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28 Jul 21. HASC ‘skeptical’ of Navy plans to mitigate fighter shortfall, transition into future jet. The House Armed Services Committee has reservations about the Navy’s plans to transition from the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet into the Next Generation Air Dominance, or NGAD, future fighter jet, though it’s unclear if the committee will take action to force a change in plans.
The Navy envisions fielding air wings with a mix of fourth-generation Super Hornets and fifth-generation F-35C Joint Strike Fighters from now — with the soon-to-deploy Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group bringing the F-35C on its first deployment — into the 2030s. Once the Super Hornets begin to retire, the NGAD will replace them.
A program office has been stood up to lead the replacement effort, but little information has been released about what kind of plane the Navy wants and how much progress it has made in designing the jet or developing components.
To tide the Navy over until NGAD hits the fleet, the service also wants to modernize and extend the life of some of its Super Hornets through a service life modification program, which takes place at Boeing’s fighter production line in St. Louis, Missouri.
The Navy is confident enough in this plan that it asked in fiscal 2022 budget request to stop Super Hornet production, believing that it can extend its current fleet long enough and field NGAD quick enough that the service won’t suffer a significant fighter shortfall during the transition.
HASC isn’t convinced.
“If you look at the current execution of their SLM [service life modification] line, they can’t meet their cost or schedule that they’re planning to: They’re trying to put through Hornets within a year time frame at a cost of about $7-8m; right now the time frame is nearly double that, as well as the cost,” a committee aide told reporters in a July 28 briefing ahead of the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee’s markup on July 29. “So basically the Navy is not executing their SLM program as they’re currently planning for in the future.
“We’re aware that the Navy wants to focus more resources and funding on NGAD. But if you recall eight or 10 years ago, they tried to do the same thing when F-35C was in development. They truncated the Super Hornet line to focus more on F-35C, and they found out, as the F-35C kind of struggled, the Navy had to go back to procuring more Super Hornets.
“We’re cautious about the Navy’s approach to truncate a hot production line while they focus on a new development program. And given the technology they’re trying to integrate into NGAD, it’s probably not going to be any easier than what F-35C was. So just taking lessons learned from the past, we’re just keeping an eye on how the Navy is going to move forward with trying to manage and mitigate their strike fighter shortfall.”
Navy leaders said in a 2020 hearing with the subcommittee that they needed to stop Super Hornet production so Boeing could use the production line for the modification program, which converts older Super Hornets to a more capable Block III variant and adds thousands of flight hours to the jets’ expected service life. Prior to this decision to end the production line, which was formally announced in the Navy’s FY21 funding request, the Navy planned to buy 36 more jets in FY22 through FY24.
The service has also argued it needs to stop Super Hornet production to reroute funding to NGAD.
The committee aide said in the briefing that any decisions about forcing the Navy to continue buying Super Hornets to ward off a significant shortfall next decade would be made in the full committee section of the bill and the funding tables, which are to be released later this summer ahead of a planned Sept. 1 full committee markup.
The Navy previously said it faced a shortfall of 49 jets that would be resolved by 2030, and that that shortfall wouldn’t hinder carrier strike group operations. More recently, the Navy told HASC that the shortfall would be resolved by 2025, despite cutting 36 Super Hornets from future budget plans and seeing delays in the Super Hornet modification program.
“We are kind of scratching our heads on how the Navy moved up their analysis in terms of eliminating the shortfall by about five years. One, they didn’t reinstate the 36 aircraft, Super Hornets, they were going to procure in ’22, ’23, ’24. They also took out about 104 aircraft out of their service life modification program. Also, their NGAD program, the Next [Generation] Air Dominance, is pretty much on the same timeline that it was last year,” the aide said.
The Pentagon has not released information on future years spending plans; budget requests often include a five-year Future Years Defense Plan, but in this first request by the Biden administration, the Pentagon only released FY22 spending plans.
The aide noted that “with us not being able to see their FYDP numbers, we’re kind of skeptical to understand how the Navy manipulated the data and their analysis to bring the shortfall to resolve five years earlier in 2025.” (Source: Defense News)
28 Jul 21. Lawmakers want answers on US Army plans to protect vehicles from drones. House lawmakers want answers from the Army on its plan to outfit combat vehicles with protection systems capable of countering unmanned aircraft systems, according to the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee’s markup of the fiscal 2022 defense authorization bill, released July 28. The Army has been struggling for years to install active protection systems onto its Abrams tanks, Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles and Stryker combat vehicles. While it has been able to field an interim system on its Abrams tanks, the Army has fallen behind with an interim system installation for the Bradley. The effort to equip Strykers with an APS is on the backburner because it was determined there is no system suitable for the platform.
The Army is also working toward an integrated vehicle protection system suite for its combat vehicles. Under a contract with a $30m ceiling, awarded at the beginning of the year, Lockheed Martin began integrating and formally testing its open-architecture processor designed to control the Army’s future combat vehicle protection system. Lockheed’s efforts will run through 2023 with integration work on Bradleys, Abrams tanks, Strykers and the Armored Multipurpose Vehicle.
The APS capabilities evaluated for combat vehicles in the fleet are capable of deflecting attacks from direct fire systems like missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, and medium and small arms projectiles, but the Army has not made it clear if there are plans to evaluate systems capable of countering UAS threats.
“The committee has consistently supported the Army’s efforts to identify, develop, integrate and test various active and passive vehicle protection systems (VPS) that would increase armored vehicle survivability and protect crew and passengers,” the subcommittee wrote in its report.
In recent years, Congress injected funding for APS. For example, it included an extra $16m in FY21 to conduct government testing of the Iron Fist Light Decoupled phase 2 system on a Bradley to support an urgent material release.
According to FY22 Army budget justification documents, that testing was expected to begin in the third quarter of FY21 and wrap up in the fourth quarter of FY22.
But “the committee is unclear, however, as to VPS research or development efforts related to potential threats from [UAS],” the report stated. The panel would direct the Army’s acquisition chief to brief the House Armed Services Committee no later than Jan. 28, 2022, on plans “related to VPS against UAS threats.”
An assessment of current and future UAS threats to armored vehicles would be required as part of the briefing as well as what the Army’s research, development, test and evaluation strategy is to identify and evaluate existing or readily available counter-UAS VPS technologies, according to the markup.
The acquisition chief will also be required to brief the committee on what the efforts might cost, from research through procurement, across a five-year program budget cycle, the report added. (Source: Defense News)
29 Jul 21. Sea power panel backs block buy of amphibious ships. A House panel on Wednesday advanced a proposal to authorize the Navy to make a block buy of amphibious ships for one more year, meant to save taxpayer dollars, proponents say. The House Armed Services Committee’s sea power subpanel voted to adopt the plans, part of an amendment from its top Republican, Rep. Rob Wittman of Virginia. As expected, lawmakers also advanced the broader sea power mark for the sweeping fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act.
If passed into law, Wittman’s language would extend authorities from the FY21 NDAA related to a bundled contract for the amphibious assault ship LHA-9 and amphibious transport docks 31, 32 and 33.
“This is all about the amphibious ship bundle, to make sure that [the Office of the Secretary of Defense] continues the effort to purchase these ships,” Wittman said. “We know there’s been a delay by [the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office], but I believe it’s incredibly important for this nation to make sure that we exercise the savings, which would be nearly a billion dollars, in buying four ships under this authorization to purchase amphibious ships in this bundle.”
The action follows Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker’s efforts to pressure the Pentagon into following through with a congressionally mandated rule to buy four amphibious ships in a single “block buy.” Politico reported last month that Wicker, whose state is home to Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, which builds Navy destroyers and amphibious ships, has slowed CAPE nominee Susanna Blume in an attempt to push the Navy in that direction.
The sea power markup also included language to recommend a second Arleigh Burke-class destroyer widely sought by lawmakers, and it cuts one of two towing, salvage and rescue ships. Without the second destroyer, the Navy cannot meet its obligation under multiyear contracts with both Ingalls Shipbuilding and General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works.
“The Arleigh Burke class of destroyers have proven to be one of our most capable and flexible surface combatants,” said Connecticut Democrat Rep. Joe Courtney, the subpanel chairman. “While I am frustrated that this is the second year that Congress has had to act to restore a major unfunded priority that was unexpectedly removed from the budget, doing so is the right decision for our fleet and for the industrial base.”
Meanwhile, the Air Force had hoped to draw down its number of C-130 aircraft from 300 to 255 in FY22. But the sea power markup mandates a fleet of no less than 287 C-130H aircraft ― just after Senate lawmakers advanced their bill, with a floor of 292 C-130s.
At the markup, Wittman lauded the bill Courtney offered but signaled he would push to add ships when HASC debates the forthcoming chairman’s markup. Wittman argued that deterring future conflict with China requires adopting the Trump administration’s goal of rapidly expanding naval shipbuilding.
“This would include additional ship construction and weapons procurement that is not currently recommended for inclusion in the Chairman’s mark,” Wittman said. “This should also include retention of certain legacy assets that would deter conflict in the short- and mid-term.”
Wittman called the Biden administration’s recently released 30-year shipbuilding plan ― which dropped a previous emphasis on a 355-ship goal ― as “inadequate” and its eight-ship request for FY22 “anemic.” It proposed a plan for building eight ships in FY22, where the Trump administration proposed 12.
“I continue to be perplexed as to our nation’s approach to deterring maritime conflict,” Wittman said. (Source: Defense News)
29 Jul 21. Ex-US Airman Sentenced to 45 Months for Drone Info Leaks. A former Air Force intelligence analyst who once helped find targets for deadly U.S. drone strikes was sentenced to 45 months in prison for leaking top-secret details about the program. Daniel Hale, 33, told a federal judge he felt compelled to leak information to a journalist out of guilt over his own participation in a program that he believed was indiscriminately killing civilians in Afghanistan far from the battlefield.
“It is wrong to kill,” Hale said in a defiant statement in which he accepted responsibility for his actions, but also pleaded for mercy. “It is especially wrong to kill the defenseless.”
But U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady told Hale he had other avenues for airing his concerns besides leaking to a journalist. Citing the need to deter others from illegal disclosures, he imposed a punishment that was harsher than the 12- to 18-month term sought by Hale’s attorneys but significantly more lenient than the longer sentence sought by prosecutors.
“You could have resigned from the military,” or told “your commanders you weren’t going to do this anymore,” O’Grady told Hale.
The prosecution is one in a series of cases the Justice Department has brought in recent years against current and former government officials who have disclosed classified secrets to journalists. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced new guidelines this month to bar prosecutors from subpoenaing journalists’ records in leak probes, but the department has shown no signs of scaling back efforts to charge officials whom they identify as having leaked national security information.
Prosecutors have argued that Hale, who deployed to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in 2012 and was honorably discharged the following year, abused the government’s trust and knew the documents he was sharing “risked causing serious, and in some cases exceptionally grave, damage to the national security” but leaked them anyway. They say that documents leaked by Hale were found in an internet compilation of material designed to help Islamic State fighters avoid detection.
Hale’s stated rationale that he was attempting to expose injustices surrounding the military’s drone program has earned him support among whistleblower advocates and among critics of the government’s war efforts, some of whom held supportive signs outside the courthouse and attended Tuesday’s sentencing hearing.
But prosecutors painted a different portrait. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg said the impact of Hale’s actions was not to contribute to a public debate over war but rather to “endanger the people doing the fighting.” He said that even if it was not Hale’s intent to aid a terror organization, that was what he did.
The Justice Department said Hale began communicating with a journalist in April 2013 while still in the Air Force. The following February, while working as a defense contractor at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Hale printed six classified documents that were each later published. He provided additional documents to the reporter that were published in whole or in part, including 11 that were marked as top secret or secret, prosecutors said.
He pleaded guilty earlier this year.
While court papers never specified the recipient of the leak, details about the case make it clear that the documents were given to Jeremy Scahill, a reporter at The Intercept, who used the documents as part of a series of critical reports on how the military conducted drone strikes on foreign targets.
The arguments Tuesday were less about whether Hale leaked the records — he openly acknowledges doing so — and more about his rationale for his actions and what role that should play in the sentence calculation.
Defense lawyers argued that he was motivated by his own conscience and that his leaks didn’t jeopardize national security.
“He committed the offense to bring attention to what he believed to be immoral government conduct committed under the cloak of secrecy and contrary to public statements of then-President Obama regarding the alleged precision of the United States military’s drone program,” defense lawyers wrote in a filing last week.
Prosecutors painted Hale as eager to ingratiate himself with journalists, but Hale described himself as racked with angst over the role his actions may have played in the taking of innocent lives. He had served as a signals intelligence analyst, helping locate targets for drone strikes by tracking down cellphone signals.
He said in court Tuesday that he had wanted to dispel the idea that “drone warfare keeps us safe,” and the documents he leaked showed among other things that the drone program was not as precise as the government claimed in terms of avoiding civilian deaths.
Reading aloud from a prepared statement, his voice occasionally cracking with emotion, Hale repeatedly took responsibility for his actions but expressed more regret over wartime actions than the “taking of papers.”
He said he was pained by the possibility that his actions in the drone program could have emboldened terrorists in the United States, referring to the case of Omar Mateen, the gunman who massacred nightclub patrons in Orlando, Florida, in 2016 and had explicitly demanded during the shooting that air strikes needed to stop. (Source: UAS VISION/abc news)
26 Jul 21. The Joint Warfighting Concept Failed, Until It Focused On Space And Cyber. The new Joint Warfighting Concept to guide military operations for the next 30 years is “aspirational,” and now must be fleshed out as best the Pentagon can with the resources available, says Gen. John Hyten, vice JCS chair. The central difference between the Pentagon’s new Joint Warfighting Concept (JWC) and the military’s past approach is the recognition that space and cyberspace must be both protected and utilized — or else the data crucial to winning on the ground, in the air and at sea will be unobtainable, says Gen. John Hyten, vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“You have to be able to understand space and cyber” to achieve All Domain Operations, he told an audience at the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) today, during a roll-out of the new NDIA Emerging Technologies Institute.
Hyten explained that the JWC is an “aspirational” document, designed to guide the American way of war for the next 30 years. (It was signed on March 31 by JCS Chair Gen. Mark Milley, and shortly thereafter by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin — although that fact was only revealed in mid-June.) However, he stressed, it now has to be fleshed out with doctrine and capabilities, as well as honed to accommodate what actually is achievable with the resources available.
The first iteration of the JWC, he went on, was based on simply improving upon the long-standing US strategy of gathering and using “ubiquitous” information to coordinate forces and structure battles. But when put to the test in a war game this past October, the JWC “failed” to produce a victory against an “aggressive red team” emulating peer competitors China and Russia.
“It failed in many different ways. We had basically attempted an ‘information dominance’ structure where information was ubiquitous to our forces just like it was in the first Gulf War, and just like it has been for the last 20 years,” he said. “Well, what happens if right from the beginning that information is not available? And that’s the big problem that we faced.”
Hyten said the effort then “had to take a step back” to reorient and refocus, with a new emphasis on the space and cyber domains.
“The concept we came up with is referred to now as ‘expanded maneuver,’” he said. “And it’s expanded maneuver in space and time. In every area that an adversary can move, you have to figure out how to fill that space in time, before they can move.”
The gist of expanded maneuver is figuring out “how do I aggregate my capabilities to provide significant effect, and then how do I disaggregate to survive any kind of threat?” Hyten explained. “We actually have not done that, really, for a long time, maybe ever.”
But the battlefields of tomorrow will require US forces and firepower to “aggregate” to attack, and rapidly disperse in order to survive fast-paced adversary “long-range fires” from all domains, he continued. “If you’re aggregated and everybody knows where you are, you’re vulnerable, but you have to aggregate to mass fires.”
The Importance of JADC2
This is where the JWC’s heavy focus on tools like artificial information and machine learning, as well as the virtual battlespace environments enabled by cloud computing under Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2), come into play.
“It could be a virtual aggregation from multiple domains, and acting at the same time under a single command structure that allows the fires to come in on anybody, and allows you to disaggregate to survive that,” Hyten said. “That is a simple, simple thing to say. That is aspirational. That is unbelievably difficult to do.”
In the JWC, he explained, “the goal is to be fully connected to a combat cloud that has all the information, that you can access at anytime, anyplace. You can pull it all together, and with all-domain command and control, figure out the best data and be able to act quickly on that.”
JADC2 is one of the four JWC “supporting concepts” that now are known as “functional battles,” Hyten explained. The other three are joint fires, contested logistics and information advantage. And all four of those function battles are challenging and remain “aspirational,” he stressed.
For example, he said, contested logistics is “really difficult,” noting that the last time the US had to fight in circumstances where US facilities abroad and at home were both under attack was in WWII. “So, contested logistics has been an area of rich study rich conversation, and we’re changing our entire logistics approach.”
Likewise, the idea of joint fires is both a huge challenge and somewhat controversial. Noting that he’d been “criticized for saying this,” Hyten explained that “in the Joint Warfighting Concept, fires come from all domains and all services, no restrictions.
“Why? Because when the fires come from all domains and all services with no restrictions, the adversary can’t figure out where they’re coming from, and they have no way to defend themselves against them. Now, that’s, that’s a purely aspirational requirement, but I hope everybody can see that if you can do that, you would change the equation on any future battlefield.”
Finally, information dominance, he explained, “is the summation of those three elements, really, all in one… And that’s where some very significant requirements come in,” he said.
The four new “strategic directives” issued by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) this month, Hyten said, therefore are setting the stage for how the services make those joint functional battles possible. Hyten signed off on those strategic directives in late June.
The more active role for the JROC, pushed through by Hyten as chair, has resulted in some push back by the services, Hyten admitted.
“To be honest … the services the first six months were kind of fighting that process,” he said. “I know you’re very shocked to hear that,” he added to audience laughter.
Now, however, the services have realized that the creation of strategic directives “feeds operations, and feeds budget, and feeds acquisition” processes to allow the services to significantly speed up weapons development and fielding. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
23 Jul 21. Senate authorizers want to fund the Army’s entire wish list. The Senate Armed Services Committee would fund the U.S. Army’s entire list of unfunded requirements — also called a wish list — consisting of things the service wanted, but couldn’t pay for within the limitations of its top line fiscal 2022 budget request, according to a July 22 summary of the committee’s markup of the FY22 defense policy bill.
The Army’s wish list asked for $5.5bn in additional money that would help reduce risk to operational readiness and protect critical modernization efforts.
At the bottom of a list of authorizations for the Army, the committee in its summary of the markup stated: “Authorizes all other unfunded requirements as requested by the Chief of Staff of the Army.”
The unfunded requirements list is a document the military services send to Congress each year following the release of the defense budget request to tell lawmakers about where they could use more funding in a perfect world. The lists are usually provided at the request of congressional defense committees.
The service needs additional funding beyond its $173bn budget request for FY22 in order to hold on to momentum gained in recent years, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said in a letter accompanying the wish list sent to Congress at the beginning of June. The FY22 budget is a $3.6bn reduction from what was approved by Congress for FY21.
The Army protected its modernization priorities in the FY22 budget, but at the expense of legacy fleets. Some vehicles and aircraft will be procured or upgraded at a slower rate than planned. The service would like an additional $1.1bn for tactical training, soldier quality of life and strategic power projection capabilities, as well as $1.9bn for modernization and equipping that restores reductions in aviation, wheeled and tracked combat vehicles and cybersecurity upgrades, according to the list.
And the Army chief would like a $1bn “placeholder” for “unforecasted” direct and enduring war costs (the new Overseas Contingency Operations funding) and homeland contingency operations. The next fiscal year marks the first year wartime funding is included in the base budget and not separated out since its inception.
The Army needs an additional $470.4m to cover potential enduring and direct war costs, according to the list, and the service would like an additional $570m to support homeland contingency operations.
While the Army was able to preserve its top modernization priorities and critical enablers it would like an additional $1.87bn to move forward on a variety of efforts, according to the wish list.
Several analysts and lawmakers have deemed the Army’s FY22 research, development, test and evaluation funding request as inadequate.
Senate authorizers, in their markup of the FY22 defense policy bill, plan to “increase research, development, test and evaluation funding for Army modernization priorities and enduring capabilities that enable multi-domain operations against near peer competitors,” the summary of the bill stated.
But lawmakers would also increase the Army’s procurement of enduring fleets of aircraft, armored fighting vehicles and munitions “at or above the chief of staff unfunded requirements list level,” according to the summary.
Senate authorizers plan to increase funding for UH-60 Lima-model Black Hawk utility helicopters and CH-47F Block II Chinook cargo helicopters by $377m. Additionally, the lawmakers would increase funding for aircraft improvements like $15m for the AH-64E Apache attack helicopter’s non-line-of-site munitions integration and improved tail rotor and $21m for Chinook advanced development to include a vibration control system and integrated cargo handling and ballistic protection, the summary notes.
And another $746m to procure enduring combat vehicles, which took cuts in the Army’s request, would be authorized to include Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Paladin self-propelled howitzers and Joint Light Tactical Vehicles. Another plus-up of $64m would go toward Abrams tank technology development. The Stryker and Bradley active protection systems programs, which have been in limbo, would get $21m.
The Army’s wish list also included funding for the currently unfunded Electric Light Reconnaissance Vehicle program, which could be the Army’s earliest foray into a vehicle fleet that uses alternative fuel. The Senate lawmakers would provide funding for the ELRV program to kick off. The service also wanted extra funding to replace its Shadow unmanned aircraft systems with Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems in eight Brigade Combat Teams, and the Senate authorizers are poised to provide that additional money. (Source: glstrade.com/Defense News)
26 Jul 21. Hyten explains new acquisition directives to industry. The Pentagon in October war-gamed the first iteration of its new strategy, and “without overstating the issue, it failed miserably,” said the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In a fictional confrontation with China, the U.S. military aimed to do what it has been doing for the last 20 years, but better ― and that was the problem.
“An aggressive red team that had been studying the United States for the last 20 years just ran rings around us, and they knew exactly what we were going to do before we did it, and they took advantage of it,” Gen. John Hyten said. “Imagine what our actual competitors have been doing for the last 20 years, with probably even more focus, with larger numbers. So we had to take a step back and look broadly and say: ‘OK, what do we miss?’”
They realized they couldn’t take for granted that the U.S. military would retain “information dominance,” where information was ubiquitous to its forces, as it has been for the last 20 years. They also had to figure out how to “aggregate your capabilities in order to be lethal, disaggregate in order to survive. Those kinds of structures were not in the first iteration of the war-fighting concept, and that’s why it failed,” Hyten said.
The newest Joint Warfighting Concept, which Hyten essentially rolled out to the defense industry on Monday, is meant to tee up swift-moving technological innovation and to define how the U.S. will fight future wars. Hyten asked industry to sound off when the the military’s bureaucracy gets in the way.
Now called “expanded maneuver,” the intention is that “in every area that an adversary can move, you have to figure out how to fill that space in time before they can move,” Hyten said. That includes space and cyberspace.
Hyten’s remarks came at the National Defense Industrial Association’s own rollout, of its Emerging Technologies Institute, whose stated mission is to promote the advanced technologies it deems essential to the country’s success. Announced in April, its executive director, Mark Lewis, is a former defense acquisitions official.
More than a year in the making, the Pentagon’s new joint war-fighting concept includes directives to the Joint Requirements Oversight Council on four focus areas, known as “functional battles.” Published internally in early July, they are information advantage, joint command and control, joint fires, and contested logistics.
The JROC serves as an oversight body on the development of new capabilities and acquisition efforts, and Hyten emphasized the directives as means to speed up and empower the armed services’ acquisition efforts ― but they’re also seen as a way to police budget and turf battles between the services, some which have bubbled into public view. Hyten chairs the JROC, which is made up of the vice chiefs of each military service.
Hyten didn’t mention the Air Force’s beef with the Army’s plans to base long-range missiles in the Pacific, but he offered a defense for an all-of-the above approach to fires ― albeit as an “purely aspirational requirement” to be balanced with practical concerns.
“In the Joint Warfighting Concept, fires come from all domains and all services, no restrictions. Why? Because [then] the adversary can’t figure out where they’re coming from, and they have no way to defend themselves against that,” Hyten said. “Now you have to figure out what is affordable, what is practical, what can you do, where can you bring it from, who can have it. All those kinds of things you have to be able to work out, but you should never limit yourself as you begin a concept with what you don’t think you can do.”
As the Pentagon sets out plans to manage and learn from its vast data stores and implement its Joint All-Domain Command and Control concept, Hyten explained the importance of data in a future fight.
“When you’re disconnected from home, disconnected from the structure, you have your mission-type orders that tell you exactly what you’re supposed to do, what your rules of engagement are, and you go do that based on the best information that you have, and you fight disconnected,” Hyten said. “But then you have to figure out in this new world how to pop up again, quickly connect to the network, have the information quickly aggregate itself, and then dive back in the threat environment and fire again.”
JROC members typically visit the geographic combatant commands, but the directives came instead on the heels of their trip in April to the innovation elements of the armed services as well as innovative companies. That included small, nontraditional defense firms.
“We saw Boeing, we saw Northrop, we saw all the big companies, but we also saw little companies and companies in Silicon Valley that deliver software every day when I fight to get software delivery every four years,” Hyten said. “The JROC saw that this country still innovates, still has the technology advantage over anybody in the world. We’re just not taking advantage of it at the Department of Defense.”
Hyten, who is retiring in November, acknowledged his limited time to personally implement his new directives.
“We’re trying to move fast and to enable the department to move fast, but I’m running out of time.” (Source: Defense News)
26 Jul 21. Lockheed’s F-35A could face first price rise in years as inflation bites. Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) said future F-35A fighter jets could be more expensive as rising inflation and customer demands halt a 64% drop in price since the jet was first introduced in 2007. The first F-35A cost $221m when it came off the production line in 2007. Since then, production quantities and know-how have increased, helping the price of the stealthy fifth-generation fighter drop to $79m today as it gained appeal and buyers in 15 countries. That trend may be over for the jet which has been criticized for its cost since the day it first took flight. A price increase will open Lockheed to complaints from U.S. lawmakers who will not want to see more money spent on the Pentagon’s most expensive program. Moreover, the news comes as Lockheed negotiates its next contract with customers including the Pentagon.
Kenneth Possenriede, Lockheed’s CFO, told analysts in a conference call that “due to where we are in learning, due to where we are with inflation and due to where we are with the added capabilities that they want on the aircraft, it is likely you’ll see an increase in prices, a modest increase in prices of where we are today.”
The F-35 comes in three configurations, the A-model for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. allies; an F-35 B-model, which can handle short takeoffs and vertical landings; and carrier-variant F-35C jets for the U.S. Navy. Possenriede said the price for B and C variants would likely “either stay where it is or continue to come down the learning curve.” (Source: Reuters)
26 Jul 21. DOD Focuses on Aspirational Challenges in Future Warfighting. To deter China and Russia from possible future aggression, the Defense Department has come up with a concept known as “expanded maneuver,” the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.
Speaking at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Emerging Technologies Institute, Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten said expanded maneuver involves understanding how adversaries can operate in all domains and how to stop them while protecting DOD and coalition forces, he said, noting there are four functional battle areas within expanded maneuver.
The first involves contested logistics. The last time logistics from the U.S. to overseas locations were contested was World War II in the Pacific and European theaters of operation, he said.
Logistics is really difficult to do in a contested environment, he said. Fuel, munitions and other materiel doesn’t just show up magically on a remote Pacific island.
“Contested logistics has been an area of rich study, rich conversation, and we’re changing our entire logistics approach because of it,” he said.
Joint fires is the second functional battle area. In the joint warfighting concept, fires come from all domains and from all services with no restrictions, Hyten said.
The idea for this concept is that the adversary can’t figure out where fires are coming from, and they have no way to defend themselves against that, he said.
“That’s a purely aspirational requirement, but I hope everybody can see that if you could do that you would change the equation on any future battlefield,” he said.
“Now, you have to figure out what is affordable, what is practical, what can you do, where can you bring it from, who can have it. All those kinds of things you have to be able to work out but you should never limit yourself as you begin a concept with what you don’t think you can do. So, fires need to come from everywhere, all domains, all services, kinetic and non-kinetic,” he said.
The third element is joint all-domain command and control. Command and control links everything together and allows a commander to understand exactly what’s going on in the battlespace, he said.
Data has to flow everywhere, he said. “The goal is to be fully connected to a combat cloud that has all information that you can access at any time, any place … to be able to act quickly on that.”
However, access to data might be denied in a threat environment, he said.
“So, you have to figure out how to operate once again with mission command — things that we learned as young lieutenants — how to operate with real centralized control but decentralized execution when you’re disconnected.”
The fourth is information advantage. This involves connecting systems and people seamlessly with each other and enabling interoperability across the joint force and with allies and partners, he said.
The Joint Requirements Oversight Council is heavily invested and involved in making this all work and enabling the services to move faster in that direction, he said. (Source: US DoD)
26 Jul 21. Climate Change Has National Security Implications, DOD Official Says. Understanding and dealing with climate change is important to national security and, therefore, to the Defense Department, the senior climate advisor to the defense secretary said.
“Climate change effects are real and they are significant,” he said. “Climate change is going to cost us in resources and readiness; and the reality is that it already is,” Joe Bryan today told the Congressional Clean Energy EXPO and Policy Forum.
Bryan cited some examples:
- As the Arctic warms up, competition for resources and influence in that region is heating up.
- Extended drought in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador is driving migration north to the United States’ southern border.
- Water resources are at risk in the Middle East due to extended drought and extreme heat conditions that threaten regional security and prosperity.
- Stronger hurricanes and typhoons, flooding, droughts, heat waves and wildfires are adversely affecting military operations and exercises at home and abroad at an increasing and alarming rate.
In response to climate change, DOD is working to become more energy efficient and independent, Bryan said.
For instance, some bases are becoming more energy efficient by bringing energy storage and distributed generation inside the installations, using energy derived from landfill gas and solar, he said.
About two-thirds to three-fourths of DOD energy is consumed by systems like airplanes and ships, not facilities on installations, he noted.
“We know that we’re not going to get a free pass to push fuel into theater; so we can’t be aggressive enough in reducing operational energy demand,” he said about the need to ship fuel overseas to power planes, ships and vehicles.
Bryan cited several ways DOD is reducing operational energy demand, including deploying hybrid-electric tactical vehicles, making engine improvements on ships so less fuel is consumed and reducing airplane drag to improve fuel efficiency.
“These investments are a priority because they’re great for the mission — and they’re quite good for the climate, as well,” he said.
President Joe Biden has made domestic production of lithium-ion batteries a priority, Bryan mentioned. That investment is closely tied to electric vehicle deployment in the federal vehicle fleet, including DOD’s vehicles.
“The commercial EV [electric vehicle] industry is actually critical to DOD capability. The scale and shift to electrical transportation is massive and fast,” he said.
Currently, China dominates the lithium-ion battery sector, and that’s a problem since military capability depends on batteries, he said.
The Navy alone has 2,000 to 3,000 systems that rely on lithium-ion batteries. Future capabilities — from unmanned systems to directed energy weapons — all rely on lithium ion, he said.
“We need the commercial EV industry to drive supply chain investment back to the United States,” he noted. (Source: US DoD)
25 Jul 21. Austin Says Alaska Is Strategic Hotspot for Indo-Pacific, Arctic Operations. Alaska is a strategic hotspot for defending the United States, the Indo-Pacific region and the Arctic, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said during a visit to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, yesterday. The secretary met with troops and leaders at Eielson and Fort Wainwright, Alaska. He spoke about his visit during a press conference in an Eielson hangar.
“We are an Indo-Pacific nation, and we are an Arctic nation,” the secretary said. “And here in Alaska, those two critical regions intersect. This is where we can project power into both regions and where we must be able to defend ourselves from threats coming from both places. It’s also where we can better posture ourselves and prepare for climate changes that will impact our future.”
Climate change is already altering the strategic picture in the north. The ice pack is melting, and there is a viable Northwest Passage across the Canadian-U.S. Arctic coast for much of the year. Permafrost is not so permanent, and Austin warned that this change could lead to a scramble for resources in the region. He said this might mean the Arctic could become “a theater for resource competition and even instability, and we need to stay ahead of that.”
Austin spoke with Army leaders at Fort Wainwright and came away impressed by the thinking on the issue and how the service — which has two brigades in Alaska — is applying operational concepts to the Arctic.
While Austin visited Wainwright and Eielson on a beautiful summer day, the winter weather in the region is brutal. It regularly has temperatures that are well below zero degrees Fahrenheit. A member of Fort Wainwright’s Northern Warfare Training Center cadre told of working outside when the temperature — not the wind chill — was 50 degrees below zero. “You don’t get used to the cold,” said Army Staff Sgt. Brant Faus, one of the instructors at the center. “You get used to dealing with it.”
The instructors discussed the challenges of operating in the environment and ways they have devised to continue the missions. They also discussed the equipment needs for troops operating in such extreme conditions.
On the way to Eielson in Army helicopters, local commanders gave Austin an aerial tour of the Clear Space Force Base and the missile fields that protect the homeland from rogue state missiles.
Eielson is the center of operations for Alaska and the center of training for the Indo-Pacific Command. The base hosts four Red Flag exercises per year. Participants include the U.S., Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Philippines; others also participate. During Austin’s visit, Australian airmen were working with Eielson officials to prepare for their Red Flag exercise later this year.
Airmen at the base said there are more than 120 aircraft at the base including F-22 Raptors, F-35 Lightning IIs, F-15 Eagles, F-18 Super Hornets, A-10s, tanker aircraft and more. “It looks like ants running around the air base,” one airman said. “There are planes everywhere.”
All of these airmen are taking advantage of the 77,000 square mile training area that Alaska offers. The instrumented area allows airmen to practice any number of real world missions. The range is at the heart of readiness for U.S. forces in Alaska and beyond. “I was impressed by the training that goes on from missile defense exercises, to the Red Flag exercise, to the cold weather and mountain warfare training,” Austin said. “It’s a harsh environment, but, as I said, it’s a critically important region. We must continue to hone the skills our soldiers and airmen learn in Alaska’s unique training environment. We must also invest appropriately in the infrastructure needed to keep them ready and to keep them viable. I’m committed to doing that and to working with the services to make sure that we adapt and modernize our training and the tools that we give our troops.”
More troops have made Alaska their home with airmen associated with F-35 operations at Eielson still arriving. There are no plans for additional forces to move to Alaska. (Source: US DoD)
24 Jul 21. Austin Emphasizes U.S. Ties With Indo-Pacific Allies, Partners. Since taking office, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has devoted precious time to ensuring the United States military does its part to maintain the web of alliances that are America’s greatest strength. The COVID-19 pandemic forced him to make some of those contacts virtual, but he personally visited Japan, South Korea, India, Israel, Germany and NATO. He is now on his second week-long trip to the Indo-Pacific region to further cement those ties.
The secretary spoke about the importance of those contacts during a press conference at Eielson Air Force Base today, emphasizing that the value the United States gets from these ties with allies and partners is immeasurable.
“Everything that we have done in the past has been as a part of a team — a coalition,” Austin said. “It’s who we are, and it’s how we fight.”
These alliances magnify America’s military capabilities, he said.
Austin spoke in a hangar on the base; in the background were three F-35 Lightning 2 fifth generation aircraft. One plane had the markings of the Royal Australian Air Force. In another corner of the hangar was an EF-18G Growler that also sported the kangaroo symbol.
The United States is proud of its relationships with Australia and other nations. “We look to continue to develop our relationships with like-minded partners and allies that share our values, that look to … ensure that we have, that we follow an international rules-based order,” he said.
This network of alliances and partnerships is an asymmetric advantage the United States has over potential adversaries. “I would point to, to the fact that others don’t … enjoy those kinds of partnerships and alliances,” he said. “If you look at China or Russia, they don’t have the ability to get to align themselves with like-minded partners to the degree that the United States does. It magnifies our capabilities.”
The secretary said that from a military standpoint, these allies and partners are at the core of how America fights. “It’s a way that we operate,” Austin said. “We train with each other; we share common practices and policies. It’s how we’re going to fight going forward.”
Eielson Air Force Base is a case in point. The base hosts the Red Flag exercise. Held four times a year, Red Flag tests aviators, maintainers, logisticians and more in all aspects of conflict. The base has hosted aircraft from many allies including Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Australia and the Philippines, according to an Eielson spokesperson. Austin will continue on from Alaska to meet with partners in Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines. (Source: US DoD)
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