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LOGISTICS AND THROUGH LIFE UPDATE

Sponsored by Hobson Industries

www.hobsonindustries.co.uk

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13 Feb 20. Australia launches Deployable Force Infrastructure project. The Australian government has launched its Deployable Force Infrastructure project, LAND 8140, the Department of Defence announced on 13 February. The project will fund investment in capabilities for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to rapidly and independently support a range of operations, including humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, peacekeeping and warfighting.

In total project will invest $500m in these capabilities, with the first $150m in funding to modernise deployable sanitation, catering, water management and treatment, shelters and power generation.

Linda Reynolds, Minister for Defence, said the funding will provide responsive, scalable and adaptable deployable infrastructure to meet evolving operational needs.

‘While this modernised capability will be used on missions overseas, it will also enhance support the ADF provides for humanitarian assistance and responding to natural disasters, including bushfire emergencies in Australia,’ Reynolds said. Tenders are due to be released between February and March 2020. (Source: Shephard)

13 Feb 20. DynCorp wins aircraft task order from US Naval division. DynCorp International has secured its second task order from the US Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division to provide services for T-34, T-44 and T-6 aircraft. The new task order on the Contracted Maintenance, Modification, Aircrew and Related Services (CMMARS) indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract is a follow-on to the earlier one held by the company in October 2014 to provide maintenance support for T-34, T-44 and T-6 training aircraft.

Set to begin in April this year, the contract has a one-year base period and six option periods. It has a total value of $1.7bn if all options are exercised, including the extension of service.

The contract is expected to conclude in September 2026.

DynAviation president Joe Ford said: “The 34/44/6 is the cornerstone of naval flight training. We are thrilled to be able to continue our service to the US Navy on this critical programme. We look forward to a continued strong relationship with our customer.”

Under the latest task order, team members of DynCorp will provide organisational, intermediate, depot-level maintenance, and logistics services for T-34, T-44 and T-6 aircraft. (Source: naval-technology.com)

12 Feb 20. The USAF is massively scaling back a major upgrade for the B-2 stealth bomber. After years of delays and technical issues, the Air Force is restructuring a key B-2 modernization program, transforming it from a suite of technologies meant to help the bomber evade Russia and China into a less ambitious cockpit display upgrade.

In the Air Force’s fiscal year 2021 budget request, the service zeroes out the Defensive Management System Modernization program, or DMS-M, over the next five years. Instead, it intends to put about $155m toward a cockpit upgrade that will include a more advanced graphics processor and modernized displays.

“Delays in the acquisition of B-2 DMS-M reduced return on investment,” the Air Force explained in budget documents. “In response to this shifting timeline, the Air Force realigns funding to address reliability and sustainment of the B-2 cockpit display system until end-of-life, while developing new capabilities aligned to the National Defense Strategy.

According to the budget, restructuring the DMS-M program will save the Air Force about $327.9m in fiscal 2021. However, it comes at a cost to the aircraft’s future survivability, omitting new antennas and avionics that help detect and identify ground-based air defense systems and other threats.

Last October, Bloomberg reported the DMS-M program was three years behind schedule, and that it would take until at least September 2024 to upgrade eight of the 20 operational B-2s. As of August, one B-2 had received the DMS-M modifications, said Richard Sullivan, B-2 program manager for prime contractor Northrop Grumman, during a 2019 briefing.

The Air Force has opted to invest in the advanced processor because the current system lacks the power to provide situational awareness to B-2 crews, making them more vulnerable in environments with dense surface-to-air threat. Further, the cockpit display upgrades are also necessary because legacy display units are “not supportable” due to ongoing parts obsolescence and maintenance problems, the budget read.

“Without this program, display availability will severely impact aircraft availability”—a major challenge for the B-2 fleet, one of the Air Force’s smallest at only 20 planes.

DMS-M is just one of the upgrades planned to keep the B-2 in the run up to the fielding of the Air Force’s newest bomber, the B-21 Raider. The Raider is expected to fly as early as December 2021, with initial operational capability planned in the mid-2030s.

“The Air Force continues to execute over $1.3bn in B-2 modernization efforts including armament upgrades, communications upgrades, and low-observable signature and supportability modifications to address obsolescence,” Air Force spokesman Capt. Clay Lancaster said in a statement to Defense News. (Source: Defense News)

12 Feb 20. Airbus and Singapore collaborate on A330 SMART MRTT development. Airbus and Singapore have agreed to collaborate on the development of the A330 SMART Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) for the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF). The SMART MRTT programme will develop, certify and implement Automatic Air-to-Air refuelling (A3R) capability as well as enhanced maintenance solutions for the A330 MRTT.

With this collaboration Singapore becomes a key partner for the new automated aerial refueling capabilities. Under the agreement, a RSAF A330 MRTT will take part in the ongoing development, flight test campaign and final certification programme. The flight test campaign, which has already started, is aiming for certification in 2021.

While development of SMART MRTT capabilities further strengthens Airbus’ leading position and technological edge in the tanker market, the enhanced maintenance solution is designed to improve A330 MRTT’s availability and overall mission success rate.

Airbus Head of Military Aircraft, Alberto Gutiérrez said: “With this agreement, the Singapore Air Force leads the evolution of the A330 MRTT, helping us to bring new hands-off capabilities to the benchmark of next-gen tanker operations”.

Towards a full autonomous operation

The A3R system requires no additional equipment on the receiver and is intended to reduce air refuelling operator (ARO) workload, improve safety and optimise the rate of air-to-air refuelling (AAR) transfer in operational conditions to maximise aerial superiority.

Once the A3R system is activated by the ARO, the Boom Flight Control System becomes fully automated and progresses to transfer fuel upon contact with the receiver. During this process, the ARO simply monitors the operation. In the event of an anomaly due to receiver stability deviations or malfunctions on the tanker, the A3R system is able to disconnect and/or clear the Boom away from the receiver safely.

On the receiver end, pilots closing in to the tanker take visual cues from the automated Pilot Director Lights (PDL). This feature allows for more efficient operations, with smoother transitions and minimises time during the coupled state. The A3R development paves the way towards a fully autonomous aerial refuelling operation.

Two years since the world’s first automated contact

In July 2018 Airbus demonstrated that A3R was feasible as a product after the achievement of the world’s first automated contact with a Boom system. In a joint operation with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), the company’s A310 development tanker performed seven automated contacts with a RAAF KC-30A MRTT, also made by Airbus.

Enhanced maintenance

Enhanced maintenance equipment will allow ground crews to detect and troubleshoot directly from the aircraft’s cockpit the root cause of a failure. This new upgrade enables faster resolution of ground tasks while providing the means for maximising the efficient use of spare parts.

12 Feb 20. Cascade and TAI partner for RTAF C-130H enhancement programme. IMP Aerospace & Defence unit Cascade Aerospace and Thai Aviation Industries (TAI) have partnered to support the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) C-130H Hercules aircraft enhancement programme.

Under the programme, Cascade will perform a rainbow fitting replacement on the aircraft. The partnership will involve knowledge transfer to TAI.

The partnership agreement has been signed by TAI managing director Siripol Sirisabya and Cascade EVP and COO Kevin Lemke.

This will help TAI boost its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) capabilities. Replacement work will commence in April in Thailand and is expected to be completed by February 2022. Work under the contract will be completed in Thailand jointly by Cascade technicians and TAI representatives. The first C-130H aircraft rainbow fitting replacement will be carried out only by Cascade technicians with TAI technicians observing the whole process. (Source: airforce-technology.com)

11 Feb 20. Pentagon Budget 2021: US Navy requests slight increase for ship maintenance. The US Navy (USN) has requested about USD11.2bn for fiscal year (FY) 2021 for navy ship maintenance for active forces, compared with about USD11bn requested in FY 2020, according to USN budget documents released on 10 February.

The FY 2021 request funds about 98% of those maintenance needs. The FY 2020 request funded 100%.

The FY 2021 request for all ship maintenance, including overseas contingency operations, is about USD13.5bn, compared with USD13.11bn for FY 2020.

“Ship maintenance continues to be a focus area for the navy, and we are committed to better predictability and maintenance of our ships,” the USN said in the budget documents.  (Source: Jane’s)

12 Feb 20. Navy confirms Anzac Midlife Capability Assurance Program on track. Director General of Major Surface Ships Commodore Rob Elliott recently paid a visit to HMAS Anzac to check on the progress of the latest Anzac Class frigate to undergo its Anzac Midlife Capability Assurance Program (AMCAP) at Henderson Shipyard, Western Australia.

Accompanied by the Anzac Ship’s Program Office Director, Gary Watson, and the Alliance General Manager, Russell Parker, CDRE Elliott toured the upgraded communications centre, operations room and galley.

As part of the visit, CDRE Elliott was given an in-depth insight into the upgraded capabilities provided by the SEA1442 Phase 4 project (Maritime Communications Modernisation) and SEA1448 Phase 4B (Anzac Air Search Radar Replacement) project.

Anzac Weapons Electrical Engineering Officer Lieutenant Commander Chris Bobridge said the visit provided an excellent opportunity for CDRE Elliott to gauge the progress of the ship’s AMCAP.

“It was a privilege to show CDRE Elliott the upgrades taking place onboard Anzac. It also gave the command team the opportunity to discuss our current working arrangements and the efficiency of the Warship Asset Management Agreement (WAMA),” LCDR Bobridge explained.

The aim of AMCAP is to upgrade and update the capability of the Anzac Class frigates to maintain relevance, and to ensure the class remains effective until the introduction of the Hunter Class frigates.

There are three major elements of the upgrade, that is, a new communications suite, the new air search radar and the platform systems remediation (PSR).

The PSR will see the upgrade of systems such as the propulsion control, fridges, waste management and water production.

The AMCAP upgrade is a WAMA project, which is a four-way alliance between the Commonwealth’s Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, Saab Australia, BAE Systems and Naval Ship Management Australia.

The WAMA partnership was launched in 2016 to support the Anzacs and includes BAE Systems Australia, Saab Australia, Naval Ship Management and the Commonwealth of Australia. It’s worth more than $2bn over eight years.

The Henderson-based Australian Marine Complex (AMC) is integral to Australia’s frontline defence and is an important asset in maintaining the Royal Australian Navy fleet. The Common User Facility (CUF) has facilitated major works and repair programs for RAN’s Collins Class submarines, Anzac frigates and supply tankers.

The AMC-CUF is home to the world’s most technically advanced floating dock, which can lift vessels of up to 12,000 tonnes out of the water for service. Its four wharves can accommodate vessels of up to 300 metres in length and provide adequate berthing space for major works, including ship conversions, refits and repairs.

The AMC-CUF is also home to ASC West, which provides a purpose-built submarine repair facility and the WA headquarters of ASC, an Australian-owned prime defence contractor and builder of the Collins Class submarine and Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyer.

ASC’s through-life support contract will see the Collins Class submarines maintained at the CUF over the next 25 years. Warfare systems developer Raytheon Australia and other defence contractors, including BAE Systems, also reside within the AMC’s precincts. (Source: Defence Connect)

11 Feb 20. PACAF commander says tankers are ‘key,’ even as the Pentagon trims them from the 2021 budget. The head of the Pacific Air Forces pointed to a need for tankers and airlifters distributed around the region to respond to crises, hours before the Pentagon announced it would cut legacy tankers in its latest budget.

Speaking to reporters at a media roundtable on the eve of the Singapore Airshow, Gen. Charles Brown, Jr. said tankers and airlifters available to PACAF was a “key aspect” to his command’s activities in the vast region, adding that they need not necessarily be based in theater.

The aircraft would be among logistical capabilities prepositioned “in small packages we can put in a lot of different places that would speed up our ability to respond to a crisis, from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to a full-blown contingency,” Brown said.

The comments provide an interesting contrast to the news that came hours later that the USAF is divesting part of its legacy tanker fleet as part of the Trump administration’s FY21 budget request. The request seeks to retire 29 of the USAF’s legacy tankers, which will comprise of 13 KC-135s and 16 KC-10s. To make up for the numbers, the Air Force will seek an additional 15 Boeing KC-46A tankers, despite its ongoing developmental challenges.

Improved C2

Brown also touched on the decision by the USAF to divest the older airframes in its B-1 bomber fleet, pointing out that while the bomber was “critical to some aspects of the maritime capability” in the region, the B-1s other missions could be accomplished by other bomber types.

Ultimately the USAF will have to think about “what it is going to look like in the future, and how to start making that transition,” and if putting money to preserve the current capability will come at the expense of acquiring other capabilities.

With the planned introduction of longer ranged capabilities such as hypersonic strike weapons into the theater, Brown added that improved command-and-control, along with the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability to find those targets could be a game changer.

Even with hypersonic weapons, he explained, a flight time of 8-10 minutes to get to a target would mean that good intelligence is still needed to ensure that the target is at the same location as before, particularly.

“It’s not enough to have that weapon; I have got to have the whole thing – the kill chain, or as we are now talking about, the kill web.”

Fifth-gen flexibility

Brown added that he was looking for the increased fifth-generation fighter capability to the region, with the addition of two squadrons of USAF F-35As to Alaska beginning in April. These will add to the squadron of F-22s in Hawaii, along with the squadron of Marine Corps F-35Bs in Japan.

These fifth-generation fighter assets will improve the flexibility of PACAF to respond in the region, with Brown also noting that F-35s are being or will be introduced to fleets of a number of U.S. allies and partners in the region: Australia, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.(Source: Defense News)

06 Feb 20. After fixes to hydraulics, US Army gears up for second stab at test of new assault bridge. The Army is gearing up for a second try at an initial operational test for its new Joint Assault Bridge (JAB) in June after struggling through its first attempt in April 2019 due to issues related to the hydraulic system and training.

A report released this month from the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester revealed the JAB, during its first Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) held at Fort Bliss, Texas, experienced poor system reliability and limited availability. “The result was insufficient data for [the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation] DOT&E to determine operational effectiveness,” the report states.

“The issues we found were primarily related to the hydraulic system or training issues,” Steve Rienstra, the Army’s product manager for bridging within the Program Executive Office Combat Support & Combat Service Support, told Defense News in a Feb. 6 interview.

The new JAB capability is intended to be a significant enhancement to the maneuverability of the Army’s combat forces, particularly Armored Brigade Combat Teams with M1 Abrams Tanks and Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles.

“The JAB is faster, more survivable and more sustainable than its predecessor,” the M48/M60 chassis-based Armored Vehicle Launched Brigade system resident in the ABCT Brigade Engineer Battalions and in Mobility Augmentation Companies supporting ABCT operations, Rienstra said.

Leonardo DRS is the prime contractor for the JAB, which is built on top of an M1A1 Abrams tank chassis.

Since the IOT&E, the Army has focused “a tremendous amount of effort” to improve the hydraulic system and training, Rienstra said.

Leonardo DRS has “done a really exceptional job of doing a comprehensive deep dive into the root cause analysis so when you see hydraulic lines that are failing, it’s really on the manufacturer to figure that out,” he said. “They went back through, came up with an aggressive list of design and production corrections and they’ve implemented that on all the systems that are going forward.”

The new and improved systems are going to be tested in June in a second attempt at an IOT&E at Fort Riley, Kansas, Rienstra said. “The systems that are going to the field will all be much more capable from a durability perspective based on improved hydraulics,” he said.

And testing ahead of the big event has shown promise that the IOT&E will have very different results.

The Army brought in soldiers with experience on legacy equipment to support the tests and the results after 1,000 miles of operation and over 200 bridge launches and retrievals, the systems “did not have a single hydraulic failure,” Rienstra said.

The service is also working to revamp its training ahead of the second IOT&E after realizing that the maintainers using the equipment not only needed training on the new bridge launch mechanism, but also on the M1A1 Abrams chassis. Maintainers are normally familiar with the M1A2, which has differences, according to Rienstra.

“We’ve increased operator new equipment training, field-level maintenance new equipment training, and doctrine, tactics and techniques training where we actually integrate this with other systems and we’ve increased that by about 30 percent time wise,” Rienstra said.

The Army is in the process of conducting some live-fire testing, of which Rienstra did not wish to detail, and the service is also conducting its last preparatory event out at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.

Equipment will be moved beginning in March to Fort Riley and training will take place over April and May. The actual test will happen over the course of three weeks in June, Rienstra said.

The service is pushing to be able to keep the JAB systems within the 1st Engineer Battalion of the 1st Infantry Division and get a materiel release following the IOT&E.

While the DOT&E report makes the IOT&E “look like bad news,” the extra year of testing and improvement is going to result in a “much improved product,” Rienstra said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)

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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:

Vehicles:

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.

Parts Supply:

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.

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