30 Oct 20. Submissions for UK MoD ‘B’ Vehicle Support Contract due by November 19th. As the majors line up to bid for the forthcoming UK MoD ‘B’ Vehicle Support Contract, Babcock has announced a consolidation of its DSG Business, now Babcock Land Defence Ltd. Babcock has inserted a contract to support the British Army in Germany, for which it received a three year extension in July 2020, from Babcock Support Services Limited. In addition, shares in Peterhouse Gmbh were purchased from Babcock Support Services Limited. The business won £80m in new orders this year including work on the Warrior vehicle. In addition the Royal School of Military Engineering (RSME) contract worth £9.0m (2019: £9.3m) was also taken into Babcock Land Defence Ltd. DSG turned over £373,147 in 2020 (2019: £331,639) and made a loss of £4808.00 (2029: £9292.00).
Given the competition for this contract which will come from the usual suspects, TVS, Serco, Parsons, KBR, Leidos, GDLS (UK), Thales, Leonardo and RBSL, it is likely that this move to streamline and bulk up Babcock Defence Limited will be to prepare it for sale or merger with the winning bidder, should Babcock fail to win the bid. Given that the ‘C’ Vehicle contract was consolidated through Briggs Equipment earlier in the year, which Babcock previously ran through ALC for many years, it is likely that the next stage will be to compete the ‘A’ vehicle contract for which Babcock is the incumbent for Warrior, AS90, Challenger 2, Titan, Trojan, Terrier, Warrior, CVR(T) and the 430 series. The winner is expected to be announced in May 20121. A beneficiary from this bidding process is Hobson Industries who has had its existing Land Rover Wolf contract extended to accommodate the bidding process for the ‘B’ Vehicle Support contract.
26 Oct 20. RSAF CH-47 helicopter pilots qualify to operate from RAN’s Canberra-class LHDs. Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) crews of Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters based at Oakey in Queensland, Australia, have qualified to operate from the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN’s) two Canberra-class landing helicopter dock (LHD) amphibious assault ships as part of efforts to enhance interoperability.
The CH-47 crews spent two days flying from Townsville to HMAS Adelaide out at sea to undertake deck-landing qualifications, said Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds in a 25 October statement, adding that this included communicating with the warship’s flight control room and being guided by Australian sailors on the flight deck.
“The ability to operate our largest amphibious vessels with Singapore’s CH-47 Chinook helicopters means we can work together to mobilise and move personnel or supplies at sea, and enhance our combined joint capability,” said the minister, who described the successful qualification of the RSAF crews as “a force-multiplier for both nations”.
The latest developments come after an Australian Department of Defence spokesperson told Janes on 20 August that the RSAF is to increase the number of CH-47 Chinook helicopters based at the Australian Army’s Oakey Aviation Training Centre in Queensland.
“Defence can confirm that the number of RSAF Chinook helicopters based at Oakey will be increased under the terms of the current agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and the Republic of Singapore,” said the spokesperson at the time. (Source: Jane’s)
29 Oct 20. AFRL Moves To Equip Cargo Planes With Bombs In a Box. With its latest contract to Lockheed Martin, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has taken another step in its effort to rapidly develop a capability to drop bombs and launch cruise missiles to augment the shrinking fleet of long-range bombers.
The Other Transaction Authority (OTA) contract, announced yesterday and worth $25m over 18 months, represents the fourth phase of AFRL’s Palletized Munitions Experimentation Campaign, and builds on a series of previous experiments with palletized munitions using both an MC-130J and a C-17.
Lockheed Martin’s roll-on/roll-off pallet can carry up to 32 AGM-158B JASSM-ER (Joint-Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range) missiles on a C-17, Scott Calloway, program director at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, told reporters today.
The effort is managed by AFRL’s Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SPDE, pronounced ‘speedy’) Office. SPDE sees the experimental program as an option for bringing “more mass to the fight” and for the service to shore up its long-range fires capability.
“This new contract that we were just awarded puts us on track for a system-level demonstration of that palletized JASSM deployment system from a cargo aircraft next year,” Calloway said.
“We’re working with the Air Force now to come up with that optimal payload, optimal load out,” he said. “But it’s largely a function of the deployment airdrop system, the missile being loaded onto the system, and the range of the aircraft is flying. Obviously, if a smaller munitions come online, I would expect that load out to increase without the need to design a new palletize munition system.”
Lockheed Martin also has one eye on future Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) demos for testing its “box of cruise missiles,” Calloway said
“It’s not part of our baseline plan, but while we’re going through our test program next year we’ll definitely be looking for opportunities to synergize with ABMS,” he said.
The palletized munition system was used in the second ABMS “On-Ramp” demonstration Sept. 3. Targeting information was transferred “to an Air Force Special Operations Command aircraft via existing Beyond Line of Sight communications systems and cue the simulated release of a mock ‘palletized’ Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM),” according to an AFRL press release.
“Lockheed Martin, R4 Integration, and Naval Surface Warfare Center-Dahlgren were involved in the development effort for the first-of-its-kind demonstration. In a related event, the 412th Test Wing, in coordination with Air Mobility Command, conducted a C-17 palletized munitions airdrop demonstration using simulated munitions,” the Sept. 30 release added.
ABMS is the Air Force’s technology development effort designed to support the creation of a Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) network to enable military commanders to run future information-centric warfare across the air, land, sea, space and cyberspace domains.
Breaking D readers may remember that back in May, then-Maj. Gen. Clint Hinote said the Air Force wants to equip cargo planes with semi-autonomous stand-off weapons for long-range fires for All-Domain Operations. At the time, Hinote was deputy director of the Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability (AFWIC) office; in June he gained a star and now is deputy chief of staff for Strategy, Integration and Requirements at Air Force headquarters.
Hinote explained that in order for the concept of cargo planes carrying munitions to actually work, there would need to be a JADC2 network to figure out the availability of the aircraft for this secondary mission and sort out which missions would get priorities where and when.
AFRL further has been exploring new types of stand-off munitions that might make sense for deployment on cargo aircraft. The AFRL’s Jan. 28 experiment with the MC-130J at Dugway Proving Ground included drops of simulated Cargo Launch Expendable Air Vehicles with Extended Range (CLEAVERs), which AFRL has designed as potential “long-range, high precision weapons to destroy moving and non-moving targets.”
“The CLEAVER work started out as an Air Force program, where they were conducting some internal development of systems to be deployed by transport aircraft,” Calloway said. “That turned into this Pallitized Munitions concept. And we’ve been working with the Air Force on a series of usability, and analysis, and risk reduction efforts that have led to this most recent contract award.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
23 Oct 20. US Navy Tests Drone Delivery to Ballistic-Missile Submarine. The U.S. Navy delivered supplies to a nuclear submarine for the first time using a drone. A quadcopter-type drone delivered a small payload to the U.S. Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN 730). The tests were carried out on October 19, 2020, in the Pacific Ocean near the Hawaiian Islands.
Underway replenishment sustains the fleet anywhere/anytime. This event was designed to test and evaluate the tactics, techniques, and procedures of U.S. Strategic Command’s expeditionary logistics and enhance the overall readiness of our strategic forces.
The Henry Jackson was one of only four ballistic missile submarines in the Navy to receive a conversion from Trident I to Trident II missiles. In 2016, the ship was also the first ballistic missile submarine to undergo a 32-year extended refit period to ensure its longevity. (Source: UAS VISION/US Navy YouTube)
23 Oct 20. Pentagon begins rolling out replacement for the F-35 system that maintainers hate the most.
Last month, a U.S. Marine Corps F-35B squadron got its first taste of the new logistics system that will replace the much-maligned current system over the next two years.
The from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona became the first unit to receive the initial round of hardware needed to stand up the Operational Data Integrated Network, or ODIN, the F-35 Joint Program Office said in an Oct. 21 news release.
ODIN is set to supersede Lockheed Martin’s troubled Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS, by December 2022, when all F-35 units will have both the new hardware and the accompanying software.
F-35 pilots, maintainers and support personnel currently use ALIS to track and order spare parts, conduct repairs, support mission planning and training, and store technical data, among other functions. However, because ALIS was designed alongside the jet in the early 2000s, some of the technology used to build it is now outdated, leading to a system that is clunky, heavy and slow by current standards.
According to the F-35 Joint Program Office, the new ODIN hardware is already demonstrating performance gains, even while paired with the latest ALIS 22.214.171.124 software release. After the new hardware was paired with the aircraft, Marine pilots conducted one test flight Sept. 29 and four flights the following day. (The release did not specify whether Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 or 122 carried out the tests.)
The new hardware is a fraction of the size of the servers and the computing systems currently used to support ALIS, the program office said in the release. Existing ALIS servers, which can weigh more than 800 pounds, “comprise of a full person-height rack of electronics and require additional backup power modules,” making it difficult to deploy ALIS in austere environments without sacrificing capability.
Meanwhile, the ODIN hardware consists of “two transportable cases roughly the size of two pieces of carry-on luggage,” each weighing less than 70 pounds, the program office said.
Tests have also shown an improvement in the speed of the ALIS software due to the new hardware, with processing times roughly cut in half compared to the legacy hardware, the program office said.
The F-35 Integrated Test Force, which conducted tests at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland from Aug. 31 to Sept. 10, found it could load data from portable devices to the main server twice as fast. All of this reduces the amount of time a maintainer is stuck waiting for information to load, cutting down on workload and potentially speeding up maintenance activities.
The program office also noted improvements that could make it easier to quickly deploy ODIN in expeditionary environments, such as “a significant reduction” in the time required to set up the system and transfer aircraft.
Unlike the Lockheed-developed ALIS system, ODIN will be a cloud-native system with applications that can be regularly updated based on user feedback. The system is being designed to decrease maintainer workload and increase mission capability rates, the program office noted.
“The biggest different between ALIS and ODIN is that … the government is leading the ODIN development effort, leveraging the capabilities and the contributions of organizations like Kessel Run, Lockheed Martin, the 309th [Software Engineering Group] out at Hill [Air Force Base in Utah] and others, bringing them together to deliver the apps and the infrastructure and the underlying data architecture that’s required to execute the program,” Lt. Gen. Eric Fick, the government’s program executive officer for the F-35, said in March.
Fick also said at the time that once the first F-35 unit receives ODIN hardware in the fall, the equipment would then slowly roll out to other squadrons, one-by-one.
“We’ll stand down a squadron operation unit using legacy ALIS, stand it up using hardware that can support both ALIS and ODIN,” he said. “We intend to cut over the first squadron in its entirety, divorcing it from legacy ALIS in the fall of 2021, so a year later.”
While full operational capability is planned to occur in December 2022, “that deployment timeline will be contingent upon the needs of the user,” Fick noted. “We’re not going to interrupt a carrier deployment for the update.” (Source: Defense News)
22 Oct 20. US Army Looks to Disperse Command Posts to Boost Survivability. The Army in recent months has been experimenting with breaking up and dispersing its forward-deployed command posts to make them more survivable. Army leaders have been concerned about the survivability of command posts that are placed close to battle zones since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014. During that conflict, Russian forces were able to quickly find and destroy Ukrainian command posts by using a combination of unmanned aerial vehicles and electronic signature detection.
The Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center — a component of Army Futures Command’s Combat Capabilities Development Command — led a series of experiments beginning this summer to break command posts up into a series of dispersed nodes. This is a different approach to previous efforts that had the command post all in one place, but concentrated on tearing it down and packing it up quickly before an enemy attack, Tyler Barton, survivable command posts project lead, said during a briefing with reporters Oct. 22.
Both approaches are still on the table, Barton said. Combatant commanders can choose the best option based on the circumstances, he added.
“Command posts are incredibly important to the Army formation,” Barton said. “However, they’re in a tough spot now with needing to do the complex operations they will need to do in the … multi-domain operating environment [where] they will also be under a lot of stress from adversary capabilities to try to target and destroy them.”
The tests were carried out from July to October during the Network Modernization Experiment 2020 (NetModX 20), which took place at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.
Some 30 technologies under Army Future Command’s network modernization umbrella were tested during NetModX 20, organizers said. Network modernization is one of the command’s top priorities along with long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicles, future vertical lift, air-and-missile defense, and soldier lethality.
Other technologies tested included protected satellite communications, cyber defense, soldier-to-soldier communications and hardened waveforms, according to an Army factsheet. The survivable command posts experiment drew from a variety of commercial communications technologies, Barton said.
The idea was to geographically disperse a single command post into separated nodes to make them harder to find and allow them to fare better against an attack if they are targeted. The main problem was maintaining connectivity, he noted.
“As we disperse the command post, the people physically disperse apart and they get farther from their data and services infrastructure that they’re used to working with,” he said. The project worked on providing continuity of mission-essential functions through data resiliency and data replication so the information that the users need at their platform is there for them should they be disconnected from the other nodes, he said.
The Army used LTE communication technology provided by two companies to transport the data to the nodes. The experiment sought to discover how far it could extend, if the wireless tech functioned in a military environment, and “what needs to be changed to enable that,” Barton said.
To add realism, the experiment transmitted data using current command post software.
As far as the number of nodes and how far they can be dispersed, those are the kinds of questions the Army is trying to figure out the answers to, Barton said.
“We’re helping to further that discussion, inform those requirements, and in this case provide the science and technology … first step toward better dispersing the command post,” he said.
Meanwhile, the experiment did not offer any new technologies to mask the command posts’ electronic signatures, but had a goal not to add any new signals that could be detected by adversaries, he added.
Next year, the dispersed command post concept will undergo a series of operational field tests where soldiers can provide feedback. They will integrate the dispersed command post with the command post integrated infrastructure program of record, which will be the new command post’s technological backbone, Barton said.
“I don’t think [dispersion] will be the only way you would employ your command posts in the future, but that will be one more way that you can achieve a more survivable posture when needed and still have an effective command post,” Barton said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/NDIA.org)
23 Oct 20. ARQUUS renews its connected glasses offer to stay as close as possible to its partners and provide a reactive solution to the challenges of maintenance during the health crisis.
The COVID19 crisis has significantly reduced the possibility of global travel, limiting the ability of maintenance personnel and technical experts to intervene both on bases and on the theaters of operations. This situation underscores the relevance of remote support solutions, in particular the connected glasses developed by Arquus.
To meet the specific needs of its customers, Arquus has recently developed a new special offer, centered on its connected glasses. As part of this offer, Arquus customers can use their connected glasses autonomously and unlimitedly within their structures in Europe, thanks to the secure communication solution provided with the glasses.
Furthermore, Arquus is now committed to providing remote diagnosis within 24 hours after making an appointment, allowing for a very high level of reactivity for the forces.
A qualified report is now also systematically issued after each remote diagnosis in order to keep track of the actions carried out and provide feedback, while improving knowledge of the fleet. Perfectly adapted to current health conditions, this new offer ensures the greatest possible responsiveness to the needs of the forces and an in-house increase in skills, for maximum uptime and operational availability.
Arquus has developed and presented a connected eyewear solution as early as 2017. These glasses allow real-time transmission of what the operator in the field, or the technician in a certified workshop, sees, to a technical expert from Arquus’ support teams. This expert is then able to guide the operator on site in his maintenance operations, providing diagnosis if necessary and supervising the corrective actions. In addition, the glasses allow the sending of technical documents or photos, ensuring a high level of interaction and totally personalized support. They thus guarantee fast and efficient assistance on technical issues.
In direct contact with the operators in the field, Arquus’ technical experts rely on their perfect knowledge of the fleets and complete in-house technical expertise thanks to technical documentation, repair manuals, databases of technical facts and feedback from these fleets, all ensuring precise, efficient and responsive assistance.
This solution is a direct response to customers’ expectations, who in this health context wish to maintain close contact with Arquus’ support teams and benefit from rapid assistance capabilities to guarantee the operational availability of their vehicles.
Arquus’ connected glasses allow, if necessary, to carry out a contradictory expertise by mobilizing up to 10 people connected simultaneously. That feature helps find a consensus or a common procedure on a specific technical point.
Beyond the assistance itself, these connected glasses also offer new possibilities in terms of coaching, support and internal skills development. Thanks to these glasses, an operator can be trained to react correctly to technical incidents, but also check at any time with Arquus’ technical experts that he knows indeed the most suitable procedure.
The Arquus remote assistance solution is now present on all five continents, serving the French Army on national territory as well as in foreign operations, but also in Senegal, India, Chile and Brazil.
These connected glasses complement the other assistance solutions offered by Arquus, depending on the level of support required. These solutions range from telephone assistance to the projection of a technical expert close to the customer.