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June 11, 2021 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR

L’industrie s’engage pour la robotisation des armées

L’Usine Nouvelle consacre un article à la robotisation croissante des armées, soutenue par les industriels. Nexter, Safran, Thales, comptent notamment parmi les grands maîtres d’œuvre industriels fournisseurs majeurs de l’armée de Terre. Des instituts de recherche apportent également leurs connaissances comme l’ONERA, l’Institut Saint-Louis ou encore l’Institut Vedecom, dédié à la mobilité individuelle, décarbonée et durable. Ils développent principalement des logiciels permettant aux robots de se déplacer de manière autonome et d’agir en meute, voire en essaim. Le magazine rappelle que la France refuse les robots tueurs : la décision de tir ne peut être automatisée, elle appartient au soldat. 

L’Usine Nouvelle du 11 juin 

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  • Nearly All the F-35 Jet Engines Ordered Last Year Arrived Late

    March 4, 2020 | International, Aerospace

    Nearly All the F-35 Jet Engines Ordered Last Year Arrived Late

    By Anthony Capaccio Nearly all the engines ordered for the next-generation F-35 jet were delivered late last year as the Pratt & Whitney unit of United Technologies Corp. struggled to solve nagging difficulties with parts and suppliers, according to the Pentagon. About 85% of the engines for the stealthy fighter were delivered late in 2019, the Defense Department’s F-35 program office reported, adding that Pratt & Whitney did manage to deliver more engines than required. The tardiness figure was in line with data from 2018, but up from 48% and 58% in 2016 and 2017, respectively. “In general, the monthly schedule performance continues to be impacted by issues with parts and suppliers which the program office is monitoring closely,” the program office said in statement Tuesday. Pratt & Whitney “continues to perform reviews” within its expansive production chain and “has made some progress but more progress is needed to meet the monthly schedule,” it added. Engine delivery issues are just one problem that has plagued the jet’s manufacturing ahead of a key decision expected in the next year on whether to move ahead into full-rate production on the $428 billion F-35 program. The fighter has also been flagged for breaking down too often, carrying a 25mm gun that doesn’t shoot accurately and having shortages in its supply chain for spare parts from tire assemblies to seats. Some of the problems have since been fixed. Nevertheless, the jet is a key part of a broader weapons modernization effort meant to bolster not just the U.S. military but those of key allies from Poland to Japan. As the sole provider of F-35 engines, Pratt & Whitney and its subcontractors are in line to collect as much as $66 billion of the total jet contract. Congress has approved about $27 billion to date for F-35 engines. But the eventual decision on full-rate production means Pratt & Whitney needs to show it can ramp up production effectively. Overall, 128 of 150 engines delivered last year arrived late, eight arrived on time and 14 came in ahead of schedule, according to the F-35 program office. Of 93 engines in the 11th low-rate production contract bloc, 90 arrived an average of 41 days late. In a statement, the company emphasized that it “exceeded its annual F-35 engine delivery commitment” for 2019. “This represents a 60% year-over-year increase in deliveries. We remain laser-focused on working closely” with the program office and “our supply base to achieving on-time delivery in 2020.” Pratt & Whitney remains under a high-level “Corrective Action Request” that the Defense Contract Management Agency issued in December 2018, citing “poor delivery performance.” The agency said it’s evaluating the company’s corrective actions and may rescind the CAR by month’s end. The company has made improvements in four areas, including deploying “focus teams” to subcontractors for ensuring adequate “critical hardware” and qualifying additional suppliers, DCMA said. Asked if the company was ready for accelerated full-rate engine production, the agency said “as the P&W suppliers demonstrate success in meeting their contract delivery rate the probability of P&W meeting their full-rate production level increases.

  • Army’s Rapid Tech Office Set To Deliver Initial Hypersonics Capability In FY ’23, 50KW Laser Weapon In FY ’22

    July 24, 2019 | International, Land

    Army’s Rapid Tech Office Set To Deliver Initial Hypersonics Capability In FY ’23, 50KW Laser Weapon In FY ’22

    The Army’s retooled rapid capabilities office has received approval to move ahead with its programs to deliver an initial combat capability for a hypersonic weapon in fiscal year 2023, with plans to announce a prototype award in August, and a Stryker-mounted…

  • Battle Force 2045 could work — if defense leaders show some discipline

    October 23, 2020 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    Battle Force 2045 could work — if defense leaders show some discipline

    By: Timothy A. Walton and Bryan Clark  U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper is sprinting. With less than four months left in the administration’s term, he unveiled a new vision for the Navy that would grow the fleet to more than 500 manned and unmanned vessels from today’s 296 ships. Although some dismiss Esper’s Battle Force 2045 concept as a political ploy shortly before an election, it could lead to a more effective and affordable future fleet — as long as Navy and Department of Defense leaders can avoid loading it down with expensive options. The Navy clearly needs to change its force design and operational approach. Even though naval forces are increasingly important to deter and defeat Chinese aggression, the Navy’s previous plan to build a force of 355 ships lacked resilience and firepower, fell short on logistics, and was projected to cost 50 percent more than the current fleet. The Navy tried to adjust that plan with an integrated naval force structure assessment, but Esper rejected it, as it failed to implement new concepts for distributed multidomain operations and would be too expensive to realistically field. Instead, over the course of nine months, he and Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist led a study taking a fresh look at the Navy’s force structure. The Hudson Institute contributed to the project by developing one of three fleet designs that informed the new plan. Hudson’s proposed fleet is affordable to acquire and operate. Even though it consists of 581 vessels, more than 200 are unmanned or have small crews. The Hudson study’s conservative estimates suggest it can be acquired for the ship construction funding in the Navy’s President’s Budget for fiscal 2021, adjusted for inflation, and would only cost moderately more than the current one to operate. The Hudson proposal becomes more affordable than the Navy’s plan by gradually rebalancing the fleet to incorporate more smaller, less-expensive ships and fewer large multimission combatants. The proposed fleet would also constrain the size and cost of some large new ships, such as the future large surface combatant and next-generation attack submarine. Employing new operational concepts, the proposed fleet would outperform the current Navy in important metrics for future operations. First, the proposed fleet’s groups of manned and unmanned vessels would generate more numerous and diverse effects chains compared to today’s Navy, improving the force’s adaptability and imposing greater complexity on enemy decision-making. Second, the fleet would deliver more offensive munitions from vessels and aircraft over a protracted period, and defend itself more effectively using distribution, shorter-range interceptors and electric weapons. Lastly, it enhances the fleet’s amphibious, logistics and strategic sealift capacity. Overall, this results in a Navy that can help the joint force prevail across a range of potential scenarios, including the most challenging ones such as an attempted Chinese attack on Taiwan. The Hudson fleet is also achievable. Its shipbuilding plan relies on mature technologies or allows sufficient time to complete needed engineering and operational concept development before moving ships into serial production. The plan sustains the industrial base through stable ship-construction rates that avoid gaps in production and smoothly transition between ship classes. Even with this measured approach, however, the fleet can rapidly evolve, reaching more than 355 manned and unmanned vessels by 2030, and 581 by 2045. Although Battle Force 2045 focuses on ships, the Navy needs to spend more on improving repair yard infrastructure, growing munitions stocks, and providing command-and-control capabilities to the force. As the Hudson study shows, ship construction savings could help fund these and other enablers, but only if the Navy and the DoD have the discipline to avoid expensive new investments, such as building a third attack submarine every year, installing boost-glide hypersonic missiles on old destroyers or pursuing a significantly larger combatant to follow the Arleigh Burke class. Even if the procurement cost of these programs was funded through budget shifts within the DoD, each will incur a sustainment bill that is not factored into Navy plans and could accelerate the descent toward a hollow force. The Navy is now developing a new shipbuilding plan as part of its FY22 budget submission. Congress should carefully assess that plan and, in collaboration with the DoD, refine the budget. Esper may depart, but the results of this study can serve as a starting point for an operationally effective and fiscally sustainable fleet for the next administration. Timothy A. Walton is a fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Defense Concepts and Technology, where Bryan Clark is a senior fellow. Along with Seth Cropsey, they recently completed a study of future naval force structure.

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