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February 22, 2024 | International, Land

Russia’s maxed-out arms makers face labor, tech shortages

As the war against Ukraine enters is third year, Moscow's carefully orchestrated image as a defense-industrial juggernaut is facing headwinds.

https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2024/02/22/russias-maxed-out-arms-makers-face-labor-tech-shortages/

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  • Cette nuit en Asie : le Japon débloque 210 milliards pour s'offrir deux porte-avions et des chasseurs F-35

    December 19, 2018 | International, Aerospace

    Cette nuit en Asie : le Japon débloque 210 milliards pour s'offrir deux porte-avions et des chasseurs F-35

    YANN ROUSSEAU Tokyo a approuvé ce mardi un plan de programmation militaire qui comprend de gigantesques commandes aux industriels américains. Donald Trump devrait être ravi. Pékin est l'ennemi déclaré. Après avoir longtemps pris soin de peser ses mots pour ne pas heurter la sensibilité de son puissant voisin, le gouvernement japonais de Shinzo Abe explique désormais qu'il doit très rapidement réorganiser sa politique de sécurité pour répondre à l'inquiétante montée en puissance de la Chine dans la région. « Nous avons besoin de développer des capacités de défense véritablement efficaces plutôt que de simplement étendre nos capacités traditionnelles », prévient l'exécutif japonais dans son nouveau plan de programmation militaire approuvé ce mardi pour les cinq prochaines années. Si Tokyo pointe, dans son analyse de la géopolitique régionale, la menace des missiles balistiques intercontinentaux nord-coréens et l'activité russe au nord de l'archipel, il s'alarme avant tout de la pression chinoise dans les mers de la zone. Le texte évoque ainsi les activités militaires de Pékin en Mer de Chine orientale, où les deux pays se disputent la souveraineté de petits îlots , mais également les ambitions du régime chinois dans le Pacifique ou sur des mers plus au sud, où patrouillent de plus en plus de navires chinois. Le plan rappelle encore les investissements de la Chine dans les technologies militaires spatiales et la cyberguerre. 210 milliards d'euros de dépenses « L'inquiétude est forte », résume l'exécutif, qui estime que la nation ne peut plus, dès lors, se contenter, comme il le faisait depuis 1945, d'un simple système d'autodéfense dépendant des Etats-Unis. « Nous allons sécuriser, à la fois en quantité et en qualité, les systèmes de défense qui sont nécessaires afin de répondre au rapide changement de nos conditions de sécurité », a confirmé Yoshihide Suga, le porte-parole du gouvernement. Pour accélérer une remise à niveau de son armée, Tokyo se propose de dépenser sur les cinq prochaines années fiscales - à partir d'avril 2019 - 27.470 milliards de yens, soit 210 milliards d'euros, essentiellement en achats de nouveaux équipements militaires. Ce mardi, le gouvernement de Shinzo Abe a d'ailleurs annoncé une commande supplémentaire de 105 F-35 de l'américain Lockheed Martin, qui va venir s'ajouter à un récent achat de 42 avions de chasse de cette génération, destinés à remplacer, notamment, la vieille flotte de F-15. Dans le cadre de ce gigantesque contrat, le pays va se doter de plusieurs F-35 B, probablement dans leur version dite STOVL, qui permet des décollages courts ainsi que des appontages verticaux sur des porte-avions. Le pays a, en effet, formellement reconnu qu'il allait, pour la première fois depuis la fin de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, doter son armée de porte-avions . Les navires ne proviendront pas d'un coûteux et délicat développement ex nihilo mais résulteront d'une transformation de ses deux porte-hélicoptères, Izumo et Kaga, récemment mis en service. Leurs ponts de 248 mètres de long vont ainsi être réaménagés pour accueillir les nouveaux chasseurs. Réaction favorable attendue de Trump Tokyo va aussi acquérir deux versions terrestres du système de défense aérienne Aegis Ashore, qui pourraient notamment protéger son territoire d'éventuels missiles nord-coréens. Le pays prévoit également l'achat de quatre avions ravitailleurs KC-46 Pegasus produits par Boeing. Si Tokyo ne fait aucun commentaire public, ce mardi, sur la nationalité de tous ces fournisseurs, les analystes notent que ces gigantesques commandes passées à des géants américains vont ravir Donald Trump. A un moment où la Maison-Blanche s'agace du déficit commercial élevé des Etats-Unis avec le Japon. Yann Rousseau https://www.lesechos.fr/monde/asie-pacifique/0600366307008-cette-nuit-en-asie-le-japon-debloque-210-milliards-pour-soffrir-deux-porte-avions-et-des-chasseurs-f-35-2230862.php

  • Air Force Eyes Drones For Adversary And Light Attack Roles As It Mulls Buying New F-16s

    January 25, 2021 | International, Aerospace

    Air Force Eyes Drones For Adversary And Light Attack Roles As It Mulls Buying New F-16s

    The future of the U.S. Air Force's tactical aircraft fleet is under review, with some radical ideas under discussion. BY THE WAR ZONE STAFF JANUARY 22, 2021 The U.S. Air Force is in the midst of a major review of its tactical aircraft fleets. This includes investigating the possibility of using drones equipped with the artificial intelligence-driven systems being developed under the Skyborg program as red air adversaries during training, and potentially in the light attack role. The service is also exploring a potential purchase of new F-16 fighter jets, likely based on the Block 70/72 variant, two decades after the service ordered its last Vipers as it shifted focus to the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter. In an interview with Steve Trimble, Aviation Week's Defense Editor and good friend of The War Zone, earlier this month, which you can find here, now-former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Will Roper, provided insight into the ongoing tactical aircraft review, including particularly intriguing comments about forthcoming unmanned aircraft system programs and buying additional F-16s. These and other ideas are being scrutinized as the service looks toward its Fiscal Year 2023 budget request, which, barring any complications, would be unveiled in the spring of 2022. Roper had been the chief architect and advocate of the Air Force's Skyborg program, which the service revealed in 2019, and is developing a suite of new autonomous capabilities for unmanned aircraft with a heavy focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. The service has said that the goal is to first integrate these technologies into lower-cost loyal wingman type drones designed to work together with manned aircraft, but that this new “computer brain” might eventually control fully-autonomous unmanned combat air vehicles, or UCAVs. The Skyborg effort has been heavily linked to other Air Force programs that are exploring unmanned aircraft designs that are “attritable.” This means that they would be cheap enough for commanders to be more willing to operate these drones in riskier scenarios where there might be a higher than average probability of them not coming back. With this in mind, Skyborg technology has previously been seen as ideal for unmanned aircraft operating in higher-threat combat environments. However, in the interview with Aviation Week, Roper suggested that they might also first serve in an adversary role. In this way, these unmanned aggressors would test combat aircrew, either standing in for swarms of enemy drones or conducting the kinds of mission profiles for which an autonomous control system would be better suited. As the proliferation of advanced drone capabilities continues, adversary drone training systems will become a pressing capability. Even using drones to stand in for or augment manned adversary platforms is one of the potential solutions to the problem of needing far more targets in the air at one time to stress fleet pilots. Operating huge fleets of manned adversaries is highly cost-prohibitive. For example, Air Combat Command shortlisted seven companies for a combined total of $6.4 billion of potential aggressor contract work in 2019; details of the first five bases to receive this support were revealed last year, as The War Zone reported at the time. Other solutions, including augmented reality, are being looked at to solve this problem, as well. You can read more about this issue in this past exclusive of ours. “I think, at a minimum, attritables ought to take on the adversary air mission as the first objective,” Roper said. “We pay a lot of money to have people and planes to train against that do not go into conflict with us. We can offload the adversary air mission to an artificially intelligent system that can learn and get better as it's doing its mission.” Roper's specific mention here of attritable drones is interesting and could perhaps hint that the manned aircraft they would battle with might, at least on some occasions, also shoot them down. If that were to become a reality, it would provide pilots with a highly realistic element to their training that would potentially be far more valuable than the relatively “canned” type of live-fire gunnery or missile firing that they are exposed to today. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is already in the midst of an effort, separate from Skyborg, to develop an autonomous unmanned aircraft that uses AI-driven systems with the goal of having it duel with a human pilot in an actual fighter jet by 2024. Roper also clearly sees the use of drones equipped with the Skyborg suite of systems as a potential way to bring down the cost of the entire red air training enterprise, reducing the requirement to procure more expensive manned aircraft and teach the instructors required to fly them. Beyond cost-saving, however, there is still a demand for higher-end red air capabilities, especially stealthy ones, that contractors can't really provide. This is one of the reasons why early-model F-35s have been chosen to equip a future aggressor squadron. While this will go some way to meeting the demand for advanced threat simulation, it is likely to be a limited and costly fleet. Stealthy, but attritable drones, such as the XQ-58 Valkyrie, would certainly be a possibility for adding additional capacity here at a lower cost. As well as training the human elements, introducing Skyborg-enabled drones into large-force exercises would also help train them, enhancing their own AI algorithms, and building up their capabilities before going into battle for real. Essentially, algorithms need to be tested repeatedly to make sure they are functioning as intended, as well as for the system itself to build up a library of sorts of known responses to inputs. Furthermore, “training” Skyborg-equipped drones in this way in red air engagements inherently points to training them for real air-to-air combat. Air-to-air combat isn't the only frontline role the Air Force is eying for drones carrying the Skyborg suite. “I think there are low-end missions that can be done against violent extremists that should be explored,” Roper said. This opens up the possibility that lower-cost unmanned aircraft using AI-driven systems could help the Air Force finally adopt a light attack platform after more than a decade of abortive efforts in this regard. Despite initial plans to buy hundreds of aircraft, the service dramatically scaled back its most recent attempt, known as the Light Attack Aircraft program, in 2019. U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) subsequently tried to revive the project, but Congress blocked that effort in its annual defense policy bill, or National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), for the 2021 Fiscal Year. So, there remains a requirement for a light attack platform that could potentially be filled by an advanced unmanned alternative. In the meantime, the Air Force had also attempted to cease buying MQ-9 Reaper drones, which currently undertake many of these types of lower-end combat missions, but this was ultimately blocked by Congress, too. Still, close air support (CAS) is a mission that still benefits hugely from a human in the cockpit. As such, the exact capability set of a semi-autonomous drone, in this regard, may be limited. One could imagine giving the targeting control directly to those the drone is tasked with supporting on the ground though. This could compress the kill-chain and help with providing CAS in contested environments where a stealthy and attritable airframe may be overtly beneficial. Just such a concept was floated by the then Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh, who described it as “a flying Coke machine.” You can read all about that in this past article of ours. Roper had also indicated in his interview that perhaps the cost-savings from using drones in the adversary role might free up funds to otherwise address the light attack issue, as well as other needs the Air Force might have. Replacing “adversary air [with attritable unmanned aircraft] would save us money up front,” Roper explained. With regards to manned tactical aircraft, Roper also revealed in the interview that the Air Force is looking at new purchases of F-16s. “As you look at the new F-16 production line in South Carolina, that system has some wonderful upgraded capabilities that are worth thinking about as part of our capacity solution,” he said. Roper was almost certainly referring to the latest Block 70/72 variants of the F-16C/D that Lockheed Martin has been successfully selling on the export market in recent years. The company also offers an upgrade package to bring existing Vipers up to a similar configuration, known as the F-16V. In September 2020, the defense giant announced plans to standardize its F-16 offerings around a base model derived from the Block 70/72 configuration, which you can read about more in this past War Zone piece. New Vipers based on this standardized model are what the Air Force would likely be looking to buy in Fiscal Year 2023 or beyond. The latest Block 70/72 jets are already highly capable, featuring sophisticated avionics, mission systems, active electronically scanned array radar, extended range, and a digital electronic warfare suite. In the meantime, the Air Force is working hard to wring the most out of existing F-16 inventory, updating many with the Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) and the new electronic warfare package from the Block 70/72. Full article : https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/38847/air-force-eyes-drones-for-adversary-and-light-attack-roles-as-it-mulls-buying-new-f-16s

  • Bluestaq wins $280 million contract for space situational awareness library

    March 25, 2021 | International, Aerospace, C4ISR

    Bluestaq wins $280 million contract for space situational awareness library

    Bluestaq will continue its work on the Unified Data Library, a one stop shop for space domain awareness data.

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