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15 Nov 19. Amazon strikes back at Trump over $10bn Jedi contract. Bezos’s company accuses US administration of ‘unmistakable bias’ in award to Microsoft. The legal threat escalates the animosity between Jeff Bezos and Donald Trump, who in the past has mocked the owner of the Washington Post as ‘Jeff Bozo’ on Twitter. Amazon will appeal the Trump administration’s decision to grant a $10bn defence contract to its rival Microsoft, accusing the US government of having shown “unmistakable bias” in its procurement process. The company said on Thursday it was lodging a legal case against the decision, following accusations that Donald Trump manipulated the process to harm Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder. The Pentagon awarded the so-called Jedi cloud computing contract to Microsoft last month after several rounds of bidding, a legal challenge from one of the bidders, and a last-minute intervention by the US president.
An Amazon spokesperson said in a statement: “AWS [Amazon’s cloud computing service] is uniquely experienced and qualified to provide the critical technology the US military needs, and remains committed to supporting the Department of Defence’s modernisation efforts. “We also believe it’s critical for our country that the government and its elected leaders administer procurements objectively and in a manner that is free from political influence. Numerous aspects of the Jedi evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias — and it’s important that these matters be examined and rectified.”
The Pentagon refused to comment on what it called “potential litigation”. Four companies originally bid for the contract, which has been bitterly fought over as it would allow one company to handle much of the Pentagon’s data and communication systems. Microsoft and Amazon were the two bidders to be shortlisted, and the path seemed to have been cleared for a final decision earlier this year after judges dismissed a legal challenge from Oracle, one of those not shortlisted. Many had expected Amazon to win the contract, given it is the only company currently able to encrypt data to the “top secret” level the Pentagon requires. However Mr Trump threw the process into doubt at the last moment, warning that “great companies” had complained about it.
His words were interpreted as an attack on Amazon, as he named Oracle, IBM and Microsoft — the other three bidders — as the complainants. Recommended US Department of Defense Microsoft wins $10bn Pentagon cloud contract Mr Trump has regularly clashed with Mr Bezos, not least over his ownership of the Washington Post newspaper. A book by a former Pentagon official released last month claimed Mr Trump wanted to “screw” Amazon by denying it the Jedi contract. Amazon would not give any further details on its legal appeal. But according to a report in the Federal Times earlier on Thursday, Andy Jassy, the Amazon AWS chief executive, told staff earlier in the day he wanted to “shine a light” on the process. The magazine said it had obtained a video in which Mr Jassy told Amazon employees: “I think when you have a sitting president who’s willing to publicly show his disdain for a company and the leader of a company, it’s very difficult for government agencies including the DoD to make an objective decision without fear of reprisal.” (Source: FT.com)
15 Nov 19. The U.S. Navy’s Big Mistake: ‘Sinking’ Billions of Dollars Into Aircraft Carriers. The carrier won’t dominate forever. Here’s why. Key point: Better to adjust to the new reality before a surprise innovation proves you wrong.
“History,” it has been written, “does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.” Today it’s rhyming with Gen. Billy Mitchell. In the 1920s, Mitchell challenged conventional thinking by advocating air power at sea in the face of a naval establishment dominated by battleship proponents.
The hubris of the “battleship Navy” was such that just nine days before Pearl Harbor, the official program for the 1941 Army-Navy game displayed a full page photograph of the battleship USS Arizona with language virtually extolling its invincibility.
Of course, the reason that no one had yet sunk a battleship from the air — in combat — was that no one had yet tried.
In fact, Mitchell sank a captured German battleship, the Ostfriesland, in an aerial demonstration back in 1921, but the Navy said that the test proved nothing. Two of the observers that day were officials from Japan.
In addition, the architect of the Pearl Harbor attack, Isoroku Yamamoto, was a student at Harvard at the time and no doubt read accounts of the event that were widely reported in the newspapers.
The aircraft carrier decisively replaced the battleship as the Navy’s sea control capital ship, but its reign in that capacity was, in reality, quite brief. The aircraft carrier established its ascendancy in the Battle of Midway and was the centerpiece of five major sea battles between 1942 and 1944.
Yet, following the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944, the U.S. Navy repositioned the aircraft carrier as a platform to project power ashore. The United States did not lose a fleet carrier in the war after the Hornet went down in 1942, because Japan’s surface fleet had been devastated. Nor did Tokyo effectively use its submarines.
That track record, just as the boast in the Army/Navy game program, however, is not an indication that a carrier cannot be sunk — or put out of commission — but rather the fact that since 1945, the U.S. Navy has never engaged another navy in battle that tried.
“Projecting the past into the future is risky business — especially when we’re unsure what that past was,” James Holmes, a naval warfare expert at the U.S. Naval War College wrote.
Which brings us to today. The U.S. Navy has fallen into a troubling pattern of designing and acquiring new classes of ships that would arguably best be left as single ship — or at most in limited numbers. It’s also building several types of new aircraft that fail to meet specifications.
The Navy is developing a new class of supercarriers that cannot function properly, and has designed them to launch F-35 fighters that are not ready to fly their missions. This is all happening during an era of out-of-control budgets, which bodes poorly for American sea power and leadership ahead.
That the Navy is concentrating larger percentages of its total force structure on large, high signature and increasingly vulnerable ships endangers America’s future. Fortunately, there’s better options to the status quo if the Navy moves now.
Before asking whether it makes sense to continue to invest in aircraft carriers, we must ask the question whether we can afford them.
The Pentagon commissioned the USS George H.W. Bush in 2009 at a cost of $6.1 billion. America’s most recent aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, will cost more than double that in constant dollars. The carriers’ air wings cost about 70 percent again the cost of the ship itself.
In an era when personnel costs — including healthcare and pensions — are consuming the military from within, the fact that these craft require 46 percent of the Navy’s personnel to man and support places them in the crosshairs in an extreme budget-constrained environment.
The Center for Budgetary and Strategic Assessments stated that being the most expensive piece of military equipment in the world makes “them a prime — and perhaps even a necessary target — in this era of belt tightening.”
If 11 carriers — as required by legislation — is the minimal number required to have an effective supercarrier force, then carrier proponents are hoist upon their own petard.
“If our fleet of small numbers is so fragile that it cannot afford the loss of a single ship due to budgeting, how will it survive the inevitable losses of combat?” Commander Phillip E. Pournelle wrote in Proceedings.
That day has already come. As of early 2014, the Navy only has 10 operational supercarriers. Sequestration delayed the deployment of the Harry S. Trumanand has the Navy scrambling to come up with funds to refuel the Abraham Lincoln, raising the question whether the latter will ever come back into service.
It appears dubious that the Ford will have overcome major development issues to come into service in 2016.
Furthermore, if sequestration persists, the Navy might have to mothball four of nine air wings, making the discussion of 11 carrier platforms moot. Due to these substantial constraints, the Congressional Budget Office and former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel both floated the possibility of the Navy going down to as few as eight supercarriers.
The Navy, like the other services, has proven itself incapable of running an effective weapons acquisition program in recent decades. Instead, the services pay increasingly more money for progressively fewer units that often fail to meet original specifications.
The current shipbuilding plan calls for the Navy to have 306 ships while the actual number has dwindled 285. The CBO recently concluded that there is approximately a 30 percent gap between what the Navy would require to meet its shipbuilding plan and what it will likely obtain through the appropriation process.
The Navy’s own acquisitions chief recently told Congress that given the current trends and budget outlook, the Navy could slip to as few as 240 shipsin the next several decades.
The commitment to aircraft carriers is literally cannibalizing the rest of the Navy and simultaneously interfering with its ability to meet emerging requirements and threats.
Work began in 2005 on the Ford at an estimated procurement cost of $10.5bn, which later increased to $12.8 and most recently to $14.2bn and rising. Unfortunately, as the General Accountability Office noted in a recent report — issued when the Ford was 56 percent complete — that “our previous work has shown that the full extent of cost growth does not usually manifest itself until after the ship is more than 60 percent complete.”
Stating that the “plan may prove unexecutable,” the GAO added that the Fordwill be unlikely to fill the gap created by the scheduled decommissioning of the Enterprise. Worse, the Ford would “likely face operational limitations that extend past commissioning and into initial deployments.”
The already stretched multi-year procurement budget assumes that the Navy will spend $43bn to procure the Ford and two other carriers of this class at the pace of one every five years, which does not include any additional cost overruns.
Unfortunately, cost estimates for the F-35Cs slated to fly off the Ford’s decks have almost doubled while performance concerns continue to mount.
Calling the Navy estimates “optimistic,” the GAO exhorted the service to “improve the realism” of the budget projections. Meanwhile the CBO has floated various options including canceling future procurement of Ford-class carriers. The Navy is currently trying to shift part of the funding for completion until after delivery of the first ship in an apparent attempt to obscure the extent of the overruns.
The surface fleet procurement program has suffered a massive disconnect between emerging capabilities and system design. Naval Operations chief Adm. Jonathan Greenert discussed the revolution in precision-weaponry such that “instead of sorties per aimpoint, we now commonly speak of aimpoints per sortie.”
But instead of leveraging this massive improvement in precision weapons, the Ford-class carriers were designed prior to his tenure and the costs have driven through the roof. This was in order to include new, untested technologies that dramatically increased the number of sorties that could be launched even though the performance ratios were going dramatically in the opposite direction.
Vulnerable to attack
The economies of scale that favored the carrier as a force projection instrument were made possible by the ability of such behemoths to operate close to shore with impunity. That age is drawing to a close.
The famed Adm. Horatio Nelson observed that “a ship’s a fool to fight a fort.” In the new age that is dawning, the “fort” is an increasingly sophisticated range of over-the-horizon anti-ship missiles that render surface ships vulnerable, and which will deny them proximity to the coastlines where U.S. carriers have reigned for decades.
These include ballistic missiles fired from a wide range of platforms, including easy to conceal mobile launchers. In a sweeping 2013 paper on the carrier’s future, Navy Capt. Henry Hendrix estimated China could produce 1,227 DF-21D ballistic anti-ship missiles for the cost of a single U.S. carrier. (Source: News Now/https://nationalinterest.org)
13 Nov 19. North Korea rebuffs U.S. offer of December talks, urges halt in military drills. North Korea said on Thursday it had turned down a U.S. offer for fresh talks, saying it was not interested in more talks merely aimed at “appeasing us” ahead of a year-end deadline Pyongyang has set for Washington to show more flexibility in the negotiations.
Kim Myong Gil, the North’s nuclear negotiator, said in a report carried by state media that Stephen Biegun, his U.S. counterpart who jointly led last month’s failed denuclearisation talks in Stockholm, had offered through a third country to meet again.
Kim and Biegun met last month in the Swedish capital for the first time since U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed in June to re-open negotiations that have been stalled since a failed summit in Vietnam in February.
But the Stockholm meeting fell apart, with Kim Myong Gil saying the U.S. side had failed to present a new approach.
“If the negotiated solution of issues is possible, we are ready to meet with the U.S. at any place and any time,” Kim Myong Gil said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.
But he called Biegun’s proposal a “sinister aim of appeasing us in a bid to pass with ease” Pyongyang’s year-end deadline. “We have no willingness to have such negotiations.”
North Korea has been seeking a lifting of punishing sanctions, but the United States has insisted Kim Jong Un must dismantle his nuclear weapons programme first.
The North Korean statement came after General Mark Milley, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, reaffirmed that the United States was ready to use the “full range” of its capabilities to defend South Korea from any attack.
Senior U.S. defence officials are gathering in Seoul for annual meetings as the two countries face intensifying threats from North Korea to stop joint military drills.
The United States is also seeking a greater financial contribution from South Korea for hosting American troops, while urging Seoul to revoke its decision to scrap an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan known as GSOMIA, which Washington worries would undermine trilateral cooperation.
Milley met his South Korean counterpart General Park Han-ki for the annual Military Committee Meeting (MCM) on Thursday.
Both sides discussed ways to maintain solid defence posture and a planned transfer of wartime operational control to South Korea, a joint statement said, even as they have scaled back joint exercises to expedite negotiations with North Korea.
Milley reiterated the “continued commitment to providing extended deterrence”, the statement said.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper was arriving in Seoul later on Thursday, ahead of a meeting with South Korean Defence Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo for the annual Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) on Friday.
Esper said on Wednesday he was open to changes in U.S. military activity in South Korea if it helped diplomats trying to jump-start stalled talks with North Korea.
Kim Yong Chol, a senior North Korean official who led negotiations in the run-up to the Vietnam summit, said late on Thursday that he hoped Esper meant to completely halt the joint drills.
Kim Yong Chol, a senior North Korean official who led negotiations in the run-up to the Vietnam summit, said late on Thursday that Esper meant to completely halt the joint drills.
“I assess his comment reflected Trump’s thinking and was part of the U.S. side’s positive efforts to revive the momentum for talks,” he said in a statement carried by KCNA.
“But if … the hostile provocation against us is carried out, we won’t help but responding with shocking punishment that the United States can’t afford.”
Pyongyang has decried the U.S.-South Korea exercises as hostile, even in the current reduced form. On Wednesday, it threatened to retaliate if the allies go ahead with scheduled drills in a rare statement from the State Affairs Commission, a top governing body chaired by leader Kim Jong Un.
Cheong Seong-chang, a senior fellow at South Korea’s Sejong Institute think-tank, said the North’s statement appeared to be aimed at justifying future North Korean military actions.
Milley has hinted at raising the troop cost-sharing and Japan issues, though the joint statement did not address them directly.
Trump’s insistence Seoul take on a greater share of the cost of the 28,500-strong U.S. military presence as deterrence against North Korea has rattled South Korea. It could also set a precedent for upcoming U.S. negotiations on defence cost-sharing with other allies. (Source: Reuters)
13 Nov 19. Speed-of-Light Weaponry Requires Faster Acquisition Timelines. America’s adversaries are rapidly advancing their offensive capabilities with hypersonic missiles, which can fly at more than five times the speed of sound. Addressing this threat will require new defenses, such as directed energy weapons, which reach targets at the speed of light, have much larger magazines, cost less per shot, and engage targets with precision far beyond traditional kinetic weapons.
Recognizing this threat, both the House and Senate appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2020 reflect notable funding increases, as high as $656 million, for hypersonics and hypersonics defense, underscoring that this should be an even higher priority for the Pentagon.
But realizing the promise of directed energy for hypersonics defense will require much more than increased funding. In order to more rapidly deliver this fast-evolving technology to men and women in uniform, the Pentagon must also find ways to accelerate the current acquisition process.
The structure of the Pentagon’s existing acquisition governance unintentionally incentivizes the industrial base to slow-roll cutting-edge technology advancements and force-fit the solutions they developed years ago, keeping directed energy and other advanced technology from getting from the lab to the warfighters.
There are a few key factors contributing to this issue. First, acquisition timelines for defense systems technology are too long. The typical development lifecycle for mature advanced technology is at least 18 to 24 months and the ensuing acquisition cycle can be more than twice as long. Early and continuous internal investment from industry has such delayed returns that fast-following or aligning to sub-optimized system requirements is more profitable. By the time a solution reaches the warfighters it is usually at least four years old, which in advanced technologies, may as well be a lifetime.
The good news is that the Pentagon has already taken steps to accelerate the acquisition process. For example, its Rapid Innovation Fund program offers up to $3m in funding for new technologies that meet national security needs. Plus, Other Transaction Authority agreements allow the military to buy small quantities of new technology solutions for prototyping and testing. The Defense Department should continue these efforts while continuously searching for new approaches and incentives to expedite the acquisition processes at a larger scale.
A second challenge is that acquisition plans are often developed too far in advance, precluding innovations that emerge at the wrong moment in the development cycle relative to the acquisition timeline. When the plan is set years before execution, it is guaranteed to exclude meaningful technology developments that happen in that intervening time. With no mechanism to sell a new idea that emerges too late to be planned in, there is no incentive for the developer to introduce technology advances that could increase capability or operational suitability, and the government has no meaningful way to extract or reward cutting-edge solutions over older technologies that meet minimum requirements.
In order to overcome this and introduce innovation as soon as it’s available, we need to establish a common roadmap for the future. The military cannot complete its missions if the defense industry is not up to speed on the Pentagon’s emerging needs. Therefore, we need a single roadmap to ensure alignment between the warfighter’s operational needs and industry-led independent research and development, which industry and all branches of the military can follow.
Lastly, national and defense service laboratories are funded for research, development, and technology maturation, but their technology transition plans don’t sufficiently motivate industry developers to pick up these technical solutions for application in operationally relevant systems. While these efforts are more directly connected to long-term acquisition planning than those internal to industry players, they are neither programmed nor designed sufficiently to transition to full-scale deployment where the technology is needed.
In order to transition this technology more effectively, the Pentagon should ensure labs are focused on operational prototypes of directed energy weapons that provide residual combat capability to warfighters. This will allow the military to gather operational data from the field, inform system integration efforts with actual experience, and instill confidence that these weapons will be effective on the battlefield.
With these three factors at play, the acquisition approach pushes system developers to select and invest in a technology path early, and then stick with that path as technology evolves over the years-long cycle from internal investment to financial returns.
The current approach prevents the brightest ideas and best technical solutions from reaching our warfighters in a timely manner. However, with some adjustments to the process, the department and industry can work together to speed the development, access, and results of advanced technologies, ensuring that those millions of dollars invested in directed energy and evolving technology achieve their full potential. (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
14 Nov 19. F-35 Operational Evaluation Suspended, Will Not Resume Before Mid-2020. Senior US lawmakers said Wednesday they’re unlikely to authorize the Pentagon to award a coveted multi-year contract to build F-35 Unless the program solves such problems as chronic shortages of spare parts that often wear out quicker than anticipated, USNI News reported yesterday.
Speaking during a joint hearing of two House Armed Services subcommittees, Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), chairman of the readiness subcommittee, said the F-35 program is still plagued by high operating costs, inadequate repair capacity, spare part shortages and poor reliability of replacement parts. In addition, the failure of the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) to function as planned is compounding the spare parts problems.
In parallel, the Pentagon’s head of operational test and evaluation yesterday revealed for the first time that the F-35’s Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) has been suspended, and will not resume before mid-2020 at the earliest.
The summer of 2020 is also the time when the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin expect to field a modernized, upgraded version of the F-35’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), Defense Daily reported Nov. 13. While Pentagon Undersecretary of Defense Ellen M. Lord told reporters last month that the end of the IOT&E would be delayed, she did not say that it had been suspended, which puts the failure on a different scale. The reason for the suspension is that the Joint Simulation Environment (JSE), which is required to fully test the aircraft’s capabilities, is not ready, and will not be for another nine months or so.
Many previously unknown facts about the F-35’s shortcomings and the suspension of its IOT&E until mid-2020 were disclosed during Nov. 13 hearings by two subcommittees of the House Armed Services Committee, which posted this video.
The JSE will not be ready to start final phase of operational testing until July , Robert Behler, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, said during a Nov. 13 joint hearing of two subcommittees of the House Armed Services Committee. he said. In turn, this means that a decision on moving the program into full-scale production will not be taken until early fiscal 2021. “There are enormous challenges and there are a lot of unknown unknowns still out there.”
“The Joint Simulation Environment is essential,” Behler explained. “The JSE is a man-in-the-loop synthetic environment that uses actual [F-35] aircraft software. It is designed to provide scalable, high-fidelity, operationally realistic simulation. I would like to emphasize that the JSE will be the only venue available other than actual combat against peer adversaries. To adequately evaluate the F-35, due to the inherent limitations of open-air testing, these limitations do not permit a full and adequate test of the aircraft against the required types and density of modern threat systems, including weapons, aircraft, and electronic warfare that are currently fielded by our near-peer adversaries. Integrating the F-35 into the JSE is a very complex challenge, but is required to complete IOT&E, which will lead to my final IOTE report.”
“So far, the JOTT [Joint Operational Test Team] has conducted 91% of the open air-test missions, actual weapons employment, cybersecurity testing, deployments and comparison testing with fourth-generation fighters, including the congressionally directed comparison test of the F-35A and the A-10C,” Behler added.
“Operational suitability of the F-35 fleet remains below service expectations,” Behler also said. “In particular, no F-35 variant meets the specified reliability or maintainability metrics. In short, [for] all variants, the aircraft are breaking more often and are taking longer to fix,” even though several suitability metrics are showing signs of improvement this year.
“There are two phases of IOT&E remaining,” Behler said. “The first is electronic warfare testing against robust surface-to-air threats at the Point Mugu [California] Sea Range. The other is testing against dense surface and air threats in the Joint Simulation Environment [JSE] at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River [Maryland]. I would approve the start of these tests when the necessary test infrastructure is ready.” (Source: Defense-Aerospace.com)
13 Nov 19. Milley Describes Indo-Pacific Region as U.S. Military’s ‘Main Effort.’ The U.S. military capabilities allotted to the region illustrate that the Indo-Pacific is the focus of the U.S. military’s main effort, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in Tokyo.
Army Gen. Mark A. Milley spoke today to Japanese and American reporters at the conclusion of a meeting he had with Japanese leaders.
Milley noted that the National Defense Strategy puts the Indo-Pacific region front and center. The region is home to the four most populous countries in the world: China, India, the United States and Indonesia, and it has the largest military forces in the world. The return of great power competition as a threat to the United States is played out in the Pacific, with China and Russia both trying to change the rules-based international order that has served the region so well.
“It is the No. 1 regional priority for the United States military,” Milley said.
It’s important that the United States, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and other friends and allies in the region remain unified.”
Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
The United States is a global power, he said, capable of doing more than one thing at a time. In Europe, the United States counts on the NATO alliance to help guard American interests, Milley said. In the Pacific, the bilateral treaty allies — Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand — are the bedrock for U.S. diplomatic, economic, political and military efforts, he added.
The purpose of U.S. efforts in Europe and Asia is to maintain peace and security, the chairman said. ”The bumper sticker for Indo-Pacific is ‘a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Milley said. ”That has been a U.S. policy … in one way or another for well over a century.”
All of the nations of the region have benefitted from the rules-based international order since it was put in place at the end of World War II, he said, and the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is the military component of the policy.
U.S. Central Command is much in the news today for its fight violent extremist organization terrorist organizations and its dealing to deter Iran — a regional malign actor.But with more than 300,000 service members and Defense Department civilians, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command dwarfs Centcom, the chairman said. The U.S. Pacific Air Forces alone is the second largest air force in the world. By itself, the U.S. Pacific Fleet would be the largest Navy in the world. The Army has a division in Hawaii and another in South Korea, as well as a significant presence in Alaska, the general said.
“We’ve got a Marine division forward-based west of the [international date line] in Okinawa,” he said. “There is no other region in the world that has the amount, the capacity and the … military capability like we do in the Indo-Pacific.”
Great power competition in part of the calculus with China in the Indo-Pacific region. “We need to continue to engage with China,” the general said. “China is a strategic competitor to be sure, [but] it doesn’t necessarily mean that China becomes an adversary in the military sense of the word, or an enemy. But having said that, it’s important that the United States, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and other friends and allies in the region remain unified,” the chairman continued. “We have a common set of values, and we have a common set of national security interests.”
China is building a very capable military, Milley said. “They’ve had extraordinary growth and wealth over the last 40 years,” he added. “And following that growth and wealth is an increased military capability that they undoubtedly are demonstrating that they’re willing to use in a variety of ways throughout the region.”
China is trying to assert sovereignty over the South China Sea, he said. “They’ve got a wide variety of other activities that they’ve been undertaking throughout the region that cause nations within the region to have concern about Chinese intentions going forward,” the chairman said.
The United States is not the only nation in the region worried by Chinese activities, Milley noted. Japan, South Korea, Australia and others have expressed concerns on the international stage, he said, and they must work together to maintain regional balances. “We are committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and will maintain very, very close security ties with our partner nations in the area,” he said.
The U.S. alliance with Japan is ‘rock solid,’ the chairman said, and Japanese and American service members are very close. “We train together. We have interoperable standards. We do a wide variety of exercises. We have engagements and meetings. We have similar standard operating procedures,” the general said.
The Japan Self-Defense Force and the U.S. military work together in all areas of warfare, including space and cyber — the two newest domains.
The U.S. has about 56,000 service members based in Japan, and those forces aid in the defense of the nation. “We are committed to the mutual defense of both our countries’ national interests in East Asia,” Milley said.
The position in Japan serves both countries well, defense officials have said. The U.S. has the capability to project power overseas from the continental United States, they’ve noted, but it is much more effective and efficient to be closer to the scene. Troops forward-deployed in Asia are more easily deployed and sustained.
“So, for our ships and planes and troops to operate in any region of the world, it very, very much helps to have bases and overflight rights and have friends and allies in the region that can facilitate U.S. military operations,” Milley said.
One of the challenges with forward-basing U.S. forces is readiness, he said, due to restrictions on the available types of training. The general said he broached the subject with his Japanese counterparts during this visit.
“I would also say that constraints and restraints on military training [are] not unique to Japan,” he noted. “It exists in Korea, it exists in Germany, it exists in the continental United States. Things like environmental issues, issues with the neighboring communities and towns of various military bases.”
The U.S. military goes to great lengths to be good neighbors and to abide by local customs and rules to the extent possible while maintaining the required level of tactical and operational readiness, Milley said.
The general is also working to save the bilateral agreement between Japan and South Korea called the General Security of Military Information Agreement. That agreement allows the two nations to quickly share information and intelligence, but disagreements on an unrelated issue mean it may expire Nov. 22.
“The only ones who benefit from that … agreement expiring … is Pyongyang, and Beijing,” he said. “It’s in China’s strategic interest, it’s in North Korea’s strategic interest, to drive a wedge between South Korea and Japan, and South Korea, the United States and Japan. It’s in everybody’s interest — … South Korea, Japan and the United States — to ensure that that agreement does not expire, and that’ll be my message to South Korea.” (Source: US DoD)
13 Nov 19. DOD Focuses on China’s Growing Military Capability. The Defense Department is keenly focused on China and its growing projection of power, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for China said.
Chad Sbragia spoke in Washington today at the “Securing the Belt and Road Initiative” forum sponsored by the National Bureau of Asian Research.
“The unfolding of long-term strategic competition with China really is the defining challenge of our generation,” he said, referring to economic, military and political competition.
China’s leaders announced in October 2017 that they want to assume a global leadership role, based on their authoritative socialist model, Sbragia note. And its 2019 Defense White Paper, published in July, discusses growing capacity to acquire a “strategic dagger,” he said, meaning the capacity to project power in a sophisticated way on a global scale.
“Our vision is to a free and open order for all nations, including China — not coercion and force,” he said.
Years ago, China was a continentally focused power, he said. Then it became maritime-focused, particularly in the East and South China Seas. Today, it seeks to project sophisticated power globally, particularly in areas with heavy Belt and Road Initiative activity, he said.
The BRI is China’s global strategy of investment in infrastructure development, thereby gaining economic leverage in dozens of nations.
“We need diplomatic, economic and security efforts to respond to China’s Belt and Road activities, and they have to be integrated in ways that in the past haven’t been done as well as they should,” Sbragia said. A whole-of-government approach that includes interagency cooperation and working to strengthen alliances and partnerships is key to the U.S. response, he added.
However, the United States is not seeking to contain China or decouple from having a dialogue with Chinese leaders, he said.
There are robust areas of cooperation between the United States and China, he noted, such as in recovering remains of soldiers lost during World War II and holding discussions about deconflicting in space and cyberspace.
In the end, Sbragia said, both China and the United States seek to stabilize their relationship and keep channels of communications open. For his part, he said, he looks forward to more discussions and meetings with his Chinese counterparts, and other DOD leaders likewise hope to engage. (Source: US DoD)
13 Nov 19. F-35 program on track to replace Turkey, Pentagon officials say. Since removing Turkey from the multinational F-35 program over its purchase of a Russian air defense system, the U.S. has found alternate suppliers for all but a dozen components Turkey is producing for the Lockheed-made fighter jet.
As U.S. President Donald Trump met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House on Wednesday, the Pentagon’s F-35 program executive testified in Congress that he expects Turkey will be phased out on schedule, by March 2020. Lockheed and Pratt & Whitney, he said, have “spectacular progress” finding alternate suppliers.
“We began just over a year ago, very quietly but deliberately, taking actions to find alternate sources for all of those parts,” said the program executive, said Lt. Gen. Eric Fick, adding, “We are not quite there yet, so we have, on the air frame side, 11 components we have to mitigate to be at full-rate production … and on the engines, there’s one: integrated bladed rotors, IBR’s.”
Though the U.S. has narrowed the number of parts down from 1,000 to 12, it’s still set to receive previously-ordered parts from Turkey after the March 2020 deadline. As the Pentagon worked to stand up alternative sources, it did not dual-produce the parts, which saved money but added a wrinkle to phasing out Turkey.
Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord affirmed to Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J., that as of Wednesday, Turkey’s exit from the program was not expected to cause any F-35 production delays, calling the Turkish suppliers, “very very good.”
In response to Washington expelling the U.S. from the F-35 program, Erdogan attended an annual Russian air show this summer in Moscow and expressed interest in buying the latest Russian Su-35 fighter jets.
Trump has not yet decided whether to impose congressional sanctions on Turkey for the S-400 purchase. At a joint press conference with Trump at the White House on Wednesday, Erdogan said the two discussed the dispute over the S-400 and F-35 and he held open the possibility of purchasing a Raytheon-made Patriot missile system, which the U.S. previously offered as an alternative to the S-400. Erdogan called a previous U.S. denial of the Patriot systems an “injustice orchestrated against Turkey,” adding: “We have clearly stated to President Trump that under suitable circumstances we can acquire Patriot missiles.” (Source: Defense News)
14 Nov 19. Tactical long-range strike and the heir to the F-111: Reviving the FB-22? Growing conversation about the need for an array of long-range strike options for Australia is gathering speed, with a similar capability required by the both Japan and the US, and European operators of the Panavia Tornado also needing a replacement – raising the question, could a bulk allied development and acquisition revive the FB-22 concept?
Long-range strike is typically conducted by a range of platforms, ranging from strategic and tactical strike bombers or smaller fighters supported by air-to-air refuelling and airborne early warning and command aircraft.
The doctrine serves to complement to air dominance, with each serving a unique yet symbiotic role in the survivability and effectiveness of tactical units and the broader strategic deterrence within a nation’s strategic calculations.
While long-range strike can also be provided by ship and submarine launched cruise missiles, Australia has traditionally relied heavily upon the aerial domain to provide the nation’s strategic deterrence, largely in the form of the now retired F-111 series of tactical, regional bomber aircraft.
Australia’s focus on air-dominated long-range strike is currently fulfilled by the F/A-18 E/F series Super Hornets and to a lesser extent, the fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and is complimented in some ways by the availability of the Navy’s Collins Class submarines, to be supplemented and eventually replaced by the future Attack class vessels.
This combination of platforms and doctrine fits within the Cold War-era ‘Defence of Australia’ policy and its focus on dominating the ‘sea-air gap’ as articulated in the 1986 Dibb review following the public backlash against assertive Australian regional presence resulting from the policy of ‘Forward Defence’ and the nation’s involvement in the Vietnam conflict.
While the acquisition of the Super Hornets in the mid-to-late 2000s and the acquisition of the fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to fulfil a niche, low-observable limited strike role have both served as a partial stop-gap for that lost capability, the nation has not successfully replaced the capability gap left by the F-111.
This capability gap has prompted retired Air Marshal Leo Davies and his immediate predecessor, Air Marshal (Ret’d) Geoff Brown, two Chiefs of Air Force, to call on the Australian government to more directly invest in the nation’s long-range strike capabilities, raising a number of potential options, including strategic bombers and unmanned aerial systems or long-range strike munitions.
Australia is not the only US-aligned nation facing a growing long-range aerial strike capability as European allies including the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy all face the retirement of their Cold War-era Panavia Tornado long-range strike aircraft at a time of increased strategic and tactical competition with a resurgent Russia on the eastern edges of Europe.
The need for a new bomber and evolving the Raptor air frame
With the beginning of the 21st century, the US Air Force was well positioned to modernise and recapitalise its vast fighter aircraft fleet, with the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighters respectively serving as the future of the force’s tactical air combat capabilities replacing the likes of the venerable F-15 Eagle, F-16 Falcon and F-18 Hornet series aircraft.
However, the US Air Force would continue to rely heavily on a range of Cold War-era strategic bombers in the B-52 Stratofortress, the B-1 Lancer and the hyper-expensive, stealth B-2 Spirit to provide “prompt global strike” and deterrence capabilities.
Identifying this, the US Air Force recognised a glaring capability gap in the long-range, penetrating strike role, one that could leave US and allied ground forces dangerously exposed.
In response, Lockheed Martin asked the question – what if the Raptor could be transformed into the bomber the Air Force required until a larger, more traditional strategic bomber platform could be fielded?
Enter what would become known as the FB-22, a concept that moved to evolve the Raptor design, with a focus on penetrating tactical and strategic strike.
Two major issues emerged from this, the Raptor’s relatively small combat radius of 965 kilometres and its small ground attack capability seemingly limited the evolution opportunities to the Raptor air frame.
Not deterred, Lockheed Martin evolved the air superiority-focused air frame to include thicker, delta-wings with three times the surface area of the standard Raptor and the possible removal of the vertical tail fins.
In contrast, the proposed FB-22 would have a range in excess of 2,574 kilometres and would replace the Air Force’s F-15E Strike Eagle variant, carry up to 30, 250-pound small diameter bombs, be powered by the upgraded Pratt & Whitney F135 engine (originally designed for the F-35) and would enable the larger aircraft to maintain high speeds up to Mach 1.92.
Lockheed Martin expected that the total low observable payload would have been approximately 6,800 kilograms and a standard, non-stealth payload of approximately 13,600 kilograms, putting the airframe well into the realm of a regional strategic bomber, comparable to that of the fleet of General Dynamics F-111C operated by the Royal Australian Air Force, which had a payload of approximately 14,300 kilograms.
It was anticipated at that time given the work done on the F-22, evolving the design might cost approximately US$5-7bn (in 2003 terms) with first flights expected to begin by 2013 and final assembly would be shared between both Lockheed Martin and Boeing as a result of the later making the F-22’s wings.
Unfortunately, the FB-22 concept was cancelled following the US government’s 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, which cited a number of factors, namely the lack of a peer or near-peer competitor that could counter such an aircraft with much of America and the Western allies efforts focused on counter-terrorism and nation-building operations in the Middle East.
Spreading the production costs and enhanced interoperability
Recent changes within the US political establishment, notably the election of President Donald Trump, has triggered a major rethink in the policies that govern America’s arms exports, opening the door for Japan to engage with major US defence contractors like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to support Japan’s domestic development of a large, low-observable air superiority fighter to replace its fleet of locally built F-15J aircraft.
While Japan has publicly committed to acquiring a fleet of 147 F-35s, including a fleet of 42 short-take off, vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B variants, the Japanese government has remained focused on procuring a fifth-generation air dominance fighter, with or without US help, to counter the growing challenges it faces in its direct region.
This resulted in the development of the X-2 Shinshin, a technology demonstrator that proved Japan’s domestic aerospace industry could produce an indigenous stealth fighter design capable of competing with the world’s best.
Both Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have actively supported Japan’s continued development of the Shinshin concept, raising renewed questions about a US commitment to reopening the F-22 Raptor line.
Recognising the increasing proliferation of fifth-generation technology and the emerging peer competitor capabilities and previous attempts at acquiring the F-22, both Japan and Australia are well positioned to support the reopening and modernisation of the US F-22 Raptor line.
This is estimated to be worth approximately US$9.9bn for non-recurring start-up costs according to a US Congress report, and an additional US$40.4bn to acquire 194 Raptors for the US Air Force.
What this House armed services committee report fails to account for is an allied acquisition and integration within the advanced Raptor development supply chain – most notably Japan and Australia, which are both widely respected US allies and industrial partners within the existing F-35 supply chain.
The acquisition is not without risk, however, as both Japan and Australia would need to at least match the US order of 194 air frames – in a combined manner.
While a joint US, Japanese and Australian acquisition of at least 388 air frames would serve as the basis for re-opening the Raptor line, expanding the export opportunities of an evolved Raptor to include other key ‘Five Eyes’ allies like Canada and the UK – both of which are currently undergoing air force recapitalisation, modernisation or research and development programs of their own – would further reduce the costs associated with reopening the line and acquiring new Raptor air frames.
Australian procurement could mean enjoying a highly capable, interoperable and future-proofed air frame operated by Japan, a key regional ally, and potentially the US and UK, which agreed with the Japanese government in 2017 to collaborate in the joint development of a fifth-generation aircraft to replace the Royal Air Force and European Typhoons and Tornados within the next two decades. (Source: Defence Connect)
12 Nov 19. A new future in global arms sales? The last few years have seen a subtle transition in how the U.S., as the world’s dominant arms exporter, markets to the world. Consider what we already know.
In Europe, there’s an expectation to filter more to local firms, whether through co-development or direct buys. There’s also demand for greater access into U.S. programs, and for that access to be on a level playing field.
And then there’s South Korea, now calling for foreign contractors to engage with domestic small and medium-sized enterprises. Financial support for its companies is important, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, but so is guidance that helps identify technologies that will make those domestic companies more marketable. Call it a mentorship of sorts.
Look to Middle Eastern countries and we’ve historically seen more financial offsets: expectations to create jobs at home to improve the economy, grow skilled labor and expand infrastructure. That’s the same in northern Africa.
But with oil no longer a reliable source of revenue for the region, the expectations are shifting. The Middle East wants to build a new industry, and with billions of dollars in arms sales at stake for the U.S. and Western allies, the region also knows full well that it holds some powerful cards to play.
It’s that question that drove the shift in Europe: “We’re buying from you, so why can’t you buy more from us? And by the way, politically speaking, we’re pretty important.”
All this to say that the emerging visions in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have some teeth. And it can, therefore, shape how the Pentagon, American defense giants and global allies for that matter handle arms sales.
Consider a couple of the more recent developments. The UAE launched a government-owned company with a combined annual revenue of $5bn known as Edge, established with a core mandate “to disrupt an antiquated military industry generally stifled by red tape,” according to its CEO. Falling under Edge are now 25 companies that before were quite small in revenue and global market share, but together hold significant buying power: NIMR, AMMROC and Abu Dhabi Ship Building to name a few.
Not only do these companies become more formidable players on the global stage, but Edge suddenly carries with it significant negotiation power. Sales to the UAE could bring newfound expectations for partnerships, for stakes in programs.
Then consider Saudi Arabia, which established the Saudi Arabian Military Industries, or SAMI, for essentially the same reason. It also modeled the structure off of other countries with established defense industries — Turkey, South Korea, South Africa and some Western countries, among others. SAMI’s stated goal is to become one of the largest 25 defense companies in the world by 2030 and to have export account for 30 percent of its business.
So what might this mean for how the U.S. works with the Middle East? Major primes have cheered the formation of these holding companies. But make no mistake: Those primes recognize that the holding companies also pose a threat to the status quo. A simple model of just selling systems into the region likely won’t fly, nor will teaming on a particular competition necessarily be enough. Boeing formed a joint venture with SAMI, for example, recognizing the need to commit long term.
Also consider what SAMI CEO Andreas Schwer stated to be his asks of the U.S. and allies when I interviewed him last year: “If there was a wish, we would love to get more access to top-class technologies from all the U.S. partners. There are obviously limitations, which we are suffering from. That’s the one element. So be a little bit more open. And second, export in arms and weapons was driven by FMS [Foreign Military Sales] programs. In our new setup in Saudi Arabia, we will do more and more in direct commercial sales.”
Let’s be realistic — that could change things. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
12 Nov 19. Esper Discusses F-35s, Budget, Reform on New York Trip. Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said that Turkey cannot have Russia’s surface-to-air missile system and continue purchasing F-35 fighters from the U.S. Esper made his remarks to the news media en route to New York yesterday, where he rang Nasdaq’s closing bell in honor of Veterans Day.
The secretary said in Brussels recently that he has told Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar the NATO allies — particularly those who are purchasing or trying to get the F-35s — agree the Russian S-400 missile system is too much of a threat.
Asked about the lack of sanctions against Turkey and the message it sends to other countries, such as India, Esper said the situation is unique for each country, and each must be addressed on its own terms.
“We will address the sanctions case with countries each on [their] own, and obviously with the State Department lead in that regard, State and Treasury,” he said.
Reform in DOD
Esper noted that reform is one of the three lines of effort in the National Defense Strategy, and that this part of the effort includes creating a timeline to get manpower applied to the other two lines of effort: lethality and improving partnerships.
“And the aim is to free up billions of dollars so I could put that back into … those lines of effort,” he said.
“So, I think we’re making good progress. I suspect we’re going to have to start again — next year early, because right now, my focus is to free up dollars for fiscal year ’21 for our budget. And, come January, we’re going to start a different approach where we’ve got to do much more of a blank-sheet approach,” the secretary said.
Esper said it is not just Fourth Estate. “It’s all of the services that need to go through this so we can focus on the National Defense Strategy and get rid of legacy programs and activities and pivot toward the future.”
The Fourth Estate’s agencies include all organizational entities in the Defense Department that are not a military branch or combatant command. From defense health care to logistical support, agencies within the Fourth Estate provide acquisition functions for the entire DOD.
“There are a lot of parts in the Fourth Estate that are in law, and we will probably have recommendations for Congress to consider as we get ways to find efficiency to help us pivot toward the National Defense Strategy,” the secretary said.
12 Nov 19. Turkey’s S-400 buy may have spoiled Gulf nations’ chances of flying the F-35. Two years ago, the Dubai Airshow was abuzz with the news that the United States was preparing to open talks with the United Arab Emirates about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, signaling that U.S. officials perhaps believed the time was right for an Arabian Gulf nation to get its hands on one of the most highly anticipated and sensitive pieces of American technology.
But as this year’s Dubai Airshow kicks off, that buzz has quieted, and the status of those bilateral engagements are unclear. Experts believe that an F-35 sale is likely years away, and some say the aftermath of Turkey’s removal from the program may have made the United States too gun shy to export the jet to nations with military ties to Russia.
“The Persian Gulf countries have been on [F-35 manufacturer] Lockheed Martin’s radar screen for years, but at the moment, I don’t think that any sale proposals are imminent,” said Loren Thompson, a Lexington Institute defense analyst with strong ties to industry. “The UAE would be the most likely candidate, but especially given what has happened with Turkey on the F-35 it just doesn’t seem likely that a deal would happen soon.”
While U.S. Defense Department officials have said clear that Turkey will be unable to acquire the F-35 unless it abandons its plan to set up the Russian S-400 air defense system, it has been less clear on the implications for other nations wishing to purchase the F-35.
A spokesperson from the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office referred Defense News’ questions to the Air Force’s international affairs office. Kelli Seybolt, deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for international affairs, referred questions to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
However, Pentagon acquisition head Ellen Lord during an Oct. 29 briefing restated the Defense Department’s decision to remove Turkey from the F-35 program, pointing to Ankara’s progress in standing up its S-400, which could be operational by the end of the year. As a result, the department will not deliver Turkish F-35s to Ankara, and all contracts to Turkish defense contractors will transfer to U.S. companies by March 2020.
Two factors could lead to the U.S. approving an F-35 sale to a Gulf nation sooner rather than later, said Rebecca Grant, a defense aerospace analyst and head of IRIS Independent Research. For one, the U.S. government could see value in allowing certain countries that participated in the fight to defeat the Islamic State group — such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain — to battle terrorist groups using a fifth-generation platform.
The jet’s potential for missile defense missions is also attractive to partners in the region, she said. The Pentagon has conducted experiments to assess whether its sensor suite could be used to monitor and track intercontinental ballistic missiles and is evaluating whether to develop a weapon that would allow it to intercept ICBMs.
“They could certainly use the capabilities any minute now,” Grant said, adding that she expects to see real signs of impending sales three to five years from now. “Of course that would mean starting to talk about it fairly soon,” she acknowledged.
Future sales to Gulf countries have already figured into Lockheed Martin’s projections. The company anticipates sales of about 4,600 F-35s over the life of the program, with Middle Eastern orders helping to boost numbers from the roughly 3,200 aircraft under contract or planned to be purchased by customers, Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson said.
“There is a desire in the Middle East [for the F-35],” Hewson said during the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference in May. “At some point, I think the U.S. government will look at technology release to the Middle East, much like they have F-15s and F-16s today.”
But Moscow also sees the Middle East as fertile ground for its own weapons sales, including for Russian-made fighter jets and air defense systems like the S-400.
Russia’s state-sponsored media outlet Tass has reported that talks between Russia and Qatar about a potential S-400 buy are in an “advanced stage.” Saudi Arabia has also entered into discussions with Russia about buying the S-400, which Russian President Vladimir Putin has pitched as the answer to security concerns stemming from Iran.
“For self-defense, for the defense of one’s country, we are ready to provide help to Saudi Arabia,” Putin said during a joint news conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in September.
“It is enough to take a wise government decision, as the leaders of Iran did before, buying the S-300, and as President Erdogan did, buying the latest air defense system, S-400 Triumph,” Putin said, according to Bloomberg. “They will protect any infrastructure objects in Saudi Arabia effectively.”
Some analysts believe Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program sets a precedent that any other country that buys the S-400 will be unable to order the jet.
“If you’re not going to sell F-35s to a NATO ally that’s buying Russian air defense equipment, you’re certainly not going to get permission to sell F-35s to somebody who is actually not even a formal ally if they are buying Russian air defense systems,” said Gary Schmitt, a national security analyst with the American Enterprise Institute. “It’s the circle that can’t be squared.”
The United States will likely continue to look the other way when Gulf nations buy certain technologies like tanks and artillery from countries like Russia and China, said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with the Teal Group. However, more sophisticated air defense capabilities like the S-400 will probably be off limits to countries that want the F-35, he said.
“Armored personnel carriers? Who cares. But if it has tracking radars and can transmit data in large quantities, that’s a no-no,” he said. “They know the rules.”
Thompson of the Lexington Institute said it “seems obvious” that any country that wants the F-35 will have to pass on Russian air defense systems. “However, there is a separate issue here,” he said. “If any other country in the region was operating Russian air defenses, that itself might have some implications for the security of the F-35 technology.”
But Grant disagrees, saying that even if Gulf nations were to buy the S-400, the U.S. Defense Department has ways to safeguard the F-35’s most sensitive capabilities by varying its hardware and software. “My personal view is that this can be customized for a variety of different allies and partners,” she said.
Before events with Turkey took center stage, it was thought that the main barrier for F-35 exports to the Gulf would be the U.S. commitment to protect Israel’s qualitative military edge. However, analysts said Israel’s head start in obtaining the F-35 and its propensity for modifying its fighters with advanced tech will likely assuage concerns.
“There are some fairly easy ways in which an F-35 sold to an Arab country could be made less of a threat to Israel,” Thompson said, adding that Lockheed has already identified “a technical fix” impacting the stealth characteristics of the plane that would make the aircraft more visible to the Israeli military.
“But the technology security issue, that’s another issue,” he said. (Source: Defense News)
08 Nov 19. Competition Grows Between U.S. Military and Chinese, DOD Official Says. The relationship between the U.S. military and China has become more competitive, as the U.S. has tried to enforce the sanctions on North Korea, a Defense Department official said.
Randall Shriver, DOD’s assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, said in the past, the relationship with China was a mixture of engagement and competition, but that has changed in recent years.
“We pressed them hard on North Korea,” Shriver said. “We’re trying to enforce the sanctions, and the primary method by which North Korea is attempting to evade the sanctions are through illicit and illegal ship transfers, primarily coal, going out and oil going in. Over time, much of this activity has moved into Chinese territorial waters.”
Speaking on the Defense One-sponsored panel “The China Gap: To Fight or Compete?,” Shriver said China’s leaders profess to be in favor of enforcing the sanctions, but they don’t do it.
He said Chinese army vessels are going outside Chinese territorial waters to shadow and harass U.S. vessels that are trying to enforce the sanctions.
Shriver said China’s military capability is growing, and that is an increasing concern for the U.S. “I hope it gets on a more cooperative path,” he said.
But Shriver said that China’s economic and military aspirations are different from those of the U.S. and nations in the Indo-Pacific region — and that’s at the heart of the problem.
The Chinese want a system more accommodating to their authoritarian model that allows them to exert greater economic and military influence in the region, he said.
However, the U.S. and nations in the region want a free and open Indo-Pacific, Shriver said. And that means upholding international law and norms; protecting other countries’ sovereignty no matter how big they are reciprocal trade; and peaceful resolution of disputes.
The U.S. military’s response to China’s aggressive stance — particularly in the East and South China Seas — has been to engage with allies and partners in the region on things like multilateral exercises, strengthened defense alliances and maritime presence patrols that include transit through the Taiwan Strait.
Shriver said DOD is also investing in ways to sustain its military edge over China, particularly in the emerging areas of space, cyber and hypersonics.
The idea behind this investment is to ensure the U.S. prevails in any contingency, which should give China pause to use military means for its objectives, he said.
But Shriver emphasized that the U.S. doors are open to cooperation.
Shriver said he frequently meets with his Chinese counterparts, and Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper spoke with Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe via video teleconference from the Pentagon on Nov. 5.
Shriver said he expects Esper will soon meet Fenghe.
“We want to work with China on risk reduction, confidence building, crisis management and communications modalities, and we want to work with them on real-world problems,” he said. (Source: US DoD)
08 Nov 19. New Technology Has Major Role in Manufacturing Weapons of Future. 3D technology will play a major role in how weapons of the future are manufactured, the Defense Department’s deputy director for strategic technology protection and exploitation said.
Kristen Baldwin said weapon parts could be quickly prototyped using “additive manufacturing” in which 3D parts are created from digital data models that are fabricated by the successive layering of materials. Additive manufacturing could play a role in the development of hypersonic weapons. Speaking yesterday at the Defense One-sponsored panel on next generation manufacturing, Baldwin noted that traditional manufacturing in which parts are forged by machining and turning is much slower. But additive manufacturing would allow researchers and developers to test prototypes in an iterative fashion, so that an optimal design could be rapidly created, she said.
Baldwin said the U.S. is engaged in a global competition to develop these and other technologies — including artificial intelligence — and DOD’s goal is to maintain its technological overmatch.
She said maintaining this overmatch is something a national imperative for all who can see the future and want to maintain economic and national security.
DOD’s Additive Manufacturing Goals
Baldwin outlined four department priorities for additive manufacturing — security, human capital, capturing new technology and adopting new technology:
- DOD is working hard to ensure future technology is secure. That means protection of intellectual property and critical information, ensuring a secure supply chain and building cybersecurity into every system. In past years, that wasn’t really done in a systematic fashion.
- The department needs to develop and grow the workforce that will use additive manufacturing and other advanced technologies. DOD personnel need to have the proper training and education to develop these technologies and use them in novel ways.
- DOD has to work with industry and academia to ensure it’s up on the latest technology. That means public-private partnerships — not just with big defense industries, but also small businesses and startups. DOD’s Manufacturing Technology Program is one way the department brings these partners together.
- Leadership needs to see the potential that new technologies can bring to the warfighters. Also, these technologies need to be adopted throughout DOD. A March 21 memorandum from the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment directs the use of additive manufacturing in support of materiel sustainment throughout the department at all the depots. (Source: US DoD)
13 Nov 19. Stealthy Lockheed F-35 Breaks Down Too Often, Pentagon Says. The Pentagon’s chief weapons tester said the next-generation F-35 jet continues to fall short of full combat readiness targets and, despite some progress on reliability issues, all three versions of the fighter are breaking down “more often than planned.”
None of the Air Force, Marines and Navy variants of the Lockheed Martin Corp. fighter are meeting their five key “reliability or maintainability metrics,” Robert Behler, the Pentagon’s director of operational testing, said in prepared remarks Wednesday before two House Armed Services Committee panels.
The House subcommittees are reviewing the $428bn program’s status and progress recovering from years of cost overruns and production delays.
“The operational suitability of the F-35 fleet remains at a level below service expectations,” Behler said in the prepared remarks. “In short, for all variants, aircraft are breaking down more often than planned and taking longer to fix.”
His statement is a reality check just weeks after the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin announced that they finalized the largest contract in the program’s history, a deal valued at $34bn for 478 additional aircraft. About $27bn of F-35s have already been placed on contract even though the program hasn’t completed all its combat testing and struggles with reliability.
Lockheed Martin F-35 program manager Greg Ulmer said after the hearing that he doesn’t “necessarily agree” with Behler’s characterization. “If you look lot-over-lot, reliability and maintainability is significantly better for the airplanes delivering off the line,” he said, while acknowledging there were some outstanding issues “and we are going after them.”
The program continues in its most rigorous phase of combat testing, a stage that will stretch into next year. So far, 458 jets have been fielded out of about 3,500 planned purchases by U.S. and allies from Australia to Poland. Pentagon approval for full-rate production, delayed from December, looms for 2020.
Even with that 2020 target approaching, analysis to date shows that neither the Marine Corps nor Navy F-35 models are currently “on track” to meet their reliability metrics even as they log more hours, according to the latest assessment.
Among the key lagging metrics cited by Behler are “mean flight hours between critical failure” — a data point that refers to the time between failures that result in the loss of capability to perform a mission-critical task, or mean time between part removals for replacement from the supply chain.
Significantly, while the F-35 fleet demonstrated, over short periods, “high mission capability” rates reflecting the percentage of time jets are safe to fly and able to perform at least one specific mission, the jets “lagged” by “a large margin” the more complete measure of “Full Mission Capable” status, he wrote.
That indicates “low readiness” for combat missions “that require operationally capable aircraft,” Behler said.
‘Readiness Has Grown’
Nevertheless, Pentagon and Lockheed Martin officials repeatedly highlight the “mission capable” rates of operational units deployed overseas when discussing program progress. In her statement to the Congressional panels Wednesday, Pentagon Under Secretary for Acquisition Ellen Lord cited “improving overall F-35 sustainment outcomes and aircraft readiness despite dramatic fleet size increases.”
“As the fleet has grown, aircraft readiness has grown,” Lord said. All three U.S. military services have declared their respective aircraft as possessing an initial combat capability. Lord added that overall “mission capable” rates increased to 73% last month from 55% in October 2018.
Across the services, over the same time period, the Air Force increased its mission capable rate to 75% from 66%, Air Force Lieutenant General Eric Fick, the Pentagon’s F-35 program manager, said in his prepared statement. The Marine Corps rate rose to 68% from 44%, he added.
Citing one measure of reliability improvement, Fick said the percentage of aircraft rated not mission-capable because they waited for spare parts “increased through early 2019, but has steadily decreased since summer.” As of last month, the rate “was under 15% for our operational fleets and 24% for our non-operational, testing and training fleets,” he said.
‘Mission Capable’ Rates
Behler agreed, pointing out that “after several years of remaining relatively stable, several key suitability metrics are showing signs of slow improvement” this year.
Still, no F-35, including those deployed to combat units, has been able “to achieve and sustain” the 80% “Mission Capable” goal for the 12-months ending in September called for by then-Defense Secretary James Mattis, Behler said. “However, individual units were able to achieve the 80% target for short periods.”
The Air Force F-35 version, which will constitute the bulk of U.S. purchases, demonstrated the best performance while the Navy’s F-35C fleet has the lowest. The more recent improvements were due to the “greater availability of spare parts” and “longer-term efforts to improve maintenance processes and depot support,” Behler said.
In his prepared statement, Ulmer said “readiness rates continue to rise across the fleet, and today we see on average a mission capable rate of more than 70% on combat-coded aircraft.” Earlier this year, the Air Force announced that its airmen and fleet of F-35As participating at Red Flag at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada “delivered 90% mission capable rates during the exercise,” he said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Bloomberg)
12 Nov 19. Esper Indo-Pacific Trip Highlights U.S. Emphasis on Alliances. America’s network of alliances is its greatest combat advantage, and nowhere is that more important than in the Indo-Pacific region, which Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper has called America’s ”priority theater.”
Esper is making his second trip in the three months to the region, visiting South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.
The secretary will hear firsthand from allies and partners on their concerns and their progress and what the United States can do to strengthen cooperation.
The trip also highlights the U.S. commitment to partnerships both old and new. The United States signed a treaty with Siam – now Thailand – in 1837. Today, U.S. and Thai service members operate along with many other nations in the annual Cobra Gold exercises. They have also cooperated in regional humanitarian relief operations.
Relations with Vietnam are relatively new, resuming in the 1990s, and are getting closer. The United States dropped its arms embargo against the one-time enemy in 2014, and the improvement in relations was personified by the port visit of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in 2018.
In addition to Thailand, the U.S. treaty allies in the Pacific are South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand. Partners in the region include India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and many others.
Maintaining alliances and making new partners is the second line of effort in the U.S National Defense Strategy. The poster child for this is the defeat-ISIS coalition that the United States put together in response to the rise of the Islamic State group in 2014. There are now 80 nations and entities involved in that effort.
The National Defense Strategy is based on the return of great power competition. China and Russia are the two greatest threats.
China, with its fast-growing economy, is the greater threat. It’s investing in China’s People’s Liberation Army – which is not a national army, but the military force of the Chinese Communist Party – and modernizing forces, improving training and fielding new capabilities.
These military capabilities – artificial intelligence, hypersonic missiles, aircraft carriers and more – are designed specifically with the U.S. military in mind. The Chinese studied American military doctrine and operations. Seeing the U.S. deploying to Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, and Operation Enduring Freedom, they concluded that the U.S. ability to deploy anywhere in the world and supply the forces, is America’s biggest edge. Part of that is the alliance system.
China’s response is to build islands in the South and East China Seas to close sea lines of communication. They deployed missiles with stand-off capabilities that would threaten task forces that approach. They have stolen technologies and plans for advanced weaponry.
The Chinese President Xi Jinping has a stated goal of military supremacy by 2050.
But the Chinese military strategy is part of a whole-of-government approach. They use diplomacy, political clout and economic policies in conjunction with military power. The Chinese ”One Belt, One Road” initiative is a $1trn effort to change the current international system that has served the Indo-Pacific so well since 1945, to one that centers everything on Beijing.
At the heart of the U.S. strategy is that America is a Pacific power, also. The Esper trip highlights that. The secretary will meet with officials from South Korea to underline America’s long-standing guarantees to that nation in the face of North Korean aggression.
In Thailand, Esper will build on almost two centuries of amity to increase cooperation and interoperability between the two nations.
In the Philippines, Esper will discuss efforts to defeat terrorist groups that threaten the government.
In Vietnam, Esper will seek new ways to cooperate with the nation to promote peace in Southeast Asia.
Esper will discuss Chinese claims in the South and East China Sea. He will reiterate the U.S. desire that any solutions in the disagreements over national claims in those bodies are arrived at peacefully. (Source: US DoD)
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