Sponsored by Exensor
06 Oct 21. Official Says Peace, Security in Middle East Are Possible Through Partnerships. Integrated deterrence and a whole-of-government approach with allies and partners across the Middle East is key to enabling peace and stability in the region, a Defense Department official said.
Mara Karlin, performing the duties of deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, spoke today at a virtual Middle East Institute Defense Leadership Series event.
“This means that we want to think about how to maintain our status in the Middle East,as a partner of choice by supporting our regional partners and affirming our shared interests to counter common threats,” Karlin said.
The U.S. military is a global power with global reach, she said.
As a recent example, consider the evacuation of 124,000 Afghans in just a few weeks: That was “just extraordinary,” she said.
Although the U.S. military might not have as many boots on the ground as it once did in the region, it can still project sustainable power through dynamic force deployment using its carrier strike groups, over-the-horizon capabilities and coordination with allies and partners in anti-terrorism efforts and deterring bad behavior by Iran, she said.
On working together with partners, Karlin provided some examples.
The U.S. is working with Gulf partner nations to develop integrated air and missile defense systems to defend against ballistic missile threats, she said.
The Abraham Accords between the U.S., Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, agreed upon last year, are also likely to foster greater regional security cooperation, she said.
Jordan has also played a key role in counterterrorism efforts in the region, and its counterterrorism forces have helped to train other regional partners, Karlin said.
Iraqi security forces, including the Kurdish Peshmerga, have also been especially helpful in the fight against terrorism, and the U.S. has continued helping to professionalize their military forces and assisted in increasing their military capacity and capability, she said.
The United Kingdom, France and other NATO allies have also been particularly helpful in providing military support to partners in the region, as well, she added. (Source: US DoD)
07 Oct 21. Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on the Department of Defense Climate Adaptation Plan. Climate change is an existential threat to our nation’s security, and the Department of Defense must act swiftly and boldly to take on this challenge and prepare for damage that cannot be avoided. Every day, our forces contend with the grave and growing consequences of climate change, from hurricanes and wildfires that inflict costly harm on U.S. installations and constrain our ability to train and operate, to dangerous heat, drought, and floods that can trigger crises and instability around the world. The Climate Adaptation Plan will be our guide for meeting the nation’s warfighting needs under increasingly extreme environmental conditions—and for maintaining force readiness and resilience well into the future. This plan will help the Department of Defense integrate climate considerations into our operations, our planning, and our business and decision-making processes. That includes how we train and equip our forces and new measures to strengthen the resilience of our infrastructure. This plan will also help ensure that our supply chains adapt to the realities of our changing climate.
We must take on these challenges as a team—from every corner of the Pentagon, on each of our installations and bases, across the federal government, and alongside our partners and allies.
We do not intend merely to adapt to the devastation of climate change. We will work with nations around the world to meet the threat. Tackling these challenges also presents an opportunity, because the bold steps we are taking are good for the climate and also good for our mission of defending the nation. With this roadmap, the U.S. military will become even more resilient, efficient, and innovative—and remain the world’s preeminent fighting force, ready to confront the risks of today and tomorrow.
I encourage you to read the DOD Climate Adaptation plan: https://media.defense.gov/2021/Oct/07/2002869699/-1/-1/0/DEPARTMENT-OF-DEFENSE-CLIMATE-ADAPTATION-PLAN.PDF?source=GovDelivery (Source: US DoD)
05 Oct 21. Air Force pick pledges to tackle F-35 sustainment costs, back nuclear modernization. Bringing down sustainment costs for the Lockheed Martin-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter would be a “top priority” for the nominee to lead U.S. Air Force’s acquisitions, he said Tuesday.
Andrew Hunter, a former director of the Pentagon’s Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell and President Joe Biden’s pick for assistant Air Force secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, told senators he would work at the problem.
“The F-35 is an absolutely vital system for the nation and the challenges we confront with peer competitors we confront, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region,” Hunter said at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The cost of sustaining the F-35 has been something that has stressed the services, particularly the Air Force, which has the largest number of aircraft.”
In an exchange with the SASC ranking member, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Hunter acknowledged that buying more could be a way to lower operating costs per aircraft. But Hunter added that “there are other avenues we can and should take to lower the cost of the F-35,” though he did not elaborate.
If confirmed, Hunter would oversee an Air Force procurement budget of about $60 bn. Beyond the F-35, Hunter said he would work to lower Air Force sustainment costs more broadly ― which he agreed make up the lion’s share of life-cycle costs for most weapons systems.
“The Air Force has an aging fleet, and that has been driving up sustainment costs,” Hunter said during an exchange with SASC Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I. “We have to make sure we bake in sustainability on the front end. So for the systems we have in development, we will look to make sure sustainability is considered early in the design to lower those costs over the long term.”
Lawmakers previously pressed Lockheed and the Pentagon to lower sustainment costs, saying those figures could force the Pentagon to cut the numbers of F-35s it plans to buy. Meanwhile, the Pentagon last month awarded Lockheed a $6.6 bn contract to sustain the F-35 from fiscal 2021 to fiscal 2023, which promises to reduce the cost of flying the aircraft by about 8 percent.
The House-passed version of the FY22 defense policy bill would require the Air Force, the Navy and the Marine Corps to meet targets for “cost per tail per year,” which measures the average cost of flying, maintaining and upgrading the jet.
With the Pentagon’s current nuclear modernization track under competing pressures both internally and politically, Hunter affirmed the Air Force’s ongoing nuclear modernization programs would be among his top priorities.
“The timelines for delivering these new systems are very tight. Therefore we will be pursuing, if I am confirmed, these programs with urgency,” Hunter said during an exchange with the strategic forces subcommittee’s top Republican, Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska.
In written testimony, Hunter said he supports the Air Force’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program, which is set to replace the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, and the Long Range Standoff Weapon program, which aims to field a new air-launched cruise missile capable of both nuclear and conventional strikes.
Also at the hearing, both Hunter and the nominee for undersecretary of the Army, Gabriel Camarillo, defended Army plans to base long-range missiles in the Pacific against charges they were duplicative. Camarillo described the Army’s development of hypersonic weapons and its extended-range Precision Strike Missile as “very top priorities.”
Camarillo argued the Army’s long-range fires efforts respond to National Defense Strategy guidance, address threats from the Pacific and Europe, and would be able to “degrade the anti-access, area denial defense that we’re likely to face.”
Those comments on Tuesday came six months after the Air Force general in charge of managing the service’s bomber inventory made headlines for calling the Army effort expensive, duplicative and “stupid.” (Source: Defense News)
04 Oct 21. F-35A Completes Milestone 5th Gen Fighter Test with Refurbished B61-12 Nuclear Gravity Bombs. Two F-35A Lightning II aircraft recently released B61-12 Joint Test Assemblies (JTAs) during the F-35A’s first Full Weapon System Demonstration, completing the final flight test exercise of the nuclear design certification process. The 422d and 59th Test and Evaluation Squadrons led Air Combat Command’s portion of the test effort, with Airmen from the 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 926th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and Bolt Aircraft Maintenance Unit leading all maintenance efforts. Once airborne, test pilots flew to the Tonopah Test Range and released two B61-12 JTAs from operationally realistic flight envelopes. This event was the first release of the most representative B61-12 test asset from an operationally-representative F-35A.
“The B61 series weapons are tactical gravity nuclear weapons that can be used on Dual Capable Aircraft like the F-15E and F-16C/D,” said Lt. Col Daniel Jackson, division chief, Headquarters ACC Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration. “Having a 5th Generation DCA fighter aircraft with this capability brings an entirely new strategic-level capability that strengthens our nation’s nuclear deterrence mission.”
The nuclear certification is broken into two phases: nuclear design certification and nuclear operational certification. This test is considered the graduation flight test exercise for the F-35A nuclear design certification and concludes on-aircraft testing for the initial nuclear certification effort. The test data received from this event is currently under analysis and review by the Department of Defense and Department of Energy to ensure the F-35A and B61-12 JTAs performed correctly throughout all phases of the operation.
“The B-2 bomber was the prominent nuclear capable stealth aircraft,” said Jackson. “Adding ‘nuclear capable’ to a 5th-Gen fighter that already brings several conventional-level capabilities to the table adds strategic-level implication to this jet.”
No date has been released for full F-35A nuclear certification in support of real-world operations. The successful completion of this test covers a critical part of the nuclear certification process and ensures the F-35A will remain on track for future timelines.
Not all aircraft will become nuclear-capable upon full certification in support of real-world operations. Only those units with a nuclear mission will be given the hardware and manpower necessary to configure and maintain nuclear capable F-35s.
The test event was led by a collaborative effort between the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, F-35 Joint Program Office, Sandia National Labs and several HQ ACC staff directorates.
(Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ US Air Force Air Combat Command)
04 Oct 21. Navy’s new Middle East task force to find ways to apply AI and unmanned to complex region. The head of a new unmanned and artificial intelligence task force in the Middle East said the U.S. Navy will begin using off-the-shelf gear to boost maritime domain awareness in the region, first gaining trust in the systems and then applying them to real missions. The Navy announced the creation of Task Force 59 last month, which will operate out of U.S. 5th Fleet headquarters in Bahrain and try to apply emerging unmanned and AI technologies to solve some of the most urgent challenges in that region.
Capt. Michael Brasseur, the inaugural commodore of the task force, said in a recent panel presentation 5th Fleet is a big theater with a lot of challenges, and he needs unmanned technologies to give him more eyes on potential problem areas and help direct limited manned assets where they’re most needed.
“The type of technologies we’re looking at are the dual-use maritime robotics, very inexpensive, allow us to get a lot of sensors in the water. When you partner with allies and partners, that gives you a chance to scale quickly. When you scale quickly, you can start to close those maritime domain awareness gaps, and then you can … deter the illicit and malign activity that’s happening over here, whether it’s on the low end, illegal fishing [or] on the high end, weapons transfers supporting the Houthis in the southern Red Sea,” he said at the Fed Supernova defense innovation conference Sept. 29.
“So it’s the full spectrum, but for us it comes all the way down to maritime domain awareness, knowing what’s going on and then being more precise with the manned assets,” he continued.
Two months ago, he said, 5th Fleet hosted several organizations that specialize in unmanned and other emerging technologies for a “design sprint” in Bahrain to help determine how the task force would look and what it would do.
The task force was officially stood up on Sept. 9, and since that time it has been taking inventory of legacy unmanned systems in the region that could be reinvigorated with the help of new AI and machine learning tools, as well as commercial robotics that could be easily and inexpensively acquired and repurposed for military missions.
“We’re going to start small with some [unmanned surface vessels], start to build trust in the human-machine team. As we build trust, we’ll scale up with more capable assets, USVs and [unmanned aerial systems], and then we’ll start to put it on real missions,” Brasseur said.
“We’re also in parallel working with partners in the region to help us scale,” he continued. “There’s a lot of interest in unmanned over here, and once you start bringing in partners you can scale and then start to close some of those gaps.”
As an example, he said the task force is already working with U.S. Marines deployed to the area who are using the Martin UAV V-Bat vertical takeoff and landing UAS.
“We think we know what they’ll do with it … but never underestimate a sailor or a Marine with a problem: they’ll always find a new way to solve that problem. We’re just trying to accelerate getting the kit in the hands of the end users,” Brasseur said.
Additionally, he said, the task force is looking for unmanned and AI tools that can fuse data from a large number of sensors and put the data in a form that’s usable and actionable for fleet commanders — and will eventually allow commanders to stay ahead of maritime challenges in 5th Fleet waters.
In a Sept. 8 media roundtable announcing the standup of Task Force 59, 5th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Brad Cooper told reporters the task force would take unmanned systems already in theater — primarily UAVs — and supplement them with more systems on and under the sea.
Small exercises will build up the ability to use single unmanned systems, networks of unmanned systems and manned-unmanned teaming constructs, leading up to the International Maritime Exercise (IMX) 2022 event, which could include more than 60 countries. Cooper said IMX is 5th Fleet’s largest exercise each year and in 2022 will focus on unmanned and AI technologies.
Brasseur helped stand up NATO’s Maritime Unmanned Systems Initiative in 2018, prior to his assignment to 5th Fleet, and has experience integrating unmanned and emerging technologies to fleet problems.
During the panel discussion, he spoke about illegal fishing as a global problem that isn’t always taken seriously, especially when naval and law enforcement resources are limited. But he said fishermen who can no longer provide for their families due to overfishing by others will turn to other and sometimes illegal means to provide for their families, making fishing issues very relevant to maritime and regional security.
Cooper said in the Sept. 8 call that, while maritime domain awareness is a challenge globally, 5th Fleet is a particularly tough environment and a good home for this unmanned task force.
“The concept here is, if it can operate here, they can probably operate in other areas,” Cooper said, referring to the 5,000 miles of coastline, three major maritime chokepoints, extreme heat and heavy seas and winds during monsoon season.
Additionally, “it’s a very rich operational environment with real issues and problems in the maritime domain awareness,” and the 34-nation Combined Maritime Forces coalition that promotes Middle East stability and security is eager to participate in applying unmanned technology to the region.
During the recent panel, Brasseur said the Tech Bridge network of Navy-industry interface offices played a big role in designing the task force and arranged for some early systems to be sent into theater for testing.
National Tech Bridge Director Whitney Tallarico said in the panel discussion her team — which was involved in the design sprint phase alongside organizations like the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, the Program Executive Office for Unmanned and Small Combatants and Project Overmatch leadership — this week would go over some of the regional challenges from 5th Fleet in a classified setting and determine which need to remain classified and which can be put out to industry through the Tech Bridge network, which falls under the NavalX organization. NavalX has several contracting vehicles available to quickly get a prototype out into 5th Fleet with Task Force 59, she said.
In parallel to this Task Force 59 effort, Navy headquarters is also setting up a group to identify the right kinds of unmanned systems for future Navy operations and usher them into the fleet.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said during the Defense News Conference on Sept. 8 this effort will complement Project Overmatch, the Navy’s effort to develop a network to tie together unmanned and manned systems.
This group, which will be formed in the coming months, will be similar to Project Overmatch in its scope and purpose, “where I have a group of technical experts along with operators who put meat on this problem set to move forward in all domains at speed, to make unmanned a reality by the end of this decade, so that we can begin to put ourselves in a position where we can scale these assets and really make them an important part of the fleet — make distributed maritime operations come alive in a way that it’s real.”
Brasseur as Task Force 59 commodore will be part of this task force, and Navy headquarters was involved in the design and standup of the 5th Fleet task force to ensure the two efforts are complementary, Brasseur and Cooper said in the media call. (Source: Defense News)
01 Oct 21. Navy acquisition chief outlines FY22 priorities. The U.S. Navy will prioritize readiness and sustainment in this new fiscal year, the acting Navy acquisition chief told Defense News. Fiscal 2022 is starting under a continuing resolution that won’t allow new programs to start or procurement quantities to increase — but Jay Stefany, acting assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition (ASN RDA), said that’s not as problematic for the Navy this year as it has been in past years.
Most of the aviation programs, he said, are either well into a production line or in sustainment. The Navy’s shipbuilding plan largely mirrors last year’s — though Congress is still weighing how many of each class of ship to buy, the Navy isn’t planning on starting any new ship programs.
Asked what he is most worried about under the continuing resolution, Stefany said he’s “always worried about Columbia [ballistic missile submarine], although I don’t think it needs money in the first two months.”
“But if we get to a second CR, I think we would have to do something there,” he added.
In fact, there are so few new programs this year that, asked about a list of anomalies the Navy would send to congressional appropriators — which are used to pursue exceptions to the continuing resolution rules and allow new programs to start or grow in quantity — Stefany said, “for the first CR, it’s not a long list. If there is a second CR, that would be a different story.”
Rather, FY22 will emphasize sustainment and paving the way for future readiness.
Stefany said 2022 will be critical for the Navy’s Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program, which was originally pitched as a 20-year, $21 bn effort to make the four public naval repair yards more modern and efficient.
Stefany said this is a once-in-a-century effort. By the end of 2022, the service will have mapped out the “tactical part and figure out how it’s all going to work.”
The Navy is creating three-dimensional models of all four yards and then using those digital twins to test out ideas for new layouts. The technology allows the Navy to run many iterations of yard designs, weighing which yield the best results for efficiently moving materials through the yard, shielding workers from the elements, leveraging new technologies to build ships faster and more.
All four digital twins should be done by the end of December, he said. Using that information, the Navy will develop area plans that will show what the redesigned yards look like and address environmental and other issues.
“That’s really one big focus area for the coming year, is going from the ‘yeah, we think we can make it more optimal’ to the ‘yeah, here’s an actual optimization plan for this shipyard, let’s go do it,’” Stefany said.
Dry dock upgrades will be happening in parallel, he added, after the Navy recently awarded $1.3 bn and then another $63 m to improve dry docks at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine, as well as a $500 m contract to support various early projects at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Hawaii and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Washington.
Still, he said, while the dry docks must be upgraded — due to age and to new platforms like the Ford-class aircraft carrier and the Block V Virginia-class attack submarine being too large or requiring additional power and cooling beyond what the old docks can handle — the digital twin work will lead to a much more revolutionary change in how work is done at the yards and with what tools.
Next, Stefany said FY22 will involve some early work on upcoming multiyear procurement contracts. The Navy will need to prepare a contract for the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer program that will span FY23 to FY27. The Navy had previously planned to build these DDG-51s through FY22 and then move into the DDG(X) follow-on program, but with that next-generation combatant program still struggling to define its requirements, the Navy will use another DDG-51 multiyear contract to buy more time and keep the industrial base stable until the transition can be made later in the decade.
The Navy acquisition community will also start working on a Virginia Block VI contract that will span FY24 to FY28. While the DDG contract would include the same Flight III design being built today, each block of Virginia submarines has included capability upgrades and manufacturing improvements, requiring more design work ahead of competing and awarding a multiyear contract.
Additionally, the Navy and Marine Corps will have to develop a contract for the CH-53K heavy lift helicopter that could cover five or six years of helo procurement, he said. (Source: Defense News)
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 Homeland 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