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March 31, 2021 | International, Naval

Naval Group trumpets its Australian industry focus in submarine deal

The French shipbuilder has committed to spending 60 percent of the Attack-class submarine program's value in Australia.

On the same subject

  • Winning The Spectrum: Pentagon Unveils New Strategy

    May 19, 2020 | International, Security

    Winning The Spectrum: Pentagon Unveils New Strategy

    By BRYAN CLARK and TIMOTHY WALTON on May 19, 2020 at 4:01 AM The Electromagnetic Spectrum is the key to waging electronic warfare, and EW is key to waging modern war. An enemy who can jam communications or GPS, mislead you (spoofing is the term of art) and stop your weapons from functioning (cyber attacks using radio waves). The US largely abandoned EW after the Cold War ended. Then the Russians made it very clear in their war against Ukraine just how effective EW could be and senior folks in the US military grew uneasy. They and Congress realized how much we had made ourselves vulnerable and the Hill ordered creation of a group to devise a strategy to restore American EW eminence. Bryan Clark and Tim Walton of the Hudson Institute preview the new strategy below — only at Breaking D Read on! The Editor. The electromagnetic spectrum is getting more popular and crowded every day. As Breaking D readers know, the DoD and FCC are battling over frequencies adjacent to those used by GPS, which the telecommunication company Ligado wants to use for its satellite-based 5G network. DoD worries that Ligado's transmissions will drown out the relatively weak signals that reach Earth from GPS satellites. Ligado fired what is only the first of what will be many salvos in the 5G spectrum battle. To achieve 5G's promised low latency and broadband speed telecommunication companies require wider swaths of spectrum compared to 4G–some of which they don't control. With high-frequency millimeter wave 5G towers only able to reach a few city blocks, telecom providers like Ligado are pursuing mid and low-band spectrum below 6 Ghz that enables greater coverage–but also puts them in conflict with FAA and military radars, radios, and GPS. The clamor for 5G spectrum comes as DoD is itself fielding a collection of new networks to support its concept of Joint All Domain Command and Control, or JADC2. The Army Integrated Tactical Network, Air Force Air Battle Management System, and Navy Integrated Fire Control combine existing datalinks and radios with emerging communications systems to connect all U.S. forces across a theater, placing new demands on spectrum. But the EM spectrum is also a global common like the air or sea. To prevent U.S. forces from operating effectively, the Chinese and Russian militaries spent the last 20 years modernizing their electronic warfare equipment, training new EW operators and technicians, and placing EW forces in every unit or formation. During the same period, DoD rested on its Cold War laurels and failed to invest in EW systems or training. DoD strategies developed in 2013 and 2017 addressed the growing challenges of managing and controlling the EM spectrum by directing services to develop better versions of current capabilities and concepts but failed to significantly close the gaps between the U.S. and adversary militaries. Congress, increasingly worried, mandated that DoD stand up an EM Spectrum Operations Cross-Functional Team and create a new strategy. That is nearing completion and may be DoD's last opportunity to gain an enduring advantage in the EM spectrum. New EM Spectrum Superiority Strategy Instead of incrementally improving existing EM systems and tactics in a doomed effort to solve capability shortfalls, the new EM Spectrum Superiority Strategy will emphasize how to undermine the strengths and exploit the weaknesses of adversaries in the EM spectrum. The strategies' initiatives will be targeted at fundamental asymmetries between U.S. and opposing militaries that can provide DoD leverage. A change in approach is desperately needed. The U.S. military didn't fall behind in EW and EM Spectrum Operations due to a lack of funding, as spending for both rose steadily since 2015, but because the additional dollars were not spent implementing a coherent strategy. Funding instead upgraded legacy systems to fill various capability gaps, not all of which were high priorities. Under today's plans, DoD will take decades to catch great power adversaries enjoying “home team” advantages and the luxury of focusing on only one potential opponent. Moreover, post-pandemic budget constraints will likely prevent increasing funding to plug capability gaps faster. The key asymmetry between the U.S. and opposing great power militaries is the simple facft that Chinese and Russian are close to likely areas of conflict. China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the Russian Armed Forces can place EW and sensor systems on their own territory or in nearby sea or airspace where they can rely on reliable and difficult-to-jam wired or line-of-sight EM communications. Leveraging their understanding of the environment, Chinese and Russian forces can employ passive, multistatic, and low-frequency EM sensors and pre-architected systems of systems and tactics to find and attack U.S. forces. The U.S. military must span the world. This requires a more expeditionary force and adaptable C2 process compared to the Chinese or Russians, and which can accommodate more contested communications, changing force packages, and the variety of local conditions. When communications are lost, junior leaders of U.S. forces would employ mission command, exploiting their initiative and judgement to improvise a course of action that follows the commander's intent. Giving The Enemy Something To Worry About The PLA's reliance on pre-planned, static systems of systems and tactics could be a liability against highly dynamic and unpredictable U.S. spectrum operations. The EM Spectrum Superiority Strategy should exploit this opportunity by adopting new operational concepts that emphasize maneuver and complexity. A maneuver-centric approach doesn't require across-the-board improvements to U.S. EM spectrum systems. To create complexity for opponents U.S. forces need capabilities for dynamic and automated spectrum sharing with commercial or military users guided by electronic support sensors and electromagnetic battle management, or EMBM, systems. To protect themselves from enemy attack, U.S. forces would rely on passive or multistatic sensing, complemented by LPI/LPD communications and electronic countermeasures. And U.S. electronic attacks would need the agility afforded by AI-enabled cognitive jammers that use photonics to move across wide ranges of spectrum. The ability of cognitive jammers or EMBM systems to understand the EM environment will depend on their access to information on threat, friendly, and civilian EM spectrum systems. Today, data and analysis from the Intelligence Community is slow to reach operators and slower still to be programmed into EW equipment. DoD will need to establish new frameworks for EM spectrum information sharing and build on its recent success in accelerating the reprogramming process by incorporating AI to a greater degree in deployed EW and EMBM systems. Capabilities for complex and unpredictable EM operations will be difficult to define for today's top-down requirements process, which seeks a point solution for a particular application and situation. DoD will need to identify potential new EM capabilities through comprehensive assessments of their mission impact in a variety scenarios using modeling and simulation or experimentation and mature them through new processes like the DoD Adaptive Acquisition Framework. The most challenging element of a new strategy will be preparing EW and EM spectrum operators for maneuver warfare. DoD's current ranges are unable to provide realistic EM operating environments for experimentation or training due to a lack of modern threat systems and concerns that adversaries can monitor U.S. EM emissions during live, open-air events. Rather than focusing on expensive range upgrades, DoD should shift its emphasis to virtual and constructive events, which would enable concept development, tactics innovation, and training against the most challenging threats at all security levels. The urgency to change DoD cannot continue pursuing EMS superiority through incremental, evolutionary improvements. This approach is too unfocused, will take too long to reach fruition, is potentially unaffordable, and cedes the initiative to America's adversaries. DoD should move in a new direction and focus EM capability development on implementing concepts for maneuver warfare that create adaptability for U.S. forces and complexity for adversaries. If the DoD does not mount a new more strategic and proactive approach to fighting in the EM spectrum, adversaries could be emboldened to continue their efforts to gain territory and influence at the expense of U.S. allies and partners. Demonstrating the ability to survive and fight in a contested and congested EM spectrum could help U.S. forces slow Chinese and Russian activities and give them something to worry about for a change. Bryan Clark is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. Timothy Walton is a fellow at Hudson.

  • 3-D printer keeps F-35B flying during USS Wasp deployment

    April 24, 2018 | International, Naval

    3-D printer keeps F-35B flying during USS Wasp deployment

    MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — State-of-the-art parts fabrication is keeping America's most advanced stealth fighter in the air during its first deployment aboard the USS Wasp. When a plastic bumper for a landing-gear door wore out this month on an F-35B Lightning II embarked on the amphibious assault ship, a 3-D printer was used to whip up a new one. The Iwakuni-based jet from Fighter Attack Squadron 121 later flew successfully with the new part, a Marine statement said. Called “additive manufacturing,” the process from Naval Air Systems Command allowed the Marines of Combat Logistics Battalion 31 to create the new bumper and get it approved for use within days, the statement said. Otherwise, they would have had to replace the entire door assembly, which is expensive and time consuming. “While afloat, our motto is ‘fix it forward,'” Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Rodriguez, CLB-31's maintenance officer, said in the statement. “3-D printing is a great tool to make that happen.” The Navy said parts created using the 3-D printer are only a temporary fix, but it kept the jet from being grounded while waiting for a replacement from the United States. Lt. Col Richard Rusnok, commander of VMFA-121, lauded the use of the new technology. “Although our supply personnel and logisticians do an outstanding job getting us parts, being able to rapidly make our own parts is a huge advantage as it cuts down our footprint thus making us more agile in a shipboard or expeditionary environment,” he said in the statement. Marine Sgt. Adrian Willis, a computer and telephone technician who created the bumper, said he was thrilled to be involved in the process. “I think 3-D printing is definitely the future — it's absolutely the direction the Marine Corps needs to be going,” he said in the statement. The printer has been used multiple times during the patrol, the Navy said, including to create a lens cap for a camera on a small, unmanned ground vehicle used by an explosive ordnance disposal team. Templates for the parts will be uploaded to a Marine Corps-wide 3-D printing database to make them accessible to other units. Twitter: @bolingerj2004

  • Head of Saudi Arabia’s defense industry umbrella org talks Vision 2030

    August 28, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR

    Head of Saudi Arabia’s defense industry umbrella org talks Vision 2030

    By: Jill Aitoro LONDON — In spring 2016, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman unveiled a plan to reduce the country's dependence on oil and to diversify the economy. The goal of Saudi Vision 2030, as that plan is known, is to make Saudi Arabia “the heart of the Arab and Islamic worlds, the investment powerhouse, and the hub connecting three continents.” Among the sectors central to that vision is military. Taking cues from other countries in the region, Saudi Arabia stood up a single umbrella organization to lead its efforts in defense development and expertise: the Saudi Arabian Military Industries. Defense News spoke to CEO Andreas Schwer in an exclusive interview about the goals of SAMI, and what it could mean for global defense partnership and cooperation. You lead the Saudi Arabian Military Industries. I would love for you to talk a bit about how SAMI, as it's known, was stood up and the goals of that organization. When the Vision 2030 program was established and defined by his royal highness, it became apparent right from the beginning that the defense industry would play a major role to achieve these global targets. So the defense industry, set up, is one of the major tasks of the Vision 2030 program. They established a team to define how this kind of defense industry should be set up. They were looking to comparable countries who are undergoing this kind of process — countries like Turkey, South Korea, South Africa or some Western countries. They have tried to learn the lessons out of that process. It was obvious that there are two choices: either to go for a [new company], or to use existing assets and to build up on those assets. They decided to go [new] in order to enhance the opportunity to implement best Western practices from the beginning. That was the key decision to go ahead, and they decided to build a nucleus which is covering any kind of [military] activities, starting from space, ground or naval activities under one big umbrella company to set up a kind of sustainable business instead of having different companies of smaller size. Are they operating relatively independently, or is it really one management structure? SAMI itself is acting as a kind of active holding company. We will operate through four business divisions. Each of the business divisions will be composed of a set of business units. A business unit is a joint venture with a foreign partner, but it would also integrate the existing assets in the kingdom into this umbrella environment; assets which are already joint ventures today but also nationally owned assets, which will be allocated to the various business divisions. I know you have an extensive career with defense companies. You were with Rheinmetall, and you spent time at Airbus. What interested you about this opportunity? It's quite unique overall in the world that to set up a new company which covers, again, all the product portfolio you can imagine. Space, aviation, land systems, hydraulic simulation, ammunition, shipbuilding, everything. I don't think there's any job in the world which offers you this kind of broad portfolio of activities. So it's unique. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance. And the second argument is it's fantastic to set up a company. You can apply all your ideas, all the activity to form and shape something which otherwise you will never be able to do, versus ending up in an organization where almost all elements are predefined and it's hard to implement any kind of significant change. You have said that the goal for SAMI is to become one of the largest 25 defense companies in the world by 2030. How do you intend to make that happen? Saudi Arabia has the third-biggest defense budget in the world. It's around $70 billion throughout the year. On top of that, we have to look to all the budgets for the other customers on the domestic scene. It's the National Guard, the Royal Guard, Ministry of Interior, homeland security. There are lots of national customers [for] security-related equipment. Most of that will end up at SAMI's desk. So just by the volume and the size of the procurement, it's achievable, [also with] export potential of 30 percent. With that, you can easily achieve the target to become among the top 25 companies in the world. The Pentagon started working with Saudi Arabia on some very sizable foreign military sales from the United States, with the Trump administration very vocal about supporting that. How does that fit into the picture? There are lots of partnership opportunities. Those [foreign military sales] will be subject to our new scenario. We will apply for each and any of those contracts with the 50 percent localization rule, to be in line with Vision 2030. And whether it's a foreign military sale or whether it's a direct commercial sale, those sorts of buys will offer in all the local industries great opportunities for growth. So it's a good opportunity? You would say it's a positive? It's possible. But we have to make the target. We have to grow the local content from the 2 percent to more than 50 percent of the total span, new procurement, and [maintenance, repair and overhaul]. That's the target: 50 percent localization. That brings up an interesting point. Saudi Arabia has long voiced, like many countries in the Middle East, a desire for more indigenous capabilities. You mentioned the 50 percent localization in terms of contract opportunities, but how else can SAMI promote those aspirations? In the past, we've had the classic vendor-buyer relationship. Saudi Arabia was the classic buyer with very, very little local content. There were offset obligations, but most of the times they were never being fulfilled for different reasons. In the new scheme, we change from this kind of supplier-vendor relationship to a partnership model, a partnership model to the extent that we expect the foreign partner — under the terms of their exclusivity access to Saudi Arabia — to bring all their technologies, all the skills and knowledge into the kingdom. That typically is established through a joint venture so we can build up local competence not only by getting licenses for production, but in the engineering and R&D field to be able to develop the next generation of weapons systems, within the joint venture, within the kingdom. And you established a joint venture with Boeing. Can use that as an example? Saudi Arabia has a very long-lasting, strategic relationship with Boeing. It started many years ago, and we already have an established joint venture in the kingdom, where we conduct substantial aircraft MRO activities. Our future collaboration is obviously centered around this activity and will be expanded along the portfolio of Boeing products. Boeing is a showcase. Boeing is one of our most important partners. What does Saudi Arabia bring to the table both in terms of location, and technological capabilities? What is ripe for expansion within the country to support the military industry? As I mentioned before, we're the third-largest defense budget in the world. If you compare this budget with smaller budgets in other countries and if you compare what they have achieved in terms of localization — we have all the ingredients which we need to have in order to make this a success story. We will invest not only in the defense industry, but we also do a big push in the education system in universities, in any kind of area which needs support in order to get this industry up and running, to support the creation of jobs, to fulfill the Vision 2030. SAMI's obligation is to create more than 40,000 direct jobs, more than 100,000 indirect jobs, to achieve the target as defined. Are there things that the United States and other allies can do to better support Saudi Arabia with this military expansion? If there was a wish, we would love to get more access to top-class technologies from all the U.S. partners. There are obviously limitations, which we are suffering from. That's the one element. So be a little bit more open. And second, export in arms and weapons was driven by FMS programs. In our new set up in Saudi Arabia, we will do more and more in direct commercial sales. Why? Because this office has more flexibility, more opportunity for follow-up in the organization in a more time-effective manner. And yes, companies have to be trained, in that they have to change the mindsets and mentality in order to do this kind of normal type of commercial sales activity and to become a commercial partner on an industrial level rather than on a political or governmental level. They'll need to convince the Pentagon to allow them, too, because there's a lot of cases where the Pentagon tends to put in restrictions and wants to be in control of that relationship. You are absolutely right. This is a burden on the U.S. companies, and I wish them all the best in order to overcome the hurdle [so we] will be equally treated as many other companies who are not restricted by their governments. Some western European countries, for example, are offering much more support in that respect. Offering more opportunities for the companies to transfer their ideas, their technologies into the kingdom. Saudi Arabia had a bit of a shakeup in terms of its own military leadership. Where does that stand, if you don't mind my asking, and how does that influence the formation and growth of SAMI? The Vision 2030 program has many elements. So it's a transformation program, not only for society but also for the governmental administration. And as [the armed forces] are part of this administration body, they also have to undergo this transformation process. This is an ongoing process. The first steps have been done. One of the outcomes is the creation and foundation of the new regulatory body, which is the twin to SAMI, to host a centralized procurement agency, which they regulate and control and manage any kind of military and defense-related or security-related procurement action. This will ensure critical mass, synergy effects, volume effects, and allow us to build up a kind of sustainable business. With this kind of transformation, obviously, the roles and the responsibilities of administrative bodies, as well as leaders in the forces, have to change. And in line with that, some people have to be replaced, to be in full support with this new vision and to be completely in line with our targets, and I can tell you we have relationships with all the national stakeholders, and we consider ourselves with them as partners. They are no longer a client, we are no longer vendor to them; we are partners. You mentioned R&D. What areas do you see the greatest potential in terms of investment for development and product development? We will put our focus on software technologies, electronics, microwave, space-based technologies, robotics, laser weapons systems on the midterm and long term, but in in the short term we have to give the short-term needs, which are conventional in nature. So, in the beginning, as all the other companies are doing, are on the classical systems. How do you meld what Saudi Arabia as a nation needs for its own military with the potential for global export? Upmost importance and top priority is the security of the country. That means, yes, our top priority is to serve the needs of our armed forces, and we try in parallel to satisfy also the needs of our strategic partners. In most of the cases those are quite complementary. You see a lot of efforts in the United Arab Emirates to bolster defense. Is there a collaboration between the military organizations that are stood up in a country like UAE and what you're trying to establish in Saudi Arabia? Top leadership of UAE and Saudi Arabia have recently agreed on a strong collaboration on defense, and defense industries, so we are highly encouraged to align our thoughts and to align our strategies with our counterparts in the UAE. This process is ongoing, but we've had very fruitful collaborative talks, and soon we'll hopefully be in a position to announce some great, common achievements.

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