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August 4, 2020 | International, Land

Pandemic lengthens delay in US Army’s M113 vehicle replacement program

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WASHINGTON — The coronavirus pandemic has caused another delay for the U.S. Army's plagued M113 replacement program, which has struggled with manufacturing problems as the BAE Systems-made Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle entered low-rate initial production, according to the company's second quarter fiscal 2020 earnings briefing released last week.

The company had to delay delivery of the first LRIP vehicles by roughly four to six months, moving delivery from March to July.

But as BAE prepared to move ahead on delivery, the pandemic hit, bringing with it another delay of roughly a month, which pushed the vehicles' delivery date to August.

The AMPV program entered LRIP in January 2019, but the program office indicated last year that delivery of the first vehicles would be delayed by two months and the completion of production qualification testing would be delayed by seven months due to tooling and assembly line challenges at BAE's facility in York, Pennsylvania.

Because of the issues, the Army's AMPV budget request in FY21 showed the program took a hit. The service indicated it would buy 32 vehicles instead of the 143 planned for the fiscal year, and the program's budget was cut from $445 million to $193 million.

The Army and BAE developed “a production approach that would allow us to incorporate efficiencies during LRIP that modernize manufacturing and increase the overall throughput of the program,” Amanda Niswonger, a BAE spokeswoman, told Defense News in an Aug. 3 statement.

“This included installing new technology and processes such as robotic welding, digital X-ray, and advanced machining. And we worked closely with the Army to update and refine manufacturing processes to incorporate the most modern weld and inspection technology,” she said. “These changes had an impact on our delivery timeline which was not reflected in the original delivery schedule, but continues to meet the Army's fielding schedule.”

The service and BAE had formalized the schedule change just as COVID-19 hit the U.S., which affected a large number of manufacturing facilities and supply chains globally.

“We have worked tirelessly to mitigate the impacts from COVID-19 with our employees, supply network, and customer base to keep our manufacturing sites operational and continue to receive parts as needed,” Niswonger said. “Unfortunately we could not overcome all the challenges and our first delivery has slipped one month.”

https://www.defensenews.com/land/2020/08/03/pandemic-causes-latest-delay-in-us-armys-m113-replacement-program/

On the same subject

  • Pentagon reports boost in predatory foreign investment to US tech firms amid pandemic

    May 7, 2020 | International, C4ISR

    Pentagon reports boost in predatory foreign investment to US tech firms amid pandemic

    Valerie Insinna Since the coronavirus pandemic began, the Defense Department has seen a small increase in predatory foreign investment in U.S. companies, such as small drone manufacturers, the Pentagon's head of industrial policy said Wednesday. “In general terms, there has been of an uptick, but it's always been pretty high,” Jennifer Santos, deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy, said Wednesday during the C4ISRNET Conference. The Pentagon has become increasingly concerned about what it calls “adversarial capital” — a tactic whereby foreign nations, particularly China, make investments into U.S. technology startups that are part of the defense market. Once those countries make their investments, they could own or have access to unique American technologies, while the Pentagon loses its own access due to security considerations. With the U.S. economy increasingly fragile due to COVID-19, the Defense Department must be vigilant about potential risk to American companies, Santos said. “We simply cannot afford during this period of economic uncertainty the loss of American know-how in critical tech.” But Santos stopped short of saying the uptick in predatory foreign investment was a direct result of the pandemic, instead noting that the Defense Department recently expanded its existing tools to monitor adversarial capital. One tool, known as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, allows the government to block a foreign investment attempt on national security grounds. The jurisdiction of that tool increased in February, so the Defense Department has seen a boost in the number of cases it is tracking, Santos said. “Twenty percent of our [gross domestic product] is foreign direct investment, which is fantastic. But there's some areas where there are threats associated with some of that capital, and we want to protect those industry partners,” she said. Over the past eight weeks, the Pentagon hosted 25 teleconferences with industry to help guide companies that might be experiencing financial distress caused by COVID-19. Some of that outreach, such as a webinar held last week, centered around avoiding adversarial capital, Santos said. While her comments on adversarial capital did not center specifically on the small drone industry, she noted that the pandemic has made supply chain vulnerabilities in that sector more apparent to the department. “The market for UAS [unmanned aerial systems] in the United States is dominated primarily by foreign companies, especially Chinese companies,” she said, adding that Chinese firms hold 97 percent of the small UAS market, with about 75 percent of sales in the U.S. commercial market coming from Chinese drone maker DJI. “U.S. firms have struggled to compete in this drone area,” she said. "Even commercial drones manufactured in the United States often use components made in China. We don't know what the exact effects of COVID will be on this small UAS sector, but I know one thing: We will emerge from this stronger.” Brent Ingraham, the Pentagon's unmanned systems technical director, pointed to the American Drone Security Act currently under proposal by Congress. If passed, the legislation would apply the same security restrictions on UAS used by the Defense Department to the rest of the federal government, which would secure industrial opportunities for U.S. vendors that have a trusted supply chain, he said. As the Defense Department looks to expand its base of small UAS manufacturers, one of the military's legacy providers offered a word of caution. "We as a community are all in favor in faster, cheaper, better, but we need to have an exercise in caution when you do that,” said Gorik Hossepian, AeroVironment's vice president of UAS product line management. “Our past is full of examples of when we do those kinds of things, we tend to sacrifice one versus the other. We need to not lose sight that what we need is a balance.” "At the end of the day, the war fighter at the edge of the battlefield ... needs to have a product that is trusted,” he said. “Members of some of our community, to some extent, have that as some of our DNA — the DNA of working with the end user to solve those problems.” https://www.c4isrnet.com/unmanned/2020/05/06/pentagon-reports-boost-in-predatory-foreign-investment-to-us-tech-firms-since-pandemic-start/

  • Kratos Receives $30 Million in C5ISR Contract Awards

    July 6, 2020 | International, C4ISR

    Kratos Receives $30 Million in C5ISR Contract Awards

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  • As Defender 2020 drill winds down, US Army plans for 2021 edition

    July 13, 2020 | International, Land

    As Defender 2020 drill winds down, US Army plans for 2021 edition

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