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30 Apr 20. U.S. Must Prepare for Current, Future Pandemics. As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the United States must bolster its medical-industrial base to deal with both the current pandemic, a potential resurgence in the fall and any pandemics that may come in the future, the Defense Department’s undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment said.
Lord told reporters she expects the department and the nation will be battling COVID-19 for six months to a year or more, and she has several materiel-related objectives being prepared for that continued fight.
“We need to take care of the demand we have right now that started with medical personnel,” she said. “But we need the country to get back to work, and that is going to require some personal protective equipment that includes masks. So, No. 1, we have to bridge beyond nonmedical personnel PPE, and masks are very significant.”
As part of an ongoing effort to equip service members with PPE, she said, the Defense Logistics Agency continues to work with the military services to get them what they need. She said the agency has procured more than 5.9 million N95 respirator masks, 14.2 million nonmedical and surgical masks, 92.2 million exam gloves, 2.4 million isolation and surgical gowns and 8,000 ventilators.”Delivery of over 5 million nonmedical cloth face coverings to our military services, combatant commands, U.S. Coast Guard and several federal agencies has begun,” she said.
For the nation as a whole, she said, it’ll also be necessary to refill the national U.S. stockpile of personal protective equipment.
“Then we need to look forward to what the data is telling us — that there may well be another significant outbreak this fall. We want to be prepared for that,” Lord said.
Also important, she said, is being prepared for the next pandemic that might come in the future.
“We see this as an ongoing issue, both within the Defense Department — because we need to not only support the nation with everything we’re doing with Health and Human Services and Federal Emergency Management Agency — but we have our primary mission here of national security, and we have to be ready to go ahead and do that.”
While HHS and FEMA have the infrastructure and the overall mission of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, DOD, with its sizable acquisition workforce, has the ability to surge the medical-industrial base. She said the industrial base, however, may need some changes if it’s going to be ready to address future pandemics.
“We’ve learned that we’ve had fragility in it on a number of fronts,” she said. “We were overly dependent on foreign sources; we still have the air bridge working to bring all kinds of medical resources back to the United States. So, we need to make sure that we have security and resiliency in our medical-industrial base.”
Lord said the DOD acquisition apparatus can help ensure the medical-industrial base has both the capacity and capability to provide for both the current medical crisis and future crises.
“What I would like to see is the U.S. have the capacity and throughput to take care of ourselves in times of need,” she said.
(Source: US DoD)
29 Apr 20. Boeing gets another $827m charge on the KC-46 program. Boeing took a $827m hit as cost overruns continue for the KC-46 tanker program, the company announced Wednesday. About $551m of the pre-tax charge was caused by new expenses associated with designing and integrating a new Remote Vision System for the tanker as part of an April agreement with the Air Force.
The remainder of the charge reflected “productivity inefficiencies and COVID-19 related factory disruption,” according to a news release. KC-46 production stopped for about three weeks over the past month due to a temporary shutdown at Boeing facilities in the Seattle area — including the factory in Everett, Wash., where the tanker is produced.
With the new charge, Boeing has now racked up about $4.6bn in cost overruns over the life of the KC-46 program. Those expenses must be completely paid by Boeing under the terms of the $4.9bn fixed-price firm contract it agreed to in 2011.
The bill comes as Boeing contends with the continued grounding of the 737 MAX and instability to the air travel market posed by COVID-19, which has led to lost orders and disruptions throughout the company’s production lines.
But the RVS deal struck in April could potentially mark a new chapter for the tanker program, which has been mired in disputes between Boeing and the Air Force for years.
The RVS — integrated by Boeing with cameras and sensors from Collins Aerospace — feeds live video and other data to the boom operator, who is able to use those cues to pump gas into another aircraft. But the Air Force has complained that the system does not work properly in all lighting conditions, leading to an increased risk of the KC-46 accidentally scraping the aircraft receiving fuel.
Under the terms of the new deal, Boeing will make incremental hardware and software improvements to the existing system, but it will also design a new “RVS 2.0” with high-definition color cameras, better displays and improved computing systems not on the market when the first RVS was developed.
During an earnings call with investors on Wednesday, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said the defense market continues to be healthy with solid demand.
Overall, first quarter revenue for Boeing’s defense sector decreased to $6bn, down from about $6.6bn in 2019. Most of that reduction was due to the KC-46 charge, according to the company, but a number of other defense programs were also impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, leading to reduced margin. (Source: Defense News)
29 Apr 20. The new Air Force One just racked up its first cost overrun. Boeing will have to pay $168m out of pocket to cover increased costs on the VC-25B Air Force One replacement program, the company said Wednesday.
Boeing attributed the overrun to “engineering inefficiencies” caused by the impact of COVID-19, but Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith said the program remains on schedule with a projected delivery of the first VC-25B in 2024.
However, Boeing’s quarterly report to the Security and Exchange Commission noted future risk to the program’s cost and schedule as a result of the engineering challenges. “We believe these inefficiencies will result in staffing challenges, schedule inefficiencies and higher costs in the upcoming phases of the program,” the company stated in the report. It was not immediately clear how work on the VC-25B program had been disrupted.
“That charge was really associated with COVID-19,” Smith told reporters in an April 29 phone call. “As we have folks working virtually — particularly on the engineering side — as well as that’s gone, we certainly experienced some inefficiencies that has caused us to re-evaluate our estimates to complete those efforts. And that’s essentially what you saw today in our results and the charge associated with that.”
Smith added that although the program team has done a “good job” of managing the program in the face of changes caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic and is “executing very well on many fronts,” Boeing could not mitigate the added cost to the program this financial quarter.
Air Force acquisition executive Will Roper said he spoke with Boeing Defense CEO Leanne Caret last night about the problem, but because the issue was “late breaking,” he referred detailed questions to the program office.
Just two weeks ago, Roper praised the progress of the program, which recently completed its critical design review virtually. At the time, the program was on schedule with no disruptions due to COVID-19, he said then.
The Air Force One replacement drew considerable attention in 2016 after then-President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that the program was too expensive and should be cancelled unless the cost—then projected as more than $4bn—came down. In 2018, the Air Force awarded Boeing a $3.9bn fixed-price contract to modify two 747s into the VC-25B configuration.
Although the total price of the program is estimated to hit $5.3bn once ancillary costs such as new hangars and revised technical manuals are included, the fixed-price ceiling on the $3.9bn deal ensures that Boeing will have to pay for any cost growth incurred while building the two new Air Force Ones.
In February, Boeing began making structural changes to two Boeing 747s at its facility in San Antonio, Texas — paving the way for those jets to become VC-25Bs. The jets will also receive upgrades including enhanced electrical power, specialized communication systems, a medical facility, a customized executive interior and autonomous ground operations capabilities. (Source: Defense News)
29 Apr 20. BIS Officially Publishes Rules Eliminating License Exception CIV, Adding “Military End-User” Restrictions Applicable to China, and Proposing Modification to License Exception Additional Permissive Reexports.
As the April 27 edition of Defense and Export-Import Update predicted, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has now officially published in the Federal Register the following proposed and final rules affecting the Export Administration Regulations (EAR):
- (85 Fed. Reg. 23459) – A Final Rule expanding license requirements on exports, and transfers (in-country) of items intended for military end-use or military end-users in the People’s Republic of China (China), Russia, or Venezuela. Specifically, this rule expands the licensing requirements for China to include “military end-users,” in addition to “military end-use.” It broadens the list of items for which the licensing requirements and review policy apply and expands the definition of “military end-use.” Next, it creates a new reason for control and the associated review policy for regional stability for certain items exported to China, Russia, or Venezuela, moving existing text related to this policy. Finally, it adds Electronic Export Information filing requirements in the Automated Export System for exports to China, Russia, and Venezuela. This final rule is scheduled to become effective on June 29, 2020.
- (85 Fed. Reg. 23470) – A Final Rule removing License Exception Civil End Users (CIV) and requiring a license for national security-controlled items on the Commerce Control List (CCL) to countries of national security concern. This will advance U.S. national security interests by allowing U.S. government review of these transactions to these countries prior to export, reexport or transfer (in-country) in accordance with current licensing policy for national security-controlled items on the CCL. This rule also makes conforming changes to the CCL by removing the CIV paragraph from each Export Control Classification Number on the CCL where it appears. This final rule is also scheduled to become effective on June 29, 2020.
- (85 Fed. Reg. 23496) – A Proposed Rule to modify License Exception Additional Permissive Reexports (APR) to remove provisions that authorize reexports of certain national security-controlled items on the Commerce Control List (CCL) to gain better visibility into transactions of national security or foreign policy interest to the United States. Interested person will have until June 29, 2020, to comment on this proposed rule. (Source: glstrade.com)
28 Apr 20. DoD Must Brace For Long-Term Supply Chain Problems; Big Mergers Likely.
“The impact of the COVID crisis in the aviation sector has been really nothing short of catastrophic,” said Hunter. “At this point, it’s very challenging for those companies to stay in business.”
The COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on the US economy are likely to create long-term problems for DoD’s ability to keep weapons flowing, experts say.
DoD should plan to deal with suppliers suffering from increasing trade flow disruptions, such as container ships piling up unopened at US docks. Domestic and foreign travel/trade restrictions are also blocking and slowing a wide variety of goods from crossing US borders, especially from key partners Canada and Mexico.
Such effects will be felt most strongly by DoD’s second-, third- and fourth-tier suppliers who sell primarily to the civil and consumer markets, the ones whose military sales represent only a small piece of their revenue streams, experts said yesterday during a webinar sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Security (CSIS).
“We see that defense firms are operating, and they still have pretty strong demand from their customer, the Department of Defense,” Andrew Hunter, director of the Defense-Industrial Initiatives program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said in a webinar yesterday. “So, in that respect, it’s kind of a good news story compared to other parts of the economy.”
He noted that in part this is because DoD “is doing quite a bit” to use its power of the purse to bolster industry. For example, he said, under guidance issued by Kim Herrington, director of defense contracting and pricing, the Pentagon has accelerated progress payments, especially for small businesses. In other cases, he added, the services have moved up planned orders — as the Navy did with some shipbuilding contracts.
Data from the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) shows that 106 out of 10,509 primary Pentagon contractors had to close. Of those, 68 companies have subsequently reopened, Hunter said. On the subcontractor side, 427 of the 11,413 subcontractors DCMA tracks closed initially, but 147 now have reopened.
But, while DoD work is going on, Hunter said, DoD acquisition czar Ellen Lord last week stated that she is seeing about a three-month delay in programs across the board — something that will come back to haunt DoD in the future as costs rise.
“There’s a slowdown in work, and that’s going to have significant cost consequences down the road. In fact, Secretary Lord indicated that DoD is currently working with OMB on a request to Congress as part of future stimulus legislation for billions of dollars in additional funds to offset these COVID related costs in the acquisition programs that are currently being incurred,” he said.
Hunter, echoed by Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), warned that what is happening with the defense industry per se isn’t the whole story, because of the diversity of the supply chain.
“The other part of the story is the spillover impact from commercial supply chains, which are tightly interlinked with many defense supply chains across many product categories,” Hunter explained, especially as the commercial side of most suppliuers’ business dwarfs the military side.
Eaglen, in her presentation, noted that Lord and other DoD leaders have expressed concern in particular about the health of small businesses and subcontractors.
According to a survey of 770 small businesses in the defense sector by the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) released on April 23, the biggest problems involve impacts on revenue expectations, meeting contract obligations and access to capital.
Cash flow is another problem. The NDIA survey found:
- “60% of respondents said the crisis has interfered with their cash flow; 67% of companies with less than $999,999 in annual revenue have seen a cash-flow disruption.
- Factoring into cash-flow problems: cuts to billable hours, delayed payments from prime contractors and government customers, a lack of telework options or schedule flexibility in contracts, and shelter-in-place orders that prevent employees from working.
- 60% of respondents expect to have long-term financial and cash-flow issues stemming from the crisis.”
Of particular concern to DoD is the commercial aviation sector, given that airline travel has plunged 60 percent, as well as the automotive sector, Hunter said.
“The impact of the COVID crisis in the aviation sector has been really nothing short of catastrophic,” he stressed. “At this point, it’s very challenging for those companies to stay in business.”
Trade disruptions, such as ships piling up in ports and full warehouses that can’t be emptied could have negative impacts on DoD’s supply chain in the coming months, Hunter said.
Problems caused by delivery hold-ups are exacerbated by the demands of just-in-time delivery, meaning many industries do not maintain large stockpiles of goods, Hunter said. This also applies to goods produced and consumed primarily in the United States, he noted.
“It’s kind of amusing to me, but one of the best examples of this is the toilet paper issue,” Hunter said. “Most of the toilet paper in the US is produced in the US. We’re having a hard time getting ahold of it because the production capacity was really just designed to handle the steady state [of delivery], and we’re not at that point right now. And I think a lot of industries are suffering a similar dynamic.”
Eaglen said the problems of trade flow and production might lead DoD and the Congress to rethink the need for certain critical goods to be stockpiled. She added that if stockpile options are chosen, it also is necessary to ensure better management to ensure the contents remain usable and are updated when necessary.
On the whole, Eaglen and Hunter praised DoD for the assistance it is giving to the industrial base, both at the Pentagon level via Lord’s office and via the individual services.
For example, Eaglen said, the Pentagon has increased progress payments to both prime contractors and small businesses — with Herrington recently announcing $3bn in payments to primes. DCMA also announced on April 20 that it has modified 1,500 contracts to help vendors file invoices to obtain the increased progress payments, she said.
Eaglen said the individual services are increasing the rate of their obligations to small businesses, setting up acquisition task forces to work with industry, and reducing withholds to contract awards.
However, it remains to be seen how well the interventions by DoD and the Congress will be able to keep the industrial base — particularly at the lower levels of the supply chain — afloat.
Hunter believes the coronavirus crisis is likely to kick into high gear another wave of defense industry consolidation. In particular, he said, the shakedown most probably will be centralized around big defense contractors attempting to become more proficient at software development — either through building internal capacities, or more likely, seeking to eat up software-centric suppliers. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
28 Apr 20. U.S. Navy pays contractors $600m held back to ensure performance. The U.S. Navy has paid defense contractors $600m it had withheld to ensure contract performance, hoping the funds would shore up finances for suppliers ravaged by the coronavirus-driven economic downturn, a Navy official said on Tuesday.
The move, which follows a similar action taken by the Air Force that released billions of dollars in payments, is aimed at replacing revenue vital Pentagon suppliers have lost in their non-military businesses as the spreading coronavirus has halted business activity nationwide.
“We were immediately able to infuse about $600mi of funds that we had on withholds,” James Geurts, the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, told reporters on a conference call.
A Navy spokesperson said “for example, with the ship repair industry, withholds were reduced to one percent.” The Navy was unable to say whether a portion of the $600m was withheld due to poor contractor performance. The Department of Defense has also accelerated contract awards as it leverages its portion of the more than $700bn annual defense budget to help keep suppliers afloat.
Geurts wrote a memo on March 24 to his staff directing them to release or reduce the withholds. It did not discuss rectifying the root causes.
Government waste watch-dogs criticized the move.
“This current emergency shouldn’t be an excuse to avoid accountability for poor performance that predated this outbreak,” said Mandy Smithberger, of the Project On Government Oversight in Washington.
Earlier this month, Geurts said he had authorized “hundreds of millions” of dollars to be paid out to top suppliers like General Dynamics (GD.N) and Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII.N) which could flow to the supply chain.
Representatives from Huntington Ingalls and General Dynamics said the Navy was not withholding money from them for poor performance.
While the Navy did not name any companies that received payments, industry sources have said the biggest contractors have been filtering coronavirus-related funds to their suppliers and subcontractors who, because of their smaller size, are on much shakier financial footing.
The Navy’s multi-layered supply chain is comprised of companies building out President Donald Trump’s vision for a 350 ship here Navy. The funding will help pay salaries and ensure hard-to-replace workers are not lost to other industries or early retirement.
Geurts has said the Navy is pushing money into the defense industrial base by speeding up contract payments, hastening contract awards and releasing funds withheld for poor past performance.
The U.S. Air Force said it would release $882m in payments to Boeing (BA.N) that were held back due to flaws in the KC-46 air refueling tanker. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Reuters)
28 Apr 20. DoD’s border wall funding shift hits Russia deterrence efforts. The Pentagon is moving to scuttle nearly 19 more military construction projects ― including $274 m worth in Europe to deter Russia ― as a means to backfill a number of building projects at home that were deferred to pay for President Donald Trump’s border wall.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper directed the moves in a memo Monday to acting Pentagon Comptroller Elaine McCusker, which was obtained by Defense News. Overall, Esper plans to reshuffle $545.5m in the department’s construction budget.
The funding shifts detailed Tuesday would deal a particular blow to efforts to deter Russia in Europe, where roughly $1 bn in planned projects stand to lose funding to pay for the southern border wall. Those projects include infrastructure for military aircraft, fuel and munitions storage through the European Deterrence Initiative.
Key House Democrats ripped the Trump administration for partially backfilling canceled military construction projects to build his “wasteful” border wall. House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., called it, “an end run around Congress.”
“Even worse, Trump is doing this by canceling funding for critical European Deterrence Initiative projects that were designed to bolster real national security needs and prevent Russian aggression against American allies and partners in Europe,” they said in a joint statement Tuesday.
“Once again, the Trump Administration is putting domestic political considerations ahead of national security, and Trump is trampling on Congress’ power of the purse in the process. The American people deserve better, but they will only get it when Congressional Republicans join us and stand up to this out-of-control President.”
The latest plan would move 2021 funding for projects in places like Texas and Guantanamo Bay, but also Spain, Norway, Germany, Jordan, Japan and the Kwajalein Atoll, so that the Pentagon restart 22 projects in 17 states that had been defunded.
When Esper in September approved the diversion of $3.6bn from 127 military construction projects to pay for barriers and fences in Texas, Arizona and California, he suggested European allies could help replenish $771m for 40 projects across Europe. The Pentagon has maintained all the affected projects are “deferred,” but Congress would have had to backfill the funding. In his memo on Monday, Esper said his new funding shifts would enable the execution of projects scheduled for contract awards this calendar year and would “ensure adequate funding remains available” for border wall projects. (Source: Defense News)
27 Apr 20. Pentagon releases videos of encounters between UFOs and Navy pilots. After verifying the authenticity of the footage years ago, the Pentagon has finally released three videos of separate encounters between Navy pilots and unidentified flying objects.
The videos — two were taken in January 2015, while the third dates back to November 2004 — were released “in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos,” Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough said.
The videos have been circulating online for years, each featuring bewildered Navy pilots commenting on curious flight behaviors of UFOs. But the Department of Defense claims they withheld the official release of the footage partially to ensure nothing in the video required ongoing secrecy. Now, all three have been posted on the official page of Naval Air Systems Command.
“After a thorough review, the department has determined that the authorized release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems, and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena,” Gough added.
The 2004 encounter, which The New York Times documented in 2017, took place in the Pacific approximately 100 miles off the coast after a Navy cruiser requested aerial assistance following repeated encounters with unidentified aircraft.
“It accelerated like nothing I’ve ever seen,” one pilot told the NYT. Multiple air crew described the object, which hovered at a low altitude over the water before speeding away, as oblong-shaped and about 40 feet in length, the report said.
Following the encounter, the pilots departed for the vicinity of the cruiser, a location approximately 60 miles away. To the surprise of the Navy aircrews, which were still close to 40 miles away from the cruiser, the ship radioed to say the UFO had already reappeared.
In an interview with the NYT, one pilot says that the object covered the 60 miles “in less than a minute.”
One of the videos from 2015 depicts what one pilot referred to as “a fleet” of high-speed objects that, at one point, begin rotating in a static position.
“Look at that thing, dude!” one pilot says in the video. “It’s rotating!”
“Dude, this is a f—ing drone, bro,” another crew member says.
“Dude, this is a f—king drone, bro,” one pilot says, forever immortalizing himself as a dude-bro.
The Navy previously acknowledged the authenticity of the footage, with officials going as far as drafting guidelines in 2019 to establish a formal process for pilots and military personnel to report UFO sightings — a move made following a surge in what the Navy called a series of intrusions by advanced aircraft on Navy carrier strike groups.
While this development was announced sans admission of the existence of alien life, it signals a return to DoD acknowledgement that the series of recently documented encounters at least warrant further investigation.
In fact, so prevalent was DoD’s interest in tracking the phenomena years ago that it established a program inside the Pentagon solely dedicated to investigating reports of UFO sightings.
The existence of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which ran from 2007 until 2012, was confirmed by DoD officials in December 2017, who noted it was done away with when it “was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding and it was in the best interest of the DoD to make a change.”
Former military intelligence official Luis Elizondo, who claims to have spearheaded the AATIP, said last year that the Pentagon should be taking a more aggressive approach to analyzing data surrounding UFO encounters.
“If you are in a busy airport and see something you are supposed to say something,” he told Politico in 2019.
“With our own military members it is kind of the opposite: ‘If you do see something, don’t say something. … What happens in five years if it turns out these are extremely advanced Russian aircraft?”
In 2017, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, along with former Sens. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, openly backed the establishment of the AATIP.
“I’m not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going,” Reid told the New York Times in 2017. “I think it’s one of the good things I did in my congressional service. I’ve done something that no one has done before.”
Reid tweeted his approval Monday of the Pentagon’s release of the videos, saying, “it only scratches the surface of research and materials available. The U.S. needs to take a serious, scientific look at this and any potential national security implications. The American people deserve to be informed.”
Elizondo, meanwhile, recently appeared in a six-part documentary series titled “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation™” — the trademark symbol is part of the title — alongside other former Pentagon officials and Blink-182 co-founder Tom DeLonge, who established a research company called To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences as a means to prove the existence of alien life.
DeLonge’s team at TTSA is spearheaded by a number of noteworthy officials who have spent significant time occupying high-ranking DoD positions.
Dr. Hal Puthoff, a NASA quantum physicist and DoD adviser, Jim Semivan, a former senior intelligence member of the CIA, and Chris Mellon, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence in both the Clinton and Bush administrations who was instrumental in creating Special Operations Command, all occupy leadership positions within TTSA.
DeLonge’s To the Stars shot onto everyone’s radar after the company released one of the declassified videos from 2015 that showed an encounter between U.S. Navy pilots and a UFO.
And now, much like the universe, the military’s affiliation with alien-related subject matter appears to be ever-expanding, as the Army inked a contract with DeLonge’s TTSA last October to collaborate in the study of “exotic” metals that both parties hope will lead to the development of advanced technologies.
As part of the agreement, the Army’s Ground Vehicle System Center and Ground Vehicle Survivability and Protection component will lend research resources, including laboratories, to TTSA, which in turn will leverage what the company asserts are alien metals capable of enhancing the effectiveness of Army vehicles.
To the Stars claims to have “acquired, designed, or produced” these materials, which can offer an array of futuristic modifications like active camouflage, beamed energy propulsion, inertial mass reduction, and quantum communication.
Details on how or where DeLonge’s company acquired these materials were not provided.
“Our partnership with TTSA serves as an exciting, non-traditional source for novel materials and transformational technologies to enhance our military ground system capabilities,” Dr. Joseph Cannon, deputy product manager of science and technology in the Vehicle Protection Systems Division of the GVSC, said in a TTSA press release announcing the contract.
“We look forward to this partnership and the potential technical innovations forthcoming.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Military Times)
BATTLESPACE Comment: The Editor was reminded of a story told him by Group Captain John Palmer who worked for Racal and wrote an excellent book called ‘A Roving Commission.’ He was UFO hunting whist attached to the USAF in a McDonnel F-101 Voodoo jet fighter. A UFO was located and they went into a steep supersonic climb and his wingman literally broke up as they climbed! F-101A serial number 53-2418 was the first production aircraft; its maiden flight was on 29 September 1954 at Edwards AFB where it reached Mach 0.9 (961.0 km/h) at 35,000 feet (11,000 m). The aircraft had a dangerous tendency toward severe pitch-up at high angle of attack that was never entirely solved. Around 2,300 improvements were made to the aircraft in 1955–56 before full production was resumed in November 1956. (Source: Wikipedia)
27 Apr 20. DOD Small Webinar Series Continues: Foreign Investment: Tools for Small Businesses and How DOD Can Help. The Department of Defense’s Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP), continues to partner with Defense Industrial Base (DIB) small businesses to identify impacts of COVID-19. OSBP has already held two successful Defense Small Business Webinar Series events in April, on relief efforts available and cybersecurity, and now the third will be “Foreign Investment: tools for small business” which will be held this Wednesday, April 29 at 3:00 p.m. EDT.
Interested businesses can join Wednesday’s webinar by clicking here.
“This webinar series has been instrumental in helping identify COVID-19 impacts and solutions in the small business community, especially those in the defense industrial base,” said OSBP’s director, Ms. Amy Murray. “Combined with our daily and weekly engagements and outreach, this webinar series will continue to help provide a consistent flow of information to those who need it most.”
More specifically, the Foreign Investment webinar will help inform small businesses about the issues of adversarial foreign investment, provide education about regulations in place to counter adversarial capital, and offer an overview of tools available to industry to protect themselves. The webinar, will feature Mr. David Stapleton and Mr. Andrew Pahutski, DOD leads for Trusted Capital and Global Markets & Investments, respectively.
The first webinar included presentations from senior Department of Defense and Small Business Administration leaders on relevant relief efforts and had nearly 2,000 participants. The second webinar, hosted by Project Spectrum, focused on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and how small businesses can best protect themselves.
Please visit www.business.defense.gov for more information on OSBP, and how the Defense industrial policy office continues to partner with the defense industrial base to address COVID-19 impacts. (Source: US DoD)
23 Apr 20. Special Ops Command Faces Funding Cuts. U.S. Special Operations Command could see reductions in modernization investments in the coming years as the Pentagon focuses on great power competition.
President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2021 budget request included $2.3bn for procurement for SOCOM, a reduction of about 12 percent compared to the enacted amount for 2020, and 26 percent less than what it was allocated in 2019, according to budget documents.
It also included $732m for research, development, test and evaluation, about 14 percent less than the $852m it received in 2020. However, that would still be well above the $613m it received for RDT&E in 2019, providing more money to develop next-generation systems.
“The FY 2021 budget for [Special Operations Forces] investments procures, modernizes, and/or modifies SOF-peculiar aviation, mobility, and maritime platforms, weapons, ordnance, and communications equipment,” the Pentagon said in its budget overview. “The FY 2021 budget sustains SOF growth and readiness, and increases lethality through modernization and recapitalization, and investing in new technologies.”
Special Operations Command declined to provide topline numbers for projected modernization investments over the course of the future years defense program, saying the information was “pre-decisional.”
Steven Bucci, a defense analyst with the Heritage Foundation and a former Special Forces officer, said SOCOM might see its budgets trimmed in the coming years as the Pentagon’s main focus turns toward great power competition with China and Russia and away from counterinsurgency and counterterrorism.
“It’s kind of inevitable,” he said. “The world has changed.”
However, there are still counterterrorism and counterinsurgency challenges out there, he noted, and SOF also has a role to play in great power competition.
“Now we’re going to have to have a lot more scrutiny so that the equipment buys and equipment usage that we come up with is going to have to be useful in both fights,” Bucci said. “That’s the only way SOCOM is going to maintain the capability that it needs to do both” missions.
SOCOM’s total funding request for 2021 was $13bn — about $700m, or 5 percent, less than was enacted for 2020.
Requested procurement funding for 2021 includes: $211m, an 18 percent increase, for rotary-wing platform upgrades and sustainment; $34m, a 70 percent increase, for unmanned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems; $243m, a 4 percent bump, for precision strike packages; $163m, a 14 percent boost, for AC/MC-130J gunships; and $101m for a new Armed Overwatch aircraft program.
Other procurement requests include: $21m, a 64 percent cut, for underwater systems; $292m, a 29 percent decrease, for ordnance; $111m, a 5 percent reduction, for intelligence systems; $33m, a 71 percent cut, for tactical vehicles; and $293m, a 13 percent decrease, for warrior systems.
SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins said the command now has six top capability areas where it is focusing its science-and-technology efforts. They are: biotechnologies/human interface; hyper-enabled operator; network and data management; next-generation effects/precision strike; next-generation mobility and advanced technology solutions for air, ground and maritime forces; and next-generation ISR and tactically relevant situational awareness.
The hyper-enabled operator effort “focuses on improving the speed and quality of operator decision-making by providing the benefits of advanced data analytics at the edge in contested and denied environments,” Hawkins said in an email.
Network and data management initiatives will help ensure connectivity for communications and navigation in contested or denied areas, he noted.
Next-generation precision strike efforts are focused on “enhancing SOF lethality and ensuring dominance in denied and future operating environments by developing technology, scalable effects weapons, and cyber/electronic attack effects with increased range,” Hawkins said.
Next-generation ISR and situational awareness initiatives will include the development of cutting edge, autonomous systems that will reduce operators’ cognitive load and support “rapid, on-the-move ability to learn and communicate knowledge in all domains,” he added. (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
27 Apr 20. Storm clouds await Pentagon’s request for defense industry cash injection. The Pentagon is hunting for billions of dollars in a future package to combat the coronavirus pandemic, it looks like the next massive relief bill will be swamped in a partisan fight.
The Pentagon announced it’s seeking the funds to prop up the military’s network of suppliers following $3bn in new “progress payments” to increase cash flow to primary contractors and more vulnerable, smaller subcontractors. The details have yet to be disclosed as the Defense Department works through them with the White House budget office.
But last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he wants to “push the pause button” on the next aid package and, because Democrats aim to center it on bailouts for states hit hard by the pandemic, “move “cautiously.”
“You’ve seen the talk from both sides about acting, but my goal from the beginning of this, given the extraordinary numbers that we’re racking up to the national debt, is that we need to be as cautious as we can be,” McConnell told reporters on April 21.
The Senate will reconvene in full on May 4 to work on coronavirus aid legislation, McConnell said Monday. It would mark the first time the chamber has been back in full since late March.
The prospects for a speedy compromise looked dim when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., set herself at odds with McConnell last week, saying, “There will not be a bill without state and local” aid. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and other congressional Democrats have added pressure on McConnell by pillorying the majority leader’s suggestion that states declare bankruptcy.
“Republican Senators: Raise your hand if you think your state should go bankrupt,” Schumer said in a tweet.
McConnell’s negotiating stance comes as the Congressional Budget Office projected Friday that the federal budget deficit would quadruple to $3.7trn, driven by the coronavirus pandemic and a government spending spree on testing, health care, and aid to businesses and households.
According to the report, the 2020 budget deficit will explode after Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed four coronavirus aid bills that promise to pile more than $2trn onto the $24.6trn national debt in the remaining six months of the current fiscal year.
Meanwhile, defense hawks are warm to a defense spending boost. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Miss., has voiced support for an additional cash infusion for the defense industry.
“The federal government can play a vital role in keeping military suppliers afloat,” Wicker, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in his weekly newsletter to supporters. “Already the Department of Defense has announced it is spending $3bn to reimburse contractors affected by work delays and breaks in the supply chain.
“As Congress considers new relief measures, I will work to include targeted funding to ensure that suppliers get the stable cash flow and contracts they need to endure this crisis. These awards should go toward projects the military has already identified as priorities and should not break the bank.”
Also last week, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., introduced legislation last week that calls for $43bn for military infrastructure and weapons as part of a larger effort to confront China in the Indo-Pacific region. That bill also calls for $11bn to mitigate pandemic-related cost overruns on weapons programs and $3.3bn to mitigate COVID-19 impacts to the defense-industrial base.
But Cotton’s proposal is also loaded with new weapons purchases that would prove a boon to defense firms, albeit at a slower pace than a direct cash infusion. There’s an added General Dynamics/Huntington Ingalls Industries-built Virginia-class submarine; more Lockheed Martin-built F-35A jets; Boeing-built F-15EX fighter aircraft; a battery for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense air defense system; and anti-ship/strike weapons.
Cotton’s bill follows a $6.1bn China deterrence package from the influential ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas. That bill would fund an Indo-Pacific Deterrence Initiative, also favored in principal by HASC Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash.
Observers predicted the added funding might find a way through any deadlock on a stimulus bill.
“We don’t foresee stand-alone adoption but do think elements of it could be spread across different spending bills,” analyst Roman Schweizer of the Cowen Group said of Cotton’s bill in a note to investors. “With Congress in full-bore debt-spending mode, defense proponents might be able to bury this money in larger packages.
The American Enterprise Institute’s Mackenzie Eaglen proposed in a Defense News on Monday that the next package for the Pentagon should avoid submitting unfunded procurement priorities and also “focus on the health, safety and continuity of all the Pentagon’s workforce.”
“Democrats want another stimulus, ideally on ‘shovel ready’ infrastructure jobs. DoD is absolutely going to need more help in some sort of bill to keep the defense supply chain from going to the unemployed lines, or worse, gobbled up by China,” Eaglen said in an email.
“Most of defense stimulus is to prop up jobs and employment so I’d like to be optimistic and think Democrats would be very supportive.”
Democratic leaders haven’t yet signaled how they’re predisposed toward added defense spending in a stimulus package. However, a House Democratic aide said that scenario would invite serious opposition from the progressive wing.
Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., a member of HASC and the House Progressive Caucus leadership team, previewed the messaging in this fight in a tweet on April 21 saying: “The Pentagon shouldn’t get any more COVID relief money.”
“A single F-35 could pay for 2,200 ventilators. 1 nuclear warhead could pay for 17 million masks,” Khanna said, adding that the Pentagon budget dwarfs the combined budgets of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and U.S. contributions to the World Health Organization.
In the Senate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., “will strongly oppose no-strings-attached giveaways to the arms industry, as news reports seem to indicate are the Pentagon’s likely request of Congress,” said his spokesman, Keane Bhatt. “This is the time to put ordinary workers and small businesses first — not prioritize the profits of Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.” (Source: Defense News)
25 Apr 20. U.S. Has Gunships Ready to Deliver on Trump’s Warning to Iran. Even before President Donald Trump’s vow to “shoot down” Iranian speedboats if they harass American ships in international waters, the U.S. Navy was bolstering its ability to call in AC-130 gunships and Apache attack helicopters to defend its presence in the Persian Gulf.
A practice run for the new tactics on April 15 drew 11 gunboats from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that crossed the bows and sterns of American vessels at close range. And that prompted Trump’s tweet on April 22 saying he’d “instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.”
Going back to the Obama administration, Revolutionary Guard members in small but agile speedboats have harassed U.S. ships, but the encounters usually have ended with warnings from the Americans to back off. As far back as 2007, the Office of Naval Intelligence estimated Iran had a fleet of 1,000 small boats that was growing. In early January 2017 a U.S. Navy guided-missile naval destroyer fired warning shots at four Iranian rapid-attack craft in the Strait of Hormuz.
While attention has turned on the latest confrontation at sea between Iran and the U.S. — and on Trump’s vow to stop such close encounters — there’s been little focus on the recent moves by the U.S. Central Command to come better-armed with joint Navy, Air Force and Army systems for spotting targets and transferring data.
Earlier: Iran Ratchets Up Warnings to U.S. Over Tensions in Persian Gulf
The live-fire gunship exercises began in March as a first-time effort at coordination between Navy patrol coastal ships, the service’s P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft and the Air Force’s special operations AC-130 gunships, which are capable of nighttime attacks. Armed with a 30mm Gatling gun and precision-guided munitions, the famed gunships have been used to attack ground targets — but not naval targets — from Vietnam to Grenada, Panama, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Then on April 15, Navy vessels were practicing coordinated operations with Army AH-64E Apache tank-busting attack helicopters when the U.S. says Iranian boats came within 50 yards of the USS Lewis B. Puller and within 10 yards of the bow of the Coast Guard cutter Maui.
Under the new approach, the Apaches can be stationed on the Puller, the Navy’s first specially designed floating sea base. The Puller, a destroyer and other, smaller U.S. vessels were practicing spotting targets for the Apaches and transmitting the information. The exercises continued through April 19.
The Apache exercise shows how the Army “can use naval platforms as lily pads to expand their operational range along with providing security in its region of operation,” Commander Rebecca Rebarich, the spokeswoman for the Navy’s 5th Fleet, said in an email. “The security acts as a deterrent for any threats against the U.S. and allied watercraft.”
Helicopters have been used occasionally to escort vessels into the Persian Gulf, including in September 1987 when U.S. special operations choppers based on a frigate shadowed and struck an Iranian vessel laying mines during “Operation Earnest Will,” an effort by U.S. and allies to guard oil tankers against attack in the Persian Gulf.
Earlier: Trump Tells Navy to Destroy Any Iranian Gunboat Harassing It
“These exercises show U.S. forces can go on the offensive against Iranian small boats, rather than simply defending against them,” said Bryan Clark, a former special assistant to the chief of naval operations who’s now a naval analyst for the Hudson Institute. The Navy previously relied on “deck guns and onboard helicopters, which can be overwhelmed by a large boat swarm.”
The Apaches can fire Hellfire laser-guided missiles or shoot guns, he said. “Since the helicopter can move fast and is shooting down at the boats, they have an easier time hitting than surface ships trying to hit a fast boat that is bouncing on the water.” The AC-130 “essentially can strafe the boats,” he said.
Now the question is whether Trump’s warning to Iran will deter conflict with Iran or escalate that prospect. What Trump described as an instruction to fire in all cases of harassment has been portrayed by military officials more as an option if captains feel their crews are in danger.
“I’m not going to get into the exact tactics,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said this week on Fox News, “but they need to be well-warned, the Iranians, that we are not going to tolerate that behavior.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Bloomberg)
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