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06 Feb 20. OMFV: The Army’s Polish Bridge Problem. The Army has struggled for decades to fit armored vehicles on airplanes. The real challenge is getting them across rickety Soviet-era bridges in Eastern Europe.
As the Army reboots its program to replace the 1980s-vintage Bradley Fighting Vehicle – its third attempted replacement in two decades – one crucial constraint is a little-appreciated feature of Eastern European infrastructure.
What’s that, you ask? Here’s the backstory. Unsatisfied with both potential vendors’ vehicles, the Army canceled its competition for a new Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle last month and announced it was reassessing its requirements. By all accounts, the problem was not the sophisticated automation for which the program was named. Instead, the dilemma was the age-old tradeoff between armor and mobility.
The immediate problem – there’s a whole other layer we’ll get to in a moment – was strategic mobility by air. The Army wanted the OMFV to weigh about the same as the most heavily armored variants of the Bradley it’s replacing, roughly 45 tons, so the Air Force could carry two of them on a C-17 cargo jet, which would allow rapid deployment to a crisis zone. But industry couldn’t get weight down that low and make the armor protection as strong as the Army wanted for survival in a European war with Russia.
Now that the Army is rebooting the program, can they cut industry some slack on weight? After all, as much as the Army has struggled for decades to develop armored vehicles that fit Air Force C-17s and C-130s, it’s never actually deployed more than a handful by air in any real-world operation, simply because there’s not enough airlift available. As a practical matter, the overwhelming majority of the Army’s heavy equipment arrives by sea, just as it did in World War II. The way to get it there faster is to send it sooner. The Army Prepositioned Stocks program keeps entire combat brigades’ worth of vehicles in warehouses around the world, close to potential conflict zones.
Since ships and APS warehouses don’t have the same weight limits as planes – their limiting factor is often volume, not weight – can’t the Army let the Bradley replacement be as heavy as it needs to be to survive Russian weapons?
Yes, up to a point. Here’s where we get back to the infrastructure. The problem isn’t just fitting on planes. It’s also crossing bridges.
Raytheon’s Naval Strike Missile will play an important role for the U.S. Navy. Learn how the USS Gabrielle Giffords became the first navy littoral combat ship to launch the NSM in an integrated setup.
While the US has spent most of the century so far fighting in deserts, any war with Russia would be fought in Eastern Europe, a vast plain riven by rivers. Many of those rivers, like the Vistula, run north-south, which forces NATO forces to bring reinforcements or to retreat across bridges. And few of them can handle more than 55 tons.
There are historical reasons for this. While Western European infrastructure was often reinforced during the Cold War to handle the weight of 60-plus-ton NATO tanks, Eastern Europe couldn’t afford to build as robustly and, in any case, only had to accommodate much lighter Soviet tanks, like the 45-ton T-72. (Many Soviet vehicles were amphibious anyway, precisely to cross the region’s rivers).
Poland in particular has many rivers and few reinforced bridges It has run afoul of EU regulators for not being able to accommodate heavy vehicles. “The infrastructure in Poland is different than in some other European countries,” warns one guide for truckers. “Many bridges are only suitable for [vehicles] with a maximum weight of 50 or sometimes 60 tonnes [55 to 66 tons US]. If the weight exceeds 60 tonnes each bridge or viaduct has to be assessed to determine whether the transport can pass over it without any problems.”
What does this mean militarily? At more than 60 tons, the M1 Abrams main battle tank and most of its NATO kindred – the British Challenger II, the German Leopard II, even the French Leclerc — are already unsafe for many bridges where the alliance most urgently needs them. Well-armed troop carriers like the M2 Bradley – Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) in military jargon – are under 50 tons, so they can cross many more bridges. That allows the mid-weight IFVs to move into position, dismount their infantry, and at least try to hold the line until the heavy tanks find a way across.
Spending billions to replace the Bradley with a new Infantry Fighting Vehicle that can’t cross most Eastern European bridges would appear to be unwise. And while Army engineers have some capability to build bridges under fire, or even deploy a short (11-meter) Joint Assault Bridge from an armored carrier in minutes, those capabilities are far too limited to cope with even one major Eastern European river.
Crossing bridges isn’t an unusual maneuver. It’s something armored units have to do all the time. In fact, throughout history, if there is only one bridge you can use to reach your objective, it becomes natural chokepoint where the enemy can kill your forces piecemeal as you cross. Such bloodbaths can become the stuff of legend, like the legendary Roman Horatius stopping the Etruscans, or Lee’s Confederates stalling Burnside at Antietam Creek, or the German Wehrmacht bombarding the last bridge at Remagen for 10 days — until it fell into the Rhine — as US troops pushed cross. Those aren’t the kind of battles the Army wants to fight in the future.
04 Feb 20. US Army developing process for using 3D printing at depots and in the field. The U.S. Army has an overarching concept for how it wants to use 3D printing and subtractive manufacturing, but now it must develop a process for using the capabilities across the service from arsenals, depots and plants, and then down to the tactical level, said Gen. Gus Perna, the head of Army Materiel Command.
The Army has dabbled in 3D printing — also known as additive manufacturing — at an expeditionary level with mobile trailers, and it has used 3D printers to produce polymers for critical replacement parts like plastic caps. In subtractive manufacturing, products are typically made by cutting out sections of material using a computer numerical control machine.
But as the technology evolves, the service is working to codify a means to effectively use the capability across the force.
The Army secretary adopted an advanced manufacturing policy in October 2019 that does just that and enhances the supply chain in the field and at maintenance depots, Perna told Defense News in a statement in December.
So a policy is in place to move forward, an executive order is under development to support execution, and the Army purchased equipment and established the Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois. Now the next step it to develop a process, Perna told reporters at a Feb. 4. Defense Writers Group event in Washington.
At this point, the plan is to make Rock Island “the hub” of additive manufacturing capability and then selectively choose capabilities to reside at the 25 other various depots, plants and arsenals, Perna said. The Army has invested roughly $25m in equipment at the hub. According to Perna, that has filled roughly a quarter of a warehouse at Rock Island, which he’d like to see reach capacity.
The service has delivered capability to the remaining depots, arsenals and plants, but “we’ve got ink spots here, we are not there yet. We are working on that,” Perna said.
The Army will also deliver these capabilities to divisions. While all divisions are currently authorized to buy additive manufacturing equipment, only a few are actually trying out 3D printing at the tactical level. The 25th Infantry Division in the Pacific and the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea are each conducting limited testing on a specific capability. Perna expects the Army will learn from the results.
Bringing the capability into the field is challenging because what goes into a tactical environment has to be able to move quickly and there has to be a decent power source for everything to work, according to Perna.
“I can’t just put a plethora of machines out there,” he said. “I have to get the right machines. So I want machines out there that can fix what we call readiness drivers. Things that break down a lot so that they can be done forward.”
He added that he is pacing the process because he doesn’t want to send capability worth millions of dollars into the field to make things like “door handles or replica coins or ash trays. I want to lead us through this.”
In addition to that challenge, Perna said, the one missing piece to the puzzle is creating a digital thread to connect the home base to the depots, arsenals and plants, then down to the divisions, so that no matter where a war fighter is sitting, that individual can pull up approved 3D drawings and print.
While not naming a specific university, Perna said the Army is working with one that it believes has the answer to that need.
While Perna’s timeline for developing processes and procedures related to additive manufacturing is roughly three years, he cautioned that the speed of execution “will be manifested by my ability to bring in this system that allows me to have all the drawings and then allows me to connect the user to the drawings both for execution of making a piece, but also financially. I’m not just going to make parts.”
The four-star general also stressed that this effort is not meant to take over supply chains from industry. “I don’t want to take it over. I don’t want to replicate it. I want to be able to influence and react to the readiness drivers that are needed on the battlefield in a timely manner,” he said, “so if a ship goes down or something, I want to be able to replicate that capability and make the requirement occur.”
With that, Perna stressed, “I need to have government purpose rights to repair parts.”
The days are over when industry can say it owns every piece of intellectual property, he said. “I just need the rights to produce the capabilities for the equipment that we bought. It’s for the execution of replacing these readiness drivers, not replacing the supply chain.” (Source: Defense News)
29 Jan 20. Newport News Shipbuilding workers help accelerate Ford work while at sea. Workers from the Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding unit who are embarked this month on aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) during at-sea flight tests are helping accelerate the timetable for work aboard the ship during its concurrent post-delivery trials, said Rear Admiral James Downey, US Navy (USN) programme executive officer for carriers.
“We’re getting more work during this period than planned,” Rear Adm Downey said on 22 January during a briefing aboard Ford as the ship conducted Aircraft Compatibility Testing (ACT) in the Atlantic Ocean off the US East Coast.
“We’re pulling some work to the left,” he said.
The ship is in the third month of its 18-month post-delivery trials, lasting from November 2019 through April 2021. During that time, the ship will be under way for about 220 days, conducting thousands of launches and recoveries.
As the ship conducted ACT, Rear Adm noted, about 200 Newport News Shipbuilding workers were on board Ford. “About two-thirds of them are working directly on the [Advanced Weapons] Elevators [AWEs].”
About two times that number, he said, will be on board the ship to work when it returns to shore and docks pierside.
He said the onboard Ford yard workforce has been working “seven days a week”, even during the recent holidays, to resolve elevator issues, as well as finish and test other systems.
The USN is also testing upgrades for Ford’s propulsion plant, Advanced Arresting Gear and Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, Rear Adm Downey said.
The work on Ford’s AWEs likely could have been done more quickly if the USN had opted to keep the vessel in a shipyard, he explained, but the service had to go to sea to test its propulsion plant and upgrades on other systems, as well as to conduct its ACT. (Source: Jane’s)
01 Feb 20. US Army seeks robots to supply its big guns with ammunition. Before a howitzer can fire a shell, a series of humans have to put it in place. For all the advancements made from early cannons to modern artillery, it is still humans that do the transportation, lifting, loading, and launching of the explosives. The Army is looking to automate more of this process. Through the Field Artillery Autonomous Resupply (FAAR) cohort, the Army is looking to change how resupply happens from the Battalion Supply Area forward to the artillery crew. This process leaves intact existing supply chains that develop and make the munitions, instead focusing just on how those munitions can get from their in-country warehouse to where they’re most immediately needed.
“The way artillery is resupplied has not changed much in the last 40 years,” said Chris Isch, an artillery officer working in long range precision fires. “This is a physically demanding task and can be time consuming. What’s more, all along the way, Soldiers must maintain paper inventory sheets to track the number and types of rounds. “
From the battalion supply area, ammunition is brought in pallets on the back of a specialized flatbed truck, where the flatbed is removable. Working from the detached flatbed, soldiers take the ammunition out of its packaging and load it into the dedicated transport, a M992A3 Carrier Ammunition Tracked (CAT). The CAT drives to where the artillery is set up, and then soldiers individually lift all 40 or so artillery projectiles from the CAT into the artillery piece, specifically a M109A7 Self Propelled Howitzer, alongside the relevant charges and fuses.
Those projectiles weigh 97 lbs. apiece. Militaries have explored powered exoskeletons for soldiers as one way to make that load a little more manageable for humans. Another way is to simply have robots do that.
“This entire process is both manual and labor intensive, so we are exploring ways to optimize and automate it,” said Isch.
The FAAR cohort is looking to multiple contractors to provide a range of technological solutions for handling the various steps in the artillery resupply process. Neya Systems, a division of Applied Research Associates, has experience in off-road autonomy, and in January 2019 was announced a contractor on the project. Their contribution will focus largely on getting the CAT from the palette to the guns.
“The fact that explosives will be transported is not necessarily relevant to our technology or the solutions we can offer as part of the cohort,” said Tamir Klaff of Neya Systems. “We have several different technologies that are applicable to the Field Artillery Ammunition Resupply problem, including the ability to travel between off-road locations without any prior map or knowledge of the terrain or vegetation between those locations.”
Before any vehicles can autonomous transport explosives, and before robots can autonomous load artillery rounds and propellant and fuses into self-propelled howitzers, the Army will review the design briefs, and see how to proceed.
“On April 1, the six companies will present their Concept Design Briefs to the Long Range Precision Fires Cross Functional Team,” said Porter Orr, director of product innovation at the Army Applications Laboratory. “From there, [that team] has the option to develop requirements that could be competed to build a proof of technology demonstrator with the option for future development and production.”
If the concepts match what the army needs, then it can figure out the next steps of automating its FAAR-reaching fires. No fooling around.(Source: C4ISR & Networks)
01 Feb 20. Government awards contract for upgrade to Cocos (Keeling) Island infrastructure. Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has announced a $184m contract that will see the upgrade and refurbishment of the runway at the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
The Cocos (Keeling) Islands will soon benefit from an upgrade and refurbishment of the airport’s runway, which is the main access and delivery point for supplies and visitors to the islands.
Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price announced that Fulton Hogan would shortly commence design and development of the $184m project.
“The project will provide benefits to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands economy by prioritising local suppliers and creating employment opportunities throughout the works,” Minister Price said.
“The project will strengthen and widen the existing runway and hardstands, and provide a new Aeronautical Ground Lighting to support the P-8A Poseidon Maritime Surveillance and Response aircraft, and other aircraft operations.
“P-8A Poseidon capability will enhance Australia’s maritime domain awareness of the Indian Ocean region and Southern Asia, and enhance operational access to the region,” Minister Price added.
Today, strategic sea lines of communication (SLOC) support over 90 per cent of global trade, a result of the cost-effective and reliable nature of sea transport.
Indo-Pacific Asia is at the epicentre of the global maritime trade, with about US$5trn worth of trade flowing through the South China Sea and the strategic waterways and choke points of south-east Asia annually.
The Indian Ocean and its critical global SLOC are responsible for more than 80 per cent of the world’s seaborne trade in critical energy supplies, namely, oil and natural gas, which serve as the lifeblood of any advanced economy.
Australia is not immune to these geopolitical and strategic factors and, as an island nation heavily dependent on sea transport – with 98 per cent of the nation’s exports, a substantial amount of its strategic imports, namely, liquid fuel, and a substantial proportion of the nation’s domestic freight depending on the ocean – it is a necessity to understand and adapt and introduce a focus on maritime power projection and sea control.
The unique geographic realities in Indo-Pacific Asia range from vast swathes of deep, open ocean to Australia’s west, to relatively shallow, congested and narrow archipelagic-bound choke points, including the Straits of Malacca, Lombok Strait and into the South China Sea.
Australia’s own Cocos (Keeling) Islands have long been identified as a key strategic force multiplier for both Australian and allied use.
As recently as 2017, the joint standing committee on the national capital and external territories sought to identify the strategic opportunities for developing and enhancing the strategic importance and capabilities of the islands to support increased Australian engagement in the Indo-Pacific.
The islands have also become increasingly important to Australia’s allies, mainly the US as it has sought to “pivot” towards Asia in response to increasing Chinese assertiveness.
The Obama administration’s “Asia Pivot” outlined in 2012 kicked off growing speculation about the future of the islands, with The Washington Post identifying the strategic importance of the islands to the US and Australia, which ABC journalist Samantha Hawley explained during an interview with then defence minister Stephen Smith:
“It might be down the track, but it’s undeniable that the US is eyeing off the Cocos Islands as a base to launch drones and manned US surveillance aircraft.
“The Washington Post newspaper has catapulted the prospect back into the headlines. The report states aircraft based in the Cocos Islands would be well positioned to launch spy flights over the South China Sea and would be considered as a replacement for the American Diego Garcia air base.”
Under the Morrison government’s Defence Policy for Industry Participation, the project will maximise opportunities for Australian industry to supply goods and services for the Commonwealth works.
Subject to government and parliamentary approval, construction is expected to commence in mid-2021 and be completed by mid-2023. (Source: Defence Connect)
03 Feb 20. RUAG Australia delivers RAAF Super Hornet component repairs. RUAG Australia has completed component repairs on the RAAF F-18F Super Hornet’s auxiliary power unit, while the company’s Hydraulic Centre of Excellence at Bayswater and Amberley carried out hydraulic component repairs on MLG brake assemblies and hydraulic swivel joints.
RUAG Australia fulfilled the repairs to the F-18 F Super Hornet, achieving high-quality standards and short lead times, using current capabilities.
The aircraft life cycle support provider’s maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) teams throughout its Australian facilities have gained technical expertise from their comprehensive work on the F-18 A/B Hornet.
The knowledge and skills acquired have enabled RUAG to carry out the Super Hornet repairs reliably and accurately, thus enabling the RAAF to benefit from sustainable aircraft availability.
These repairs have all led to the return to service of the F-18F Super Hornet in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Terry Miles, general manager, RUAG Australia, said, “Our extensive work on the Hydraulic, APU and Undercarriage Systems of a variety of RAAF platforms including the F-18 A/B Hornet, C-130 Hercules, E-7A Wedgetail, C-27J Spartan, AP3C Orion and the C-17A Globemaster III has made our MRO teams indispensable.
“We are proud that the RAAF has entrusted us to add component repair for one of their premier combat jets, the F-18F Super Hornet, to our portfolio of aircraft for in-country MRO,” Miles said.
Stephan Jezler, senior vice president aviation international, RUAG MRO International, added, “The unique capabilities at the RUAG Australia Hydraulic Centre of Excellence prove a significant contribution and ensure our solutions continue to meet the demands of the RAAF and their aircraft well into the future. We are very proud to contribute to a high fleet availability of the RAAF.”
RUAG MRO International is an independent supplier, support provider and integrator of systems and components for civil and military aviation worldwide. It also develops and supports simulation and training systems and solutions for international trained security forces.
Highly specialised in the support of aircraft and helicopters throughout their entire life cycle, the company includes maintenance, repair and overhaul services, upgrades, and the development, manufacture and integration of subsystems and components in their service portfolio.
In addition, as the manufacturer (OEM) of the Dornier 228, a versatile aircraft for special missions as well as passenger and cargo operations, RUAG focuses on customer support solutions, including OEM services.
Moreover, RUAG MRO International is a developer, OEM and system support provider for simulation and training systems technology for live, virtual and constructive training. Complex and flexible functions, and a holistic approach, support realistic training scenarios, adapted to mission goals at individual, team and unit instruction levels. (Source: Defence Connect)
31 Jan 20. US Army contracts S.A.F.E for fall protection platforms for Chinooks. The US Army has awarded a contract to S.A.F.E. Structure Designs for the delivery of fall protection platforms. Platforms are set to be customised for use on Boeing Chinook CH-46 and CH-47 aircraft.
The S.A.F.E. fall protection equipment increases the efficiency and mitigates associated risks during the aircraft’s maintenance process.
Maintenance of the Chinooks is currently carried out at facilities in Fort Hood, Fort Bliss, Fort Riley and Fort Bragg.
S.A.F.E. CEO Johnny Buscema said: “This is a more stable option than using ladders or climbing on the aircraft. I listened to the mechanics to describe their procedures and watched them perform maintenance. Only then could I provide the best solutions for safety, functionality and efficiency.”
Ladders designed for S.A.F.E. are customised and allow mechanics to repair and maintain the Chinook aircraft, eliminating all risks of falling.
Fitted with anti-fatigue mats, the equipment protects the mechanic’s knees and back.
Additionally, accessories for storage of tools and waste, and prevention of foreign object debris (FOD) damage are to be made available.
The stands are mobile enough to be comfortably used for pre-flight inspection of the entire aircraft.
The provision of personalised hanger equipment that includes a driveline rack shaft will be also available. The 11 shafts will be supplied in accessible mounts and a cowling rack would securely store all the panels of the aircraft.
Furthermore, an adjustable fuel tank lift will be delivered that will not hinder movement for any maintenance procedure.
In December last year, Boeing was awarded a contract extension for the production and supply of CH-47F Chinook support by the Australian Army. (Source: army-technology.com)
31 Jan 20. US Navy believes continued operations will overcome DOTE-flagged Ford reliability issues. The Pentagon’s latest Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOTE) annual report questioned the reliability of key vessel systems aboard the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78), currently continuing aircraft compatibility testing in the Atlantic Ocean.
The report, released on 30 January, cited reliability issues with Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch Systems (EMALS), Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), Dual-Band Radar (DBR), and Advanced Weapons Elevators (AWEs). The report, however, based some concerns on previous testing aboard the ship and the current testing being conducted now was not included. During a 22 January briefing aboard Ford, Rear Admiral James Downey, US Navy programme executive officer for carriers, said critical ship systems had started to perform more reliably and noted it was too early to truly gauge the reliability of the systems in question. (Source: Jane’s)
31 Jan 20. Australian sailors on HMAS Parramatta use 3D printing for repairs. The Royal Australian Navy sailors on board HMAS Parramatta have used 3D printing to support the fleet when deployed, using the new technology to replace key components.
The Innovation Unit of HMAS Parramatta demonstrated its capability during the recent East Asia Deployment of the ship using 3D printing.
Royal Australian Navy sailor Petty Officer Electronics Technician Nathan Little said that significant innovations have already improved capability onboard HMAS Parramatta.
Little said: “Our 3D printing workshop was very successful during our deployment, producing three practical and real-world solutions and returning capability back to our command.
“We worked closely with other areas of the ship to identify issues and find real-world solutions. We were able to replicate faulty parts and return full functionality, which is a great success for the team.”
Innovation Unit’s ideas can become the new standards and can be used across platforms in the future.
Leading Seaman Electronic Technician Duncan O’Brien, who was awarded a Commanding Officer’s Commendation for his initiative in developing his skillset, said: “What’s even better is that my new skills now directly benefit my ship and the whole team on board.
“I am looking forward to creating more positive impact and results.”
Last October, the Royal Australian Navy announced the deployment of the Anzac-class frigate HMAS Parramatta to support the international coalition in the enforcement of sanctions against North Korea. HMAS Parramatta will be part of a broader East Asian deployment to ensure regional security and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
31 Jan 20. DOT&E unsure if new approaches will fix F-35’s ALIS issues. A Pentagon watchdog is skeptical that the Pentagon’s F-35 Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) placement, the Operational Data Integrated Network (ODIN), will be successful unless it is resourced properly. Source: US Air Force
- The Pentagon’s top weapons tester is not sold that new approaches to the F-35’s ALIS will fix the system
- These include replacing ALIS with a government-owned and -managed system called ODIN
It is unclear whether the Pentagon’s new approaches to fixing the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter’s (JSF’s) troubled Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) will sufficiently improve the system or if more resources are needed, the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester said in his latest report.
These new approaches are the Operational Data Integrated Network (ODIN), which is replacing ALIS, and the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) Mad Hatter, which is part of the service’s Kessel Run effort to improve software development and turn the USAF into a more software-focused organisation.
Robert Behler, director of operational test and evaluation (DOT&E), said in his fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019) report released on 30 January that the F-35 programme released several new versions of ALIS in 2019 that improved the system’s usability. Unfortunately, these improvements did not eliminate the major problems in ALIS design and implementation and are unlikely to significantly reduce technical debt or improve the user experience. DOT&E said ALIS remains inefficient and cumbersome to use, still requires the use of numerous workarounds, retains problems with data accuracy and integrity, and requires excessive time from support personnel.
As a result, ALIS does not efficiently enable sortie generation and aircraft availability as intended. Users continue to lack confidence in ALIS functionality and stability. DOT&E suggests the programme expedite fixes to the electronic equipment logbook data because it is a major ALIS degrader, frequent source of user complaints, and is a big ALIS administrator burden. (Source: Jane’s)
03 Feb 20. Austal signs agreement with US Navy to bid for ship support services. Austal’s Australian service centres are approved to bid for support services, including ship repairs and maintenance for the LCS and EPF operated by the US Navy. Credit: US Navy. Australian shipbuilding company Austal has signed an Agreement for Boat Repair (ABR) with the US Navy to bid for and provide various support services. With the new agreement in place, the company’s Australian shipyards and service centres will now bid for and provide services, including ship repairs, maintenance and sustainment activity for the US Navy and Military Sealift Command (MSC) ships.
The Australian operations may now bid to provide emergent repair services to deployed naval ships, including the Independence-class Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) designed and constructed by Austal.
Austal will also be able to bid for the maintenance and repair of MSC ships deployed to the region. This will include the Spearhead-class Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessels, which are also constructed by the company.
Austal chief executive David Singleton said: “With this approval, Austal can provide a range of vessel repairs, maintenance and in-service support to US Navy and MSC ships operating throughout South East Asia.
“As the designer and builder, no-one knows the Independence-class LCS or Spearhead-class EPF better than us, and we’re naturally very pleased and proud to now have the opportunity to provide local support for these vessels to the US Navy as opportunities arise.”
The approval allows Austal to bid for work on naval vessels that may visit Australia, including Cairns in Queensland, Darwin in the Northern Territory, or Fremantle (Henderson) in Western Australia.
Since 2010, the company has delivered ten Independence-class LCS to the navy. It continues to construct six vessels at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Alabama.
Last December, Austal USA officially delivered the newest expeditionary fast transport (EPF) ship USNS Puerto Rico (T-EPF 11) to the US Navy. (Source: naval-technology.com)
03 Feb 20. Phoenix wins US Army contract for neutron radiography technology. The US Army has awarded nuclear technology company Phoenix to continue its neutron radiography (N-ray) technology development. Under the $10m indefinite-quantity, indefinite-delivery (IDIQ) contract, the company will work towards demonstrating N-ray and X-ray techniques for munitions inspection.
These techniques will help maintain and ensure the quality of ammunition, armaments, or components of weapons and defence systems. The contract will also involve the development of software packages for easy identification of defects and to assess the quality of integral parts. Additionally, Phoenix will conduct training programmes to introduce and accustom army personnel with the practical applications of the technology.
Standards for the radiography will be developed by working closely with experts of the subject and American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM).
Phoenix president Evan Sengbusch said: “With the increasing complexity of future defence systems, a variety of inspection tools will be needed to continue to meet the challenge of providing safe and effective assets for the warfighter, and Phoenix’s transition from the SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) contract to this new contract vehicle represents an important stepping stone in the technology development roadmap.
“This IDIQ contract gives us the ability to work on advanced non-destructive testing (NDT) projects across the Department of Defense, opening the door for advancements in quality assurance, research and development, and failure analysis.”
N-ray is an NDT technique that detects flaws in missile payloads, ejection mechanisms and other critical components without the need to dismantle the product.
This provides unique information to the personnel and saves a significant amount of time and resources.
Senator Tammy Baldwin and Congressman Mark Pocan have helped secure the federal funding for this contract.
Baldwin said: “I’m proud to have helped secure additional federal funding to continue the army’s investment in neutron radiography technology.
“This new contract highlights Phoenix as a global leader in neutron generation and applications, and I’m pleased to support their continued partnership with the army, which leverages and grows our skilled STEM workforce in Wisconsin while supporting American service members.” (Source: army-technology.com)
04 Feb 20. US Army Adding New Arms Stockpile In Europe: Gen. Perna. To deter Russia and China, the Army is building new prepositioned equipment sets for Europe and studying new stockpiles for the Pacific. Across Europe, supply officers are already breaking open Army Prepositioned Stocks — everything from M1 tanks to medical supplies — for Defender 2020, the largest NATO wargame in two decades. Back in the US, meanwhile, the four-star chief of Army Materiel Command is building an additional APS set for Europe and preparing to build more for Asia to aid in future great power combat.
“As of right now, I am actually building an additional set,” Gen. Gus Perna told reporters at the Defense Writers’ Group this morning. Whether it will go to one of the existing APS sites in Europe or a new one, he said, is up to the chief of the joint European Command, Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, and US Army Europe chief, Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli. “In fact,” Perna said, “I head over to visit with Gen. Cavoli in a couple of weeks.”
Meanwhile, Perna said, “we’re already working on ways to expand APS out in the Pacific.” The new commander of US Army Pacific, Gen. Paul LaCamera, and the joint Indo-Pacific Command, chief Adm. Philip Davidson, are looking at adding Army Prepositioned Stocks in Asia beyond those already supporting US forces in South Korea. Once their survey is done, Perna said, “they’ll come back and brief courses of action to the Secretary and Chief.”
As the US struggles to refocus from the Middle East to China, it has to prepare to fight a high-tech great power at the end of a 6,000-mile supply line, something it hasn’t had to do since World War II. “Not since then has it really been executed at that scale,” Perna said. “APS is a way to get ahead of that.”
The reason for APS is that armored vehicles, artillery shells, and other essentials are too heavy to deliver in bulk by aircraft, but sending them by ship – which can take weeks or months – is often too slow in a crisis. Instead, you can just fly in the troops and have them equip themselves from stockpiles already prepositioned (hence the name) in a potential war zone.
Those stockpiles have to be carefully maintained, updated with new technology as necessary, and used in frequent exercises so troops learn how to equip themselves ASAP in a crisis. “It’s not just [put it in] a warehouse and high-five ourselves,” Perna said. “It’s get it there, make sure it’s ready for combat, and then exercise it and demonstrate that we can maneuver it around the Pacific.”
In Asia, Europe, and the Middle East – where 82nd Airborne troops drew on prepositioned stocks after urgently deploying to shore up defenses against Iran – APS is not just a practical precaution but a strategic deterrent, Perna argued: “We want to show our enemies [that] we’re not going to sit around and wait for you to start, we’re going to be ready.”
The stockpiles overseas are just one link in a much larger chain required for rapid deployment to a crisis, much of it Perna’s responsibility. In fact, while his Army Materiel Command has given up its R&D labs to the newly created Futures Command, ceding its role in developing new equipment, it has taken on a larger role in sustaining the current force. AMC now incorporates previously independent organizations for medical equipment & supplies, finances, and installation management.
“We didn’t wake up one day and say they needed to move,” Perna said. “These were well-thought-out courses of action to take capability and put it under a [single] commander… able to execute Multi-Domain Operations.” MDO is the rapidly evolving inter-service concept for future long-range conflicts over land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace.
In particular, Perna’s new responsibility to improve aging infrastructure at Army bases, railheads, and port facilities means he’s basically building the US launchpad for future operations overseas. As the Army’s lead for what MDO calls the strategic support area, Perna must also protect that infrastructure from cyber attack, physical sabotage, and disinformation – all of which an adversary might employ long before the outbreak of open war.
“Cyber is a clearly a weapon that’s going to be used against us,” among others, Perna said. “They’re looking for our vulnerabilities… trying to keep us from even leaving the United States.”
Defender 2020 is the biggest deployment wargame yet. But the Army has been working hard since 2016 to relearn rapid-deployment skills that atrophied over a generation of routinized, predictable (albeit grueling) rotations to Afghanistan and Iraq. “When was the last time we deployed to war?” Perna said. “2003 was the last time we emptied barracks and motor pools, got on trains and planes and ships, and showed up” in a new war zone.
More troubling still, in 2003, the Iraqis had virtually zero ability to sabotage US infrastructure, shoot down transport planes, or sink cargo ships: They had to sit and wait for America to launch the war at the time of its own choosing. A Russia or China won’t be so limited.
“We may or may not have the freedom of maneuver,” Perna warned, “the luxury that we had when we went into Iraq in 2003 and Afghanistan in 2001.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
About Hobson Industries
Hobson Industries is a private company established in 1987 by Peter Hobson, after serving as a Charge Chief Weapons Engineering Artificer in the Royal Navy. Hobson Industries is an innovative and highly technical engineering business operating to the requirements of ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System which is complimented with our ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management System.
Across the markets we serve in, the UK and globally, we establish close relationships with the people that trust and depend on us. We specialise in the through life support management and development of Land Rover heritage military and civilian platforms – in effect, the Land Rover need never die!
Hobson Industries offer four core services that we specialise in:
We offer Land Rover vehicle builds to original specification or complete with modifications and upgrades at the customers request. All work is done in house using our bountiful facilities. In addition to vehicle refurbishment, reconditioning and homologation across all Land Rover models.
Powertrain and Transmission Units:
We offer new and reconditioned units, perfect for your Land Rover. All built using Land Rover tolerances and specifications. All for sale on our website. Additionally, we offer reconditioning services to your own units.
With over 16,000 part lines in stock, and the Asset Management programme pioneered by the company, we are able to provide a cost effective range of parts which may no longer be available. Additionally, we are offering Hobson Original branded parts to drawings for obsolete parts to help provide Land Rover owners the parts to keep them on the road. Our parts strategy ensures that all re-cycled, asset managed and reconditioned parts and units meet original equipment standards and specifications to ensure your safety while driving on or off road.
Amour – Design and Fabrication and Blast Protection
We offer armouring in steel, composite and ceramic of new and refurbished vehicles and fleets.