05 Aug 21. StandardAero Completes Acquisition of H+S Aviation as part of Signature Aviation’s Engine Repair and Overhaul Business. StandardAero officially completed its acquisition of Signature Aviation’s Engine Repair and Overhaul (ERO) business on 1 July 2021. H&S Aviation, based in Portsmouth, Hampshire, is an engine maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider and part of the Signature’s ERO business international network comprising five separate entities: Dallas Airmotive, W.H. Barrett Turbine Engine Company, H&S Aviation, International Governor Services (IGS) and International Turbine Service (ITS). ERO is headquartered in Dallas, Texas, with two overhaul facilities, (one in Dallas, Tx and the other in Portsmouth, England), ten regional turbine centers, one component MRO site and two parts/distribution facilities. The acquisition adds approximately 1,100 people with annual revenues approaching $500m to StandardAero’s global MRO networks of now nearly 6,600 employees across 55 major facilities worldwide. StandardAero customers include global and regional airlines, commercial transportation providers, corporate flight departments, private operators, government agencies and defense departments.
“We are excited to welcome ERO and its experienced employees to StandardAero and to bring together all of the best practices of two successful, well-known and highly respected Aerospace companies to provide a multitude of benefits for our customers,” said Russell Ford, Chairman and CEO of StandardAero. “Acquiring ERO enhances our ability to be one of the most efficient and client-focused Aerospace MRO companies in the world, providing superior quality products and responsive service for our industry.”
04 Aug 21. China reportedly converted civilian ferries for amphibious assault operations. China has converted civilian ferries for use in military amphibious operations, potentially enabling the country to significantly surge its amphibious assault capabilities in a contingency like a Taiwan invasion, according to a new report.
The July report was published in the Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief by Conor Kennedy, an instructor at the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute. The report said that since 2019, the roll-on/roll-off ferry Bang Chui Dao, a 15,560-ton vessel owned and operated by COSCO Shipping Ferry Company, has been fitted with a modified ramp able to launch and recover amphibious armored vehicles while offshore.
This capability means the ship can launch and recover vehicles without dedicated port facilities. This is in contrast to typical RO/RO vessels, which have straight hydraulic ramps for vehicles to drive on or off while ships are in port.
According to the Jamestown report, the modified ramp is “driven directly by two large hydraulic cylinders and two support arms. When conducting launch and recovery, these are connected between the top of the hydraulic mounting assemblies on the inner ramp and the top of the freight deck threshold to provide the strength and leverage required to deploy the ramp into the water and withstand sea action.”
The report added that “the support arms also act as preventers at maximum extension, while the ramp is kept rigid by the hydraulic cylinders. A longer outer ramp flap has also been added, controlled by another set of hydraulic cylinders mounted on the underside or backside of the ramp. These help to provide strength at the end of the outer ramp and may also allow for further articulation to help vehicles get on the inner ramp.”
The author suggested the introduction of this system reflects the confidence of Chinese engineers and the vessel’s operators that their technological approach can work, despite the use of ramps at sea being “fraught with challenges.”
The analysis noted the combined use of hydraulic systems and support arms means this new ramp is better situated to handle light sea states, with converted ships able to simply anchor and discharge vehicles using the vessel’s own lee or run at low speed to ensure smooth vehicle launching if currents complicate operations.
China’s state media reported the Bang Chui Dao took part in People’s Liberation Army amphibious exercises in August 2020. The vessel, which plies ferry routes in northern China across the Yellow Sea and Bohai Gulf, participated in training activities off the southern Chinese city of Zhanjiang in Guangdong province.
The Jamestown report identified the location of the activities as an amphibious training area in Dianbai County. Footage from the exercise showed the RO/RO vessel operating a PLA Marine Corps ZTD-05 amphibious armored vehicle.
Exercises with civilian RO/RO ferries have continued this year, with the Chinese tabloid Global Times reporting that brigades of the PLA’s 72nd Group Army and Marine Corps “coordinated with civilian ships and conducted a long-distance cross-sea maneuvering exercise at an undisclosed location.” State-run television station CCTV reported that “large groups of different types of amphibious armored vehicles and military trucks were loaded onto civilian ships as part of the transport mission” at the exercise.
These civilian vessels might have been those noticed on an open-source ship-tracking website by Thomas Shugart, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Using automatic identification system data from marinetraffic.com, he noted two more RO/RO ferries normally plying routes in the Yellow Sea off a beach off Guangdong, to the west of Hong Kong, in late July.
The two ferries were the 33,000-ton Bo Hai Ma Zhu (owned by Bohai Ferry and based at Yantai) and the 16,000-ton Hu Lu Dao (owned by China Shipping Passenger Liner Company and based at Dalian).
Both ferries were anchored for more than 24 hours off the sandy coasts of Yangxi County on July 26 after stopping at nearby ports and remain at or near Zhanjiang as of the afternoon of Aug. 4.
China’s relatively modest high-end amphibious assault capabilities have been viewed as a key impediment to its ability to mount an all-out invasion of Taiwan, although it is making efforts to address this shortfall with the rapid construction of three Type 075 amphibious assault ships to join six Type 071 landing platform docks already in service.
The conversion of more civilian RO/RO ferries with the modified ramp would improve the PLA’s ability to surge its amphibious forces in a contingency, with the Jamestown report identifying 63 vessels that could potentially be converted, citing data published by the PLA’s Military Transportation University.
Shugart said the PLA’s effort to use civilian ferries as amphibious transports is part of its attempt to “integrate China’s world-class merchant marine into its amphibious assault forces.” He added that if successful, the nation “could potentially increase its [cross-Taiwan Strait] sealift capacity immensely, removing one of the major obstacles to [an] invasion of Taiwan.”
(Source: Defense News)
Lawmakers protect C-130 fleet, push for new propellers in annual legislation. House lawmakers are looking to bar the Air Force from ditching any of its nearly 300 C-130 Hercules airlift planes as part of fiscal 2022 defense policy bill released July 27.
The House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee, which handles transport aircraft issues, aims to mandate a minimum of 287 C-130s in the Air Force inventory next year — the same number as are now in the combined C-130H and C-130J fleets.
The Air Force wants to retire 13 older C-130Hs in favor of bringing in five new C-130Js, for a net change of eight fewer C-130 airframes. The C-130H inventory would dip from 141 to 128 planes, while the C-130J inventory would grow from 146 to 151 planes. H-models are largely flown by the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.
Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokeswoman, told Defense News earlier this year that the H-model divestment “constitutes a low level of risk, given future joint war-fighting missions.”
The House will need to reach a compromise with the Senate, which proposes to keep at least 292 active aircraft in the C-130 fleet, five more than the House’s potential floor. That includes H- and J-models and the 10 LC-130 ski-equipped planes that transport cargo to the Arctic and Antarctic.
At the same time, lawmakers continue to criticize the Air Force’s progress toward replacing propeller blades that have hindered flight safety on the C-130H fleet.
“Procurement of new composite propeller blades is the obvious solution to this serious safety of flight and readiness issue,” HASC members said in the seapower and projection forces portion of the annual defense policy bill. “The Air Force has moved slowly in addressing the issue and still refers to the propeller upgrade as an enhancement and not a safety requirement.”
Capitol Hill is pushing the service to adopt new composite propeller blades rather than blades manufactured before 1971, saying the upgrade would speed maintenance work and improve the parts logistics chain. A more-efficient eight-blade configuration allows aviators to better control the airframe’s speed in flight, and lets maintainers remove one blade at a time as needed for repairs.
The issue came to light after a Marine Corps KC-130T crashed in 2017, killing 15 Marines and a sailor. A corroded propeller blade, which cracked and failed in flight, was not repaired while the plane was undergoing maintenance ahead of the mishap.
Then in 2019, the Air Force grounded 60 C-130H aircraft amid worries that their propellers were in danger of cracking and needed to be replaced. The planes — about one-third of the H-models — received new blades and returned to flight. Airmen addressed one suspicious blade found as part of that inspection.
“Delays are unacceptable considering the inherent safety of flight and readiness risks surrounding this issue,” lawmakers wrote.
They are pushing Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall to brief HASC members by the end of 2022 on the estimated cost and schedule for outfitting the C-130s with new blades, as well as H-model engine upgrades.
“Congress has repeatedly added additional funds for these upgrades and the Air Force has yet to budget for them despite the demonstrated performance benefits and fuel efficiencies,” committee members said.
The Air Force is in the process of installing eight-blade propellers from Collins Aerospace Systems onto about 160 C-130Hs, the Raytheon Technologies unit said in September 2020. (Source: Defense News)
03 Aug 21. Hesco Bastion Inc., North Charleston, South Carolina (SPE8E6-21-D-00026); and Maccaferri Inc., Williamsport, Maryland (SPE8E6-21-D-0027), are sharing a maximum $500,000,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract under solicitation SPE8E6-19-R-0005 for the Expeditionary Barrier System. These were competitive acquisitions with four responses received. These are two-year base contracts with three one-year option periods. Locations of performance are South Carolina, Maryland, United Kingdom and Italy, with an Aug. 2, 2023, ordering period end date. Using military services are Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2021 through 2023 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
BATTLESPACE Comment: The size of this new Hesco contract, the first for many years suggest that the US is planning a new expeditionary campaign. Middle east, Africa or Afghan reinforcements?
30 Jul 21. Serco Australia tank tests amphibious landing craft. The company’s landing craft, proposed for selection under LAND 8710, has undergone tank testing at the Australian Maritime College.
Serco Australia has completed a round of tank testing for its provisional landing craft design, which the firm has offered to the Commonwealth government as part of the LAND 8710 Phase 1 Capability Element 1 (CE1) — aimed at developing independent landing craft to replace the Army’s current Landing Craft Mechanised (LCM-8) vessels.
The tank testing, which was conducted at the Australian Maritime College (AMC) in Launceston, involved the construction of a 1/16th scale model of Serco’s design, dubbed ‘Oboe 1’ in recognition the Australian Army’s amphibious operations during the Second World War.
Oboe 1, which draws on Serco’s experience supporting US Navy and Army projects, underwent a series of speed and performance trials.
The AMC will now compile data about how the vessel would operate under differing load conditions and how it would dynamically perform at sea at various speeds and sea-states.
Upon receipt of the results, Serco will then explore ways to further refine performance specifications in support of the ADF’s requirements.
Serco has delivered over a dozen large vessels for Navy under the Fleet Marine Services contract, and is expected to soon deliver Australia’s new Antarctic icebreaker, RSV Nuyina, as part of its 30-year partnership with the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD).
“Serco’s Australian industry team stand ready to deliver for the Commonwealth, bringing Australian industry skills and expertise to the forefront, and positioning Australia to drive forward in establishing a sustainable and vibrant shipbuilding industry,” the company said in a statement. Serco is competing against shipbuilding giants Austal and Navantia Australia for LAND 8719 P1 CE1. Defence is expected to release a request for tender (RFT) later this year.
LAND 8710 includes a second element, CE2 — which aims to develop a new amphibious vehicle (AV) to replace the Army’s Lighter, Amphibious Resupply, Cargo – 5 tonne vehicles (LARC-V).
Both the landing craft and the AV, which will be operated as two separate fleets, are expected to provide independent shore-to-shore, ship-to-shore, and over-the-shore capabilities to better manoeuvre and sustain the ADF in littoral and riverine environments. The project, worth approximately $800m, is expected to achieve initial operating capability by 2026. (Source: Defence Connect)
30 Jul 21. Critical Supply Chain Task Force Releases Recommendations. The Defense Critical Supply Chain Task Force has released its final report with findings and recommendations following a months-long review of supply chain threats and vulnerabilities.
The task force focused on the Defense Department’s global, industrial-base supply chain, which furnishes parts, materials, systems and services to the DOD. The task force was led by a bipartisan group of House Armed Services Committee representatives, which may add task force recommendations to the fiscal year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act.
“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the degree to which weakened U.S. supply chains pose a risk to our economic and national security,” the report stated, noting the acute shortages of personal protective equipment that occurred.
“As we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, our adversaries — particularly China — are capable of weaponizing supply chain vulnerabilities,” the report stated, adding that task force proposals are designed to minimize reliance on foreign suppliers, China in particular, to prevent future shortages.
The task force’s final report recommendations include:
- Tasking the DOD with establishing a comprehensive strategy for mitigating risk in its industrial base supply chain.
- Ensuring the DOD has visibility on the defense supply chain to understand its vulnerabilities — rather than relying solely on industry to provide that information — and developing risk mitigation strategies.
- Reducing reliance on adversaries, such as China and Russia, for resources and manufacturing.
- Forming partnerships between the department with industry, academia and other entities to incentivize and increase the education and training of the U.S. workforce.
The report also noted that collaboration can be facilitated by strengthening the DOD’s collaboration with the National Technology and Industrial Base. The NTIB facilitates research, development and production of defense-related items within the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom and Australia.
The Defense Department engaged frequently with the task force over the past few months and appreciated the current, bipartisan support from Congress on the importance of strengthening the defense supply chains, said a DOD official.
Increasing supply chain resiliency is a whole-of-government effort, not just a defense issue, and the findings and recommendations in the task force’s final report reflect the need for a collaborative approach to renewing our enduring sources of national strength, the official said.
“For more than 50 years, the U.S. has pursued efficiency in its supply chains, and the last year has crystallized the need to build supply chain resilience into our thinking, as well,” said Jesse Salazar, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy .
“The White House, Congress, the DOD, our interagency partners and industry stand united behind strengthening our defense industrial base and working in common cause with our closest allies and partners,” he said.
The recommendations in the task force’s report align closely with those proposed by the DOD and its interagency partners in the 100-day response to Executive Order 14017, further highlighting the cohesion across all parts of the U.S. government on this critical issue, Salazar added. (Source: US DoD)