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29 Dec 20. COVID-19 pandemic keeps Lockheed from meeting F-35 delivery goal in 2020. Lockheed Martin delivered 123 F-35s to the U.S. military and international customers in 2020, missing its initial 141-aircraft goal for the year but meeting its revised target, the company announced Monday. The COVID-19 pandemic proved itself to be a formidable challenge to Lockheed’s main F-35 production line in Fort Worth, Texas, as well as its network of suppliers across the globe. As early as April, Lockheed executives sounded the alarm about potential supply chain disruptions that threatened to slow down F-35 production.
In May, the company announced it would be 18 to 24 jets short of the 141 F-35s scheduled for delivery in 2020. By fall it had set a new delivery target of 121 aircraft.
“The F-35 joint enterprise team rapidly responded to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic to continue to deliver the unmatched combat capability the F-35 brings to the warfighter,” said Bill Brotherton, the company’s acting vice president for the F-35 program. “Achieving this milestone amid a global pandemic is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the team and their commitment to our customers’ missions.”
The 123rd aircraft — an F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant — was built at the final assembly and checkout facility in Cameri, Italy and delivered to the Italian air force last week.
Over the past year, Lockheed delivered 74 F-35s to the U.S. military, 31 jets to international partner nations that helped pay into the program’s development costs, and 18 aircraft to foreign military sales customers.
However, the company needed to take steps to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its production lines and suppliers, such as accelerating payments to small businesses that build components for the aircraft and grappling with COVID-19 breakouts that have sometimes led to the quarantine of a portion of its supply chain.
In May, the F-35 production line in Fort Worth moved to a three-month adjusted work schedule, slowing the pace of production because its suppliers weren’t getting components to the line on time. During that stretch, production decreased to about eight to 10 jets per month, Darren Sekiguchi, Lockheed’s vice president of F-35 production, said in an October interview.
Instead of surging to meet the 141-jet target — which would have increased production costs and created the risk of future delivery delays — Sekiguchi said that Lockheed would more incrementally ramp production back up to 14 jets per month. It will take until 2023 for the company to catch up to its original production schedule. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
29 Dec 20. New in 2021: What will Biden’s first defense budget look like? President-elect Joe Biden’s first federal budget proposal won’t be out until early spring, but those initial decisions on military spending could set the tone for the Defense Department’s focus for years to come.
Typically the White House unveils its annual budget proposal in early February, outlining plans for the armed forces’ end strength levels, service equipment procurement schedules and program funding totals for the entire military.
However, in presidential transition years, that work is often delayed until late March or April to give the new administration time to compile their financial goals and priorities.
That switch from President Donald Trump’s vision for the federal budget to Biden could be particularly stark, given their competing views for Pentagon funding.
On the campaign trail, Biden pledged to “maintain our [military] superiority,” but added that “we must do so affordably.” He said his administration will emphasize diplomacy and economic aid over “aging legacy capabilities,” but also pledged large investments in military unmanned vehicles and artificial intelligence systems.
One area of the military budget that could see the biggest change is personnel numbers.
During Trump’s four years in office, the military’s end strength grew by nearly 80,000 service members. That number is scheduled to rise about 8,000 more next year.
Trump repeatedly attacked Biden and former President Barack Obama for cutting personnel totals back too far, leaving remaining troops with more missions and less recovery time.
However, both Biden and Trump promised to decrease U.S. military missions overseas. Whether that leads to a corresponding drop in active-duty troop levels under Biden remains a key question of his first budget proposal.
Trump also pushed for — and got — repeated increases in the total military budget during his time in office. The fiscal 2020 defense budget topped $738bn, up about 10 percent from the end of the Obama administration.
But those increases came at a cost for other federal agencies, such as the State Department. Biden has promised to better balance funding across the entire government, which could mean smaller hikes or cuts for defense spending. Biden’s inauguration is scheduled to take place on Jan. 20. (Source: Defense News)
29 Dec 20. Trump lashes out at GOP after override vote on defense bill. President Donald Trump is lashing out at congressional Republicans after the House easily voted to override his veto of a defense policy bill. A total of 109 Republicans, including Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, a member of GOP leadership, joined with Democrats to approve the override, which would be the first of Trump’s presidency. The Senate is expected to consider the measure later this week.
Trump slammed GOP lawmakers on Twitter, charging Tuesday that “Weak and tired Republican ‘leadership’ will allow the bad Defense Bill to pass.”
Trump called the override vote a “disgraceful act of cowardice and total submission by weak people to Big Tech. Negotiate a better Bill, or get better leaders, NOW! Senate should not approve NDAA until fixed!!!”
House members voted 322-87 on Monday to override the veto, well above the two-thirds needed to override. The vote sends the override effort to the Senate, although the exact timing is uncertain. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he will delay a vote on the defense bill until Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allows a vote on a Trump-backed plan to increase COVID-19 relief payments to $2,000.
“Let me be clear: If Senator McConnell doesn’t agree to an up or down vote to provide the working people of our country a $2,000 direct payment, Congress will not be going home for New Year’s Eve,’’ Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said after the House vote. “Let’s do our job.”
McConnell has not said publicly how he will address the relief-check issue or the defense bill.
Trump rejected the defense measure last week, saying it failed to limit social media companies he claims were biased against him during his failed reelection campaign. Trump also opposes language that allows for the renaming of military bases that honor Confederate leaders.
The defense bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, affirms 3 percent pay raises for U.S. troops and authorizes more than $740bn in military programs and construction.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said after the House vote that lawmakers has done their part to ensure the NDAA becomes law “despite the president’s dangerous sabotage efforts.”
Trump’s “reckless veto would have denied our service members hazard-duty pay,” removed key protections for global peace and security and “undermined our nation’s values and work to combat racism, by blocking overwhelmingly bipartisan action to rename military bases,” Pelosi said.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the bill “absolutely vital to our national security and our troops,” adding, “Our men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform shouldn’t be denied what they need — ever.”
Trump has succeeded throughout his four-year term in enforcing party discipline in Congress, with few Republicans willing to publicly oppose him. The bipartisan vote on the widely popular defense bill showed the limits of Trump’s influence in the final weeks before he leaves office, and came minutes after 130 House Republicans voted against a Trump-supported plan to increase COVID-19 relief checks to $2,000. The House approved the larger payments, but the plan faces an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled Senate, another sign of Trump’s fading hold over Congress.
Besides social media and military base names, Trump also said the defense bill restricts his ability to conduct foreign policy, “particularly my efforts to bring our troops home.” Trump was referring to provisions in the bill that impose conditions on his plan to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan and Germany. The measures require the Pentagon to submit reports certifying that the proposed withdrawals would not jeopardize U.S. national security.
The House veto override was supported by 212 Democrats, 109 Republicans and an independent. Twenty Democrats opposed the override, along with 66 Republicans and an independent.
House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of California missed the vote, but Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana backed Trump in opposing the override. Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas, the top Republican on the House Armed Services panel, supported the override. Thornberry is retiring this year and the bill is named in his honor.
The Senate approved the bill 84-13 earlier this month, well above the margin needed to override a presidential veto. Trump has vetoed eight other bills, but those were all sustained because supporters did not gain the two-thirds vote needed in each chamber for the bills to become law without Trump’s signature.
Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Trump’s declaration that China benefited from the defense bill was false. He also noted the shifting explanations Trump had given for the veto.
“From Confederate base names to social media liability provisions … to imaginary and easily refutable charges about China, it’s hard to keep track of President Trump’s unprincipled, irrational excuses for vetoing this bipartisan bill,” Reed said.
Reed called the Dec. 23 veto “Trump’s parting gift to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and a lump of coal for our troops. Donald Trump is showing more devotion to Confederate base names than to the men and women who defend our nation.’’
Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said Trump’s veto “made it clear that he does not care about the needs of our military personnel and their families.”
The measure guides Pentagon policy and cements decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, personnel policy and other military goals. Many programs, including military construction, can only go into effect if the bill is approved.
McConnell, in a rare break with Trump, had urged passage of the defense bill despite Trump’s veto threat. The Kentucky Republican said it was important for Congress to continue its nearly six-decade-long streak of passing the defense policy bill. (Source: Defense News)
29 Dec 20. House votes to override Trump’s veto of defense bill. The House of Representatives on Monday voted to override President Donald Trump’s veto of the sweeping defense bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act, delivering a bipartisan rebuke to the President. The bill initially passed both the House and Senate with veto-proof majorities, but amid Trump’s continued opposition, it had been unclear if the override attempt would be successful or if the veto would be sustained. The vote forced Republican lawmakers to choose between loyalty to the President and legislation that sets defense policy for the country.
Democrats had expressed confidence, however, that they would have the votes they needed to override the veto. The bill will next head to the Senate for the chamber’s veto override attempt. Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said Monday night that he will delay the vote there unless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, brings a vote on $2,000 stimulus checks to the floor. This could postpone a final vote on the override to Friday.
The $740bn bill includes pay raises for America’s soldiers, modernizations for equipment and provisions to require more scrutiny before troops are withdrawn from Germany or Afghanistan, but that hasn’t stopped Trump’s threats against it.
Trump had threatened to veto the bill because it doesn’t include a repeal of Section 230, a law that shields internet companies from being liable for what is posted on their websites by them or third parties. The bill also includes provisions to limit how much money Trump can move around for his border wall and another that would require the military to rename bases that were named after figures from the Confederacy.
The President ultimately moved to veto the legislation earlier this month, setting up a clash with Congress and putting Republican lawmakers in a difficult spot, while paving the way for the override attempt on Capitol Hill. (Source: CNN)
28 Dec 20. Statement by Acting Secretary of Defense Miller on Transition Efforts.
“The Department of Defense has conducted 164 interviews with over 400 officials, and provided over 5,000 pages of documents – far more than initially requested by Biden’s transition team. DOD’s efforts already surpass those of recent administrations with over three weeks to go and we continue to schedule additional meetings for the remainder of the transition and answer any and all requests for information in our purview. Our DOD political and career officials have been working with the utmost professionalism to support transition activities in a compressed time schedule and they will continue to do so in a transparent and collegial manner that upholds the finest traditions of the Department. The American people expect nothing less and that is what I remain committed to.”
To date, since November 23rd the department has:
- Conducted 164 interviews with over 400 officials
- Responded to 188 requests for information (RFI)
- Provided over 5,000 pages of controlled non-public and classified information
We continue to schedule interviews with senior leaders and career officials for early January. Additionally, we will coordinate any urgent Operation Warp Speed or COVID-related requests as they arise over the holidays, as well as provide responses to RFIs specifically related to COVID-19 vaccine distribution. We have three interviews scheduled the week of Dec. 28-31: two COVID-related, and one on cybersecurity.
We continue to support with:
- access to classified and controlled non-public information,
- visits to the Pentagon,
- working with the Agency Review Team to validate a pilot for rapidly onboarding political appointees in a new administration.
- providing confirmation support to prospective nominees.
This has all been done while:
- Taking all precautions to protect American lives from COVID-19 exposure
- Operating under HPCON B – with only 40% of the workforce in the building and 60% teleworking.
- Conducting all interviews virtually – something that has never been done before.
- Implementing the National Defense Strategy
- Supporting Operation Warp Speed to save American lives.
DOD continues to support the presidential transition aligned with the President Transition Act, White House and Biden-Harris Transition Team Memorandum of Understanding, and DOD policy. (Source: US DoD)
28 Dec 20. Congress gives more power to DoD’s industrial base official. The decision by Congress to raise the industrial base job in the Pentagon hierarchy will help prioritize key issues for the department, but questions remain about the structure of the office, according to analysts.
As part of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, the position of deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy will be changed to assistant secretary of defense. The new role makes it the 61st job at the department to require Senate confirmation, a reflection of importance Congress is now putting on a role that has historically stayed under the radar.
The industrial policy job was an assistant secretary of defense-level role years ago. But when Congress began looking to cut down the number of ASD jobs, it became first a deputy undersecretary job, and then a deputy assistant secretary spot — no longer high enough to require Senate confirmation. Following the breakup of the Acquisition, Sustainment and Logistics office, the industrial policy job ended up several levels under the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.
But a wonky job known mostly inside the defense industry gained a major boost in attention over the Trump administration, due largely to three factors.
First, an executive order to study the health of the defense industrial base led to a 2018 report, largely put together by then-industrial base head Eric Chewning, warning of “domestic extinction” for defense suppliers. Then, the Trump administration began a more aggressive stance toward China, one which coincided with empowering the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS; that went hand in hand with concerns about China investing strategically in America’s supply chain.
Finally, the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic began running through the Defense Production Act, controlled by the industrial base office. Suddenly, this office was in charge of dispersing money for vital medical supplies, as well as pushing money to the defense industry to keep key suppliers operational — the latter of which drew ire from Congress.
Jerry McGinn, a longtime official at the industrial base office who is now executive director of the Center for Government Contracting at George Mason University, said the move is a good thing, particularly for the smaller commercial projects that are still vital for the department’s mission.
“I think it is a reflection of the importance of that portfolio, which covers CFIUS, mergers and acquisitions, all of the industrial base, the Defense Production Act, as well as small business policy,” McGinn said. “A lot of the things that the broad industrial base needs don’t have a real champion — not the way the F-35 [fighter jet] does, for example. The nice-to-have stuff sometimes gets cut by [the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office] or a committee. Having an ASD can help in those kinds of internecine bureaucratic battles.”
Bill Greenwalt, who served as deputy undersecretary of defense for industrial policy during the George W. Bush administration, said elevating the role is “absolutely the right decision.” But he expressed concerns about putting the job under the Acquisition & Sustainment office, given the wide-ranging topics that that industrial policy leader must cover.
“The reality is, the job has ties to the undersecretary for policy, to research and engineering, with production and manufacturing on the A&S side,” Greenwalt said. Putting it under A&S will “suboptimize the benefits of making it an ASD-level job because it needs to work across several undersecretaries.”
Instead, Greenwalt suggested making the industrial policy official directly report to the deputy secretary of defense. Doing so would also give more juice to the job, which would help when dealing with other stakeholders, such as the Commerce, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services departments, which will have shared equities going forward.
“The biggest thing industrial policy will have to deal with is China,” specifically understanding where Beijing-linked firms are investing in the supply chain, Greenwalt said. “An ASD-level job might be able to deal with commerce and DHS and HHS to look at industrial policy from a bigger national security viewpoint, instead of just taking care of the supply chain.”
But McGinn raised a different concern, wondering whether the new ASD office will receive the staffing it needs to succeed.
“Making it an ASD is one thing, but staffing the organization is another. One of the big challenges after Congress split AT&L is they also did a reduction in government billets,” McGinn said. “That office is already thinly staffed. They don’t need to grow three times in size, but they need a little bit more staffing.
“So if Congress is going to do this, they need to be resourced in terms of personnel to do the work. You can’t just wave your hand at this; when you do this there has to be some kind of leveling for that.” (Source: Defense News)
23 Dec 20. Wide-reaching hack has defense firms on their toes. Some of the country’s leading defense firms are likely among the 18,000 SolarWinds customers that may have been swept up in one of the country’s worst cyber espionage failures, but investigations to determine the scope of the hackers’ reach will take significant time.
Experts say there simply are not enough skilled threat-hunting teams to identify all the government and private-sector systems that may have been probed. FireEye, the cybersecurity company that discovered the intrusion into U.S. agencies and was among the victims, has already tallied dozens of casualties. It’s racing to identify more but already, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, and Booz Allen Hamilton have acknowledged they use SolarWinds products.
“We have a serious problem. We don’t know what networks they are in, how deep they are, what access they have, what tools they left,” said Bruce Schneier, a prominent security expert and Harvard fellow.
A major part of the problem is that the SolarWinds’ network management platform at the center of the hack was “not the only initial infection vector,” as the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency acknowledged last week. One fear is the attackers were able to migrate from SolarWinds into the supply chains of other programs.
A malicious actor, widely suspected to be Russia, discovered a way to compromise SolarWinds’ software update service for the Orion IT management platform.
The cyberattack operated undetected for months and reportedly hit multiple government agencies, including the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Pentagon ― though the Pentagon has not confirmed this. Leading defense contractors are among the firms searching for answers.
The breadth of the attack points to the need for a governmentwide approach to a fix, said David Berteau, CEO of the Professional Services Council, which represents more than 400 government contracting firms.
“This is not just the government’s problem ― what agencies got penetrated and how much damage ― but I think it’s also clear that this went into a lot of companies. And when it’s a problem that’s more than the government, it needs a solution that’s bigger than just the government,” Berteau said, adding: “It really needs a national fix, not just a government fix.”
SolarWinds provided services to Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Booz Allen Hamilton, Microsoft and more than 400 companies in the U.S. Fortune 500, according to the company’s client list. Lockheed is the country’s largest defense contractor and all of the companies have sizable defense portfolios. Still, the acknowledgement of affected companies is expected to expand, and the cybersecurity community is expected to learn more about what systems the hackers compromised, what secrets they were hunting and what tools they used. General Dynamics declined to comment.
“We have been informed that one or more updates to a software application developed by the IT infrastructure software company SolarWinds may have been used by a foreign adversary to breach the networks of SolarWinds clients,” said a Booz Allen spokesperson. The company is the prime contractor on the department’s cybersecurity and IT network support.
“Like hundreds of other companies, organizations and government agencies, we use some SolarWinds products. We have been closely tracking the release of information related to this situation, reviewing the products we use, and working with clients to respond to the situation.”
A person familiar with Lockheed’s response to SolarWinds said the affected software was not an enterprise tool at the company and thus not used widely on its networks. The department’s largest contractor “at this point” has “not seen any data exfiltration or unusual activity,” the person said. Lockheed works on missile defense, radar, naval warfare technology and fighter jets, including $1trn deal for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Microsoft, which provides much of the department’s office software and is set to become its cloud computing provider, disclosed in a Dec. 17 blog post that more than 40 of its customers were “targeted more precisely and compromised through additional and sophisticated measures.” Of those, 9 percent were government contractors that support defense and national security organizations.
“It’s certain that the number and location of victims will keep growing,” the company said, adding that its own ongoing investigation had so far, “found absolutely no indications that our systems were used to attack others.”
Security teams then have to assume that the patient is still sick with undetected so-called “secondary infections” and set up the cyber equivalent of closed-circuit monitoring to make sure the intruders are not still around, sneaking out internal emails and other sensitive data.
“When the enemy is deep inside, you’ve got to watch the henhouse very carefully, for that one minute of the day where that chicken moves like a fox,” said Jamil Jaffer, a senior vice president at IronNet Cybersecurity and founder of the National Security Institute at George Mason University Law School. “The question is are they inside my network, how deep are they, where are they, and how do I find them in the network when they look like me?”
Because the hackers have had months to burrow into their targets’ information technology infrastructures, completely eliminating their access to the network will be tough, if not impossible, according to Herbert Lin, leading cybersecurity expert at Stanford University. It’s an agonizing choice, but the only option for some infected IT systems will be to rebuild them from scratch.
Not even the victims know all the damage at this early stage, and some undetected portions of the attack could still be in operation. “God would know, but there’s no way of having the God’s-eye view,” said Lin.
While companies are still trying to uncover intrusions and their potential impacts, don’t expect them to be transparent to the public. Until they determine they have an obligation to shareholders to disclose the damage from any breaches, government contractors may want to keep quiet about potential impacts to protect their reputations with customers and the public ― and to avoid both potential legal liability and sharing information about that might benefit the attackers.
“If I were in their position, it makes sense to give out the most vague and uninformative statement that sounds like you’re getting information,” Lin said. “There’s another question: Are they telling anybody, the FBI or Homeland Security for example? You would want them to share information with U.S. government cybersecurity authorities and law enforcement.”
However unlikely, the worst case scenarios for the defense industry involve hackers finding their way into classified systems or even manipulating data to make weapons systems malfunction.
With the stakes so high, experts say there must be better collaboration between the government and industry, and among companies, to conduct collective defense, especially when it comes to the defense industrial base. The trick is finding a middle ground where companies are given cybersecurity expectations but aren’t over-regulated, said Jaffer.
“The big primes have to help defend their smaller contractors, and the smaller contractors have to work with the primes to get that capability. The government can’t shed responsibility for this either,” Jaffer said, adding: “It’s not just about information sharing, but actually operating and working together in real time.”
Complex attacks require that industry and government patch together a response based on the strengths of all parties, but even then there’s no guaranteed 100 percent fix, said Greg Conti, founder at cybersecurity firm Kopidion and former chief of the U.S. Army Cyber Institute.
“Maybe I don’t have the specialized expertise analyzing network traffic or reversing malware, but another company does. Maybe the intelligence community can be leveraged because they have global intelligence collection,” Conti said. “If you can put all of that together, with tremendous effort, you can probably piece together pretty much everything that happened, but maybe not everything, and that’s what’s scary.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
23 Dec 20. Biden should continue building intermediate-range missiles. After withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in August 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump envisioned a comprehensive agreement that controlled all Russian and Chinese nuclear systems, including about 100 Russian and 2,200 Chinese ground-launched, intermediate-range missiles. With the Xi government unwilling to join arms control negotiations, the Trump administration expressed interest in a bilateral deal with Russia. To augment its bargaining position and military capabilities, it secured $181n to develop intermediate-range conventional missiles.
On one hand, the Biden administration should continue building ground-based, intermediate-range conventional missiles, which will have significant operational value. Developing missiles previously restricted under the INF Treaty would create bargaining chips to trade for Russian and Chinese systems. Deploying intermediate-range missiles abroad would pressure the Putin and Xi governments to engage in serious arms negotiations. Plus, U.S. officials could propose an exchange of apples for apples, which would simplify negotiations with Russia and China.
On the other hand, the Biden administration should adopt a realistic approach to arms negotiations with Russia and China. President Trump’s stated objective — rapidly achieving a single accord that controlled all Russian and Chinese nuclear weapons — was a long shot. Given Russian President Vladimir Putin’s readiness to talk, U.S. officials could first seek a bilateral deal with Russia. Then, they could pursue a bilateral accord with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Chinese and Russian dual-capable, ground-based ballistic and cruise missiles imperil American and allied security. Protected by Integrated Air Defense Systems, they can strike American and allied forces and bases throughout Eurasia. American and allied ballistic missile defenses can intercept adversary missiles, but they could be overwhelmed and destroyed by a committed salvo. Modern missiles, such as Russia’s Iskander-M (also known as SS-26), can also evade ballistic missile defenses.
The Xi government possesses thousands of intermediate-range missiles that can damage U.S. and allied airfields and naval installations throughout the Western Pacific. For instance, the United States maintains seven air bases within 1,100 kilometers of China. By utilizing radar and satellite imagery to detect vessels 2,000 kilometers from mainland China, Beijing can wreck U.S. and allied ships at sea.
The Putin government is deploying intermediate-range missiles to augment its anti-access/area denial capabilities in Kaliningrad, St. Petersburg and Crimea. For example, SSC-8 ground-launched cruise missiles can destroy European targets from deep in Russian territory. Road-mobile, shorter-range missiles, such as the Iskander-M, can also strike Western forces from Kaliningrad and Crimea.
As they develop modern missiles, American policymakers need to convince reluctant allies to host the weapons. If allies refuse, they could deploy systems on U.S. territory in Guam or the Northern Mariana Islands. Without concrete plans to station U.S. missiles abroad, those weapons will not produce meaningful leverage during arms talks.
In this context, U.S. officials can pursue reductions on Russian and Chinese ground-based, intermediate-range missiles separately and in a series of stages. For instance, Putin offered to extend the New START nuclear pact. He also suggested a moratorium on the deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Europe. The Biden administration can exploit both overtures to jump-start negotiations about intermediate-range missiles.
A new generation of ground-based, intermediate-range conventional missiles could penetrate Russian and Chinese A2/AD bubbles to strike Integrated Air Defense Systems and time-sensitive targets, including aircraft on runways and missile launchers. For example, the Army’s extended-range Precision Strike Missile, the Navy’s ground-launched Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile and the Navy’s multipurpose Standard Missile-6 will each achieve initial operational capability in 2023.
Developing and deploying intermediate-range missiles would allow the Biden administration to propose an exchange of apples for apples. For instance, Precision Strike Missiles could be traded for Russian and Chinese short-range ballistic missiles. Ground-launched Tomahawks could be exchanged for Russian SSC-8s and Chinese cruise missiles. SM-6s could be offered for Chinese medium-range ballistic missile and anti-ship missiles.
To overcome allied reluctance on basing, the Biden administration can couple missile deployments with arms control negotiations. Allied politicians could sell the basing program as a way to generate leverage to reduce the threat posed by adversarial missiles. If Moscow and Beijing refuse to negotiate, it would shift the onus of blame for U.S. missile deployments to Russia and China.
The Biden administration should not anticipate a rapid breakthrough during bilateral negotiations with Russia and China. As an opening gambit, it can propose a global ceiling on ground-based, intermediate-range missiles. A worldwide ceiling would facilitate future disarmament talks, when U.S. officials could recommend missile reductions. It would also require negotiators to forge consensus about the numbers, types and capabilities of missiles subject to limitation. The INF Treaty, President Ronald Reagan concluded, demonstrated “the rewards of patience.” (Source: Defense News)
23 Dec 20. Congress guts funding for cruiser replacements. The U.S. Navy’s new shipbuilding plan shows that over the next five years it plans to decommission 11 cruisers with more than 1,340 vertical launch tubes, but Congress doesn’t think the Navy has a serious plan to replace them with a new generation of large surface combatants, according to the text of a recent funding bill.
Citing a lack of clear direction for its large surface combatant building program and a recent reduction in plans for the next iteration of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, Congress is set to strip the project of more than 70 percent of the requested $45.5m in funding for planning and early development costs.
“Despite repeated delays to the [large surface combatant program], the Navy has reduced the acquisition profile for DDG-51 Flight III destroyers in recent budget submissions, and has not delineated a clear acquisition path for large surface combatants following the conclusion of the current DDG-51 Flight III destroyer multi-year procurement contract in fiscal year 2022,” the text of the bill reads, citing the Navy’s 2018 multi-year procurement of four of the new Burkes.
“Absent a clear understanding of future Navy LSC force structure requirements and acquisition strategies, the proposed increase in funding for LSC, to include $17,100,000 in preliminary design efforts, is not supported.”
All told, Congress reduced funding for the future large surface combatant by $33.3m. The bill has yet to be signed by President Trump.
The move to strip funding is the latest blow in the nearly two-decade-long effort to field a new large surface combatant to replace the retiring cruisers and make up for lost ground pursuing designs that were deemed too expensive to produce in numbers.
In June, Defense News reported that the lack of clarity from the Navy and the disorganization around the Defense Department’s failure to submit a 30-year shipbuilding plan had hurt the Navy’s plans to start moving out on a Large Surface Combatant with Congressional authorizers, who also made cuts to the design efforts. Congressional appropriators cut the funding entirely.
The funding cut was also a blow to the outgoing Trump Administration, which put out a last-minute plan that reversed some of the decisions from its own budget released just 10 months earlier. The President’s fiscal year 2022 budget raised Congressional ire by including cuts to the next iteration of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer that includes a much more powerful radar and cuts to the Virginia-class submarines program.
In the appropriations bill, Congress pointed to frequent delays to the Navy’s large surface combatant procurement plan and the Navy’s decisions to request just four Flight III DDGs between 2023 and 2025 as a reason for cutting the Navy’s funding for a next-gen large surface combatant. The new 30-year shipbuilding plan reverses the cuts to Flight III but it came too late in the game to have any impact on this year’s budget.
“[T]he Navy is planning to procure only four DDG-51 Flight III destroyers from fiscal years 2023 to 2025, well below the current 2.4 DDG-51 destroyers per year MYP acquisition, and that in each of the last two budget submissions the Navy has reduced the procurement profile for DDG-51 Flight III destroyers,” an explainer attached to the bill reads. “This is inconsistent with previously stated shipbuilding objectives, and the lack of a predictable and stable acquisition strategy for large surface combatants undercuts naval maritime superiority and injects risk into the industrial base.”
The Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition must submit a plan to Congress for large surface combatant acquisition going forward.
The never-ending story
The Navy’s quest to field a next-generation large surface combatant is the victim of a lost generation of future surface Navy combatants, which included the Zumwalt-class destroyer and the next-generation cruiser CG(X). Zumwalt was truncated from 32 ships to just three, while CG(X) was cancelled entirely at the outset of the Obama Administration.
CG(X) was initially supposed to start entering service in 2017, three years ahead of the Navy’s oldest active cruiser, the Bunker Hill, reaching its 35-year hull life.
In the 10 years since the cancellation of CG(X), the service has yet to settle on a new generation of large surface combatant. In the interim, it restarted the Arleigh Burke lines at Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and Bath Iron Works, Maine, to offset the 2008 Zumwalt cancellation and redesigned the Burkes to incorporate Raytheon’s more powerful SPY-6 air defense radar in the forthcoming Flight III.
But as for a new generation of large surface combatant, it now appears it will be at least 16 years between the decision to cancel CG(X) and the start of procurement of its replacement.
Former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson had called for the Navy to start buying a large surface combatant in 2023, but that timeline has slipped to 2026 or later as the Navy waffles on what kind of ship it wants and has been unable to land on a clear answer.
The ship was conceived around the idea of a large power source and a big hull to accommodate larger, faster missiles that won’t fit in the Navy’s ubiquitous Mk-41 vertical launch system. But at other times the Navy has talked about a Flight IV DDG, and now the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday is describing the ship as a next-generation destroyer from a clean-sheet design.
In the latest 30-year shipbuilding plan, the Navy is calling for the program to begin funding non-recurring engineering costs – money spent on refining the design of a new ship as well as preparing the winning shipyard and its suppliers for beginning the class building project – to start in 2026, another year’s delay to a long-delayed project.
Congress, for its part, has been pushing the Navy to begin a land-based engineering testing lab to work out the new power and propulsion system to reduce the engineering risks up front, a tack it took also with the requirement to build a similar facility for the new Constellation-class frigate.
The Navy’s current thinking is to put the latest in the current generation of technology into a new hull design with plenty of power and a magazine big enough to hold newer, bigger missiles.
“I don’t want to build a monstrosity,” Gilday said in October. “But I need deeper magazines on ships than I have right now.
“I’m limited with respect to DDG Flight IIIs in terms of what additional stuff we could put on those ships. … So the idea is to come up with the next destroyer, and that would be a new hull. The idea would be to put existing technologies on that hull and update and modernize those capabilities over time.” (Source: Defense News)
23 Dec 20. Congress allots about half the money requested for Army command post modernization program. Congress granted partial funding for an Army tactical network program to modernize command posts after the effort hit delays. In the earlier House version the fiscal 2021 budget bill, lawmakers proposed eliminating funds for the program, called Command Post Integrated Infrastructure (CPI2), citing the request as “ahead of need.” In the final compromise, which President Donald Trump still has to sign, lawmakers opted to give the program $23m of about $50m requested by the Army Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), the modernization team’s acquisition arm.
Paul Mehney, communications director for that acquisitions office, said the program’s schedule changed “due to delivery timelines of the prototypes” and the “testing timelines for brigade combat teams and division headquarters.”
The $23m will allow the Army to procure the vehicle platforms and hardware kits that will support fielding of CPI2 capabilities to three brigade combat teams in the future, Mehney said. The Army is currently working on integration and design with two brigade combat teams: the 3rd Infantry Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, 2nd Stryker Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division.
In the coming year, the program office plans to hold tests with the two brigade combat teams to evaluate the integration of command post network, power systems and other capabilities on light tactical vehicles and Humvees, Mehney said.
“The focus of the assessments will be on integration and design, not the vehicle platforms themselves,” Mehney said. “The evaluations will inform integration design decisions for the additional three brigade sets.”
The PEO C3T acquisitions office and the Army Network Cross-Functional Team lead the effort to modernize the tactical network through capability sets, new suites of network tools delivered to soldiers every two years. CPI2 will be fully delivered as part of Capability Set ’23.
CPI2 is part of the tactical network’s fourth line of effort focused on preparing command posts for future wars. The Army wants to make its posts increasingly mobile and more able to survive, ensuring they have standardized systems and platforms. Current command posts are vulnerable because of their size, limited mobility and differing systems.
PEO C3T is also working on CPI2 with 4th Infantry Division headquarters.
Soldier assessment and operational testing with the two brigade combat teams will occur in fiscal 2021 to inform a production and deployment decision in late the budget year 2021, Mehney said. Testing for the 4th Infantry Division’s headquarters will occur in early fiscal 2022.
CPI2 includes four efforts to strengthen the command post. The mission command platform digitally connects workstations at command posts, as well as groups at the corps, division and brigade combat team level. The command post support vehicle hosts mission command servers and other network and communication hardware. CPI2 is also developing a suite of software tools called the Integrated Support System that will increase situational awareness in the command post. Finally, the CPI2 effort incudes the Mobile Command Group platform, which supports corps or division commanders with digital workspaces that enable quick setup or tear down, increasing mobility.
The $27 m that Congress cut, Mehney said, was for integration of the CPI2. Integration design decisions will be informed by the soldier touch points and operational assessments in fiscal 2021 and will be decided in late 2021. The program office, Mehney said, will then look at FY22 to complete integration with the three additional brigade combat teams. (Source: Defense News)
23 Dec 20. Lawmakers slash funding for Marine Corps’ long-range fires development. Despite a push from a group of powerful House lawmakers, the final defense spending bill for fiscal year 2021 — released Dec. 21 — slashes the Marine Corps’ efforts to develop long-range precision fires capabilities.
“The logic here doesn’t make much sense,” Wisconsin Republican Rep. Michael Gallagher, a House Armed Services Committee member, said in a statement to Defense News. “This year’s spending package increases funding where the Marine Corps sought reductions and makes reductions where they sought increases. If the Commandant doesn’t have the resources to implement his planning guidance — a strategy that has bipartisan support — it’s impossible to actually implement the National Defense Strategy.”
Gallagher and House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., led 10 members who signed a letter addressed to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leadership, urging the committee working to finalize the FY21 Defense Appropriations Act to reconsider cuts to the Marines’ long-range precision fires programs.
Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Virginia, who is the ranking member on the HASC Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, and Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Missouri, who serves as the ranking member on the HASC Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee, also signed the Dec. 14 letter, which was obtained by Defense News.
But the final spending bill contained no funding for Marine Corps Tomahawk procurement and had substantial cuts to the research and development effort for Ground-Based Anti-Ship Missiles (GBASM).
The Marines had requested $125m for Tomahawks and $64 m for GBASM as well as $75m for long-range fires. The final bill essentially cuts the GBASM budget in half and trims almost $20m for LRPF research and development — roughly a 25 percent cut.
At the same time, the bill adds $250m for two CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift cargo helicopters.
The commandant, in describing his priorities, said the Marine Corps will need to reduce its heavy-lift capacity as part of its efforts to transform the force.
LRPF capability is expected to play a highly important role in the Indo-Pacific theater and is “at the heart of the Commandant’s Planning Guidance,” the letter noted, “which calls for a revolutionary shift in the Marine Corps’ mission from amphibious forcible entry to sea denial in contested littorals.”
The commandant has emphasized that ground-based LRPF, with no less than a 350 nautical mile range, is what is required to properly defend against an adversary such as China in the Pacific region.
The Marine Corps had planned to move quickly on GBASM and wanted to field an operational battery by FY23. Such a timeline requires the continued launcher development and missile procurement in FY21 to account for missile long-lead production timelines of 24 months.
While the Army has made LRPF its top modernization priority, some argue that it’s beneficial for both the Army and Marine Corps to prioritize LRPF and that it is far from duplicative, but rather complementary, especially when considering different combatant command perspectives.
Meanwhile, like the Marines, the Army has also tried to back away from a focus on its heavy-lift aircraft, attempting for two years to curb its CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopter purchases by not buying the newest variant for the active force, opting instead to supply the Block II versions only to special operations units.
But both congressional authorizers and appropriators have reversed the service’s desire to cut cargo helicopter buys in favor of funding two ambitious efforts to procure a Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft and a Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft.
In 2019, then-Army Secretary Mark Esper made the case for a shift in focus away from heavy-lift aircraft and vehicles like the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle designed for the fight in Iraq and Afghanistan and instead focus on capability geared toward high-end conflict with adversaries like China and Russia. And the budget for FY20 reflected that shift with the CH-47 Block II cut.
The FY21 spending bill provides “sufficient” funding for the first five CH-47F Block II aircraft and advance procurement funding for long-lead materials for a second lot of five. (Source: Defense News)
23 Dec 20. Trump vetoes massive defense bill despite overwhelming GOP support. CNN reported tonight that President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed the sweeping defense bill that both chambers of Congress recently passed by veto-proof majorities. He had previously threatened to do so because it doesn’t include a repeal of Section 230, a law that shields internet companies from being liable for what is posted on their websites by them or third parties.
“Unfortunately,” the President wrote in his veto message to Congress, “the Act fails to include critical national security measures, includes provisions that fail to respect our veterans and our military’s history, and contradicts efforts by my Administration to put America first in our national security and foreign policy actions. It is a ‘gift’ to China and Russia.”
Trump’s veto sparked an immediate rebuke from GOP Sen. Jim Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who said that the defense bill must become law.
“The NDAA has become law every year for 59 years straight because it’s absolutely vital to our national security and our troops. This year must not be an exception. Our men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform shouldn’t be denied what they need— ever,” Inhofe tweeted.
The Oklahoma Republican went on to say that the defense bill “cements all the remarkable gains our military has made thanks to @realDonaldTrump’s leadership,” adding, “I hope all of my colleagues in Congress will join me in making sure our troops have the resources and equipment they need to defend this nation.”
The bill includes provisions to limit how much money Trump can move around for his border wall and another that would require the military to rename bases that were named after figures from the Confederacy.
The Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve the massive funding bill with a veto-proof majority of 84 to 13, a major rebuke to the President. Trump’s position on the bill sharply divided GOP lawmakers, forcing them to choose between loyalty to the President and legislation that sets defense policy for the country. The House of Representatives also recently passed the bill with a veto-proof majority.
It’s unclear if Republicans will again defy the President and vote to override his veto. Multiple House lawmakers, including the top Democrat and Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, however, previously said they will cut their holidays short for Congress to return to Washington to override a veto if necessary. A new vote has yet to be scheduled.
The $740bn bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act also includes pay raises for America’s soldiers, modernizations for equipment and provisions to require more scrutiny before troops are withdrawn from Germany or Afghanistan.
Trump singled out Section 230 in his message, calling it a “very dangerous national security risk.”
He also went after the requirements for changing the names of military installations named after Confederate soldiers and slave owners.
“Over the course of United States history, these locations have taken on significance to the American story and those who have helped write it that far transcends their namesakes,” Trump said. “My Administration respects the legacy of the millions of American servicemen and women who have served with honor at these military bases, and who, from these locations, have fought, bled, and died for their country. From these facilities, we have won two World Wars. I have been clear in my opposition to politically motivated attempts like this to wash away history and to dishonor the immense progress our country has fought for in realizing our founding principles,” the message says.
The President also said the act “directly contradict(s) my Administration’s foreign policy, particularly my efforts to bring our troops home. I oppose endless wars, as does the American public.”
While Trump’s previous veto threats drew swift and sharp bipartisan pushback from lawmakers who have argued that he is using leverage over the troops to settle personal scores, he has received vocal support from some allies.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had backed the President on his push to remove Section 230.
“I support President @realDonaldTrump’s insistence Section 230 repeal be part of the defense authorization bill,” he wrote in a three-tweet thread. “Big Tech is the only industry in America that cannot be sued for their business practices and are not meaningfully regulated. This must come to an end.”
The conservative House Freedom Caucus announced ahead of the House vote that its members will side with Trump in his opposition to the legislation and was pressuring other GOP members to side with Trump as well.(Source: CNN)
22 Dec 20. Congress boosts Missile Defense Agency budget by $1.3bn. Citing a disconnect between the Missile Defense Agency’s fiscal 2021 budget request and what it would need to meet national defense strategy goals, Congress has injected $1.3bn into the organization’s budget in order to properly meet missile defense priorities, according to the FY21 appropriations bill that has emerged from conference committee on Dec. 21.
The FY21 MDA budget request for $9.13bn is a decrease of $1.27bn over the previous year’s enacted top line. Meanwhile, the MDA submitted a list of unfunded requirements to Congress that totaled almost $1bn.
The lack of alignment of MDA’s budget with the 2017 National Security Strategy, the 2018 National Defense Strategy and the 2019 Missile Defense Review “is concerning,” congressional appropriators write in the bill.
“In particular, ongoing acquisition programs that were identified as high priority within MDA’s architecture as recently as one year ago, such as the development of a space sensor for the tracking of hypersonic weapons, and the procurement of a radar for the defense of Hawaii, have been removed from MDA’s budget, or underwent significant funding reductions,” the lawmakers state.
Appropriators call for a “greater programmatic and fiscal alignment” consistent with the U.S. security and defense strategies among MDA and Pentagon leadership.
Congress will give the MDA director 30 days after the spending bill is signed into law to provide an updated acquisition and funding plan for FY21.
When the MDA rolled out its budget request in February it touted a refocus on developing and deploying a layered homeland ballistic missile defense system using operational regional missile defense capability from the Army and Navy to underlay the current Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System designed to protect the continental United States, following the abrupt cancellation of an effort to upgrade the system’s interceptors.
The MDA is funding a Next-Generation Interceptor (NGI) instead of pursuing the now-canceled Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) program, which would have upgraded GMD’s current GBIs with a more a capable kill vehicle than is currently deployed at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The agency also scrapped its plans to set up ballistic missile defense radars in the Pacific and zeroed out the funding FY21 in order to take a new look at the sensor architecture in the Indo-Pacific command region to figure out what is necessary to handle emerging threats, according to Vice Adm. Jon Hill, MDA director.
MDA had requested $95.8m in FY19 to design and build two discriminating radars in the Pacific. One would be located in Hawaii and the other somewhere else in the Pacific. The plan was to field the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii (HDR-H) by FY23, which meant military construction would have had to begin in FY21. The HDR-Pacific would have been fielded in FY24.
The agency asked for $247.7m in FY20 for the Hawaii radar and another $6.7m for the Pacific radar but the HDR-P had already slipped by then, with the MDA looking at a 2026 fielding timeframe for the radar because it had yet to determine a location.
Appropriators have injected $133m into the FY21 bill to fund the Hawaiian radar “in order to maintain efficient production of the radar,” the bill states.
“A discrimination radar on Hawaii is an important part of the architecture for the United States homeland defense,” the bill states, adding the MDA had awarded a contract for the production of the radar in December 2018.
Appropriators are also requiring the MDA to consider an alternate location for the Hawaii-based radar on the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) because site selection for the radar was delayed due to previous locations under consideration “no longer being considered viable.”
Lawmakers will require the MDA director to submit a report 30 days after the appropriations bill is enacted regarding the viability of the site at PMRF and further analysis with the FY22 budget request on impact to military operations there.
MDA is also finally getting its eighth Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery. The agency has had a total requirement for nine THAAD batteries for years but has not had the funding to complete the last two. But both authorizers and appropriators are on board in the FY21 spending and policy bills.
THAAD has proven increasingly integral to the Defense Department’s regional defense architecture and is a prospective participant in the layered homeland missile defense architecture.
The bill also adds $150m for GBI boosters for the GMD system and $200 m in additional funding for improved homeland missile defense interceptors for risk reduction efforts.
Yet funding for the NGI effort received a $6m cut from appropriators.
The FY21 National Defense Authorization Act is requiring MDA to procure an interim homeland missile defense interceptor to fill the gap in capability to go after complex intercontinental ballistic missile threats from North Korea or Iran while the agency develops the NGI.
But the language included a waiver to get out of the effort if the technology isn’t feasible, if the capability is not in the national security interest of the U.S. and if an interim system can not be fielded at least two years earlier than NGI would be fielded. Sources close to the issue say it’s highly likely the MDA will immediately seek a waiver rather than channel efforts away from its NGI program.
For all the extra funding MDA is slated to receive — including $250 m for a service life extension program for the GMD system itself — congressional appropriators were not as supportive of the agency’s shift to a focus on the development of an underlay of capability for homeland missile defense because of the lack of detail MDA has offered on how the underlay will look and work. Authorizers were equally skeptical of the plans.
Appropriators are cutting $102m from the MDA’s $412.6m request due to a “lack of validated requirement and acquisition strategy” for the THAAD underlay concept. And the bill also cuts $26.7m from the Aegis ballistic missile defense funding line of $814.9m also due to a lack of validated requirement and acquisition strategy for the role of Aegis in an underlay.
In the NDAA, Congress plans to withhold 50 percent of the funding designated to develop the plan until the defense secretary submits a detailed report on the proposal for a layered homeland missile defense architecture along with budget justification materials that would go along with the FY22 budget request. (Source: Defense News)
22 Dec 20. Congress resurrects MQ-9 Reaper program, adding 16 drones for the Air Force. Buried inside the massive $2.3trn spending package passed by Congress on Monday was a $286m lifeline for General Atomics that will keep the Air Force buying MQ-9 Reaper drones at least one more year.
In its fiscal 2021 budget request, the Air Force eliminated funding to procure the Reaper, instead requesting about $172m to begin shutting down General Atomics’ production line in Poway, California.
The decision would have meant a loss of hundreds of ms of dollars for the company, as the Air Force previously intended to buy nine MQ-9s in FY21, 17 in FY22, two in FY23 and three in FY24, according to spending plans issued in FY20.
Luckily for General Atomics, Congress has formally rejected the Air Force’s plan.
In its $696bn spending bill for the Defense Department, lawmakers added about $286m to buy 16 MQ-9 Reaper drones for the Air Force. That sum brings total procurement funding for the MQ-9 to approximately $344 m in FY21.
Both chambers approved the legislation Monday evening, and it now awaits President Donald Trump’s signature.
“The decision to increase funding for the MQ-9 reflects the tremendous utility of the platform,” General Atomics spokesman C. Mark Brinkley said in a statement to Defense News. “Through our ongoing investments in the aircraft and the development of new capabilities, we’re demonstrating the untapped potential of the MQ-9 as part of the future force as it continues to be a high-value asset for our warfighters.”
Whether Congress would intervene to save the MQ-9 program had been a major question for defense budget watchers. In July, the House Appropriations Committee unveiled its version of the defense spending bill that included additional funds for 16 MQ-9s. But when its Senate counterpart released its own proposal in November, it contained no money to buy additional Reapers, leaving the fate of the production line in limbo.
It’s unclear whether the Air Force will attempt to shutter MQ-9 production in FY22, but over the past year the service has ramped up its pursuit of a Reaper replacement.
The Reaper has been in service since 2007 and has spent more than a decade as the Air Force’s drone of choice for conducting surveillance and strike missions in the Middle East. But with more advanced threats arriving on the battlefield and a greater number of commercial drones on the market, the service is considering replacing the MQ-9 with a family of systems that could perform low-end missions at a cheaper price as well as other options that are more survivable than the Reaper.
The Air Force issued a request for information to industry on June 3 for the so-called MQ-Next program, seeking market research on available technologies as well as conceptual designs.
Boeing, Kratos Defense, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and General Atomics all confirmed they responded to the Air Force solicitation. Lockheed, Northrop and General Atomics shared concept art of their MQ-Next designs in September. (Source: Defense News)
22 Dec 20. 1. BIS Issues First First Military End User List Naming More Than 100 Chinese and Russian Companies. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) will amend the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) by adding a new ‘Military End User’ (MEU) List, as well as the first tranche of 103 entities, which includes 58 Chinese and 45 Russian companies. The U.S. Government has determined that these companies are ‘military end users’ for purposes of the ‘military end user’ control in the EAR that applies to specified items for exports, reexports, or transfers (in-country) to China, Russia, and Venezuela when such items are destined for a prohibited ‘military end user.’ this is a non-exhaustive list, and does not imply that other parties not included on the list are exempt from regulatory prohibitions. For example, parties not listed on the MEU List but included on the Department of Defense’s Section 1237 list of the National Defense Authorization Act would raise a Red Flag under the EAR and require additional due diligence by exporters, reexporters, or transferors. While the initial MEU list includes 103 companies, additional parties may be added or deleted from the MEU List pursuant to a determination made by the End-User Review Committee, the interagency body composed of Commerce, and the Departments of Defense, Energy, State, and, where appropriate, the Treasury. The list on public display at the Federal Register website in anticipation of its official publication does not include Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd. (COMAC), but it does include closely related entities Shanghai Aircraft Design and Research Institute and Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing Co. 2. BIS Updates Entity List
(85 Fed. Reg. 83416) – As previously reported as Item 2 the December 18 edition of Defense and Export-Import Update, The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has amended the Entity List at Supplement No. 4 to EAR Part 744 by adding seventy-seven entities, under a total of seventy-eight entries, to the Entity List. These seventy-seven entities have been determined by the U.S. Government to be acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States. These entities will be listed on the Entity List under the destinations of the People’s Republic of China (China), Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Malta, Pakistan, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.). This rule also revises one existing entry on the Entity List under the destination of China and one under the destination of Pakistan. Finally, this rule removes a total of four entities under the destinations of Israel and the U.A.E. The removals are made in connection with requests for removal that BIS received pursuant to the EAR and a review of information provided in those requests.
- BIS Posts New Foreign-Produced Direct Product FAQs
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has posted on its website a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) specific to an amendment to the foreign-produced direct product rule published 85 Fed. Reg. 51596 (Aug. 20, 2020) (August 2020 rule). The new FAQs are found on the BIS website under the “Policy Guidance” tab on the FAQ page. The August 2020 rule implemented a number of changes to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), including:
- Adding 38 additional non-U.S. affiliates of Huawei to the Entity List (Supplement No. 4 to part 744 of the EAR);
- Removing a temporary general license for Huawei and its affiliates on the Entity List and replacing those provisions with a more limited authorization; and
- Amending the EAR’s General Prohibition Three, also known as the FDP rule, to revise the control over certain foreign-produced items when there is knowledge that the items will be incorporated into or will be used in the production or development of any part, component, or equipment produced, purchased or ordered by an entity on the Entity List with a footnote 1 designation or when an entity with a footnote 1 designation is involved in a transaction involving the foreign-produced item.
The new FAQs focus on the third of those changes. In addition to clarifying the scope of the change to the FDP rule, the FAQs include information on the types of items subject to the EAR to which the FDP rule is applicable; the impact on licenses issued and exports made prior to the August 2020 rule’s publication; the scope of production plants and major components thereof impacted by the rule; de minimis; supply chain issues; the rule’s saving clause; and specific to certain foreign-produced commodities potentially impacted by the rule including but not limited to cameras and cellphones. (Source: glstrade.com)
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