Sponsored by Exensor
03 Feb 22. Recapitalization of Refuelers, Transport Ships Critical to Transcom Mission. Much of the U.S. military’s fleet of refueling aircraft is old — the newest KC-135 Stratotanker, for instance, was built in 1965. And sealift ships available to the U.S. military are also nearing the time when they’ll be expected to retire.
“When I look at the capabilities that Transcom has, I look at the sealift, our ships are 46 years old,” said Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, the commander of U.S. Transportation Command, during a discussion today with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The reserve fleet, she said, even includes steam ships.
“You can’t even find engineers that work on steam ships,” she said. “We have to keep 60-, 70-year-old engineers around to keep running them. We must recapitalize that.”
Refueler aircraft and sealift ships are important components of the U.S. Transportation Command’s mission, and both must be recapitalized sooner rather than later if Transcom is going to continue to be as effective as it is.
Van Ovost said one way to get newer ships into the sealift fleet, at least in the short term is through the purchase of used vessels. It’s something the Navy is working on now.
“In our discussions with the Navy, there is a strategy out there to begin to purchase used ships, which essentially was our strategy almost 30 years ago,” she said. “It’s to purchase some used ships and get them into the fleet because our fleet is old.”
Right now, she said, 37 of the 50 large “roll-on, roll-off” ships available to Transcom for moving large military equipment are expected to retire in the next decade.
“We’ve got to begin a stabilized program of recapitalization,” she said. “We’re working with the Navy on this strategy to purchase used in the beginning, and we’re working with Congress and we’ve been authorized to purchase up to nine used ships in combination with some new ships.”
Equally important is new growth in U.S. ship-building capacity, she said.
“We’ve got to revitalize our shipbuilding capability and our ability at the docks to do repairs and maintenance and modifications,” she said. “That is critical for our defense industrial base — not just for sealift, but frankly for all of our sea power.”
When it comes to aircraft that provide refueling capability — an important mission for Transcom — the KC-135 Stratotanker and the KC-10 Extender have been workhorses for decades.
The KC-135 was first built in 1955, while the KC-10 entered service in 1980. Both aircraft are well worn from their time in service.
“We look at the KC-10, in particular; it’s very expensive to keep that airframe going,” she said. “It’s going to cost a lot of money to keep it going. We need to replace it, and frankly, we need to also start replacing the KC-135, as well.”
The KC-46 Pegasus, now in limited service in the Air Force, is a suitable replacement aircraft, Van Ovost said, and is capable of doing more than just the tanker mission.
“It can do aeromedical evacuation. It can do cargo. It can do probe-and-drogue and boom refueling, and it’s connected to the net. It’s … Link-16; it’s our ability to see the battlespace, transmit as a node in the network, which makes everybody better,” she said.
When it comes to recapitalization of the capabilities used by Transcom, Van Ovost now is the time.
“It is absolutely necessary that we recapitalize on a schedule that we’re not finding ourselves throwing good money after bad,” she said. “What I look at is what is the problem set, where are the gaps we’re trying to get after, and how do we get the services to purchase the capabilities necessary to close those gaps as soon as possible.” (Source: US DoD)
03 Feb 22. DDTC Proposes Wide-Ranging ITAR Corrections and Clarifications. (87 Fed. Reg. 5759) – The U.S. Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) has proposed to amend the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to clarify the definitions of export and reexport. Further, the Department proposes to replace the term “national” with “person” in the Canadian exemptions; revise the exemption for intra-company, intra-organization, and intra-governmental transfers to dual nationals or third-country nationals; and correct administrative errors in the section on voluntary disclosures. Interested persons have until April 4, 2022, to submit comments. Specifics on the proposed changes are as follows:
- Change to Definitions of “Export” and “Reexport” in ITAR §§ 120.17(b) and 120.19(b): DDTC proposes to revise the definitions to clarify that any release of technical data to a foreign person described within the respective definitions is a release only to any countries in which that foreign person currently holds citizenship or permanent residency.
- Change to ITAR § 126.5(b) Canadian Exemption: DDTC proposes to replace the term “national” with the ITAR-defined term “person” in ITAR § 126.5(b) of the Canadian exemption to be consistent with how foreign persons are defined in the ITAR.
- Changes to ITAR § 126.18: DDTC proposes to remove the phrase “although nationality does not, in and of itself, prohibit access to defense articles” from ITAR § 126.18(c)(2) as the definitions of export and reexport provide that a release to a foreign person constitutes an export or reexport, as applicable, to all countries in which the foreign person holds citizenship or permanent residency. This proposed change is not intended to convey any change to DDTC’s long-standing position that the purpose of vetting employees from countries listed in ITAR § 126.1 is to mitigate diversion. Further, simply identifying nationalities with no substantive contacts with ITAR § 126.1 countries is not a precondition to rely on to use the exemption for intra-company, intra-organization, and intra-governmental transfers to dual or third-country nationals.
- Correction Relating to ITAR Part 127.12 Voluntary Disclosures: DDTC proposes to correct administrative errors in the voluntary disclosures section of the ITAR by providing the correct references to exemptions pursuant to the Defense Trade Cooperation Treaties between the United States and Australia and the United States and the United Kingdom in ITAR §§ 126.16 and 126.17, respectively. Additionally, the Department proposes to streamline the section on voluntary disclosures by simply referencing the relevant ITAR sections, §§ 126.1(e), 126.16(h)(8), and 126.17(h)(8), that describe the duties of persons to notify the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls of particular activities. (Source: glstrade.com)
01 Feb 22. DIU boasts more rapid acquisition agreements but fewer new programs in 2021. The Defense Innovation Unit awarded out 72 new prototype contracts, but transitioned out only eight technologies – a dip compared to 2020. Other transaction agreements, which can help fast-track development of emerging technologies, continue to drive how the Defense Department’s innovation arm develops prototypes, but transitioning those technologies into fully fledged programs took a dip last year, according to a recent acquisition report. In 2021, the Defense Innovation Unit awarded 72 new prototype other transaction agreement contracts, an increase of about 28.5% compared to 2020. That brings DIU’s inception to data OTA awards total to 279 since 2016, according to the agency’s report. The report looks at the agency’s work to expand its foothold in its proposals from commercial companies, which amounted to 1,116 bids across 16 solicitations – a marked uptick from 2020.
Additionally, contract award times decreased to 137 days on average, below 2020’s COVID-19 levels, but not enough to meet the 127 day average of 2019.
DIU transitioned eight technologies covering commercial threat data, cyber asset inventory management, cyberspace deception installation, counter-unmanned aerial systems, modeling for hypersonic missile trajectories and responsive launch. That number is down compared to the 13 moved to the field in fiscal 2020, but it matches the number of prototypes delivered to end users in 2019. Since inception, DIU has completed 44 out of 119 initiated projects yielding a prototype, the report states.
The tech valley of death, where technologies can wither unfinished or unused due to lack of dedicated program funding, is still a considerable obstacle facing the defense industry, particularly for smaller businesses that struggle to bring prototypes to full program funding.
Heidi Shyu, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, whose office oversees DIU, told reporters Jan. 13 that her office is engaging with small companies and with venture capitalists to understand impediments to working with DOD and is working on strategies on “how to pave over this valley of death or at least build a bridge,” which would include developing a mechanism to use venture capital funds among other methods.
For the DIU, the agency’s success could mean increased footprint and influence. The recently passed 2022 National Defense Authorization Act gave the defense secretary the power to expand the agency’s physical presence nationwide “to accelerate the adoption of commercially developed advanced technology in modernization priority areas” and “expand outreach to communities that do not otherwise have a Defense Innovation Unit presence, including economically disadvantaged communities.”
Defense Department partners and DIU have had $892.7m in contracts and leveraged $20.1bn in private investments since 2016, according to the report. (Source: Defense Systems)
28 Jan 22. New Pentagon report censors details on weapons programs’ performance, flaws.
“By caving to pressure inside the Pentagon and hiding unclassified information behind a pseudo classification, the current leaders of DOT&E are undermining the effectiveness of their own agency,” said Dan Grazier, a fellow with the Project on Government Oversight.
The Pentagon’s independent weapons tester has eliminated data about the performance of more than 20 weapon programs from the public version of its 2021 report, including major acquisition efforts like the Marine Corps’ CH-53K King Stallion and the Navy’s Ford-class carrier.
On Thursday, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation published the public version of its annual report, and for the first time ever, a version with “controlled unclassified information” was also made available to Defense Department personnel and Congress — out of sight of taxpayers who foot the bill for the multi-million dollar programs.
In December, Raymond O’Toole, then the acting head of the DOT&E office, explained the decision to release a controlled version of the report, saying that some of the unclassified information “shouldn’t wind up in our adversaries’ hands.” He said the services would ultimately determine what information is considered CUI for each weapons system.
But for the experts at think tanks and journalists who rely on DOT&E’s report for an independent assessment of whether a program is meeting requirements, the 2021 report is missing much of the detail provided in previous years — especially regarding specific technical flaws that could hamper a weapon’s ability to perform in combat.
Dan Grazier, a fellow at the Project on Government Oversight, raised alarms over the current state of the report, saying that the decision to conceal unclassified details in a CUI version has grave implications to the future of independent operational testing.
“It is concerning to see the leaders of DOT&E bending to pressure from the services on their anti-transparency push,” Grazier wrote in a statement to Breaking Defense.
“Congress established DOT&E in 1983 over the furious objections of service and defense industry leaders because members knew they weren’t getting the truth about the performance of new weapons,” he said. “The law clearly states that there should be two versions of the annual testing report, a classified version and an unclassified version. By caving to pressure inside the Pentagon and hiding unclassified information behind a pseudo classification, the current leaders of DOT&E are undermining the effectiveness of their own agency.”
Overall, the DOT&E report notes that information has been redacted from the public version for a total of 22 programs.
For example, the report strips out all information regarding the performance of the CH-53K King Stallion, one of the Marine Corps’ biggest and most troubled programs.
The Marine Corps stood up its first CH-53K squadron this week, but the helicopter — made by Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky — has suffered delays and cost increases as a result of having to fix more than 100 technical flaws. Some of those issues, such as problems with the main gearbox, tail rotor and main rotor, were examined in detail in previous DOT&E reports.
The latest public version of the report makes no such effort, including only a description of the CH-53K and a rundown of testing events. An interim assessment of the King Stallion’s effectiveness, suitability and survivability — which would contain information whether the helicopter is functioning in an operational environment as expected and whether any technical flaws were discovered — is only available in the CUI version.
That assessment makes “preliminary observations on CH‑53K handling qualities in adverse flying conditions, load capacity, maintainability and reliability status as compared to the CH-53E as well the status of the CH‑53K survivability key performance parameters,” the DOT&E report states.
The section on the Ford-class carrier, which is one of the Pentagon’s most expensive and technologically ambitious programs at $13bn, contains some details about performance flaws of certain systems, such as the ship’s arresting gear and launch system.
However, all information about the effectiveness of the ship’s combat system have been pushed to the CUI edition, which “details the capability of the combat system to detect, track, engage, and defeat the types of threats for which the system was designed.”
Details about the performance of the CMV-22B tiltrotor aircraft — which the Navy is buying to replace its C-2 Greyhound planes used to transport people and cargo onboard aircraft carriers — have also been left on the cutting room floor, and none of the agency’s recommendations are public.
According to the DOT&E report, the CUI report evaluates the ability of the Bell-Boeing aircraft to “execute carrier onboard delivery, medical evacuation, Naval Special Warfare support, and search and rescue missions,” as well as providing details on over-the-horizon communications and suitability requirements.
And although DOT&E notes that not enough data has been gathered to provide a survivability assessment of the CMV-22B in a contested environment, some preliminary details about the aircraft’s vulnerability to kinetic threats are available in the controlled version.
The report also excises information related to the performance of Army and Air Force weapon systems. For some programs, what was once a robust accounting of vulnerabilities has been turned into a laundry list of test events.
For instance, DOT&E includes no information about the performance of ongoing modifications to the Army’s Stryker family of vehicles, with the assessment of Stryker effectiveness only available in the CUI report.
All details about the “operational effectiveness, suitability and survivability” of the Army’s Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool are also relegated to the CUI version of the report. The EWPMT is used by commanders and electronic warfare officers to manage, coordinate and deconflict EW effects. The Army conducted initial operation, test and evaluation of the Raytheon-made system in 2021.
While sections of the report on the Air Force’s KC-46A tanker, MH-139 Grey Wolf helicopter and HH-60W Jolly Green II helicopter contain some details about technical issues, certain information is now only available in the CUI version.
The report notes that the KC-46 “needs to overcome several challenges to meet some of its survivability requirements,” additional details are not publicly available and DOT&E’s recommendation is controlled.
The section on MH-139 notes concerns about the cabin layout and that flight manual restrictions could adversely impact “takeoffs in crosswinds, near obstacles, in degraded visual environments, and austere landings.” But other challenges pertaining to the aircraft’s suitability and survivability are only available in the CUI version.
For the HH-60W, DOT&E notes that “the program will need to mitigate deficiencies in the countermeasures dispenser set and supply operationally representative software and mission data load for the radar warning receiver to enable an adequate HH-60W survivability assessment in a contested environment,” but further details are controlled.
Here are other programs where the public report notes that information has been moved to the CUI version:
- Navy’s MQ-8C Fire Scout drone: details about delays to LCS shipboard testing are only available in the CUI version
- Navy’s Advanced Anti‑Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range: All performance details contained in CUI version
- Navy’s Next Generation Jammer: CUI report contains information on challenges to operational suitability
- Navy’s Unmanned Influence Sweep System: Some DOT&E recommendations are controlled
- Marine Corps’ VH-92A: CUI report includes details on operational effectiveness, as well as a comparison of the helicopters capability to legacy platforms
- Air Force’s Massive Ordinance Penetrator: Preliminary analysis of the weapon’s effectiveness and suitability is pushed to CUI version
- Air Force’s F-22 upgrades: Suitability challenges detailed in CUI version
- Air Force’s Air Operations Center: Upgrades are “operationally effective and suitable” but details are CUI
- Air Force’s Family of Advanced Beyond Line-of-Sight Terminals: Updates on FAB-T acquisition and performance in tests and operations are contained solely in the CUI version
- Army’s Integrated Tactical Network: The public version of the report does not include information regarding the system’s suitability
- Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System: Performance details are only available in CUI version
- Space Force’s Presidential and National Voice Conferencing: The system description, program updates and operational performance are provided in the CUI report
- Missile Defense Agency’s missile defense system: Additional information and recommendations are included in CUI version
- Joint Cyber Warfighting Architecture: The full list of contractors is only available in CUI version.
The public version of the report also cuts some information about shortfalls in the Pentagon’s test and evaluation infrastructure. Specifically, it notes that further details pertaining to the evaluation of hypersonic missiles and hypersonic missile defense systems, cybersecurity, nuclear modernization, electromagnetic spectrum warfare, space, multi-domain operations and 5G have been transferred to the CUI edition. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
Founded in 1987, Exensor Technology is a world leading supplier of Networked Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) Systems providing tailored sensor solutions to customers all over the world. From our Headquarters in Lund Sweden, our centre of expertise in Network Communications at Communications Research Lab in Kalmar Sweden and our Production site outside of Basingstoke UK, we design, develop and produce latest state of the art rugged UGS solutions at the highest quality to meet the most stringent demands of our customers. Our systems are in operation and used in a wide number of Military as well as 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