EDITOR’S BUNKER BRIEFING (16 November 2020) No.34

Editor-in-Chief-Andrew-Drwiega

Dear Readers,

It is quite astounding to those outside the United States, and the majority of the voters within that country, that a President-elect should be actively prevented from receiving classified intelligence briefings. The acquiescence of politicians who have put self and party ahead of the security of the United States AND its allies marks a new low point in the supposed democratic values espoused by those who have been elected.

This is not only about the United States. The tempo of Russian and Chinese destabilisation activities is at a high level worldwide. In Hong Kong, the last of the democratic lawmakers have resigned en masse opening the door for mainland China to absorb the region fully into its whole – so much for “one state, two systems.” Taiwan will be looking at this with the trepidation such a development merits, a situation that has been made even more tense by the Trump Administration’s recent approval of additional arms sales to Taipei (as reported in Bunker Briefing No. 32 & 33), an act that always ensures a reaction from Beijing.

With terror attacks a constant feature in European countries, Islamic terrorism being fought in the Middle East and the African continent and Russian sponsored attempted elimination of dissenters through the liberal use of military Novichok nerve agent at home and abroad (Alexei Navalny and Sergei Skripal), any weakness in US preparedness presents an open opportunity to those who feel that they would be able to strike successfully at such a time.

Editor

Skynet 6A
Skynet 6A from Airbus Defence & Space.

UK DEFENCE BOLDLY GOES FOR SOVEREIGN AND COLLABORATIVE MILSATCOM CAPABILITIES

The award of the Skynet 6 Alpha contract to Airbus Defence & Space by the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence during the summer proved that momentum had still been achieved despite the COVID-19 pandemic, said Air Vice Marshal Harvey Smyth, director Space, UK MoD during his keynote opening of SMI’s virtual Global MilSatCom conference (10-12 November).

He said that the strategically important programme the capability of Skynet 6A would ensure that UK defence had “global secure and resilient communications that will outpace the growing and dynamic threat well into the next decades.”

AVM Smyth added that the UK was at “a critical inflection point” regarding its national approach to space. “Daily [space] is becoming more congested, specifically in LEO [Low Earth Orbit] and contested,” which he said had been a main consideration during the ongoing [although now delayed] Integrated Defence Review.

He added that there was impetus among the UK’s leadership to ensure that the country’s critical dependency on space-based capabilities and services would be served. This meant that the UK would become a “meaningful leader in space developing sovereign capabilities where required to underpin our operational advantage and protect our critical infrastructure,” he explained, adding that this would be conducted while “working with allies and partners across the world and space sector to collaborate and co-develop space capability and deepen resilience.”

“From a military capability perspective, satcom sits right at the top of our priority list,” he added. The UK’s ambition was to maintain a leadership role in NATO while being able to forward deploy to address a range of existing threats. This would require speed, readiness and resilience operating in new domains of space and cyber, he said.

AVM Smyth warned that “future wars may start and even finish with minimal terrestrial interference” which meant that current armed forces needed to be reshaped “for tomorrow’s battle.”

CHINESE FUTURE FIGHTER TRAINER COULD USE AI TO BOOST PILOT LEARNING

Chinese media has reported that designers from China’s state owned aviation industries are looking into adding Artificial Intelligence (AI) into their next generation of their future fighter trainers.

Asia AI News highlighted a report by China Central Television (CCTV) that during a programme on China’s latest L15 Falcon jet trainer, the aircraft’s designer Zhang Hong was quoted saying that by using AI technologies in future aircraft “we will be able to identify different habits each pilot has in flying. By managing them, we will let the pilots grow more safely and gain more combat capabilities.”

The report stated that real flights could also be linked to simulators, allowing an interconnected virtual and real training regime. Such training could allow the skills of pilots to be analysed much faster, and their training focused to overcome each individual’s particular weakness.

According to Yang Wei, chief designer at Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), AI would likely be used in next generation combat aircraft to assist pilots in processing information and intelligence data, helping them to make quicker and more effective decisions during missions.

NATO AGS Force
Left: NATO AGS Force Commander Brigadier General Houston R. CANTWELL. Right: NATO AGS Force Deputy Commander Col. Stefano BIANCA

FIFTH AND FINAL NATO RQ-4D ARRIVES IN ITALY

Left: NATO AGS Force Commander Brigadier General Houston R. CANTWELL. Right: NATO AGS Force Deputy Commander Col. Stefano BIANCA (Photo: NATO AGS Force)

On 12 November NATO’s fifth and final Northrop Grumman RQ-4D Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft arrived at its home operating base in Sigonella, Italy. The first of five RQ-4D Phoenix aircraft was delivered on Thursday 21 November 2019, with subsequent aircraft following on 19 December 2019, 15 July 2020 and 26 July 2020.

NATO AGS
On 12 November 2020 the fifth and last NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft arrived at the AGS Main Operating Base in Sigonella, Italy.

The five AGS were purchased by 15 nations and are to be used to deliver NATO identified Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) requirements as stipulated by the North Atlantic Council and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). The procurement from Northrop Grumman was handled by the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Management Agency (NAGSMA).

“Along with our Italian hosts, SHAPE, NATO nations and industry we will continue expanding our infrastructure and capabilities in the coming months. We remain committed to advancing this important capability to the benefit of the entire Alliance”, said NATO AGS Force Commander Brigadier General Houston Cantwell, a US Air Force command pilot with over 2,100 flying hours (400 in combat) mainly on Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons and General Atomics MQ-9 Reapers.

US MAJOR ARMS SALES

10 November, 2020 – United Arab Emirates. The State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of the United Arab Emirates of MQ-9B Remotely Piloted Aircraft and related equipment for an estimated cost of $2.97 billion..

10 November, 2020 – United Arab Emirates. The State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of the United Arab Emirates of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and related equipment for an estimated cost of $10.4 billion.

10 November, 2020 – United Arab Emirates. The State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of the United Arab Emirates of Munitions, Sustainment and Support, and related equipment for an estimated cost of $10 billion.

US GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS

Highlighting a selection of $100 million+ government awarded contracts awarded between 9-13 November and Foreign Military Sales contracts.

13 November
US AIR FORCE
NetCentric Technology was awarded a $379 million contract for engineering and operations services for all of Kirtland Air Force Base’s civil engineer services. This includes general management, engineering, emergency management, operations and installation management. These services compromise the day-to-day base operations and maintenance functions. The Air Force Installation Contracting Center is the contracting activity.

Raytheon Missiles & Defense was awarded a $51 million modification contract for the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) production program. This modification provides for the procurement and upgrade of test environment/equipment for AMRAAM production capacity. This contract involves Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to Norway, Denmark, Australia, United Kingdom, Japan, Slovakia, Poland, Netherlands, Kuwait, Qatar and Spain. Air Force fiscal 2020 missile procurement funds in the amount of $16 million; Navy fiscal 2020 weapons procurement funds in the amount of $11 million; and FMS funds in the amount of $22 million are being obligated at the time of award. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the contracting activity.

Raytheon Missile Systems has been awarded a $9 million modification contract for Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) production baseline rocket motors. This contract modification provides for the production of Air Force baseline rocket motors for Foreign Military Sales (FMS) countries Norway and Chile. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the contracting activity.

US NAVY
The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory has been awarded $133 million in options under modification to previously awarded contract to provide research into the applications of technologies to meet guidance requirements for operations on the Common Missile Compartment for the US Columbia-class program and the United Kingdom Dreadnought-class program; provide specialised technical knowledge and support for the hypersonic guidance, navigation and control application; and provide technical and engineering services to support the guidance, navigation and control system that will support the Navy’s hypersonic flight experiments. US Navy Strategic Systems Programs is the contracting activity.

Raytheon Technologies received a $14 million modification contract for the lifetime buy of MK54 Lightweight Torpedo MOD 0 torpedo components. This contract involves purchases for the government of the United Kingdom under the Foreign Military Sales program. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.

12 November
US DEFENSE MICROELECTRONICS ACTIVITY
Globalfoundries US 2 has been awarded a ceiling increase $400 million modification contract for access to leading edge, current and legacy microelectronics and trusted processes for the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. Increase in interest for leading edge technology and lifetime orders for end of life technology initiated the need for this ceiling increase. The Defense Microelectronics Activity is the contracting activity.

US NAVY
AgustaWestland Philadelphia has been awarded a $171 modification contract which exercises options for the production and delivery of 36 TH-73A aircraft in support of the Advanced Helicopter Training System program. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity.

US AIR FORCE

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has been awarded an $81 million modification contract for the UK MQ-9B Protector program. This modification provides for the design, development, integration and component-level testing of additional capabilities being added to the baseline program. Foreign Military Sales funds in the amount of $71 million are being obligated at the time of award. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the contracting activity.

L-3 Communications Integrated Systems has been awarded a $24 million contract for procurement of Group B material and the Ground System Integration Lab. This contract involves 100 percent Foreign Military Sales (FMS). The 645th Aeronautical Systems Group is the contracting activity.

11 November
VETERAN’S DAY, USA

10 November
US AIR FORCE
Boeing Defense, Space & Security has been awarded a $9.8 billion IDIQ contract for F-15 support for Saudi Arabia. This contract provides for modernisation and sustainment of the F-15 Saudi fleet to include such efforts as hardware, software, and interface design, development, integration, test, subsystem and structural component production and installation of future modifications and enhancements to the F-15 Saudi weapon system as well as product support. This contract involves Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and is the result of a sole-source acquisition. The F‐15 Division Contracts Branch is the contracting activity.

KIDDE Technologies has received a $7 million IDIQ contract for the manufacture of fire cartridge extinguishers. This contract provides for supply of fire cartridge extinguishers for F-35, E-8, E-3, and KC-10 aircraft. This contract involves sales to Joint Partner Nations and Foreign Military Sales countries and is the result of a sole-source acquisition. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the contracting activity.

9 November
US AIR FORCE
Boeing received a $657 million contract modification for the F-15Q Qatar program. The contract modification provides a comprehensive sparing program and contractor logistics support for the sustainment of the F-15QA aircraft. Logistical support for training devices and administrative costs are also included in this modification. Foreign Military Sales funds in the amount of $55 million are being obligated at the time of award. Total cumulative face value of the contract is $8 billion. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Space has been awarded a $258 million contract for Evolved Strategic Satellite Communication (ESS). This contract will develop a prototype payload and conclude in a hardware and software in-the-loop, end-to-end demonstration. Space and Missile Systems Center is the contracting activity.

Raytheon Integrated Defense Solutions has been awarded a $77 million contract for the Qatar Air Operations Center (AOC) upgrade. The contract is to upgrade the AOC and alternate AOC (AAOC), which includes the procurement of hardware and software, engineering services, installation, integration, and testing of AOC and AAOC components, end-user training, spares and help desk support outside the continental US. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the contracting activity.

US NAVY
General Dynamics NASSCO-Norfolk is awarded a $138 million contract for the execution of the USS New York (LPD 21) fiscal 2021 docking selected restricted availability (DSRA). This availability will include a combination of maintenance, modernisation and repair of the USS New York (LPD 21). This is a Chief of Naval Operations scheduled DSRA. The purpose is to maintain, modernise, and repair the USS New York (LPD 21). This is a “long-term” docking availability and was solicited on a coast-wide (East and Gulf coasts) basis without limiting the place of performance to the vessel’s homeport. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $161 million. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.

ESG Aerosystems is awarded a $64 million IDIQ contract to develop a curriculum and facilitate training for P-3 aircrew positions including copilots, patrol plane commander, instructor pilot, flight engineer, instructor flight engineer, and flight currency training in support of Naval Education and Training Security Assistance Field Activity’s applicable field units and other program offices and stakeholders. This effort is 100 percent funded by Federal Republic of Germany funds under the Foreign Military Sales program. Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center Norfolk is the contracting activity.

L-3 Technologies is awarded a $10 million modification contract which exercises options to procure six AN/SRQ-4 kits and associated components for the MH-60 Common Data Link system for Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity.

EVENT STILL CONFIRMED

No further confirmations.

EVENT CANCELLATION/RESCHEDULE

No further cancellations.

Keep safe and healthy everyone.

Andrew Drwiega

Editor-in-Chief
Armada International / Asian Military Review