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  • The Army wants C5ISR systems on demand

    May 31, 2019 | International, C4ISR

    The Army wants C5ISR systems on demand

    By: Mark Pomerleau Across the Department of Defense, organizations and agencies want to transport parts and ready-to-go systems to field units on demand. For the Army's sustainment community, this means keeping up with the dynamic pace of deployments to by placing qualified workers closer to the battlefield or assembling reserve systems ahead of time. Mobile, expeditionary equipment, which includes communications and networking gear, wasn't required for the counterinsurgency fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. There, the Army was able to take advantage of predicable rotations in a relatively permissive theater from a technology standpoint, Communications and Electronics Command Commander Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor told C4ISRNET in a May 20 interview in his office at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Now, Communications and Electronics Command, responsible for sustaining and refurbishing Army command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems, is looking to adjust to this new unpredictable world. Taylor said the Army is focusing on global hot spots where it thinks it might have to respond with soldiers by sending the proper technicians ahead first. Army staffers are also making sure they configure systems as much as possible in advance of competition, however, but forward technicians can assist if systems break or need to be tweaked. The Army's premier depot maintenance center, Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania, has established depot maintenance facilities in Korea and Europe. This allows much of the depot work to be done in the field, reducing the repair times so units can get their equipment back faster. This setup means only items that have to go back to Tobyhanna are then shipped back. One of the big shifts in a renewed focus on so-called great power competition versus the prior years of counterterrorism, Taylor said, is supporting mobility and immediacy, or what senior Army leaders refer to as “fight tonight.” “What we're looking at now with this possible near peer conflict is fight tonight expeditionary,” he said. “That's part of the imperative for modernizing the network so it's lighter, faster, more capable, but sustainment has to keep pace with those expeditionary units.” One area in particular the Army has reevaluated in this vein is its pre-positioned stocks. These are equipment that sit forward so units that deploy don't have to take everything they need with them. While declining to offer a region by name, Taylor said in certain areas, rather than just putting C5ISR systems in proximity of platforms stored in the same compound, they are installing the systems on the platform in these pre-positioned areas so that they can be ready to “fight tonight.”


    May 31, 2019 | Local, C4ISR


    Metrology-grade 3D laser scanner can now be used to inspect dents and blends on all models of Boeing commercial airplanes Creaform, the worldwide leader in portable 3D measurement solutions and non-destructive testing (NDT) solutions, announced today that its HandySCAN 3D™ metrology-grade 3D laser scanner can now be used for recording physical attributes of aircraft dents and blends on all models of Boeing commercial airplanes. Boeing has released a service letter with guidance on the use of 3D scanners for measuring dents and blends on airplanes. The SmartDENT 3D™ solution and the flagship HandySCAN 3D scanner were used in the process of guiding Boeing's quality requirements for the service letter. “Creaform is proud to see leaders such as Boeing, turn to 3D scanning solutions for surface defect inspection. With SmartDENT 3D, our goal is to provide the most accurate damage assessment to our customers, so they can make informed and safe decisions, while getting their aircraft back flying with minimal down time,” said Jérôme Beaumont, Global NDT Business Manager at Creaform. Overview of SmartDENT 3D benefits: Speed: 80 times faster than the pit gauge technique. It is the fastest and most reliable aircraft surface damage inspection tool available on the market. Metrology-grade measurements for aircraft maintenance: The scanner is accurate to 0.025 mm (0.0009 in.) and has a resolution of up to 0.100 mm (0.0039 in.) with high repeatability and traceable certificate. Intuitive pass/fail assessments: With its intuitive design and real-time software visualization, Creaform's NDT solutions ensure short learning curves and minimal operator experience influence on the accuracy of results. Live visualization and portability: Weighting less than a kilo, the handheld scanner is the perfect tool for work in hangars or directly outdoors. Users can easily perform 3D surface inspection of any part of an aircraft on which they would use manual techniques—including on and under wings. In addition to complying with Boeing's service letter, Creaform HandySCAN 3D scanners are listed in the Airbus Technical Equipment Manual, which is referenced in its Structure Repair Manual. Quality engineers and MRO operators looking to improve their turnaround times and profitability can contact Creaform to find out more about its NDT solutions.

  • GA-ASI Integrating L3 WESCAM's MX™-20 onto Multiple Platforms as Part of Team SkyGuardian Canada

    May 31, 2019 | Local, Aerospace

    GA-ASI Integrating L3 WESCAM's MX™-20 onto Multiple Platforms as Part of Team SkyGuardian Canada

    OTTAWA, Ontario — As members of Team SkyGuardian Canada and supporters of the MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) for Canada's RPAS Project, L3 WESCAM and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) are integrating WESCAM's MX™-20 electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) imaging system onto the SkyGuardian RPAS, as well as the MQ-9 Reaper that is currently being operated by several NATO countries. Team SkyGuardian Canada is a coalition of Canadian companies committed to delivering the best RPAS for Canada. Field-proven, with extensive deployment, WESCAM's MX-20 is equipped with high-sensitivity multi-spectral sensors for day, low-light and nighttime missions, and offers low-risk “plug-and-play” installation. The MX-20 operates with detection and recognition capabilities at high altitudes in support of persistent surveillance missions. “Integrating capabilities from L3 WESCAM and our other Team SkyGuardian partners – CAE and MDA – provides the most capable RPAS solution and the best economic value for Canada,” said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. “The MX-20 integration on MQ-9 builds on our successful integration of the WESCAM MX-15 onto our Predator XP aircraft. Taking advantage of our close North American relationship, our companies can cooperate to provide unprecedented levels of innovation and business opportunity with our RPAS.” GA-ASI has been proactive in integrating L3 WESCAM products onto their RPAS. “Team SkyGuardian is a significant benefit to L3 WESCAM and provides more opportunities for the modular growth path of the WESCAM MX-20 as mission portfolios evolve and the battlespace continues to change on a global scale,” said Jacques Comtois, Vice President and General Manager of L3 WESCAM. “MX systems are the eyes of customers across more than 80 countries worldwide.” L3's WESCAM MX-Series has been engineered to focus on the three factors that drive maximum range: resolution, magnification and stabilization. As a result, each turret has outperformed its major competitor in every performance area, giving WESCAM the longest EO/IR target identification and designating ranges in the industry. GA-ASI is the world's leading manufacturer of RPAS and related mission systems. Team SkyGuardian Canada combines the best of Canadian industry with the world's most advanced Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) RPAS, the MQ-9B SkyGuardian, being developed to fulfill Canada's RPAS project requirements. For more information on Team SkyGuardian, go to High-resolution photos of MQ-9B SkyGuardian areavailable to qualified media outlets from the GA-ASI media contact list.About GA-ASI General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), an affiliate of General Atomics, is the leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems, including the Predator® RPA series and the Lynx® Multi-mode Radar. With more than five million flight hours, GA-ASI provides long-endurance, mission-capable aircraft with integrated sensor and data link systems required to deliver persistent flight that enables situational awareness and rapid strike. The company also produces a variety of ground control stations and sensor control/image analysis software, offers pilot training and support services, and develops meta-material antennas. For more information, visit Predator and Lynx are registered trademarks of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.

  • MIT, USAF Sign Agreement To Launch AI Accelerator

    May 31, 2019 | International, Aerospace, C4ISR

    MIT, USAF Sign Agreement To Launch AI Accelerator

    New Program Will Focus On Rapid Deployment Of Artificial Intelligence Innovations In Operations, Disaster Response, And Medical Readiness Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson has announced a contract with Massachusetts Institute of Technology focused on accelerating artificial intelligence technologies through fundamental research in computational intelligence, reasoning, decision-making, autonomy and relevant societal implications. The agreement includes selecting eleven Airmen for a research and development collaboration team designed to field practical AI solutions for real-world, national security challenges. Beginning this summer, the combined officer and enlisted team representing various Air Force career fields, is expected to work with researchers at MIT to harness the university's student talent, renowned faculty and state-of-the art facilities and laboratories. “MIT is a leading institution for AI research, education and application, making this a huge opportunity for the Air Force as we deepen and expand our scientific and technical enterprise. Drawing from one of the best of American research universities is vital,” Wilson said. The partnership will address a broad range of AI projects such as decision support, maintenance and logistics, talent management, medical readiness, situational awareness, business operations and disaster relief. “This collaboration is very much in line with MIT's core value of service to the nation,” said Maria Zuber, MIT's vice president for research and the E.A. Griswold professor of geophysics. “MIT researchers who choose to participate will bring state-of-the-art expertise in AI to advance Air Force mission areas and help train Air Force personnel in applications of AI.” As part of its Science and Technology Strategy, the Air Force launched a number of similar partnerships with higher education institutions around the U.S., each with a different focus area underscoring the Air Force's emphasis on driving innovation through government, academic and private sector partnerships. “MIT continues to pursue research that addresses current problems, while training researchers to think through the implications for tomorrow as research is translated to new technologies and new problems,” adds Krystyn Van Vliet, associate provost and professor of materials science and engineering and of biological engineering. “The MIT-Air Force AI Accelerator allows MIT to demonstrate that concept when AI provides one of the tools for human decisions." The Air Force plans to invest approximately $15 million per year as it builds upon its five-decade long relationship with MIT. (Source: USAF, MIT news releases)

  • Procurement minister defends rule change for F-35 as necessary for competition

    May 31, 2019 | Local, Aerospace

    Procurement minister defends rule change for F-35 as necessary for competition

    The Canadian Press, Lee Berthiaume OTTAWA — The federal procurement minister is defending the government's plan to loosen procurement rules for the F-35 stealth fighter in the face of questions and concerns from companies that make competing jets. Speaking at the annual Cansec arms-trade show Thursday, Public Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough insisted the move is needed for a robust competition to replace Canada's aging CF-18s. That competition is expected to result in a $19-billion deal for a new fleet of fighters. “The innovations and modifications we are adopting will enable participation from all eligible suppliers while applying the same rules to everyone on a level playing field,” Qualtrough said during a breakfast speech. “This is a complex process. As complex as any the federal government has ever conducted.” The government's plan involves lifting a long-standing requirement that companies legally commit to putting some of their contract money back into Canadian industry if they win a defence competition. The proposal followed U.S. complaints that the requirement violated an agreement Canada signed in 2006 to become one of nine partner countries in the development of the F-35, which is being built by Lockheed Martin. While partner countries can buy F-35s at a discount, they must also contribute money to the planes' development — in Canada's case, more than $500 million to date. Partners are also forbidden from requiring economic benefits as a condition for buying the plane. Companies in each partner country instead compete for contracts associated with the aircraft, with Canadian industry having won $1.5 billion so far. But representatives from Boeing and Saab, which make the Super Hornet and Gripen fighter jets, respectively, said Wednesday the previous policy worked well in ensuring defence contracts benefit Canada economically. And they warned abandoning the requirement that bidders commit to reinvesting in Canada could hurt the country's aerospace industry, which would in turn make it more difficult for the military to support its new jets. Industry sources say representatives for the Eurofighter Typhoon, the fourth aircraft expected in the competition aside from the F-35, Super Hornet and Gripen, have expressed similar sentiments. Qualtrough, offering the government's most extensive defence of the plan to date, insisted that despite letting bidders choose not to make contractual obligations to re-invest, the government is committed to ensuring the largest economic benefits possible. Under the new process, bidders can still guarantee that they will re-invest back into Canada if their jet wins the competition and get full points — which is the likely approach for Boeing, Saab and Eurofighter. Those like Lockheed Martin that can't make such a commitment will be penalized and asked to establish “industrial targets,” lay out plans for achieving those targets and sign a non-binding agreement promising to make all efforts to achieve them. “No one should misunderstand this: our government remains committed as strongly as ever to the (industrial benefit) policy in this competition,” Qualtrough said during her speech. “We're getting the fighter jet for the RCAF's needs, at the right price, and with the right economic benefits for Canadians.” The government has said it plans to launch the long-overdue formal competition to select Canada's next fighter jet in July, nearly four years after the Liberals were elected in 2015 on a promise to hold an immediate competition. Companies are expected to submit their bids next winter, with a formal contract signed in 2022. The first plane won't arrive until at least 2025. –Follow @leeberthiaume on Twitter

  • AETE testing upgraded Australian F-18 software compatibility

    May 31, 2019 | Local, Aerospace

    AETE testing upgraded Australian F-18 software compatibility

    by Chris Thatcher With modifications now complete on the first two operational Australian F/A-18A Hornets, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) has begun conducting testing and evaluation of their upgraded systems at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta. The two fighter jets, which were accepted in February as part of the federal government's plan to address an interim gap in the Air Force's ability to concurrently meet both NORAD and NATO commitments, underwent a number of changes at L-3 MAS in Mirabel, Que., to bring them up to the same operational configuration as the Canadian CF-188 Hornets. The modifications included Canadian operational software, a revised cockpit configuration, installation of the naval aircrew common ejection seat, new night vision imaging system external lighting on the tail, a sniper targeting pod support, changes to the landing gear, and the RCAF paint scheme. The government intends to acquire 18 operational Australian jets and possibly up to seven more for spare parts. The Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment (AETE) is now conducting a range of tests, “primarily to verify that the Canadian software is fully compatible with remaining Australian-unique hardware and systems, before being declared operational and integrated with the rest of the fleet,” a spokesperson for the Department of National Defence told Skies. “This is the normal practice for changes that occur on any aircraft fleet.” AETE has also conducted test and evaluation of CF-188 Hornet systems and gear as the RCAF finalizes an upgrade package for its fleet of 76 fighter jets. Both the RCAF Hornets and the Australian jets could also see an upgrade to their combat capability. A review by the Air Force is currently underway to assess any necessary improvements to the combat capability of the fleet after an Auditor General's report in November flagged a shortage of pilots and the declining combat capability of the aircraft as the two “biggest obstacles to meeting the new operational requirement.” The review is expected to be completed this spring. Deliveries of the remaining Australian Hornets will continue at regular intervals for the next three years, with the final aircraft expected by the end of 2021. The jets will be distributed among the tactical fighter squadrons and operational training squadron at 3 Wing Bagotville, Que., and 4 Wing Cold Lake.

  • Fighter RFP delayed again pending official review of industrial benefits policy

    May 31, 2019 | Local, Aerospace

    Fighter RFP delayed again pending official review of industrial benefits policy

    by Ken Pole Shortly before Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced on May 29 that a formal request for proposals (RFP) to supply 88 new Canadian fighter jets would be delayed again — this time to mid-July — two potential contenders said that a proposal to scrap the customary industrial benefits element of the procurement is problematic. Jim Barnes, director of Business Development in Canada for Boeing Defense, Space & Security and Roger Schallom, the company's St. Louis-based vice-president of International Business Development, along with Patrick Palmer, vice-president and head of Sales at Saab Canada Inc., expressed their common concern during briefings at CANSEC, the annual Ottawa trade show organized by the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI). Boeing's contender to replace the RCAF's legacy fleet of CF-188 Hornets is the F/A-18 Super Hornet, while Saab's is the JAS 39 Gripen (the company had a full-scale replica parked front-and-centre outside CANSEC's main entrance). The other contenders are Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and Airbus Military's Eurofighter Typhoon. Barring any further hiccups in a program fraught with political indecision and already years behind the original schedule, the RFP process overseen by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is expected to lead to two finalists being chosen next year with a view to making a final selection in 2022. The government had been expected to issue its RFP by May 31 after years of indecision, but that latest deadline in the troubled procurement was postponed as officials at DND, PSPC and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada review the industrial benefits element. “This is proof that your feedback is heard and acted upon,” Sajjan told the CANSEC audience. The proposed industrial benefits change was disclosed earlier this month by Richard Shimooka, a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI), an Ottawa-based think tank. He said in a report published by the MLI (May 6) that the Canadian government was yielding to pressure from the United States by changing the long-established requirement that companies bidding for contracts agree to investing an equivalent amount in Canada. The fighter procurement, including in-service support, is expected to cost at least $18 billion. Shimooka cited letters from U.S. officials that indicate “resentment and distrust towards the government of Canada had grown, particularly within the U.S. Air Force.” The letters evidently focused on the “significant strategic and economic benefits that have already been accrued from being part of the JSF program.” However, he added, the letters also contained “an implicit (but clear) threat that Canada could be kicked out of the program if Ottawa continues with its current policy of trying to obtain guaranteed industrial benefits that, by their very nature, are not allowed under the JSF Program. . . . There was a complete lack of logic of Canada's policy, which seemed to ignore basic facts about membership in the JSF program, including clear advantages in cost and capability that the F-35 provided.” In his CANSEC briefing, Barnes admitted to having been “surprised by the recommended changes” in the shift in the long-standing requirement. “That policy's been in place for decades and it's been very successful for Canadian industry,” he replied, questioning what he called the government's decision to “accommodate a competitor.” Schallom added that adhering to the historic requirement for direct industrial offsets, rather than simply offering “non-binding” bidding opportunities on future contracts, would be better for Canada's economy over the expected 30 years or more of the new fighter program. “You're probably missing out on $30 billion-plus in guaranteed work.” Saab's Palmer echoed that position 30 minutes later, saying that he is concerned that the “non-binding requirement may not necessarily give Canadians the best value over the long term,” but, “until we see the final RFP (request for proposals), I'll reserve final judgment.” However, when asked how Saab had responded formally to the proposed change on industrial benefits, he said, “We've asked them for some more information as it relates to the specifics of how items are going to be measured,” but had “definitely indicated that it doesn't necessarily encourage the best solution for Canada at the end of the day.”

  • In pursuit of $19B contract, Sweden's Saab offers to build fleet of fighter jets in Canada

    May 31, 2019 | Local, Aerospace

    In pursuit of $19B contract, Sweden's Saab offers to build fleet of fighter jets in Canada

    David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen Saab's offer further ups the ante on the competition that will see the federal government purchase 88 new aircraft A Swedish aerospace firm that hopes to supply Canada's new fleet of fighter jets says it could build the aircraft in this country, making maximum use of the expertise of domestic firms and creating high-tech jobs. Saab's pitch to build its Gripen E fighter jet in Canada further ups the ante on the $19-billion competition that will see the federal government purchase 88 new aircraft. The Liberal government has been emphasizing the transfer of new technology and expertise to Canadian aerospace firms as well as the creation of high-tech jobs as among its key goals for the fighter jet program. Another European firm, Airbus, has hinted it could also build its Typhoon fighters in Canada, but Saab said if the federal government wants the planes built on a domestic production line its commitment is solid. For the Canadian program, Saab is hoping to follow the same process that helped it win a recent fighter jet competition in Brazil. The first batch of Gripen E fighter jets are being built in Sweden but the technology is then being transferred to Brazilian firms so they can assemble the remaining aircraft. Certainly if that is what the customer values for Canada that is something that we can easily do “We think that is the model that makes sense for Canada,” Patrick Palmer, senior vice-president of Saab Canada, told Postmedia. “We're going down that path but we're also looking at how the (request for proposals) is written and what the customer values. Certainly if that is what the customer values for Canada that is something that we can easily do.” Aerospace firms have been told that the federal government will request their proposals in mid-July. The fighter jet competition was launched on Dec. 12, 2017 and at this point four aircraft are to be considered. Those include the F-35, the Super Hornet, the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Gripen. The Gripen E is the newest of the fighter jets being offered to Canada. The first Gripen E for the Swedish military is expected to be delivered later this year. The first of the 36 aircraft ordered by Brazil in a $5-billion program will be delivered in 2021. The first delivery of jets for the Canadian program is expected in the mid-2020s with the full capability available in the early 2030s, according to documents produced by the Department of National Defence. The issue of industrial benefits for Canadian companies will have a high profile in the competition. In early May the Canadian government told potential bidders it was making changes to its fighter jet competition to allow the U.S. to enter the F-35 stealth fighter. The changes, which industry sources say allow for a more flexible approach in determining the value of industrial benefits for the competition, came after a series of discussions with the U.S. government and threats by the Pentagon to withdraw the F-35 from consideration. Canada is a partner nation in the development of Lockheed Martin's F-35, and U.S. officials had warned that the agreement Canada had signed prohibits partners from imposing requirements for industrial benefits as firms from those nations compete for work on the jets. Over the last 12 years, Canadian firms have earned more than $1.3 billion in contracts to build F-35 parts. Per Alriksson of Saab Aeronautics said the Gripen is designed specifically for operations in the Arctic, giving it a leg up on other planes. “Sweden has air force bases in what you call the far North,” he added. “We operate there daily. (The Gripen) has Arctic DNA built into it.” Alriksson said the Gripen E can operate from remote airfields in the north, landing and taking off on runways less than 800 metres in length. It has a quick turnaround time for missions, with technicians able to reload and refuel the planes in 10 minutes. “It is pretty good in operating in dispersed locations as you have in Canada,” he added. Alriksson said the company can integrate U.S. and other equipment on the Gripen E so it is interoperable with American forces, another consideration for Canada. “Moving forward with the Gripen E, we see no problem whatsoever to integrate that fighter into a NORAD context.”

  • Lockheed drops bid to design FFG(X)

    May 31, 2019 | International, Naval

    Lockheed drops bid to design FFG(X)

    By: Aaron Mehta WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin has decided not to submit a version of its Freedom-class littoral combat ship for the Navy's next-gen frigate design competition. The contractor's move to abandon its bid to become the prime contractors on the FFG(X) deal leaves four rivals in the running — Huntington Ingalls Industries, Austal USA, Fincantieri and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works. But the world's largest defense firm still intends to bid on capabilities involved in the FFG(X). “After careful review, we have decided to focus our attention on the FFG(X) combat system, delivering Lockheed Martin technologies such as the Aegis-derived weapon system, MK 41 Vertical Launching System, anti-submarine warfare processing, and advanced electronic warfare,” the company said in a statement released late Tuesday. “We will continue to serve as a shipbuilder for the U.S. Navy, and we're exploring opportunities including unmanned surface vessels and the large surface combatant.” The news was first reported by USNI on Tuesday. The FFG(X) grew out of a 2014 requirement for an up-gunned frigate that could survive brutal combat at sea, a problem critics raise about the LCS, a vessel that was developed for sneaky missions near shorelines. The goal of the new frigate design is to both integrate with, and complement, the carrier strike group and operate as a distributed node in a sensor network, officials say. Planned capabilities include anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, electromagnetic maneuver warfare and air warfare. The Navy asked for $1.3 billion for the first FFG(X) hull in 2020 but estimates each subsequent frigate will run closer to $800 million. David B. Larter in Scotland contributed to this story

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