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March 9, 2021 | International, Aerospace

France and Germany Are Arguing Over Their Shared Fighter Jet

France and Germany are scrambling to save the Future Combat Air System (FCAS). The countries are supposed to produce the plane with Spain by 2040.

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  • Kirtland Air Force Base gets space defense upgrades

    June 12, 2019 | International, Aerospace, Security

    Kirtland Air Force Base gets space defense upgrades

    By SCOTT TURNER (Tribune News Service) — The U.S. Air Force has begun construction on a facility at Kirtland Air Force Base that will play a major role in defending the nation from attacks by other countries on U.S. satellites. The Air Force Research Laboratory's 26,000 square-foot, $12.8 million Space Control Laboratory will consolidate efforts now being conducted in six different facilities on the base. "Space is now a war-fighting domain," said Air Force Col. Eric Felt, director of the Space Vehicles Directorate at the base. "That doesn't mean we want war in space. We certainly don't. It doesn't mean we have to have war in space. ... If our adversaries attempt to counter us in that domain, we need to have the capabilities and the tools for our nation to counter that." At a groundbreaking ceremony at the base on Thursday, Felt said the new facility will help in that effort. He said the building will be a major addition to AFRL's research in advancing in "space situational awareness, command and control of space systems and the survivability of space assets." "This is a space control technology building," he said. "Space control starts with space domain awareness, making sure we know everything that is going on in space. From there, it goes to making sure we can protect ourselves in space, protect our assets that are up in space. "All the basic components that we need to do for that part of the mission is going to be developed here. The next generation cutting edge capabilities that our nation needs are going to be developed here. And if we do need to perform offensive operations in space, we will be working on those components as well." Brian Engberg, the chief of the space control technologies branch of AFRL's Spacecraft Components Division said researchers in the facility would be determining what satellites were doing. He also said researchers would not only be addressing threats from other countries, but "threats from the space environment itself." Work at the facility will also include the development of satellite technology. "Every satellite that we have up there needs to be resilient," Felt said. "It needs to be there when we need it. If we happen to be in a conflict with a peer competitor, our satellites have to have the defense capabilities when we need them the most." The facility will include office and lab space for 65 civilian and military contractors. It will contain a 5,000 square-foot high-bay laboratory space and more than 5,000 square feet of secure office, laboratory and meeting space. Enberg said scientists and researchers had input on the design, "making sure that everything going into this building will be exactly what we need in order to accomplish our mission, and integrate our people and our ideas better in an innovative environment in order to support our war-fighter mission." "We're looking forward to having a sufficient amount of space in order to collaborate with our industrial partners and our partners in government," he said. "We have many, many projects we are working on. This facility will be a great step forward." AFRL principal technical adviser Michael Gallegos helped lead the effort to bring the facility to Kirtland, an effort he said began about two decades ago. "It's a new state of the art facility that will equip our workforce with secure labs, secure conference space and all of the required lab support space that it needs," he said. Construction of the facility is expected to be completed in December 2020. The contractor for the project is KL House Construction Co. "This was envisioned 20 years ago, back before anybody thought of space as a war-fighting domain, back when space control was just a side project," Felt said. "There were visionary folks who saw our nation was going to need this, that our labs were going to need this."

  • The F-35 Will Give Poland A More Advanced Air Force Than Some Major NATO Allies

    June 26, 2020 | International, Aerospace

    The F-35 Will Give Poland A More Advanced Air Force Than Some Major NATO Allies

    June 24, 2020 - This past January, the Polish government took the bold step to acquire thirty-two F-35A Joint Strike Fighters (JSF). Poland is becoming a major player in NATO. It is working to modernize its air, sea and land forces. It is also forging closer relations with the United States, hosting U.S. forces, allowing the prepositioning of military equipment, and working to improve interoperability. By making the decision to buy the F-35, Poland will leap ahead of a number of its European allies, most notably France and Germany, and enter the elite group of countries operating fifth- generation aircraft. The F-35 will not only be America’s premier fifth generation fighter, but the world’s. From its inception, the JSF was going to be an international fighter. The F-35 Consortium, consisting of the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Norway, Denmark, and until recently Turkey, contributed more than $4 billion towards the program’s development costs. The aerospace industries in each of these countries also contributed critical technologies. Current estimates for international purchases are between 600 and 700 JSFs. If all the NATO members currently planning to acquire the JSF fulfill their commitments, the F-35 will constitute NATO’s single biggest fighter fleet, ahead of the Franco-German-British Eurofighter. This will provide a major boost to air power interoperability for the Alliance. The move from the current fourth-generation platforms to fifth-generation is both inevitable and urgent. There is a general consensus that fourth-generation aircraft have decreasing survivability in the face of advanced, integrated air-defense networks. Efforts to sustain the ability of older aircraft to penetrate increasing lethal defenses will require larger force packages and the extensive use of scarce support assets, such as airborne jammers. Given that NATO air forces will also be fighting outnumbered, with their infrastructure under continuous attack from long-range-fire systems, this is a losing proposition. The F-35 will inevitably become the centerpiece of NATO’s air capability. Fifth-generation aircraft with low-observable features, commonly referred to as “stealthiness,” and an array of advanced sensors are able not only to counter advanced air defenses, thereby restoring the West’s erstwhile advantage in the air, but improve the performance and survivability of fourth-generation aerial platforms. Employing its sophisticated suite of sensors, the JSF can pass high-quality, near-real-time targeting information to fourth-generation platforms operating at a distance from high-threat air defenses. In addition, with its revolutionary array of sensors and computers, the F-35 can serve as both a penetrating ISR and stand-in electronic warfare platform. Read more from the National Interest. View source version on

  • How does the Pentagon’s AI center plan to give the military a battlefield advantage?

    September 14, 2020 | International, C4ISR

    How does the Pentagon’s AI center plan to give the military a battlefield advantage?

    Andrew Eversden WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s artificial intelligence hub is working on tools to help in joint, all-domain operations as department leaders seek to use data to gain an advantage on the battlefield. This year, the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center kicked off its joint war-fighting initiative, under which it is developing algorithms to provide armed services and combatant commands with AI tools to accelerate decision-making. Nand Mulchandani, acting director of the JAIC, said the center, for example, is “heavily” involved in the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System, the service’s primary lever to enable the Joint All-Domain Command and Control concept. The system underwent a major test last week. The center is “specifically focused” on working to harness AI to link together systems involved in the intelligence-gathering phase to the operations and effects piece of all-domain operations, Mulchandani added. “It’s how do we actually connect these platforms together end to end to build sort of a system that allows a commander to actually have that level of both visibility on the intel side but able to action it on the other side,” Mulchandani said on a call with reporters Thursday. The JAIC is also working on an operations cognitive assistant tool to support commanders and “drive faster and more efficient decision-making through AI-enabled predictive analytics,” Department of Defense Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy said Thursday at the DoD AI Symposium. “Our goal is to nest these capabilities under the Joint All-Domain Command and Control concept … to provide a more cohesive and synchronized operational framework for the joint force,” Deasy said. Earlier in the summer, a JAIC official said the war-fighting team was trying to aim a laser on an enemy vehicle to inflict damage. But to enable all these tools, one thing is paramount: data. The DoD CIO’s office is set to release its data strategy later this year, with the department’s new chief data officer, Dave Spirk, saying at the symposium that the he worked to reorient a draft of the strategy to ensure the use of data to enable joint war fighting is the top priority. “We’re in a place now where we want to put joint war fighting at the top of the pile of things we’re working on,” Spirk said at the symposium Sept. 9. Deasy also emphasized the importance of data in war fighting during a session at the Billington Cybersecurity Conference that same day. “When we do the exercises, the experiments and things maybe don’t go right — I can guarantee you what they’re going to write down on the whiteboard at the end of that is ‘data.’ Did we have the right data today? Why couldn’t we connect those data across our weapons systems, our various assets?” Deasy said. Critical to the development of artificial intelligence are adequate data storage and development platforms. The JAIC recently awarded a contract worth more than $100 million to Deloitte for the development of the Joint Common Foundation platform, an enterprisewide, cloud-based platform that the center will use to develop AI tools. Meanwhile, DoD components such as the JAIC are also awaiting the deployment of the DoD’s embattled enterprise cloud, the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure. Department officials have continuously pointed to the JEDI cloud as a critical piece of the JAIC’s ability to develop artificial intelligence, as the new technology it is expected to store 80 percent of DoD systems across classification levels and provide massive amounts of data. Deasy said Sept. 9 that JADC2 will require the services to collect and share data with each other in a way that they have never done before, and that may require changes to how they operate. But in order to enable JADC2, he added, a cultural shift in how the services treat their data is needed; if the services want to link sensors to shooters, interoperability of services' systems and data is imperative. “Historically, each service could gather up their data, send it up their command to focus on. But in this new world … the services are going to have to come together, which means the data’s going to have to come together in a very different way,” Deasy said at the Billington Cybersecurity Conference. The DoD is in the "early days of how we’re going to do that,” he added.

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