UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
14 Dec 22. Latest figures show UK E-7 Wedgetails will cost £630m apiece.
The UK has outlined hundreds of millions of pounds in savings via reducing the buy of E-7 Wedgetails down to three aircraft.
The three E-7 Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft due to enter service with the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) will cost £630m each, despite savings resulting from reducing the planned buy down from an initial five platforms.
In reworking the planned acquisition, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has shaved £265m off the expected programme cost for the three aircraft to £1.89bn, down from £2.155bn originally.
The figures came to light in a 13 December Parliamentary written response from the UK Government, and do not take into account the estimated forecast savings from long-term sustainment through reduced support costs as a result of the reduction in fleet size.
As was revealed in 2021, the first two airframes of the E-7 programme, which is based on the 737 Next Generation airliner, were initially operated by commercial airlines based in China and Hong Kong before being acquired by US manufacturer Boeing via a broker.
A January 2021 Hansard response stated the move to use second-hand airframes provided a “significant schedule and cost benefit” to the programme, which would “enable this vital capability to be introduced sooner than would have been the case if new airframes had been manufactured”.
In addition, it appears that a further £85m will be saved as a result of infrastructure savings, bringing the combined total to “around £350m”, according to another Hansard Parliamentary written response.
A new Full Business Case for the E-7 acquisition is still being written up by the UK MoD, which is expected to be finalised by mid-2023.
STS Aviation Group is converting the three secondhand Boeing 737NG aircraft into the E-7 Wedgetail configuration at its Birmingham site in the UK, with the first of the Northrop Grumman Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) surveillance radar having been installed on the lead platform.
With the arrival of the first aircraft now due in 2024 at the earliest and an even longer wait for initial operating capability, a key airborne early warning gap continues to remain unfilled following the removal of the E-3D Sentry fleet from UK service in 2021.
UK MoD procurement arm Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) revealed in November that the first MESA radar had been installed on the first E-7, forming the distinctive ‘wedge’ that gives the Wedgetail its moniker.
Despite efforts to reduce the cost of the programme, the £630m per unit cost does not tally well with other planned operators of the type, even considering economies of scale from larger order runs. By comparison, the US Air Force is also moving ahead to acquire the E-7, committing $227m in FY23 funding to the research, development, test and evaluation of the first aircraft.
The UK plan to acquire a handful of US-origin aircraft for the RAF is not a new one, having in the mid-2010 sought to purchase three used KC-135 Rivet Joint intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance platforms for a combined total of around $1bn.
After modernisation the type was designated RC-135W Airseeker in UK service, with the final aircraft arriving in 2017. In 2021, the UK MoD agreed a near-£1bn with the US Department of Defense to extend support for Airseeker out to 2035.
14 Dec 22. AS90 UOR Vs K9A1? Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that the MoD is looking at reviving a 10-year-old UOR to upgrade 89 AS90 howitzers to the latest spec with a 52 calibre canon, chassis upgrades and turret interior upgrades including new seats. The funding is believed to form part of the spring defence review. However, given the age of the vehicle and the scarcity of spares, this could be a lengthy and expensive process. A faster route to field this capability could be the purchase of 89 Hanwha K9A1 self-propelled howitzers with the option to upgrade to the A2 variant, as show at DVD, at a later date. Twitter photographs from Ukraine showing a bogged down 8×8 APC certainly show that tracks are the best solution for any Northern European winter operations.
14 Dec 22. Exciting changes to Defence Innovation Loans, including loans up to £2m. DASA and Innovate UK have changed the Defence Innovation Loans service to make it even easier to apply. See what’s new!
- Defence Innovation Loans now offers loans from £100 thousand to £2m
- Defence Innovation Loans is an alternative funding method to help small and medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) who often struggle to bring their ideas to market
The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) and Innovate UK introduced Defence Innovation Loans in the summer of 2021, as an alternative funding method to help convert mature defence innovations into viable business propositions that can compete for defence procurement.
Aimed at small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and with a below market interest rate of 7.4% per annum, Defence Innovation Loans offer affordable funds to help innovators get closer towards commercialisation.
Following the success of the Defence Innovation Loans funding model, DASA and Innovate UK are pleased to announce exciting changes to improve the service.
Defence Innovation Loans: what’s new?
DASA always seeks to improve its services, to ensure that your innovations are accelerated effectively. Here is how we have improved Defence Innovation Loans and made the experience more effective for you to apply:
- Defence Innovation Loans are expanding to offer loans from £100 thousand to £2m (previously £250,000 to £1.6m)
- the loan ‘availability’ period will be up to 3 years (previously 2 years)
- Defence Innovation Loans will operate on cycle-based assessment periods, but will remain open all year round
- the initial outcome of loan eligibility will still be carried out by DASA and Innovate UK, within 7 weeks from the closing date of the cycle
Who can apply for a Defence Innovation Loan?
To apply for a Defence Innovation Loan, you must:
- be a UK registered SME
- intend to exploit the results in the UK or overseas to make a significant and positive impact on the UK economy and / or productivity
- give evidence that your business is suitable to take on a loan
Please note that individuals, academic institutions, research organisations and large companies are not eligible for Defence Innovation Loans.
What innovations are considered for a loan?
Defence Innovation Loans are open to innovative ideas to improve the defence of the UK. Your innovation must be mature, at TRL 6 or above, to ensure the solution can be commercialised within the time scale of the loan. There must also be clear evidence of a Defence need for the innovative solution.
Ready to apply?
Read the full Defence Innovation Loans document and submit an application: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/competition-defence-innovation-loans/competition-document-defence-innovation-loan
Here to help: Meet the Access to Mentoring & Finance (A2MF) Team
The A2MF team works closely with innovators to understand their business needs and aspirations. Their goal is to help companies become investment, market and supply chain ready.
Meet the A2MF team and see how they can help you: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/introducing-the-access-to-mentoring-finance-team-a2mf (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
14 Dec 22. Innovators invited to gain insight into the future of ISR.
Dstl will share new technical concepts for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in an age of AI and autonomy, at an event for industry and academia.
The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) will share early stage research to help potential partners understand where future funding opportunities may lie and help build the UK’s capability.
We are seeking interest from a wide range of suppliers including small and medium enterprises, those representing niche areas and those who don’t traditionally work with defence.
Dstl will also welcome those normally involved at later stages of technical development which could benefit from insights into its pioneering research and the future requirements of UK defence and security.
Potential suppliers of future defence and security technology can register to attend the showcase of the latest research into generation-after-next technical concepts for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). This was identified as an area for investment in the 2021 Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy.
The AI and autonomy for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (A2ISR) project is covering research themes including:
- AI-enabled ISR tasking and collection
- cloud-edge infrastructures
- data-centric process improvement
- machine-assisted intelligence such as natural language processing
- advantages that could be brought by quantum information processing
The showcase will be held on 23 February 2023 in Wiltshire. Attendees will see demonstrations of cutting-edge science and technology and have opportunities to discuss support to and the alignment of Dstl’s research with emerging concepts in industry and academia. There will also be an outline of the next steps for Dstl’s A2ISR project.
Request your invitation
To register your interest in attending the A2ISR Industry Showcase Day email including:
- up to 2 names from your organisation
- job title or role of each attendee
- nationality of each attendee
- email address for each attendee
Read our full guide about how to sell to or work with Dstl: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-sell-to-dstl-industry-academia-and-other-research-organisations (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
13 Dec 22. MBDA response to the industrial agreement for the future combat air system. MBDA welcomes the industrial agreement recently finalized to prepare the Future Air Combat System. Following the first phases of SCAF work, the signing of this agreement is a change in scale for this programme and lays the foundations for a large-scale European industrial partnership.
Phase 1B is primarily a phase of technological maturation. In co-operation with its partners, Airbus Defense and Space GmbH and the Spanish consortium SATNUS, MBDA will design ‘Remote Carrier’ demonstrators and conduct experiments in connected collaborative combat, both simulated and in-flight. In particular, MBDA will be responsible for the demonstrator of Remote Carriers that can be fired from combat aircraft.
The Future Air Combat System air combat system of the future is much more than an aircraft: it is a system of systems capable of the collaborative air combat. FCAS and its associated technological innovations will bring a revolution in concepts of operations.
As the leader in effects management, MBDA will principally develop new effectors, the Remote Carriers. They are multipliers of the tactical options available to our armed forces. Remote Carriers will force adversaries to reveal themselves, will disrupt them, confuse them and/or saturate them to finally neutralize the threats they pose, which continue to become ever more effective. Capable of operating in packs or individually, the Remote Carriers will cover all areas of combat, from air combat, to maritime operations, and ground strikes.
With a long experience of European industrial co-operation, MBDA’s teams are proud to be contributing to the future of combat aviation.
16 Dec 22. Europe’s Future Combat Air System: on the way to the first flight.
- Industry awarded €3.2bn by France, Germany and Spain
- FCAS Phase 1B Contract for R&T and flying Demonstrators Global Design
On behalf of the governments of France, Germany and Spain, the French General Directorate for Armament (DGA) has awarded to Dassault Aviation, Airbus, Indra, Eumet and their industrial partners the contract for the Demonstrator Phase 1B of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS). This landmark contract, amounting to € 3.2bn, will cover work on the FCAS demonstrator and its components for about three and a half years.
Dassault Aviation, Airbus, Indra and Eumet welcome this major step forward that reflects the determination of France, Germany and Spain to develop a powerful, innovative and fully European weapon system to meet the operational needs of the countries’ armed forces.
This contract notification comes on the heels of the signature of the industrial agreements supporting the demonstrator Phase 1B by Airbus, Dassault Aviation, Indra and Eumet as prime contractors of the programme and by their industrial partners from the three nations. Discussions held over the last months have enabled the creation of a solid basis for cooperation between industry and the three governments.
This continues the successful Phase 1A demonstrators’ related R&T work and development activities, which enabled the identification of key technologies and the launch of the demonstrators’ developments. Paving the way for the development phase of the programme, this demonstration phase 1B will allow continuation of flying demonstrators and required cutting-edge technologies development and maturation as well as project architectures consolidation, with in-flight demonstrations targeted in the next phases by 2028-2029.
The programme is made up of a set of systems: New Generation Fighters teaming with Remote Carriers and connected through a Combat Cloud. In order to meet the ambitions and challenges of such a programme, an adapted and efficient industrial organisation has been set-up and built around technological pillars. Each pillar is under the leadership of an industrial champion acting as prime, working in close cooperation with its main partners and leveraging each nation’s aeronautical industrial ecosystems.
In addition to their prime role per pillar, Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Indra act as national coordinators to ensure the overall coherence of the demonstrators and the overall programme’s steering and work consolidation.
The industrial governance of the Phase 1B is organised per domain as follows:
- NGWS Consistency, Demonstrations and Consolidation with Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Indra Sistemas as co-contracting partners
- New Generation Fighter (NGF), with Dassault Aviation for France as prime contractor, and Airbus as main partner for Germany and Spain
- NGF Engine with the 50/50 Joint Venture Eumet -between Safran Aircraft Engines for France and MTU Aero Engines for Germany- as prime contractor and ITP Aero for Spain as main partner
- Unmanned systems, Remote Carrier (RC) with Airbus for Germany as prime contractor, MBDA for France and Satnus for Spain as main partners
- Combat Cloud (CC) with Airbus for Germany as prime contractor, Thales for France and Indra Sistemas for Spain as main partners
- Simulation with Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Indra Sistemas as co-contracting partners
- Sensors with Indra Sistemas as prime for Spain, and Thales for France and FCMS for Germany as main partners
- Enhanced Low Observability (stealth) with Airbus as prime contractor for Spain, Dassault Aviation for France and Airbus for Germany as main partners
- Common Working Environment with Airbus, Dassault Aviation, Indra Sistemas and Eumet as co-contracting partners
The industrial partners thank the three nations for their confidence and reiterate their firm commitment and total mobilisation to make this programme the armed wing of Europe’s strategic autonomy thanks to the reinforcement of the operational, technological and industrial sovereignty of its defence.
15 Dec 22. Europe formally launches ENGRT next-gen rotorcraft effort. The European Union has formally launched the European Next-Generation Rotorcraft Technologies (ENGRT) programme to develop the technologies for vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft for the post-2035 timeframe. Speaking to Janes and other defence media in Madrid, Matthieu Louvot, executive vice-president, Airbus Helicopters Programmes, said the project first announced earlier in 2022 was launched on 1 December.
“We are at a crucial point for the European Next-Generation Rotorcraft Technologies programme. The programme is now signed, and the companies are now working on it. Airbus Helicopters is co-ordinating the consortium, and Leonardo is very much involved in that together with us,” Louvot said during the annual Airbus Trade Media Briefing (TMB) on 12 December. (Source: Janes)
14 Dec 22. Germany clinches $8bn purchase of 35 F-35 aircraft from the US. German government leaders on Wednesday announced a deal to buy 35 F-35 fighter jets from the United States, a package pegged at $8.4bn by the Pentagon in its offer from the summer.
Signature of the letter of acceptance caps Berlin’s years-long quest to replace the portion of its aging Tornado fleet tasked with carrying out NATO’s doctrine of nuclear weapons sharing. German officials had decided on the Lockheed Martin-made jet in the spring, setting in motion the purchasing process for the aircraft, weapons and spares.
Lawmakers approved the funding in a session of the parliamentary Budget Committee earlier on Wednesday. It’s part of a $14bn batch of procurements German defense leaders will use to improve lackluster military capabilities over the coming years, drawing from a special $107bn defense fund set up after Russia’s assault on Ukraine.
“It is an honor to formally welcome Germany to the F-35 Lightning II Program,” said Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and general manager of the F-35 program. “Germany’s participation ensures the F-35′s European alliance continues to strengthen and grow through interoperability with NATO and ally nations.”
Training of German pilots with the first new planes is slated to begin in 2026 in the United States. Those activities are scheduled to move to Germany the following year, before the Luftwaffe, Germany’s air force, declares an initial operational capability in 2028.
That timeline is of particular concern for the Germans because it requires facilities at the country’s F-35 base, Büchel in the west of Germany, to be ready for housing the modern planes by 2027.
Luftwaffe Chief of Staff Lt Gen. Ingo Gerhartz today told reporters in Berlin officials are in the process of tapping a general contractor with experience in building F-35-related infrastructure. The plan, he said, is to condense the permitting and construction process, which other officials have said can take six or seven years, to meet the envisioned 2027 target.
Military spokespeople in Berlin could not immediately say on Wednesday which contractor Gerhartz was referring to. In April, neighboring F-35 user Belgium, which plans to upgrade by 2025 the 1950s- and 1960s-era infrastructure at air bases Florennes and Kleine Brogel, awarded a Belgian-Dutch-U.S. consortium led by Jan De Nul a contract worth $692m for the work.
Following Berlin’s purchase of the fifth-generation fighter jets, Lockheed Martin expects to reach out to local industry early in 2023 to include German subcontractors in the F-35 program, a company spokesman told Defense News.
Generally, there are limits to how much work can be awarded locally to international F-35 customers, as the jet contains secret technologies only the U.S. government and its contractors are allowed to service.
(Source: Defense News)
14 Dec 22. Romania to overhaul state defence firms to boost production-minister. Romania aims to overhaul its state defence industry by investing in new technologies to boost output and exports in the region, its economy minister said on Wednesday, outlining plans for a sector whose turnover has jumped during the war in Ukraine.
State-owned ROMARM controls 15 companies making weapons and ammunition, from gunpowder and armoured transporters to infantry shells and guided missiles.
In the nine months since Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine, ROMARM has seen its turnover rise six times from 2021’s 131.6m lei ($28.48m), with exports accounting for most of it, minister Florin Spataru said.
But high energy costs and outdated technology mean the company is struggling to keep pace with private defence firms.
“What we see is that high energy prices and a low technological base have led to a lower than expected production level,” Spataru told Reuters in an interview.
“We need investment in new technologies to fix this competitiveness problem. We aim to boost production to suit the needs of relevant ministries, but we are also looking at exports and covering regional demand.”
Eastern Europe’s arms industry has kicked up production this year as governments in the region lead efforts to aid Ukraine in its fight against Russia.
Unlike other countries in the region, Romania, which shares a 650 km (400 mile) border with Ukraine, has declined to comment about the military aid it was providing, but NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in November it was “significant.”
A NATO member since 2004, Romania will raise its defence spending to 2.5% of gross domestic product next year from 2% at present.
Spataru said state defence firms had ongoing acquisition procedures for new production lines and equipment worth 600m lei ($129.83m), with another 200m lei allotted for next year.
In 2023, Electromecanica Ploiesti, a ROMARM subsidiary, will start a three-year investment programme to build SkyCeptor missile interceptors in partnership with U.S. Raytheon, with first missiles expected in 2026, Spataru said. ($1 = 4.6215 lei) (Source: Reuters)
14 Dec 22. Germany Becomes Latest Country to Join the F-35 Lightning II Global Team. The German Ministry of Defense announced today it is procuring 35 Lockheed Martin 5th Generation F-35 Lightning II aircraft.
“Congratulations to Germany on procuring the F-35A. Germany is the ninth foreign military sales country to join the program,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Schmidt, F-35 Program Executive Officer. “We look forward to working with them to deliver the F-35 Air System to meet their national defense requirements.”
The agreement includes a comprehensive package of engines, role-specific mission equipment, spare and replacement parts, technical and logistic support, training and armament.
“It is an honor to formally welcome Germany to the F-35 Lightning II Program. Germany’s participation ensures the F-35’s European alliance continues to strengthen and grow through interoperability with NATO and ally nations,” said Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and general manager of the F-35 program. “The F-35 is the most advanced, survivable, best value fighter giving pilots the critical advantage against any adversary, enabling them to execute their mission and safely return home.”
Lockheed Martin has been a committed partner to the Bundeswehr for more than 50 years, and the F-35 opens another chapter of supporting Germany’s interests for national and European security. By the 2030s, it is expected that over 550 F-35s will work together from more than 10 European countries, including two full U.S. F-35 squadrons at RAF Lakenheath.
As a cornerstone for interoperability with NATO, the F-35 is the only 5th Generation fighter available today to strengthen Germany’s operational capability with allies. Connectivity has become increasingly more important as the battlespace continues to evolve, and the F-35 is positioned to play a critical role in that change and contribute to 21st Century Security missions.
To date, the F-35 operates from 26 bases worldwide, with nine nations operating F-35s on their home soil. There are more than 875 F-35s in service today, with more than 1,845 pilots and 13,350 maintainers trained on the aircraft.
12 Dec 22. Finnish Defence Minister: Turkey Should Be Viewed as a Future Ally. According to Yle sources, Finland has given an “initial green light” to recent Turkish requests to export military materiel, despite a de-facto ban in place since October 2019. Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen (Cen) told Yle TV1’s breakfast show on Monday that Finland needs a mindset change in regard to relations with Turkey.
“Little by little, we have to be able to think of Turkey as a future ally. It must be taken into account as part of the overall consideration [of arms export permits],” Kaikkonen said.
His comments came after Yle reported this weekend that the defence ministry has given an “initial green light” to recent Turkish requests for arms exports. Speaking on Monday morning, Kaikkonen said he could not disclose any further details about the preliminary requests to Finnish companies due to commercial confidentiality.
“If the companies submit their final license applications, they will be processed and the matter will be resolved,” Kaikkonen said.
Turkey has provided the main stumbling block in Finland’s accession to join Nato, with Turkish authorities citing certain security concerns which include a de-facto Finnish ban on arms exports to Turkey.
Although Finland has no formal ban on arms exports to Turkey, Kaikkonen announced in October 2019 that Finland would not issue any new export permits to Turkey following the country’s ground attacks against Syrian Kurds.
This prompted Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to say that Finland should end the arms embargo in order to secure Ankara’s support for Nato membership.
During a visit to Ankara last week, Kaikkonen discussed the arms embargo with Turkish delegates, but afterwards told news agency Reuters that he could not confidently predict when Turkey might ratify Finland’s Nato application. (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/Finnish Broadcasting News,YLE)
13 Dec 22. Luftwaffe submits Eurofighter EK study ahead of jammer selection by end of year. The Luftwaffe has submitted to its service chief a market study geared at informing the electronic attack payload for its Eurofighter Elektronischer Kampf (EK) aircraft.
Andreas Hammer, the head of Combat Aircraft Systems at Airbus, told Janes and other defence media on 12 December that the report had been submitted to Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz on the same day. This was ahead of review by the BAAINBw German procurement agency, and the selection of an airborne electronic attack (AEA) jammer payload by the end of 2022.
“The Chancellor made his [Eurofighter EK selection] speech in March 2022, and in the summer [third quarter], a market study was launched to see what [jammer payload] might [be] available at a high-technical readiness level on the open market,” Hammer said during the annual Airbus Trade Media Briefing at its Madrid facility in Spain. (Source: Janes)
12 Dec 22. Luxembourg provides additional funds for Nato’s AFSC initiative. The AFSC programme is being collaboratively funded by all the 30 Nato allied and partner nations. Luxembourg has decided to provide additional funds for the development of NATO ’s first multi-domain surveillance capability, called the Alliance Future Surveillance and Control (AFSC) initiative.
Announced by Nato Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), the new decision was formalised at NSPA’s headquarters in Luxembourg on 7 December.
An ‘Implementing Instrument’ was signed between Luxembourg national armament director (NAD) colonel Guy Hoffmann and NSPA general manager Stacy Cummings.
The development builds on the initial letter of intent (LOI) signed between Luxembourg and NSPA in May this year.
As part of this LoI, Luxembourg committed to providing $5.27m (€5m) to support various activities performed before and during Phase III of the AFSC Concept Stage between 2023 and 2025.
NSPA AFSC programme manager Cagatay Soyer said: “In the next phase, our team will prepare future acquisition programmes based on the selected AFSC technical concept and a review of planned and available capabilities.
“We are grateful for Luxembourg’s additional contribution to support the continuity of these important activities.”
Handled by NSPA, the AFSC programme aims to study a wide variety of emerging technologies and different options to provide surveillance and control capabilities to Nato.
The new platform is being developed to replace the Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) fleet, before its expected retirement in 2035.
The AFSC programme is being collaboratively funded by all the 30 Nato allied and partner nations, as part of the Nato Common Funding effort. It is currently in the concept development stage.
NSPA has already awarded Risk Reduction and Feasibility Study contracts to three different teams of industry partners.
It includes Boeing-led team Abiliti , a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems-led team, and Airbus Defence & Space and Northrup Grumman co-led team ASPAARO. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
15 Dec 22. US AFRL launches programme to develop wearable biomolecular sensors. Wearable sensors can be used to monitor molecular signatures in body fluids, including saliva and perspiration. The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has launched a new programme to develop wearable biomolecular sensors to measure biomarkers in airmen and guardians.
The related work will be conducted by AFRL’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate in collaboration with 711th Human Performance Wing, Nano Bio-Materials Consortium (NBMC) and Case Western Reserve University.
The partnership is also known as Biomolecular Structure and Integration for Sensors (Biosis).
The efforts and research conducted by BioSIS since 2018 resulted in the founding of the private spinoff firm Sensate Biosystems.
With the help of funds from NBMC, the university later licensed the AFRL patent and formed its own team to begin the research and development of a wearable molecular sensor for both military and commercial use.
A biomarker is molecular or physiological information that is used to monitor an individual’s health.
One of the key objectives at the programme’s beginning was to identify which biomarkers to research. The researchers eventually selected ‘Neuropeptide Y’, a protein that is available in abundance in the human brain and can be detected from human sweat.
AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate senior materials engineer and BioSIS technical lead Dr Lawrence Drummy said: “We are looking to equip them with more advanced human monitoring capabilities so mission commanders can integrate that information and make rapid decisions.”
According to Drummy, the new technology can be used to track the well-being of personnel during critical missions to monitor when their body is overly stressed or hyper-stimulated.
The biomolecular responses can timely inform the personnel to return to safe zones.
Drummy added: “These wearable sensors can take on a variety of forms such as mouthguards, patches applied to the skin or microneedle patches that just penetrate the epidermis into the interstitial fluid, for example.”
12 Dec 22. US Army ponders ‘radio as a service’ to keep communications up to date. The U.S. Army may take a new tack to the procurement of radios, launching an “as a service” pilot that officials say can drive down costs and increase communications adaptability. The as-a-service effort would kick off in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2023, according to Undersecretary Gabe Camarillo, who spoke last week at the Army’s Technical Exchange Meeting 9 in Nashville, Tennessee. Under the model, the service contracts with a vendor who provides “a minimal number of radios for training,” centrally stores or leases radios for operations and would “upgrade software as required,” he said.
The approach differs from the service’s traditional means of buying and maintaining radios, which can be hamstrung by hardware limitations. Instead, it’s more similar to the subscription model offered by some makers of consumer products and mirrors as-a-service deals in which companies furnish goods or services on a rolling basis and keeps them operating and up to date. The thinking initially encompassed software and information technology, but has since expanded to a wider range of wares.
The idea is preceded by a “need to experiment with different buying models, especially for our capabilities in which technology trends do not support the serial process of defining a requirement, entering a development phase and then pursuing a continuous fielding process of that exact same version of a capability over a long period of time,” Camarillo said.
The Army has some 350,000 radios — a stockpile too massive to quickly and cost-effectively modernize, given looming security deadlines and competition with China and Russia.
The two technologically savvy world powers employ sophisticated signals intelligence and electronic warfare capabilities, which can put in harm’s way U.S. soldiers relying on outdated lines of communication. The Russia-Ukraine war has proven the need for more-insulated networks as well as the dangers posed by indiscriminate cell phone use to relay battlefield information, defense officials said earlier this year.
Network modernization is among the Army’s top priorities, and intimately ties into the Pentagon’s push for a wholly connected miltary, known as Joint All-Domain Command and Control.
While the as-a-service model could jeopardize the Army’s ability to surge radios in the event of a large-scale fight, the potential cost savings, flexibility and software upgrades are “a really compelling reason” to experiment with it, Camarillo said.
Army Lt. Gen. John Morrison, deputy chief of staff, G-6, backed what the undersecretary said at the conference, warning that “whatever we build today, 20 years from now, it better not be in the force because it will be so antiquated. We won’t be able to use it.” An as-a-service arrangement could prove less stagnant.
“It is ironic to me that we would actually come up with any IT program where we think we’re going to be fielding the same capability for decades,” Morrison said.
The Army is seeking input from industry about the as-a-service pilot as well as what, exactly, companies can provide to meet requirements for a low-cost, single-channel, secure-but-unclassified radio.
The feedback, provided via requests for information published earlier this month, will shape how the Army proceeds.
“Maybe it works, maybe it won’t,” Camarillo said. “But I think we’ve got to try something different.”
The Army this spring selected two companies, L3Harris Technologies and Thales Defense and Security, to furnish voice and data radios as part of its combat net radio modernization program. The arrangement is worth as much as $6.1bn. More than 1,100 radios, including those to be used for quality checks and preliminary testing, had been ordered as of April, according to the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical. L3Harris secured $20.6m of the initial order. Thales got $18.2m. The program, the Army said, supports Pentagon and National Security Agency cryptographic goals as well as the service’s unified network strategy. (Source: Defense News)
REST OF THE WORLD
15 Dec 22. U.S. defence companies in talks to sell Vietnam helicopters, drones.
- Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Textron seeking arms sales
- Military deals with U.S. would signal further shift away from Russia
- Hanoi seeks to diversify supplies to reduce reliance on Moscow
U.S. defence firms have discussed supplying military gear, including helicopters and drones, to Vietnam in talks with top government officials, two sources with knowledge of the dialogue told Reuters, a new sign the country may reduce its reliance on Russian arms.
Lockheed Martin (LMT.N), Boeing (BA.N), Raytheon (RTX.N), Textron (TXT.N) and IM Systems Group met with the officials on the sidelines of the country’s first large-scale arms fair last week, according to the US-ASEAN Business Council, the industry body that arranged the meetings.
A source who was present at the weapons discussions said they involved the Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of National Defence.
The preliminary talks, which may not lead to any deals, come as the Southeast Asian nation seeks new suppliers and the Ukraine conflict strains the capabilities of Russia, for decades Vietnam’s main military partner. The war, which Moscow calls a “special operation”, has also led to strict sanctions against Russia.
“This marks the beginning of a more open-minded Vietnam People’s Army to U.S. weapons, and a willingness to engage deeper with the U.S. in defence as a whole,” said Nguyen The Phuong, a military expert and researcher at the University of New South Wales.
Military deals with the U.S. face many potential hurdles, including that Washington might block arms sales over human rights; concerns about the impact on Hanoi’s tense relations with China; high costs; and whether U.S.-made systems can be integrated with Vietnam’s legacy weapons, analysts said.
The person who attended the meetings said the companies offered a range of military gear and had “promising” discussions about non-lethal equipment, including helicopters for internal security, plus drones, radars and other systems to keep watch on the air, the sea and space.
Vietnam’s defence and foreign ministries did not respond to a request for comment.
A second person familiar with the matter said talks on drones and helicopters began before the arms fair and have involved more weapons.
Lockheed Martin, which showcased fighter and military transport planes at the event, declined to comment.
A Boeing spokesperson referred questions to Vietnam’s defence ministry. Raytheon, Textron and IM Systems Group did not respond to requests for comment.
The discussions show the United States’ growing efforts to gain influence with Hanoi, nearly half a century after the end of the Vietnam War. Since an arms embargo was lifted in 2016, U.S. defence exports to Vietnam have been limited to coastguard ships and trainer aircraft, while Russia has supplied about 80% of the country’s arsenal.
The arms fair attracted dozens of defence companies from 30 countries, all hoping to get a share of the estimated $2bn Vietnam spends annually in arms imports amid on-off tensions with its neighbour China.
Both sources, who asked not to be named because the talks were confidential, said Lockheed Martin separately had discussions with Vietnam about a new communication and defence satellite, which could replace one of the two from the U.S. company Hanoi already operates.
The U.S. embassy in Hanoi declined to comment, but Ambassador Marc Knapper has said the U.S. stood ready to discuss any military item Vietnam might want to acquire.
The U.S. military has already supplied two relatively small naval cutters and transferred two T-6 Texan trainer aircraft, of which another 10 will be shipped by 2027. It has also pledged Boeing ScanEagle reconnaissance drones, which have not yet been delivered.
Sources and analysts said Vietnam is also considering deals with suppliers from Israel, India, and European and Northeast Asian countries. In the last decade, Israel has been the second-biggest seller of weapons to Vietnam after Russia. (Source: Reuters)
12 Dec 22. Argentina’s president throws cold water on fighter jet program. Argentina’s president has ruled out the possibility of procuring supersonic fighter jets for the country’s Air Force in the short term.
In an interview with the Financial Times’s “Global Boardroom” program last week, Alberto Fernandez was asked about the aircraft program, saying “there are other priorities before buying weapons, definitely.”
“There are no war problems, peace is the common denominator between us,” he added, referring to South American nations.
The president’s statement follows the completed inspection and assessment by an Air Force team of a batch of secondhand F-16s offered by Denmark. Other aircraft under evaluation included India’s Tejas and China’s Chengdu FC-1.
Argentina previously considered — and then discarded the possibly of — buying Israel Aerospace Industries Kfir jets and Dassault Mirage F1 fighters, both secondhand. It also studied the possibility of acquiring Saab Gripen and Korea Aerospace Industries FA-50 fighters, but that also didn’t work out after the U.K. blocked the supply to Argentina of key British-made parts in those aircraft.
Argentina has not had supersonic fighter jets in its operational inventory since 2015, when the last Mirage aircraft retired after 45 years of service. The Air Force’s combat fleet is currently made up of armed IA-63 Pampa jet trainers and a handful of around six to eight A-4AR Fighting Hawks.
“Once more, the Air Force was left to dream about getting a supersonic fighter for a while, dedicating time and resources to inspect, evaluate and study solutions that came to nothing,” Luis Piñeiro, a Buenos Aires-based independent defense analyst, told Defense News. “Apparently blind to the buildup of air power in neighboring Brazil and Chile, President Fernandez sees only peace in South America.”
Brazil operates a fleet of about 50 F-5 modernized fighters jets upgraded with beyond-visual-range missiles, and the country is starting to receive the first of 36 advanced Saab Gripen NG aircraft on order. Meanwhile, Chile has a fleet of 42 F-16s, including Block 50 and MLU variants, plus 11 modernized F-5s. (Source: Defense News)
13 Dec 22. S. African DoD “procurement irregularity” investigations underway. Work is underway on acquisition and procurement “reforms” in the Department of Defence (DoD), a Parliamentary questioner was told.
Cyril Xaba, co-chair of both the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) and the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV), wanted Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise’s input following what the Auditor General called “a lack of progress” in implementing “action plans” to address negative findings.
Xaba was told a ministerial directive was issued and its deliverables are being integrated into the coming calendar year’s medium term expenditure framework (MTEF).
Part of Modise’s written response read: “We expect to see the impact in the medium term.
“The impact will become visible in our [the DoD] APP (Annual Performance Plan) 2023”.
Modise told her questioner there was progress on investigations of “procurement-related irregularities” by the SIU (Special Investigating Unit), the Hawks and the Public Protector notwithstanding “wheels turning slower than anticipated”.
“Military personnel implicated by law enforcement agency investigations have appeared before the military justice system,” Modise said, without giving details of numbers, ranks involved or specific offences.
Among priorities given to the Secretary for Defence (Gladys Kudjoe) is development of a defence accountability model as well as streamlining delegation with “a focus on repeat offenders”. These will primarily be applicable in supply chain management (SCM) and asset management “in the military environment with footprints all over the country”.
Four components are identified, starting with action plans developed and monitored by service and division chiefs. Additionally, Kudjoe is “approaching” SETAs (Sector Education Training Authorities) to assist with interns for asset verification.
Modise ends by stating she has instructed service and division chiefs “to take full accountability for their environments and ensure repeat findings are curbed” with the DoD Internal Audit Division to follow up on implementation of the action plans. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
12 Dec 22. Australian Fleet of B-21s costed at $28bn. A fleet of 12 B-21 Raiders would cost Australia up to $28bn, according to estimates from a leading think tank. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) said while the aircraft would come at a “great cost”, it has the advantage of being able to fire cheaper, short-range weapons.
The B-21 is the “sequel” to the UFO-like B-2 Spirit and is designed to silently strike deep behind enemy lines with its 9,500-kilometre range and advanced stealth capabilities.
There has been recent speculation the RAAF would look to purchase a fleet to give Australia a long-range strike ability that would act as a deterrence against any adversaries.
On Monday, new analysis from ASPI authors Dr Marcus Hellyer and Andrew Nicholls puts a figure on acquiring the aircraft for the first time.
“The cost of 12 B-21 aircraft is estimated at $15bn to $17bn (out-turned). This is essentially a unit flyaway cost (that is, just for the aircraft),” write the pair.
“While the US Defense Department’s history is replete with examples of cost overruns, there are some grounds for optimism that the current costs are reasonably reflective — within about 10 per cent — of final costs.
“First, it appears that the USAF has accepted the use of existing systems (with some evolution and customisation) rather than attempting to introduce a raft of new and untested technical systems.
“Moreover, production has started on the initial six aircraft, and the cost estimate appears to be holding. This conclusion is also supported by the fact that the independent cost estimates required by US legislation are actually lower than the current budget.”
The investigation, while not drawing any conclusions, hails the B-21 as the “gold standard” of strike capability and argues that it could be more affordable and deliver better benefits than long-range missiles alone.
“It was analysis of this kind that persuaded the US Air Force to go down the path of a new bomber.”
B-21 Raider manufacturer Northrop Grumman said the world had “never seen technology” like it had developed for the bomber, while US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin added it was so advanced that even the most sophisticated air defence systems wouldn’t be able to detect it.
“This isn’t just another aeroplane,” said Austin. “It’s not just another acquisition. It’s the embodiment of America’s determination to defend the republic that we all love. It’s a testament to our strategy of deterrence — with the capabilities to back it up, every time and everywhere.”
Northrop was first awarded the contract for the B-21 in 2015, and its development team includes more than 8,000 people from the prime, its industry partners and the US Air Force.
Australian Aviation reported last week how the US gave its biggest hint yet that it would be prepared to sell the B-21 Raider to Australia after it emerged the Chief of the RAAF was invited to its unveiling.
Air Marshal Robert Chipman described the ceremony in California, hosted by Northrop Grumman last week, as an “awesome display of US innovation”.
The dramatic first reveal, which you can watch here, represented the first time the “sixth-generation” aircraft had been seen outside artists’ impressions and the first unveiling of a new US bomber in more than 30 years.
The US is set to purchase 100, but some analysts have suggested the country wouldn’t part with the secrets to the aircraft set to be the talisman of the American military.
Defence Minister Richard Marles previously said purchasing the B-21 was something that was “being examined” while US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall suggested his country would be “willing to talk” about a deal. Any final decision, however, would likely be made by President Joe Biden.
(Source: Defence Connect)
08 Dec 22. Nigeria to receive new attack aircraft and helicopters, drones. Nigeria is expecting to take delivery of 54 new air assets, including attack aircraft and helicopters as well as aerial drones, to boost its capabilities to fight insecurity in the country, Chief of Air Staff Marshal Amao said on Thursday.
Nigeria is expecting to take delivery of 54 new air assets, including attack aircraft and helicopters as well as aerial drones, to boost its capabilities to fight insecurity in the country, Chief of Air Staff Marshal Amao said on Thursday.
A 13-year-old Islamist insurgency in the northeast and kidnappings for ransom by gunmen in the northwest are Nigeria’s biggest security threats that will confront the country’s next leader after a presidential election in February.
Amao said President Muhammadu Buhari approved the delivery to the Nigerian Air Force of m-346 attack aircraft, T-129 ATAK helicopters, Agusta 109 Trekker multi-role helicopters as well as Chinese-made Wing Loong II drones, among an assortment of air assets.
He did not say when exactly these would be delivered, how much was paid for them or which country or countries they were bought from.
Last year, Nigeria received 12 A-29 Super Tucano planes, four years after the United States agreed to sell the West African country the light attack aircraft to fight insurgents. (Source: News Now/Reuters/https://www.fxempire.com/)
07 Dec 22. Iraqi Bell 407 helicopters to get avionics upgrade. The US Army is looking for a contractor to install Electronic Flight Instrument Systems (EFISs) made by Genesys Aerosystems on the Bell 407 helicopter fleet operated by the Iraqi Army Aviation Command (IAAC), according to a notice published via the US government’s System for Award Management website on 30 November.
The EFIS will be the IDU-450, a product that Genesys says significantly reduces pilot workload while increasing situational awareness with features that include 3D synthetic vision, highway-in-the-sky navigation, and a terrain alerting and warning system.
The notice said the EFIS will be installed on 18 IA-407 and three T-407 helicopters at the IAAC’s Tajibase north of Baghdad within a year of the contract being awarded.
The IAAC received three T-407s in 2010 for training purposes followed by 24 IA-407s in 2012–13. Used extensively by the IAAC to support counter-insurgency operations, the IA-407 is equipped with an electro-optical system and armed with forward-firing .50 calibre machine guns and rocket pods. (Source: Janes)
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