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June 11, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

House panel unveils $674.6B Pentagon spending bill

BY REBECCA KHEEL - 06/06/18 12:39 PM EDT

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday unveiled its $674.6 billion Pentagon spending bill for fiscal 2019.

The bill would provide $606.5 billion in base discretionary funding, which is about $900 million less than the Trump administration requested but $17.1 billion more than this year's spending level.

The bill would also provide $68.1 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.

“With the changing global dynamics and ever-growing threats to our security, it is absolutely imperative that our military is properly trained, equipped and fully supported in order to do their jobs,” Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said in a statement. “This legislation does all of this by including robust funding for our troops, the defense programs and activities necessary to accomplish our national goals and ideals, and to continue to rebuild our military.”

The money would pay for a boost of 15,600 troops across the military and a 2.6 percent pay raise for service members, both matching what was requested by the administration.

The bill would also provide $145.7 billion for equipment purchases and upgrades. That's split $133 billion for base requirements — or $2.5 billion more than requested — and $12.7 billion in OCO.

The procurement money includes $22.7 billion for 12 new Navy ships, two more ships than the administration requested. The two extra ships are littoral combat ships, which Congress continues to support buying — despite the Navy's plan to transition away from the ship — so that shipyards keep working and will be able to keep pace on future orders.

The bill would also fund a slew of aircraft, including $9.4 billion for 93 F-35 fighter jets and $1.9 billion for 24 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft.

The bill includes funding for the procurement of 16 more F-35s than requested. The plane is built by Lockheed Martin in defense appropriations subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger's (R-Texas) district.

Granger said the bill is an extension of last year's efforts to address readiness shortfalls.

“It is a product of countless meetings and briefings with our military leaders and demonstrates our commitment to ensuring the U.S. military is the strongest, most capable military in the world,” she said in a statement. “Our military must have the resources it needs to respond to and deter threats from countries like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, and also counter violent extremists throughout the world.”

http://thehill.com/policy/defense/391001-house-panel-unveils-6746b-pentagon-spending-bill

On the same subject

  • Australia’s C-130J Super Hercules airlifters to get SATCOM upgrade

    March 1, 2019 | International, Aerospace

    Australia’s C-130J Super Hercules airlifters to get SATCOM upgrade

    By: Mike Yeo Correction: The fuel tanks fitted on the C-130Js are new and not repurposed from the older "H" models, as originally described by the Royal Australian Air Force. MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia is undertaking a series of upgrades to the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules airlifter, improving connectivity, fuel payload and surveillance capabilities with the addition of new equipment. Working together with industry, the Royal Australian Air Force, or RAAF, has installed a wideband satellite communications system and is planning on fitting Litening pods onto one of its C-130J used as a capability demonstrator aircraft. RAAF is fitting external fuel tanks on its C-130J fleet. Group Capt. Tony Bull, director of capability development and transition at the RAAF's Air Mobility Group, told Defense News at the ongoing Avalon Airshow that these modifications are part of the RAAF's Plan Jericho umbrella, which seeks to transform the service into an integrated and networked 5th-generation Air Force. The SATCOM suite features Honeywell's JetWave Ka-band satellite communications hardware and Inmarsat's Global Xpress satellite network. Since it was fitted onto the Jerich Demonstator C-130J in 2017, the suite has successfully demonstrated its ability to use a number of secure military applications that previous technology couldn't enable due to bandwidth restrictions, including live video streaming and encrypted file transfer. According to Bull, the SATCOM system allows personnel on board to be linked with command elements and forces elsewhere, improving their situational awareness even while in transit and allowing missions to be replanned, to assess the battlefield environment. He said that the SATCOM trials have now proven the concept, and the program has since transitioned into a RAAF minor project with the intention being to eventually fit all of the RAAF's 12 C-130Js with the SATCOM capability. This SATCOM capability has not gone unnoticed by the U.S. Air Force, with personnel from Yokota Airbase in Japan, who also operate the C-130J, saying they were impressed by the capability when they encountered it during their interactions with the RAAF. Bull also added that the plan to fit the Rafael/Northrop-Grumman AN/AAQ-28 Litening pod to the C-130J demonstrator, which was revealed recently, will allow the C-130J to conduct surveillance of a target area. He gave the example of its potential use during disaster relief operation, with the pod being able to provide vision of a target area. Forces could then assess needs from either on board the aircraft, or use the SATCOM to stream video to a command or headquarters element elsewhere, and make decisions based on the situational awareness provided. These capability improvements are meant to enhance the C-130J's primary role as an airlifter, however, and the RAAF has no intention to expand the C-130J's missions into that of a surveillance aircraft, for example. Australia has a number of surplus Litening pods as it starts the withdrawal of its F/A-18A/B Hornet multirole fighters over the next few years. The pods were acquired by Australia in 2008 as part of its program to upgrade its fleet of Hornets. Bull also touched on the installation of external fuel tanks onto the C-130Js, with five sets of external fuel tanks now available for use on the C-130Js. In addition to extending the range of the airlifters, the tanks could also be utilized during the forward arming and refuelling point or FARP operations to offload fuel without having to sacrifice the C-130J's own internal fuel capacity or carry it in its main cabin. This frees up space in the aircraft to carry other cargo. These modifications to the RAAF's C-130Js are being conducted in conjunction with Airbus, which is also responsible for providing through life support for Australia's C-130J fleet. The company, which has supported the fleet since 2009, signed a rolling contract in late 2018 to continue the work for an additional six years through to 2024. https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/avalon/2019/02/26/australias-c-130j-super-hercules-airlifters-to-get-satcom-upgrade/

  • Technology alliances will help shape our post-pandemic future

    April 16, 2020 | International, C4ISR

    Technology alliances will help shape our post-pandemic future

    Martijn Rasser There's no question the post-corona world will be very different. How it will look depends on actions the world's leaders take. Decisions made in coming months will determine whether we see a renewed commitment to a rules-based international order, or a fragmented world increasingly dominated by authoritarianism. Whomever steps up to lead will drive the outcome. China seeks the mantle of global leadership. Beijing is exploiting the global leadership vacuum, the fissures between the United States and its allies, and the growing strain on European unity. The Chinese Communist Party has aggressively pushed a narrative of acting swiftly and decisively to contain the virus, building goodwill through ‘mask diplomacy', and sowing doubts about the virus' origin to deflect blame for the magnitude of the crisis and to rewrite history. Even though the results so far are mixed, the absence of the United States on the global stage provides Beijing with good momentum. Before the pandemic, the world's democracies already faced their gravest challenge in decades: the shift of economic power to illiberal states. By late 2019, autocratic regimes accounted for a larger share of global GDP than democracies for the first time since 1900. As former U.K. foreign secretary David Miliband recently observed, “liberal democracy is in retreat.” How the United States and like-minded partners respond post-pandemic will determine if that trend holds. There is urgency to act — the problem is now even more acute. The countries that figure out how to quickly restart and rebuild their economies post-pandemic will set the course for the 21st century. It is not only economic heft that is of concern: political power and military might go hand in hand with economic dominance. At the center of this geostrategic and economic competition are technologies — artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, and 5G — that will be the backbone of the 21st century economy. Leadership and ongoing innovation in these areas will confer critical economic, political, and military power, and the opportunity to shape global norms and values. The pre-crisis trajectory of waning clout in technology development, standards-setting, and proliferation posed an unacceptable and avoidable challenge to the interests of the world's leading liberal-democratic states. The current crisis accentuates this even more: it lays bare the need to rethink and restructure global supply chains; the imperative of ensuring telecommunication networks are secure, robust, and resilient; the ability to surge production of critical materiel, and the need to deter and counteract destructive disinformation. This is difficult and costly — and it is best done in concert. Bold action is needed to set a new course that enhances the ability of the world's democracies to out-compete increasingly capable illiberal states. The growing clout of authoritarian regimes is not rooted in better strategy or more effective statecraft. Rather, it lies in the fractious and complacent nature of the world's democracies and leading technology powers. In response, a new multilateral effort — an alliance framework — is needed to reverse these trends. The world's technology and democracy leaders — the G7 members and countries like Australia, the Netherlands, and South Korea — should join forces to tackle matters of technology policy. The purpose of this initiative is three-fold: one, regain the initiative in the global technology competition through strengthened cooperation between like-minded countries; two, protect and preserve key areas of competitive technological advantage; and three, promote collective norms and values around the use of emerging technologies. Such cooperation is vital to effectively deal with the hardest geopolitical issues that increasingly center on technology, from competing economically to building deterrence to combating disinformation. This group should not be an exclusive club: it should also work with countries like Finland and Sweden to align policies on telecommunications; Estonia, Israel, and New Zealand for cyber issues; and states around the world to craft efforts to counter the proliferation of Chinese surveillance technology and offer sound alternatives to infrastructure development, raw material extraction, and loans from China that erode their sovereignty. The spectrum of scale and ambition this alliance can tackle is broad. Better information sharing would yield benefits on matters like investment screening, counterespionage, and fighting disinformation. Investments in new semiconductor fabs could create more secure and diverse supply chains. A concerted effort to promote open architecture in 5G could usher in a paradigm shift for an entire industry. Collaboration will also be essential to avoiding another pandemic calamity. Similar ideas are percolating among current and former government leaders in capitals such as Tokyo, Berlin, London, and Washington, with thought leaders like Jared Cohen and Anja Manuel, and in think tanks around the world. The task at hand is to collate these ideas, find the common ground, and devise an executable plan. This requires tackling issues like organizational structure, governance, and institutionalization. It also requires making sure that stakeholders from government, industry, and civil society from around the world provide input to make the alliance framework realistic and successful. No one country can expect to achieve its full potential by going it alone, not even the United States. An alliance framework for technology policy is the best way to ensure that the world's democracies can effectively compete economically, politically, and militarily in the 21st century. The links between the world's leading democracies remain strong despite the challenges of the current crisis. These relationships are an enduring and critical advantage that no autocratic country can match. It is time to capitalize on these strengths, retake the initiative, and shape the post-corona world. Martijn Rasser is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. https://www.c4isrnet.com/opinion/2020/04/14/technology-alliances-will-help-shape-our-post-pandemic-future/

  • New Materials Architectures Sought to Cool Hypersonic Vehicles

    December 19, 2018 | International, Aerospace

    New Materials Architectures Sought to Cool Hypersonic Vehicles

    Hypersonic vehicles fly through the atmosphere at incredibly high speeds, creating intense friction with the surrounding air as they travel at Mach 5 or above – five times faster than sound travels. Developing structures that can withstand furnace-like temperatures at such high speeds is a technical challenge, especially for leading edges that bear the brunt of the heat. To address this thermal challenge, DARPA recently announced its Materials Architectures and Characterization for Hypersonics (MACH) program. The MACH program seeks to develop and demonstrate new design and material solutions for sharp, shape-stable, cooled leading edges for hypersonic vehicles. A Proposers Day describing the program will take place January 22, 2019 in Arlington, Virginia: https://go.usa.gov/xEcEy. “For decades people have studied cooling the hot leading edges of hypersonic vehicles but haven't been able to demonstrate practical concepts in flight,” said Bill Carter, program manager in DARPA's Defense Sciences Office. “The key is developing scalable materials architectures that enable mass transport to spread and reject heat. In recent years we've seen advances in thermal engineering and manufacturing that could enable the design and fabrication of very complex architectures not possible in the past. If successful, we could see a breakthrough in mitigating aerothermal effects at the leading edge that would enhance hypersonic performance.” The MACH program will comprise two technical areas. The first area aims to develop and mature fully integrated passive thermal management system to cool leading edges based on scalable net-shape manufacturing and advanced thermal design. The second technical area will focus on next-generation hypersonic materials research, applying modern high-fidelity computation capabilities to develop new passive and active thermal management concepts, coatings and materials for future cooled hypersonic leading edge applications. Both technical areas will be described in a Broad Agency Announcement solicitation expected in mid-January 2019 on DARPA's FedBizOpps page here: http://go.usa.gov/Dom. The MACH program seeks expertise in thermal engineering and design, advanced computational materials development, architected materials design, fabrication and testing (including net shape fabrication of high temperature metals, ceramics and their composites), hypersonic leading-edge design and performance, and advanced thermal protection systems. Registration details for Proposers Day are available here: http://events.sa-meetings.com/MACHProposersDay. https://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2018-12-17

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