Sponsored by Hobson Industries
09 Apr 20. Statement By Marillyn Hewson On Further Steps To Support Supply Chain & Healthcare Workers Amidst COVID-19 Crisis. Lockheed Martin is taking further steps to aid important supply chain businesses that help deliver national security for our nation and its allies, and will continue to support those on the front lines of the medical crisis impacting our local communities.
From the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Lockheed Martin has been working closely with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to identify ways to provide critical financial and other support to the most vulnerable elements of the U.S. defense industrial base. For the last three weeks, we have accelerated payments to our supply chain, and I am pleased to announce another $50 m this week bringing our total to $156m.
In addition, thanks to the DOD’s leadership and foresight in changing progress payment policy, we estimate that we will be able to flow down over $450m in accelerated payments to our supply chain partners who are critical to supporting our economy and national security.
We are also taking steps to support our nation’s health care workers and first responders on the front lines of this crisis. We offered our corporate jet fleet as an in-kind donation to the federal government’s COVID-19 relief efforts. We are pleased to announce, working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), we will provide air transport of government medical teams to the most critical, high-priority locations around the country.
As previously announced, we pledged $10m in charitable contributions for COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts. We have allocated $6m towards that goal:
- $2m has been donated to Project HOPE to help deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for distribution to America’s doctors, nurses, and first responders.
- $ m to the American Red Cross to help deliver its lifesaving mission during the COVID-19 outbreak and Service to the Armed Forces supporting military personnel, veterans, and families.
- $2m to the CDC Foundation All of Us: Combat Coronavirus emergency response fund.
As we continue to face this unprecedented crisis, Lockheed Martin is driven by our commitment to the mission of our U.S. and allied customers. We will continue to maintain our operations for our men and women in uniform and we are resolved to find additional ways to contribute to the relief and recovery from COVID-19.
Chairman, President and CEO
Lockheed Martin Corporation
09 Apr 20. U.S. Army Extends Fluor LOGCAP IV Contract for Afghanistan, Africa and Southern Combatant Commands. Fluor Corporation (NYSE: FLR) announced today that the Army Contracting Command – Rock Island has extended Fluor’s current Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) IV contract, as the Army continues to implement the transition to LOGCAP V. Fluor will continue to provide forward operating support for Afghanistan through December 2020, for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) through June 2020 or as extended until Fluor begins work on LOGCAP V, and for U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) through March 2021, or until it transitions to LOGCAP V.
“Fluor has supported the Army’s LOGCAP operations for many years and we are honored that our contract has been extended,” said Tom D’Agostino, president of Fluor’s Government Group. “The U.S. Army is one of Fluor’s most important customers, and we are ready with the resources and capabilities to deploy anywhere and at any time to support the Army’s operational objectives and to serve U.S. and coalition forces as they complete their missions in some of the most difficult and remote locations around the world.”
Established by the U.S. Army to fulfill the Department of Defense’s global mission during contingency events, LOGCAP provides the military with additional capabilities to support the logistics requirements of its deployed forces rapidly through use of civilian contractors. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
09 Apr 20. Japan’s first Soryu-class submarine equipped with lithium-ion batteries arrives at home base. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (JMSDF’s) first Soryu-class diesel-electric attack submarine (SSK) equipped with lithium-ion batteries, arrived at its home base in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, on 7 April.
The service announced that same day that the JS Oryu (also spelled Ouryu), which had been inducted into the JMSDF’s Submarine Flotilla 1 in a ceremony held on 5 March in Hyogo Prefecture, will now “take on surveillance mission[s] around Japan”.
Built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) at its facility in Kobe, the 84-m-long boat – with pennant number SS 511 – is the 11th submarine of the class and the sixth to be built by MHI, with the other five having been built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI). Oryu was laid down in March 2015 and launched in October 2018.
The total cost of acquiring the submarine amounted to about JPY66bn (USD615m), a JMSDF spokesperson told Jane’s on 5 March.
The launch comes after GS Yuasa, a Kyoto-based developer and manufacturer of battery systems, had announced in February 2017 that Japan would become the first country in the world to equip SSKs with lithium-ion batteries in place of lead-acid batteries.
At the time the company said the batteries, which store considerably more energy than the lead-acid batteries, would be mounted on the final two Soryu-class boats for the JMSDF: Oryu (SS 511) and Toryu (SS 512).
According to Jane’s Fighting Ships, the Soryu class has a beam of 9.1 m, a hull draught of 8.4 m, and a displacement of 2,947 tonnes when surfaced and 4,100 tonnes when submerged.
The previous boats of the class have been fitted with two Kawasaki 12V 25/25 diesel generators and four Kawasaki Kockums V4-275R Stirling air-independent propulsion (AIP) engines, and use lead-acid batteries for energy storage. (Source: Jane’s)
09 Apr 20. China’s Y-20 aircraft capable of transporting two Type 15 lightweight tanks, claims state media. Chinese state-owned media has claimed that the Xian Aircraft Corporation (XAC) Y-20A Kunpeng strategic transport aircraft is capable of transporting up to two Type 15 (also commonly referred to as ZTQ-15) lightweight battle tanks.
In a 7 April report about military science and technology China Central Television 7 (CCTV 7) also released computer-generated imagery showing two Type 15s in the cargo bay of the aircraft, which has an estimated maximum payload of 66 tonnes and a maximum take-off weight of 220 tonnes, according to Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft.
Chinese official sources put the range of the aircraft, which the state-owned Global Times newspaper claims is also capable of transporting one 52,000-54,000-tonne Type 99A-series main battle tank, at 4,000 km at maximum payload.
The Type 15 lightweight tank, which officially entered service with the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) in 2018, is believed to weigh 33 tonnes in its basic configuration. This may increase to 36 tonnes if an improved explosive reactive armour package is added.
The Global Times quoted Fu Qianshao, a Chinese air defence expert, as saying that “multiple Y-20s can transport a mixture of Type 15s, Type 99As and other kinds of armoured vehicles, leading to a significant improvement in China’s long-range rapid deployment” and strategic transport capability. The four-turbofan Y-20 officially entered service with the PLA Air Force in 2016.
The Type 15, which is armed with a 105 mm gun, is protected against hand-held anti-tank weapons. The gun is thought to be capable of firing an armour-piercing, fin-stabilised, discarding sabot (APFSDS) round that is probably capable of penetrating 500 mm of armour from typical combat ranges. (Source: Jane’s)
08 Apr 20. DOGTAG initiative eyes AI, machine learning integration into USAF mobility ops. The US Air Force officials want to leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) applications to revitalise the service’s global mobility capabilities and combat logistics, which are considered key enablers for the service’s new Agile Combat Employment (ACE) doctrine.
Strategists, engineers, and information technology specialists at Air Force Material Command and Air Force Research Laboratory’s Information Directorate are seeking to identify AI and machine learning concepts to enhance object and hazard detection, tactical data federation and long-term optimisation of that data, and refinement of aerial deliveries to transform “the way the [Pentagon] affiliated organizations communicate, collaborate, organize, and operate”, a 2 April Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) stated. (Source: Jane’s)
08 Apr 20. Boeing’s KC-46 tanker now has a pathway for autonomous aerial refueling. Last week’s deal between Boeing and the U.S. Air Force on a fix for the KC-46 could pave the way for the tanker to refuel other aircraft without a person needed to manually control the process, a top service official said Thursday.
On April 2, Boeing agreed to fix the KC-46’s troubled Remote Vision System by creating an overhauled RVS 2.0 with new hardware and software. Air Force acquisition executive Will Roper told reporters those changes would include the addition of 4K high-definition cameras that will display imagery in color as well as modern processors and LiDAR (light detecting and ranging) sensors that will help improve depth perception.
“A proper RVS like that is right on the doorstep to autonomy,” Roper said. “All you have to do is take that data that tells the world inside the jet the reality of geometries between the airplane and the boom outside the jet. Once you have that, you simply need to translate it into algorithms that allow the tanker to tank itself.”
The KC-46’s Remote Vision System has been a thorn in the side of the aircraft program since 2017, when issues with the system were first discovered. The RVS is basically a suite of cameras, sensors and software that is supposed to allow boom operators sitting inside the aircraft to safety steer the boom into the aircraft needing fuel. But in certain conditions, the system produces distorted imagery that increases the risk of the boom hitting another aircraft.
The new LIDAR system will be key to fixing that problem, said Roper, who likened it to a backup camera on a car that also provides cues to a driver for parallel parking or assessing whether a vehicle is aligned flush to a curb.
“We’ll have something very similar to that for the boom operators, so telling them are they left, right and how close are they getting to the airplane,” he said. “[It’s] something very intuitive and easy to work with, and I think that will help significantly with them understanding their distance [from the other aircraft] because LIDAR is extremely accurate.”
Because Boeing is locked into a firm fixed-price contract for the development of the KC-46, it will have to pay for the upgrade to RVS 2.0 out of its own pocket, as the Air Force maintains that the current system does not meet requirements.
But the service is so confident in the prospect of using the RVS 2.0 as a stepping stone to an autonomous tanker that it included an option in last week’s agreement to fund the development of technologies that enable autonomous or semiautonomous refueling.
“We have added an engineering change proposal into the deal with a not-to-exceed threshold of $55m, so that when RVS 2.0 is done, we can then take the next step beyond 2.0 to develop those autonomy algorithms and install them if we think we can certify them for safe use,” Roper said.
“We took that step because, one, we’re excited about being on the doorsteps of autonomy and, [two], we wanted to send a clear signal in the deal that this is our tanker for the future,” he said.
If the Air Force decides to move forward with those design changes, more will need to be done to hammer out the contractual details, said Jamie Burgess, Boeing’s KC-46 program manager.
“There was no commitment one way or another on who pays for what. But there’s definitely a strong partnership between Boeing and the Air Force as far as developing this technology,” he said.
Autonomous refueling capability has been of increasing interest to the Air Force over the past few years, as sensing and artificial intelligence technologies grow by leaps and bounds. Boeing previously signaled it could include such technology as part of a menu of potential upgrade options for the KC-46, as reported by FlightGlobal in 2018. (Source: Defense News)
08 Apr 20. Costs mount for repairs to Russian carrier Kuznetsov. The head of Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), Alexei Rakhmanov, on 3 April announced that the cost of damage from a fire on board the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov on 12 December 2019 now amounts to RUB500m (USD6.6m), state-run RT television has reported. Speaking to RT on 13 February, Rakhmanov had previously estimated the cost at about RUB300m, while the privately-owned Kommersant newspaper valued the damage at RUB95m on 18 December 2019. These costs are in addition to those of a major overhaul and upgrade of Kuznetsov, for which the preparatory work began in October 2017. On 29–30 October 2018 the PD-50 floating dock in Murmansk sank after a crane fell on the vessel’s deck. (Source: Jane’s)
08 Apr 20. On the morning of April 2, companies up and down the Pentagon’s supply chain got an email from Eaton Aerospace, a mid-tier supplier that provides parts such as fuel pumps and hydraulics to defense primes for aircraft like the KC-46 tanker and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
“The truly unprecedented situation with [the coronavirus] COVID-19 is jointly affecting our business, families and communities we live in,” said one such email, which was obtained by Defense News. “While the health and safety of our employees and those of our supply partners remains paramount, our industry is significantly impacted. … As a result, our Eaton Grand Rapids, [Michigan], plant will [be] closed starting April 4, 2020 and will reopen on April 13, 2020.”
Similar emails for other locations followed.
In a statement, Eaton Corp. spokeswoman Margaret Hagan acknowledged that the company was temporarily implementing closures “at a few sites,” but maintained that there would be no impact to the “critical support” provided to the U.S. military.
“We’ve made the important decision to maintain operations during the COVID-19 crisis because Eaton products are critical to our global infrastructure,” she said. “As a strategic supplier of aerospace fuel, hydraulic, motion control, electrical and engine solutions for the aerospace and defense sector globally, Eaton’s aerospace products and support services are vital not only to the military, but to the transport of passengers and goods around the world.”
Although perhaps not a household name in the defense sector, Eaton is far from a small business, bringing in more than $21bn in sales in 2019. However, the quiet closure of its production lines illustrates how widespread the impacts of COVID-19 have reached — past the major prime contractors like Boeing, or even its major subcontractors like Spirit AeroSystems, and to the large and small companies that populate the middle and lower tiers of its supply chain.
“The whole supply chain is a mess right now,” said an employee of one electronics manufacturer that provides components for both commercial and defense products. The source, whose name and company affiliation Defense News is withholding to protect the individual from reprisal, described challenges with working from home and retaining workers on the production line. Some colleagues, the source said, are choosing to take paid leave or voluntary layoffs rather than risk exposure to COVID-19.
“We are at 20 percent capability,” the source said.
According to Jeremy Bash, a former Pentagon official now with Beacon Global, “there is deep concern among industry and department leaders that the second- and third-tier suppliers need to be protected.”
“There’s a sense DoD [the Department of Defense] needs better visibility into the supply chain, mapping out how a part makes its way into a plane or ship,” Bash added. “There is a growing number of tech companies providing software to illuminate supply chains, and since COVID, the phones of those companies have been ringing off the hook because the department now realizes supply chain concentration is a huge risk.”
Industrial shock waves
But one doesn’t have to dive down the supply chain toward Eaton to see that the defense market is taking a beating, particularly the companies that also have a strong exposure to the commercial market.
Up until last month, financial analysts would have seen commercial sales as a major boon to the overall health of a defense supplier, but that has changed, as the economy has taken a nosedive, said Richard Aboulafia, a defense and aerospace analyst with the Teal Group.
“The commercial market is under siege, which means of course there is excess inventory, slumping revenue, major challenges on many levels,” he said. “On top of that, everybody faces the immediate impact of social distancing and workforce concerns. And on top of that, if you’re heavily exposed to commercial, the harder time you might have getting credit. All of these are big issues.
“The defense-industrial base, if it could somehow be removed from commercial aviation, we’d be in pretty good shape by the standards of the world economy. But we can’t. They’re intertwined.”
Bloomberg reported Monday that Airbus sent a letter to employees over the weekend, warning that gaps in the supply chain, among other issues, will impact the company’s ability to resume normal operations.
Also on Monday, simulation firm CAE announced it was temporarily laying off 2,600 of its 10,500 global employees, while placing another 900 employees on a reduced work week. The company also instituted salary freezes and reductions for remaining staff, ranging from 50 percent for the CEO and executive team down to 10 percent for regular employees.
Only about 19 percent of CAE’s overall revenue comes from defense contracts, according to the Defense News Top 100 list. But the company provides training services or technology for a number of key military programs, such as the U.S. Air Force’s MQ-9 unmanned systems.
Boeing, meanwhile, extended a shutdown of its Puget Sound, Washington, facilities, while also stopping work at its rotorcraft production line in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a result of the Puget Sound shutdown, Spirit AeroSystems announced last week that it is halting work at a number of locations.
Small businesses that form a core of the Pentagon’s future technological development may be particularly vulnerable, according to government data and analytics firm Govini. In a new data sheet, the company noted there are roughly 50,000 small businesses that provide innovation support for the DoD, all of which is vulnerable to economic upheaval.
“If this ecosystem suffers widespread failure due to COVID-19, the resulting impact will stretch well beyond short-term disruptions,” Govini said. “These vendors are not just critical links in the DoD supply chain important for immediate purposes. They are also vital for the development of both next-generation systems in the midterm and revolutionary capabilities that will shape the competitive landscape for decades into the future.”
Between fiscal 2015 and fiscal 2019, roughly 28 percent of defense spending on underwater unmanned vehicles — a key part of the U.S. Navy’s plan to build a fleet of the future — went to small businesses, according to Govini numbers. Small business contracts also accounted for 30 percent of the DoD’s research on artificial intelligence during that same time period.
Martijn Rasser, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, warned Defense News last month that “for small business, a shutdown would be extremely difficult to get through because even with bailouts and economic stimulus, once those businesses close up, its really hard to get those started again.”
“If an airline goes out of business, the planes don’t disappear — you can start over. If it’s a highly specialized manufacturing company, those employees are going to disperse and try to find other work. So I think that’s something to be very cognizant of because of all the consolidation in the defense industry,” he added. “If they have to curtail operations for an extended period of time, it’s extremely difficult to get it going again.”
What’s the Pentagon’s response?
Starting March 20, the Pentagon began issuing guidance on how to support industry. But a three-day span last week showed how those efforts remain a moving target, particularly in relation to the smallest suppliers.
On March 30, the department’s acting director of defense pricing and contracting, Kim Herrington, issued guidance to contracting officers that essentially said industry should not be penalized for missing performance targets as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
“We must do our utmost to ensure that both the Department and the vital industrial base that support us remain healthy for the duration of this emergency and emerge as strong as ever from the challenges of this pandemic,” Herrington wrote.
But some in Congress feel the department is still not doing enough to clarify policy changes for contracting officers and defense companies. On April 1, a group of Ohio lawmakers wrote to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord, warning that “we are concerned that guidance to the defense contractor workforce remains ambiguous and lacks uniformity in application,” particularly in terms of communication from department contracting officers to small companies.
Over the past several years, the Pentagon has worked to delegate decision-making authorities to low-level contracting officers. But while that may work to empower contracting officers to find creative solutions to problems under normal circumstances, during a pandemic, these officials are ill-prepared to decipher “uncertain, often conflicting guidance,” the lawmakers said.
The lawmakers asked that contracting officers be directed to ensure that contractors are allowed to work remotely to the maximum extent possible; that contractors be given “maximum flexibility to meet their contractual obligations”; that efforts be made to not have “avoidable reductions” in the workforce; and that companies involved in research and development work be clearly labeled as essential personnel.
And on April 2, two trade groups — the National Defense Industrial Association and the Professional Services Council — asked Congress to instate a six-month delay for a legal requirement included in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that prohibits the government from doing business with companies that work with vendors Huawei and ZTE.
That language “will impose significant financial and operational costs on medium- and small-sized firms at a moment of substantial uncertainty and hardship,” at a time when they are dealing with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the letter stated.
Later in the day, the DoD released a statement providing clarification on previous announcements.
The department confirmed that higher progress payment rates — which had been jumped the previous week — will apply to already completed work, and not just future production. The new cash-flow rules should result in more than $3bn in new cash moving into industry, according to department estimates. But that prediction came with a warning: The Pentagon “has high expectations that that prime companies are ensuring cash flow is moving to small businesses in their respective supply chains who need it most.”
So far, the Defense Contract Management Agency has modified approximately 1,400 contracts with increased rates, the announcement noted. Contracting officials are working to ensure invoices at the higher progress payment rate keep arriving on time, with the department claiming there have been “no reported delays on contractor submitted invoices.”
The announcement also stated that any delay related to COVID-19 issues will result in “an equitable adjustment of the contract schedule and cost,” meaning the department will adjust the contracts so that the vendor does not take an economic hit.
The steps taken by the department are important, said Bash, the former Pentagon official. “The most powerful force the government can bring to help these companies is to say to industry: ‘We have money,’ ” he said.
A wildcard, Bash noted, is the $17bn in national security-focused funding made available under the most recent stimulus package passed by Congress.
However, Byron Callan, an industry analyst with Capital Alpha Partners, warns that more money doesn’t necessarily mean less problems.
“The DoD faces the same issues as any other branch of the government or the Fed that is providing more cash to address the crisis — if people aren’t at work because of COVID-19, that cash won’t help much in keeping a factory or office open and all projects on schedule,” Callan said.
For Aboulafia, increasing the value of progress payments is a good first step for increasing the flow of cash to suppliers.
“In times like this, it really is about access to cash because of the risk of credit markets freezing up for commercial companies. Accelerated payments, maybe loan guarantees should be considered,” Aboulafia said.
But he’s realistic that the defense industry isn’t the only issue on the table for the Trump administration.
“I think there’s a lot that government can do,” Aboulafia said. “Unfortunately there’s a lot that government has to do because the entire economy has been put into a medically induced coma.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
07 Apr 20. Boeing/Schiebel S-100 Performs Flight Demonstration for US Army. Boeing recently demonstrated the capability of S-100 Camcopter unmanned air vehicles to delivered supplies to U.S. Army troops. The S-100 Camcopter delivered supplies to U.S. Army troops, the first time an autonomous air vehicle with vertical takeoff and landing resupplied Army troops.
The Boeing S-100 Camcopter variant, produced in partnership with Austria’s Schiebel Industries, is a highly expeditionary Group 3 vertical take-off and landing unmanned aerial system.
A Boeing team flew the S-100 on 31 missions, delivering 726 kg (1,600lb) of “simulated blood and ammunition” via a cargo winch during the military exercise. The unmanned helicopter flew the missions autonomously. (Source: UAS VISION)
03 Apr 20. Mobile camouflage system for Fennek. The German Army’s Fennek scout vehicles are to be equipped with Saab’s Mobile Camouflage System (MCS). This is intended for operations in woodland, snow and desert environments. Saab has been commissioned by the BAAINBw to deliver the system before the end of this year. Saab’s MCSs are tailored for each vehicle model to ensure a perfect fit. MCS not only provides full multi-spectral protection, but also incorporates Saab’s CoolCam features. These reduce the thermal charges inside the vehicles that are reached in hot climates. Since 2008, the German Army has been using the MSC under the name Multispektraler Mobiler Tarnsatz (MMT). It has been applied to the Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicle, PzH 2000 howitzer and Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank. It is also fitted to the GTK Boxer Armoured Fighting Vehicle and Buffalo Armoured Recovery Vehicle. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
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.