to participate in the Commonwealth of Australia’s AIR6500 Competitive Evaluation Process to lead the design, development and delivery of the JABMS.
The JABMS is designed to synchronise air and missile defence operations, improving situational awareness and enhancing the speed of decision making via connecting separate Defence systems and platforms across all domains into an integrated operational environment.
According to Christine Zeitz, general manager, Northrop Grumman Asia-Pacific, the JABMS solution is expected to be a major situational awareness asset for the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
“Our Australian-led team brings Northrop Grumman’s best-of-breed, all-domain C2 technology from the US together with the best of Australian engineering.
“Northrop Grumman Australia’s JABMS solution will provide an advantage to the Australian Defence Force through delivering a contemporary, sovereign solution that is able to defeat today’s threats and evolve to better meet the battlespace challenges of the future. (Source: Defence Connect)
10 Oct 22. The Australian defence minister has commented on reports the government is considering the acquisition of the small warships amid concerns over the Arafura Class OPV project. According to reports in The Australian, the Defence Strategic Review is considering a recommendation for a new fleet of corvette-style warships to enhance the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) firepower. Up to 12 vessels would be ordered, potentially equipped with missiles, canons, and anti-submarine strike capability. The project would reportedly cost the government between $5-6bn. This comes amid continued concern over the Arafura Class offshore patrol vessels’ (OPVs) lack of strike power. The Arafura OPVs — built by Luerssen Australia — are set to replace the Armidale Class patrol boats, with one vessel already launched. According to newly released data from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), the $3.7bn Arafura Class program is also approximately one year behind schedule. But when asked if the Albanese government is considering a move for corvette-style warships, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles said cabinet would await the recommendations of the Defence Strategic Review.
“The Defence Strategic Review is undertaking the assessment of what the shape of our Defence Force should be given a very different set of strategic circumstances which the country now faces,” he said.
“So, I’m not going to pre-empt the work that they are going to do.”
However, the minister went on to acknowledge the need for increased investment in defence capability, given the deteriorating geostrategic environment.
“We do see that, given the strategic threat that the country faces, we will have a rising defence budget going forward,” he added.
“It’s why it’s really important that every dollar of defence spending is managed in an excellent way. It’s why it’s really important that the quality of the defence spend is put first and foremost in the thinking of government and that we focus on that, and we are completely committed to that.”
Recommendations are due to be handed down in March 2023 in time for the National Security Committee of cabinet. (Source: Defence Connect)
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