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June 14, 2018 | International, Land

The French Army could have its first unmanned vehicle by 2025

PARIS ― The French Army and government procurement office will begin talks this summer for the acquisition of a new light armored vehicle, dubbed VBAE, with a view to equipping the service by 2025, according to a program director at the Direction Générale de l'Armement procurement office.

Among the capabilities to be considered are an unmanned, remote controlled VBAE, Erwan told journalists June 12 at the the indoor stand of the Armed Forces Ministry at the Eurosatory trade show for land weapons. Erwan is the first name of the program director, whose last name has been withheld for security reasons.

If the VBAE is made to be controlled remotely, it would be the first unmanned vehicle for the French Army. That vehicle will replace the VBL light vehicle.

Illustrating future operations, the ministry's stand displayed a brief video of a virtual combat simulation in 2035. The screening took place between prototypes of the Griffon troop carrier and Jaguar reconnaissance and combat vehicle. The entire display was meant to emphasize the importance of an integrated network and firepower.

The DGA and the Army will spend a year in discussions, leading to a draft that will define the project. They will then consult industry for their responses to the requirement, he said.

The companies that show interest will be invited to “show what they can do” by demonstrating their capabilities from 2020-2021. That work will be undertaken under a new “innovation partnership” between industry and the government.

A selection of industrial partners is expected to produce a technology demonstrator by the end of 2022. If the ministerial investment committee approves this, contracts will then be awarded and a program launched. The aim is for delivery of the vehicle by 2025.

The DGA and the Army are also discussing the requirement for a military engineering vehicle, dubbed MAC. This vehicle would be used to open up terrain, clear improvised explosive devices and mines, and allow troops to advance.

Those talks are part of an attempt by the DGA to speed up arms programs and deliver kit much faster ― tasks set by Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly.

The acquisition of VBAE and MAC are part of the Army Scorpion modernization program.

Army Gen. Charles Beaudouin told the Defence Committee of the lower-house National Assembly on May 16 that he was looking for an “innovative approach” in the acquisition of VBAE.

“Instead of defining a requirement, thinking about the specifications and then calling on industry, we want to speak immediately with DGA and industry,” he said. “We have high hopes of launching this program during the multiyear military budget law, and then perhaps — call me crazy — see the first delivery before the end of the law.”

The National Assembly and Senate have approved the 2019-2025 military budget law, which pledges a total €295 billion (U.S. $348 billion) for support of the military services.

That DGA briefing was part of a Thales presentation of its role in the Scorpion program, in which the company supplies extensive onboard vehicle electronics, software-defined radios and sensors.

The aim is to install algorithms and artificial intelligence in the vehicle, aiming to deliver a “digital transformation” intended to reduce stress on the crew, a Thales executive said. The intention is to make the systems easy to use.

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  • In chaos, there’s opportunity … and that’s bad news

    April 27, 2020 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    In chaos, there’s opportunity … and that’s bad news

    James Yeager This year is only four months old and it's already one for the history books — and not in a great way. As the defense community works in tandem with the broader government to keep citizens safe and healthy, cybersecurity threats are only becoming more aggressive. If we've learned anything about cyber adversaries, it's that they will seize on any opportunity to gain an advantage in targeting their victims, including exploiting the fears of the public during a global pandemic. As COVID-19 has moved from the East to the West, adversaries have followed suit, using lures that play into people's desperation for information on the disease. In “The Art of War,” Sun-Tzu said“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” The COVID-19 virus is infecting more than just people. The pandemic has created chaos and handed adversaries an irresistible opportunity to exploit the situation to gain entry into our networks, whether that's to steal intellectual property, disrupt operations, or gain a strategic advantage if they are a nation-state actor. Already, we are seeing an increase in phishing campaigns using COVID-19 as a hook to launch malware in emails disguised as alerts. Particularly vulnerable are the thousands of remote workers — government employees and contractors alike — who are using their own home networks, which are largely less sophisticated and secure than their work environments. The stakes are high, particularly for those in defense jobs, where an errant click can have devastating consequences. Coincidently, 2020 is the year when the DoD's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification has grown teeth and will force more than 300,000 defense contractors to up their cybersecurity game or face bottom-line consequences. Now is not the time to make mistakes. In CrowdStrike's recent Global Threat Report, we captured and analyzed real-world inputs from observed trends in cyber-attacks on commercial and government enterprises. The following are some of the notable attack vectors and trends we observed across the public sector during 2019: An escalation in ransom demands, including ransomware attacks on defense supply chain providers, schools and local municipalities. Surpassing the volume of malware attacks are malware-free attacks that use code which executes from memory or stolen login credentials. Continued state-sponsored targeted intrusions aimed at the government and defense sector. In fact, we have witnessed adversaries exploiting fear around COVID-19 to socially engineer their way to user credentials and sensitive data. In the months ahead, I contend we'll see many more of the same tactics from the same bad actors: Russia, China and newer players on the block, such as Iran, which has leveraged U.S. social media platforms to develop information operations campaigns. Amidst massive change, periodic chaos and long-term disruption, the defense community — government and industry — must put a premium on speed. Speed to detect. Speed to investigate. Speed to mitigate. We recommend that agencies and companies implement cybersecurity practices that follow the 1-10-60 Rule: detect intrusions within 1 minute; investigate and gain a comprehensive understanding of the attack within 10 minutes; and contain and remove the threatening adversary from the network within 60 minutes. This benchmark will limit the damage caused by inevitable attacks. Yes, inevitable. Cyberattacks are a constant and while building a bigger, wider and thicker wall may help keep bad actors out, they are persistent and determined enough to eventually get in, and when they do, you're on the clock. This year will only get worse as the impacts of COVID-19 will be deep, damaging and long-lasting. We're all faced with loss and uncertainty as we attempt to recover from the global pandemic. For the defense community, there is no time to recover and regroup. You are already on the clock, as those who wish to do our nation harm are already hard at work.

  • Boeing’s Autonomous MQ-25 Completes First Test Flight with Aerial Refueling Store

    December 11, 2020 | International, Aerospace

    Boeing’s Autonomous MQ-25 Completes First Test Flight with Aerial Refueling Store

    St. Louis, December. 9, 2020 – Boeing [NYSE: BA] and the U.S. Navy have for the first time flown the MQ-25 T1 test asset with an aerial refueling store (ARS), a significant milestone informing development of the unmanned aerial refueler. The successful 2.5-hour flight with the Cobham ARS – the same ARS currently used by F/A-18s for air-to-air refueling – was designed to test the aircraft's aerodynamics with the ARS mounted under the wing. The flight was conducted by Boeing test pilots operating from a ground control station at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah, Ill. “Having a test asset flying with an ARS gets us one big step closer in our evaluation of how MQ-25 will fulfill its primary mission in the fleet – aerial refueling,” said Capt. Chad Reed, the U.S. Navy's Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager. “T1 will continue to yield valuable early insights as we begin flying with F/A-18s and conduct deck handling testing aboard a carrier.” Future flights will continue to test the aerodynamics of the aircraft and the ARS at various points of the flight envelope, eventually progressing to extension and retraction of the hose and drogue used for refueling. “To see T1 fly with the hardware and software that makes MQ-25 an aerial refueler this early in the program is a visible reminder of the capability we're bringing to the carrier deck,” said Dave Bujold, Boeing's MQ-25 program director. “We're ensuring the ARS and the software operating it will be ready to help MQ-25 extend the range of the carrier air wing.” The Boeing-owned T1 test asset is a predecessor to the engineering development model aircraft being produced under a 2018 contract award. T1 is being used for early learning and discovery, laying the foundation for moving rapidly into development and test of the MQ-25. Following its first flight last year, T1 accumulated approximately 30 hours in the air before the planned modification to install the ARS. Earlier this year the Navy exercised an option for three additional MQ-25 air vehicles, bringing the total aircraft Boeing is initially producing to seven. The Navy intends to procure more than 70 aircraft, which will assume the tanking role currently performed by F/A-18s, allowing for better use of the combat strike fighters. For more information on Boeing Defense, Space & Security, visit Follow us on Twitter: @BoeingDefense and @BoeingSpace. Boeing is the world's largest aerospace company and leading provider of commercial airplanes, defense, space and security systems, and global services. As the top U.S. exporter, the company supports commercial and government customers in more than 150 countries and leverages the talents of a global supplier base. Building on a legacy of aerospace leadership, Boeing continues to lead in technology and innovation, deliver for its customers and invest in its people and future growth. ### Contact: Ashlee Erwin Boeing Defense, Space & Security Mobile: +1 314-239-9944 Justin Gibson Boeing Defense, Space & Security Mobile: +1 314-708-6293 View source version on Saab:

  • COVID-19 News: Virus Hurting Army Small Businesses

    May 1, 2020 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    COVID-19 News: Virus Hurting Army Small Businesses

    By Connie Lee The COVID-19 pandemic is putting particular stress on the Army's second- and third-tier suppliers, said the service's secretary April 30. The Army is racing to ensure its manufacturing supply chain is able to stay afloat amid economic challenges posed by the virus, said Ryan McCarthy. “Some of these are small companies [that have] 15,000 people, and you get a couple people sick, you shut the whole company down,” he said during a virtual event hosted by Brookings Institution. The supply chain will "be a challenge for us months and months ahead.” The pandemic is also hurting overseas manufacturing in areas such as Mexico, Europe and East Asia, where the Army has little influence, he noted. The service is working with the State Department to figure out how to keep overseas workers employed and keep the supply chain running, he said. “We are limited in our ability to affect them and get them back to work,” McCarthy said. “It presents challenges that are far beyond our reach and ... influence, so we're going to have some real heart-to-hearts with manufacturers going forward.” Despite these issues, the Army is continuing to prioritize modernization, he said. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said the service is moving forward with weapons assessments, noting that it was recently able to conduct a successful hypersonic weapons test. As part of its plan to keep up with great power competition, the service is pursuing 31 new signature systems. “Over half of our procurement budget is going towards these new weapon systems,” McCarthy said. “We've got to put them into formation. Much of our iron is 50 years old. That probably is the prime area where we put the most energy.” Meanwhile, the Army is collaborating with other organizations in search of a vaccine. There are 10 to 15 top potential vaccine candidates worldwide that are in various stages of maturity, McCarthy said during a Pentagon briefing the same day. To speed up the timeline, the service plans on investing in the ones that seem to be moving the fastest, he noted. “We can double down and invest in the fastest horse, if you will, in this 15 candidate race, and then that compresses the timeframe that will ultimately get you to the answer and bring a vaccine to life,” he said. “You'll hear ranges on how fast it can go.” Some of these vaccines are currently in human trials, with the bulk of the work slated for summer and early fall, he noted. “It's moving faster than probably any point in history because of the extraordinary collaboration that's going on today,” he said. However, this may involve accepting some risks in the process, McConville noted at the briefing. “You can save time by taking risks,” he said. “You may get ready to produce something, and that horse may not get to the final race and that may not be the most efficient use of money, but by taking risks, you can really move things very, very quickly.”

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