“His men would follow him anywhere, but only out of curiosity.” – Apocryphal Officer Fitness Report.
Developing a new 6th Generation fighter (yes, I realise that it is not that long since the 5th Generations emerged blinking into the sunlight) will be a costly and complex business. However, since Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightening II first flew in December 2006 it will be considered yesterday’s technology by the time the 6th Generation aircraft are planned to enter service beginning in 2035.
A shared vision with ensuing benefits, not to mention shared development costs and testing are always key to high technology programmes such as this. The early in this respect, particularly in terms of organisation and commitment is the BAE Systems Team Tempest project. International partnerships have already been struck with Italy and Sweden, with the latter’s industry standout Saab bringing its expertise recently gained in developing the latest version of its Gripen aircraft, the Gripen E. According to Jeremy Quin, the United Kingdom’s Minister for Defence Procurement, speaking during the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Combat Air Power conference on Wednesday 24 March, the government is also “exploring corporate opportunities with Japan” and is open to additional partners as well. The UK government has committed an initial £2 billion over the next four years, said Quin, with an additional £800 million being committed by industry.
In contrast the European Future Combat Air System (SCAF) is already mired in differing requirement perspectives perceived by the governments behind the two major partners, Airbus (Germany) and Dassault Aviation (France). Spain is also a partner with its major industry player, Indra.
Dr Ulrike Franke, representing the European Council on Foreign Relations, stated that there was already a disconnect between the benefits Germany expected from the programme – to demonstrate and add-to german technological knowhow and create jobs. However, there was a lack of “German military rationale” in that the requirement for the aircraft and the roles that it will deliver. Questions concerning Germany’s ongoing retention of nuclear weapons, armed unmanned systems (loyal wingmen) and whether future German governments would be prepared for long term investment in such a programme were all questionable and unclear.
France however is solidly behind retaining nuclear weapons, as it wishes to retain its “strategic autonomy,” stated Philip Gros representing the French Foundation for Strategic Research. France also has a clearer perspective in armed unmanned systems and is unlikely to waiver in its commitment to the annual defence budget. It will also require a version to operate off aircraft carriers for which Germany does not have a requirement.
Whether there will be deeper discussions on capabilities, aiming towards agreeing to design different versions may offer a way forward, although this would likely add to development costs.
Without such an agreement, France could consider going it alone which could then leave Spain potentially facing an increase stake in the project, and/or recruiting other nations to take a financial share with industrial benefits (perhaps creating something akin to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 project).
Another set of pictures for you to ponder once more. Again no prizes, but the answers are at the end of this email.
IS THIS CHINA’S EARLY MOVE TO GRAB ANOTHER REEF IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA?
The Philippines has stated that China has once again violated its maritime economic zone by gathering more than 200 vessels around the Whitsun Reef (known as the Julian Felipe Reef in the Philippines). The reef is V-shaped with an area of about 10 square kilometres. It is largely submerged but recently sand bars have been created, either naturally or potentially deliberately. While the International Court of Justice ruled in 2012 that islands appearing only at low tide cannot be claimed territorially, the rule does not apply to anything that is permanently above the water level.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued an incredulous claim that the vessels had all been sheltering from the wind near the reef after fishing in nearby waters. This is not the first time that China has organised such activity. In 2019, China sent a force of over 200 vessels to the Philippine island of Thitu over concerns that any development of military facilities might be subsequently used by the United States military to counter China’s maritime grab of the South China Sea.
A statement from issued by the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) “confirmed (a) report from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) that around two hundred twenty (220) Chinese Fishing Vessels (CFVs), believed to be manned by Chinese maritime militia personnel, were sighted moored in line formation at the Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef) on 7 March, 2021.”
China has conducted ‘island building’ over shoals and reefs throughout the South China Sea over the last decade and the temptation to grab yet another island for strategic as well as economic reasons (undersea oil and gas reserves as well as fishing grounds) must be a temptation for Beijing.
UK INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY SET TO SERVE VARIED OBJECTIVES
The United Kingdom’s Defence Industrial Strategy was revealed last Monday 22 March based on financial commitments to spend money, £85 billion in the next four years, on equipment and support alone.
The UK Government is looking to strengthen the defence sector, not only to counter potential defence contact and development losses that may come post-Bexit, but also to shore up work-share across the country to help bolster ‘national unity’ in the face of calls for independence such as in Scotland. Naval orders in particular will create further work and employment in Rosyth and Glasgow where the new Royal Navy Type 31 and Type 26 frigates will be built respectively.
There is also likely to be increase emphasis on inward investment from abroad. As the report states: “Overall, the UK is a globally competitive and attractive destination for inward investment, securing more investment than any other European country every year between 1997 and 2018, particularly in key areas like digital technology.”
Additionally, there needs to be a change in industrial strategy which will necessarily involve working in a closer way. If industry and the forces are to intertwine more that industry will need strengthened resilience to face external threats, particularly from cyber.
In conclusion, Air Marshal Andrew Turner called for an “enterprise approach” to the industrial strategy, particularly when it came to sharing people with ‘skills’ who could be flexed into and out of the services.
NATO DEFENCE MINISTERS REVIEW RUSSIAN DESTABILISATION ACTIVITIES
Discussions about Russia and its foreign policies and actions were conducted by NATO’s meeting of foreign ministers last week, which included representatives from Finland and Sweden. In his conclusion, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg highlighted the reasons behind why the organisation has “implemented the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence in a generation.”
The list included: the “violent oppression of political dissent” including the arrest and imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny; the ongoing destabilisation of Russia’s neighbours “including Ukraine, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova”, as well as its backing of the discredited leader of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko in an election that the European Union claims was fraudulent. Mr Stoltenberg also cited “its wide-ranging military build-up”…ongoing disinformation and propaganda campaigns, cyber attacks and “its use of chemical weapons against political opponents” in Russia and abroad.
During questions with the media following the event, Mr Stoltenberg revealed that “since the summer of 2019, there have been no meetings of the NATO-Russia Council.” The formal dialogue was established in 2016 although the NRC was originally established in 2002, but Mr Stoltenberg claimed that Russia had “not responded positively” to convene the council since 2019. Holding the council was important, he said, so that all counties could continue to raise issues including “transparency, risk reduction, and arms control.”
US MAJOR ARMS SALES (Defence Security Cooperation Agency – DSCA).
No further updates.
US GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Highlighting a selection of $100 million+ government awarded contracts awarded between 22-26 March 2021 and Foreign Military Sales contracts.
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control was awarded a $2.7 billion hybrid contract for Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) Alternative Warhead rocket pods, GMLRS Unitary Warhead rocket pods, Low-Cost Reduced Range Practice rocket pods, cybersecurity services, integrated product support and other services. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.
Integration Innovation received a $150 million contract for the development of a prototype capability employing unmanned aerial systems with novel sensors to meet hypersonic flight-test needs. Fiscal 2020 research, development, test and evaluation, Army funds in the amount of $5 million were obligated at the time of the award. US Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office is the contracting activity.
US AIR FORCE
Raytheon Missiles and Defense has been awarded a $518 million contract for Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) Production Lot 34, with priced options for Lots 35 and 36. This basic contract award provides for the production of the Lot 34 AMRAAMs, Captive Air Training Missiles (CATMs), guidance sections, AMRAAM Telemetry System (ATS), initial and field spares, and other production engineering support hardware and activities. This contract involves unclassified Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Indonesia, Japan, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, South Korea, and Qatar. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the contracting activity.
Armtec Countermeasures has received a $250 million IDIQ contract for the MJU-75/B countermeasure flare. This contract provides a magnesium Teflon Viton countermeasure flare, which is utilised on rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft such as C-130, C-17, F-16 to protect against infrared missiles. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the contracting activity.
Kilgore Flares has been awarded a $250 million IDIQ contract for the MJU-75/B Countermeasure Flare. This contract provides a magnesium Teflon Viton countermeasure flare, which is utilised on rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft such as C-130, C-17, F-16 to protect against infrared missiles. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the contracting activity.
Hardwood Products has been awarded a $146 million modification contract for industrial base expansion for US domestic production capacity for medical foam tip swabs. This contract amends the current undefinitised contract action to include retrofit activities to enable expanded production of foam tip nasal swabs, as well as related expenses. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the contracting activity.
Management Services Group, doing business as Global Technical Systems, has been awarded a $38 million modification contract for Network, Processing, and Storage Technical Insertion 16, Modification 1 production equipment. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. government (99 percent); and the governments of Korea and Japan (one percent combined) under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.
Lockheed Martin is awarded a $35 million modification contract that increases the scope for the Network Interface Unit Gen II scope in support of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program for Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers.
Lockheed Martin is also awarded a $26 million modification contract that increases scope to provide support for the engineering tools, data, and related training for the sustainment of the flight test instrumentation air system for one of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers, as well as additional FMS customer unique requirements.
Lockheed Martin has also been awarded a $13 million modification contract that adds scope in support of sustainment efforts for flight test instrumentation air systems to include customer unique requirements for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program for Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customer.
All of the above awards are via Naval Air Systems Command acting as the contracting activity.
US AIR FORCE
BAE Systems, Information & Electronic Systems Integration has been awarded a $600 million IDIQ contract for F-16 support equipment (SE) items for multiple Foreign Military Sales (FMS) countries. This contract provides SE, SE spares for acquisition and sustainment, familiarisation and engineering/technical support. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the contracting activity.
Peraton has received a maximum $360 million IDIQ contract for Nuclear Safety Cross-Check Analysis (NSCCA) and Nuclear Safety Analysis and Technical Evaluation (NSATE) support. This contract provides for NSCCA and NSATE to manage intercontinental ballistic missile software safety risk. Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center is the contracting activity.
Lockheed Martin as awarded a $175 million modification contract for Guided Missile and Launching Assembly Service Life Extension Program missiles. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.
NIC4 received an $11 million contract for supplies and services to deliver network operations center equipment, software licenses and extended warranty coverage, and to provide installation services, support services and training for the government of Iraq. Fiscal 2021 Foreign Military Sales (Iraq) funds in the amount of $11 million were obligated at the time of the award. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.
Huntington Ingalls is awarded a $194 million modification contract for continued execution of the fiscal 2018 USS Columbus (SSN 762) engineered overhaul. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.
Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems received a $34 million modification contract to exercise an option for the procurement of engineering services as well as provide funding in support of the continued AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 development, integration, manufacture, production, and testing. Fiscal 2021 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funding in the amount of $12 million (34 percent); fiscal 2021 research, development, test, and evaluation funding in the amount of $8 million (24 percent); Foreign Military Sales Japan funding in the amount of $7 million (22 percent); fiscal 2020 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funding in the amount of $3 million (11 percent); fiscal 2021 other procurement (Navy) funding in the amount of $2 million (six percent); fiscal 2021 operation and maintenance (Navy) funding in the amount of $221,281 (one percent); fiscal 2019 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funding in the amount of $196,372 (one percent); and fiscal 2018 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funding in the amount of $189,499 (one percent) will be obligated at time of award.The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.
Sikorsky Aircraft was awarded a $99 million modification contract for 25 modified UH-60M Black Hawk aircraft in support of the Saudi Arabian National Guard. Fiscal 2021 Foreign Military Sales (Saudi Arabia) funds in the amount of $99 million were obligated at the time of the award. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.
MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY
Northrop Grumman Systems is being awarded one of two competitive contracts. The total value of this contract is $3.9 billion (base: $2.6 billion; options: $1.3 billion) if funded through the full base period. The initial program funding limitation for both contracts combined is $1.6 billion through fiscal 2022. In alignment with the Department of Defense’s current missile defense strategy, Northrop Grumman Systems will perform technology development and risk reduction of the Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) All-Up-Round capable of surviving natural and hostile environments while countering emerging threats. Allowing a technology development phase will help ensure that the NGI is an efficient and effective part of an integrated Missile Defense System solution by permitting the department to further analyse requirements and make necessary adjustments in preparation for the product development phase. The Missile Defense Agency is the contracting activity.
Lockheed Martin is being awarded one of two competitive contracts. The total value of this contract is $3.6 billion (base: $2.4 billion; options: $1.2 billion) if funded through the full base period. The initial program funding limitation for both contracts combined is $1.600,000,000 through fiscal 2022. In alignment with the Department of Defense’s current missile defense strategy, Lockheed Martin will perform technology development and risk reduction of the Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) All-Up-Round capable of surviving natural and hostile environments while countering emerging threats. Allowing a technology development phase will help ensure that the NGI is an efficient and effective part of an integrated Missile Defense System solution by permitting the department to further analyse requirements and make necessary adjustments in preparation for the product development phase. The Missile Defense Agency is the contracting activity.
US AIR FORCE
As a result of the completed voluntary corrective action, NetCentric Technology has been awarded a $359 million task order 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 provide day-to-day base operations and maintenance functions. Air Force Installation Contracting Center is the contracting activity.
BAE Systems Technology Solutions and Services is awarded a $140 million IDIQ contract that provides systems engineering and equipment installation support services of command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence systems, including legacy, current, and next generation shipboard interior and exterior communications; shipboard radios; and transportable, airborne, and fixed shore termination communications systems, subsystems, and components in support of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Webster Outlying Field Integrated Command, Control and Intel Division. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division is the contracting activity.
StandardAero has received a $148 million IDIQ contract that procures T56 engine depot level repairs in support of the P-3 Orion, C-130 Hercules and C-2A Greyhound aircraft. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division is the contracting activity.
No further events confirmed.
No cancelled events advised.
Photo Quiz answers:
1. A World War II STZ-3 Russian armoured tractor mounting a T-26 light tank turret. Only around 55-69 STZ-3 armoured tractors were produced during the war largely during the second half of 1941. They were named “NI” (“Na Ispug” – “to cause consternation”) – perhaps more to the crew than the enemy?
2. The US Marine Corps Allis-Chalmers ‘Ontos’ was an M50 tracked vehicle which was designed to be anti-tank through the firepower offered by six 106mm re-ciolless rifles, three mounted each side of the main crew structure. Ontos, Greek for ’the thing’, was originally designed for the US Army but only saw service with the USMC in Vietnam. Only 297 were ordered and were produced between 1955-57.
3. This is a 1920 Rolls Royce armoured car, owned by the Tank Museum at Bovington, UK, and used to transport HM Queen Elizabeth during a visit to the facility in 2009. The type first entered service at the end of 1914 based on a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost chassis. Armed with a Vickers Mk 1 .303 machine gun They were quickly found to be unsuitable for use on the Western Front but were more successfully deployed in the Middle East.
Armada International / Asian Military Review