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  • General Atomics Expands Presence At North Dakota R&D Park

    August 14, 2018 | International, Aerospace

    General Atomics Expands Presence At North Dakota R&D Park

    Bill Carey General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) will nearly quadruple the space it occupies at the Grand Sky research and development park in Grand Forks, North Dakota, the park announced Aug. ...

  • US Air Force seeks to improve student pilot learning through new initiative

    August 14, 2018 | International, Aerospace

    US Air Force seeks to improve student pilot learning through new initiative

    Key Points The USAF sought to decrease the time of pilot training without sacrificing learning Pilot Training Next relied heavily on simulators and other existing and emerging technologies The US Air Force (USAF) sought to decrease the time and cost of pilot training without sacrificing the depth of learning through its Pilot Training Next (PTN) initiative. PTN, which ran from February to 3 August 2018, included blended learning and data-centric facets by using existing and emerging technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, advanced biometrics, artificial intelligence (AI), and data analytics, according to a service statement. The knowledge gained was to be used to refine scientific measuring capabilities and teaching techniques.

  • Critical space

    August 14, 2018 | Local, Aerospace, C4ISR

    Critical space

    Just after 2 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday, Sept. 29, 1962, a two-stage Thor-Agena rocket launched Alouette-I, Canada's first satellite and the first built by a country other than the United States or the U.S.S.R., into a near perfect 1,000-kilometre orbit around Earth. It was the start of a 10-year mission that was unprecedented at the time, producing more than one million images for studies of the ionosphere–the part of Earth's upper atmosphere that reflects and modifies radio waves used for communication and navigation–and it signalled to the world that Canada was a space-faring nation. Alouette-I originated in a proposal from the Defence Research Board of Canada, an arm of the Department of National Defence (DND), and was an early step in a long history of military collaboration that is reaching new heights as the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) assumes responsibility for the nation's ambitious defence space program. “It's about protecting our assets,” said BGen Kevin Whale, director general, Space. “We have to wake up to the fact that space has become critical infrastructure. Imagine a day without space?” The RCAF took over responsibility for the defence space program from Chief of Force Development in 2016 and its mandate is laid out in Strong, Secure and Engaged (SSE), Canada's new defence policy, which sets an ambitious agenda for future investments in space-based capabilities. As an environment with the horsepower to generate and develop forces for employment, the Air Force is well-positioned “to take leadership of this capability,” said Whale, though he acknowledged it would take “some time” for the institution to fully deliver on its mandate. Space is an increasingly congested, contested and competitive domain, with dozens of military and civilian players–and the stakes aren't small. Space systems go a long way to enabling the world's economies, and what happens in space impacts the security of nations below. Whale himself noted that over a 30-year military career, he has benefitted countless times from space-based capabilities and never given them a second thought. Now he is adopting an “air plus space” approach to shape conversations about the RCAF roadmap. “Space, for a long time, had considered itself special, different, unique–which it is, as a domain,” he said. “But there are similarities and there are differences. We are wrapping our heads around that, and we will take care of this capability, just like we do any other one.” POLICY PUSH SSE identifies space as a critical aspect of Canada's defence, and it prescribes an extended mission to “defend and protect” military space capabilities, while also remaining committed to the peaceful use of space. The five-year roadmap lays out the framework for the defence space program, focused on three key areas: force employment, force generation, and force deployment. While the resources and personnel allocated to deliver this mission were initially modest–the core of the joint space cadre is about 60 personnel in Canada and 30 on exchange in the U.S.–the defence policy provides an additional 120 civilian and nearly two dozen military positions to the CAF/DND enterprise. Integration with other agencies, including the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and Industry, Science and Economic Development Canada, are key requirements of the strategy. “We know how to do this,” said Whale. “We've just got to get our heads around what's different and what's the same about space.” FORCE EMPLOYMENT The RCAF now provides integrated space capabilities to the commanders of Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) and Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM). Whale is dual-hatted as DG Space and as the space component commander, overseeing a director of space operations and readiness, who coordinates defence-related space activities through the Canadian Space Operations Centre (CANSpOC). CANSpOC launched in 2014 and provides a round-the-clock space watch that is integrated with the Canadian Forces Integrated Command Centre (CFICC). The space watch monitors and reports on space situational awareness (SSA), missile warning (as reported by the U.S. Department of Defence Joint Space Operations Center), space weather and the status of space mission systems. CANSpOC has the ability to generate a Joint Space Support Team (JSST) to support a deployed joint task force, as was the case for the mission to Latvia in support of Canada's contribution to Operation Reassurance and to Iraq in support of Operation Impact. The operations centre is also responsible for the CAF navigation warfare (NAVWAR) program, which is working to provide operational commanders with the tools, training and tactics and procedures to operate in a position, navigation, and timing (PNT)-degraded environment where network access is denied from jamming or spoofing. Though one of Whale's objectives is educating operational commanders of what a deployed space cell can provide in theatre–“education is a huge piece,” he said–the cadre of joint signals technicians available for deployment at the moment is very “lean” and must be expanded “so we can support the wider CAF.” “CANSpOC is only so big, until I can grow it,” he said. “This is [a] balance between fixing the car and operating it ... [In] some of these areas, we're currently one or two [persons] deep.” FORCE GENERATION To build up its space force with qualified tradespeople, the RCAF is borrowing an employment model from Canadian Special Operations Forces Command that Whale calls an “ABC approach.” Group A will be made up of individuals who enter the space program and stay there their entire careers; Group B will comprise tradespeople who enter space, leave for other postings, but will eventually return to the space program; and Group C will work in the space program temporarily, before leaving permanently for another division of the RCAF. “We haven't decided about a [specific space-related] trade yet,” said Whale. “But we are absolutely going to look at it.” An aerospace engineer, for example, is currently being trained as one of the first permanent space employees. As the RCAF grapples with recruitment and retention across its operations, Whale acknowledged that finding enough people to populate the space program is a concern. “To grow by a couple hundred folks, [it's] going to take a decade,” he said. “It's going to be measured and paced–unless, a commander decides, ‘You know what? Space is so important, Squadron X or capability Y, I'm going to cut you by 20 per cent, and I want to take those people and put them in here. I'll fill you back up, but I need this to move quicker.' ” FORCE DEVELOPMENT In its force development role, the RCAF will focus on three areas: intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), satellite communications (SATCOM), and position, navigation, and timing (PNT). ISR capabilities will include systems that provide surveillance from space, and others that provide surveillance of space. SATCOM initiatives, buttressed by the Assistant Deputy Minister Information Management (ADM IM) SATCOM Operations Centre, will support operations, joint capability development, and research and development. PNT will focus on electronic support of Canada's military, electronic protection, electronic attack, and direct support to operations. The intended result is a mix of CAF, federal government, allied, and commercial assets and systems that will ultimately help defend Canada's sovereignty. “We are now wrestling with–just like everyone else–how do we balance the commercial versus uniform versus civilian piece,” said Whale. MILSATCOM In partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense, the Canadian Armed Forces have embarked on two major projects to provide military SATCOM (MILSATCOM) with the level of capability the operational community demands. The first is the Protected Military SATCOM (PMSC) project. PMSC leverages the U.S. DoD advanced extremely-high frequency constellation to provide survivable and jam-resistant SATCOM in Ka- and Q-band to users around the world. PMSC achieved initial operating capability (IOC) in 2013 and is expected to reach full operational capability (FOC) in 2024. A second major MILSATCOM initiative is the Mercury Global (MG) project, which leverages the U.S. DoD wideband global SATCOM constellation to provide high bandwidth SATCOM in X-band and MIL Ka-band to global users. This capability achieved IOC in 2013 and is expected to achieve FOC in 2018. SSE identifies several challenges that will remain even after the implementation of PMSC and MG, and as a result the military has launched two additional SATCOM projects. The Tactical Narrowband SATCOM (TNS) project is expected to provide guaranteed, reliable and secure SATCOM in narrowband UHF, transmitting both voice and data and providing coverage from 65 degrees South to 65 degrees North. The current approach to TNS is focused on an effort with the U.S. DoD to gain assured access to the mobile user objective system (MUOS) UHF SATCOM constellation, with planned IOC in 2021 and FOC in 2023. Another critical project, known as the Enhanced Satellite Communications Project–Polar (ESCP-P), will provide “guaranteed, reliable and secure access” in narrowband and wideband to support operations in the Arctic. IOC is planned for no later than 2029, with FOC by 2031. As part of its consultation with industry, the RCAF will be asking if projects can be advanced quicker if the resources become available. “ESCP-P is one of the first ones we are trying to accelerate if we can,” said Whale. SURVEILLANCE Surveillance of space is a long-standing capability of the RCAF, demonstrated most recently with the Sapphire satellite, which launched in 2013. SSE identified a need to replace Sapphire through the Surveillance of Space 2 (SofS2) project. The goal of SofS2 is to acquire the ability to identify and track objects in space that could threaten the space-based systems of Canada and its allies, and to defend and protect military space capabilities. RCAF documents identify surveillance from space as the capability with perhaps the greatest growth in the space environment. Up until now, space-based surveillance has been used mainly for ISR and maritime domain awareness, often in significant cooperation with other government departments. A key next step will be the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM), a whole-of-government project led by the Canadian Space Agency that is expected to deliver better land surveillance and intelligence products. RCM is expected to launch this fall, with an IOC expected in 2019. Unclassified Remote-Sensing Situational Awareness (USRA) capability, an award-winning system, comprises air-transportable ground stations and small teams that can be deployed anywhere in the world in support of a joint task force. It draws down unclassified satellite imagery, making it an invaluable asset in large coalitions where information sharing is often a challenge. URSA and a six-person team are currently deployed with the Canadian Army forward enhanced presence battlegroup in Latvia. The capability is in the process of being transferred from CJOC to the RCAF. Other projects include the Defence Enhanced Surveillance from Space–Program (DESS-P), which “will implement a follow-on to RCM for surveillance-from-space capabilities” for the CAF, and the Synthetic Aperture Radar–Data Continuity (SAR-DC), being developed by the Canadian Space Agency to deliver remote-sensing capabilities for civil applications, with capability that is expected to extend beyond 2025. THE ‘NEW SPACE' As the RCAF assumes responsibility for Canada's defence space program, it must weigh the influence of dozens of military and commercial players. Everyone from NASA to celebrity billionaire Elon Musk is launching products into orbit. It's estimated more than 24,000 objects larger than a softball are already in motion around Earth. There are “countless more” objects with a smaller diameter, which could have catastrophic consequences in the event of a collision that creates debris. Canada alone has 47 satellites in space (both government and commercial), and 42 are active in orbit. Thousands more may be on the way, as private companies crowd into what Whale refers to as, “the new space.” “The cost of entry's going down, and because of industry innovation, the congestion is a concern,” he said. “But I think we can eventually manage that ... essentially, the Air Force has made a promise: we'll take care of this capability. “We've taken what's been built, and we're putting our minds to, how are we going to give the same level of attention–like we do to any other capability–to move it forward? “Of course, we need to sustain the same level of integration with Army, Navy, SOF, because it's a joint thing,” he added. “But the Air Force has taken the lead, and we're going to find a way to progress what the defence policy tells us to progress.” It's a clear indication the RCAF is all-in on its new Joint Space leadership role.

  • Fincantieri bulks up with acquisition ahead of Naval Group partnership

    August 14, 2018 | International, Naval

    Fincantieri bulks up with acquisition ahead of Naval Group partnership

    By: Tom Kington and Pierre Tran ROME and PARIS — Italian shipyard Fincantieri has bought a key Italian technologyfirm to gain extra clout ahead of a planned team-up with France's Naval Group. State-controlled Fincantieri said Aug. 7 it was jointly taking control of Vitrociset, which employs 800 people and posted 2017 sales of €187 million (U.S. $211 million) from its training and support work in the defense, security, transport and space sectors. The shipyard will take over Vitrociset's defense work, while its partner in the purchase, Italian firm Mer Mec, will assume control of its civil work. That leaves Fincantieri, which builds warships, submarines and cruise ships, in charge of Vitrociset's aerospace work, including ground support work on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The move triggered speculation in Italy that Fincantieri was bulking up to gain a stronger hand as it proceeds with cooperation talks with French shipyard Naval Group, given that Vitrociset is involved in automation, command and control, simulation, and testing work.
 A company source played down the timing of the deal, saying: “Vitrociset simply makes us more complete.” The announcement followed a visit to Rome on Aug. 1 by French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire to discuss the Fincantieri-Naval Group talks, which started last year but slowed during the creation of a new, populist government in Italy in June. The new government in Rome has had a series of spats with Paris, starting with France's reluctance to take in migrants who sail from Libya to Italy. The Italian government is also reluctant to move ahead on a new rail link between Italy and France, even though millions of euros have been spent on the program. And France and Italy are at loggerheads over lawless Libya, where the European nations back opposing sides in the slow-burning conflict.
 Tensions reached a peak last month when Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini openly said he did not want France to win the soccer World Cup, which it did. In June, Naval Group and Fincantieri handed their respective governments plans for possible industrial cooperation, a move seen by Fincantieri Chairman Giuseppe Bono as leading to an“Airbus of the sea,” seen as kick-starting a wider integration of the fractured European naval industry. Addressing Italy's Parliament this month, Bono said he was also backing moves by the European Union to encourage joint spending among partners, effectively leading to pooled EU defense procurement from transnational European defense giants. “Europe spends little and spends badly,” he said. “Everyone acts in the interest of their own nation; but if we concentrated, we could spend less but be more capable and more efficient.” Fincantieri is already set to take over French civil shipyard STX, and at the start of the year, Bono said a French-Italian merger of naval work could occur within five to 10 years. However, Le Maire was cautious during his Rome visit, claiming “it would not be wise” to talk of a naval merger. Current plans go no further than a 10 percent share cross-holding, combined with pooling research, acquisition of material and teaming on export work to reduce competition. Naval Group avoids the use of the Airbus tag, which signals a high degree of industrial consolidation, and prefers to refer to closer cooperation. The cooperation plan is creating uncertainty over the role to be played by Italian and French firms Leonardo and Thales, which rely on selling their systems for their nations' warships. Speculation that Leonardo would be sidelined in future joint ships built by Fincantieri and Naval Group increased with news of the Italian yard's purchase of Vitrociset, although Bono promised that Leonardo's involvement in the tie-up was “on the cards,” pointing out how it was an integral part of two offers of corvettes that Fincantieri was making to Romania and Brazil. Thales, which holds a 35 percent stake in Naval Group, also reportedly expressed caution about linking up Naval Group and Fincantieri, an Italian source told Defense News. This year, a leaked 36-page report from ADIT, a partially French state-owned company working in economic intelligence, painted a “highly negative” picture of the compliance and ethics of Fincantieri, a depiction which was challenged by Fincantieri. “There is a lack of communication, a lack of figures,” according to Fabrice Wolf, a defense economics analyst. “This leads many to be concerned that this project is ideologically driven and that the realities of the industrial base are not fully taken into account.” The main interest for Naval Group is to find work for its research office, which is the real reason for the FTI intermediate frigate program, he said. 
There is a “concern” elsewhere in French industry, notably at Thales, which sees its sale of radars and electronic systems under risk from Italian archrival Leonardo, Wolf added.
 “Naval Group is a great partner for Thales and I hope that lasts,” said Thales CEO Patrice Caine, business daily Les Echos reported May 27. Thales is more than just a shareholder in Naval Group, as the former transferred its combat systems business to the latter in 2007 in exchange for a shareholding, he added. 
“When we build the FTI frigate with Naval Group, it's like building the Rafale with Dassault — it's a link up for life,” he said, pondering the intentions of an Italian government that pursues nationalism and a protectionist trade policy. Naval Group and Thales were unavailable for comment.
 The Italian pursuit of anti-immigration and anti-free trade seems to have struck a chord with U.S. President Donald Trump, who met Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte at the White House on July 30. 
“Italy is becoming a reference country in Europe and a privileged partner of the United States,” Trump said. 
That U.S. preference for Italy effectively puts Rome ahead of Paris, French media have reported.

  • US Navy’s focus on rapid acquisition is opening up opportunities for Europe

    August 14, 2018 | International, Naval

    US Navy’s focus on rapid acquisition is opening up opportunities for Europe

    By: David B. Larter WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy intends to get much bigger, and that has meant new openings for European companies in the U.S. defense market. The Navy's new over-the-horizon missile destined for the littoral combat ship and the future frigate was recently awarded to the Norwegian firm Kongsberg, in partnership with U.S. company Raytheon, for its Naval Strike Missile. The future frigate program itself has awarded contracts to Spain's Navantia and Italy's Fincantieri for design work before the Navy selects a design later this year, meaning the service's next surface combatant may be a European design. And for the Navy's future training helicopter, both Franco-Dutch company Airbus and Italian firm Leonardo are top competitors for that program. Analysts say the Navy's recent surge in interest has been spurred by a confluence of circumstances that could mean even more opportunities for foreign companies looking to break into the U.S. market. Increased defense budgets are one reason the European companies have been seeing more business from the Navy and other American military branches. But a shift in the way the Defense Department tries to fill capabilities gaps has made the space more competitive for overseas firms, said Dan Gouré, a defense analyst with the Lexington Institute think tank. As the Navy and other services have shifted toward great power competition, it has found a number of capabilities that were not hugely important in a unipolar world have again become requirements with the reemergence of Russia and the rise of China as security threats. One such area is the small surface combatant, or FFG(X) program, which would be needed to escort supply convoys and work as a survivable sensor node in a larger surface combatant network. “With the frigate, for example, we hadn't built one of those in 40 years, but the Europeans have been building them for decades,” Gouré noted. “And if we needed a diesel-electric sub, they'd of course be the first in line.” This emphasis on speed of acquisition has also helped because the Navy and the rest of the Department of Defense are reluctant to get tied down by a yearslong, inevitably over-budget development process unless necessary, Gouré said. “The trend has been toward [other transaction authority] contracts, and that has made the European companies credible competitors,” he said. Another factor is that the Navy has been more willing to make trades on capabilities, said Bryan Clark, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “I think what's new is that the Navy is openly seeking foreign proposals for some of these major new programs,” Clark said. “Foreign companies have always been able to submit proposals in response to RFPs, but usually they don't offer the high-end capability the U.S. is usually seeking. “The big change is that the Navy is willing to get a less-sophisticated capability in to get a design that is more mature.” In the case of the Navy's trainer helicopter competition, past success with European companies inside the DoD could be a driving factor in Airbus' and Leonardo's competitive bids. Airbus' North American division has been successful with the U.S. Army's Lakota program, built by Airbus Helicopters in Columbus, Mississippi, which is where the company would build its H135 helicopter if selected for the program. The Army has been happy with Lakota, so much so that it has been pushing to buy more of the airframes despite legal battles over the contracts. But the success of Airbus Helicopters with the Army is possible for much the same reason that, for example, Australian-owned Austal USA has been successful building both the trimaran version of the littoral combat ship and the expeditionary fast transport: a major manufacturing infrastructure investment in the United States. And that kind of cash outlay for a program can scare away European competitors. Getting around “Buy American” provisions would literally take an act of Congress. Despite having already developed, tested and fielded the capability the Navy wants, Kongsberg had to team with American defense giant Raytheon to sell its missile to the DoD. The “Buy American” provisions laid down and regularly upheld by Congress for defense procurement does have protectionist overtones, but there is a national security argument as well. In the event of a major, protracted conflict with Russia or China, it wouldn't be advantageous to have major suppliers located an ocean away or in occupied territory. And maintaining the industrial base has long been a concern of the U.S. Navy because of the limited the number of trained workers with experience who are building ships and nuclear reactors. Navy officials have testified that the shrinking industrial base, including the shipbuilders and the litany of subcontractors and vendors, is a significant concern. In 2015, then-head of the Navy's research, development and acquisition office Sean Stackley testified before Congress that some of the shipyards were just a contract away from going under. “We have eight shipyards currently building U.S. Navy ships. And of those eight shipyards, about half of them are a single contract away from being what I would call ‘not viable,' ” Stackley told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “In other words, the workload drops below the point at which the shipyard can sustain the investment that it needs to be competitive and the loss of skilled labor that comes with the breakage of a contract.”

  • For IT companies, the secret to success in defense is all about big growth

    August 14, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR

    For IT companies, the secret to success in defense is all about big growth

    By: Jill Aitoro WASHINGTON — The secret to tackling the defense information technology market may be scale. Looking specifically at the pure-play IT companies that landed on the 2018 Defense News Top 100 list, many of those that have doubled down in some capacity saw defense revenue increase during fiscal 2017. That came on the tail end of another trend among the largest defense primes, to get out of the IT business. “The evolution started a couple years ago, where the large defense primes who had boned up on IT service work during the war [on terror] started to realize that for a variety of reasons they might not be able to compete as effectively, or extract the returns they want out of a business like that,” said Jon Raviv, senior analyst and vice president for aerospace and defense at Citi Research. Divestitures followed, and pure-play IT companies were able to quickly scale up not just in size and their ability to support massive contracts, but also in capability set. The acquisition of Lockheed Martin's IT business transformed Leidos from a $5 billion company to a $10 billion company. That deal closed in late 2016, explaining how the company saw double-digit growth in defense revenue in both 2016 and 2017 — despite the buy actually making the company less defense heavy overall. Similarly, CACI closed on the acquisition of L3 Technology's National Security Solutions for $550 million in February 2016 — three months before the end of its fiscal year. The associated revenue contributed to the 16 percent increase in defense revenue during 2017. Leidos CEO Roger Krone, in an interview with Defense News in 2016 soon after the acquisition closed, pointed to “scale, but not scale for scale's sake” as a big factor in the buy — noting, too, the importance of balancing the portfolio and geographic distribution. He also pointed to sheer numbers — 15,000 employees specifically — many with security clearances. The trend does seem to be continuing. CSRA chose to not participate in the 2018 Top 100 because its $9.7 billion acquisition by General Dynamics closed by the time data collection for the list kicked off. While General Dynamics is a top defense prime, its IT business functions as a largely separate entity, similar to the pure-play IT companies. The acquisition of CSRA, which reported $2.25 billion in defense revenue for fiscal 2016 — will add significant scale to GDIT. It is also likely to influence the company's Top 100 rank next year. The future promises more cyber and IT-related merger and acquisition activity in the vein of that deal, according to Daniel Gouré, a vice president with the Lexington Institute think tank. “Raytheon is still in acquisition mode with cyber, so it's an area that's still kind of churning,” he said. “I wouldn't be surprised to see some of these big players acquire some of the more defense-oriented cyber players.” Unclear is what the sweet spot may be for those exclusively IT-focused firms. “Where we sit right now, it's not clear what the right size is,” Raviv said. “GDIT and Leidos are about $10 billion in sales; SAIC and CACI and ManTech are lower tier. All of those companies say they are happy with scale but could do a deal. Whether they call it scale, or marrying capability sets — it's all marketing, I suppose.” And there are other tactics that achieve scale without acquisition. Perspecta emerged on the 2018 Top 100, having launched June 1, 2018 through the combination of DXC Technology's U.S. public sector business, Vencore, and KeyPoint Government Solutions. As one entity, Perspecta reported $2.73 billion in defense revenue and ranked 37. To put that in perspective, Vencore ranked 67 in last year's list, with $886.59 million in defense revenue. And all of these pure-play companies are increasingly marketing themselves as conduits to the “nontraditional players” that the Pentagon is so keen to attract. Amazon Web Services, for example, will often partner with government IT companies on defense contracts to hand off some of the contracting morass. That said, for all the potential, the bulk of the defense IT market is notoriously fickle. Services often set aside IT projects in an effort to preserve platform buys, and margins can be low. Agencies also struggle to balance upkeep of existing systems versus modernization efforts versus research and development into the next great technological marvel. But as Raviv noted, it's all IT. “Yes, there are companies working on high-end cyber, the ability to launch attacks through cyberspace or to harden the communication node on a new missile so it can't be hacked by, say, China. And while the word cyber came up a lot three or four years ago, now you hear a lot about AI, autonomy and machine learning. But it's all technology. And it's a lot of smart people working on a lot of advanced things many of us don't understand.”

  • NATO's East Is Rearming, But It's Because of Putin, Not Trump

    August 14, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR

    NATO's East Is Rearming, But It's Because of Putin, Not Trump

    Ott Ummelas Donald Trump has taken credit for a rise in military spending by NATO states, but in the alliance's eastern reaches, it's his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, who's driving the rearming effort. Last month, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked the U.S. President for “clearly having an impact” on defense spending by allies while Trump said his demands had added $41 billion to European and Canadian defense outlays. But the jump in acquisitions behind the former Iron Curtain of aircraft, ships and armored vehicles began when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, well before Trump's 2016 election victory, according to analysts including Tomas Valasek, director of Carnegie Europe in Brussels. While the median defense expenditure of NATO members is 1.36 percent of gross domestic product, below the alliance's requirement of 2 percent, eastern members comprise seven of the 13 members that are paying above that level. “Countries on NATO's eastern border do not need Donald Trump to boost defense spending,” Valasek said. “They decided this long before he came to power. The spending boost was because of a president, but it was Vladimir Putin, not the U.S. President.” Constant overflights by Russian aircraft into NATO airspace, cyberattacks on government and military installations, wargames on the borders of the Baltic states and accusations that Russia was behind a failed coup in newest member Montenegro have put NATO's eastern quadrant on alert for what it says is an increasingly expansionist Russia. Of the 15 members exceeding the bloc's guideline that 20 percent of total defense spending should go to equipment, six are from eastern Europe. At the time of the NATO summit in Brussels, Romania said it would buy five more F-16s from Portugal, raising its squadron to 12, after it signed a $400-million deal to acquire a Patriot missile air-defense system with Raython in May. The country of 20 million people bordering Ukraine, Moldova and the Black Sea plans to buy 36 more F-16s, four corvettes, at least 3,000 transport vehicles and coastal gun batteries over the next five years. Slovakia also announced the purchase of F-16 fighter jets at the summit to replace its aging Russian Mig-29s in a deal that was years in negotiating. And last month, Bulgaria asked for bids for at least eight new or used fighter jets by October at a total cost of 1.8 billion lev ($1 billion). By end-2018, the government in Sofia plans to buy 1.5 billion lev worth of armored vehicles and two warships for 1 billion lev. Neighboring Hungary said in June that it had agreed to buy 20 Airbus H145M multi-purpose helicopters, the country's largest military purchase since 2001. NATO's European members are expected to spend around $60 billion on equipment this year, with the 13 eastern members accounting for about 10 percent, said Tony Lawrence, a research fellow with the International Center for Security and Defense in Tallinn. The newer members will together spend about $2 billion more on equipment this year than last, he said. According to NATO, seven of its 10 biggest spending increases will be in the east. “Since these nations' membership in NATO, there has been a clear inclination to foster and strengthen their link with the U.S.,” said Martin Lundmark, a researcher with Swedish Defense University in Stockholm. “By procuring strategic defense systems, they willingly become interdependent and inter-operable with the U.S.”

  • Quebec's Davie shipyard wins $610M contract to convert icebreakers for coast guard

    August 13, 2018 | Local, Naval

    Quebec's Davie shipyard wins $610M contract to convert icebreakers for coast guard

    Jean-Yves Duclos, who represents the Quebec City region made announcement Friday The federal government has signed a $610-million contract to acquire and convert three icebreakers to renew the Canadian Coast Guard's aging fleet. Federal Families, Children and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, who represents the Quebec City region made the announcement at the Davie shipyard in Lévis, which will be doing the work. The coast guard fleet lacks the capacity to perform its icebreaking duties. The Canadian Coast Guard ship Terry Fox, launched in 1993, is the newest icebreaker in the fleet. The contract is expected to result in the creation of 200 new jobs over the next two years, according to Davie spokesperson Frédérik Boisvert. Last year, when Davie was working on conversion of the Asterix and finishing two ferries, Davie employed 1,500 workers, Boisvert said. Many of them were laid off once the projects were completed. In June, the Liberal government concluded a deal with Davie to purchase three icebreakers, but there was no price tag attached to the project at the time. Negotiations to acquire the vessels were launched in January after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau abruptly announced the plan in a Radio-Canada interview in Quebec City. That marked the beginning of a seven-month negotiating process between the government and Davie. Fraser noted that the usual time it takes to negotiate a shipbuilding contract with the government is eight years, praising the work of negotiators for the government and Davie. MacKinnon confirmed that Ottawa sped up the process for the icebreaker deal. Full Article:

  • Top 100 for 2018

    August 13, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR

    Top 100 for 2018

    Rank Last Year's Rank Company Leadership Country 2017 Defense Revenue* (in millions) 2016 Defense Revenue* (in millions) % Defense Revenue Change 2017 Total Revenue* (in millions) Revenue From Defense 1 1 Lockheed Martin 1 Marillyn Hewson, Chairman, President and CEO U.S. $47,985.00 $43,468.00 10% $51,048.00 94% 2 4 Raytheon Company 1 Thomas Kennedy, Chairman and CEO U.S. $23,573.64 $22,384.17 5% $25,348.00 93% 3 3 BAE Systems Jerry DeMuro, President and CEO U.K. $22,380.04 $23,621.84 -5% $25,288.20 88% 4 5 Northrop Grumman 2 Wes Bush, Chairman and CEO U.S. $21,700.00 $20,200.00 7% $25,803.00 84% 5 2 Boeing 3 Dennis Muilenburg, President and CEO U.S. $20,561.00 $20,180.00 2% $94,005.00 22% 6 6 General Dynamics 4 Phebe Novakovic, Chairman and CEO U.S. $19,587.00 $19,696.00 -1% $30,973.00 63% 7 7 Airbus Thomas Enders, CEO Netherlands/France $11,185.91 $12,321.00 -9% $75,702.63 15% 8 11 Almaz-Antey 5 Yan Novikov, CEO Russia $9,125.02 $6,581.69 39% $9,125.02 100% 9 10 Thales Patrice Caine, Chairman and CEO France $8,926.13 $8,362.00 7% $17,852.26 50% 10 9 Leonardo Alessandro Profumo, CEO Italy $8,856.48 $8,526.22 4% $13,024.24 68% Full top 100:

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