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19 Jun 20. DOD Announces $187m in Defense Production Act Title III COVID-19 Actions. Statement attributed to Lt. Col. Mike Andrews, Department of Defense spokesman:
Today the Department is announcing five Defense Production Act Title III actions to help sustain and strengthen essential domestic industrial base capabilities and defense-critical workforce in shipbuilding, aircraft manufacturing, and clothing and textiles. These actions will help to retain critical workforce capabilities throughout the disruption caused by COVID-19 and to restore some jobs lost because of the pandemic. The Department remains closely partnered with FEMA and HHS, providing almost $2.9bn in life-saving medical services, supplies and equipment to service members and federal agencies in the nation’s whole-of-government approach to the coronavirus pandemic.
DoD announces $50 m Defense Production Act Title III Agreement with Austal USA to Strengthen Domestic Shipbuilding Industrial Base
As part of the national response to COVID-19, the Department of Defense entered into a $50m agreement with Austal USA to maintain, protect, and expand critical domestic shipbuilding and maintenance capacity. These investments will have long-term benefits for U.S. Navy shipbuilding while accelerating pandemic recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast region.
Using funds authorized and appropriated under the CARES Act, this DPA Title III investment will protect jobs and bolster the local economy in a region hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure critical capabilities are retained in support of U.S. Navy operational readiness.
Austal USA is based in Mobile, Alabama, which is the principal place of performance.
DoD announces $55m Defense Production Act Title III Agreement with W International to Strengthen Domestic Shipbuilding Industrial Base
As part of the national response to COVID-19, the Department of Defense entered into a $55m agreement with W International to maintain, protect, and expand critical domestic industrial base capability for the U.S. Navy nuclear shipbuilding industry. These investments will have long-term benefits for Navy shipbuilding while accelerating pandemic recovery efforts in the South East region of the United States.
Using funds authorized and appropriated under the CARES Act, this DPA Title III investment will support capital projects to maintain and support capacity, workflow improvements, and workforce development. These investments will protect jobs in a region hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure critical capabilities are retained in support of U.S. Navy operational readiness.
W International is located in Goose Creek, South Carolina, which is the principal place of performance.
As part of the national response to COVID-19, the Department of Defense (DoD) entered into a $25m agreement with Weber Metals Inc. to sustain critical domestic industrial base capability and capacity for making of large, open and closed die forgings used in many DoD weapons systems.
Using funds authorized and appropriated under the CARES Act, this DPA Title III investment will expand production capability and capacity to meet vitally important DoD demand and improve associated processes including conversion and core processing in their supply chain. These investments will enable Weber Metals Inc to retain critical workforce capabilities throughout the disruption caused by COVID-19 and to restore jobs lost due to the pandemic.
Weber Inc. is headquartered in Paramount, CA, which is the principal place of performance.
DoD announces $55 m Defense Production Act Title III Agreement to strengthen Domestic Aviation Defense Industrial Base
As part of the national response to COVID-19, the Department of Defense entered a $55m agreement with GE Aviation to sustain essential aircraft engine component manufacturing capabilities. The purpose of this investment is for the remanufacture of selected critical engine components used on the F110-100/-129 turbofan jet engine and the F118-101 turbofan jet engine. These engines power the F-16 and the U-2 aircraft respectfully.
Using funds authorized and appropriated under the CARES Act, this DPA Title III investment will enable GE and their sub-tier suppliers, including small business, minority owned, women owned and veteran owned businesses to retain/reinstate more than 225 American jobs. It is critical to national defense that GE and their affiliated companies remain viable and working.
Additionally, both the F-16 and the U-2 propulsion systems have future forecasted readiness challenges and the injection of these Title III funds will enable the USAF to avoid that projected shortfall.
GE is a world-leading provider of jet and turboprop engines, components, and integrated systems for commercial, military, business and general aviation aircraft. GE Aviation has a global service network to support the aviation industry with extensive repair capabilities and experienced technicians, which provides the highest level of customer service and world-class performance.
Besides GE some of the affected sub-tier companies and vendors are located in: Grand Prairie, TX; East Granby, CT; Rochester, NY; Cincinnati OH; Bloomfield, CT; Brazil, IN; Asheville, NC; and Ithaca, MI, to name a few locations.
The Department is confident that this effort not only sustains the viability and readiness of current propulsion systems but will also continue to advance leading edge propulsion technologies.
DoD Announces $2 M Defense Production Act Title III Agreement to Sustain U.S. Domestic Production of Fabric for Army Dress Uniforms
As part of the national response to COVID-19, the Department of Defense entered a $2m agreement with American Woolen Company to sustain domestic production of poly/wool blend fabric for U.S. Army dress uniforms.
Using funds authorized and appropriated under the CARES Act, this DPA Title III investment will sustain the domestic production capability and capacity of poly/wool blend fabric for Army dress uniforms. The sustainment of this production capability will ensure the U.S. Government gets dedicated long term industrial capacity to meet the needs of the nation.
This investment will leverage American Woolen Company’s manufacturing capabilities to commercialize the Army Green Service Uniform (AGSU) fabrics, enabling the government to diversify the supply chain and add a second source of innovation to the market.
American Woolen Company is a small, women-owned manufacturer of wool and wool/blend fabrics based in Stafford Springs, Connecticut, which is the principal place of performance. (Source: US DoD)
19 Jun 20. DOD’s Chief Data Officer Aims to Deliver Data Reform. Information technology is the backbone of today’s modern battlefield and is even more important in a constantly evolving security climate.
The Defense Department is reforming how data is used and collected. This is particularly important in joint, all-domain operations, which involve coordinated communications and employment of military assets at sea, in the air, on the ground, and in space and cyberspace.
The chief data officer leads the effort to strengthen data governance, implement data strategy, and accelerate the transition to a data-driven culture across the department. Data governance is a framework of data rules and organizational role delegations designed to standardize data practices.
DOD officials announced today that Dave Spirk will become the chief data officer who will lead the new CDO organization. The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act directed that the chief data officer’s functions move from being under the chief management officer to become part of the chief information officer structure.
The chief information officer is responsible for the department’s Digital Modernization Strategy, which has five components: cloud; artificial intelligence; command, control and communications, known as C3; data management; and cybersecurity.
The chief information officer engages with companies across the technology landscape to understand their data journeys and best practices to create a strong data culture.
“Dave Spirk will bring extensive experience and understanding of how data can empower joint, all-domain operations,” said Dana Deasy, DOD’s chief information officer. “As a former Marine with extensive experience in the intelligence community, Dave was uniquely qualified to become the CDO and will play a key role as we continue to execute the Digital Modernization Strategy. I look forward to working with Dave as we create a strong data culture across the department.”
Spirk most recently was the chief data officer for the U.S. Special Operations Command. Previously, he worked as the associate director of technology investment in the secretary of the Air Force’s Concept Development and Management Office for Advanced Analytics and Technology Investment.
Additionally, Spirk worked as a Marine Corps intelligence specialist in Afghanistan and in the office of the director of national intelligence as the chief of operations for the Cuba and Venezuela mission manager. (Source: US DoD)
18 Jun 20. BIS Officially Publishes New Rules for Dealing with Huawei and Its Foreign Affiliates in the Context of Standards Organizations – (85 Fed. Reg. 36719) – The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has officially published an interim final rule on the release of “technology” to certain entities on the Entity List in the context of standards organizations. The Summary to this Federal Register notice notes that BIS added waterway Technologies Co., Ltd. (Huawei) and 114 of its foreign affiliates to the EAR’s Entity List in 2019 but that those companies continue to participate in many important international standards organizations in which U.S. companies also participate. BIS has therefore amended the EAR to authorize the release of certain technology to Huawei and its affiliates on the Entity List without a license if such release is made for the purpose of contributing to the revision or development of a “standard” in a “standards organization.” For the purpose of this interim final rule, a “standard” is as defined in Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-119: Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities, and a “standards organization,” is the equivalent of a “voluntary consensus standards body ” as defined in Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-119: Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities. This interim final rule does not change the assessment of whether “technology” is subject to the EAR. Interested persons have until August 17, 2020, to submit comments. (Source: glstrade.com)
18 Jun 20. DoD reports would be public under new amendment to must-pass defense bill. All unclassified Pentagon reports ordered by Congress could be made public under an amendment Rep. Jackie Speier will propose to the annual defense policy bill, Defense News has learned.
The amendment, which is supported by a broad bipartisan group of government accountability and transparency groups, was drafted by Reps. Katie Porter, D-Calif., and Francis Rooney, R-Fla. It would be offered for the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which the House Armed Services Committee is set to mark up July 1.
Speier, D-Calif., chairs the HASC Military Personnel Subcommittee.
Under current law, the Pentagon is required to publish on its website reports that do not contain classified or other sensitive information “to the extent practicable.” The amendment would remove that caveat.
The proposal would allow the Pentagon to waive the disclosure requirement, but the department would be required to publish a placeholder when it it has certified a report contains information that is non-releasable.
“Our government doesn’t work unless it is held accountable to the American people,” Porter said in a statement. “There is absolutely no reason that these unclassified studies should not be readily available to the public, the press, and Members of Congress. Waste, fraud, and abuse at the Pentagon do not keep Orange County families safe, and we deserve access to these reports paid for by our tax dollars.”
Rooney, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the amendment would allow the American people and members of Congress to receive more accurate information pertaining to the Defense Department’s performance.
“Oversight of taxpayer dollars is essential in any agency, but especially when it comes to one as large as the Department of Defense,” he said. “Congress must hold all agencies accountable and transparent, including in the release of material deemed to be unclassified and safe for release to the public.”
Concerns about Pentagon transparency have been longstanding.
In the Senate Armed Services Committee’s draft of the annual defense authorization bill (completed last week), Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, included language to require public disclosure of specific totals for military research projects.
“There is no transparency right now,” she said. “The Defense Department some information which universities they gave them to, but we don’t have a handle on how research dollars are actually spent and if the work was worthwhile. It’s important to be able to understand where taxpayer money is going.”
Gen. John Hyten, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in January that he hopes to see “significant improvement” this year on loosening classification standards in the infamously overclassified Pentagon.
A POGO analysis of DoD’s Freedom of Information Act data showed, for 2018, a 16% jump in its use of FOIA exemptions to redact information in over 60% of requests, a five-year high.
The groups supporting the new measure in the House include Concerned Veterans for America, VoteVets, the National Taxpayers Union and the Project on Government Oversight.
“It’s about time the Pentagon makes its unclassified reports readily available to the public,” said Mandy Smithberger, director of POGO’s Center for Defense Information. “The American taxpayers have a right to see where their taxpayer dollars are going, and Congress must have access to the reports to conduct effective oversight and make smart policy decisions. It’s great to see bipartisan consensus on this common sense issue.” (Source: Defense News)
10 Jun 20. Army Ponders What To Cut If Budget Drops: Gen. Murray. The Army Futures commander is making a list of which of the service’s 34 top-priority programs to sacrifice first – and which programs outside the top 34 he has to save.
The Army Secretary and Chief of Staff approved a draft spending plan for 2022-2026 yesterday that funds all 34 of the service’s top-priority programs, the Army’s modernization chief said this morning.
But with the ever-growing cost of COVID looming over the economy and the Pentagon alike, Gen. John “Mike” Murray says he’s already made a mental list of which of the 34 the service might have to slow down or sacrifice and which ones it absolutely has to save.
“I have a one-to-N list in my mind” of the 34 programs, Murray told an Association of the US Army webcast this morning.
“That’s only in my mind, right now,” he emphasized. “It’s pre-decisional.”
In other words, it’s not final, it’s not official, and it’s not ready to share with the public. All that said, however, it’s still a telling sign of uncertain budget times that the four-star chief of Army Futures Command not only has such a list, but is willing to say he has it.
Meanwhile, Murray’s chief civilian partner, Assistant Secretary for Acquisition Bruce Jette, has launched a long-term study of the Army’s economic prospects. In effect, Jette’s looking at the supply side, asking how tight the budget will be, and Murray is looking at the demand side, asking what the Army should prioritize within that tight budget.
Gen. Murray is also looking at the Army’s 684 other programs, he said, to determine which of them can be cut – while some have been slashed already to free up funding for the 34, others are so far unscathed – and which are essential to the top-34’s success.
“We can come up with, you know, the most impressive Next Generation Combat Vehicle in the world,” Murray said. “If you can’t get fuel to it, then you’re wasting your time.”
Fuel is just one, particularly knotty logistical problem. Ultimately, Murray wants to reduce Army fuel demands by moving to hybrid diesel-electric motors. While electric power by itself might work for civilian cars, he said, he’s skeptical the Army can charge batteries in combat, or that any practical amount of batteries can store enough energy to move, say, a 70-ton main battle tank. Likewise, while civilian quadcopters can run off batteries, the Army’s new scout helicopter, the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, requires a high-powered turbine.
So for decades to come, the Army will need fuel trucks, storage bladders, pumps, drums, hoses, and so on. And that’s just for the gas. Both current and future combat systems require a staggering array of spare parts, repair tools, maintenance facilities, and more.
Logistics is historically a US strength, but it’s not a major focus of the 34 priority programs, which range from hypersonic missiles to smart rifles, from tanks to aircraft to robots. Besides weapons, the 34 do include a lot of high-tech information-age infrastructure, both to train the troops in virtual and augmented reality, and to share tactical data like target locations across the battlefield. There has not, however, been nearly as much emphasis on supporting functions such as fuel, maintenance, and transport.
Murray now aims to fix that. Starting with a study by the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, he said, the Army has come up with a list of “18 key critical enablers that are getting funded,” Murray said, again without naming them. Murray’s calling the 34 priority programs “Tier One” and the 18 enablers “Tier Two,” he said. “Then tier three is ammo,” he added.
The general didn’t elaborate, but certainly a high-tech tank or aircraft can’t fight without ammunition, just as it can’t move without fuel. The catch is that, in modern warfare, you’re not just buying rifle bullets and cannon shells, but a host of precision-guided munitions that are much more expensive to stockpile in bulk for a major war.
Even once the Army has figured out which weapons, support systems, and ammunition it can afford to buy, it still won’t be able to buy enough of them to equip every unit at once. The service’s recent AimPoint study, Murray said, focused on figuring out which units around the world need to be modernized first and which will have to wait.
“The whole point behind AimPoint was an understanding that you can’t modernize the entire army overnight, or in a year, or really even in a decade,” Murray said. As a young officer, he recalled, his unit had M60 tanks and M113 transports “while the rest of the Army was running around in M1s and Bradleys.” While he doesn’t to return to the extreme disparities of the past, he said, “somebody has to be first and somebody has to be last.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
15 Jun 20. Rare Gathering of US Aircraft Carriers ‘to Be Met with Chinese Countermeasures.’ In a rare move, the US is sending three aircraft carriers to waters near China as bilateral tensions rise, a move interpreted by foreign media as a warning to China. Chinese military experts said on Sunday that the US move again exposed its hegemonic politics in the region, and China could counter it by holding military drills and showing its ability and determination to safeguard its territorial integrity. China possesses aircraft carrier killer weapons like the DF-21D and DF-26 anti-ship ballistic missiles.
The three US aircraft carriers, namely the USS Theodore Roosevelt, USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan, together with other US naval warships and aircraft, are patrolling the Indo-Pacific waters, the Associated Press reported on Friday.
It has been nearly three years since so many US aircraft carriers have been simultaneously deployed in the region, the report said, noting this move comes as tensions between China and the US are rising over topics like COVID-19, Hong Kong’s national security law and the South China Sea.
All three aircraft carriers were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which left the US with no aircraft carriers in the western Pacific region for more than two months.
By massing these aircraft carriers, the US is attempting to demonstrate to the whole region and even the world that it remains the most powerful naval force, as they could enter the South China Sea and threaten Chinese troops on the Xisha and Nansha islands as well as vessels passing through nearby waters, so the US could carry out its hegemonic politics, Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, told the Global Times.
China could counter the US move by enhancing its own war preparedness and holding corresponding drills, telling the US that China is capable of and determined to safeguard its territorial integrity, Li said.
Naval and aerial forces of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have expelled many US warships that illegally entered China’s territorial waters off the Xisha and Nansha islands in the South China Sea this year, according to PLA statements.
In addition to standard naval warships, aircraft and missiles, China possesses a wide range of weapons designed to sink aircraft carriers, like the medium-range anti-ship ballistic missile DF-21D that can cover the First Island Chain, and the intermediate range anti-ship ballistic missile DF-26 that can reach Guam. These missiles can attack medium-sized to large surface vessels from above at very high speeds, making them difficult to intercept, according to publicly available information.
Li also cast doubt over US aircraft carrier’s combat readiness after their crews’ recovery from the epidemic. Just as US President Donald Trump is pushing for domestic work resumption, the aircraft carriers were also pushed to the frontlines, Li said, noting that the US military only cares whether they are deployed rather than if they are ready to fight.
“In this situation, it is also possible that another COVID-19 outbreak will take place on the US carriers,” Li said. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Global Times)
15 Jun 20. Will US foreign military sales catch the coronavirus? Economic shock waves from the coronavirus pandemic are threatening U.S. arms sales to its allies and partners, who may suddenly have less to spend.
U.S. defense exports, through either the Foreign Military Sales process (which is government-facilitated) or the Direct Commercial Sales process (from a firm to a nation), are a means for the U.S. to strengthen ties with friendly countries and, as President Donald Trump likes to make explicit, pump revenue into the U.S. economy.
Though the U.S. made $55bn in foreign military sales in fiscal 2019, observers see headwinds in declining oil prices and the potential for allies to prioritize their domestic response to COVID-19 over defense spending.
The Middle East is a leading market, and Saudi Arabia the world’s leading purchaser. But the falling price of crude oil has fueled projections that Gulf Cooperation Council budgets will shrink, and with them demand for U.S. weapons. To boot, a Saudi-initiated oil price war has only added to Capitol Hill’s ire toward the kingdom.
Arms sales to Saudi Arabia reentered Congress’ crosshairs as lawmakers probed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for firing of a State Department inspector general who’d been investigating Pompeo for bypassing a congressional freeze on arms sales to the kingdom. Previous objections to the sale centered around Riyadh’s role in Yemen’s civil war and — U.S. intelligence agencies believe ― the death of columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
“I think the trends are a bit worrisome,” Roman Schweizer, the managing editor of Cowen Washington Research Group, said during a Defense One event. “The Saudis have been in the penalty box with the U.S. Congress since the Khashoggi killing, and most recently with the overproduction of crude oil. … So getting a deal though the U.S. Senate for the Saudis are probably a bridge too far.”
Within NATO and the European Union, allied purchases of U.S. equipment have been lagging, as Trump has jousted with leaders in Western Europe, Schweitzer said. At the same time, allies nearer to the border with Russia have been buying U.S. arms more heavily.
In the long term, tensions with Russia and China are still likely to drive demand, observers say. China ― the Pentagon’s pacing threat ― is raising defense spending by 6.6 percent in 2021 even as it cuts education and public services.
“The growth rate may have slowed, but the fact the budget increased is still a significant indication of the focus and prioritization that the [Chinese Communist] Party puts on modernization plans and national security interests,” Meia Nouwens, an expert on Chinese military affairs with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said at the same event.
For now, it’s unclear whether COVID-19 will turn Europe’s focus away from burden-sharing, said Edward Ferguson, a former British ambassador now serving as minister counselor for defense at the U.K. embassy.
What is clear: European governments will have to have difficult conversations.
“Right now within NATO, what we see are allies proliferating rather than reducing,” Ferguson said at the event. “Notwithstanding the additional demands on treasuries and exchequers is the fundamental shifts in technologies we’re seeing and [the] need to invest in that, and the increasingly complex strategic environment, whether it’s Russia or China.”
Along similar lines, the industry itself has been largely optimistic about the prospects of overseas sales.
On recent investor calls, Lockheed Martin executives said there’s been no reduction in demand from the Middle East. They touted F-16 fighter jet deals with Bahrain, Bulgaria, Slovakia and ― pending government approval ― Taiwan, as well as demand for Hellfire missiles and the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile and the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile.
Lockheed Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Possenriede, on an investor call earlier this month, pointed to demand for the F-35 jet from Poland, Belgium and Japan, and Lockheed’s plans to participate in aircraft competitions in Switzerland, Spain and Finland.
“We’re in the final stages of the Canada competition, which we feel pretty good about,” he said.
In Raytheon’s May 7 earnings call, CEO Greg Hayes acknowledged Saudi Arabia is challenged by the lower oil prices, but added: “I don’t think peace is breaking out anytime soon in the Middle East.” The company anticipated Riyadh will buy its AN/TPY-2 Surveillance Transportable Radar, which is linked to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile defense system.
“So far, we have continued to see good cash come in from the Middle Eastern customers during the first quarter, surprisingly even with oil out there,” Hayes said. “They need the equipment, they want the equipment and we need to help them defend themselves.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
13 Jun 20. DoD asks to ease lobbying restrictions, and these lawmakers are saying ‘no.’ Four House Democrats are opposing a Department of Defense proposal to ease recent lobbying restrictions on former senior officials, arguing it would put the defense industry ahead of the taxpayer.
The lawmakers, led by California Rep. Katie Porter, are pushing back on the Pentagon’s argument the changes would make the restrictions more consistent with criminal law and other agencies. DoD requested the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act contain a partial roll back of the rules, which apply to former general officers and senior Pentagon civilians by amending the 2018 NDAA’s Section 1045.
“We do not believe that weak ethics rules for some agencies is a reason to roll back the relatively strong ethics rules at the Pentagon,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter Thursday to DoD General Counsel Paul Ney. “It is unfortunate that Congress has not enacted stronger ethics rules governmentwide, and we agree this should be a priority.”
DoD’s proposal would change a one-year lobbying ban for all senior officials, regardless of rank, to a two-year ban in place for some officials; narrow the definition of “lobbying” to apply only to direct “lobbying contacts” ― which would allow former personnel to work in less visible roles ― and eliminate the departmentwide lobbying ban so that former senior officials will be able to immediately lobby some components of the Pentagon.
House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee Chair Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., signed the June 11 letter to Ney with Reps. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, and Dean Phillips, D-Minn.―as part of an ongoing back and forth.
Speier and Porter, on Wednesday, published a column calling the proposal “misguided” and asking, “Why is the Pentagon trying to grease the revolving door between the military and the defense industry?”
In an April 30 letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, the group said the move was out of step with his efforts to cut costs at the Pentagon. Esper was Raytheon’s chief lobbyist before he entered the Pentagon as Army secretary.
“It is unclear how developing and delivering this relaxed lobbying proposal to Congress fits within these priorities or is in the best interests of the taxpayers who fund the DoD,” they wrote. “If anything, looser lobbying rules could bloat military spending that is unnecessary to protect our country.”
Ney’s May 20 response argued in part that the 2018 NDAA, “created a patchwork of restrictions” and that DoD’s proposed changes would conform better to longtime Office of Government Ethics guidance.
“These time-tested standards protect against undue influence without unreasonably interfering with the right of veterans and public servants to future employment,” Ney said.
The June 11 reply from the four lawmakers posed a series of hypothetical situations, asking if they would be allowed under DoD’s proposal:
“Could a former Air Force General who was involved in the F-35 program lobby high-ranking civilian officials in the F-35 Joint Program Office immediately after retirement, with no cooling-off period? Could they lobby civilian or uniformed officials in the Navy F-35 program?” the letter reads.
“If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’ or ‘possibly,’ do you believe that these are ethically acceptable outcomes, and why?”
The lawmakers also reiterated an unfulfilled request to DoD for all documents associated with the creation of the proposal and all correspondence with the DoD ethics office ― all by June 25. (Source: Defense News)
11 Jun 20. US State Department must align UAV export policy with American interests. Why is it easier for our allies and partners to buy unmanned aerial vehicles from China than from the United States? The answer lies in U.S. export policy.
Since 1987, the United States has voluntarily adhered to the international nuclear nonproliferation export guidelines of the Missile Technology Control Regime, or MTCR. These guidelines classify UAVs as nuclear-capable cruise or ballistic missiles — an assertion that does not align with pragmatic operational realities. Instead of making the world safer, the MTCR and U.S. export policy are opening the UAV market to irresponsible actors. The time has long come for U.S. policy to recognize and treat UAVs for what they are: aircraft.
UAVs are essential, high-leverage tools in modern military operations — from ISR to strike and beyond. As the nation now positions to compete against high-end peer threats, American success depends upon leveraging unmanned aerial systems across the spectrum of combat. This means that our allies and partners must also have access to these same systems.
Allies and partners are essential force multipliers for America’s national interests. They can provide a forward presence and deterrence in critical regions of the world, freeing U.S. assets for other global commitments or increasing force density where required. But they need the necessary tools. That’s why UAV exports are crucial for our allies, can deter adversaries and send a clear signal of America’s enduring commitment to areas of interest around the globe.
Building and sustaining successful coalition operations demands a U.S. policy shift for UAV exports. Just like it is important for cellphones to operate seamlessly across different networks and for apps to integrate seamlessly on an array of platforms, interoperability in the combat aviation arena depends on using equipment that can access U.S. military information enterprises and share data in a real-time, seamless fashion. That means allowing allies to procure and operate the same types of UAVs as the U.S. military.
Unfortunately, the MTCR and U.S export policy have not kept pace in this dynamic field. The U.S. does not have a lock on UAV technology, so allies and partners blocked from procuring U.S. systems will turn to the international marketplace — which often means China.
The Asian superpower is exploiting this market vacuum to advance its global posture and empower its indigenous UAV innovation efforts. China does not impose restrictions on end use of its UAVs, and it has used sales to advance the quality and capability of its UAVs.
Chinese military analyst Song Zhongping observes that “the United States restricting its arms exports is precisely what gives China a great opportunity. The sales are helping expand Chinese influence across a region vital to American security interests.”
Chinese equipment erects barriers to more effective coalition operations because it poses a security liability. Left unchecked, Chinese UAVs create the opportunity for Chinese intrusion into U.S. systems and networks to observe or disrupt operations. Coalitions fundamentally rely on trust. That bedrock is rapidly eroded if the equipment used by U.S. partners is suspect.
Despite the Obama and Trump administrations’ modifications to UAV export policy in both 2015 and 2018, allies and security partners still face the “strong presumption of denial” when requesting UAV capabilities, thanks to the MTCR provisions. The State Department is currently in dialogue with the administration for another UAV export policy modification. If the past is any indication of progress, not much will change: These crucial relationships will still start at “no.” This will only continue to push critical regions into the arms of China.
Global security realities demand a change. Legislation is needed to provide a clear definition of UAVs as aircraft to align U.S. export policy with U.S. interests. Because this issue is cross-jurisdictional, both the Armed Services and the Foreign Relations committees should collaborate to craft language in 2021 that affirms the U.S. commitment to nonproliferation and defines UAVs as aircraft — not cruise missiles. As aircraft, these systems should not be subject to the MTCR export controls. This language should allow for co-development and co-production of UAVs with allies and partners, as well as any other privilege or consideration afforded to military aircraft.
Continuing to subject unmanned aerial vehicles to the guidelines of the MTCR harms critical relationships, U.S. interests and coalition operations. By defining UAVs as aircraft, America can strengthen its relationships, presence and leadership while simultaneously curbing the influence of China and other irresponsible actors. The time has come for the U.S. to define UAVs for what they are: aircraft. (Source: Defense News)
12 Jun 20. Trump aims to sidestep another arms pact to sell more U.S. drones. The Trump administration plans to reinterpret a Cold War-era arms agreement between 34 nations with the goal of allowing U.S. defense contractors to sell more American-made drones to a wide array of nations, three defense industry executives and a U.S. official told Reuters.
The policy change, which has not been previously reported, could open up sales of armed U.S. drones to less stable governments such as Jordan and the United Arab Emirates that in the past have been forbidden from buying them under the 33-year-old Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), said the U.S. official, a former U.S. official and one of the executives. It could also undermine longstanding MTCR compliance from countries such as Russia, said the U.S. official, who has direct knowledge of the policy shift.
Reinterpreting the MTCR is part of a broader Trump administration effort to sell more weapons overseas. It has overhauled here a broad range of arms export regulations and removed the U.S. from international arms treaties including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty.
Sidestepping the accord would allow U.S. defense contractors General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc and Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N) to break into new markets currently dominated by less sophisticated offerings from China and Israel, which do not participate in the MTCR.
Heidi Grant, the Pentagon’s Director of Defense Technology Security Administration, declined to comment on the pending MTCR policy change but said the U.S. military is eager to see drone sales expanded to more countries. Such sales would bolster the militaries of allies and replace drones sales from other nations, she said. “If we are unable to meet this growing demand, we shoot ourselves in the foot,” Grant told Reuters.
She said the drones would help allies fight terrorism, establish border control and generally help stop threats before they reach the United States. Grant declined to name specific nations the Pentagon believes should get more U.S.-made weapons.
The State Department, which makes final decisions on drone sales, declined to comment on the policy change. The White House also declined to comment.
U.S. agencies including the departments of Commerce, Energy, Justice and Homeland Security agreed to the change in May, and the State Department is expected to approve the first drone sales under the new interpretation as soon as this summer, said the U.S. official and industry executives. They said the administration has already notified Northrop Grumman and General Atomics, the two major U.S. drone makers, of its plans.
The change is scheduled for a review by the White House National Security Council at its June 16 meeting, said one of the executives and a former U.S. official with knowledge of the internal policy discussions. The council is expected to support the policy change and discuss a possible White House announcement, they said.
The Trump administration is pressing ahead with its revamp of drone export policy under pressure from American manufacturers and despite objections from human rights advocates, who warn of the risk of fueling instability in hot spots including the Middle East and South Asia.
Expanded sales of armed drones could increase global conflicts, said Rachel Stohl, a weapons expert at the Stimson Center in Washington, a think tank focused on security issues that opposes weapons proliferation.
“Once they leave U.S. control, we lose our ability to influence how and where they are used,” she said.
LOWERING THE BAR
Under the State Department’s current interpretation of the MTCR, all sales of large drones are subject to what is known as a “strong presumption of denial,” which has made approvals rare. But the high bar to get a deal greenlighted will be removed, signaling to previously forbidden customers that their orders have much better chance of approval, according to the official, the former official and one of the defense executives.
Reuters could not determine what specific criteria the State Department will use in scrutinizing weapons deals under the new interpretation.
Until now, only England, France and Australia have been allowed to buy large, armed drones from U.S. manufacturers, according to data collected by The Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College in New York state.
Jordan, Romania, Saudi Arabia and UAE have shown interest in purchasing U.S. systems and will be among the first customers in line when the U.S. policy changes, one of the industry executives said. Officials from the Washington embassies of those nations did not respond to requests for comment.
The U.S. official and the former official said any country where U.S forces are operating drones in the counterterrorism fight, such as Kuwait, could be a potential customer for lethal drones. The Embassy of Kuwait in Washington did not return a request for comment.
U.S. drone manufacturers, face growing competition overseas especially from Chinese and Israeli rivals who have far fewer rules limiting sales.The defense contractors are vying for a larger share of the global military drone market, which the Teal Group, a market research firm, forecast annual sales, research and development will rise from $15.8bn in 2020 to nearly $20bn by 2029.
Bart Roper, Senior Vice President for Strategic Development at General Atomics, said the firm has been limited under current policy and that a liberalization of the rules could result in “hundreds” of new sales. Roper, who did not confirm the policy change, said there is strong interest from Middle East and Southeast Asian customers that have been forced to purchase aircraft from the Chinese because of a lack of U.S. alternatives.
A Northrop Grumman spokesman added that increased drone exports would lead to closer work on the technology with allies, helping keep U.S. drones state-of-the-art.
The MTCR agreement – originally signed in 1987 by the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Britain – focused on stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The pact has been credited with slowing or stopping missile programs in countries such as Egypt, Argentina and Iraq. The MTCR policy shift has been under consideration by the Trump administration since 2017, but has been delayed several times as the United States has grappled with objections within the government and from other nations in the agreement, two of the executives and the current and former officials said.
Some state department officials objected to the change for fear that advanced weaponry would be sold to governments that have abused human rights, the former official said.
The U.S. plan is to reinterpret its treatment of drones that fly slower than 800 kilometers per hour, including Reapers and Global Hawks. Global Hawks, made by Northrop Grumman, are not armed and are typically used for surveillance. Reapers, made by General Atomics, are used for both surveillance and air strikes – including the recent U.S. strike that killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in January.
The MTCR currently classifies such drones as cruise missiles – and therefore subject to high export restrictions – because of the technical specifications for unpiloted aircraft in the 1987 pact. Under the reinterpretation, the United States will treat these drones as if they belong in a lower category that falls outside MTCR jurisdiction.
The Pentagon’s Grant said boosted sales of sophisticated weaponry can strengthen U.S. alliances and help allied militaries safeguard U.S. interests. It also enables cooperation with allies when they use the same equipment, and would speed efforts to replace or repair drones in combat. Over time, she said, boosting sales of the drones could also lower their cost to the U.S. government by giving defense contractors economies of scale. (Source: Reuters)
12 Jun 20. US Senate Committee Authorizes $9.1bn for 95 Lockheed F-35 Jets. The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday released its version of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorizing the purchase of 95 Lockheed F-35 fighters at a cost of $9.1bn in FY2021. The 95 aircraft are 14 more than requested by the Pentagon. The committee also authorized the US Air Force to keep six F-35As originally built for Turkey but never delivered, which further increases to 101 the number of F-35s that the Pentagon will order in FY2021.
The NDAA is an annual bill setting policy for the Department of Defense, and must be reconciled with a similar document produced by the House Armed Services Committee before it can become law.
This is the NDAA’s precise wording on the F-35 program as approved by the Senate Committee:
The NDAA “Authorizes $9.1bn to procure 95 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, an additional 14 aircraft above the administration’s request, enabling the forces to modernize and equip themselves with the most advanced and capable fifth-generation aircraft:
— Includes $5.5bn to procure 60 F-35As, ($91.6m each—Ed.)
— Includes $1.2bn to procure 12 F-35Bs, ($100m each—Ed.)
— Includes $2.4bn to procure 23 F-35Cs, ($104.3m each—Ed.)
— Addresses the lack of strategy for the redesign of the Autonomic Logistics Information System,
— Authorizes the Air Force to utilize, modify, and operate six Turkish F-35s that were accepted but never delivered because Turkey was suspended from the F-35 program,
— Requires NATO partner F-35 munitions to be qualified on F-35s,
— Continues efforts to find cost savings for the F-35 aircraft [and]
— Encourages the Air Force to establish an F-35A operating location in the Indo-Pacific quickly to posture ready forces in our priority arena.”
The unit costs extrapolated between parenthesis above are substantially higher than those claimed by Lockheed Martin, which continues to claim unit costs of less than $80m. (Source: Defense-Aerospace.com)
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