03 Mar 21. DLA orders modular 3D printing pod. The Defense Logistics Agency has ordered up a 3D printing factory housed in a shipping container. Now under development, the rugged 3D printing pod would be up to 40-feet long and be set up in a standard 40-foot container so it could be deployed directly to the field to manufacture parts in support of battlefield operations, disaster relief or other remote missions.
With a $1.6m contract to ExOne, DLA plans to use the company’s military-edition 3D printer for manufacturing products or tooling from over 20 metal, ceramic and other powder materials.
ExOne’s binder jet 3D printing is an additive manufacturing (AM) process that transforms powdered materials transforms into precision parts by using an industrial printhead to selectively deposit alternating layers of a liquid binder and powder particles.
Ideally, military personnel could use the 3D printing pod to turn a digital file of a broken or damaged part into a finished product in less than 48 hours, compared to the four to six weeks it currently takes to machine tool a new part, ExOne officials said. The process would also reduce waste and eliminate the need to carry expensive inventory into the field.
Rather than housing racks of spare parts in a storage depot, a digital library of 3D designs can be stored electronically. If a digital file is not available for older parts, the original item can easily be 3D scanned and printed. Additionally, service members can quickly design or modify parts and tools to solve unique problems.
The pod contains a 3D scanner and prep station, a ruggedized metal and ceramic binder jet 3D printer, a curing oven, a fiber-reinforced plastic 3D printer and a compression molding station. ExOne will also provide software and training so the pod can be used with minimal technical knowledge.
3D printing is starting to play a key role for the military. According to the Defense Department’s Additive Manufacturing Strategy, released in January, it is “a powerful tool to enable innovation and modernization of defense systems, support readiness and enhance warfighter readiness.”
A few forward-deployed additive manufacturing facilities have already been tested, including the Marine Corp’s X-Fab, a self-contained, 20×20-foot transportable shelter containing 3D printers, a scanner and computer-aided design software system; the AM Lab aboard the USS Stennis, which has been used to produce antenna parts and medical devices; and the Army’s Rapid Fabrication via AM on the Battlefield, a 24×20-foot workspace that contains five 3D printers.
To speed development of the rugged 3D printing pod for DLA, ExOne will collaborate with Dynovas Inc., which specializes in materials engineering, composites manufacturing and DOD weapons systems, and Applied Composites, a provider of complex composite components, assemblies, engineering and tooling to the aerospace, defense, and space systems markets.
“Binder jet 3D printing is a critical manufacturing technology for military use because of its speed, flexibility of materials, and ease of use,” said ExOne CEO John Hartner. “We’re excited to collaborate with the U.S. Department of Defense and other partners to make our 3D printers more rugged for the military, which will also benefit our other manufacturing customers. Most importantly, we know that years from now, our technology will play an important role in filling critical needs quickly.” (Source: Defense Systems)
03 Mar 21. Surface ship readiness continues to struggle, US Navy inspections show. The U.S. Navy’s surface fleet continues to struggle to keep its ships adequately maintained, according to the Board of Inspection and Survey, an entity responsible for monitoring the condition of the service’s ships.
The surface fleet was scored as “degraded” in more than half of the “functional areas” scored by the famously invasive INSURV inspectors, with 11 of 21 being so designated, according to the annual unclassified report to Congress. Those areas include main propulsion systems; electrical systems; damage-control systems; anti-submarine warfare systems; and for the second year in a row, the Aegis weapons system, which serves as the combat brain of the Navy’s cruisers and destroyers.
Furthermore, 14 of 21 areas were listed as below the six-year scores average for the surface fleet, meaning 67 percent of the areas inspected were either degraded or worse than the surface fleet average over the past half decade.
It’s the latest sign that the Navy is continuing to have difficulty properly caring for its surface ships, which have increasingly fallen short of the rest of the fleet’s INSURV scores.
The inspections in 2021 covered three cruisers, 16 destroyers, one Freedom-class littoral combat ship, one Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, one Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship, one Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship and one Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship.
The surface fleet saw a dip in overall performance from last year, where nine functional areas were scored as “degraded,” though some areas did improve over last year’s scores. Both main propulsion and electrical systems, while still degraded, showed some improvement over last year.
The submarine fleet also saw a slight dip in its INSURV scores. Whereas in each of the last five years the fleet has not listed a single functional area as “degraded,” in 2020 there were two areas that fell into the high end of “degraded” — more than 10 submarine inspections, auxiliary engineering systems and combat systems were listed as such.
But more than half of the functional areas were listed as below the six-year average, which may point to maintenance challenges starting to show in the submarine fleet as well. (Source: Defense News)
02 Mar 21. Indonesian shipyard launches two tank landing ships. Indonesian shipbuilder PT Bandar Abadi has launched two Teluk Bintuni-class tank landing ships (LSTs) on order for the Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Laut, or TNI-AL). The vessels took to the water on 27 February in a ceremony that was broadcast live over the company’s social media channels from Batam. Keels for both the vessels, which have since been given the pennant numbers 526 and 527, were laid down in December 2019.
An IDR360bn (USD25.2m) contract to build the ships was signed between PT Bandar Abadi and Indonesia’s defence ministry in April 2019. The LSTs seek to improve the mobility of the Indonesian Armed Forces’ (TNI’s) armoured vehicles.
The Teluk Bintuni class has an overall length of 120m, beam of 18 m, and hull draught of 3m. It is powered by two 8,810-hp diesel engines and can attain a top speed of 16kt with a standard range of 7,200n miles (16,300km) at 12kt. Each vessel is equipped with 12.7mm machine guns for point defence and can also be equipped with up to two 40mm naval gun systems on its foredeck.
In terms of payload, the LST can accommodate up to 15 BMP-3F infantry fighting vehicles via a roll-on/roll-off ramp at its bow and deploy a 10-tonne helicopter from its flight deck. Each vessel can also accommodate up to four crane deployed landing craft for vehicle and personnel (LCVPs). (Source: Jane’s)
01 Mar 21. SAFE to deliver custom work platforms for US Army UH-60 helicopters. Maintenance support equipment provider SAFE Structure Designs has secured a contract to deliver custom ergonomic work platforms for a fleet of US Army UH-60 helicopters at the Yuma Proving Grounds in Tucson, Arizona. Maintenance support equipment provider SAFE Structure Designs has secured a contract to deliver custom ergonomic work platforms for a fleet of US Army UH-60 helicopters at the Yuma Proving Grounds in Tucson, Arizona.
As agreed, the company will deliver SAFETY FIRST ergonomic stands particularly designed to enable technicians to reach all areas of the helicopter for maintenance work.
The stands can be fitted with the UH-60 helicopter and provide access to the main rotor, engine, transmission, flight controls, tail boom, drive shafts and tail rotor.
SAFE CEO Johnny Buscema said: “We are proud to supply the US Army with more UH-60 maintenance support equipment that fit their unique challenges.
“There are no other stands on the market as effective and efficient as our custom designs. This support equipment is designed to provide personnel with safe and efficient access for all maintenance. We have provided similar custom support equipment for a wide range of helicopters and aeroplanes in both the civilian and military sector.”
Developed by Sikorsky, the UH-60 Black Hawk is a multi-mission helicopter that has been operational in the US Army since 1978.
The helicopter is primarily used for carrying troops and as a logistical support aircraft. However, it can be modified to carry out medical evacuation, command and control, search and rescue, armed escort, electronic warfare, and executive transport missions.
The UH-60 has been used in various combat missions, including operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Source: army-technology.com)
01 Mar 21. Pentagon’s Logistics Agency Utilizes Software Bots to Improve Accuracy, Efficiency. The Defense Logistics Agency is improving accuracy, cycle time and productivity in supply chain management practices through robotic process automation, which uses software bots to execute tasks and interact with systems.
“The metric we pay the most attention to is the hours contributed back to the mission. Our highly skilled workforce can use their talents in more strategic, value-added activities and address more complex work they will now have the time to complete,” said Frank Wood, RPA program manager.
Since 2018, DLA has incorporated bots into 109 processes with 86 needing no human interaction. RPA bots support DLA acquisition’s post award requests process by identifying COVID-19 PARs, collecting supplier notes and comments, and reporting them to contracting officials for review and subsequent action. Bots are also used to redact sensitive information from Freedom of Information Office requests and in inventory management.
Another bot is used by DLA information operations’ equipment management solutions team as it processes lease and purchase requests for more than 53,000 devices like printers and scanners used by DLA employees and military and federal customers. Errors such as lack of funding and contractual issues are often reflected during monthly billing transactions, resulting in missing bills that must be corrected by EMS billing staff, said Terra Nguyen, EMS division chief.
“Our personnel will research any missing billing that occurs due to errors on the debit memo report, which generates sales orders for all assets in our inventory,” she continued. “Once a list of missing bills has been generated, our EMS billing personnel then have to generate a sales order for each missing bill — a long process that can be manually intensive.”
Since implementation in December 2020, the team has billed more than $1.5m using the bot.
“Thanks to the integration of the bot, our EMS billing specialists have additional time to communicate with customers, research other billing issues and concentrate on additional work-related tasking,” Nguyen said.
RPA also makes the agency more audit-ready by reducing errors and maintaining measurable, documented processes.
“The return on investment for DLA comes not only in hours, but in readiness and accountability to the Department of Defense and taxpayers,” Wood said.
The enterprise RPA team has requests for 27 additional automations. Process or business owners wanting to integrate bots into their functional areas must first quantify potential cost, savings and workload restructuring. The data is used by DLA’s RPA steering committee, made up of leaders from across the agency, to prioritize resources and projects. New automations take about 8 weeks to implement after approval. (Source: US DoD)
01 Mar 21. Thirteen companies shortlisted for MoD spares contract. Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that 13 companies have been shortlisted for selection for the UK MoD Vehicle Support Capital Spares Multi-Supplier Framework Agreement Major Spares programme worth £150m a year – REFERENCE No. 700007835. The requirement is for the establishment of a Framework Agreement under which the Authority may procure Capital Spares in support of the DE&S Vehicle Support Team (VST) portfolio of wheeled and tracked platforms. Individual Call-Off contracts that may be placed under the Framework Agreement shall be subject to a competitive process between those Tenderers admitted to the Framework, noting that the Authority shall have no obligation to order or buy anything under this Framework Agreement. The anticipated date for the contract award decision is 30 June 2021. This is an indicative date and may change.
List of Tenderers Invited to Submit a Tender for ITT No. 700007835
AME AUTO Ltd, Aviation Spares And Repairs Ltd, Babcock Land Defence Ltd, Carwood Motor Units Ltd, EXSEL Design & Integration Ltd, GDUK, Hobson Industries Ltd, LEONARDO MW Ltd, NAVISTAR Defense LLC., NP AEROSPACE Ltd, RBSL, SUPACAT Ltd and TVS.
25 Feb 21. FRCSW to conduct E-2D PMI review in partnership with BCG. The US Navy has announced that the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) is set to perform the E-2D Periodic Maintenance Interval (PMI) review.
The US Navy has announced that the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) is set to perform the E-2D Periodic Maintenance Interval (PMI) review. The review has been recently directed by Commander, Naval Air Forces (CNAF) to enhance the aircraft’s readiness and availability to the fleet.
It will be conducted under the Navy Sustainment System (NSS), an initiative by Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) to improve speed and production.
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has been hired by SECNAV to examine the current procedures for improved production quality and cost efficiencies.
FRCSW and BCG will receive support from the Fleet Support Team and the E-2/C-2 PMA-231 to thoroughly study the E-2D Hawkeye PMI specification tasks.
Manufactured by Northrop Grumman, the E-2D Hawkeye serves as the navy’s airborne early warning system (AEWS).
E2/C2 Production deputy programme manager Joey Baesas said: “The E-2D programme took an active role embracing NSS.
“As soon as BCG implemented NSS at Naval Air Station Lemoore, programme leadership started implementing lessons learned from there.
“BCG will help identify our constraints and inefficiencies, and target those specific discrepancies to either streamline our processes or resolve those issues, and possibly reduce the PMI cycle time of the E-2D.”
FRCSW played a key role in another CNAF directive two years ago that helped the US Navy achieve 341 mission-ready F/A-18 Super Hornets by 2020.
In September last year, the first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft with aerial refuelling capability joined the US Navy’s fleet at Naval Station Norfolk. (Source: naval-technology.com)