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19 Sep 19. Vigor Industrial lays keel for US Army’s generation landing craft. Vigor Industrial has laid the keel for the first next-generation landing craft being built for the US Army. The keel-laying ceremony of the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) (MSV(L)) was attended by Vigor and US Army representatives. Vigor won the ten-year $979.39m contract in October 2017 to build the MSV(L). The landing craft will replace the Army’s ageing LCM-8 Mike boats. The company is developing the prototype for the boat under the first phase of the programme.
The prototype is named after SSG Elroy F Wells, a US Army watercraft operator who was killed in action in Vietnam in 1970.
Vigor will move to the low-rate production phase of four vessels once testing of the prototype is completed.
A further 32 boats will be built in the Full Rate Production phase.
Vigor Industrial said in a statement: “The ceremonial weld marked not only the start of the MSV(L) program but also the beginning of a new era in shipbuilding at Vigor’s recently acquired state-of-the-art all-aluminium fabrication facility in Vancouver.
“Vigor expects the site to employ up to 400 workers by 2023 building high-performance military craft, workboats and aluminium fast ferries in addition to MSV(L).”
The company’s partners in the programme include BMT, Gladding-Hearn and Northrop Grumman.
Vigor developed the MSV(L) design in collaboration with BMT. The design will improve the capabilities of the current LCM-8 boats.
The 35.6m-long MSV(L) features a tribow monohull configuration and can achieve a top speed of 20k. The boat is for use by army mariners and provides a range of more than 360nm. It also offers manoeuvre options in anti-access environments. (Source: army-technology.com)
19 Sep 19. UAE looking for more tank transporters. on display at IDEX 2019. Belarus hopes to secure another contract to supply additional heavy equipment transporters to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to Roman Golovchenko, the chairman of the State Military Industrial Committee of Belarus.
“We are about to finish a major contract [with the UAE], which was declared a long time ago: the delivery of a batch of tank transporters. We are in negotiations on stepping it up and signing a new contract to deliver the same kind of vehicles after the vehicles are tested,” Golovchenko told the Belarusian state news agency BelTA on 13 September.
He was speaking at the start of a state visit to Belarus by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.
It was announced in October 2016 that the Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant (MZKT) (Volat Defence) would supply its latest all-terrain trucks to the UAE. “It is quite an important contract, the implementation of which is supposed to begin next year. The vehicles are going through final tests in the UAE now,” Golovchenko, the then ambassador to the UAE, said at the time. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
19 Sep 19. Leidos to provide aircraft ISR support services to US Army. Leidos has won a cost-plus-fixed-fee task order to provide aircraft intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) support services to the US Army. The company will deliver the services in support of the army’s Product Director, Airborne Reconnaissance Low (PD ARL).
The ISR support services are meant for intelligence aircraft systems such as the Airborne Reconnaissance Low-Multifunction (ARL-M), Airborne Reconnaissance Low-Enhanced (ARL-E), and Saturn Arch reconnaissance platforms.
Leidos Defense Group president Gerry Fasano said: “The army continues to turn to Leidos for airborne reconnaissance support that helps warfighters remain aware of their operational environments for a range of critical missions.
“This award upholds the key infrastructure investments and strategic industry partnerships we’ve instituted in our airborne solutions operation.”
The task order consists of a base performance period of one year and four one-year options.
The total value of the contract, including the options, could reach a maximum of around $428m.
Work under the task order will be carried out in multiple state-side and overseas locations.
Services to be provided will include programme management, operations, sustainment, cybersecurity, and engineering support.
The company will focus on improving standardised processes across the ARL-E, ARL-M, and Saturn Arch programmes.
Leidos Airborne Solutions operation manager Kevin Lansdowne said: “As the original equipment manufacturer for the Saturn Arch and ARL-E platforms, Leidos was the only team with the current staff, infrastructure, support facilities, tangible knowledge of system architectures, and demonstrated operational experience to provide the required services at the lowest risk to the customer.
“Our proven methods have consistently delivered greater than 90% full mission capability to the customer on multiple, similar programmes.”
In 2015, Leidos won a five-year contract to provide design, architecture engineering, configuration management, system integration, aircraft integration, and testing support for the ARL-E system.
The company received another task order in 2017 for the integration and demonstration of ARL-E aircraft. (Source: army-technology.com)
18 Sep 19. BAE Systems Establishes Experienced Team for U.S. Air Force Launch Systems Engineering and Integration Support Offering.
BAE Systems has partnered with LinQuest, Booz Allen Hamilton, a.i. solutions, Space Vector, Advanced Core Concepts, VETS, and GreenDart to offer world-class support for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s (SMC) Launch Enterprise – Systems and Engineering and Integration Program.
The BAE Systems led team will leverage its experts, on-location presence, and diverse launch experience to provide U.S. Air Force SMC with an end-to-end systems engineering and integration solution that supports an accelerated launch tempo and mission assurance of existing and new entrant launch vehicles.
“BAE Systems is proud to bring together this exceptional team of more than 200 launch experts ready to provide the Air Force with the low-risk systems engineering, integration, and launch solution it needs now and in the future,” said Pete Trainer, vice president and general manager of BAE Systems’ Air Force Solutions business area. “Our partners are leaders in their fields and committed to joining BAE Systems in supporting this critical space mission.”
BAE Systems has more than 30 years of experience providing customers with safe and secure launch support solutions in mission critical and high-risk environments. Leveraging its vertically integrated and experienced engineering organization with associated operational and digital engineering competencies BAE Systems experts focus on the unique rigors and requirements of the space launch domain to ensure mission success. The company’s solutions have enabled a wide variety of effective civil, commercial, and national security space missions. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
18 Sep 19. US military triggers ‘turbo activation’ of wartime sealift ships. The command in charge of U.S. military logistics worldwide on Tuesday triggered one the largest surges of its aging sealift ships in decades, a critical test of the country’s ability to move heavy equipment overseas in the event of a major conflict. U.S. Transportation Command ordered a so-called turbo activation of 28 ships from a fleet of logistics ships spread across Military Sealift Command, the Department of Transportation and the Maritime Administration. The activation, the largest of its kind since Operation Iraqi Freedom, rapidly transitions ships from a semi-dormant, reduced operating status manned by a skeleton crew to a fully crewed ship ready to sail within five days.
In the event of a major conflict with China or Russia, the sealift fleet would need to carry up to 90 percent of U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps equipment to the fight — logistical activity that is key to the United States’ deterrence strategy. After all, Russia and China don’t have to fear the U.S. military if it can’t get to the fight.
“These exercises typically involve only a few ships but this event targets 28 vessels for activation to provide a better assessment of the readiness of U.S. sealift forces than can be accomplished with fewer activations,” a TRANSCOM release said. “This scale will also stress the underlying support network involved in maintaining, manning and operating the nation’s ready sealift forces.”
TRANSCOM spokesman, Navy Capt. Kevin Stephens, said in an email that the exercise was the largest turbo activation of its kind on record, though there have been larger activations for real-world operations.
The sealift fleet is composed of 26 Military Sealift Command pre-positioning ships, 46 ships in the Ready Reserve Force and 15 command-owned roll-on/roll-off surge force ships.
The U.S. military has been increasingly vocal about its logistics shortfalls. Last year, the Army warned Congress in a memo that the country was facing a slow-rolling crisis and the prospect of a collapse in the nation’s sealift capacity.
In response to a committee inquiry, the Army in February sent a warning to the House Armed Services Committee in an information paper noting the nation’s surge sealift capacity — which would be responsible for transporting up to 90 percent of Army and Marine Corps equipment in the event of a major war — would fall below its requirement by 2024.
“Without proactive recapitalization of the Organic Surge Sealift Fleet, the Army will face unacceptable risk in force projection capability beginning in 2024,” the memo to the House Armed Services Committee read, adding that the advanced age of the fleet adds further risk to the equation.
“By 2034, 70% of the organic fleet will be over 60 years old — well past its economic useful life; further degrading the Army’s ability to deploy forces,” the document reads.
The large-scale activation of so much of the fleet will be a critical test of the nation’s aging capacity, said Jerry Hendrix, an analyst with the Telemus Group who has extensively studied the logistics issue.
“This is a real signal and it’s also a real test of the logistics force,” he said. “I’ll be interested to find out how they performed: what the material readiness of the fleet was, how good was their manning and whether we see any signs of problems with training.
“But the key here is to raise the profile of the idea that the Army doesn’t move without the logistics force.” (Source: Defense News)
18 Sep 19. Collins Aerospace signs enterprise partnering agreement with USAF. Collins Aerospace Systems and the US Air Force (USAF) have signed an enterprise partnering agreement to streamline maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services. The agreement covers all sustainment services with Collins Aerospace’s six strategic business units (SBU), namely Avionics, Aerostructures, Interiors, Mission Systems, Mechanical Systems, and Power and Controls. It is intended to enable a streamlined process for the USAF to access the company’s military portfolio.
The company has stated that the approach will allow the SBUs to implement MRO agreements with all USAF Air Logistics Complex entities.
Collins Aerospace Aftermarket Services president Ajay Agrawal said: “This enterprise partnering agreement deepens our already strong relationship with the US Air Force. This simplified approach to collaborating will enable all of Collins Aerospace’s businesses to better anticipate and deliver on the needs and requirements of this important customer. This agreement allows us to work with the airforce and implement the proven tools and practices we use to keep our commercial customers flying every day.”
The approach will help the company to better understand the operational needs for ‘managing the lifecycle value stream across multiple product portfolios’. For the USAF, the partnership will provide access to Collins Aerospace’s commercial capabilities and technical data.
In a separate development, the USAF has selected Collins Aerospace to broaden the communication capabilities of the U-2 Dragon Lady aircraft. The company will modernise the airforce’s fleet of U-2 Dragon Lady reconnaissance aircraft with HF-9087D high-frequency (HF) radios. The upgrade will support efforts to extend the lifespan of the aircraft.
In addition to reconnaissance duties, the U-2 will be able to securely transfer command and control (C2) data in real-time over HF. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
16 Sep 19. USN ships on track to get predictive maintenance. The Defense Innovation Unit expects to take the artificial intelligence-fueled tech that keeps aircraft and ground vehicles running smoothly out to sea.
DIU Director of Strategic Engagement Mike Madsen said during remarks at the Sept. 12 Dell Technologies Forum on Real Transformation that the organization was discussing expanding its predictive maintenance efforts to the Navy.
“We’re in discussions with the Navy right now, very advanced discussions,” with senior leadership and expect to award a contract in fiscal 2020, Madsen told Defense Systems following the event. DIU, which can award other transaction authorities, is also working on predictive maintenance across the Air Force and with the Army’s legacy Bradley Fighting Vehicle fleet.
Predictive maintenance is one of DIU’s several “transformative projects” that it hopes to scale to other platforms across the Defense Department and services. Along with the predictive maintenance expansion in 2020, DIU plans to take a deeper look at why certain programs failed to crossover into programs of record.
“One of the things we’re going to start looking at is how do we smooth out the path to transition to a lot of these successful prototypes we’ve produced and gone on to maybe a low-rate production. How do we smooth out that transition to programs of record or a one-time buy?” Madsen said.
Since its founding, DIU has 57 overall projects and 25 that are complete. Eight of these completed projects have transitioned to programs of record, 11 are eligible to transition and six were concluded.
Madsen said it was okay that those six failed to thrive at DOD, “because if we were transitioning 100%, we wouldn’t be trying hard enough, we wouldn’t be taking enough risk.”
Madsen named budget issues as an impediment, saying DOD customers not having the funds or mistiming projects with budget process can delay tech advancement.
“That’s problematic for us from a tech perspective because [with] technology, there’s a shelf-life,” he said, “So if we have to wait for a budget cycle, that technology is already last generation.” (Source: Defense Systems)
17 Sep 19. US Army’s new landing craft hits an early milestone. Work on the U.S. Army’s next-generation landing craft, the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light), is well underway, the company building the boats announced Tuesday. The Washington state-based Vigor Works laid the keel for the first boat at its Vancouver, Washington, facility, according to a company release. Vigor Works was awarded a nearly $1bn contract in 2017 for the MSV(L). The Army and Vigor Works will develop a full-scale prototype for the boat over the next four years, then move to initial production of four vessels in 2022. The total buy will be 36 MSV(L)s.
The boat was designed in conjunction with BMT.
The MSV(L) replaces the aging Mike Boats. The 100-foot MSV(L) will be able to haul one M1A2 Abrams tank, two Stryker armored vehicles with slat armor or four Joint Light Tactical Cehicles with trailers. It will have a top speed of 18 knots, 15 knots fully loaded and a range of about 350 miles.
The contract is a 10-year, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract. Vigor Works beat out four competitors for the job.
The Mike boats weren’t large enough, nor did they have the range required to haul modern Army equipment over the ranges necessary in a denied combat zone. The boats are designed to operate at extended ranges, moving personnel, materiel and equipment from deep-draft sealift ships off the coast and bring it to inland waterways. It will be designed to bring its cargo to degraded ports, as well as unimproved or denied beachheads. (Source: Defense News)
17 Sep 19. BeBop Sensors’ New Forte Data Glove Enterprise Edition will be Used for Hands-On Virtual Reality Lockheed C-130 Airplane Radio Training Simulations for MOTAR (Maintenance Operations & Training Augmented Reality). BeBop Sensors www.bebopsensors.com, the leader in smart fabric sensor technology, announced today that it has won the SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) Award from the U.S. Air Force for BeBop Sensor’s new award-winning Forte Data Glove Enterprise Edition, to be deployed by the U.S. Airforce MOTAR (Maintenance Operations and Training Augmented Reality) Unit for advanced airplane VR training simulations. The MOTAR Unit, which builds VR and AR solutions for internal U.S. Air Force groups, was tasked with finding technology to enable advanced VR hand interactions for Lockheed C-130 Hercules military aircraft radio training simulations. The BeBop Sensors gloves were selected because of their powerful haptics that virtually “feel” interactions with a 6 millisecond response time, ease of use, all-day battery life, and ultra-comfortable design.
SMSgt Powell Crider, U.S. Airforce MOTAR Unit, said, “BeBop’s Forte Data Gloves will let airman concentrate on learning the task at hand, not learning how to use VR controls.” The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the Air Force’s newly formed innovation arm (AFWERX) are streamlining the SBIR process to speed up the experience, broaden the pool of potential applicants, and decrease bureaucratic overhead. Since 2018, with SBIR 18.2, the Air Force has begun offering special SBIR topics that are faster, leaner and open to a broader range of solutions.
“Our Forte Data Glove Enterprise Edition is ideal for training applications using VR,” said Keith McMillen, Founder and CEO, BeBop Sensors. “We are honored to be chosen as the supplier to the U.S. Air Force.”
16 Sep 19. Extra-Long Sustainment Contracts Are Lockheed’s Latest Bid to Cut F-35 Costs. The company is pitching the Pentagon on a five-year deal — with promises to keep 80 percent of the fleet mission-ready.
Lockheed Martin is pitching the Pentagon on a new idea for reducing the cost of the F-35 combat jet: sign a five-year maintenance deal instead of negotiating a new contract every year. There’s also a performance-based twist: the company would provide enough spare parts to keep 80 percent of the world’s F-35s battle-ready — or face penalties.
Currently, Lockheed and the Pentagon’s F-35 program office negotiate new deals every year to maintain the hundreds of F-35s flown by U.S. and allied forces. The negotiations often take most of the year and by the time a contract is signed, it’s time to begin negotiating the next one.
Lockheed officials pitched the idea of a longer-term contract to Pentagon acquisition leaders over the summer in a 25-page white paper, said Ken Merchant, Lockheed’s vice president for F-35 sustainment, said in a Monday interview at the Air Force Association’s annual Air, Space & Cyber conference.
“It’s a commitment on the company’s part to a five-year deal and it would bring along the partners as well as the supply chain and allow us all to establish long-term arrangements with our vendor base,” Merchant said. “If we had a five-year deal where folks could could bank on having a certain level of money coming into their activities and be able to work long-term arrangements with the vendor base, everybody benefits from that.”
Asked about Lockheed’s proposal on Monday, spokespeople for Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord and Navy acquisition chief James Guerts had no immediate comment. The Pentagon currently pays Lockheed more than $2bn per year to sustain about 400 jets, or roughly $5m per jet per year. But within four years, the global fleet is expected to reach nearly 1,200 aircraft as production ramps up. Lockheed estimates that the tab for the five-year arrangement could come to $15bn, and that it would save the Pentagon a total of $1bn.
Company officials figure that both sides will do better with the half-decade-long deal, which will allow the aircraft maker to lock in longer-lead parts contracts and assure its suppliers of steady work at known prices. Lockheed also says that if the Pentagon signs the deal, the company will immediately invest $1.5bn to buy parts, sign long-lead contracts, and improve the F-35’s ALIS logistics/maintenance software.
And Lockheed say the arrangement would require the company to make sure 80 percent of the fleet is always mission-ready.
Fewer than half of the Air Force F-35s were deemed mission-ready in 2018, according to Air Force Times. Those numbers have improved this year, particularly for jets deployed overseas. Last year, former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis ordered the military services to boost fighter readiness to 80 percent.
Finally, Lockheed’s proposal includes a vow to reduce the cost per flying hour from the current $44,000 — for an Air Force F-35A in 2018 — to about $25,000. Company officials say they would absorb the risk.
“We are accepting a lot of the risk in the deal,” Merchant said.
The number of F-35 flown by the U.S. and allies is projected to triple in the next four years, from roughly 400 to nearly 1,200 jets.
“That growth is going to lead to a step function in flying hours and we’ve got to be prepared for that,” Merchant said.
Sustainment costs consume about 70 percent of Pentagon weapons spending.
“This is our opportunity to stand behind [our] product from the sustainment perspective,” he said. (Source: Defense One)
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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