UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
08 Nov 22. UK Launches Post-Mosquito Combat Drone Project. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has launched an industry engagement effort to develop low-cost unmanned air systems following the June scrapping of the Mosquito ‘loyal wingman’ combat drone project. The initiative is part of a follow-on effort to the Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft (LANCA) program and “wider uncrewed system development,” an MoD notice stated.
The November 29 engagement will inform participants of the “intent for additive/adjunct capability in the combat air force mix” and provide them with the “opportunity to consider how they could best contribute to Air’s intent.”
The ministry underlined that the engagement will be of particular interest to players specializing in “[drone] design and manufacture, propulsion, systems integration, navigation, communication, Electronic Warfare payloads (active and passive), autonomy, command and control, airworthiness and certification.”
‘Loyal Wingman’ Project Scrapped
The MoD launched the LANCA in 2015 to “understand innovative combat air technologies and concepts that offer radical reductions in cost and development time.”
As part of the effort, Northern Ireland’s Spirit AeroSystems was awarded a 30-m-pound ($33 m) contract in 2021 to develop a technology demonstrator of a loyal wingman-type unmanned aircraft by 2023.
Called the Mosquito, the drone was supposed to “fly at high-speed alongside fighter jets, armed with missiles, surveillance and electronic warfare technology.”
Once built, a decision concerning follow-on production was to be made.
However, the Royal Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) pulled the plug on the concept in 2022 following a “detailed review of the technical demonstrator.”
The office underlined that the decision will “not impact on the wider intent to build the most capable and cost-effective force mix possible, or the ‘Loyal Wingman’ concepts.”
Reacting to the decision, head of the RCO Air Commodore Jez Holmes said,
“Through Project Mosquito and other experimentation activities the Royal Air Force has made substantial progress and gained significant value in understanding and harnessing a range of future uncrewed capabilities.
This decision maximizes the learning accrued to date and enables a change of direction for the LANCA programme. The Rapid Capabilities Office will now quickly launch activities to aggressively pursue the RAF’s unchanged firm commitment to integrating advanced uncrewed capabilities into the near-term force mix with more immediate beneficial value.” (Source: UAS VISION/The Defense Post)
09 Nov 22. Naval firms court Greece for ship-upgrade work. On the first day of the biennial Euronaval trade conference here last month, France’s new defense minister Sebastien Lecornu made sure to meet with Greece’s vice defense minister, Nikolaus Hardalias, at the Hellenic pavilion.
There was a reason for the special attention. Paris has aggressively pursued increased ties to Athens’ military in recent years, including signing a strategic partnership in 2021, and it succeeded in netting a contract in March to build three new frigates for the Hellenic navy. But other nations, including the United States, United Kingdom, and others are also building new partnerships with Greece, and companies at Euronaval showed concerted interest in courting the nation for shipyard partnerships.
A major program to recapitalize Greece’s corvette fleet has recently stalled, Defense News has learned. But that hasn’t stopped the competitors from signing new contracts with local suppliers to shore up support once the program moves forward.
France’s Naval Group, the Netherlands’ Damen, the UK’s Babcock, Italy’s Fincantieri, and the United States’ Lockheed Martin have all thrown their hats into the ring for the corvette replacement effort. But the Greek navy has for now put the program on pause, Jonathan Walton, Babcock’s vice president of business development for marine and technology at Babcock International Group, told Defense News Oct. 20 at the company’s booth at Euronaval.
Babcock had proposed its Arrowhead 140 frigate — the basis for the Royal Navy’s Type 31 frigates currently in construction — for Greece’s frigate replacement program, initially, and now the corvette replacement. The British shipyard had also initiated agreements “in principle” with local suppliers in Greece to sweeten the deal, said Walton.
Requests for comment to the Greek Ministry of Defense on the status of the corvette program were not returned before publication.
France’s Naval Group has proposed its GoWind 2500 multipurpose corvette for the Hellenic Navy. The company is slated to build three new Belharra-class FDI HN (frégates de défense et d’intervention for the Hellenic Navy) frigates and an optional fourth, out of its shipyards in Lorient in the north of France, due for delivery in 2025 and 2026. The company announced Oct. 21 the first FDI HN block was laid down in dry dock, launching the assembly phase.
Since the FDI HN program launched in March, Naval Group has signed about 20 contracts to reinforce relations with Greek shipbuilding industry partners, including seven at Euronaval during the meeting between the two defense ministers. Those agreements extend to efforts outside of the FDI program as well as future projects, and include on-site job training as well, the company said.
Italy, the United States, and the Netherlands are also working to woo the Greeks.
Lockheed Martin vied for the frigate construction program alongside Naval Group, and for a time was pursuing options to nab a contract to build several additional ships. That letter of agreement has since expired, company officials told reporters Oct. 19 at the Euronaval conference.
The company is continuing to make inroads with the Hellenic shipbuilding industry to develop “an indigenous design for a smaller vessel, Corvette sized,” as well as an integrated combat system, said Joe DiPietro, vice president and general manager for naval combat and missile defense systems.
Meanwhile, Lockheed is continuing to pursue a contract to upgrade Greece’s four Hydra-class MEKO frigates, said Dawn Brenner, business development director for small combatants and ship systems. The U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin offered a bid in December 2021 that was due to expire the following March. The offer was extended to September, however, and has since been extended a second time, to December, at the request of the Hellenic Navy, she said.
This letter of agreement would involve the integration of Lockheed Martin’s suite of products centered around the Aegis combat management system (CMS), namely putting the COMBATSS-21 CMS on the MEKO frigates, alongside Lockheed’s Mark 41 vertical launching system and Sikorsky’s MH-60 Seahawk helicopters. Greece has committed to buying seven MH-60 aircraft, with deliveries scheduled to begin at the end of 2023, according to Mark Zavack, head of Sikorsky international business development.
The company has had regular meetings with Hellenic Shipyard, and would likely modernize the MEKO frigates on site there, DiPietro previously told Defense News.
Babcock has also submitted a proposal to upgrade the MEKO frigates, highlighting their experience modernizing such ships for the Australia and New Zealand’s navies, Walton said.
Fincantieri announced Oct. 12 it had signed several memorandums of understanding with “a selection of new suppliers” at the Italian Embassy in Athens. The agreements would serve the Greek Navy’s program to build four new corvettes with a lighter version of its Doha-class light frigate.
“Fincantieri has carried out scouting activities in Greece in order to identify suppliers to start potential collaborations with reference to the existing Greek program or any new naval vessels program, with the main goal of strengthening the Group’s cooperation with Hellenic companies,” the company said in a release.
Damen Shipyards has offered its SIGMA 10514 vessel, recently selected by the Colombian navy for its frigate replacement program, and has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Hellenic Marine Equipment Manufacturers & Exporters group to work with over 60 local suppliers, should the company win the contract, a spokesperson said in an email to Defense News. (Source: Defense News)
04 Nov 22. Bristow Launches Search and Rescue Helicopter Services for Netherlands Coastguard.
- Bristow returns to the Netherlands to provide search and rescue (SAR) helicopter services
- The 10-year contract provides a 24/7 all-weather search and rescue service with dedicated SAR configured AW189 helicopters at the Den Helder and Midden Zeeland Airports on behalf of the Netherlands Coastguard
- Bristow’s worldwide SAR expertise will ensure safe, operationally capable, and best value service to the Netherlands Coastguard
Bristow Group Inc. (NYSE: VTOL), the leading global provider of innovative and sustainable vertical flight solutions, today embarks on a new 10-year relationship with the Netherlands Coastguard, delivering critical helicopter SAR operations for people and communities across the country through its affiliate, Bristow Netherlands B.V.
At 1 p.m. Central European Time on November 4, 2022, two new custom-designed SAR bases officially went on-line at Den Helder and Midden Zeeland Airports, where specialist Bristow teams with SAR-configured helicopters now stand ready to respond to emergency events and critical government taskings in all weather, day and night.
“Today marks an important moment for all of us at Bristow. It’s a huge honor to be chosen to deliver this critical lifesaving service as we draw on our unmatched experience of delivering SAR for governments around the world,” said Alan Corbett, Bristow Senior Vice President for Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia & Australia and Search and Rescue. “Bristow has a long history of operations in the Netherlands. In addition to bringing industry-leading skills, technologies, and innovation, we are also proud to re-establish our Target Zero safety culture in the Netherlands, which underpins our entire operations with each decision we make.”
Each new base is home to a winch equipped AW189 helicopter and is staffed by experienced engineers and ground support teams. Bristow will also provide an additional back-up aircraft, ensuring continuity of this lifesaving service.
The aircraft – crewed by two pilots as well as specialist winch operators and a SAR nurse – also feature custom-designed ergonomic medical stations, giving the SAR nurse the right facilities to provide urgent medical care during flight.
Bristow will also introduce new technologies such as mission management and data-link systems, ensuring ever-closer collaboration with other government services and assets and an increasingly effective SAR service for the Netherlands.
As well as responding to emergencies, the new SAR teams, who are tasked by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Den Helder, are also trained and prepared to support the Netherlands Coastguard with other duties, such as the aftermath of disasters, incidents, and transporting the Maritime Incident Response Group (MIRG).
Bristow’s expansive global SAR services include operations in the Dutch Caribbean, Falkland Islands, Guyana, Norway, Suriname, Trinidad, and the United States. Bristow also operates the HM Coastguard helicopter search and rescue service for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) of the U.K. Government. (Source: PR Newswire)
04 Nov 22. Norwegian NH90 cancellation and refund demand ‘legally groundless’, says manufacturer. Norway’s decision to cancel its NH90 helicopter contract earlier in 2022 and to demand a refund has been described by NHIndustries (NHI) as “legally groundless”.
The assertion came in a 3 November earnings statement released by NHI stakeholder Leonardo about five months after Norway said that the type was unable to fulfil the requirements of the armed forces. Norway had said that it would seek a full refund of the approximately NOK5bn (USD474m) it has paid for its NH90 NATO Frigate Helicopters (NFHs), plus interest and other expenses.
“In June, the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (NDMA) formalised a request for termination for default under the contract – governed by the Norwegian laws – for the supply of 14 NH90 helicopters, which had been entered into in 2001. (Source: Janes)
04 Nov 22. Bulgarian parliament votes to buy F-16s under $1.3bn deal. Bulgarian lawmakers have voted to approve the purchase of eight F-16C/D Block 70 fighter jets for the country’s Air Force. The forthcoming acquisition is to be worth close to $1.3bn.
The National Assembly, the country’s unicameral parliament, approved the planned purchase by a majority of 162 votes, with 49 members voting against, and 11 abstentions.
Under the plan, the first batch of eight F-16 that Bulgaria has already ordered is to be supplied to the country’s Air Force in 2025. The second batch of eight fighter jets is expected to be delivered in 2027, Bulgarian Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov said in a statement.
The minister said that the first F-16 deal from 2019 lacked sufficient weapons, air-to-ground missiles, and precision weapons for the aircraft.
“Under the second contract, the plan is to have additional spare engines, additional radar stations, additional containers for targeting, and additional weapons delivered,” Stoyanov said.
The minister added that Bulgaria’s military would not be able to protect the country’s airspace after 2023 when its outdated Soviet-designed Mikoyan MiG 29 fighters are to be withdrawn from service.
“The first eight F-16 Block 70 fighter jets that will arrive in 2025 are grossly insufficient to carry combat air policing duty,” according to Stoyanov.
With this air power gap in mind, the ministry last month disclosed it had requested fighter jet lease offers from four countries to secure its air-combat capabilities until the first eight American F-16s become operational in 2027 or 2028. Bulgaria’s caretaker government seeks to evaluate offers from the United States, France, Sweden and Israel. At the time of the announcement, the minister said that France and Sweden had submitted their replies. (Source: Defense News)
08 Nov 22. Small shipyards consolidate amid Navy program delays.
Bollinger Shipyards this week said it will acquire shipyards VT Halter Marine and ST Engineering Halter Marine Offshore from parent company ST Engineering, a deal one expert said may have been spurred by the Navy’s slow pace in awarding the contracts expected to go to smaller shipyards.
The transaction, expected to close by the end of the year, offers Bollinger additional new construction and repair expertise. Bollinger, which has 14 shipyards in Louisiana, said it will gain 378 acres, including two shipyards in Pascagoula, Miss., and two dormant yards north of Pascagoula. The price was not disclosed.
Bollinger is on contract to build the Sentinel-class fast response cutter for the U.S. Coast Guard. It is also building some Navajo-class towing, salvage and rescue (T-ATS) ships, though the Navy awarded the last four ships to Austal USA in Alabama.
In the spring, the Navy surprised the industry by awarding the Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vessel program — something Textron had been developing for years — to a team of Bollinger, HII and Raytheon Technologies.
VT Halter, for its part, is on contract to build the Coast Guard’s polar security cutter; Bollinger would absorb that icebreaker work through the acquisition. The Senate wants to give the Coast Guard $841 m to buy the third ship of the class in fiscal 2023.
The U.S. Navy’s future fleet design calls for a larger number of smaller ships, allowing for distributed maritime operations that spread out Navy firepower and logistics. This new reliance on smaller ships was expected to create more opportunities for smaller yards who haven’t been able to build Navy warships in the past, but could be well suited for small logistics ships and unmanned vessels. The Coast Guard, too, is recapitalizing several classes of ships, creating further opportunity.
Both companies competed for but lost the Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter program in 2016. More recently, Bollinger and VT Halter each won a preliminary design contract for the Navy’s future light amphibious warship program, which the Navy awarded to five companies last year.
Bollinger also won an early design contract for the Large USV program in 2020 and for the next-generation logistics ship in late 2021.
Bryan Clark, a senior fellow and director of the Center for Defense Concepts and Technology at the Hudson Institute, called the acquisition “unexpected, but not surprising.”
“Although the Navy has smaller ships coming, they have been slow to materialize. Each of the smaller ship classes or USVs has a vaguely defined concept and could take another decade to be built in volume,” he told Defense News this week. “Shipbuilders cannot afford to wait until the Navy establishes a sustained rhythm of construction to regain viability,”
On the light amphibious warship, for example, the Navy originally planned to award a detail design and construction contract in FY22. That was pushed back to FY25.
The next-generation logistics ship, which went into research and development alongside the light amphib in FY21, won’t begin production until FY26.
The LUSV program, too, has seen delays. It first appeared in the FY20 budget as a research and development program, with the Navy planning to buy two prototypes a year for five years. The Navy instead bought just two LUSV prototypes.
The sea service later said it would begin a program of record in FY23, but that has been postponed to FY25 as the Navy and Congress opted for additional early steps meant to reduce risk, including establishing land-based testing sites for the autonomous boats.
These small yards are also facing large competitors. For the light amphib, for instance, Ingalls Shipbuilding had eyed the program, and Fincantieri and Austal are among those who won design contracts. HII, Fincantieri and Austal are also among those who won design contracts for the LUSV program, even though the ship is much smaller than the warships they typically build.
At the same time, Clark said, a recent recapitalization of the U.S. commercial fleet means there are limited near-term ship orders expected from the private sector.
“As a result, smaller builders like Halter and Bollinger are looking for ways to reduce costs, one of which is mergers and acquisitions that allow efficiencies in overhead,” Clark said. (Source: Defense News)
07 Nov 22. Pentagon closing in on $9bn cloud contract award after scuttling JEDI. The U.S. Department of Defense expects to award early next month the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability contract, a multi-vendor, enterprise-wide platform for the acquisition of bns of dollars of commercial computing services, after a predecessor was canceled last year amid allegations of political interference.
Speaking Nov. 7 at an industry engagement event in Maryland, Chief Information Officer John Sherman said the Pentagon is “getting ready to award JWCC in about a month, 30 days-ish, from now,” in line with previous predictions made by defense officials of a decision by the end of the year.
“I am so excited about what we have done with JWCC,” he said, “and in anticipation for the upcoming award here.”
JWCC is seen as the successor to the Pentagon’s failed Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure endeavor, or JEDI, which was awarded to Microsoft and ultimately abandoned in July 2021. The cancellation came amid a feud between Amazon and the Trump administration, which the company accused of tainting the $10 bn competition.
The new cloud computing deal, worth as much as $9 bn, is meant to connect the military’s most remote edge with its farthest headquarters while bridging classifications and other sensitivities. The Defense Department is trying to institute JWCC as pressure builds to more effectively process and pass information to forces across land, air, sea, space and cyber, a notion known as Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or JADC2.
Sherman on Monday said the creation and award of JWCC — previously advertised for April, but now delayed — would not have been possible without the JEDI experience.
“I know JEDI was seen as, you know, something that happened in fits and starts,” he said. “It was the right decision for the right time.”
The complex JADC2 concept is “utterly reliant on having an enterprise cloud capability that operates at all three security classifications, top secret, secret, unclassified, from the continental United States all the way up to the tactical edge,” Sherman said, adding that Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks “has been very clear on this. JWCC, enterprise cloud, is the fundamental pillar of JADC2.”
The JWCC plan comprises a three-year base with one-year options. A competition for a future multi-cloud environment is expected to follow. (Source: Defense News)
07 Nov 22. US Air Force seeks the aircraft equivalent of a Swiss Army knife. The C-17 Globemaster is one of the workhorses of the U.S. Air Force’s mobility fleet, transporting everything from heavy weaponry, like tanks, to hundreds of passengers.
But the Air Force has another mission in mind for the massive aircraft: carrying pallets of standoff cruise missiles.
As the service prepares for a potential high-end fight against a major adversary, such as China, and weighs the reality of limited budgets and fleets, the service is looking to wring more capabilities out of existing aircraft — some of which are decades old.
In a war against China, U.S. Air Force leaders have repeatedly said airspaces will likely be highly contested, units could be cut off and isolated, and losses are probable. Under those circumstances, having several types of planes each performing a unique task is a luxury the Air Force can’t afford.
The service knows it can’t count on Congress to fund scores of tailor-made airplanes for unique missions, and so it is turning to planes already sitting on the flight lines as a way to stretch its capabilities.
Think of this effort as turning key parts of the fleet into the aircraft equivalent of a Swiss Army knife — making airplanes flexible enough to carry out multiple roles beyond the missions for which they were designed.
That doesn’t just mean using cargo planes as cruise missile launchers, as part of the Air Force’s experimental Rapid Dragon program. It could also mean bombers serving as cargo planes, or tankers as battle management nodes.
“What we’re seeing is the Air Force taking legacy platforms and trying to create additional utility for them in nontraditional ways,” Heather Penney, a former F-16 pilot and now a senior resident fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, told Defense News. “So having this additional flexibility built in can create capacity … and some capability [where needed].”
Industry is taking note. As contractors pitch new planes to the Air Force, those manufacturers are touting the additional capabilities their aircraft could offer beyond their primary mission.
The idea is not far off from the Air Force’s strategy of creating “multi-capable airmen,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown told reporters at a roundtable in September at an Air and Space Forces Association conference.
Under the multi-capable airmen concept, the service is seeking personnel who can do other jobs besides their own — for example, teaching a maintainer the basics of loading weapons or refueling planes. That way, if a war erupts, airmen deployed to isolated bases without reinforcements would be able to do several jobs and keep their units functioning.
But having multi-capable aircraft, so to speak, also creates opportunities to complicate how the enemy manages its battlespace, Brown said.
For instance: If an enemy force spies a C-130 on its radar, is that plane carrying nonlethal food or equipment? Or is that C-130 ferrying something more dangerous — perhaps a pallet of cruise missiles, seconds away from deploying out the back and delivering a barrage of firepower?
The scenarios might prompt very different responses from an enemy — but it would be hard to tell what’s inside the cargo bay.
“This combo provides us more opportunity,” Brown said. “It also complicates and creates dilemmas for our adversaries. They’ve got to account for these things.”
Penney said using aircraft in nontraditional ways could shake up how an enemy understands U.S. strategies and techniques.
“China has gone to school on how the United States goes to war,” Penney said. “Guess what? It hasn’t changed a whole lot. … So it’s been very easy for China to go: ‘Oh, this is exactly the play that they’re running.’ ”
Bomb bay in a box
The Vietnam War saw America drop BLU-82/B “Daisy Cutter” bombs from C-130 cargo planes to create helicopter landing zones. The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb has also been deployed from MC-130J Commando IIs, such as during the 2017 operation where one was dropped on a tunnel complex of an Islamic State group affiliate in Nangarhar, Afghanistan.
But in a future war, the Air Force will likely face sophisticated air defenses that could pick off a mobility aircraft that gets too close. So in recent years, the Air Force Research Laboratory has sought to give its mobility aircraft the ability to launch standoff weapons, well out of enemy air defense range, by experimenting with “palletized munitions.”
The concept, dubbed Rapid Dragon, is essentially a bomb bay in a box — a pallet of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range cruise missiles, or JASSM-ER, that airmen can load onto an MC-130J or C-17 Globemaster without modifications to the plane.
Once in range, the crew deploys the weapons in the same way it would drop equipment — by sliding the pallet out of the back using standard airdrop procedures. One by one, the quartet of missiles would release, spring their wings and tail, ignite their engines and streak toward their targets.
In 2020, the lab awarded a contract, which was worth up to $25 m, to Lockheed Martin to develop this system. Late last year, the lab conducted the final flight test, successfully destroying a target over the Gulf of Mexico using a cruise missile launched from an MC-130J.
The lab said it plans to continue adding different “kinetic and non-kinetic” munitions to Rapid Dragon, among other capabilities in 2023 and beyond.
If Rapid Dragon proved a C-130 can essentially act as bomber, a bomber can also serve as a cargo plane.
Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana announced in August it had rigged up B-52H Stratofortress bombers to carry as much as 10,000 pounds of cargo.
During an exercise at Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington, the bombers tested using the B-52 On-Board Cargo System, which are cargo containers that can plug into bomb bays. Each container — a B-52 can carry two — can hold up to 5,000 pounds of maintenance and support equipment, the Air Force said.
This could allow a deploying B-52 to carry the tools, spare parts and other supplies for maintenance and operations once on site, the service added.
The service also said this could be particularly useful as part of its agile combat employment, or ACE, concept, practiced during the Fairchild exercise. Air Force Global Strike Command said in an email to Defense News that it plans to next test this concept at an overseas location “in the near future.”
The ACE strategy calls for spreading out the service’s airmen and aircraft across a network of dispersed bases throughout a region, rather than concentrating its force across a few centralized bases vulnerable to enemy strikes. The Air Force has worked to hone this concept in recent years.
These dispersed bases could include partner nations’ military airfields, civilian airports or austere bases set up in the field. But key features of ACE are resiliency and the ability to operate with a great deal of self-sufficiency.
For years, the service has counted on the E-3 Sentry — also known as the AWACS, or Airborne Warning and Control System — to provide command, control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.
But the AWACS is approaching retirement, as are some of the service’s other aircraft that offer similar capabilities.
The Air Force has tapped the E-7 Wedgetail as a replacement, but the first one won’t arrive until 2027, and it will be several more years after that until the Air Force has a viable fleet. In the meantime, warfighters will need another way to get accurate pictures of the battlefield.
Enter: the KC-46A Pegasus.
As part of its Advanced Battle Management System program, the Air Force has equipped some KC-46s with tools that allow it to pass information between fifth-generation fighters, therefore serving as data-sharing nodes on the battlefield.
That effort is starting to pay off, the service said in September. Over the summer, KC-46s deployed to Qatar used an onboard system to serve as nodes, securely connecting a ground-based air operations center with nearby aircraft. This was the first time the system was successfully used in a combat operation, Air Mobility Command said.
The command’s chief, Gen. Mike Minihan, told reporters at the AFA conference in September that the KC-46′s ability to connect personnel and provide more situational awareness is another factor that makes it a useful aircraft, beyond its primary mission of refueling planes.
In response, the defense aviation sector is acknowledging it can’t just pitch planes that are essentially one-trick ponies. In a Sept. 20 interview, Greg Ulmer, executive vice president of aeronautics at Lockheed Martin, said the company wants to include equipment to support the Pentagon’s joint all-domain command and control concept on its proposed LMXT refueling tanker. JADC2 is a multibn-dollar effort meant to tie together all components of the U.S. military, from sensor to shooter.
Lockheed hopes the Air Force will choose LMXT for its KC-Y program.
Ulmer said technology now exists to make airplanes such as the LMXT tanker into “multi-utility players,” capable of collecting information through sensors and then serving as a node to distribute that information.
“They’ll be able to create a very robust digital picture of the environment,” Ulmer said. “We’ll be able to fuse that information collected across multiple domains into a sight picture from a battle management perspective. So you could have a [C-130] flying a cargo mission, or a tanker collecting a lot of information and then processing that and forwarding it, or relaying it in a situation.”
When American company L3Harris Technologies and Brazilian firm Embraer pitched their KC-390 “agile tanker” concept to the Air Force in September, the companies particularly touted the aircraft’s JADC2 capabilities.
Luke Savoie, president of L3Harris’ intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sector, told Defense News that contractors have realized their products must offer flexibility while reducing single points of failure.
“If you want to win, the current threat environment is going to drive certain types of solutions,” he said. “If you’re not doing that, you’re going to lose.”
But there are still challenges in setting up this kind of a network, Ulmer said — most notably, having a common communication standard that would allow multiple types of aircraft to talk to one another. He noted that Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall’s decision, announced in September, to appoint a program executive officer to oversee efforts to modernize command, control, communications and battle management should help produce that common standard.
Penney said the Swiss Army knife approach helps wring more out of legacy platforms, but that the effort comes at a cost and fails to address recapitalization needs.
“We still need so much more airlift,” Penney said. “We still need so many more bombers, and we still need so many more fighters.”
Looking for new ideas
Speaking to reporters at the AFA conference, Brown couldn’t speak to the Air Force’s next unorthodox use of an aircraft, although he and Kendall are looking for more ideas.
Brown said these kind of unusual ways to use aircraft could help achieve some of Kendall’s operational imperatives for improving how the Air Force fights its wars — bolstering battlefield management and resilient basing.
Given the U.S. is not engaged in large-scale combat, Brown said, now is the right time to test these concepts and ensure they work.
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass said these out-of-the-box ideas will most often come from the airmen who perform related jobs every day. It’s up to them to brainstorm and share their ideas, she added, rather than expecting higher-ups to think of them.
“If our airmen are waiting for the answer to come from the Pentagon, they’re going to be waiting for a long time,” Bass said. (Source: Defense News)
REST OF THE WORLD
09 Nov 22. Canada buys 39 General Dynamics vehicles, eyes anti-tank weapons. The Canadian military has ordered 39 additional light-armored vehicles from General Dynamics for $165m as it aims to replace equipment it donated to Ukraine earlier this year, according to a spokesman with the National Defence Department.
The country also has plans to buy new-generation Carl Gustaf anti-tank systems to replace older weapons shipped to Ukraine.
The procurement efforts follow a promise by Canada’s Liberal Party government that military equipment sent to Ukraine this year would be restocked.
In July, Canada announced it was redirecting 39 light-armored vehicles, originally ordered for the Canadian Army, to Ukraine. The Armoured Combat Support Vehicles had just been built and were rolling off the assembly line at General Dynamics Land Systems’ location in London, Ontario.
Dan Le Bouthillier, the spokesman with the National Defence Department, said a new contract between Canada and General Dynamics for $165m was signed for 39 ACSVs. The funding will come from the CA$500m (U.S. $371m) that the government set aside to support the purchase of military equipment for Ukraine.
Canada has shipped ammunition, anti-tank rounds, grenades, M72 rocket launchers and small arms to Ukraine from its own stocks as the European country fights off a Russian invasion. Canada also provided four M777 howitzers and 100 older-generation Carl Gustaf M2 recoilless rifles.
Department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande said Canada will replace the small arms ammunition, grenades and M72s; however, details are still being worked out.
“Given the Carl Gustav M2 model is now obsolete, we’ll be looking at developing the acquisition solution for the M4 model instead,” she said.
Department procurement specialists are also examining how to replace the M777s. Options include looking at the international market for existing M777s, or acquiring such guns if BAE Systems’ M777 production line reopens, she said. Another option is to examine the acquisition of other types of artillery guns. (Source: Defense News)
08 Nov 22. India outlines light bulletproof vehicle acquisition. The Indian Army has outlined detailed requirements supporting its acquisition of 375 light bulletproof vehicles (LBPVs).
In an acceptance of necessity (AoN) document issued by the army, the service confirmed that the LBPVs would be procured from local industry.
The AoN also stated that the vehicles will be procured under a fast-track procedure in accordance with provisions of the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020, which supports India’s drive to spur indigenous capability development and achieve self-reliance.
According to the AoN, the vehicles should be a manual transmission 4×4 type with the capacity to carry four fully equipped soldiers along with a driver and a co-driver.
The vehicles must have the capacity to carry a load of 600 kg with an onroad speed of not less than 60 km/h and a cross-country speed of 40 km/h. (Source: Janes)
09 Nov 22. Australia looks to Sweden for subs help. Australia is looking towards Sweden to help prop up its ageing Collins class electric-diesel submarines. The submarines will undergo work to extend their operating life in 2026 as Australia looks to bridge a capability gap before the first nuclear sub arrives in the late 2030s at the earliest.
Navy chief Mark Hammond said defence was working to take the associated risks out of the complex process to extend the subs’ life by engaging Swedish counterparts.
“I am learning from their life-of-type extension they’ve gained from their Gotland submarines,” the vice admiral told a Senate estimates hearing.
“This is one of my highest priorities.”
Representatives from Swedish defence company Saab AB were hosted in Australia in the past six weeks.
The Collins class have also suffered from availability delays in the past year due to COVID-19, and the prioritisation of other navy vessel repairs.
Vice Admiral Hammond said the delays should be cleared within the next 12 months.
“But the submarine availability overall in my last role as fleet commander has been exceptional,” he noted.
Further costs to the cancellation of the French Attack class submarine contract have also been revealed.
The total costs of the cancellation has been put at $3.4bn, including a $830 m contract breaking fee to the French Naval Group.
But the government has also set aside more than $290m to retrain people who lost their jobs when the contract was cancelled.
Officials noted the figure is a “do not exceed” number, not an exact cost.
Defence bureaucrats said the cost for the 219 jobs over three years didn’t solely include salaries, but training, postgraduate education in nuclear science and activities that support future growth.
Officials said the money wasn’t a further sunk cost from the French contract with the retraining going towards Australia’s ability to operate nuclear propelled submarines when they arrive.
A further $300 m writedown of a $470 m naval yard by Australian Naval Infrastructure also wasn’t included in the public total, given it was off defence department books.
But some of the facilities can be repurposed for Australia’s nuclear submarine program.
Australian National University Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt told a submarine institute conference the low number of students entering maths and science degrees was concerning.
“The strained labour market conditions we face now in 2022 will cripple us in 2032 if we don’t take urgent action now to grow our sovereign capability,” he said.
He called on the government to classify nuclear stewardship as a defence priority, meaning funding would be locked in. (Source: News Now/https://thenewdaily.com.au/)
08 Nov 22. Boeing and PTDI Sign Strategic Agreement Strengthening Defense, Aerospace Capabilities for Indonesia.
- Agreement aims to strengthen defense industrial cooperation and Indonesia’s local aerospace manufacturing capabilities
Boeing [NYSE: BA] today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Indonesian aircraft company PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) to explore teaming opportunities in manufacturing, support and maintenance of defense products and training. The MOU may lead to more definitive agreements with PTDI should Indonesia select the F-15EX as part of its defense modernization efforts.
The MoU signing was witnessed by Indonesia’s Minister of Defence Prabowo Subianto, during the Indo Defence 2022 Expo and Forum in Jakarta.
“Boeing’s 73 years of partnership with Indonesia’s aerospace industry spans multiple programs and services that advance national security priorities, grow economic development and build stronger communities,” said Heidi Grant, president, Business Development, Boeing Defense, Space & Security and Government Services. “This agreement with PTDI is an important step in achieving Indonesia’s vision for economic development, technology transfer and talent development across the local industry.”
“PTDI is always welcome any cooperation framework with world leading defense companies like Boeing. We have discussions with Boeing since years ago on how to strengthen our engagement. Now we have mutual understanding to move thing forward.
“By having this collaboration with Boeing, both parties would jointly assess the potential work opportunities to enhance manufacturing capabilities, support and maintenance, training and technology transfer indeed. This partnership shows PTDI’s commitment in supporting IDAF defense equipment modernization program in order to develop Indonesia’s national strategic industry. It will also lead to the benefit for us in achieving Indonesia’s vision for current and future economic development,” said Gita Amperiawan, president director of PT Dirgantara Indonesia.
PT Dirgantara Indonesia, also known as PTDI is one of the indigenous aerospace company in Asia with core competences in aircraft design, development and test, aircraft structure manufacturing, aircraft production, and aircraft services for both civilian and military.
Since established in August 1976, under the auspices of the Ministry of State Owned Enterprises (SOE), member of the Defense Industry Holding (DEFEND ID) we have successfully developed and grown our capability as an aerospace industry by delivering more than 460 units of aircraft to 50 customers over the globe.
Our top-notch products are NC212i, CN235 and N219. By now, we are currently developing a light turboprop aircraft independently, named N219, which is suitable to be operated in remote areas and also fulfill the needs of pioneering aviation. N219 has successfully obtained Type Certificate (TC) issued by Directorate General of Aviation (DGCA) Ministry of Transportation Republic of Indonesia. (Source: ASD Network)
08 Nov 22. Universities of Adelaide and WA share $90m space food, medicine funding. The Australian Government is providing $35m for the new Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence in Plants for Space (P4S), led by the University of Adelaide. Additional funding and in-kind support from 38 partner organisations, including four other Australian universities, will bring the total value to $90m. The Australian government funding for the new Centre will be for seven years initially.
The Centre will help to establish a long-term human presence in space, while also developing innovations on Earth.
“The mission of P4S is to re-imagine plant design and bioresource production, through the lens of space, to enable off-Earth habitation and provide transformative solutions to improve on-Earth sustainability,” said the University of Adelaide’s Professor Matthew Gilliham, Director of the new Centre of Excellence.
“P4S research will create the flexible, plant-based solutions needed to support human physical and psychological well-being during deep space travel and settlement. Work undertaken by experts from the Centre will also deliver a step change in plant efficiency, productivity, and processing technologies here on Earth.”
P4S is a major global collaborative transdisciplinary venture partnering 15 academic institutions, five space agencies and enablers, five Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) companies, six education providers, and seven government and technology partners that collectively harness a global fit-for-purpose critical mass not found elsewhere. Foundational Australian University partners are the University of Adelaide, University of Melbourne, University of Western Australia, Flinders University and La Trobe University.
“By training more than 400 researchers, P4S will produce the next generation of internationally connected and industry-focused experts, and accelerate the growth of the burgeoning national and international CEA and biomanufacturing industries,” added P4S Deputy Director and Processes program lead, Professor Melissa de Zwart from Flinders University.
“Long-term off-Earth habitation is on the horizon. However, key challenges remain, which will be addressed head-on by P4S. Mission success depends on having nutritious food and medicines without the need for resupply missions from Earth,” said P4S Plants program lead, Professor Harvey Millar from the University of Western Australia.
P4S will also drive transformational benefits for on-Earth industries and sustainability outcomes. P4S breakthroughs will offer new plant efficiency solutions for challenging Earth environments and work on how to intensively, but sustainably, produce plant-based foods that can reduce agriculture’s carbon footprint.
P4S will be an Australian contribution to NASA’s Artemis accords, which have been signed by 21 countries including Australia. The Artemis mission plans to put the first woman and person of colour on the Moon by 2030 and to develop the technologies required for humans to venture to Mars and return to Earth in the 2040s. The first phase of the mission is expected to launch and return to Earth by the end of 2022.
Head of the Australian Space Agency, Mr Enrico Palermo, said: “As humankind looks to return to the Moon, this time we do it with the view to establishing a sustainable presence that will allow us to explore further than ever before.
“There are many challenges associated with ensuring humans can live sustainably on the Moon. P4S is just one way in which Australia can contribute to making this happen as part of our commitment to the Artemis Accords.”
The University of Western Australia (UWA) node of the program is led by three WA Scientist of the Year Award winners including Professor Harvey Millar, Professor Ryan Lister and Professor Ian Small, all from UWA’s School of Molecular Sciences. Professor Lister is also from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.
“Long-term off-Earth habitation is on the horizon but the success of these missions depends on having medicine and nutritious food without the need for resupply missions from Earth,” Professor Lister said.“Requiring light, water, carbon dioxide, and minimal nutrients, plants are the ultimate solar-powered biofactories for supporting human nutrition and health, as well as production of useful materials.”
“We’ll develop plant varieties and production systems for pick-and-eat plants like water spinach, tomatoes and strawberries,” Professor Millar said. “We’ll also develop food plants for long-term space nutrition using duckweeds that are one of the fastest growing plants.”
Professor Small said the space work had spin-off benefits for agriculture on Earth and would help reduce the sector’s carbon footprint. “Many of the challenges needed for long-term life on Moon and Mars are also faced by agriculture on Earth and need to be researched to advance the efficiency of plant-based foods for example increasing fertiliser use efficiency,” Professor Small said.
The, said the research would lead to significant benefits to life on Earth.
“A large portion of the food required for nutrition, oxygen and wellbeing will need to be produced en route so it’s essential we solve this problem for the continued exploration of our solar system and there will be major benefits also for life on Earth,” the Head of UWA’s International Space Centre, Associate Professor Danail Obreschkow, said. (Source: Rumour Control)
08 Nov 22. Australian Aerospace partnership offers R&D, education opportunities. The Aerostructures Innovation Research Hub (AIR Hub) at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne and the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University in Kansas, USA have signed a wide-ranging partnership agreement to boost local and international R&D capabilities.
The partnership will initially focus on digitisation of aerospace composite design and production, developing advanced manufacturing technologies and testing methods and creating specialised simulation capabilities.
AIR Hub Director Dr Adriano Di Pietro said the agreement would allow for greater global innovation and industry advances.
“Working together at the cutting edge of digitalisation, intelligent manufacturing processes and advanced composite materials, this partnership will help us create innovative solutions to pressing real-world challenges,” Dr Pietro said.
“We are delighted to be working with our colleagues at NIAR to achieve our mission of developing the next generation of aerostructures for advanced mobility in Victoria and around the world.”
NIAR senior research scientist Dr Waruna Seneviratne leads a team of experienced engineers and student technicians in NIAR’s Advanced Technologies Lab for Aerospace Systems (ATLAS), which is focused on developing emerging technologies in advanced manufacturing and machine learning for wider industry use.
”The partnership with AIR Hub will allow both organisations to take advantage of each other’s strengths to increase the value of both university research organisations to industry,” said Dr Seneviratne.
The partnership encompasses both the technical capabilities and human capital required to power the aviation and aerospace industry into the future.
This includes the exchange of research staff to promote closer collaboration and sharing of experiences, as well as facilitating collaborative arrangements between Australian and US industry partners in aerostructures and composite materials testing and research.
The collaboration will also enable technological advances to assist AIR Hub and NIAR to develop a comprehensive Model Based Engineering concept.
(Source: Rumour Control)
07 Nov 22. The Indian Army issues PSOs for five projects under Make II scheme. Approval of PSOs will further initiate the process of prototype development for each project. Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced that the Army has approved the project sanction orders (PSOs) of five projects under the Make II procurement scheme. The five projects include high-frequency man packed software-defined radios (HFSDR), a drone kill system, infantry training weapon simulator (IWTS), 155mm terminally guided munitions (TGM), and a medium-range precision kill system (MRPKS).
Under the HFSDR project, 14 developing agencies (DA) have received PSO to begin the lightweight HFSDR’s prototype development, following which the Indian Army is planning to procure a total of 300 HFSDR.
Once developed, the new radio sets will replace the Indian Army’s existing HF radio sets that offer limited data handling capability.
In addition, 18 DAs have received PSO for the development of an anti-drone system project. The Army is aiming to acquire 35 sets of drone-kill systems.
The hard kill anti-drone system will be deployed against various uncrewed aerial system and low radio cross-section drones. It can operate in all types of terrains, both during the day and at night.
As many as 125 sets of IWTS will be procured by the Indian Army. It is also the first tri-service Make II project headed by the Army.
It will be fielded to hone the marksmanship skills of newly inducted soldiers to use several weapons by training in a simulated battlespace. Each IWTS can support the training of up to ten personnel at a time.
Under the 155mm TGM project, six DAs have been selected to work on the development of approximately 2,000 rounds of 155mm TGMs that will be used against high-value targets.
The last MRPKS project will see 15 DAs developing the MRPKS prototype. The service will procure ten sets of MRPKS.
Currently, 43 out of 22 Make II projects are under the prototype development stage. (Source: army-technology.com)
07 Nov 22. Thales Strengthens its Leading Position in the Indonesian Defence Industry.
- At IndoDefence 2022, DEFEND ID and Thales have signed several agreements reaffirming their commitment to supporting the ongoing modernisation and digitalisation of the defence sector in Indonesia.
- Thales has signed a contract to refurbish the mission system of four Diponegoro-class ships, with the latest technology in combat management systems and sensors to extend their operational performance.
- PT Len and Thales also inked a Memorandum-of-Agreement (MoA) to establish a joint venture organisation by 2023 that will work on, amongst other topics, the localisation of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) for radars currently in operation with the Indonesian Air Force.
At the opening day of IndoDefence 2022, Thales reinforced its commitment to the Republic of Indonesia’s defence forces, signing multiple agreements with its long-term partner, local State Owned Enterprise (SOE), PT Len Industri, witnessed by Minister of Defence, Prabowo Subianto. Working with DEFEND ID, Indonesia’s defence industry holding company led by PT Len, these agreements confirm Thales’ position to support Indonesia’s military ambitions.
In April 2022, President Widodo outlined Indonesia’s objective to have DEFEND ID join the list of the world’s top fifty defence companies by 2024 and to increase the use of locally-manufactured components within the industry. Thales’ capabilities and solutions in naval and air defence will strongly contribute to these plans.
Refurbishing the Diponegoro-class ships
Thales signed a contract with PT Len to undertake the refurbishment of the integrated mission systems for four Diponegoro-class ships. The contract was signed by Mr. Bobby RASYIDIN, President Director for PT Len Industri and Mr. Erik-Jan RAATGERINK, Sales Director, Thales Netherlands.
Delivered in the early 2000s, these ships will soon be refurbished with an Integrated Missions System including the TACTICOS Combat Management System, as well as the latest in software-driven radar technology able to combat the highest level of threats.
As a leading partner to the Indonesian Navy for the last forty years and the appointed supplier of combat systems for most Indonesian warships currently in service, Thales is bringing its best capabilities to help extend the lifecycle of the Navy’s fleet and ensure that the ships remain equipped for optimal performance. The modernisation programme will extend over the next five years with post-sales support provided by trained teams at Thales’ Naval Service Centre in Surabaya. This latest upgrade follows a similar programme undertaken for the KRI Usman-Harun Multi-Role Light Frigate (MRLF) in 2020.
Thales also signed a separate Memorandum-of-Understanding (MoU) with PT Pal for future joint collaboration in the area of Integrated Mission Systems and associated sensors and sub-systems for the Indonesian export market.
Laying the groundwork for a joint-venture with PT Len
In a separate Memorandum-of-Agreement (MoA), PT Len and Thales announced their intentions to create a joint-venture (JV) that will start with local Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) activities for radars in service with the Indonesian Air Force. Additional cooperation topics will be explored including radars, Command & Control systems, military satellites, and Combat Management Systems.
The JV is expected to be operational by the end of 2023. The agreement was signed by Mr. Bobby RASYIDIN, President Director for PT Len Industri and Mdm. Pascale SOURISSE, Senior Executive Vice-President, Thales International.
“Thales is proud to have made strong progress together with PT Len over the last few months since the inception of DEFEND ID. The contract to refurbish the Diponegoro-classships underscores the trust that the Indonesian Navy has in Thales’ proven mission-critical solutions. From a humble partnership dating back 40 years, we are delighted to now take it a step further with PT Len through this upcoming joint venture. By working closely with local SOEs under DEFEND ID, we are in an even stronger position to innovate and co-develop local solutions, transfer technology, and build local indigenous capabilities within Indonesia and to take the country a step further in its defence ambitions.” Olivier RABOURDIN, President Director, PT Thales Indonesia. (Source: ASD Network)
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