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19 Dec 19. The US Air Force’s UH-1N Huey replacement helicopter has a new name. The U.S. Air Force accepted its first MH-139 Grey Wolf helicopter Thursday, paving the way for the replacement of the aging UH-1N Huey helicopters that have patrolled missile fields for almost five decades.
Air Force Global Strike Command head. Gen. Timothy Ray announced the name of the aircraft during a ceremony commemorating the first M-139 delivery on Dec. 19 at Duke Field, Florida.
Boeing won the $2.38bn Huey replacement contract in September 2018. The company’s offering — a militarized version of the commercial AW139 helicopter made by Italian firm Leonardo — beat out Lockheed Martin Sikorsky and Sierra Nevada Corp. in an upset.
Both Lockheed and SNC had proposed UH-60 Black Hawk derivatives, but Boeing shaved $1.7bn off the Air Force’s expected program cost to nab the award. As such, the Grey Wolf is the first Air Force helicopter to be of a completely different airframe than ones owned by the other services.
So far Boeing has received an initial $375m award for the first four helicopters and the integration of military-specific items necessary for the AW139 to meet the Air Force’s requirements. The company will deliver a second Grey Wolf in mid-January, with the third and fourth aircraft following in February.
The formal designation of the MH-139 comes a day after the Air Force stood up the first detachment, which will be supporting test and evaluation of the helicopter. Lt. Col. Mary Clark took command of Detachment 7 during a Dec. 18 ceremony at Duke Field.
According to Air Force Global Strike Command, Detachment 7 will own four helicopters and will be comprised of pilots and special-mission aviators. The detachment will be temporarily located at Duke Field before moving to Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana.
The Air Force plans to buy 84 helicopters over the course of the program. The aircraft will be used for a wide variety of missions, including defending intercontinental ballistic missile fields, search and rescue, and missions in the capital region.
The Grey Wolf will be able to carry nine fully loaded troops. The aircraft should be able to hit a 135-knot cruise speed and fly for at least 3 hours — and a minimum distance of 225 nautical miles — without needing to be refueled. (Source: Defense News)
19 Dec 19. Congress slashes funding for the Navy’s LCS sensors — again. Congress again slashed funding for the littoral combat ship’s mission modules in this year’s defense appropriations bill, which will likely create further delays in fielding capabilities designed to plug into the hulls that would enable the ships to hunt submarines or destroy mines — the missions they were built to perform in the first place.
With 35 ships funded, Congress has every year since at least 2015 cut funding to the long-delayed mission modules. As the program is currently structured, each ship is either a mine sweeper, submarine hunter or small anti-surface combatant, all made possible by mission modules still under development.
Appropriators are set to slice 77 percent from the Navy’s mine countermeasures module, shuffling part of it to another section of the budget. But the bulk of that slicing involves cuts to Knifefish minesweeping drones and unmanned surface vehicles that are intended to deploy sensors, according to a readout supplied by appropriators.
The surface warfare mission module, which has partially met its initial operational capability goal but not fully, saw a 45 percent cut, or $12m, coming from surface-to-surface missile modules. And the anti-submarine warfare mission module saw a more modest 11 percent cut to address cost overruns with the variable depth sonar.
In total, Congress slashed about $145.5m from the mission modules when you include general equipment that comes with all the modules, or 52 percent of the total Navy request.
Sources familiar with the impact of the cuts have told Defense News for years that Congress’ annual cuts cause delays in testing the long-overdue mission modules. This creates a merry-go-round effect whereby Congress cuts funding because of delays, which causes further delays, prompting more cuts the next year. And a source confirmed this year’s cuts will likely have the same effect.
But despite that, the Navy has begun to make some strides. According to testimony in March, the Navy reached initial operational capability with all the components of its anti-surface warfare module. Last December, the Navy took delivery of Raytheon’s Dual-mode Array Transmitter Mission System — which joins the MH-60R helicopter, the multifunction towed array and the SQQ-89 acoustic processing; the Navy now has the complete anti-submarine warfare mission package and is ready to start integration.
And all the aviation components of the mine countermeasures module package have reached IOC, but the unmanned surface vehicle paired with drones that can first find and then destroy mines are among the components that were hit with cuts in this budget.
The Navy is planning to field 10 anti-submarine warfare, 24 mine countermeasures module, and 10 surface warfare mission modules. Originally the program was envisioned for each ship to be able to rapidly switch out mission modules pierside, but the Navy reorganized in 2016, making each ship singled up on a mission.
Last year, Congress bought three more LCS than the Navy asked for, and it is unclear whether the legislative body plans to support the purchase of more mission modules, according to the Congressional Research Service.
The Navy has been fielding parts of the mission modules as they become available. In September, the Navy deployed the LCS Gabrielle Giffords with the Kongsberg-Raytheon Naval Strike Missile, along with Northrop Grumman’s unmanned MQ-8C Fire Scout helicopter for over-the-horizon targeting, a significant step forward for the program. (Source: Defense News)
19 Dec 19. Defense Department Invests $32m in Manufacturing Engineering Education Program. The Department of Defense, through the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, has selected seven awardees for the Manufacturing Engineering Education Program. These distinguished educational and industry partners will receive more than $32m over a three-year period to establish or expand educational opportunities for Americans to acquire manufacturing skills critical to sustaining the U.S. defense innovation base.
MEEP establishes programs that better position the current and next-generation manufacturing workforce to produce military systems and components that assure defense technological superiority.
“MEEP plays an important role in developing and maintaining the advanced manufacturing workforce our nation needs,” said Dr. Jagadeesh Pamulapati, director of Laboratories and Personnel in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. “Awardees include a program for middle schoolers as well as adult workforce retraining and projects focused on serving military veterans. These programs expand opportunities in cutting-edge manufacturing techniques such as additive manufacturing and robotics and strengthen important shop-floor skills like welding and machining.”
The seven awardees are:
- Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), Knoxville, Tennessee: IACMI and its collaborators will establish a national learning network, based on the best-in-class program at Davis Technical College in Kaysville, Utah, to develop a skilled composites manufacturing workforce.
- Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT), Detroit, Michigan: This venture will expand Operation Next, a manufacturing-focused training and credentialing program for soldiers in their last six months of active duty, to nine new locations nationwide.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The initiative will develop a Virtual Manufacturing Lab that offers guided or autonomous online learning for three advanced manufacturing audiences: design engineers, fabrication engineers, and technicians.
- Monroe Community College (MCC), Rochester, New York: MCC will enhance the nation’s optics workforce via improved curricula, apprenticeships and high school recruitment and outreach.
- Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), Cleveland, Ohio: SME will develop an online, broad-based, advanced manufacturing curriculum delivered through Augmented and Virtual Reality that aligns with industry-recognized credentials.
- University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, Texas: A consortium of partners will cultivate an educational ecosystem to draw young talent to additive manufacturing, smart manufacturing, and innovations in lightweight materials, structures and systems.
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia: The school will create university and continuing education curricula to develop engineering talent for advanced manufacturing of structures and integration with lightweight composites for electromagnetic applications critical to U.S. military superiority.
The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)) is responsible for the research, development, and prototyping activities across the Department of Defense. OUSD(R&E) fosters technological dominance across the DoD enterprise to ensure the advantage of the American warfighter. Learn more at www.cto.mil/ or follow us on Twitter: @DoDCTO. (Source: US DoD)
18 Dec 19. JEDI spending included in DOD funding bill. The Defense Department is one step closer to getting out from under a continuing resolution. The House voted 231-192 to pass the national security appropriations minibus bill Dec. 17 that doles out $738bn in overall funding. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill before Dec. 20, when the current continuing resolution funding expires. Lawmakers focused on cloud priorities in joint explanatory statements accompanying the legislation. Members noted that DOD CIO Dana Deasy complied with a previous appropriations requirement seeking a written report on Pentagon’s plans for a multicloud environment. That means that DOD can begin obligating and spending money to move data and applications to the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud.
The document also nudged DOD to wrap up its cloud migration efforts for Fourth Estate agencies by the end of fiscal 2020. The Defense Information Systems Agency is leading the MilCloud migration as well as the Fourth Estate IT consolidation efforts with the DOD chief information office.
The services came up short on funding of some IT development efforts. For example, the Navy will get a little less than its request for $268.5mi due to electronic procurement system contract award delays, excess growth, execution delays and unjustified requests.
However, the NAVSEA Readiness and Logistics IT digital transformation plan got an $8m bump. The Navy will also receive $209.2 m to fully fund two large unmanned surface vessels in 2020.
The Army’s tactical network modernization in service will get $443.4m for armored brigade combat teams and satellite communications. Army IT development dropped $37.8m from its budget request to $88.7m due to historical under-execution, unjustified growth and a contract delay. (Source: Defense Systems)
18 Dec 19. WMD management complicated by data challenges. The Defense Department is building a data-driven environment from supply logistics to satellite communications, but it is facing data architecture challenges when it comes to monitoring weapons of mass destruction. The Pentagon and the military branches, however, are joining forces to make sense of the massive amounts of data DOD components collect via disparate systems, Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) experts said.
“We’ve got legacy systems that have decades of data available to us, but how we layer that with current data also builds on a need for better data curation because they don’t have a common data architecture,” Amanda Richardson, chief of operations for the DTRA’s Research and Development Directorate, said during a Dec. 11 event on the topic hosted by FCW and Noblis.
“So I have data … you have data, we all have data, but getting it into a form that we can use in a single tool is a pipe dream at this point,” she said.
To address the issue, DTRA is in the midst of creating a common data architecture, Richardson said.
“Right now, we’re working on that just internal to our agency,” she said. “But being able to leverage more data gives us more information to help us better respond to potential risks, potential threats.”
DTRA is looking to leverage artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics tools, Richardson said, though she stressed that the goal is not to “take the human out of the loop completely.”
However, gaps in those humans’ abilities can also hinder detection and mitigation efforts, said Ed Lawson, director of integration for the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense, speaking at the same event.
“User competency is at an all-time low in compared to technology,” he said. “We’re doing great stuff, but collectively, where are we showing that success?…I can out-speed intelligence by looking at Twitter.”
Richardson said one reason today’s whole of government approach falls short is that WMD events are low probability, but very high risk.
“One of the struggles, I think that … we don’t really know how to address non-probabilistic risk,” she said.
“How do we find not just the actual weapon that [a bad actor is] about to use, but how do we find the people who are buying the precursors for that weapon?” Richardson asked. “How do we find the people who are looking for money to do that? How do we find the people who are just researching but interested in that?” (Source: Defense Systems)
19 Dec 19. US lawmakers approve eight F-15EX aircraft for US Air Force in FY 2020. Key Points:
- The US Air Force is a step closer to acquiring its first batch of F-15EX aircraft after legislators approved the purchase
- A budget expert expects the spending bill to be signed into law most likely within the next week
The US Air Force (USAF) is set to acquire the eight Boeing F-15EX Advanced Eagle fighters in fiscal year 2020 (FY 2020) as it requested as compromise policy and spending bills approved the purchase.
The compromise defence authorisation bill that passed both the House and Senate permitted the USAF to purchase eight aircraft. President Donald Trump is expected to sign this bill into law imminently.
The compromise defence spending bill has passed the House and Mackenzie Eaglen, resident fellow for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) think tank in Washington, DC, told Jane’s on 18 December that she fully expects it to be signed into law, most likely within the next week. This bill provides roughly USD1.05bn in procurement funding for six aircraft. It also moves USD364.4m into research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) funding for the procurement of two test aircraft, and provides half of what was requested for non-recurring engineering.
The spending bill stipulates that no more than USD64.8m for long-lead materials may be provided until USAF Secretary Barbara Barrett provides reports to congressional defence committees that include: an approved programme acquisition strategy, a capability production document, a test and evaluation master plan, and a post-production fielding strategy. (Source: Jane’s)
18 Dec 19. Top U.S., Russian Military Leaders Meet to Improve Mutual Communication. The top U.S. military officer met in Switzerland with his Russian counterpart for talks aimed at increasing communication between their nations to reduce risks in conflict areas.
Today’s meeting was the first time Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Russian Army Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the General Staff, have met face to face. The two military leaders have spoken by phone since Milley took office in October to avoid conflicts in military operations and risks of miscalculations.
”The two military leaders discussed Syria, strategic stability and a variety of operational and strategic issues to enhance deconfliction and improve understanding to reduce risk,” Joint Staff spokesperson Air Force Col. DeDe S. Halfhill said in a written statement issued after the meeting.
The meeting is the latest in a series that began in February 2017 in Baku, Azerbaijan, between then-Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford and Gerasimov. Before that, U.S. and Russian military leaders had not met since early 2014 — before Russia illegally annexed Crimea and intervened in eastern Ukraine. Other meetings have occurred in Turkey, Finland and Austria. This is the first such meeting in Switzerland.
The need for communication among nations in conflict areas is especially keen in Syria. In 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet that strayed into Turkish airspace from Syria. The battlespace in Syria is jumbled, with Turkey operating independently, Russian troops working with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces, and U.S. forces operating through indigenous forces against a resurgence of ISIS. Because the chances of a miscalculation in Syria are high, the U.S.-Russia meetings aim to reduce the risk.
The military leaders have more to discuss. On Dec. 16, U.S. Coast Guard officials protested that a Russian spy ship was operating ”in an unsafe manner” off the coast of South Carolina. Also, the U.S. destroyer USS Ross was tailed by a Russian ship after it entered the Black Sea. There have been incidents of Russian aircraft buzzing ships and crowding U.S. planes.
The U.S. National Defense Strategy sees Russia as trying to reshape the international order. Milley addressed this during his confirmation hearing in July. ”We are living in a period of great power competition within a very complex and dynamic security environment,” he said. ”My parents’ … generation … fought to establish an international order that has prevented great power war for over seven decades, and it’s currently under the most stress since the end of the Cold War.
“From East Asia to the Middle East to Eastern Europe, authoritarian actors are testing the limits of the international system and seeking regional dominance while challenging international norms and undermining U.S. interest,” he continued. “Our goal should be to sustain great power peace that has existed since World War II and deal firmly with all of those who might challenge us.”
The meeting in Bern, Switzerland, is not an effort to return the U.S.-Russia relationship to normal, U.S. officials stressed, noting that Russian actions in Ukraine, Georgia, Syria and Libya have brought condemnation to Russia and that Russian efforts to divide NATO and its actions to undermine democratic elections are worrisome.
U.S. officials stressed that the United States does not coordinate actions with Russia. Rather, they explained, the meeting is an effort to ensure that communications remain open. Officials pointed out that even during the height of the Cold War, U. S. officials communicated with Soviet Union leaders.
The military leaders did not discuss political or policy issues, officials said, adding that the meeting is limited to the military sphere between two military professionals and that the discussions between Milley and Gerasimov are confidential. (Source: US DoD)
17 Dec 19. Air Force Wins Big In Defense Spending Bill But Space Force $$ Whacked. The 2020 defense spending bill gives the Air Force $3.0bn for the B-21 bomber program and $960m for Next Generation Air Dominance in RDT&E money. The Air Force came out smelling of roses in the 2020 minibus appropriations bill agreed to by the House and Senate yesterday, and passed by the House today.
Most of the service’s major programs were fully funded, and in some cases, were plumped up. But it didn’t win every battle for funding. Congressional appropriators almost cut in half funding for a signature element of the policy battle this year, the Space Force. The service’s request for $72.4m to stand it up as a sixth branch of the US military got whacked to only $40m. The NDAA did authorize the new force, which will be organized underneath the Air Force in a manner similar to how the Marine Corps is organized under the Navy.
According to a Senate Appropriations Committee summary, the bill:
- “Provides $3.0 bn for the B-21 bomber program and $960 m for Next Generation Air Dominance” research, testing, development, and evaluation (RDT&E). As we reported last week, the National Defense Authorization Act, passed by the Senate today and now headed to the White House for signature, approved full funding for the B-21 and the NGAD. NGAD is the service’s effort to build a sixth-generation fighter that the service intends to acquire via what acquisition czar Will Roper calls the Digital Century Series, under which new aircraft variants would be rolled out every few years;
- “Supports Air Force nuclear modernization by fully funding and providing an $557m for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program and $713m for the Long Range Standoff Weapon program;”
- “Fully funds and provides an additional $34m for directed energy and hypersonic weapons prototyping programs.” The service’s request was for $676 m;
- “Provides an additional $75 m for Next Generation OPIR.” The Air Force asked for $1.4bn (almost double last year’s funding level) for RTD&E on the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next-Gen OPIR) constellation of five satellites. The program is being designed to replace the (long troubled but highly effective) Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS);
- Fully funds the National Security Space Launch request for $432m in RTD&E, and $1.2bn in procurement. As Breaking D readers know, the NSSL program has been controversial, facing down a bid protester by one of the competitors (Blue Origin) and a lawsuit by another (SpaceX). Under the program, four launch providers — Northrop Grumman, United Launch Alliance (ULA), SpaceX, and Blue Origin — are vying for two contracts (under a 60/40 split) that will lock up all national security launches through 2027, representing bns.
- “Creates a new line for Tactically Responsive Launch to ensure the Air Force devotes adequate resources to venture class launch services.” That new budget line was included in the original Senate version of the bill. The appropriators put $19m into the new line.
Further, congressional appropriators gave the Air Force an additional $1.87bn for 20 additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and associated spare parts, including 14 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variants. It also added six F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variants, for a total of 98 F-35s. Interestingly, the NDAA authorized only 94 total F-35 fighters, including only 12 F-35As. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
17 Dec 19. US Congress passes $738bn defence spending bill. Legislation includes policy measures regarding Nord Stream 2, Huawei, Hong Kong and Turkey. The National Defense Authorisation Act is seen as a ‘must pass’ bill — meaning that lawmakers often load it up with various amendments. The US Senate has passed a $738bn defence spending bill following months of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans over the measures to be included, sending the bill to Donald Trump’s desk to be signed into law. A version of the bill, which passed by a vote of 86-8 on Tuesday, has already passed the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. The bill sets out a 3.1 per cent pay rise for troops and creates a new Space Force as a sixth branch of the military, comparable to the navy, army or marines. The Pentagon has already established a “combatant command” overseeing space, but the establishment of a full military branch has been a key preoccupation of Mr Trump’s. Because the legislation — the National Defence Authorisation Act — is widely seen as a “must pass” bill, lawmakers battle to attach to it a range of different amendments and policy measures they would like the president to sign into law. Other measures contained in the legislation include a new policy setting out 12 weeks of paid parental leave for all federal workers, allowing new parents to take time off after the birth of a new baby or the start of adoption or foster care.
A number of foreign policy actions are also included in the legislation, including measures spelling out Congress’s continuing anger with Turkey over its purchase of a Russian missile defence system. Ankara also faces potential US sanctions over the purchase of the Russian system, which has exacerbated already deep rifts between the two Nato allies. So far, the US has refrained for issuing any sanctions, but the bill calls for sanctions to be imposed. Mr Trump has already formally expelled Turkey from the US-led F-35 fighter jet programme in retaliation for its purchase of the Russian S-400 system. The bill reaffirms the US’s commitment to keeping Turkey out of the programme. Other measures directed against Russia include sanctions on companies involved in Nord Stream 2, from Russia to Germany, and Turk Stream, a Russian pipeline that crosses the Black Sea to Turkey. Recommended Janan Ganesh Donald Trump’s beef with Europe is ideological Opponents of the pipeline, which include many EU countries, see it as a Russian effort to hurt Ukraine by reducing gas flows through the country, thereby cutting transit fees paid to Kyiv.
The legislation also contains provisions that bar Wilbur Ross, the US commerce secretary, from unilaterally removing Chinese telecoms company Huawei from the entity list, which will require US suppliers to obtain a special licence to continue selling to them, and containing further statements of support for Hong Kong. Late last month, Mr Trump signed two US bills supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters, defying calls from China to block the legislation and putting the territory’s special trade status at risk. One of those bills mandates that the US executive branch annually re-examine Hong Kong’s status and imposes sanctions on anyone who has suppressed human rights in the former British colony. Two measures broadly supported by Democrats — which would have banned the transfer of US munitions to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen — were dropped from the bill as lawmakers in both parties were forced to compromise. (Source: FT.com)
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