Sponsored by Oshkosh
16 Jan 20. Developing 3D printing capability for the defence and aerospace sector. BAE Systems and Renishaw have signed an agreement to work together on the development of additive manufacturing capability for the defence and aerospace sector, designed to help improve performance, reduce costs and speed up manufacturing processes on combat aircraft of the future. The MoU lays the framework for the two companies to bring together world-leading expertise in additive manufacturing (AM also known as 3D printing) to maximise the application of this novel emerging manufacturing technique. The agreement also opens up opportunities for joint research and development. The MoU was signed by Manufacturing and Materials Strategy & Technology Director for BAE Systems, Andy Schofield, and Will Lee, chief executive, Renishaw, during a visit to BAE Systems’ manufacturing facilities in Samlesbury, Lancashire.
The site is already home to several Renishaw advanced AM machines which form part of a 1,000 square metre dedicated New Product Development & Process Development Centre (NPPDC), where the latest emerging technologies and processes such as AM and Virtual Reality are explored and tested for application into aircraft design and manufacture. With a particular focus on additive manufacturing, investments into technologies like those provided by Renishaw help to ensure BAE Systems remains at the cutting edge of aerospace manufacturing, exploiting the latest technologies and processes to continually improve its advanced manufacturing capabilities.
BAE Systems began research into additive manufacturing techniques more than two decades ago and is currently using the technology to make production standard components for the Typhoon fighter aircraft. It is also applied in the rapid prototyping of new technology concepts as part of a drive to deliver Tempest – a capable, affordable and exportable next generation future combat air system.
Schofield said: “Additive manufacturing has and will continue to deliver significant benefits to our sector. Renishaw is a world leader in additive manufacturing and we have been impressed with the quality of parts produced on its machines. This agreement allows us to create a more open and collaborative environment to share ideas and knowledge. In an environment of fast developing technology and challenged budgets, collaboration and innovation are absolutely essential in order to retain cutting edge capability. I’m really excited by the potential this partnership has to help us deliver that.”
Lee said: “We have a great relationship already with BAE Systems, developed over many years through the application of our metrology products and have more recently worked with them on evaluating and understanding the performance envelope of our AM systems. We are delighted that they have been impressed with our systems, and this, together with our vision for AM development, has led to the strengthening of our collaboration. We look forward to the exciting opportunities that this strategic collaboration presents to further develop AM technologies for demanding aerospace production applications.” (Source: Google/https://www.arabianaerospace.aero/)
17 Jan 20. AFMC invites ideas to improve missions through USAF Ideation platform. The US Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) has invited civilians and airmen from across the enterprise to submit innovative solutions and ideas.
The ideas are requested as part of the ‘AFMC We Need initiative’, which seeks to help shape the future of AFMC.
As a major command, AFMC plays a crucial role in achieving the National Defense Strategy. In order to support the strategy, the initiative will make sure the command has the ‘best structure, resources, and culture’.
Participants can submit their proposals through the US Air Force (USAF) Ideation platform, or Ideascale. It is open until September this year.
Submissions can be floated for any mission area with a specific focus on themes such as leadership, culture, infrastructure, communication and agility transformation.
AFMC deputy commander major general Carl Schaefer said: “Our airmen are developing innovative solutions and finding ways to improve our missions every day. Often these local solutions can benefit a wider command and airforce audience.
“This is an opportunity for us to empower our airmen and civilians to take their ideas and move them forward for the AFMC and airforce we need.”
The proposals will be reviewed by the Commander’s Accelerated Initiatives Office (AFMC/CDX). Ideas with potential would be taken forward for further development and refinement.
The participants will be given an opportunity to pitch their solutions, following which decisions would be taken whether to move them to a prototype or implementation stage.
In addition, the Headquarters Air Force will receive ideas that fall beyond the centre and major command level use.
Schaefer added: “What we also learned was that for many of these issues, our airmen were already working to improve them and have ideas on how to address others.
“We need to capitalise on our airmen’s innovation and expertise across the command. This is an opportunity for everyone to contribute and make a difference.” (Source: airforce-technology.com)
15 Jan 20. F-35 logistics system to be reinvented and renamed, official says. The computer-based logistics system of the F-35 stealth fighter jet made by Lockheed Martin (LMT.N), which has been plagued by delays, will be replaced by another network made by the same company, a Pentagon official said on Tuesday.
The Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) was designed to underpin the F-35 fleet’s daily operations, ranging from mission planning and flight scheduling to repairs and scheduled maintenance, as well as the tracking and ordering of parts.
Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s chief weapon’s buyer, said ALIS would be replaced with Lockheed Martin’s Operational Data Integrated Network (ODIN), which will be streamlined for efficiency “with the voice of the maintainer and the pilots at the forefront of the requirements list.”
Lord told Reuters outside a closed-door briefing to U.S. Congress that Lockheed Martin, the F-35’s prime contractor, would work on ODIN under the current ALIS funding profile without additional cost to the taxpayer.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) had estimated that ALIS would have cost more than $16.7 bn over its multi-decade “life cycle”.
ALIS was blamed for delaying aircraft maintenance, one of the very things it was meant to facilitate.
“One Air Force unit estimated that it spent the equivalent of more than 45,000 hours per year performing additional tasks and manual workarounds because ALIS was not functioning as needed,” the GAO said in a November report.
By December 2022, ODIN will have replaced ALIS in all F-35s except those deployed remotely or on ships, Lord said.
John Garamendi (D-CA), Chair of the House Armed Services Committee’s Readiness Subcommittee, called two years “a very tight time frame.”
“We cannot wait until there is a functioning ODIN to work on the other sustainment issues with the jet,” he said in an interview after Tuesday’s hearing. The F-35 has drawn criticism for having a higher than hoped for cost per flying hour.
ODIN will be based in the cloud and designed to deliver data in near real time on aircraft and system performance under heightened cyber security provisions, Lord said.
“We have heard our maintainers on the flight lines loud and clear when they say they want to spend less time on administrative maintenance on ALIS,” she said. (Source: Reuters)
15 Jan 20. A new artificial intelligence contract to keep planes flying. The Pentagon’s Silicon Valley outpost awarded a California-based artificial intelligence company a contract for software that predicts when military aircraft will need repairs — a tool that would make more aircraft available for missions and could potentially save bns of dollars in maintenance costs.
The deal, announced Jan. 15, is between the Defense Innovation Unit and C3.ai, is worth as much as $95m and is expected to run for five years.
In late 2017, just 90 days after first meeting with Department of Defense officials, C3.ai reached a prototype agreement to evaluate and process maintenance records from the E-3 Sentry (AWACS) and to plan for repairs. The deal was later extended for the evaluation to include the C-5 Galaxy and eventually the F-35. That prototype period ended in December. During that period, C3.ai was able to predict about one-third of unscheduled maintenance events to subsystems, Defense Department officials said.
“That was a real test of the application to show that it could scale to really any aircraft, not just in the Air Force, but in the Department of Defense,” said Lt. Col. Travis Burton, a product manager at DIU who worked on the prototype.
Ed Abbo, the president and chief technology officer of C3.ai, said in an interview that the key was that “you can use the same exact software for different aircraft platforms and and achieve remarkable results.”
C3’s leaders point to the $292 bn the Defense Department spends each year on operations and maintenance and noted that even minor improvements could lead to bns of dollars in savings.
“You’re improving the efficiency of the whole operation,” Abbo said. “Everything from ensuring the right parts are available, the right time and the right maintenance capacity is available in the right locations. That’s an enormously complex operations and maintenance endeavor.”
DIU leaders also see potential savings. In the organization’s 2018 annual report, officials wrote that if the Defense Department were to follow the C3.ai prototype “across all aircraft platforms, it could save an estimated $3 bn – $5 bn annually in maintenance expenditures.”
National security experts have said they expect the Pentagon to more widely adopt artificial intelligence for business- or enterprise-level functions before experimenting with greater levels of autonomy on the battlefield. Predictive maintenance has been a frequently mentioned use case for military leaders.
Similarly, DIU has made predictive maintenance one of its top priorities in recent years. Organization leaders have discussed predictive maintenance programs with the Navy and the Army as well, including for the upkeep of ground vehicles.
The Jan. 15 announcement marks the first time DIU’s artificial intelligence and machine learning group has issued a production contract for an other transaction authority. While the deal explicitly covers military aircraft, federal agencies could also submit task orders to use the software to plan maintenance to their aircraft. (Source: Defense News)
14 Jan 20. Majority of F-35 supply chain will be out of Turkey by March. Key Points:
- Most of the DoD’s F-35 supply chain will be out of Turkey by March
- This shows the US is serious about removing Turkey from the F-35 programme because it acquired the Russian S-400
The majority of the Pentagon’s Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) supply chain will be out of Turkey by March as the United States continues to remove Turkey from the programme for buying the Russian S-400 air defence system.
Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defence for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters on 14 January that prime contractor Lockheed Martin and F135 engine supplier Pratt & Whitney have a handful of contracts that will likely carry out to the end of 2020. She did not elaborate on these contracts. Pratt & Whitney deferred comment to the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO), which, along with Lockheed Martin, did not return a request for comment prior to publication.
The Pentagon has not changed its position from August 2019 that Turkey had a limited opportunity to rejoin the F-35 programme – only if it completely divested the S-400.
“Turkey has not decided to make any movement on the S-400,” Lord said at a Defense Writers Group breakfast. “So we continue to transition the work out of Turkey.”
The Pentagon will spend between USD500m and USD600m to shift part of the programme’s supply chain out of Turkey. Nearly 900 aircraft parts, including the centre fuselage and the cockpit display, are produced in Turkey. (Source: Jane’s)
14 Jan 20. Egypt demonstrates aerial refuelling for combat aircraft. Egypt now has the capability to aerial refuel combat aircraft, with an official video released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) showing ‘buddy-buddy’ systems fitted to air force MiG-29M ‘Fulcrum’ fighters.
The video, which was released on 13 January to highlight the capabilities of the Egyptian armed forces, shows a pair of MiG-29Ms equipped with centreline hose-and-drogue units preparing to offload fuel to two Dassault Rafale combat aircraft.
Prior to the release of this footage, it was understood that the Egyptian Air Force (EAF) did not possess any aerial refuelling assets, meaning that the ability of its aircraft to operate beyond the country’s national borders was limited.
While the video showed MiG-29Ms offloading fuel to Rafales, the system would be able to refuel any receiver aircraft fitted with a probe. For the EAF, this comprises the MiG-29M, Rafale C/DM, McDonnell-Douglas F-4E Phantom II, Dassault Mirage 2000EM, and Dassault Mirage 5E2/R/A aircraft types. As noted by Jane’s World Air Forces, the EAF fields 14 MiG-29Ms, 23 Rafale C/DMs, an unknown number of F-4Es (to be replaced by the Rafales), 15 Mirage 2000EMs, and 27 Mirage 5E2/R/As.
The ‘buddy-buddy’ system seen fitted to the MiG-29M in the video is called the PAZ-MK Refuelling Pod. According to its manufacturer, Zvezda-NPP, it was designed to increase the range of carrier-borne MiG-29K/KUB aircraft, as flown by the Russian and Indian navies (the MiG-29M is actually a land-based variant of the MiG-29K/KUB). The pod taps directly into the aircraft’s own fuel supply (which comprises internal and external tanks), offloading fuel to the receiver aircraft via an 18.5 m hose at a rate of up to 750 litres-per-minute. (Source: Jane’s)
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].
To learn more about Oshkosh Defense, please visit us at www.oshkoshdefense.com.