Sponsored by Lincad
20 Jun 19. How the Pentagon Nickel-and-Dimed Its Way Into Losing a Drone. Wednesday’s downing of a U.S. drone by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard exposes a weakness in U.S. operations. The United States has some of the world’s most sophisticated drones for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. But they were designed for past wars, for use against insurgent forces such as ISIS or the Taliban that cannot track and destroy high-flying aircraft. Iran and other potential adversaries, by contrast, have radar and missiles that can turn some of the U.S. military’s most important drones into expensive, conspicuous targets.
Officials with U.S. Central Command confirmed Thursday morning that the Iranian military had shot down a BAMS-D RQ-4A Global Hawk, an incredibly sophisticated drone that can carry a suite of sensitive and powerful sensors up to 55,000 feet on missions that can last 24 hours.
At $130m apiece (or $220m, including research and development costs), it’s more expensive than the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which costs around $90m apiece these days. Its single turbofan pushes it to speeds around 400 miles per hour on a 131-foot wingspan that affords long dwell times — and is easily spotted on radar.
On Thursday, Islamic Revolution Guards Corps officials declared that they had shot down the drone with an Iranian-made Khordad-3 air defense system. Given the RQ-4’s usual operating altitude, the interceptor missile was likely a TALASH 2B.
A representative from U.S. Central Command declined to confirm the missile type, but did say that Iran did not use its most sophisticated air-defense system, the Russian-made S-300, in the engagement.
In other words, the U.S. military lost one of its most advanced intelligence drones to a mediocre radar and missile. That reflects a lack of suitable next-generation drones to carry out important intelligence and reconnaissance missions against adversaries with actual air defenses. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Defense One; posted June 20, 2019)
20 Jun 19. U.S. official: Must stand with Saudi Arabia as key security partner. The United States must stand with Saudi Arabia as a key security partner, a U.S. State Department official said on Thursday when asked about an English court ruling that Britain broke the law by allowing certain arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Clarke Cooper told reporters on a teleconference that both the United States and Britain had long-standing bilateral ties to Saudi Arabia, despite what he called “difficult situations.”
“They are carrying a significant amount of equity to protect U.S. interests and U.S. persons, and it is incumbent upon us to stand shoulder to shoulder with our partners, especially when they are on the front line for our interests,” he said. (Source: Reuters)
20 Jun 19. Senate rejects Saudi arms sales in rebuke to Trump. The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted to block the sale of billions of dollars in military sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries, rejecting President Donald Trump’s decision to sidestep Congress’ review of such deals by declaring an emergency over Iran.
Trump has promised to veto the Senate action in order to proceed with the deals, worth some $8.1bn. Senators would need 67 votes to override his veto, which looked unlikely after Thursday’s votes. The first and second resolutions of disapproval passed 53-45 and a third vote covering the remaining 20 resolutions was 51-45.
Backers of the resolutions, led by Democrat Bob Menendez and Republican Lindsey Graham, said they sent a bipartisan message to Saudi Arabia that Washington is not happy about human rights abuses, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.
Many also expressed deep concern with Saudi Arabia and the UAE over the war in Yemen, where the two countries are battling Iran-backed Houthi rebels. The United Nations has described the conflict in Yemen, which has killed tens of thousands of people including thousands of civilians, as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. (Source: Reuters)
19 Jun 19. House passes $983bn spending package. The Democratic-controlled House passed a $985bn appropriations package for fiscal 2020 that aims to fund national security at $17bn less than the White House requested, end the post-2001 war authorizations after eight months, pull military support in Yemen and defund the W76-2 nuclear warhead.
The vote was 225-203, with seven Democrats voting with the Republican minority. Zero Republicans voted for the bill.
It’s a salvo from Democrats in FY20 budget negotiations with the GOP-controlled Senate and White House, and the White House has threatened that President Donald Trump would veto the massive bill. Beyond the above provisions and others, the administration strongly objected to language meant to block Pentagon funds being applied to a wall on the southern border.
The threat foreshadows pushback from the Senate and the White House, in part because both advocated for a $750bn national defense budget, while the House-passed bill is consistent with a $733bn national defense budget. (The House bill would fund the Pentagon alone at $ bn less than the White House request.)
The four-bill “minibus” contained the two largest of the 12 annual appropriations bills; the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill and the Defense bill. For the defense, it totaled $645.1bn in base-defense funding, and $68.1bn in the budget-cap-exempt wartime funding account.
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., emphasized the package’s investments outside the Pentagon, including a 4 percent increase in State Department funding.
“This bill rejects the administration’s unacceptable budget request and irresponsible policies and, rather, strives to uphold many bipartisan congressional priorities,” Lowey said when the bill was introduced. “America’s foreign policy is strongest when diplomacy, development and defense are well-funded and equally prioritized, as many of today’s global challenges cannot be addressed by military intervention alone.”
Republicans have opposed the minibus as an empty exercise because Congress lacks a bipartisan deal to ease spending caps and avoid across-the-board sequestration cuts. Nor does the bill contain border wall funding sought by conservative Republicans.
“Moving these bills as-is is a wasted opportunity because the bills are far from what the president has requested and will support,” said the House Appropriations Committee’s ranking member, Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas.
“Defense spending does not meet the request while nondefense spending greatly exceeds the request in current levels. This could lead to a veto and another government shutdown, something both [parties] agree would be devastating ― in addition to these funding concerns.”
The White House issued a veto threat last week that spelled out its objections to provisions in the bill that would end the post-2001 war authorizations after eight months and pull military support in Yemen―and because the House parked less defense spending in the budget-cap skirting war fund.
The language surrounding the authorization for the use of military force, Granger said, could jeopardize the Pentagon’s ability to conduct military operations worldwide. “It’s a bad policy that will force the DoD to unwind counterterrorism operations overseas if the Congress and the president cannot agree on a new authorization,” she said.
To avoid another government shutdown, 12 appropriations bills must pass Congress and get the president’s signature by Oct. 1. Negotiations between the White House and lead lawmakers on a deal to ease budget caps has been ongoing, according to a statement last week by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.. (The Senate Appropriations Committee hasn’t yet moved any of its bills.)
Another likely sticking point in budget talks with the GOP-controlled Senate and the White House is the minibus’ bill’s prohibition on the Defense Department spending funds to implement its policy on open transgender service. The vote to approve an amendment that contained the prohibition broke mostly along party lines, 234-183.
The amendment targets a March 12 memo that would largely bar transgender troops and military recruits from transitioning to another gender, and require most individuals to serve in their birth sex..
The House defeated Republican amendments that would have added back $19.6m for the W76-2 low-yield submarine-launched nuclear warhead and would have added back $96m for “conventional missile systems” in the range of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. However, it also defeated a Democratic amendment that would have barred funding for research on the Long Range Standoff weapon.
The bill was passed out of committee with language to restrict the Pentagon’s authority to transfer money between accounts to $1.5 bn ― a response from Democrats to the administration’s use of defense funds for Trump’s proposed border wall.
Next week, the House is expected to take up a separate minibus that contains the Department of Homeland Security spending bill, which was at the heart of last year’s 35-day government shutdown.
19 Jun 19. U.S. foreign arms sales hit $44.15bn in first three quarters of FY2019. The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has executed $44.15bn in U.S. foreign arms sales through June 19, and the agency’s director said he was optimistic the total for the full year would reach last year’s $55.66bn.
DSCA Director U.S. Army Lieutenant General Charles Hooper told business executives and reporters the U.S. government was continuing its concerted drive to step up arms sales to improve the capabilities of allies and accelerate the process.
“I think things are going well, and remember, we still have a quarter left to go,” he said at the Paris Airshow, where more than 400 U.S. companies are exhibiting their aerospace and defense equipment.
Fiscal 2018 arms sales rose 33 percent above the year earlier level, and could rise further in the current fiscal year.
Hooper told Reuters after his speech that he could not predict the full year level for fiscal 2019, but said he was optimistic last year’s total would be reached again.
“I look at this total. I think we’ve come a long way. I’m always optimistic,” he said.
Hooper said a move by DSCA to reduce the administrative surcharge on foreign arms sales from 3.5 percent to 3.2 percent had already saved its customers $180m. The U.S. government was also working to speed deliveries to countries that purchased U.S. weapons, Hooper said. For instance, he said one country that had ordered the Raytheon Co Patriot missile defense system would receive initial equipment in just two years, far more quickly than in the past. He said foreign military sales to the European area accounted for over $13.11bn of total arms sales executed in fiscal 2018.
Industry executives at the Paris Airshow say demand for weapons in Europe is increasing, in part due to increased threats from Russia, as well as pressure from the United States on European allies to spending on their own security. (Source: Reuters)
18 Jun 19. Lockheed Martin hits back at F-35 concerns. Lockheed Martin has released a series of statements addressing concerns from a recent report about the F-35 program’s timeline and performance. US Department of Defense (DOD) documents obtained by US military journal Defense News have revealed a series of continued flaws and glitches in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fleet – with documents noting that 13 category 1 problems were identified for the F-35 program.
A category 1 problem is considered the most serious type of deficiency by the F-35 Joint Program Office, with the following criteria:
- Could cause death, severe injury or illness;
- Could cause loss or damage to the aircraft or its equipment;
- Critically restricts the operator’s ability to be ready for combat;
- Prevents the jet from performing well enough to accomplish its primary or secondary missions;
- Results in a work stoppage at the production line; or
- Blocks mission-critical test points.
Some of the issues outlined in the reports from Defense News include concerns of cabin over-pressurisation, the handling of the JSF at supersonic speeds and sharp manoeuvring, as well as technical problems such as blown tires, brake lines and issues with the hydraulic systems.
F-35 original equipment manufacturer Lockheed Martin has hit back at the mounting concerns and growing list of flaws highlighted in US DOD reports and the subsequent coverage by Defense News.
Lockheed Martin’s statement is below:
The F-35s today are meeting or exceeding performance specifications and delivering unprecedented capability and safety compared to legacy fighter aircraft. The feedback we receive from F-35 pilots is exceptional – and any pilot who has flown a legacy jet consistently relays back that if they are being sent in to harm’s way – they want the F-35, every time.
These issues are important to address, and each is well understood, already resolved or on a near-term path to resolution. We’ve worked collaboratively with our customers and we are fully confident in the F-35’s performance and the solutions in place to address each of the items identified.
ALIS Sovereign Data Management
ALIS meets data sovereignty requirements. Late last year, some customers requested that the F-35 enterprise develop additional capability to enable more data control.
We rolled out the additional Sovereign Data Management tool to international F-35 operators earlier this year, which allows them to manage aspects of their data that is sent to the F-35 Hybrid Production Support Integration (HPSI) team – and early feedback from the fleet is positive. It is also important to note that this has no impact to mission performance or safety of flight.
Part Inventory Data
This is a major focus at Lockheed Martin and we are implementing several actions including automation and enhanced supplier accountability processes that are delivering improved performance. Through automation, data is now vetted and validated automatically versus manually, improving speed and ensuring accurate EEL information is present before a part is delivered to the flight line.
With these new actions and related efforts, we’ve seen a 50 percent reduction in EEL and other action requests since 2017. We are confident this is on a path to resolution, which will reduce maintenance times and increase readiness rates. It is also important to note that this has no impact to mission performance or safety of flight.
The cabin pressure performance today meets the specified requirement. There have been no reported cases of barotrauma in the fleet and our joint government and industry analysis shows that risk of barotrauma is minimal and that there is no imminent safety issue.The enterprise is always reviewing pilot experience improvements and we have an update that performed successfully in lab testing and will now be flight tested for future integration, based on customer timing priorities.
Cold Weather Battery Performance
This was identified during extreme cold weather testing at negative 30 degrees or below at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska in February 2018. The probability of the issue reoccurring on aircraft in the operational fleet is very low and with minimal impact to safety of flight or operational performance.
We have developed an update to the software and the battery’s heater control system to resolve this issue – and this updated software is available for users today to load on their aircraft in the event they will be conducting extreme cold weather operations. This will also cut into production in the 2021 timeframe. We are confident this is on a path to resolution.
F-35B and F-35C Horizontal Tail Durability at Sustained Supersonic Flight
The F-35B and C deliver on all performance requirements. The potential for tailboom or horizontal tail damage during prolonged supersonic speeds was found in the highest extremes of flight testing conditions that are unlikely replicated in operational scenarios. In fact, there have been no cases of this issue occurring in the operational fleet. Additionally, this is not identified as a safety of flight concern.
We implemented a change to the coatings on the horizontal tails and tail boom beginning in Lot 8 that increases durability and resolves this concern. This update allows the F-35B and C to deliver on all performance requirements with no tail boom or horizontal tail damage concerns.
F-35B and F-35C Angle of Attack (AOA)
We’ve implemented an update to the flight control system that is planned for integration in the third quarter of this year – and we expect this item to be resolved or downgraded.
Hydraulic Lines Ruptures Caused by Blown Tires
The F-35 has two redundant hydraulic lines and there has never been a case of both lines being impacted, which ensures safe operations. Brake control software updates and pilot training have alleviated this concern and resulted in a significant drop in blown tire events. Additionally, we made minor adjustments to the location placement of hydraulic lines on the F-35C that has resolved the potential for line breaks.
We believe the item is resolved and are standing by for additional customer feedback.
Helmet “Green Glow”
The U.S. Navy continues to fly with their current helmet, demonstrating their confidence in the system, and pilots with greater than 50 night landings operate with the current Gen II helmet at night. The improved Gen III helmet has already been designed, tested and is now being qualified for use. The first few of these new helmets have been delivered and we anticipate the upgraded helmets will resolve both the green glow and night vision conditions identified.
Additionally, as camera and OLED technology advances rapidly, we expect the F-35 helmet to continue to deliver unprecedented levels of situational awareness for pilots and only improve further over time.
Radar Sea Search
The F-35’s current radar sea search function meets the enterprises’ required specification. As we modernise the F-35, we are bringing enhanced search capabilities, which represent an increase from the original requirements, and we stand ready to integrate the upgrade in the future, based on customer priorities and direction.
Thrust limits on hot days
We are supporting the Joint Program Office and Pratt and Whitney, and they can best address questions related to the F-35’s engine, which is Government Furnished Equipment to Lockheed Martin.
Australia has committed to the purchase of 72 F-35A aircraft, at a cost of $17bn, for three operational squadrons to be based at RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal, as well as a training squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown.
The RAAF is also considering a fourth operational squadron for RAAF Base Amberley, which would see the amount of purchased F-35 JSF aircraft increased to 100. The first F-35s were accepted into Australian service in 2018, with all 72 currently ordered aircraft to be fully operational by 2023. (Source: Defence Connect)
17 Jun 19. Statement From Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan on Additional Forces to U.S. Central Command. In response to a request from the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) for additional forces, and with the advice of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in consultation with the White House, I have authorized approximately 1,000 additional troops for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East. The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region. The United States does not seek conflict with Iran. The action today is being taken to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests. We will continue to monitor the situation diligently and make adjustments to force levels as necessary given intelligence reporting and credible threats. (Source: US DoD)
Lincad is a leading expert in the design and manufacture of batteries, chargers and associated products for a range of applications across a number of different sectors. With a heritage spanning more than three decades in the defence and security sectors, Lincad has particular expertise in the development of reliable, ruggedised products with high environmental, thermal and electromagnetic performance. With a dedicated team of engineers and production staff, all product is designed and manufactured in-house at Lincad’s facility in Ash Vale, Surrey. Lincad is ISO 9001 and TickITplus accredited and works closely with its customers to satisfy their power management requirements.
Lincad is also a member of the Joint Supply Chain Accreditation Register (JOSCAR), the accreditation system for the aerospace, defence and security sectors, and is certified with Cyber Essentials, the government-backed, industry supported scheme to help organisations protect themselves against common cyber attacks. The majority of Lincad’s products contain high energy density lithium-ion technology, but the most suitable technology for each customer requirement is employed, based on Lincad’s extensive knowledge of available electrochemistries. Lincad offers full life cycle product support services that include repairs and upgrades from point of introduction into service, through to disposal at the end of a product’s life. From product inception, through to delivery and in-service product support, Lincad offers the high quality service that customers expect from a recognised British supplier.