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August 6, 2018 | International, Naval, C4ISR

Navy satellite system approved for expanded use


U.S. Strategic Command has approved the Navy's new narrowband satellite communication system for expanded operational use, which could begin as early as this fall, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command announced Aug. 2.

“MUOS' acceptance for operational use is an important milestone for the Navy, and it's one step closer for significant communications improvements for all our forces,” Rear Adm. Carl Chebi, the Navy's program executive officer for space systems, said in the release.

The Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), built by Lockheed Martin, is a five-satellite constellation, which includes four operational satellites and an on-orbit spare, that works with ground relays to operate like a global military cellular network. The first satellite launched in 2012.

The system can transmit voice, video and mission data on an Internet Protocol based system that can connect to military networks. Users can connect to Department of Defense communications networks such as the Global Information Grid and Defense Switched Network.

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  • Italy signals slowdown on F-35 orders

    November 12, 2018 | International, Aerospace

    Italy signals slowdown on F-35 orders

    By: Tom Kington ROME — Italy will stretch out the order of F-35 fighter jets, buying six or seven of the aircraft in the next five years instead of the previously planned 10 jets, a government source told Defense News. The decision follows a review of the program by Italy's populist government, which took office in June and is mulling defense spending cuts to pay for social welfare programs and cover tax cuts. The source said the plan did not envisage a reduction in orders, merely a slowdown of intake, which would leave the decision of the total F-35 purchase to a future government. Previous governments planned to buy 60 F-35As and 30 F-35Bs for a total of 90 aircraft. The new government will focus on spending plans over its five-year mandate and not beyond, the source said, adding that discussions are underway with the U.S. about the change in schedule. The decision on the slowdown keeps with Italian policy on the F-35 set out by Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta after she took office in June. “What I would like to do is lighten the load, since we have other spending commitments in Europe. We will try to stretch out deliveries instead of cutting the order, which would reduce offsets and mean penalties,” she told Defense News at the time. Italy has taken delivery of 10 F-35As and one F-35B. Two of the "A" models as well as the "B" model are being used for training in the U.S., while eight "A" models are now based at the Italian Air Force's base in Amendola, southern Italy. Trenta was tapped for office by the Five Star party, one of two political parties in Italy's current coalition government. Five Star politicians took a hostile line toward the F-35 program before taking office, at one point promising to scrap it. However, a defense spending document released last month suggests the government will maintain spending on the program in the next two years, with €766 million (U.S. $874 million) due to be spent in 2019 and €783 million in 2020. Those figures should be treated as provisional until the overall budget is signed in Parliament in the coming weeks. Five Star politicians have also shown hostility toward another U.S. defense program — the ground station planned in Sicily to support the Mobile User Objective System, or MUOS, network, a U.S. Navy-run satellite network providing voice and data communications to U.S. military personnel and platforms around the world, even when they are under thick forest canopies. Long held up by legal challenges in Sicily amid health fears, sources have said the MUOS antenna in Sicily could soon see final approval from the Italian government.

  • Government watchdog warns of cost and technical risk for next-gen combat vehicle effort

    August 10, 2020 | International, Land

    Government watchdog warns of cost and technical risk for next-gen combat vehicle effort

    By: Jen Judson WASHINGTON — The Government Accountability Office is warning the Army its approach to cost estimates and technical development for its Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle program is risky and should be amended, according to an August 6 report. The Army has already struggled to get the OMFV program, intended to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, off the ground, canceling its previous solicitation to compete after receiving just one bid from General Dynamics Land Systems last fall. And GAO, in its report, is concerned that the service's newest attempt to get after delivering an OMFV comes with risk because the program documentation “does not clearly communicate the uncertainty associated with projected costs” and limits the program's “ability to gather the knowledge to effectively mitigate risk associated with system design maturity.” For one, the Army has come up with a singular cost estimate for the life-cycle of the program rather than a range of potential costs that takes uncertainty into account, according to the report. The OMFV program cost estimate, the report notes, is roughly $46 billion in fiscal 2019 dollars. “Our past work has determined that a point estimate alone is insufficient for managers to make informed decisions about the cost of a program,” the GAO writes. “For informed decisions, the cost estimate must reflect a degree of uncertainty, typically achieved through an uncertainty analysis, so that level of confidence can be given about the estimate.” For example, the OMFV program will be optionally manned, “which adds complexity and unknowns to the design as no vehicle like this currently exists in the Army's ground vehicle fleet,” the GAO said. “But the uncertainty surrounding this complex design is not reflected in the point estimate.” And because of this “decision makers are left making choices without a clear understanding of the impact on costs and may not be able to accurately budget for the program,” the report states. The constrained development schedule for OMFV is also a cause for concern as it inevitably drives risk into the program. GAO notes the Army had laid out, in its previous solicitation, a plan to design and demonstrate an OMFV prototype in three years and three months, but has since spread the schedule out a bit more with the relaunch of the program and now plans to complete system development and prototype demonstration in “close to” five years. The new solicitation also lays out a five-phase effort that will allow the Army to reassess the process at certain checkpoints throughout development, according to the report. The GAO also found promise in the Army's plan to use a modular open systems architecture to incorporate incremental upgrades. In the Army's previous plan for OMFV it also planned to use a mix of existing and new technologies but, the GAO report states, the program did not include plans to complete an independent technology readiness assessment until it was approaching a production decision. According to the Office of the Under Secretary for Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, in a report to Congress, “the least mature technology for OMFV had only been demonstrated at the component level in a laboratory environment,” the report notes, adding that the level of technology maturity would require “significant” additional development before it could be added to a weapon system. “The Army is maturing, or has plans to mature, individual technologies to a level lower than the threshold recommended by leading practices before beginning system development,” the report says. “This creates a danger of limited insight into key technology risks.” Critical technologies, GAO states, should be demonstrated in “an operational or realistic environment — not simply in a relevant environment — prior to their incorporation into a system design to ensure that they work as intended for the end-user.” The GAO adds, based on past experience, that without proving out technology at that level, the Army risks the possibility that new capabilities won't work as planned and will require further maturation, which results in schedule slips and rising costs. In the previous competition, OMFV didn't hold a systems engineering design review before beginning system development and the Army canceled the solicitation “in part due to the conclusion that contractors could not complete a system design that met requirements within the given schedule,” the report notes, which “illustrates the risk of beginning system development without conducting a systems engineering design review.” Program officials told the GAO that the program office and requirements developers “may have misjudged the ability of contractors to integrate the desired technology within the given schedule.” The GAO recommends the Army secretary direct the OMFV program office to include a range of cost estimates to support a range of possible outcomes as well as conduct systems engineering reviews at key decision points. The report also lays out similar findings on the Mobile Protected Firepower program, which is heading into competitive prototype testing this summer. General Dynamics Land Systems and BAE Systems are competing to build the new light tank for Army infantry. The GAO recommended the Army should ensure the MPF program also include a range of cost estimates that account for uncertainty.

  • Airbus Corporate Jets wins first A321LR order for two aircraft

    August 14, 2020 | International, Aerospace

    Airbus Corporate Jets wins first A321LR order for two aircraft

    August 14, 2020 - Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) has won the first A321LR order for two aircraft from Lufthansa Technik, highlighting the market appeal and versatility of the A320neo Family. The aircraft will be multi-role capable and can be equipped for various types of missions, such as troop transport, different MedEvac role setups (medical evacuation) and will be operated by the German Air Force (Luftwaffe). Lufthansa Technik has now placed a total order of five Airbus aircraft on behalf of the German Government: three ACJ350-900s and two A321LRs. The A321LRs will be able to fly up to 163 passengers, up to 6 intensive care patients and up to 12 medium care patients, depending on the installed configuration, with a maximum range of 4,200nm/7,800km or 9.5 flight hours. “We are thrilled Lufthansa Technik has become the launch customer for the ACJ long-range version of the world's best-selling A321neo,” said Benoit Defforge, ACJ President. “The ACJ320 Family features the widest cabin of any single-aisle aircraft in the sky, providing the greatest passenger comfort and intercontinental range. Lufthansa Technik and the German Government have a long-standing relationship with Airbus and we are proud of this new milestone order with us.” The A321LR is a member of the A320neo Family with over 7,400 orders by more than 110 customers. It delivers 30 per cent fuel savings and nearly 50 per cent reduction in noise footprint compared to previous generation competitor aircraft. With a range of up to 4,000nm (7,400km), with 206 passengers, the A321LR is the unrivalled long-range route opener, featuring true transatlantic capability and premium wide-body comfort in a single-aisle aircraft cabin. Featuring the most spacious cabins of any business jet, while being similar in size to competing large-cabin aircraft, the ACJ320neo Family also delivers similar operating costs. The ACJ320neo Family can do this because its lower maintenance and training overheads – part of its airliner heritage – deliver a similar total cost when combined with fuel and navigation and landing charges. Some 12,000 Airbus aircraft are in service worldwide, supported by a globe-spanning network of spares and training centres, giving corporate jet customers unmatched support in the field. Airbus corporate jet customers also benefit from services tailored to their particular needs, such as the “one call handles all” corporate jet customer care centre (C4you), and customised maintenance programmes. Combined with the inherent reliability that comes from aircraft designed to fly many times a day, the ACJ320neo Family is both dependable and available when customers need it. Airbus corporate jets are part of the world's most modern aircraft family, which delivers, as standard, features which either cost more, or are unavailable, in competitors. These features include the protection and simplicity of fly-by-wire controls, the benefits of Category 3B autoland, and time and cost-saving centralised maintenance on all systems. Around 200 Airbus corporate jets are in service on every continent, including Antarctica, highlighting their versatility in challenging environments. #ACJ #A321LR @LHTechnik Your Contact Heiko Stolzke External Communications - Airbus Commercial Aircraft +49 151 4615 0714 Send an email Stefan Schaffrath Head of External Communications - Airbus Commercial Aircraft +33 6 16 09 55 92 Send an email View source version on Airbus:

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