Sponsored by Exensor
22 Jul 21. Lawmakers want Pentagon to map supply chain risks, cut China products. A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants to require the Pentagon in the upcoming defense policy bill to get a better handle on who sells the military critical technologies to reduce reliance Chinese-sourced products.
“The defense supply chain presents a national security risk: a significant amount of material in the Defense Industrial Base is sole-sourced from the People’s Republic of China,” a report release July 22 by the House Armed Services Committee’s Defense Critical Supply Chain Task Force stated.
The final report from the task force, formed in March, provided six recommendations for future statutory requirements to force the Pentagon to gain a better understanding of its supply chain and illuminate vulnerabilities and potential for shortages, specifically for semiconductors, rare earth elements needed for defense systems, pharmaceutical ingredients and energetic propellant for bullets or missiles. Lawmakers and experts alike fear that DoD systems made up of Chinese products introduces risk that the Chinese government could use backdoors to spy or sabotage weapons systems.
At an event at the Center for a New American Security, lawmakers stressed Thursday the need for the Pentagon to chart its supply chains and decried the department’s lack of understanding of risks from its suppliers.
“We’re now telling DoD that we need to do a better job of mapping supply chain,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc., who co-chaired the task force with Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich. “That’s probably one of the simplest takeaways from this report. I would expect continued legislation from the Armed Services Committee that reinforces that message. My hope is that industry takes notice, starts to improve the tools with which they’re able to help DoD map the supply chain.”
The mapping recommendation was among five others that lawmakers want to insert into the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act to shore up the Pentagon’s global, complex supply chain and cut back on parts made in China. One recommendation stated that Congress should require the Pentagon to create a departmentwide risk assessment strategy and a system for continuous monitoring and correcting supply chain risks.
Another recommendation would require the department to “identify supplies and materials for major end items that come from adversarial nations and implement a plan to reduce reliance on those nations.”
“Just imagine that scenario played out, where we’re in a limited escalation with China, and they make all the propellant for our ammo,” Slotkin said. “I don’t think if we were missing the irony that we might not be able to engage if we needed to because they provide all the propellant. I don’t want our leaders to be prisoner to that kind of vulnerability, but you can’t fix that unless you know about vulnerability.”
The task force started a year into the COVID-19 pandemic that highlighted gaps in the U.S. supply chain for crucial personal protective equipment and other products.
“It is clear to us that failure to address our current cumbersome supply chain procedures will weaken American leaders’ ability to respond to strategic challenges,” the task force wrote. “A foreign adversary that can leverage supply chain vulnerabilities and divert decisionmakers’ attention from provocative acts, can also fundamentally impact the choices the United States makes in response to military escalation.”
The report advised legal mandates for DoD to work closer with industry and allies to use less Chinese and Russian suppliers, while also requiring the Pentagon to work with the departments of Energy and the Interior on research programs exploring alternative processes to extracting and processing rare earth minerals.
Another recommendation called for DoD to create a coalition of industry and education groups to provide workforce training across the country to build skilled manufacturing workforce domestically, a sector that’s been in decline for years.
The Pentagon should strengthen its partnerships within the National Technology and Industrial Base — a collection of research organizations across the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom and Australia — and identify policy changes to use NTIB as “a test bed for closer international cooperation and supply chain resiliency,” the lawmakers wrote.
The report noted that allied nations “undoubtedly face similar challenges with over-reliance on Chinese and Russian suppliers.”
“If we are going to contemplate some form of selective economic and financial decoupling from China, which I think is now inevitable. The only way that works is that we simultaneously draw closer with our partners and our allies and collaborate on critical technologies,” Gallagher said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
22 Jul 21. Special Operations Command Eyes Four Squadrons of Armed Overwatch Aircraft. U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) wants to have four squadrons of its in-development Armed Overwatch aircraft that could be sent to austere environments where terrorists and other violent groups operate.
In a Wednesday budget hearing with the House Armed Services subcommittee on intelligence and special operations, SOCOM commander Gen. Richard Clarke said each squadron would be made up of 15 aircraft, and he expects one of those operational squadrons would be deployed at any given time. The other three squadrons would be at home for training, maintenance and recovery to prepare for their next deployment.
Clarke also is eyeing a fifth squadron of 10 to 15 Armed Overwatch aircraft for training purposes, bringing the program to between 70 and 75 aircraft total.
Read Next: Storm Brewing over Departure of US Military’s Medical School President
Headed by Air Force Special Operations Command, Armed Overwatch is a program to develop flexible, fixed-wing aircraft that require minimal logistical support.
AFSOC commander Lt. Gen. Jim Slife told reporters earlier this year that Armed Overwatch planes could conduct not only intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, but also close air support and precision strike missions to assist ground troops.
Armed Overwatch will be a key element of SOCOM’s efforts to improve its intelligence and surveillance capabilities, Clarke said Wednesday. Other improvements include better ways to manage the data special operators use to quickly track who and what might be on the battlefields where they fight.
SOCOM needs Armed Overwatch to retire the costly and aging U-28A Draco aircraft, which was adapted from the Pilatus PC-12 and is capable of landing in small, rough airfields and flying in remote areas. However, because there are so few Dracos and they are not standard production aircraft having been modified for their role, they need specialized equipment, maintenance and training to maintain them, taking airmen away from bigger missions and driving up costs.
Clarke said Wednesday that the Draco, which was first deployed in 2006, is nearing the end of its life cycle and would need re-winging, or installing new wings to replace worn-out pairs to extend an aircraft’s life span, to keep in the air. The cost of re-winging the Dracos would be nearly the same price as bringing on the fleet of new Armed Overwatch planes, he said. He did not say how much re-winging Draco aircraft would cost.
“We see Armed Overwatch as a very cost-effective approach to support our SOF teams in the future,” Clarke said.
The military is now in the process of shifting its attention towards preparing for a potential conflict with a major adversary such as China or Russia and away from two decades of primarily fighting violent extremist groups. However, the military expects it will need to keep tracking and pressuring violent extremists, and SOCOM hopes Armed Overwatch would help. Armed Overwatch missions primarily would happen in places like Africa, where groups like al-Shabaab operate, but the airspace is largely uncontested.
Clarke told lawmakers that Armed Overwatch also could be used in places around the world like the Philippines, Thailand, or South America – “wherever we need ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] overhead for our troops.”
Clarke stressed that it would be a multi-role aircraft that would not always be armed.
SOCOM announced in May that it had awarded $19.2 million in contracts to five companies to produce prototype aircraft for evaluation for this program. These prototype evaluations mostly will take place at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida and are expected to be finished by next March.
The aircraft being considered for the Armed Overwatch program are Leidos Inc.’s Bronco II, MAG Aerospace’s MC-208 Guardian, Textron Aviation Defense’s AT-6E Wolverine, L-3 Communications Integrated Systems’ AT-802U Sky Warden, and Sierra Nevada Corp.’s MC-145B Wily Coyote.
(Source: Defense News Early Bird/Military.com)
22 Jul 21. DOD to Modernize Intelligence Information Apparatus With ‘Back to Basics’ Approach. The Defense Department’s information technology capacity provides intelligence information to leaders and warfighters to give them a decision-making advantage.
The legacy systems that provide that capacity, however, must be modernized to ensure the United States doesn’t fall behind its competitors, said the deputy chief information officer for special access program information technology.
“Our nation continues to face a complex, evolving and diverse set of threats,” Cynthia J. Mendoza said yesterday at a forum sponsored by GovExec. “To counter these threats and remain ahead of our adversaries, it’s very important that we have timely, insightful and accurate data and information.”
U.S. adversaries, Mendoza said, are advancing in areas such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, machine learning and supply chain risk management. The U.S. must do the same.
“To confront these technology challenges, we must be united across the DOD in how we are scaling and operationalizing the IT infrastructure and securing it to provide for the best advanced technologies,” she said. “As we look forward, our challenge will be to scale and operationalize IT-enabling capabilities by leveraging key advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, 5G wireless technology and quantum computing.”
Mendoza said she’s guided by three principles she believes will help her move the department ahead, but which are not at all new.
Those basic tenants include building trusted partnerships, understanding mission results and outcomes, and leveraging best practices and lessons learned.
“I call these ‘getting back to basics,'” she said.
Stakeholders in the IT modernization strategy don’t just include the department, the intelligence community, international partners, the private sector, academia and Congress, Mendoza said.
“I honestly believe people are the ‘secret sauce,'” Mendoza said. “They will make the capability real. It all begins with building and developing a stakeholder engagement strategy that is inclusive of all key enterprise stakeholders and focused on a particular capability gap.”
She said trusted partnerships with stakeholders enable DOD to rally around a common purpose with accountability to deliver capabilities with an enduring commitment for success.
Mendoza also said the department needs to be clear on what it wants to do — it must understand mission results and outcomes.
“What problem are we trying to solve?” she asked. “We need to be clear on the result and the outcome we are all working to accomplish. We need to ensure that we validate this with our stakeholder community and that they understand the intended outcome.”
Leveraging best practices and lessons learned is also critical to avoid “reinventing the wheel” when addressing DOD’s mission goals and objectives, she said.
“We leverage lessons learned from our colleagues who are doing similar things,” she said. “Best practices and best solutions go hand-in-hand, and so do best approaches: reference architecture frameworks, service-centric and platform based environments, common operating principles, speaking and operating from the same ontology. These are fundamentals, best practices that eliminate our need to reinvent the wheel.”
(Source: US DoD)
21 Jul 21. Austin Details Messages He Will Deliver in Indo-Pacific, Discusses Afghanistan. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III previewed his trip to the Indo-Pacific and discussed the situation in Afghanistan during a Pentagon news conference today.
Austin is due to visit Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines during his weeklong trip. It is his second trip to what he called America’s “priority theater of operations.”
“I’m especially looking forward to making keynote remarks in Singapore on how [we] are strengthening one of our strategic assets in the region, which is our powerful network of allies and partners in the region,” he said.
Austin will meet with defense and foreign affairs leaders and discuss a range of issues with them. “I’ll be carrying a few key messages and agenda items,” he said. “The first is simply that the United States remains a reliable partner: a friend that shows up when it counts.”
The United States has been intimately involved in the region for more than a century. Since the end of World War II, the United States has been instrumental in maintaining stability and allowing nations the freedom to make their own choices as is their sovereign right, the secretary said. “Today, we have moved urgently to help our partners tackle COVID-19 and to build back even stronger afterward,” he said.
He will continue to make the case for “a more fair, open and inclusive regional order and for our shared values to ensure that all countries get a fair shake,” he said. “We don’t believe any one country should be able to dictate the rules or worse yet, throw them over the transom.”
As part of this, Austin will emphasize America’s commitment to freedom of the seas, “and I will also make clear where we stand on some unhelpful and unfounded claims by China in the South China Sea,” he said.
Austin will also brief allies and partners on what the U.S. military is doing to update and modernize its capabilities and how the nations can work together moving forward.
On Afghanistan, the secretary again praised the professionalism U.S. forces have displayed as the retrograde from the country continues. “We are still on track to finish up [the retrograde] by the end of August,” Austin said.
He said the U.S. military has tasks to accomplish which include protecting U.S. diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, providing funding to Afghan forces, advising Afghan ministries and preventing the re-emergence of a transnational terrorist threat from the country. To these four missions, Austin added one more: “Working closely and urgently in support of the State Department to relocate brave Afghans and their families who have provided such exceptional service during our long mission,” he said. “These are friends of the United States who have done exemplary and courageous work, and we take our obligations to them and their families very seriously.” (Source: US DoD)
21 Jul 21. Plan to boost Biden’s defense budget could see bipartisan support. Senate lawmakers will consider increasing White House military spending plans for next year by $25bn as part of their debate over the annual defense spending bill this week.
As closed-door work on the massive military policy measure began Wednesday morning, Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee were bullish on the prospects of dramatically boosting plans for a $716bn base budget for the Department of Defense in the measure.
One amendment under consideration would add the $25bn in additional funding to cover the individual services’ unfunded priorities, a wish list of equipment purchases and program additions which were cut out of the White House’s budget request.
“I feel very confident about getting support, from Democrats too,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., ranking member of the committee and a vocal critic of President Joe Biden’s defense spending plan for next year.
For the Army, the unfunded priorities include $1.1bn for tactical training, soldier quality of life and strategic power projection capabilities, and another $1.9 bn for aviation platforms, wheeled and tracked combat vehicles and cyber security upgrades.
The Navy list includes nearly $1.7bn for a second DDG and $280 m for additional flying hours for Navy pilots. Air Force officials want to spend $1.4bn on 12 additional F-15EXs and $825m for weapon system sustainment efforts. Marine Corps leaders asked for more than $150m additional Naval Strike Missiles and Tactical Tomahawk missiles.
Democrats on the panel have been largely quiet on the prospect of increasing defense spending in the budget plan. Last week, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. and a member of the armed services committee, said she was unsure if the president’s $716bn spending plan would remain unchanged as work on the funding bills moved ahead.
“Congress typically spends what they want to spend,” she said. “I don’t think [total defense spending] will be lower than that, because I don’t think the Senate will put forward a lower number.”
Boosting the budget plan above $740bn next year may bring Senate Republican support for the defense bill when it comes to a full chamber vote.
The $716bn budget proposal represents a 1.4 percent increase over fiscal 2021 spending levels, a figure that Republicans say does not keep up with inflation costs. Numerous GOP members have publicly attacked the plan, saying it failed to keep pace with the threats presented by China and terrorist groups around the globe.
“We are not prioritizing the military at all with this budget,” Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska and another committee member, said during a Republican press conference on defense spending last month. “We’re gonna continue to press to make this much stronger budget for our military.”
But the move brings with it the danger of losing support from progressive lawmakers — especially in the House — who have noted that defense spending rose sharply in recent years while other domestic agencies saw significant funding cuts.
Earlier this month, several Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee gave reluctant support to the president’s defense spending plan, calling it more geared towards helping defense contractors than addressing threats to America such as climate change and future pandemics. None of the Republicans on the appropriations committee backed the measure. (Source: Defense News)
20 Jul 21. Gilday: The budget request supports future fleet vision, even if it’s a smaller fleet. The chief of naval operations remains firm that the fiscal 2022 budget request is aligned with the U.S. Navy’s future fleet design plans, which were studied and wargamed in the Future Naval Force Study effort last year, even as lawmakers question the proposal.
Adm. Mike Gilday said the study provided the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps the clearest vision yet of what assets they’ll need to deter or win a future fight, and he stands by the FY22 budget request as supporting that vision.
Though lawmakers tend to focus on the size of the naval fleet – and achieving a 355-ship fleet is now law – Gilday said “the analysis really gave us a sense, beyond the numbers, what the composition of the fleet needs to be in order to effectively deter and fight, and that really comes down to joint capabilities that the Navy would contribute to a joint fight.”
In that sense, he said the FY22 budget supports where the Navy can most effectively and uniquely contribute to a major joint force operation.
“When you take a look at the composition of the [future] fleet, it’s heavily reliant, as an example, on submarines. And right now, our shipbuilding budget, 48 percent of it is dedicated to undersea warfare and new submarines in the Virginia and Columbia class,” he said during a speech at the Navy League’s annual Sea Air Space 2021, in a virtual prequel event ahead of the live conference next month.
Gilday also highlighted naval aviation, which received significant funding to build new aircraft carriers, keep existing ones ready and modernized, and invest in a blend of fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft with more sophisticated and long-range weapons.
“We do have an investment strategy that incrementally gets us to a more capable, a more lethal fleet – but not necessarily a bigger fleet unless we saw a rise in the topline,” he said.
The CNO said the Navy is pursuing the fleet it wants in the short term: by 2025, all Block III and IV Virginia-class attack submarines will be delivered and fielded with more lethal and longer-range weapons than their predecessors; the surface navy will have more capable Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, will be on the cusp of fielding the first Constellation-class frigate and will have the first hypersonic weapon aboard a Zumwalt-class destroyer; and half the air wings will have reached the fourth-/fifth-generation mix, among other improvements.
However, a big factor in the analysis was the Navy’s distributed maritime operations concept, which Gilday said the service has been working on for the last six years and fits into the joint warfighting concept for major combat operations. Distributed maritime operations would allow the Navy to attack an adversary from many directions and in multiple domains. When combined with the Marines’ expeditionary advanced base operations concept, one that would enable small groups of Marines to conduct sea control and sea denial from islands and temporary shore bases, the approach creates “a multi-pronged approach to an adversary. But, in order to exercise that concept as we have envisioned it, we need numbers. We need numbers to be able to distribute the fleet across a very big area in the Pacific. So that’s part of the challenge.”
Gilday reiterated his previous comments that the Navy today can afford a fleet of about 300 ships, and its buying power is only shrinking. The Pentagon and Congress will need to allot the Navy more money if they want to see a larger fleet, he said.
“If our topline stays the same or decreases, we’re going to see a declining fleet in terms of capacity. If we take a look at the fact that 60 percent of our budget is for manpower, for operations and for maintenance, and that those costs are increasing on an annual basis at about almost two and a half percent above inflation, that’s going to eat away at our ability to grow capacity that will ever approach above 300 ships, based on how we’re funded right now,” he said.
Though 355 ships is the law of the land, a June long-range shipbuilding plan showed a fleet as small as 321 ships or as a large as 372 ships in the outyears, rather than picking a single number to aim for.
“The intent was to present a range; 355 kind of falls smack in the middle, and of course that’s the law, and I still think that 355 is a good target. But the reality is that we can’t really afford to have a navy bigger than one we can sustain given the resources that we receive. So based on our current budget, I believe the analysis shows that we can afford a fleet of about 300 ships. So that includes the manning, the training, the equipping, the supply parts, the ammunition, the training days, the flying hours, all of that that yields a fleet that’s ready to go to sea today and deter a China, deter a Russia from any malign activity.”
Gilday said the FY22 budget proposal forced him to pick between training and readiness for today’s fleet, modernization to develop and field new capabilities to stay ahead of adversaries, and increased capacity.
“It’s difficult to keep an even balance across all three of them, but I tended to prioritize current readiness and training over the three,” Gilday said.
The Navy sought to free up funds to pay for this readiness – and for modest modernization and fleet growth – by divesting older and less useful platforms, including seven cruisers. That proposal has not sat well with lawmakers, who worry about capacity shrinking in the near term even as experts worry that China could be eyeing an invasion of Taiwan this decade.
Gilday has continued to stand by this request to divest the cruisers despite pushback from lawmakers. He said the cruisers are an average of 32 years old and are in poor material condition. Last year’s deployment of cruiser Vella Gulf with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group saw the ship come back to its homeport in Norfolk, Va., twice in the early weeks of the deployment for emergency repairs.
“When we tried to deploy a ship most recently and had to bring it back twice because of fuel tank cracks is an example of something we just couldn’t predict but we have to react to, and it does have an impact on reliability – and we need to be able to provide the secretary of defense and the president reliable assets out there that they can count on to do the nation’s business,” he said.
The poor material condition, plus the cost to keep them operating – $5bn over five years – and the lack of lethality compared to newer ships – some have an analog SPY-1A radar, others have an early SPY-1B radar that is still approaching obsolescence and struggles to see today’s threats that have faster speeds and different flight profiles compared to targets of past decades – made for an easy decision for Gilday. (Source: Defense News)
19 Jul 21. US accuses China of masterminding cyber attacks worldwide. Washington alleges Beijing was behind Microsoft breach that hit thousands of organisations. US officials said they had a ‘high degree of confidence’ that cyber criminals linked to China had carried out the attack on Microsoft’s Exchange email application. The White House has accused the Chinese government of teaming up with criminal gangs to commit widespread cyber attacks, including one on Microsoft this year that affected tens of thousands of organisations. The accusation came as the US Justice department unsealed an indictment alleging that four Chinese nationals affiliated with the Ministry of State Security had overseen a separate campaign to hack companies, universities and government entities in the US and overseas between 2011 and 2018. A senior administration official said: “[China’s] MSS — Ministry of State Security — uses criminal contract hackers to conduct unsanctioned cyber operations globally, including for their own personal profit. “Their operations include criminal activities, such as cyber-enabled extortion, crypto-jacking and theft from victims around the world for financial gain.” The official added that the US had a “high degree of confidence” that attackers on the MSS payroll had carried out the offensive on Microsoft’s Exchange email application, which was disclosed in March. One cyber security researcher claimed it hit at least 30,000 organisations, including businesses and local governments. The White House did not state which particular group of hackers or contractors were responsible for the attacks. The US move to condemn China on Monday was supported by a coalition of allies, including the EU, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and Nato. The European Council said that the Microsoft Exchange hack constituted “irresponsible and harmful behaviour” which had resulted in security risks and “significant economic loss” for government institutions and private companies across Europe. Nato said it noted that cyber threats to the alliance were increasingly “complex, destructive and coercive”, and called on all states, “including China” to uphold their commitments to act responsibly in cyber space. The UK, which has previously been more reticent than the US in calling out hostile activity by China, said for the first time on Monday that it considers two Chinese hacking groups, APT 40 and APT 31, to be linked to China’s MSS. British officials have been concerned by the increasing recklessness of Chinese-backed cyber activity, and have been raising their objections privately with Beijing for the past three years, to no effect. The joint action marked a new front in Washington’s battle against the rising tide of ransomware attacks, which have largely been blamed until now on gangs believed to be operating out of Russia. Meanwhile, according to the DoJ indictment, four Chinese nationals carried out a hacking campaign over seven years targeting aviation, defence, education, government, healthcare, biopharmaceutical sectors in a range of countries including the US, Canada, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the UK. It alleged that hackers stole information on sensitive technologies such as autonomous vehicles and commercial aircraft servicing, as well as infectious-disease research on Ebola, MERS, and HIV. This group has previously been referred to as APT 40, also known as “Bronze”. The indictment named three Chinese nationals — Ding Xiaoyang Cheng Qingmin and Zhu Yunmin — as state security officials in Hainan province who allegedly set up a front company to hide the government’s involvement in the hacking operation. A fourth man, Wu Shurong, was named as a hacker who allegedly created malware, hacked into computer systems operated by foreign governments, companies and universities, and supervised other members of the hacking team. The threat posed by cyber attacks has proliferated during the pandemic as hackers exploited vulnerabilities exposed by employees working remotely. The US has come under increasing pressure to take action. President Joe Biden warned his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin this month that Moscow would face consequences if it failed to act against ransomware attackers, who typically seize a company’s data or systems and demand payment to release it. Recommended The Big Read Biden, Putin and the new era of information warfare Biden’s threat followed highly disruptive ransomware attacks on companies including Colonial Pipeline, which was forced to close temporarily, and JBS, the world’s largest meat processor. US officials also said they were “surprised” to find that individuals affiliated with China’s MSS were behind a ransomware hit in which hackers demanded millions of dollars from an unnamed US company. The US justice department charged five Chinese citizens last September for hacking more than 100 companies globally as part of a state-backed group known as APT41. (Source: FT.com)
18 Jul 21. The Pentagon has spent more than $13m developing drones for US government agencies to replace those made or assembled in China. Camera drones developed by the Pentagon are more expensive and less capable than the Chinese-made models they were designed to replace, according to an internal US government memo seen by the Financial Times. The memo from officials at the interior department, which runs the US government’s largest fleet of civilian unmanned craft, warned the “Blue drones” were not good enough to carry out vital conservation work. The Pentagon spent more than $13m developing drones that government agencies could use instead of those made or assembled in China. But the complaint about the devices’ cost and effectiveness illustrates the difficulties the US has faced trying to wean itself off Chinese technology without obvious domestic alternatives. The memo, written in January for the incoming Biden administration, said: “By only having the ‘Blue UAS [unmanned aerial systems]’ approved, it reduces DoI sensor capabilities by 95 per cent . . . The aircraft are designed for a very specific DoD [Department of Defense] mission set and will only meet around 20 per cent of DoI mission requirements.” It warned that with an average price of $2,100, the drones cost between eight and 14 times more than the aircraft the department was previously able to purchase. In 2019, the Trump administration grounded every one of the department’s 810 drones because they contained Chinese parts. The move was part of a broader push to limit US exposure to sensitive technology, including 5G equipment made by the Chinese company Huawei, for fear that Beijing could use such hardware for spying. Since the 2019 order, departmental officials have been able to resume drone flights to carry out controlled burning to prevent wildfires, but have not been able to buy any aircraft or launch flights for other tasks, such as tracking wildlife. Members of Congress are debating measures that would bar federal money from being used to purchase drones made or assembled in China. The Pentagon has spent several years and millions of dollars working with private companies to develop five drones it said could be safely used by government agencies. But according to a Department of Defense report last year, at least four of the models contained a significant number of Chinese parts, including circuit boards. One government official said the Biden administration was carrying out a review of its entire civilian drone fleet to work out which aircraft were safe to fly, but it has not rescinded the Trump-era grounding order. The interior department declined to comment. Recommended US & Canadian companies Skydio valuation raises American hopes in drone war with China Andrew Musto, deputy director at the Defense Innovation Unit, the arm of the Pentagon that helped develop the drones, said: “These systems . . . have inherited some DoD-focused capabilities that have associated cost implications. DIU recognises that these five systems are only a first step towards rapid adoption of commercial UAS technology into the government.” He added that the defence department was trying to reduce costs and improve the capabilities of the drones it had helped develop to meet the needs of other departments. While officials debate the safety of flying the government’s existing drones, the interior department’s internal memo warned that legally mandated conservation work was not being carried out. “The current situation makes it nearly impossible for the department to comply with legislation such as the John D Dingell Jr Conservation, Management and Recreation Act,” it said. Among other tasks, the law mandates mapping and conservation of large tracts of public land. (Source: FT.com)
Founded in 1987, Exensor Technology is a world leading supplier of Networked Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) Systems providing tailored sensor solutions to customers all over the world. From our Headquarters in Lund Sweden, our centre of expertise in Network Communications at Communications Research Lab in Kalmar Sweden and our Production site outside of Basingstoke UK, we design, develop and produce latest state of the art rugged UGS solutions at the highest quality to meet the most stringent demands of our customers. Our systems are in operation and used in a wide number of Military as well as Home land Security applications worldwide. The modular nature of the system ensures any external sensor can be integrated, providing the user with a fully meshed “silent” network capable of self-healing. Exensor Technology will continue to lead the field in UGS technology, provide our customers with excellent customer service and a bespoke package able to meet every need. A CNIM Group Company