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28 Oct 21. DOD Metrics-Based Goals Will Strengthen Organic Industrial Base, Official Says. The Defense Department’s organic industrial base — which includes things such as maintenance depots, shipyards, fleet readiness centers, air logistics centers and manufacturing arsenals — needs to be modernized and updated in order to keep serving America’s warfighter. The department has a plan to make that happen, the acting assistant secretary of defense for sustainment said today.
“At present, the continues to fully support warfighter requirements, but also faces a number of challenges including the ongoing effects of COVID-19, aging infrastructure and equipment, workforce development and retention, supply chain instability and the need to balance sustainment requirements of new and legacy systems,” Steven J. Morani told the House Armed Services Committee. “The department is taking action to address these challenges.”
He said some of those efforts include ensuring that measures are in place to protect the workforce while continuing to meet production schedules, a $241m investment in maintenance technologies, and supply chain risk assessments.
The department has also issued policies for the integration of new capabilities — such as condition-based maintenance plus, additive manufacturing, intermittent fault detection, and robotics, Morani said. One example of the use of robotics to enhance capability of the organic industrial base is at the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex in Georgia.
“There is some tremendous work going on at Warner Robins,” Morani said. “Warner Robins is actually leading the department when it comes to implementation of robotics. They have right now over 40 robotic machines that are … taking the place of the human. They’re increasing productivity; they’re increasing quality; they’re increasing health and safety.”
The department also has a working group, the Joint Robotics Organization for Building Organic Technologies, to further the use of robotics in the organic industrial base, or OIB, and also has a policy in place now for how it will implement and use robotic systems for manufacturing and sustainment. Morani said it’s the first policy of its kind in the department.
The department’s strategy to rebuild and strengthen the OIB has four main strategic areas of focus, Morani said. Those include revitalizing the OIB infrastructure, improving equipment modernization of the OIB, developing and supporting the OIB workforce, and continuous assessment and reporting.
“Focusing on these areas and continuously improving will provide a future OIB that is safe and properly sized, with modernized facilities and equipment, and supported by a highly competent and innovative workforce,” he said. “Each area also has metrics-based goals that are specific, realistic and measurable to determine the success of and compliance with the strategy.”
Continued, stable and predictable funding is something the department needs to continue to modernize its OIB, Morani said.
“When we’re in the continuing resolution … we get no new starts — so new contracts can’t be let,” he said. “That compounds, and then in the remaining fiscal year, the workforce that’s available to put on contract, to sequence that work … they’re compressed schedules, it compresses the work. So, again, it throws our planning out of synchronization. It doesn’t allow us to fully execute in a fiscal year.” (Source: US DoD)
27 Oct 21. US senators urge Biden to waive sanctions for India’s S-400 purchase. Two key senators are urging President Joe Biden to waive sanctions against India for its purchase of a Russian S-400 air defense system, saying such a move would throw cold water on the important relationship.
India signed a $5.4bn deal with Russia in 2018 to buy the S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile system amid tensions with Pakistan over the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir. India has since made a down payment and plans to complete the purchase by 2025.
But the lawmakers worry the move makes India eligible for sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which Congress passed in 2017 to punish Russia for meddling in U.S. elections.
On Tuesday, Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Mark Warner, D-Va., wrote to Biden to call for a waiver on national security grounds and to preserve the relationship. Biden has revitalized the Indo-Pacific alliance known as “the Quad,” with India, Australia and Japan, to counter a rising China.
“In the midst of this strengthening bilateral relationship, we are concerned that possible upcoming sanctions against India could reverse or slow this progress,” they wrote.
It’s not the first call for a waiver for India. Under the Trump administration, then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson argued for it.
Cornyn and Warner, co-chairs of the India Caucus, said they generally favor sanctions law, but not in this case.
“We believe that the application of CAATSA sanctions could have a deleterious effect on a strategic partnership with India, while at the same time, not achieve the intended purpose of deterring Russian arms sales,” they wrote.
From 2016 to 2020, India cut arms imports from Russia by 53 percent compared to the preceding five-year period, they said. It also agreed in 2020 to purchase $3.4 billion worth of U.S. military equipment.
They recommended Biden act to further these trends.
“We also propose that your administration establish a bilateral working group to identify ways to promote the security of U.S. technology, and to chart a path forward to develop strategies to enhance U.S.-India military interoperability,” the senators wrote. (Source: Defense News)
27 Oct 21. U.S.-Turkey F-35 Dispute Resolution Meeting. Department of Defense Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Anton T. Semelroth provided the following readout:
Principal Director for Europe and NATO Policy Andrew L. Winternitz and Director for Planning, Programs and Analysis in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Melissa Benkert led a U.S. Department of Defense delegation to Ankara on October 27 for dispute resolution discussions to address remaining issues resulting from Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program, which was finalized on September 23. The Turkish delegation was composed of representatives from the Turkish Ministry of National Defense. The meeting demonstrates the commitment of the United States Government to conclude respectfully Turkey’s prior involvement in the F-35 program. Discussions were productive, and the delegations plan to meet again in the coming months in Washington, D.C. (Source: US DoD)
27 Oct 21. Defense Agency’s Contracting Strategies Offer Tailored, Flexible Solutions. Acquisition professionals at the Defense Logistics Agency are turning to captains of industry/supplier capabilities contracts, also known as COI/SCC, to offer tailored solutions for customers who need weapons system parts and engineering and support services. Part of DLA’s effort to create flexible acquisition strategies, COI/SCCs are umbrella contracts that incorporate multiple funding lines and contract types. The structure provides overarching terms and conditions that can be adjusted to fit individual requirements and can accommodate performance-based logistics, supplier-initiated ordering, direct-delivery and other acquisition models. Using a COI/SCC typically speeds acquisition processes since service- or customer-specific add-ons become part of an already existing framework. COI/SCCs were a natural response to the Army’s recent request that DLA help streamline support for Chinook helicopter blades, said George Scheers, director of procurement operations for DLA Aviation in Huntsville, Alabama.
After DLA and Army collaboration, the service will move from its current performance-based logistics contract to a COI/SCC model that Scheers said will allow it to better manage the number and types of blades it receives and when. This will also help the Army manage its cash flow. DLA expects to award the new contract in 2023.
“We are excited to partner with the Army to improve sustainment support to a key combat platform,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. David J. Sanford, DLA Aviation’s commander. “I think this is a great example of the agency and service working together.”
The Army is also using a COI/SCC to improve support for Bradley Fighting Vehicles.
“This was the first major effort by DLA Aviation at Huntsville to include both new spare parts and depot-level reparables under a single contract,” Scheers said. “The results have been outstanding.”
Consolidating Bradley support saved $14 million on the first $50 million delivery order and increased the supply availability rate to 96.7%. In the past three fiscal years, Scheers’ team has facilitated 426 unique purchase request awards under existing COI/SCCs that would’ve otherwise required new contracting vehicles and taken up to 180 days of administrative lead time instead of 55 days for each award.
A detachment of DLA Land and Maritime in Aberdeen, Maryland, is seven years into a 10-year, $8 billion COI/SCC that continues attracting new customers. Almost 20 projects are lined up for fiscal 2022 and 2023, including a $2.3 billion Patriot; an all-altitude, all-weather air defense system project for engineering services; and a project to establish organic repair capability at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, for Strike Eagle radars, said Lindsey Schuman, a DLA Land and Maritime contracting officer.
Use of the same contract by DLA Aviation to support Patriot missiles has increased on-time delivery rates to 98% or higher, which means consistently high readiness, Scheers added.
COI/SCCs sometimes take years to develop. Although the Air Force’s newest refueling tanker, Pegasus, was delivered to McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, in January 2019, DLA Aviation officials reached out to program office representatives in 2014 to start crafting a long-term sustainment strategy supporting DLA-managed consumables and Air Force-managed, depot-level reparables. Contracting support for the Pegasus is challenging because it’s the first Federal Aviation Administration-certified aircraft with supplies that are managed by the Defense Department.
DLA Aviation is also using COI/SCCs to create organic capabilities for additive manufacturing.
In March 2020, it awarded a proof-of-process contract under an existing COI/SCC to certify a part for a sump pump cover used on certain jet engines. The project’s success led to follow-on contract phases that will help the Air Force develop additive manufacturing capability at a lab at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City. An additional contract was awarded Aug. 30 for additive manufacturing at Robins Air Force Base.
The contracts leverage the broad terms already in place in an existing CIO/SCC and allow the agency to better support specific service needs, said Janelle Allen, chief of DLA Aviation’s Strategic Contracting Division I. As a result, some military customers have already purchased 3D printers and additional engineering support, she added.
Christopher Davis, DLA Aviation’s strategic acquisition and programs director, added that COI/SCCs showcase DLA’s ability to collaborate with industry and the services.
“In having the ability to leverage the capabilities of the suppliers while aggregating the requirements and funding for spares, repairs, consumables and other services, DLA is aligning itself to the needs of all the services,” Davis said.
It also improves agility in today’s ever-changing environment, he added. (Source: US DoD)
27 Oct 21. China’s Capabilities Growth Shows Why U.S. Sees Nation as Pacing Challenge. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley pointed to China’s recent test of a hypersonic weapon system as an example of why the U.S. military is concerned about Chinese intentions.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke on Bloomberg News’ David Rubenstein Show and said DOD officials saw the test as “a very significant event.”
Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby emphasized that China’s development of a wide range of systems and capabilities paired with their aggressive foreign and economic policies are clearly why Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III sees China as America’s pacing challenge.
Kirby noted the Chinese capabilities “do very little to help decrease tensions in the region and beyond.”
The hypersonic test is just one part of a suite of security issues with respect to China. Kirby said DOD leaders are concerned about the trajectory of where things are going in the Indo-Pacific region. This suite “taken together reason for concern and being used to inform the operational concepts that we want to be able to employ,” the press secretary said. “They’re informing the budget. They’re informing the programs and the priorities of the department. They’re going to inform … our training and exercise regimen.”
A free and open Indo-Pacific remains a key national security goal for the United States, Kirby said, and DOD has a significant role in that effort. He said China’s actions are factored into deliberations on the global posture review and will be factored into the National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy next year.
Milley emphasized the same in his talk. He noted the Chinese are expanding rapidly in all domains of warfare — land, sea, air, cyber and space. “They have gone from a peasant army that was very, very large in 1979 to a very capable military that covers all domains, and has global ambitions. China is very significant on our horizon.” (Source: US DoD)
27 Oct 21. Top U.S. general confirms ‘very concerning’ Chinese hypersonic weapons test. The top U.S. military officer, General Mark Milley, has provided the first official U.S. confirmation of a Chinese hypersonic weapons test that military experts say appears to show Beijing’s pursuit of an Earth-orbiting system designed to evade American missile defenses. The Pentagon has been at pains to avoid direct confirmation of the Chinese test this summer, first reported by the Financial Times, even as President Joe Biden and other officials have expressed general concerns about Chinese hypersonic weapons development. But Milley explicitly confirmed a test and said that it was “very close” to a Sputnik moment — referring Russia’s 1957 launch of the first man-made satellite, which put Moscow ahead in the Cold War-era space race.
“What we saw was a very significant event of a test of a hypersonic weapon system. And it is very concerning,” Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Bloomberg television, in an interview aired on Wednesday.
Nuclear arms experts say China’s weapons test appeared to be designed to evade U.S. defenses in two ways. First, hypersonics move at speeds of more than five times the speed of sound, or about 6,200 kph (3,853 mph), making them harder to detect and intercept.
Second, sources tell Reuters that the United States believes China’s test involved a weapon that first orbited the Earth. That’s something military experts say is a Cold War concept known as “fractional orbital bombardment.”
Last month, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall alluded to his concerns about such a system, telling reporters about a weapon that would go into an orbit and then descend on a target.
“If you use that kind of an approach, you don’t have to use a traditional ICBM trajectory — which is directly from the point of launch to the point of impact,” he said.
“It’s a way to avoid defenses and missile warning systems.”
Fractional Orbital Bombardment would also be a way for China to avoid U.S. missile defenses in Alaska, which are designed to combat a limited number of weapons from a country like North Korea.
Jeffrey Lewis at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies summed up fractional orbital bombardment this way: “The simplest way to think about China’s orbital bombardment system is to imagine a space shuttle, put a nuclear weapon into the cargo bay, and forget about the landing gear.”
Lewis said the difference is that the Chinese re-entry system is a glider.
China’s foreign ministry denied a weapons test. It said it had carried out a routine test in July, but added: “It was not a missile, it was a space vehicle.”
U.S. defenses are not capable of combating a large-scale attack from China or Russia, which could overwhelm the system. But the open U.S. pursuit of more and more advanced missile defenses has led Moscow and Beijing to examine ways to defeat them, experts say, including hypersonics and, apparently, fractional orbital bombardment.
The United States and Russia have both tested hypersonic weapons. (Source: Reuters)
27 Oct 21. Development Programs Keep DOD’s Workforce Strong. The Defense Department’s military and civilian workforce have always worked together to successfully defend the nation, said the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.
“They can only continue to do this through a sustained emphasis on workforce development, one that focuses on recruiting, retention, training and education of a workforce that can compete and win against our most advanced competition now and in the future,” said Gilbert R. Cisneros Jr. during testimony yesterday before the House Appropriations Committee.
When it comes to bringing in and maintaining a strong uniformed force, Cisneros said diversity plays a central role.
“The department relies on multiple levers to recruiting efforts, including financial incentives and advertising campaigns,” he said. “We also recognize that to recruit and retain the best and brightest we must have a diverse and inclusive force representative of the nation they serve.”
To that end, he said, the department uses relationships with historically Black colleges and universities and institutions that serve minorities to help those communities better understand the benefits of military service.
The department also regularly reviews how military personnel are compensated to ensure the services remain competitive in attracting the best talent, he said.
One way the department is working to keep the competitive edge its civilian workforce now provides, Cisneros said, is by increasing the use of skills and competency-based assessments in the recruitment of that force.
“In June of this year, we launched the DOD civilian career website to promote civilian employment opportunities and career paths and to debunk perception that DOD service is solely a uniform service,” he said.
Congress has also helped out by allowing the department to streamline direct hiring authorities for high-demand skills, he said.
“On September 30, I provided guidance to DOD components on maximizing the use of hiring flexibilities to include direct hiring, which will allow us to attract and recruit civilian talent with expertise in , data science and software development,” he said.
For developing future talent, the department has also used a variety of internship, scholarship and fellowship programs and has seen great success with the effort, Cisneros said.
“We must also provide adaptive and relevant professional civilian education that emphasizes innovative thinking, … ingenuity and warfighting concepts; ensures responsibility, management of national defense assets; and builds expertise through a concentration on data-centric digital skills and culture,” he said.
Cisneros also told lawmakers it’s more important to focus on what the civilian workforce does and the value they bring to the department, rather than on striking a balance between the number of civilian and uniformed personnel.
“I do not believe we can put a ratio or a number on the amount of civilians that we have,” he said. “The civilian workforce that we have at the Department of Defense is an integral part of the defense of our nation. They play critical roles and, in the work that we do. … it’s not proper for us to put a number on it.” (Source: US DoD)
26 Oct 21. U.S. lawmakers express concern over reports of potential Turkey F-16 purchase. Democratic and Republican U.S. lawmakers urged President Joe Biden’s administration not to sell F-16 fighter jets to Turkey and said they were confident Congress would block any such exports.
In a letter to Biden and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, 11 members of the House of Representatives cited “a profound sense of concern” about recent reports that Turkey may purchase 40 new Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) F-16s and 80 F-16 modernization kits.
The letter was dated Oct. 25 and reviewed by Reuters on Tuesday.
“Following President (Tayyip) Erdogan’s September announcement that Turkey will purchase an additional tranche of Russian S-400 missile defense systems, we cannot afford to compromise our national security by sending U.S.-manufactured aircraft to a treaty ally which continues to behave like an adversary,” the lawmakers wrote.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A State Department spokesperson said the department does not comment on correspondence with Congress.
Reuters reported earlier this month that Turkey had made a request to the United States to buy 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighter jets and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes. read more
Ankara had also previously ordered more than 100 Lockheed Martin F-35s, but the United States removed Turkey from the program in 2019 after it acquired the Russian S-400s.
The letter was led by Republican Representative Nicole Malliotakis and Democratic Representative Carolyn Maloney.
“While we are confident that Congress will stand together to block any such exports should these plans progress, the United States cannot afford to transfer any advanced military equipment to the government of Turkey at this time,” the letter said.
The partnership between the NATO allies has gone through tumult in the past five years over disagreements on Syria, Ankara’s closer ties with Moscow, its naval ambitions in the Mediterranean, U.S. charges against a state-owned Turkish bank and erosion of rights and freedoms in Turkey.
26 Oct 21. DOD Officials Testify Before Senate Panel on U.S. Actions in Afghanistan. Defense Department officials praised the actions of U.S. service members in the non-combatant evacuation operation from Afghanistan and detailed how the department is working with other agencies to resettle the allies in the United States. Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, and Army Lt. Gen. James Mingus, the Joint Staff’s director of operations, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee today. Both men said the military will study the totality of the American experience in Afghanistan to glean lessons learned from the 20-year conflict.
Mingus told the Senate panel that a non-combatant evacuation operation, or NEO, is among the most challenging missions a military can undertake.
“By their very nature they occur with little notice and are often within tenuous security environments,” he said. “The department recognized that a NEO could be the most dangerous course of action and, with the interagency, planned for this contingency.”
The operation was not without problems. Crowds mobbed some of the first aircraft that landed at Kabul airport. Security remained a problem throughout the operation.
But the DOD responded quickly to the State Department’s NEO declaration by deploying nearly 6,000 service members to Kabul within days. “This NEO element executed the largest humanitarian airlift operation ever undertaken,” Mingus said.
Kahl called the operation “unparalleled” and re-stated that no other military in the world could have evacuated more than 120,000 people from a contested airfield. “We, as Americans, should be immensely proud,” he said.
Planning for a NEO began immediately after President Joe Biden’s April announcement of the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan. The speed of the Taliban conquest of Afghanistan did catch planners by surprise, Kahl said. Still, planning and prudent deployments enabled the operation. In June Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III pre-positioned forces in the region and sent the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group to the Gulf to cover the withdrawal.
“In August, as conditions worsened, additional forces were placed on alert,” Kahl said. “Forethought, as much as skill and bravery, allowed our service members to execute this extraordinary mission.”
Even with this, there were some Afghans that U.S. personnel could not reach by the Aug. 31 deadline.
There were other heartbreaks as well, including a terror attack by ISIS-Khorasan that killed 13 service members. There were also 10 civilians mistakenly killed by an air strike in Kabul.
The DOD is providing shelter for more than 50,000 Afghan evacuees at eight bases as these people finish their processing procedures. More than 6,000 have already been resettled in the United States. Kahl said about 10,000 U.S. service members are helping in this effort.
“Our military mission in Afghanistan may have ended on Aug. 31, but our service members, diplomats and government employees remain hard at work,” Kahl said. “The U.S. government continues to facilitate the departure of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, as well as Afghans who worked for and with us.” He noted that to date, 234 U.S. citizens and 144 lawful permanent residents have left Kabul since Sept. 1. Others have come out on private charters.
There is no U.S. military presence in Afghanistan now. ” We are examining and learning from the past, reckoning with the uncomfortable truth that despite decades and billions of dollars of U.S. investment, the Afghan military evaporated in the face of the Taliban assault,” Kahl said. “Additionally, we are turning to the future, bolstering our capacity to engage in over-the-horizon counterterrorism operations to ensure that no threat emanating from Afghanistan can harm our homeland or our interests, even as we re-focus the department on the challenges posed by China, Russia and other competitors and adversaries.”
Mingus agreed that the U.S. military will study efforts to build Afghan security forces. “The ANDSF will be a case study the department will pour over in the ensuing years,” the general said. “We will analyze their development and their ultimate dissolution to determine how to chart better paths for our partners in the future. While we cannot and will never be able to instill the will to fight, we can and will take the opportunity to better understand those intangible factors that so significantly affect our mission and our nation’s interests.” (Source: US DoD)
26 Oct 21. Raytheon warns of worker losses as companies impose vaccine mandate. Raytheon Technologies’ (RTX.N) top boss warned on Tuesday the U.S. aerospace and defense firm will lose ‘several thousand’ employees who refused to take COVID-19 vaccines, as it prepares to meet the Biden administration’s Dec. 8 deadline for immunization.
“We will lose several thousand people,” Raytheon Chief Executive Greg Hayes said in a CNBC interview on Tuesday, adding that staff hiring was underway. The company has a total of 125,000 U.S. employees.
Raytheon, the maker of Tomahawk missiles, last month said it will require all U.S. employees to be fully vaccinated, after the Biden administration mandated immunization for nearly all federal employees and contractors, to widen vaccination coverage in the country. read more
Many federal contractors, such as Boeing Co (BA.N), 3M (MMM.N) and American Airlines (AAL.O), have announced vaccination mandates since. European planemaker Airbus (AIR.PA), which supplies helicopters to the U.S. Army, also joined the list on Tuesday.
“We will require all employees and temporary workers of Airbus in the U.S. to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8,” a company spokesperson said.
Other companies such as Gillette maker Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N) also have mandates in place.
To be sure, not every company is facing a pushback from its employees. United Food and Commercial Workers, the union which represents 26,000 workers at Tyson Foods Inc (TSN.N), said on Tuesday over 96% employees were now vaccinated.
While some other large U.S. employers such as Walmart (WMT.N) were yet to issue broad requirements, the Labor Department’s standards will require them to introduce mandates. read more
Separately, Raytheon’s Hayes said he expects Biden’s vaccine mandate to cause “some disruption” in the supply chain in a post-earnings conference call.
General Electric, another federal contractor that has mandated vaccines, however, said it was too early to say if the decision would have an impact on the U.S. conglomerate’s operations.
“We will have a better read as we get closer to the compliance date,” GE Chief Executive Larry Culp told Reuters. (Source: Reuters)
26 Oct 21. Raytheon CEO: Air Force may not be able to afford new F-35 engine. The Air Force may decide that it can’t afford to build an entirely new, advanced engine for its F-35A Lightning II fighter jet, the Raytheon Technologies chief executive said Tuesday.
In 2016, the Air Force awarded Raytheon-owned Pratt & Whitney and General Electric Aviation each a billion-dollar contract to develop a new F-35A engine under the Adaptive Engine Transition Program. This engine is intended to deliver better fuel efficiency and thrust by using a third stream of air.
However, Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes said in a call with analysts Tuesday morning paying for the new adaptive engine will be a “tough putt” for the Air Force.
Because the adaptive engine could not be used in the F-35B, the Marine Corps’ vertical takeoff and landing variant or the Navy’s carrier-based F-35C, Hayes said the Air Force would bear its entire development cost.
GE said on its website that while its engine is still in testing, it has been designed to be used in both the F-35A and F-35C variants.
The Air Force is also considering sticking with and upgrading the F-35′s F135 engine, which Pratt & Whitney also builds, instead of adopting a new engine.
Hayes said his company has talked to the F-35 Joint Program Office about ways to upgrade the current engine to provide more cooling and thrust “in a significantly lower cost than a brand-new centerline engine,” which will be more important as its Block 4 version is rolled out.
He said Pratt & Whitney did ground tests of its adaptive engine this past summer, and plans to do flight tests early next year.
Hayes told analysts the F-35 could be re-engined around 2027 or 2028 — but called that time frame “extremely aggressive.”
Meanwhile, he said during the same call the end of the Afghanistan war and the U.S. withdrawal is expected to cost the company $75 million this year in services it was providing to the now-defunct Afghan government.
During its call with analysts Tuesday, Lockheed Martin said supply chain issues took a toll on its businesses.
John Mollard, acting chief financial officer for the contractor, said vendors that supply components to both the civilian and defense markets — such as landing gear or brakes — have been particularly hurt by sales declines on the commercial side. That’s led to supply chain shortages that affected some of Lockheed’s production efforts.
“We need our supply chain to be successful for us to be successful,” Mollard said.
He said Lockheed has recently come to an agreement with the JPO on a plan for expected deliveries of F-35s. He said the company expects deliveries will increase to 156 by 2023 and stay there for the foreseeable future, even though F-35 sales are expected to drop in 2022. (Source: Defense News)
26 Oct 21. NGAD: Building sixth generation jet is number 1 priority, USAF says. The US Air Force’s programme for a sixth generation fighter jet and related systems is the number one priority for the service, Air Combat Command chief Mark Kelly has said.
Speaking at a virtual event, Kelly said the service’s Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) programme, which will eventually replace the F-22 Raptor, is his number one requirement.
A USAF report in April outlined NGAD as “a family of capabilities that enable Air Superiority in the most challenging operational environments by enforcing the development pillars of digital engineering, agile software development, and open architectures.”
Speaking at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies event, Kelly added to this that the fighter will be able to operate at long ranges. This feature matches the above concept image released by USAF, which shows an aircraft with a larger blended wing airframe that would give more room internally for a larger weapons bay and fuel tank.
He added the next generation aircraft is “designed to operate beyond a single spectral band of the RF [radio frequency] spectrum, to thrive in a multispectral environment,” and it also “senses” the battle space and “connects” the rest of the force, so “that I can put [it] in the adversary’s back yard.”
In September at this year’s Air, Space & Cyber conference, a top acquisition official revealed the programme is progressing according to plan.
“NGAD is not one where I’m able to share a lot of details,” said Duke Richardson, military deputy in the office of the assistant secretary of the Air Force. “I will just tell you that it is progressing per plan. There’s just so much of it that’s not able to be discussed in an open forum.”
Kelly added to this at the conference with a call for more funding for NGAD.
“We do not want to be on the other side of coming in second in air superiority,” Kelly explained. “I would like to have more of a sense of urgency and a whole-of-nation effort towards it,” he said, drawing comparisons to the Manhattan Project that produced the first nuclear bomb in World War II.
Speaking more on NGAD, the Air Combat Command chief said: “Do I think we’re going to field it? Yes. Do I think we’re going to build it before our adversaries? Yes. Do I know we are going to build it before them? I would like to sleep comfortably knowing we’ve got a really good margin.”
Kelly said he would like the development phase to “go faster”, and asked if he would like to see more funding for NGAD, he said yes.
26 Oct 21. USAF conducts first operational test mission of F-15EX Eagle ll fighter. The aircraft is undergoing the mission at Nellis AFB along with fighter aircraft F-15Cs and F-15Es.
The US Air Force (USAF) is conducting the initial operational test and evaluation (OT&E) mission for its newest fighter aircraft F-15EX Eagle ll.
The mission was carried out along with F-15Cs and F-15Es at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB) from 18-25 October.
Currently, there are two F-15EXs with the USAF. The service officially accepted the delivery of the first F-15EX fighter jet at Florida’s Eglin AFB in March this year.
It received the second F-15EX next-generation fighter in April.
According to the USAF, the platform will join the fighter jets F-35 Lightning II, A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Fighting Falcon, alongside a sixth-generation fighter programme as part of the ‘four-plus-one’ concept aimed at streamlining the fleet.
Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center (AFOTEC) F-15 tester lieutenant colonel Kenneth Juhl said: “We’ve never done full, large-scale operational tests with the F-15EX, because it’s only been in the US Air Force’s hands for six months.
“The fact that we’re going this fast in operational test is definitely owing to the chief of staff of the airforce’s accelerate change or lose mentality.”
The initial OT&E of the F-15EX is being led by AFOTEC Detachment 6, with units from Eglin and Nellis AFBs. It is also supported by the Oregon and Florida National Guard and other industry contractors.
Following the tests at Nellis AFB, the aircraft will return to Eglin AFB for other developmental tests, following which F-15EX will take part in exercises such as Red Flag-Nellis.
Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force F-15EX test project manager Colton Myers said: “The main focus here is to provide the initial push for operational tests and evaluation to really evaluate the platform from an end-to-end perspective with the addition of a robust threat environment that we have here at Nellis.
“That way, when we write our initial test reports, we’re giving an accurate look to the combat airforce and the guard as to what the platform is capable of when it initially fields.”
The F-15EX aircraft is developed by Boeing for the USAF. It is the latest iteration of the F-15 Eagle Mission Design Series and an upgraded version of the F-15 fourth-generation fighter jet. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
25 Oct 21. All Change at the Corps: Force Design 2030. Design 2030 will take heavy armour out of the USMC inventory. The plan for the future of the US Marine Corps is contentious and will see a restructuring away from its traditional all-arms employment.
A revision of the National Defense Strategy in 2018 directed the US Marine Corps (USMC) to shift its mission focus to great/near peer competition with special emphasis on the Indo-Pacific. This follows several decades committed to protracted inland conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq. Incoming Commandant General David H. Berger, to implement this redirection, issued planning guidance CPG-I in July 2019 toward adopting a new operational approach and redesign of the force. Titled Force Design 2030 (FD2030), its primary operational objective is toward building “a light, self-reliant, highly mobile naval expeditionary force postured forward in littoral areas within the adversary’s weapons engagement zone.” These forces will, per FD2030 March 2020, provide “a landward complement to Navy capabilities for surface warfare (ASuW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), air and missile defence, and airborne early warning.”
A driving assumption is that seizing a hostile land area from the sea is no longer possible due to the proliferation of Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2AD) capabilities. Instead the Design proposes the forward insertion (and follow-on support) of small expeditionary Marine elements that rely on speed, stealth, and surprise utilising pre-emptive action. This new focus requires a redirection in the current organisation and equipment of the Corps with the elimination of some units including main battle tanks, while entirely or majorly restructuring others such as shifting from cannon artillery to rockets and missiles. Questioning the appropriateness of current large amphibious ships to this scenario, a parallel expeditionary ship of a different design is proposed for the US Navy. These ships, termed Light Amphibious Warships, are to be “smaller, lower signature, and more affordable”.
FD2030 is being pursued in four Phases. The first sought to establish an overall visualisation of the future force. Phase 2, begun in September 2019, saw 12 Integrated Planning Teams assess and provide force design recommendations regarding Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) reconfiguration, Marine Littoral Regiment design, Maritime Prepositioning Force changes, aviation, logistics, anti-ship and anti-air capabilities, infantry battalion organisation, manned-unmanned system balance, objective networks, training and education and the reserves. Phase 3 involves war gaming, experimentation, and analysis while Phase 4 will refine, validate, and implement what has been achieved. It is intended to be a process incorporating lessons learned and findings from on-going efforts.
Achieving FD2030 means a major restructuring across the Corps including the divestment of ground and air combat and support assets. These include the elimination of all main battle tanks, most cannon artillery, reducing the numbers of amphibious combat vehicles, reductions in the Bell Boeing MV-22 medium, Sikorsky CH-53E heavy, and Bell AH1Z Viper light attack helicopter squadrons, and a review of the fixed wing fleet. The infantry battalion is also undergoing evaluation of its organisation and equipment with three different approaches being trialled.
A new formation is also proposed, the Marine Littoral Regiment (MLR). These will be key to providing the expeditionary forward presence to provide sea control and denial in support of the naval task forces. It will consist of three elements: a Littoral Combat Team (LCT), a Littoral Anti-Air Battalion, and a Littoral Logistics Battalion. The core of the LCT will be an infantry battalion with an anti-ship missile battery. The Anti-Air Battalion will include air defence, air surveillance, air control and aircraft forward rearming and refuelling capabilities. Tactical logistics support will be the task of the Logistics Battalion. The first regiment is scheduled to stand-up in late 2021 in Hawaii as the 3d Marine Littoral Regiment.
Marine artillery will play a major role in the proposed concept for sea-denial through land based anti-ship missiles. Much of its BAE Systems M777 towed tube artillery is being replaced by Lockheed Martin M142 HIMARS multiple launch rockets which fire conventional GMLRS rockets to 70 kilometres (44 miles). It also fires the ATACMS to 300km (186 miles), but it is not in the Corps inventory, as well as the latter’s successor the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM), still in test, to around 500km. The Corps is moving to add ground launched anti-ship missiles and has test launched the Kongsberg/Raytheon Naval Strike Missile (NSM) already deployed on US Navy ships and used by several NATO militaries in coastal defence batteries. Referred to by the Marines as NMESIS this configuration uses a twin-missile launcher on a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) and adaption of the US Navy fire control system. NSM has a range of over 185km (115 miles) with passive, low-altitude attack, and autonomous target recognition with both sea surface and land attack capability.
The Marines also have an unfunded requirement for Tactical Tomahawk missiles (now manufactured by Raytheon). The latest Block V model Tomahawk can strike a moving target at sea at over 1,600km (nearly 1,000 miles). However, this six-metre-long missile would need to be adapted for expeditionary use (the previous Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM) employed a semi-tractor transporter erector launcher). Providing target detection for missiles with these extended ranges will also present challenges for the envisioned isolated expeditionary enclaves particularly in a signal denied environment.
Expeditionary Air Defence
Establishing an adequate anti-air defence should be a priority since air and missile attack, as well as unmanned aerial system (UAS) surveillance and targeting would be a primary response by an opponent to a forward landed presence. Since disbanding its Raytheon Hawk medium range missile batteries in 2002, the only air defence has been the shoulder-launcher short range FIM-92 Stinger. The Marines are now introducing Marine Air Defense Integrated System (MADIS) to offer greater point air defence. Two platoons of eight systems each had last been programmed. MADIS Mk1 mounts a four pod Stinger, 30mm auto-cannon, and Sierra Nevada Modi II electronic warfare suite. Its companion is the Mk 2 with a 30km (18 mile) range, RADA Electronics RPS-42 detection and tracking radar, Modi II, and M134 7.62mm minigun. Both use the JLTV platform.
A medium range interceptor capability is also in consideration. John Garner, PEO Land Systems, suggested in a September 2020 at the virtual Modern Day Marine expo that there would be a “prototype in the next two years”. The Corps is also fielding it’s AN/TPS G/ATOR air surveillance and counter-fire target acquisition radar which would be a critical element in any expeditionary air defence. Thirteen initial production systems are in use with air control and artillery with full rate production of 30 being delivered through 2022.
This ability to engage targets at extended ranges requires the capability to detect, identify, track and target threats. The Corps is increasing its UAS assets to four VMU squadrons to address this. In addition, the FD2030 proposes replacing the current Boeing Insitu RQ-21 Blackjack tactical UAS introduced in 2016 with the extended endurance General Atomics MQ-9A Reaper employed by the US Air Force. Reaper has a 20m wingspan and requires a prepared strip for take-off and landing. Its range, however, is 1,900km (1,180 miles) with 14-hour endurance and up to 4,000 pound (1,700kg) payload. The US Navy’s maritime surveillance MQ-4C Triton with a 32+ hour endurance from Northrop Grumman, could also contribute. In addition, the FD2030 April 2021 Update discussed consideration of the Martin V-Bat vertical self-launch/recovery UAS with 11 hours endurance.
The initial FD2030 plan recommended an increase in ground reconnaissance with an additional two companies of Light Armoured Vehicles (LAV). The light armoured units, formed in 1983, have organic direct and indirect fire, anti-tank, dismounts, command and control, logistics, and maintenance recovery assets all with equal mobility and protection. They provide not only forward ground reconnaissance and counter-reconnaissance but, with its integrated combined arms, an adaptable mobile armoured manoeuvre force.
In July 2021, the Corps selected Textron Defense and General Dynamics Land Systems to prepare prototypes of an Amphibious Reconnaissance Vehicle (ARV) as a possible replacement for the 30-year-old LAV. However, the Commandant’s April 2021 FD2030 update stated efforts had “invalidated the requirement to replace LAV-25 with a similar armoured, wheeled or tracked vehicle on one-to-one ratio.” Questioning the suitability of such vehicles for the reconnaissance role in the Indo-Pacific, the plan then explored possible alternate organisation and equipment toward a “more broadly capable mobile reconnaissance”. This suggests a shift to a strictly reconnaissance role, thus, potentially limiting the battlefield manoeuvre capability offered in the current LAV units.
For mobile reconnaissance the FD2030 suggests the utility of lightweight vehicles, unmanned air and surface systems, boats, the Organic Precision Fires – Infantry (OPF-I) system and other capabilities. In fact, the OPF-I was selected in June 2021 in the form of the UVision Hero-120, a vehicle launched precision loitering munition. The Marines also awarded a contract in February 2021 to Metal Shark to develop a Long-Range Unmanned Surface Vessel (LRUSV). According to the Chris Allard, the company CEO, “it would conduct autonomous surveillance, survey, submarine detection, or mine hunting.” It would also supply manned support vessels for a Marine Corps fleet. How this foray into the surface Navy’s domain or its relationship to the Navy broader unmanned surface systems programs is not addressed.
Light Amphibious Warship (LAW)
The US Navy in support of FD2030 proposes a shift from multi-mission amphibious warfare ships designed to support aviation, vertical assault, and wet well deck launch. Instead, it is pursuing a new class, the LAW, that can land smaller numbers of Marines, plus equipment and supplies, directly across a beach using a ramp. Five concept/preliminary design contracts were awarded in June 2021 to Fincantieri, Austral USA, VT Halter Marine, Bollinger, and TAI Engineers. Designs will provide a vessel between 60-122m (200-400ft); approximately 4,000 tons displacement; accommodate 75 Marines and a crew of no more than 40; provide 744 square metres (8,000 square feet) of deck space for equipment; and have an unrefuelled range of 3,500 nautical miles (6,480km) at a transit speed of 14 knots (26km/h). Its ability to move personnel and equipment ashore across a beach demands a stern or bow ramp while dictating a maximum draft of 3.6m (12ft). The LAW would have a limited self-defence capability and Tier 2-plus survivability surviving a hit long enough to evacuate personnel. The aggressive schedule anticipates the first vessel being procured in fiscal year 2023 with 28 to 30 envisioned.
Beyond the medium and heavy helicopter reductions and additional of VMUs, and aerial refuelling the roles and structure of Marine aviation are per FD2030 “continuing to be analysed”. In particular, the fixed wing Lockheed Martin F-35B VTOL and F-35C carrier version mix remains an ongoing study. The shift to dispersed light forces, moving from larger aviation capable amphibious ships and the stated desire to reinvest could present a number of questions regarding the Air Wing’s future. These could include how fixed wing aircraft (Boeing FA-18 and F-35C) requiring a carrier or fixed airfield fit these expeditionary scenarios.
Given the historically critical role expeditionary based Marine aviation has played in achieving sea control, especially in the Pacific in World War II, this previously decisive capability would be expected to have an integral role. The associated draft Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) references the contribution of Offensive Air Support, yet details on its application, and changes considered to address the FD2030 objectives remain largely unaddressed. Since the closely integrated air-ground team has been a key hallmark of the Corps and something that has set it apart from the other services, this is surprising.
Logistics support is a major challenge for any military force in the Indo-Pacific as evidenced by the experiences of both the Allies and Japanese in World War II. The difficulties encountered by dispersed small and potentially isolated expeditionary ground units can be expected to be compounded. The FD2030 March 2020 highlighted this stating a lack of confidence that “we have identified the additional structure required” and affirming that “logistics must be a priority for Phase III”. However, neither the FD Updates nor the EABO offer insights into how these critical tasks will be practically addressed. The topic is also fourteenth of 15: “Priority Investments – Expeditionary logistics systems to sustain stand-In forces in a contested environment”.
Considering the expanse of the Indo-Pacific and its extended distances, sustaining scattered sites as envisioned in EABO would be a sizeable undertaking. This would be compounded at an outbreak of hostilities, especially for sites positioned “inside the opponents Weapons Engagement Zones (WEZ)” as promoted by FD2030. To grasp the levels to be dealt with consider that the MV-22 flying at 275kts maximum speed would require over three hours to complete, for example, the 380nm resupply turn-around from Manila, Philippines, to the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The LAW at its 14knt cruise would require nearly 28 hours to reach the same.
The reality is that as the US Joint Warfare Publication 1 states: “Logistics sets the campaign’s operational limits.” Or, most appropriate for a Pacific war, US Navy Adm Raymond Spruance’s observation still holds true, that “a sound logistics plan is the foundation upon which a war operation should be based. If the necessary minimum of logistics support cannot be given to the combatant forces involved, the operation may fail…”.
FD2030 And Wider Missions
FD2030’s objective is TO essentially establish distributed A2AD zones “inside an adversaries weapons engagement zone (WEZ)” requiring a focus on extreme long-range fires and the elimination of many traditional combined arms assets. Some analysts have suggested that the resulting structure could jeopardise the Corps’ ability to execute other designated missions such as small war conflicts and littoral interventions as “a force in readiness”. This is viewed by some with concern since such operations have historically been more prevalent. In addition, its emphasis on light forces and elimination or sizeable down-scaling of armoured formations removes the possibility of offensive ground manoeuvre. A force optimised strictly for small islands would have insufficient mobility, tactical speed, and flexibility to respond and operate to contingencies on larger littoral land masses. These could include providing support, including sea control, to Pacific rim and maritime choke-point countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Here ground manoeuvrability will be an essential requisite.
FD2030 is stated as a ten-year effort. Yet considering its wide scope and number of new equipment initiatives required to implement the design it could reasonably extend beyond this. It will most certainly still be a work in progress into the term on the next Commandant of the Marine Corps in two years. The question is, considering the finality of some of the actions already taken, how much flexibility will remain for him to potentially adjust the Corps’ direction. (Source: Armada)
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