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29 May 20. Defence infrastructure investment set boost to Townsville economy. Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has announced that the Townsville economy will receive a $40m boost through Defence works at RAAF Base Townsville, highlighting the government’s local procurement policies. The project includes new aircraft shelters, a support facility, working accommodation and tarmac parking for three Chinooks for the 5th Aviation Regiment at RAAF Base Townsville.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the new facilities for Defence’s CH-47 Chinook helicopters are being constructed using local companies and employees.
“Some 90 per cent of the project is being delivered by local businesses. Through our Local Capability Industry Plan, we’ve ensured that local businesses deliver the lion’s share of this project,” Minister Price said.
“With so much uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a welcome boost to the local economy.”
Federal member for Herbert, Phillip Thompson OAM, said the project manager Aurecon has engaged a local design team, Conrad Gargett, and local construction personnel under the contractor, Lendlease.
“We’re doing a significant amount of work on local Defence infrastructure at the moment and I’m always pushing for our very capable local contractors to be involved so it’s great to see that happening with this project,” Thompson said.
Two local students from James Cook University have also been employed and will be working with Lendlease on the project based at RAAF Base Townsville.
Thompson said the timing of these works, especially considering the COVID-19 pandemic, is providing important support for the local economy.
RAAF Base Townsville is an important forward operating base located north-west of Townsville, it is home to:
- No 383 Squadron – contingency response;
- No 452 Squadron Townsville Flight – air traffic control;
- No 27 (City of Townsville) Squadron – airbase operations;
- No 38 Squadron (38SQN);
- Combat Survival Training School – evasion and escape training;
- Army’s No 5 Aviation Regiment – Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters;
- 1 Expeditionary Health Squadron Detachment Townsville; and
- No 2 Security Squadron detachment Townsville.
“The project is expected to be complete later this year with around 400 workers directly participating in the construction of the new facilities, with the overwhelming majority of these Townsville locals,” Thompson said.
The project works have continued through the COVID-19 pandemic with no adverse impact on productivity. (Source: Defence Connect)
29 May 20. More than 4,500 jobs are likely to be created in the area in and around Newcastle Airport and RAAF Base Williamstown after the region was chosen to be included in a new NSW business initiative.
The 10,000-hectare area will now be one of five ‘Special Activation Precincts’ (SAP) that will create business opportunities by fast-tracking approval processes and increasing infrastructure.
Newcastle Airport chief executive Dr Peter Cock said, “With leasing opportunities available now at Astra Aerolab, the precinct will provide ideal conditions for those looking to invest.”
There are currently four other SAPs in NSW, including Parkes, Wagga Wagga, Moree and the Snowy Mountains, which all form part of the larger $4.2bn Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund. (Source: Google/https://australianaviation.com.au/)
25 May 20. ASC Shipbuilding gears up for Osborne handover. Construction works associated with the $500m upgrade of Adelaide’s new high-tech frigate shipyard are nearing completion. Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, the handover is still slated for June. As part of Australia’s ongoing investment into naval capability, upgrades scheduled to Adelaide’s Osborne shipyard are currently being rolled out. The first new construction shed for the nation’s $35bn Hunter Class frigate program has been completed, and handover to ASC Shipbuilding is underway.
According to ASC Shipbuilding director Jim Cuthill, five new sheds in the shipyard were being fitted with state-of-the-art equipment. In effect, this means that contractors Australian Naval Infrastructure and Lendlease are successfully tracking towards a handover deadline, originally scheduled for July.
Around 600 workers are currently employed on the frigates project run by ASC Shipbuilding, expected to hit about 1,000 by the end of 2020. Many of these operate in design-focused roles and have been able to collaborate on the project remotely throughout the current crisis.
“At the moment about 70 per cent of our workforce is still working from home and we haven’t really missed a beat with the work that we are doing,” said Cuthill.
“This is a program of national importance but it’s one that’s going to play a key role in terms of stimulating economic activity post COVID.”
Cuthill also said that the South Australian capital is central to the nation’s overall National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise, worth some $90bn. Two Arafura Class offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) are currently being built at Osborne. And the last of three air warfare destroyers built at Osborne was recently handed over to the Royal Australian Navy.
“We’re developing an Australian industry, it is helping us in a space where we can design, build and sustain future warships and also support other opportunities for our supply chain in the future outside of the project,” Cuthill said.
At its expected peak in 2028, the frigate project will employ 2,400 personnel. (Source: Defence Connect)
21 May 20. NZ Government approves infrastructure upgrade at RNZAF Base Ohakea. The RNZAFs training helicopter lifts off from RNZAF Base Ohakea on its first test flight. The New Zealand (NZ) Government has approved a deal for the upgrade of critical infrastructure at Royal NZ Air Force (RNZAF) Base Ohakea. Under the Defence Estate Regeneration Programme, the first phase of the NZD206m ($125m) deal work will commence later this year. Over the following five years, the investment will be made in three phases.
NZ Defence Minister Ron Mark said: “Critical compliance and safety issues will be addressed, as well as upgrades to fuelling and logistics facilities, taxiways and aprons, accommodation and fresh, storm and wastewater reticulation.
“Demands on Base Ohakea are increasing with four busy fleets of aircraft, the NH90 and A109 helicopters, the KA350 small transport and training aircraft, and the Texan pilot trainer.
“In the near future the base will need to be ready to accept the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft fleet.”
For final project and funding arrangements for each phase, approval from the cabinet is required.
RNZAF Base Ohakea, which plays a key role in maintaining NZ’s national security, serves as a principal staging point for NZDF operations.
It is also often used as the point of entry for the armed forces of the country’s strategic partners.
Mark added: “The changes provide flexibility to respond to future demands on the Defence Force and will ensure the base can accommodate these aircraft for several decades to come.” (Source: airforce-technology.com)
27 May 20. Royal Navy to renovate icebreaker HMS Protector. British Royal Navy’s icebreaker HMS Protector is set to undergo a major overhaul at Teesside port. The Plymouth-based scientific vessel works alongside the British Antarctic Survey to procure information on the Antarctic Ocean, the surrounding region, and its ice and unique wildlife. Due to harsh weather conditions in the southern ocean, the vessel undergoes maintenance after every expedition. Every five years, HMS Protector is subjected to deep maintenance and overhaul works to increase its longevity. Under the latest revamp, the vessel will be equipped to carry unmanned survey devices.
Its 60t crane and flight deck have been removed for major servicing, while its hull will be renovated. The vessel is also upgraded to adopt the latest operational scientific/survey techniques and autonomous survey methods.
HMS Protector Commanding Officer Captain Michael Wood said: “Protector is a unique ship facing a unique set of challenges.
“This refit marks the start of our long journey back to Antarctica. It will take real determination, and teamwork, to get there. However, I am certain we can make it happen.”
After the upgrade works are complete at Teesside, the ship’s crew will undergo operational sea training before it is deployed later this year in the Southern Hemisphere.
HMS Queen Elizabeth, the aircraft carrier developed for the British Royal Navy, recently completed the first stages of operational sea training.
The training exercise will further advance the plans of aircraft carrier’s maiden operational deployment next year. (Source: naval-technology.com)
26 May 20. US Navy’s future LCS Kansas City arrives in San Diego. The US Navy’s future littoral combat ship (LCS) USS Kansas City (LCS 22) has arrived at its homeport in San Diego, where it will be commissioned next month. At Naval Base San Diego, USS Kansas City will be homeported with several other sister ships. The Independence-variant LCS was designed and built by Austal USA in collaboration with General Dynamics in Mobile, Alabama.
USS Kansas City commanding officer Commander RJ Zamberlan said: “I am extremely proud of all the hard work the crew has done to complete the sail around and prepare us to officially join the fleet on commissioning day.
“We are honoured and excited to represent the navy, the nation, and our namesake, as well as fulfil the ship’s motto, ‘United We Stand, Divided We Fall.’”
The vessel, set to be the 21st LCS to be delivered to the US Navy, is scheduled to be commissioned on 20 June.
Before embarking for San Diego, Kansas City’s crew conducted a 21-day restriction in movement (ROM) as required under pre-deployment guidelines.
Littoral Combat Ship Squadron (LCSRON) 1 commodore Captain Matthew McGonigle said: “The arrival of the Kansas City here today is exciting and the crew has worked incredibly hard to get to this point.
“We look forward to ‘bringing the ship to life’ next month on the day of commissioning.”
Late last year, USS Kansas City completed acceptance trials in the Gulf of Mexico. The trials included a series of in-port and underway demonstrations. Austal USA delivered the ship in February. (Source: naval-technology.com)
22 May 20. MMI – Launch 2nd PPA – Francesco Morosini. On May 22, the launching ceremony of the second multipurpose offshore patrol vessel (Pattugliatore Polivalente d’Altura, PPA) took place at the Fincantieri shipyard in Riva Trigoso (GE). The ship is named after the great Venetian Admiral and Doge Francesco Morosini, who distinguished himself in the 17th Century naval war between the Republic of Venice and the Ottoman Empire.
The event, held in reduced format in compliance with the current rules of conduct for the fight against coronavirus, was attended by the Chief of Staff of the Navy, Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone and the Commander of the New Naval Construction Center (MARINALLES), Capt. Gennaro Falcone; for Fincantieri Ing. Alberto Maestrini, General Manager and Dr. Giuseppe Giordo, Head of the Military Units Division. The godmother of the ship was Ing. Carola Morosini, also from Fincantieri, who during the ceremony was accompanied by the ship’s designated commander, Lt. Cdr. Giovanni Monno.
The ship will begin her “operational life” in 2022, after a further period of training and preparation of the crew which will be completed at Fincantieri’s Muggiano plant in La Spezia, under the supervision of the New Shipbuilding Center. The future ITS Morosini, whose motto is “Ex undis signum victoriae” (From the waves the omen of victory) is the second of seven units, with a length of 143 meters and a displacement of 6000 tons, is part of the renewal plan of the Squad’s operational lines Naval launched in May 2015 (so-called “New Naval Law”) and can perform multiple tasks: surveillance and control of maritime spaces of national interest, supervising maritime and economic activities, contributing to the protection of the marine environment, supporting rescue operations to population affected by natural disasters and compete for the escort of naval groups, major ships and merchant ships.
The ship’s bridge is characterized by an innovative system called “cockpit” which for the first time will allow the integrated management of navigation operations and combat system management, with a reduced number of operators, thanks also to the use of advanced technologies and high automation. The PPAs represent a type of ship of innovative conception with requirements of strategic versatility, flexibility of use, projectability and integration of capacities that concretize the idea of “Dual Systemic Use” characteristic of new generation armaments. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Italian Navy)
25 May 20. The Italian Job: Italian Navy completes F-35B upgrade of Cavour aircraft carrier. The Italian Navy has celebrated a major milestone in the life of its LHD/aircraft carrier hybrid, the Cavour, following a 16-month complex overhaul and modernisation that will allow the vessel to embark the fifth-generation F-35B, conduct complex combat operations, transport marines and conduct humanitarian support and assistance in a single platform package.
At the end of the Second World War, the aircraft carrier emerged as the apex of naval prestige and power projection. Unlike their predecessor (the battleship), aircraft carriers in themselves are relatively benign actors, relying heavily at their attached carrier air-wings and supporting escort fleets of cruisers, destroyers and submarines to screen them from hostile action.
In recent years, nations throughout the Indo-Pacific have begun a series of naval expansion and modernisation programs with traditional aircraft carriers – and large-deck, amphibious warfare ships serve as the core of their respective shift towards greater maritime power projection.
Driving this change is an unprecedented period of Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea and the growing capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), which has seen the Chinese fielding or preparing to field a range of power projection capabilities, including aircraft carriers and supporting strike groups, fifth-generation combat aircraft, modernised land forces, area-access denial and strategic nuclear forces, combined with growing political and financial influence throughout the region.
Japan has closely followed the modernisation of the Chinese armed forces and raised concerns about the nation’s defence capabilities.
As part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s commitment towards shifting the paradigm following continued Chinese naval build-up – particularly the growing capabilities of China’s aircraft carrier and amphibious warfare ship fleets – Japan has initiated a range of modernisation and structural refits for the Izumo Class vessels to develop small aircraft carriers.
Developing a blue-water navy has been a major focus of Korea’s response to the mounting capabilities of North Korea and China’s continued assertiveness in the South and East China Seas.
The centrepiece of Korea’s transition towards a blue-water capable navy is the Dokdo Class vessels, which are slightly smaller than the Royal Australian Navy’s Canberra Class amphibious warfare ships.
However, unlike HMA Ships Canberra and Adelaide, Korea is actively pursuing the acquisition and introduction of F-35B Joint Strike Fighters to provide an integrated fleet air defence and a flexible, medium-range maritime strike capabilities.
Italy upgrades its power projection and sea control capabilities
A world away, the Italian Navy has successfully completed a complex overhaul and modernisation of the Cavour, currently Italy’s only aircraft carrier enabling it to effectively operate the short take-off, vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the fifth-generation F-35B, positioning the Italian Navy at the apex of the Mediterranean’s strategic pyramid.
This modernisation will enable the Italian Navy to seamlessly integrate with both the United States and Royal Navies, respectively, and their Mediterranean detachments as they continue to conduct maritime security operations in the region while countering an increasing Russian presence in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Fincantieri-designed and built aircraft carrier Cavour and the recently launched Trieste are designed to fulfill a hybrid LHD/aircraft carrier role enabling the Italian Navy to conduct independent sea control, maritime and amphibious power projection operations without direct US or UK support.
The Cavour has a maximum displacement of 30,000 tonnes, maximum speed of 29+ knots with a range of 7,000 nautical miles (12,964 kilometres) at a speed of 16 knots. Cavour is designed to accommodate a combined fleet of 12 support helicopters and 10 AV-8B Harrier IIs or Lockheed Martin F-35Bs in the hangar with an additional six parked on the flight deck.
Additionally, Cavour combines the aircraft carrier capability with the capacity to serve as a traditional LHD with accommodation for a maximum capacity for 450 amphibious infantry.
This combination of LHD/aircraft carrier roles encapsulated in the modernised Cavour and Trieste serve an increasingly similar role to that of Australia’s own Canberra Class LHDs, the HMA Ships Canberra and Adelaide – albeit, minus the aircraft carrier role.
A precedent to follow?
Recognising this changing regional environment, what carrier options are available to Australia should the nation’s leaders elect to pursue a return to fixed-wing naval aviation for the Royal Australian Navy?
The notion of Australia acquiring a third, F-35B dedicated Canberra Class LHD has been discussed at great length by both strategic policy analysts and politicians since the RAN acquired the vessels.
Currently, the HMA Ships Canberra and Adelaide lack a number of structural and technical modifications that would enable the ships to safely and effectively operate the aircraft, and any third vessel would need to incorporate the modifications from the keel up, in a similar manner to the Turkish Navy’s recently launched TCG Anadolu (based on the Canberra/Juan Carlos Class vessels).
Despite the apparent structural limitations of HMA Ships Canberra and Adelaide, the vessels’ base design, the Juan Carlos I, was designed from the keel up to accommodate a fixed-wing naval aviation capability.
The Spanish vessel, when acting in the light carrier role, is capable of accommodating 10-12 AV-8B Harrier IIs or Lockheed Martin F-35Bs combined with an additional 10-12 helicopters by using the light vehicles bay as an additional storage space.
Meanwhile, despite continuing issues with Turkey’s access to the F-35, Turkey fully expects to operate a small fleet of the Lockheed Martin F-35B from the TCG Anadolu, providing interesting avenues for Australian consideration as the regional dynamic continues to evolve. (Source: Defence Connect)
27 May 20. Indian Air Force commissions second Tejas LCA fighter squadron. The Indian Air Force (IAF) commissioned its second squadron of Tejas Mk 1 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) in a ceremony held on 27 May at Sulur Air Force Station (AFS) in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
Officials told Janes that the first of a planned 20 LCAs in final operational clearance (FOC) configuration was inducted into the No 18 ‘Flying Bullets’ Squadron during the event, adding that four more of these aircraft are currently “in advanced stages of production and testing” and will join the squadron “in the near future”.
Compared with the previous variant, the LOC-configured Tejas Mk 1 has an aerial refuelling and a beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile capability, both of which were successfully tested for the first time in March following a delay of some eight years.
Moreover, senior IAF officials said that this variant of the single-engined fighter also enables easier maintainability of its line-replaceable units (LRUs).
Industry sources said 15 more LOC-configured single-seat Mk 1s will eventually be delivered to the IAF by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). These platforms will then be joined by four dual-seat trainers once their design configuration has been finalised.
Ordered in 2010 for INR59.89bn (USD792m), the 20 LOC-configured Mk 1s will supplement 16 Mk 1s in initial operational clearance (IOC) configuration that entered service from 2016 with the IAF’s No 45 ‘Flying Daggers’ Squadron, which is also based at Sulur. This squadron is also awaiting delivery of its four twin-seat trainers. (Source: Jane’s)
26 May 20. Portugal joins Brazilian ATL-100 aircraft project. The Brazilian firm Desenvolvimento Aeronáutico (DESAER) is teaming up with the Portuguese centre of engineering and product development (CEiiA) to proceed with the development of the ATL-100 lightweight twin-turboprop multirole aircraft. The venture agreement, revealed in mid-May, will enable DESAER and CEiiA to jointly develop, manufacture, and market the ATL-100.
The CEiiA designs, develops, and operates products in the automotive, urban mobility, aeronautics, maritime, and space domains. CEiiA has participated in a series of aircraft developments, including the Embraer KC-390 Millennium airlifter and AgustaWestland AW159 Lynx Wildcat helicopter, and has developed the UAS30 fixed-wing multimission unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) together with the Portuguese Air Force. CEiiA is also on contract by the European Maritime Surveillance Agency (EMSA) to monitor the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Iceland with the Elbit Systems Hermes 900 medium-altitude long-endurance UAV.
The ATL-100 will be available in civil and military variants. The military version will perform roles such as troop transport, logistics support, search and rescue, paratrooper airdropping maritime patrol, liaison, border surveillance, medical evacuation, and special operations.
The ATL-100 offers 7,500kg maximum take-off weight, 380 km/h cruising speed, 16m length, 6m height, 20 m wingspan, 2,500 kg maximum payload, 430km/h cruising speed, 1,500 m maximum range, and a 25,000 ft maximum operating altitude. (Source: Jane’s)
26 May 20. Airbus A400M achieves Automatic Low Level Flight certification. The Airbus A400M new generation airlifter has achieved a new decisive milestone after the certification of its Automatic Low Level Flight capability, offering a unique in its class capability for a military transport aircraft.
The certification campaign, performed in April above the Pyrenees and central France, involved operations down to 500ft, including transitions from low level flight to other operations like aerial delivery.
This first certification phase concerns operations with Visual Meteorological Conditions, meaning with crew visibility. There will be a second phase including Instrumental Meteorological Conditions, without visibility, to be certified in Q2 2021.
Inherent to the fighter aircraft world, and as a unique capability for a military transport aircraft, the Automatic Low Level Flights improves the A400M’s terrain masking and survivability, making the aircraft less detectable in hostile areas and less susceptible to threats when cruising towards key military operations like aerial delivery, air-to-air refuelling, logistic or other specific special operations.
26 May 20. Russia Begins Construction of First PAK DA Strategic Bomber – Sources. Russia has commenced construction of its first strategic stealth bomber within the Perspective Aviation Complex for Long-Range Aviation (PAK DA) program, also known as “Product 80” and “Courier”, a source in the military-industrial complex told TASS.
“The production of airframe elements will be handled by one of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC)’s plants; development of working design documentation is complete, material shipping has commenced,” the source said.
Another source told TASS that construction of the plane’s cockpit is already underway. “The final assembly of the entire machine should be complete in 2021,” he noted.
The Tupolev Design Bureau’s press service refrained from commenting on construction of the first PAK DA.
In December 2019, Deputy Minister of Defense Alexey Krivoruchko told the Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper that the draft project of the plane had been approved and that the Tupolev Design Bureau began development of the working design documentation, began creation of parts and elements of the test PAK DA units. In February 2020, Krivoruchko announced that the first engine for the plane will begin stand trials this year.
The new plane
It is known that the PAK DA is designed using the flying wing scheme. The machine will feature technologies and materials that reduce its radar visibility (stealth technology). The plane will be subsonic, and will be able to carry current and future cruise missiles, precision bombs and hypersonic weapons, it will be provided with the newest communications and jamming equipment. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/TASS)
PLANT CLOSURES, JOB LOSSES AND STRIKES
27 May 20. Boeing set to announce significant U.S. job cuts this week: union. Boeing Co is expected to announce U.S. job cuts this week after disclosing last month it planned to shed 10% of its worldwide workforce of 160,000 employees, people briefed on the plans and a union said.
A spokesman for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) union that represents 17,600 Boeing employees told Reuters Tuesday the company informed the union it should expect layoff notices on Friday.
Boeing declined to comment.
In April, Boeing chief executive Dave Calhoun said the company had “begun taking action to lower our number of employees by roughly 10% through a combination of voluntary layoffs, natural turnover and involuntary layoffs as necessary.”
Calhoun said in April Boeing will need to make “even deeper reductions in areas that are most exposed to the condition of our commercial customers — more than 15% across our commercial airplanes and services businesses, as well as our corporate functions.”
SPEEA said about 1,300 of its members applied to take voluntary layoffs.
The Puget Sound Business Journal reported earlier that Boeing planned to layoff thousands of workers.
A union official confirmed the newspaper’s report that Boeing had told union leaders to expect cuts of between 15 to 20% of its membership, which represents engineers and technical workers in Washington State and southern California.
Boeing is struggling as the worldwide airline sector has been rocked by the travel demand falloff from the coronavirus pandemic.
In April, Boeing recorded zero orders for the second time this year and customers canceled another 108 orders for its grounded 737 MAX plane compounding its worst start to a year since 1962.
The outbreak worsened a crisis following the second of two fatal crashes that led to the grounding of the 737 MAX in March 2019. Calhoun said on May 8 he expected to resume production of grounded 737 MAX jet this month. (Source: Reuters)
MILITARY AND GOVERNMENT
27 May 20. Trump To Nominate New NBC Leader As White House Eyes Nuke Tests. Today’s announcement of the administration’s “intent” to nominate Polakowski, a retired Army two-star general who worked on WMD issues throughout his career, comes the day after a senior Pentagon official acknowledged that the US could resume nuclear testing “relatively rapidly,” should the decision be made. President Trump intends to nominate Lucas Polakowski as the next assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical, and biological defense programs, the White House said today, as the administration debates whether it will resume nuclear testing “within months.”
Today’s announcement of the administration’s “intent” to nominate Polakowski, a retired Army two-star general who worked on WMD issues throughout his career, comes the day after a senior Pentagon official acknowledged that the US could resume nuclear testing “relatively rapidly,” should the decision be made. The general was deputy director of the Standing Joint Force Headquarters for Elimination, created by the Obama Administration.
If the president indeed directs the first underground nuclear test since 1992, it would upend almost three decades of US policy and NATO policy and send a signal to Russia and China that post Cold War arms control norms are effectively dead.
“There is widespread concern about the major disparity in the way Russia and China appear to interpret and adhere to the zero-yield standard contained” in the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, Walter said. “We should be mindful of the implications over the long term of what other countries will learn, maybe not today, but in the long term, if they conduct…lower-yield tests that go supercritical.”
The United States has signed the treaty, but the Senate has never ratified it. Likewise, Chinese leadership has signed the treaty but not ratified it, while Russia has.
The possibility of restarting nuclear tests falls at a time where the Trump administration is considering whether or not to work with Russia to extend the New START arms control treaty with Russia before it expires in 2021.
Arms control envoy Marshall Billingslea announced last week he’s in the early stages of talks with his Russian counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, after Moscow suggested it might be willing to include some of its newest nuclear weapons in an extension deal.
“We have concrete ideas for our next interaction, and we’re finalizing the details as we speak,” Billingslea said. “We’ve settled on a venue. And we’re working on an agenda based on the exchange of views that has taken place in our call.”
If the 2010 treaty lapses, it would mark the end of the last remaining arms control pact between the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals.
Billingslea underscored that any deal with Russia would be contingent on President Trump’s call for a trilateral arms control agreement that includes China, a long shot strategy. China has long rejected the idea of arms control treaties.
“Above all, I made perfectly clear that it is our expectation that Russia help us to bring China to the negotiating table,” Billingslea said.
China is “in the midst of a sizable buildup,” he said, adding that, like Russia, it is “intent on building up its nuclear forces and using those forces to try to intimidate the United States and our friends and allies” ― while refusing to share any information with the international community about its weapons programs, including its “exploration of low-yield nuclear weapons,” Billingslea said. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
26 May 20. Pentagon’s No. 2 watchdog official resigns. The No. 2 official in the Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General, Glenn Fine, resigned Tuesday, several weeks after he was effectively removed as head of a special board to oversee auditing of the $2.2trn coronavirus economic relief package.
His departure, effective June 1, is the latest move in a broader shakeup of government watchdog agencies that Democrats call a politically motivated campaign by President Donald Trump to weaken government oversight.
On May 15, Trump fired the State Department’s inspector general, Steve Linick, whose office was critical of what it saw as political bias in the State Department’s management. In April, Trump also fired Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general who forwarded to Congress a whistleblower complaint that ultimately led to the president’s impeachment in the House.
A spokeswoman for the Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General, Dwrena Allen, said Fine was not asked to resign. Fine issued a brief written statement lauding the importance of government watchdogs.
“The role of inspectors general is a strength of our system of government,” Fine said. “They provide independent oversight to help improve government operations in a transparent way. They are a vital component of our system of checks and balances, and I am grateful to have been part of that system.”
Fine, who received his law degree from Harvard, came to the Pentagon’s IG office as the No. 2 official in 2015 and had previously been inspector general at the Department of Justice from 2000 to 2011. He also is a former assistant United States attorney in Washington, D.C.
Trump in early April designated Sean O’Donnell, the inspector general at the Environmental Protection Agency, to also be the acting Pentagon inspector general, replacing Fine as the head official. That move pushed Fine back to his previous position as the principal deputy inspector general and made him ineligible to head the special oversight board for coronavirus relief spending.
Although O’Donnell is now the acting inspector general at the Pentagon, Trump has nominated Jason Abend to be the permanent IG. Abend is a senior policy advisor at U.S. Customs and Border Protection. (Source: Defense News)
22 May 20. The U.S. Senate confirmed a new Navy secretary, Kenneth “K.J.” Braithwaite, by voice vote on Thursday. Braithwaite, a former ambassador to Norway and executive for American oil and health care companies, assumes the job after financier Richard V. Spencer was forced out of office amid a fight with the White House and senior defense leaders over the handling of a legal case against a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes.
At his confirmation hearing this month, Braithwaite vowed Thursday to improve public trust in leadership of the service after years of controversies have led to a “tarnished” culture within the ranks.
A Michigan native and 1984 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Braithwaite was an anti-submarine warfare pilot who tracked Soviet submarines in the western Pacific and Indian oceans for a Hawaii-based patrol squadron. From there, he served in various communications and legislative affairs roles before leaving active service in 1993 and the Naval Reserve in 2011. (Source: Defense News)
21 May 20. New jobs for two Army acquisition leaders. Fielded in conjunction with the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, the Inflatable satellite antenna is easier to move and set up, and operates on commercial and military frequency bands, reducing signal-jamming threats. (Photo courtesy of Army PEO EIS)
The Department of Defense announced new Army leaders for two of its acquisition offices May 21.
The Army named Ross Guckert as the new leader of Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems, according to a May 21 tweet. Guckert will arrive from Army PEO Soldier where he has served as deputy program executive officer since September 2018. He is replacing Cherie Smith, who is retiring after 42 years of Army service, according to an PEO EIS spokesperson.
Smith was named the EIS’ leader in April 2018. As the new leader, Guckert will oversee a budget of $4.3bn dedicated to delivering and managing the information technology environment for soldiers. At Army PEO Soldier, Guckert was part of overseeing more than 150 programs of record as part of the program’s work on the soldier kit, according to a service biography. In addition, May 21, the Senate confirmed Maj. Gen. David Bassett as the director of the Defense Contract Management Agency and promotion to lieutenant general. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
22 May 20. Rear Adm. (lower half) Bradley J. Andros will be assigned as deputy director of plans and policy for countering weapons of mass destruction, U.S. Special Operations Command, Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Andros previously served as Navy Expeditionary Combat Branch head, N957, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C.
22 May 20. Rear Adm. (lower half) Mark D. Behning is currently serving as deputy director, strategic targeting and nuclear mission planning, J5, U.S. Strategic Command, Omaha, Nebraska. Behning previously served as chief of staff/deputy director for Strategic Systems Programs, Washington, D.C.
22 May 20. Rear Adm. (lower half) Kevin P. Byrne is currently serving as commander, Naval Surface Warfare Center; and commander, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Washington, D.C. Byrne previously served as major program manager, surface ships, Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C.
22 May 20. Rear Adm. (lower half) Joseph F. Cahill III is currently serving as deputy director for resources and acquisition, J8, Joint Staff, Washington, D.C. Cahill previously served as executive assistant, N9, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C.
22 May 20. Rear Adm. (lower half) Lawrence F. Legree will be assigned as assistant chief of staff, J-3, Joint Forces Command, Naples, Italy. Legree previously served as senior advisor for nuclear security affairs, Office of the Secretary, Department of Energy, Washington, D.C.
22 May 20. Rear Adm. (lower half) Mark A. Melson is currently serving as deputy director, joint force development and design integration, J7, Joint Staff, Washington, D.C. Melson previously served as executive assistant to the deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans and strategy, N3N5, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C.
22 May 20. Rear Adm. (lower half) Marc J. Miguez is currently serving as deputy director for operations, National Joint Operations Intelligence Center, Operations Team Two, J3, Joint Staff, Washington, D.C. Miguez previously served as executive assistant, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
22 May 20. Rear Adm. (lower half) Kurt J. Rothenhaus is currently serving as program executive officer for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence, Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, San Diego, California. Rothenhaus previously served as major program manager for tactical networks, San Diego, California.
22 May 20. Rear Adm. (lower half) Michael S. Sciretta will be assigned as deputy commander, Joint Interagency Task Force-South, U.S. Southern Command, Key West, Florida. Sciretta previously served as director, Navy Senate Liaison, Office of Legislative Affairs, Washington, D.C.
22 May 20. Rear Adm. (lower half) Richard E. Seif Jr. will be assigned as commander, Undersea Warfighting Development Center, Groton, Connecticut. Seif is currently serving as deputy commander for Task Force One Four/Three Four and Task Group 114.3, U.S. Strategic Command, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
22 May 20. Rear Adm. (lower half) Darryl L. Walker is currently serving as deputy director, operations, J3, U.S. Cyber Command, Fort Meade, Maryland. Walker previously served as executive assistant to the chief of naval operations, Washington, D.C.
22 May 20. Rear Adm. (lower half) Robert D. Westendorff will be assigned as chief of naval air training, Corpus Christi, Texas. Westendorff previously served as chief of staff, Naval Air Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, San Diego, California.
22 May 20. Capt. Susan BryerJoyner, selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), will be assigned as Navy Cyber Security Division director, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C. BryerJoyner is currently serving as Cyber Security Division chief, N2N6, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C.
22 May 20. Capt. Matthew J. Burns, selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), will be assigned as assistant commander, Joint Special Operations Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, Tampa, Florida. Burns is currently serving as commander, Naval Special Warfare Development Group, Virginia Beach, Virginia.
22 May 20. Capt. Brian L. Davies, selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), is currently serving as special assistant to commander, Navy Personnel Command, Millington, Tennessee. Davies previously served as director, submarine/nuclear power distribution (PERS 42), Navy Personnel Command, Millington, Tennessee.
22 May 20. Capt. Dion D. English, selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), will be assigned as director, logistics, fleet supply and ordnance, N4, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. English is currently serving as deputy director, supply and distribution, J44, Joint Staff, Washington, D.C.
22 May 20. Capt. Rick Freedman, selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), will be assigned as director, medical systems integration and combat survivability, N44, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C. Freedman is currently serving as executive assistant to the Surgeon General of the Navy, Falls Church, Virginia.
22 May 20. Capt. Thomas M. Henderschedt, selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), is currently serving as naval attaché, Beijing, China.
22 May 20. Capt. Cynthia A. Kuehner, selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), will be assigned as commander, Navy Medical Forces Support Command, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Kuehner is currently serving as head, Commander’s Action Group, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Falls Church, Virginia.
22 May 20. Capt. Jason M. Lloyd, selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), is currently serving as deputy commander for ship design, integration and engineering, SEA-05, Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C. Lloyd previously served as commanding officer, Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia.
22 May 20. Capt. Howard B. Markle, selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), is currently serving as deputy commander, logistics, maintenance and industrial operations (NAVSEA 04), Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C. Markle previously served as executive assistant, Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C.
22 May 20. Capt. Elizabeth S. Okano, selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), will be assigned as program executive officer for integrated warfare systems, Washington, D.C. Okano is currently serving as executive assistant to the assistant secretary of the navy (research, development and acquisition), Washington, D.C.
22 May 20. Capt. Matthew N. Ott III, selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), will be assigned as special assistant for audit readiness, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller), Washington, D.C. Ott is currently serving as chief of staff, Naval Supply Systems Command, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.
22 May 20. Capt. Carlos A. Sardiello, selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), will be assigned as director, joint/fleet operations, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Norfolk, Virginia. Sardiello is currently serving as commanding officer, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), San Diego, California, and previously served as special assistant to commander, naval air forces/commander, naval air force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, San Diego, California.
22 May 20. Capt. Derek A. Trinque, selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), is currently serving as assistant commander for career management, PERS-4, Navy Personnel Command, Millington, Tennessee. Trinque previously served as director, Surface Warfare Officer Distribution Division (PERS 41), Millington, Tennessee.
22 May 20. Capt. John A. Watkins, selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), will be assigned as deputy commander, Tenth Fleet, Fort Meade, Maryland. Watkins is currently serving as chief of staff, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/Tenth Fleet, Fort Meade, Maryland.
22 May 20. Capt. Thomas R. Williams II, selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), will be assigned as director, global integration and engagement, N5I, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C. Williams previously served as executive assistant to the chief of naval operations, Washington, D.C.
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