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21 Sep 18. F-35A JSF could triple expected lifetime. The F-35A variant of the Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter that Australia is buying could remain in service far longer than the anticipated 8,000 flight hours per airframe. Just how much longer, neither manufacturer Lockheed Martin nor the F-35 Joint Program Office in the Pentagon is yet prepared to say. But testing showed the F-35A airframe could achieve a simulated 24,000 flight hours or three full lifetimes. Lockheed Martin says that it has confidence in a potential service-life increase.
Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager of the F-35 program, said this durability testing gave men and women who fly the F-35 great confidence in the aircraft’s performance today and for decades to come.
“We look forward to analysing the results and bringing forward the data to potentially extend the aircraft’s lifetime certification even further,” he said. “Already certified for one of the longest lifetimes of any fighter, an increase would greatly reduce future costs for all F-35 customers over several decades to come.”
Ground testing included a full-scale airframe durability test for all three variants, which were loaded in unique test rigs and laboratories to simulate ground and flight conditions.
F-35 has a nominal service life of 8,000 hours with the test airframes required to complete two life-times of testing, or 16,000 hours. The F-35A airframe completed its testing at BAE Systems in Brough, England and the F-35B and C variants were tested at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas. All three variants undergo final teardown inspections at the National Institute for Aviation Research in Wichita, Kansas. Australia is buying 72 F-35A Lightning aircraft, the conventional take-off and landing version, with the first two to arrive in country in December. The other two variants are for short take-off and vertical landing and the naval version for aircraft carrier operations.
Ulmer said the transformational F-35 pushed the boundaries of engineering and physics with supersonic speed, agility, high attitude and angle of attack, weapons capacity, vertical landings, carrier operations and much more.
With radar evading stealth technology, advanced sensors, enhanced weapons capacity, supersonic speed and superior range, the F-35 is the most lethal, survivable and connected fighter aircraft ever built, Lockheed says.
“More than a fighter jet, the F-35’s ability to collect, analyse and share data is a powerful force multiplier enhancing all airborne, surface and ground-based assets in the battlespace and enabling men and women in uniform to execute their mission and come home safe,” the company said.
The F-35 will last longer and it’s also getting cheaper as production ramps up. Lockheed Martin is looking at a unit price of US$80m for the A-model. F-35 is also intended to be cheaper to operate than legacy aircraft.
Neale Prescott, Lockheed Martin Australia director of business development, said F-35 was profoundly different to earlier aircraft in its integrated support system known as Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS).
That’s a software-based system designed to capture all aspects of aircraft use, warehousing of spares and certification of maintainers and operators.
When the pilot finishes a mission, they will take the aircraft’s portable data device to the maintenance control section and plug it into a docking station.
“The maintenance related aspects of the aircraft will be downloaded and then she [or he] will go back to her debriefing room for the classified discussion on the mission,” he said in an interview with Defence Connect.
“That is the first time we have had this degree of diagnosis available. We will look at stresses in terms of G-loadings, it will look at utilisation of fuel, temperatures, vibrations.”
Prescott said that was very different from when his time in the RAAF looking after F-111s.
“There we had to talk to the aircrew, we had to try to take very general observations around the aircraft performance and try and diagnose them and go through this very convoluted process,” he said.
“We are going to notice in this aircraft [the F-35] huge differences in the accuracy and timeliness of the information that we can act on.”
Prescott said that allowed support to be adjusted around the operational activity, with any necessary components in place and personnel prepared.
“This is a fantastic extension of what we used to do but really enabled by a fantastic large data analysis system,” he said. (Source: Defence Connect)
20 Sep 18. How does the US Air Force plan to keep bombers affordable? The U.S. strategic bomber program plays a vital role in U.S. nuclear and conventional posture, providing both penetrating and standoff capabilities that allow the U.S. to hit targets almost anywhere in the world. But as the Air Force expands from 312 to 386 operational squadrons — planning to increase the bomber squadron from nine to 14 — how can the service keep costs within reason? A key to keeping down modernization costs will be the force’s ability to field systems that can easily be updated as new technology develops, according to Gen. Timothy Ray, commander of Global Strike Command.
“What I really want to drive home is that if we have a force, whatever the size of the force, it has to be affordable,” Ray said at the Air Force Association’s annual Air, Space and Cyber Conference on Sept. 18. Ray believes prices will be affordable depending on the service’s “ability to field a relevant force as part of our integrated capabilities, both nuclear and conventional, that has a rapid capability to be updated and modified.”
Communications systems, weapons, sensors and defensive capabilities are very sensitive to technological change, which “is already going on much faster than what we can field right now using the old legacy processes,” Ray said. Ray pointed to the B-21 bomber as having “the right attributes that are going to set us up for success.”
Others suggest that looking at the unit price for bombers is deceptive and does not allow the Air Force to address its critical modernization needs.
“It is very easy to look at individual unit cost [per bomber], but that does not equate to value,” Retired Lt. Gen David Deptula said. “People, particularly programmers, like to talk about cost, but they don’t talk about the effectiveness piece.”
This sentiment was echoed by retired Lt. Gen. Bob Elder Jr., who feels the public and some military members do not appreciate the active role bombers play in defending the U.S. As busy as these bombers are, Edler said, “it’s a bargain” for how much the Air Force pays for them.
Deptula also believes that if the Air Force is serious about modernization, it is past time that requirements for meeting U.S. strategic goals determine force structure, rather than depending on “arbitrary budget lines.”
“For way too long our force structure has been solely driven by the budget and not the war-fighting demands of our nation’s security strategy,” he said. “I dare say no one will argue with the preamble of the Constitution, which basically talks about how we form government to provide for the common defense, and then to promote the general welfare. It doesn’t say the other way around.”
“People will say the new enterprise is going to be too expensive, so don’t keep it. I don’t agree,” Ray said, adding that a more competitive approach will enable the Air Force to drive down procurement and modernization costs.
“I have got to know our competitive nature of our approach will draw the talent from industry; or if I’m not quite certain with a technical capability or the capability is so far advanced I can’t draw the talent from industry, now I find myself with an important issue,” Ray noted.
In regard to ensuring the service can get the funding to grow its squadrons, Ray added: “Where you drop cost down and have a rapid modification capability or a relevant force for an extended period of time, then you begin to tell a more complete story,” which he explained should help dollars keep flowing into necessary programs.
(Source: Defense News)
20 Sep 18. United Technologies Corp., East Hartford, Connecticut, has been awarded a maximum $2,460,000,000 modification (P00024) exercising the five-year option period of a five-year base contract (SPE4AX-15-D-9436), with one five-year option period for the Defense Logistics Agency to supply the Air Force depot level repairables and consumable parts. The modification brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $4,930,000,000 from $2,460,000,000. This is a fixed-price prospective redetermination, multiple-year requirements contract. The location of performance is Connecticut, with a Sept. 26, 2023, performance completion date. Using military service is Air Force. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2018 through 2023 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Richmond, Virginia.
18 Sep 18. Russian Helicopters says ‘not liable’ for Slovak-overhauled Mi-17V-5. Russian Helicopters announced on 17 September that it will not be held responsible for any possible issues related to the safe operation of an Afghan Air Force (AAF) Mi-17V-5 transport/utility helicopter that was recently overhauled by Slovak aircraft repair company Trenčín (LOTN).
“Due to the received information on the unauthorised overhaul of one Mi-17V-5 helicopter of the Defense Ministry of Afghanistan by the Slovak Aircraft repair company LOTN, JSC ‘Russian Helicopters’ … disclaims all liability for the further safe operation of this rotorcraft and has good reason to refuse to provide service support for this helicopter’s operation,” said the company in a statement. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
19 Sep 18. Challenging times ahead as complex task of long-term F-35 support and sustainment begins. Australia’s first two F-35 Lightning II aircraft arrive in Australia in December, with 70 to follow, along with a commitment to long-term support that will far exceed the initial purchase price. That will present enormous opportunities and challenges for Lockheed Martin, for Australian industry and for the RAAF.
Neale Prescott, Lockheed Martin Australia director of business development, said this was an exciting time.
“The Air Force will have the aircraft in Australia. They will start employing it. These next five years are going to be the gauge for how well we are able to utilise that and how well Lockheed Martin and Australian industry can support it,” he said in an interview with Defence Connect.
Australia is buying 72 F-35s, a fifth-generation combat aircraft far more capable and more complex than any before. As older aircraft types are retired, Australia may eventually acquire as many as 100.
Defence’s Integrated Investment Program 2016 nominates a total procurement cost of $15.3bn for the initial 72 aircraft with additional outlays for support infrastructure. Defence calculates lifetime support costs for complex capabilities at double to two-and-a-half times the initial acquisition, which for F-35 would be around $40bn out to mid-century and perhaps beyond.
Prescott said the RAAF, industry and Lockheed Martin were ready for the arrival of F-35.
“We have grown things very quickly in the Hunter region to support it. The level of maturity there is developing,” he said.
“We are very much about grabbing hold of this new capability. The Air Force has put in a lot of effort there. We have an offboard information system centre. We have an international training centre. We have deployable and sovereign data management systems in place.”
Mr Prescott said all those systems were in their infancy.
“We are grabbing hold of new technology as Australia often does. The key for us now is to learn how to use it to the best possible effect as quickly as we possibly can.”
Australia’s program for sustaining the F-35s has been under development long before any aircraft actually touched down on Australian territory.
The RAAF plans to achieve Initial Operating Capability in December 2020 and Final Operating Capability in 2023.
It was always planned that the RAAF would undertake routine operational support while the defence industry would perform the deeper maintenance on Australian and other aircraft.
In 2015, the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) in the Pentagon announced that Australia would be the Regional F-35 Airframe depot for the south Pacific, with work centred on the BAE Systems Australia facility adjacent to RAAF Williamtown, NSW.
At the same time, Queensland firm TAE was selected to provide heavy maintenance for the F-35’s Pratt and Whitney F135 engine.
In November 2016, the JPO also announced a number of Australian companies had been chosen to provide depot-level maintenance for 64 F-35 components, including avionics, aircraft structures, electrical and refuelling, the auxiliary power system, hydraulics and pneumatics, landing gear and life support systems.
Last August, BAE Systems at Williamtown was chosen for the F-35 regional warehouse.
The JPO still has to assign repair work for a further block of F-35 components.
Huge opportunity for industry
Prescott said there were huge opportunities for other Australian businesses to start participating on F-35 support.
“Also there will be ongoing aspects of the production and subsequent modification of the aircraft as they introduce new capabilities,” he said.
Prescott said the F-35 was profoundly different to earlier aircraft in its integrated support system known as Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) – a software-based system designed to capture all aspects of aircraft use, warehousing of spares and certification of maintainers and operators.
“ALIS is used to do prognostic assessment, in effect to forecast when failure might occur or when things might need to be replaced,” he said. “The whole philosophy around that is instead of having a regular schedule of downtime, you are actually forecasting it based on conditions you are using it in.”
Prescott cited a simple analogy of scheduled 5,000-kilometre oil filter changes in a car. ALIS would make that sooner in harsh conditions but much longer in benign conditions.
ALIS also looks at the worldwide F-35 fleet and draws lessons that might be relevant to Australia.
“In a sustainment sense what we are going to find is that those companies involved in support are going to need to understand how to use the information and also adapt to this just-in-time approach,” he said.
Because of its complexity, development of ALIS has experienced various delays and problems, like the F-35 program as a whole.
F-35 sniping not helpful
Prescott said the criticism of F-35 was driven to some extent by some rivalries and desire for personal fame.
“We have seen this in the past with major Australian programs. People have been critical about aircraft and submarines and subsequently the nation has been very proud of the capability,” he said.
“We really have a lot to be proud of. We need to improve the level of debate and the level of assessment of how we go about defence acquisition. It’s good that people want to point out areas that should be improved but this sniping aspect is not helpful.” (Source: Defence Connect)
19 Sep 18. L3 Oceania expands Brisbane repair facility. Technology company L3 Oceania is increasing the size of its Brisbane repair centre to better support Defence night vision and communications equipment. The new centre will be used for maintaining and repairing night fighting technology such as night vision goggles and helmet mounts, laser aiming devices and range finders. It will also repair satellite communications (SATCOM) systems such as Wideband Terrestrial Terminals, FleetBroadband systems, Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) systems, and Iridium non-secure satellite telephones. Equipment requiring repairs or with suspected faults is returned from Defence units, evaluated, repaired and returned into service.
L3 said enhancements to the repair service to support maintenance of a wider range of night fighting and SATCOM equipment, increased Australian capability by removing the need to return items to US.
New equipment installed includes a new indoor SATCOM test range incorporating a Quad Band Satellite Simulator (QBSS). The QBSS allows testing of the SATCOM terminals in C, X, Ku and Ka bands without using an actual satellite, enabling deeper level maintenance and repair work to be performed in-country. Its first use will be to support the upgrade of the JP 2008 3H Wideband Terrestrial Terminals to include an Advanced Waveform Modem, enabling further network capability for the Australian Defence Force.
This latest development comes at a time of rapid growth for L3 in Australia.
In April, L3 opened a new Defence Design and Engineering Centre in Melbourne, with then Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne praising the company on its ongoing expansion efforts in Australia.
“L3 has been expanding in Australia, growing by 30 per cent since mid-2017. That’s a great vote of confidence in the Turnbull government’s $200bn investment in capabilities for our Defence forces,” the Minister said.
L3 expects to continue its expansion across Australia and is anticipating to grow capabilities in South Australia and Western Australia.
L3 Oceania has its headquarters in Fremantle, WA. The company is a division of US firm L3 Technologies. (Source: Defence Connect)
17 Sep 18. UK MOD extends Amphora containerised systems support contract for three years.
- Marshall team contract extended to seven years
- 13 different shelter types refurbished and complete systems’ life extended
- “Real value for money achieved”
The UK Ministry of Defence has extended its containerised deployable systems support contract, Project Amphora, with Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group for a further three years. For the last four years Marshall, along with its partner G3 Systems, has been tasked with refurbishing and re-engineering a range of shelters, ensuring that the deployable shelter systems are fully supported to demanding operational levels while extending the equipment’s useful life.
“Amphora has delivered significant financial and delivery efficiencies in its initial four year term, benefitting all our Front Line Commands; it was an obvious choice to extend the contract to build on these early successes. I look forward to our teams continuing to work together to achieve even more over the next three years,” said Sam Rawle, Head of Operational Infrastructure at DE&S, the MoD’s procurement body.
During the current period of the contract the Marshall team has worked on 13 different shelter systems, refurbishing and bringing the systems up to the latest standards. Among the systems that have received life extensions are Tardis, a mobile intelligence system, the Power Pack Repair Facility (PPRF), which the team has re-generated and brought up to the latest electrical standards and the Deployable Engineering Workshop which has similarly had its life extended.
“The extension to the Amphora support contract is a real vote of confidence in the team. It has come about through hard work, focusing on the task and most importantly through integrity and honesty, which has been demonstrated by the close working relationship between the two teams to deliver real value for money for the taxpayer,” said Alistair McPhee, Chief Executive of Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group.
17 Sep 18. Rheinmetall modernizes British logistic vehicles fleet – supply of 382 EPLS retrofit kits. Rheinmetall, through its joint venture Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles (RMMV), is supporting the programme to modernize part of the British military’s fleet of logistic vehicles with a new loading system. A total of 382 retrofit kits for the Enhanced Pallet Loading System, or EPLS, will be supplied and integrated into the tried-and-tested HX trucks of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. Booked in the first half of 2018, the RMMV contract is worth over €43m. Shipping and retrofitting are to be completed by the end of January 2021. During the period 2005 to 2013, the British Army procured more than 7,500 HX logistics vehicles. As the backbone of the Royal Logistics Corps, this “military off the shelf” family of vehicles has proven highly effective. However, the growing demand for transport solutions for containers has continued to rise. Based on operational experience, RMMV, MAN Truck & Bus UK Ltd and British Ministry of Defence (MOD) officials drew up a plan to retrofit existing flatbed vehicles with a hook lift system.
The modernization programme is a team solution. The contract with the MOD has been entered into by MAN Truck & Bus UK Ltd, who will lead the project management and undertake the conversion of the vehicles in the UK. RMMV are responsible for supplying the conversion kit, which will be produced by the company’s plant in Vienna. The hook loading system is made by HIAB, a company Rheinmetall has cooperated with in many comparable international projects, e.g. in Australia, Norway, Sweden and New Zealand.
The programme is a compelling example of the close partnerships RMMV and MAN maintains with its customers, encompassing post-design service throughout the product’s entire lifecycle. It also highlights the prolonged supportability of the HX family of vehicles, which set the global standard for robustness, mobility, performance, flexibility and modularity.
Rheinmetall’s subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles UK (RMMV UK) and Rheinmetall Defence UK (RD UK), are well-established suppliers to the MOD. They support the British military in a number of areas, including vehicle systems, ammunition and technical assistance. In addition to providing support services for tactical logistic vehicles during deployed operations, the team is currently working on a proposal for enhancing the combat effectiveness of the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank, and with Artec GmbH, is working to propose the Boxer 8×8 wheeled armoured vehicle to meet the requirements of the UK’s Mechanized Infantry Vehicle (MIV) procurement programme.
17 Sep 18. Billion-dollar fuel program gets green light. The Australian federal government has given the go-ahead for the Defence Fuel Transformation Program, worth $1.1bn over the next 30 years.
Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said this program would deliver a safer, simpler and a more assured Defence fuel network, in partnership with industry.
“The program will make targeted investments in the Defence fuel network to seize immediate opportunities to improve flexibility and increase the level of industry collaboration,” he said.
“The Defence Fuel Transformation Program will ultimately reduce network risk, improve the ability of the fuel network to deal with disruption, and reduce the cost of ownership to Defence.”
Under this program, Defence will contract out provision of fuel and operations and maintenance of Defence fuel facilities at selected locations. Tranche one is worth $127m and will be delivered over a three-year period, with a focus on workplace, health, safety and environment risk reduction and compliance activities. This strategy will be implemented through six pillars – risk reduction, industry collaboration, optimised footprint, clear requirements, technology-enabled network, culture of ownership and accountability.
“The Defence Fuel Transformation Program will provide significant opportunities for regional businesses, delivering on the government’s commitment to growing Australian industry and securing jobs,” he said.
The 2016 Defence White Paper says Defence fuel installations are critical enablers for generation of Defence capability.
“The government will continue to remediate Defence’s fuel storage and distribution installations and improve Defence’s fuel resilience and capacity to transport bulk fuel to support our bases and operations,” it says.
“This will include upgrades to existing Defence fuel infrastructure as well as improvements to our ability to utilise commercial fuel supplies.”
The Defence Integrated Investment Plan says new investment over the decade to 2025-26 included upgrades to existing Defence fuel infrastructure and improved access to commercial fuel supplies, particularly to support high tempo operations in northern Australia.
That will include new airfield fuel trucks and deployable fuel supply equipment for amphibious operations will be upgraded.
The Australian National Audit Office examined Defence fuel procurement and found it operated an effective competitive tender process.
But it had not developed a negotiation strategy to maximise value for money and there remained scope to improve the effectiveness of contract management.
ANAO noted that fuel is Defence’s largest single commodity expenditure, costing approximately $423m in 2016-17.
“The Australian Defence Force procures, stores and distributes a combination of 10 commercial and military grade fuels and lubricants to geographically dispersed locations to maintain the mobility of the Australian Defence Force,” it said. (Source: Defence Connect)
17 Sep 18. ASC signs on with AMCouncil to further improve support of Collins sub fleet. Government-owned submarine company ASC is to partner with the Australian Asset Management Council (AMCouncil) to strengthen its life cycle management of the Collins Class submarine fleet. Under the new partnership with AMCouncil, ASC will drive continuous improvement in its sustainment of the Navy’s six Collin Class submarines. This follows ASC becoming the first Australian defence company recognised with international certification for asset management for defence assets, awarded by BSI International in April 2018. ASC chief executive Stuart Whiley said ASC was currently Australia’s leading submarine builder and sustainer. It will continue to be a critical partner with Defence, in delivering international benchmark availability for the Collins Class submarine fleet well into the 2040s, he said.
“This partnership with the AMCouncil will drive continuous improvement in ASC’s submarine sustainment, upgrade and life-of-type extension for the entire fleet, using the life cycle management principles,” Whiley said. “Defence has endorsed asset management as best practice in maximising value from its critical assets. With this partnership, ASC and the Asset Management Council are showing the way for others in Australian defence industry. We are excited at what the future brings both for this partnership and the improvements we can bring to bear for the Collins Class fleet in coming years.”
AMCouncil national chairman Dave Daines welcomed ASC to their community and said they looked forward to working closely with its key personnel.
“Close collaboration between the AMCouncil and ASC will contribute to the AMCouncil’s body of knowledge as well as enable ASC to keep developing its excellence in the company’s continued asset management journey,” he said.
The partnership will initially see 40 specifically selected key ASC submarine platform experts undergo targeted training, seminars and joint events focused on asset management and life cycle management.
That will generate a broader and deeper understanding of asset management in general and will result in the adoption of asset management methodologies and alignment across the ASC submarine business.
“The objective is to maximise the value of the submarine to Australia’s submarine enterprise by optimising submarine capability, availability and affordability throughout its service life,” Whiley said.
ASC’s submarine business employs more than 1,100 personnel at its two facilities in South Australia and Western Australia.
ASC built the Collins submarines in SA between 1990 and 2003.
It’s now the design authority and the platform systems integrator (PSI) for sustainment and upgrades of the submarines as part of the submarine enterprise, along with the Royal Australian Navy and Defence Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group.
Sustainment of the Collins subs has improved dramatically from the dark period around 2009-10 when the Navy had nominally just two boats available for operations, but sometimes fewer.
The 2012 Coles review found sustainment performance well below international standards. Subsequent reviews noted very substantial improvements in availability and the government officially removed Collins sustainment from the projects of concern list in October last year. (Source: Defence Connect)
14 Sep 18. The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Missouri, has been awarded a maximum $167,788,112 fixed-price incentive delivery order (SPRPA1-18-F-0LB8) against a five-year base contract (SPRPA1-14-D-002U) with one five-year option period for F/A-18 aircraft depot-level reparables. This was a sole-source acquisition using justification 10 U.S. Code 2304(c)(1), as stated in Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1. Location of performance is Missouri, with a July 1, 2027, performance completion date. Using military service is Navy. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2018 Navy working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
14 Sep 18. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, California, has been awarded a $137,187,386 fixed-price-incentive-fee modification (P00128) to contract FA8810-13-C-0002 for space-based infrared system contractor logistics support. The modification is for exercising the option period for operations, sustainment and factory infrastructure support services for the space-based infrared system from Oct. 1, 2018, to Sept. 30, 2019. The locations of performance are Sunnyvale, California; Azusa, California; Boulder, Colorado; Aurora, Colorado; and Colorado Springs, Colorado. No funds are being obligated at time of award. Total cumulative face value of the contract is $1,404,969,911. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, is the contracting activity.
About Oshkosh Defense
Oshkosh Defense is a leading provider of tactical wheeled vehicles and life cycle sustainment services. For decades Oshkosh has been mobilizing military and security forces around the globe by offering a full portfolio of heavy, medium, light and highly protected military vehicles to support our customers’ missions. In addition, Oshkosh offers advanced technologies and vehicle components such as TAK-4® independent suspension systems, TerraMax™ unmanned ground vehicle solutions, Command Zone™ integrated control and diagnostics system, and ProPulse® diesel electric and on-board vehicle power solutions, to provide our customers with a technical edge as they fulfill their missions. Every Oshkosh vehicle is backed by a team of defense industry experts and complete range of sustainment and training services to optimize fleet readiness and performance. Oshkosh Defense, LLC is an Oshkosh Corporation company [NYSE: OSK].
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