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  • Air Force begins in-house JSTARS maintenance amid Northrop Grumman’s shortfalls

    August 1, 2018 | International, Aerospace

    Air Force begins in-house JSTARS maintenance amid Northrop Grumman’s shortfalls

    By: Kyle Rempfer The Air Force began conducting its own depot maintenance for JSTARS July 17 at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, in an effort to field the Air Force's primary ground surveillance and battle management aircraft quicker, despite contractor shortfalls. Maintenance for the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft was previously done exclusively by Northrop Grumman at a facility in Louisiana, but the service has said the maintenance was too slow. Now, Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex will supplement the contractors to speed up the process. “Historically, the contractor has averaged about 400 days per aircraft,” Air Force Material Command spokesman Derek Kaufman told Air Force Times. “The driver has been to increase the number of aircraft available for operations and training. The Air Force intends to fly JSTARS into the mid-to-late 2020s, while the follow-on Advanced Battle Management System [ABMS] is developed," Kaufman said. The Air Force has not released exactly what the ABMS entails, but it will fuse information from satellites, drones, ground sensors and manned ISR aircraft. Because Robbins AFB is also playing host to the initial elements of the ABMS program, Kaufman said the base will continue to play a role in the command and control mission. In the meantime, maintenance delays for existing JSTARS must be streamlined, according to the press release announcing the push. “We've been focusing intensely for a couple of years on improving contractor-led depot performance, but aircraft are still remaining in depot too long,” said Steven Wert, the Air Force's program executive officer for battle management, who oversees these efforts. “We have to find ways to increase throughput and overall depot capacity, and we believe this option is well worth exploring.” The work done at the new facility will help the Air Force better understand the costs of performing JSTARS depot maintenance on its own. “Should this first organic induction prove successful, we currently plan two more JSTARS aircraft to be inducted, one per year,” Kaufman said. It's important to note that this maintenance plan is separate from efforts to retire the Air Force's fleet of 17 JSTARS. The 2019 defense authorization bill allocates funds for the ABMS program, but the Air Force will not be able to retire any of these planes until the second phase of that program is declared operational, according to Congress' bill. As a result, service officials are anxious to get more JSTARS into the air for operations and training while waiting to bring the ABMS program online. In addition to slow delivery, Northrop Grumman has had some issues with their maintenance in the past. An Air Force investigation released in March 2017 showed that contract maintainers left drainage holes covered on the bottom of a JSTARS' radome during depot maintenance between March 2015 and July 2016. This caused the radome to collect water and inflicted $7.35 million worth of damage to the aircraft. That damage was discovered on July 28, 2016, when the JSTARS aircraft assigned to the 116th Air Control Wing at Robins experienced radar failures during checks conducted by Air Force radar specialists. “When the specialists opened the radome for the radar, they discovered portions of the radar immersed in standing water with visible corrosion damage,” the report states. In the future, inducting more aircraft into the Air Force's own depot maintenance facility could offer some advantages, according to the service. The program office, operational wings, functional check flight crews and Air Combat Command's flight test detachment are all co-located at Robins. These locality benefits could help cut down on transportation costs. Additionally, start-up costs should be minimal because Robins already hosts the E-8C operational wings, according to the Air Force. “Our dedicated professionals and mission partners have extensive experience in overhauling and modifying large aircraft like the C-130, C-17 and C-5 fleet. I'm confident our team can leverage this experience and help the JSTARS community improve aircraft availability,” said Brig. Gen. John Kubinec, commander of Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, in another press release. “Our team is excited about this opportunity and we stand ready to support this effort by working closely with the PEO and Northrop Grumman.” The Air Force still has an agreement with Northrop Grumman that runs through 2022, called a Total System Support Responsibility contract. The depot maintenance at Robins “would supplement, not supplant," the work being done by the existing contract, the Air Force clarified. “In fact, the Air Force will need Northrop's help to successfully execute this proof of concept,” according to the release.

  • Homeland Security announces new first response cyber center

    August 1, 2018 | International, C4ISR

    Homeland Security announces new first response cyber center

    By: Justin Lynch In the face of increasing cyberattacks, the Department of Homeland Security is creating a new center to share threat information with private companies and kicking off a 90 day sprint to identify the country's digital “crown jewels" that may be especially vulnerable, the agency's secretary said July 31. The National Risk Management Center is expected to provide a centralized home where firms and local agencies can turn for cybersecurity solutions. “The next major attack is more likely to reach us online than on an airplane,” said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. She added that “intruders are in our systems” and “everyone and everything is now a target.” The announcement came during a cybersecurity summit that the Department of Homeland Security hosted in New York City. The event aimed to bridge the gap between the government and some of the top companies in the United States that make up the critical parts of American digital life. It was envisioned as the start of a new relationship between the private and public sector. Nielsen said that the threat center is “driven by industry needs” and is spurred by a ”re-emergence of the nation state threat” and the “hyperconnected environment” of the United States. She said that previously some local governments have called 911 during a cyberattack. In the future, they would call the new cyber center. “Nation-state actors attempt to infiltrate critical infrastructure operations across multiple sectors,” a Homeland Security fact sheet on the new center read. It added there is a “need for an agreed-upon playbook to integrate government and industry response efforts.” The center also provides a playbook for risk management and identifying critical cyber supply chain elements. Although there are already government-backed risk-sharing initiatives, DHS leaders hope that the private sector will be more willing to share their challenges and expertise. Jeanette Manfra, the assistant secretary for the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications at Homeland Security, told reporters that the new center is "going to start small, we don't want to sign up for all sorts of things and then fail.” The hope is for the national counterterrorism center to be able to focus on incident response, and the center announced on Tuesday will focus on identifying national risk. The risk center will pull staff from other parts of government, Manfra said. A leader has not been named, and it has not received an increased budget. Throughout the conference, government officials were eager to entice the private sector to work with the new risk center. It appears that business participation is a necessary condition for the centers' success. The announcement comes just one week after Homeland Security warned that the Russian government is conducting cyberattacks against critical infrastructure sectors that include energy, nuclear, water, aviation and critical manufacturing. “The warning lights are blinking red," Coats said during a July 13 event at the Hudson Institute. Current threat sharing portals have been described as ineffective. The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 already attempted to spur collaboration between the public and private sector. Some experts told Fifth Domain that they did not expect the new portal to be groundbreaking. Only six companies are currently sharing cyberthreats with government, according to Chris Krebs, head of the national protection and programs directorate at Homeland Security. “We have to age to establish a value proposition for an organization to share into the system,” said Krebs. He highlighted better supply chain risk management as an incentive that would set the new center apart from previous intelligence-sharing schemes. Companies can write into their contracts that their vendors must use the threat-sharing portal so they know that contractors are managing third-party risks, Krebs said. At the event in New York City, some of the largest corporations praised the new program while speaking onstage with top government officials. “This was an obvious thing to do for a decade but it didn't happen,” said John Donovan, the chief executive of AT&T.

  • India to spend $1 billion on advanced air defense system from US

    August 1, 2018 | International, Aerospace

    India to spend $1 billion on advanced air defense system from US

    By: Vivek Raghuvanshi NEW DELHI — India has quietly approved a plan to the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System-II through a government-to government deal with United States. The moves comes before September 6 “2+2 dialogue” between defense and foreign ministers of India and United States here to bolster bilateral defense and strategic partnership. The apex defense procurement body, Defense Acquisition Council, headed by Defense Minister Nirmarla Sitaraman, has approved the buy of hte NASAMS-II, manufactured by Kongsberg and Raytheon, at more than $1 billion, a Ministry of Defense official confirmed. The new system will replace India's aging Russian Pechora air defense systems that protect strategic assets and locations, said an Indian air force official. If this program is approved by the U.S., the deal will be expedited through foreign military sales. India is expected to issue the letter of request by end of this year. IAF official noted that NASAMS-II will have to be modified to India specific requirements and will integrated with the service's integrated command & control system.

  • Cyber Command wants to partner with private sector to stop hacks

    August 1, 2018 | International, C4ISR

    Cyber Command wants to partner with private sector to stop hacks

    By: Justin Lynch The head of the National Security Agency and Cyber Command is advocating for a more expansive partnership between the government and the private sector amid an array of cyberthreats. Gen. Paul Nakasone, speaking July 31 during the Department of Homeland Security National Cybersecurity Summit in New York City, said that partnerships are America's “advantage in cyberspace,” "We have tremendous, exquisite, foreign intelligence reporting,” Nakasone said, but added he wanted to understand what the private sector and firms who make up America's digital infrastructure were looking for “so we can really tailor the information.” Information from Cyber Command and the NSA will be used in a new National Risk Management Center that hopes to share cyberthreats between the government and the private sector, according to a department spokeswoman. ”Resiliency begins with a dialogue,” Nakasone said. The new center's announcement comes after DHS said that Russia was continuing to attackAmerica's electric grid. Last week, Sen. Claire McCaskill D-Mo., said that Russian hackers tried unsuccessfully to infiltrate her office. On the same day that Nakasone spoke, Facebook said that it removed 32 accounts in an apparent influence campaign. Ninety percent of America's critical infrastructure is in private hands, Nakasone said. Therefore, the Department of Defense is kicking off the new risk center with a “90 day sprint” to identify companies that are most essential to the U.S. way of life in an effort to protect them from foreign cyberattacks. “Not all risks are created equal,” Nakasone said of the initial effort.

  • Army Wrestles With SIGINT vs. EW

    August 1, 2018 | International, Land, C4ISR

    Army Wrestles With SIGINT vs. EW

    This internal budget battle in the Army could cede the actual battlefield to high-powered Russian and Chinese jammers, electronic warfare advocates fear, with the same lethal consequences for US troops that Ukrainian forces have suffered since 2014. By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR. CAPITOL HILL: Can the Army unite its rival tribes to retake the high-tech high groundof modern warfare, the electromagnetic spectrum? Those are the stakes in the service's ongoing internal struggles over doctrine, organization, and an obscure but critical program known as TLIS, the Terrestrial Layer Intelligence System. Army leaders see TLIS as a powerful synergy between Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), which eavesdrops on and locates enemy transmissions, and Electronic Warfare (EW), which jams those same transmissions and can be used for cyber warfare. But TLIS, as the “intelligence” in its name implies, began as a pure SIGINT system, before it absorbed the former Multi-Function Electronic Warfare (MFEW) program, and there's always the possible it might regress. At least some electronic warriors hear worrying rumors that the more powerful SIGINT branch wants to save money on TLIS by cutting back on its jamming capabilities, leaving it as a passive sensor rather than an active weapon. This internal budget battle in the Army could cede the actual battlefield to high-powered Russian and Chinese jammers, electronic warfare advocates fear, with the same lethal consequences for US troops that Ukrainian forces have suffered since 2014. “The intel people will finally be able to get rid of EW, again, by taking it over, again, and crushing it,” said Col. Jeffrey Church, who until his retirement last year was the most senior Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO) in the Army: There are no EW generals, in stark contrast to SIGINT and cyber. Church was also the last EWO to run the electronic warfare directorate on the Army's Pentagon staff: His immediate successor was an engineer — an expert on bridges and minefields, not electrons. Both the staff directorate and the EWO specialty have since been folded into Army cyber. “Next,” Church predicted in a bitter post on LinkedIn, “they will cancel the intel portions of MFEW they insisted be written into the EW requirements (i.e. when MFEW was folded into TLIS) and thereby kill the MFEW program.” “I don't think your article will affect anything for Army EW,” a weary Church told me. “The only thing that will is when a bunch of our soldiers get killed. Then the Army will act shocked by it and be compelled to bring EW into the force with real gear, real operators, real training and real EW leadership.” Synergy or Tension? From drones to foot troops, radio to radar, networks to GPS, everything in a 21st century military has to send and receive signals through the electromagnetic spectrum — which means everything can be detected, targeted, and disrupted. Russia and China have invested massively in electronic warfare since the end of the Cold War while the US disbanded most EW. Today, while the Navy and Air Forcehave high-cost jamming aircraft — the EA-18G Growler and EC-130H Compass Call respectively — they're too rare, expensive, and over-powered to support small units on the ground. But the US Army's own arsenal consists almost entirely of short-range jammers that fit in backpacks or on Humvees, most of them designed to disable radio detonators for roadside bombs. Meanwhile Russia and China have fleets of heavy trucks packed with high-power EW gear that can scramble US signals hundreds of miles away. The Army's original solution to this problem was called Multi-Function Electronic Warfare (MFEW), a common family of sensors and jammers meant to go on trucks, drones and manned aircraft — eventually. But the service decided to fold MFEW into the land-based TLIS and an as-yet-unnamed airborne counterpart instead. “We are specifically looking at putting SIGINT, EW and cyber on the same platform, both on the ground and in the air,” Maj. Gen. Robert Walters told a July 18 forumorganized by the Association of Old Crows, an EW professional group. As commander of the Army's intelligence center at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., Walters is the Army's lead “proponent” for TLIS requirements, with the cyber center at Fort Gordon, Ga. in a significant supporting role. There's a natural synergy here, Walters said. SIGINT finds the enemy signals and analyzes them, then cyber and electronic warfare can target the weak links in the enemy network. While he didn't say so out loud, that's how it's done by the current masters of the art, the Russians, whose SIGINT and EW officers often sit side by side in the same vehicle so they can quickly coordinate devastating electromagnetic maneuvers, as in Ukraine. But there's also a tension between the two sides. Intelligence naturally wants to keep listening to the enemy signals to find out more, whereas cyber/EW warriors want to shut them down or use them to feed cyber weapons into. Now, you can try to shut down only the enemy's most secure networks so they have to use the ones SIGINT can easily crack. That's what the Russians did against the Ukrainians, forcing them off their military radios onto personal cellphones — but it's not easy to pull off. Second, when EW turns on its jammers, their powerful signal doesn't just disrupt enemy transmissions: It also provides a big target for enemy missiles and artillery radars to home in on. At best, that means the combined SIGINT/EW unit has to relocate frequently, disrupting listening operations. At worst, it means the combined unit blows up in one shot. (You can reduce the risk to your troops by putting the jammers on drones or ground robots operated from a distance by remote control, but that creates a new problem: The enemy can detect, decode and jam your communications with the robots). So how well will the Army balance these tensions? Right now, said one well-connected electronic warfare expert, the intelligence branch is in the driver's seat, and “once again intel has defaulted back to SIGINT, which disappoints me.....It's not looking too good.” This attitude may be overly pessimistic. But there's little cause for optimism in Army's unhappy history of internecine intramural rivalries and cancelled procurement programs. Is Big Six Missing One? The current Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, is trying to make a break with the service's dysfunctional past. He has named six modernization priorities, each with its own Cross Functional Team (CFT), led by a general who can pull in people from across the bureaucracy and put them in one room until they thrash out how to get things done. Those CTFs, in turn, will play a leading role in the new Army Futures Command being stood up in Austin. But electronic warfare has no clear home in this new structure. Of the six priorities — 1) long-range artillery, 2) armored vehicles, 3) aircraft, 4) networks, 5) air & missile defense, and 6) soldier equipment, in that order — the closest fit is with Priority No. 4, the network. That covers all the computerized communication and data systems the Army uses to transmit orders and intelligence: Lose all those and you're back to carrier pigeons. So, understandably, the emphasis of the network Cross Functional Team is on defending the US network from jamming and hacking, not on attacking enemy networks with our own jammers and hackers. A spin-off CFT on Precision Navigation & Timing has a similar defensive focus: How can US forces keep track of where everything is and when it has to happen if the enemy disrupts GPS? For that matter, the entire cyber center at Fort Gordon, despite having responsibility for electronic warfare, evolved when the old Signal Corps school took on a growing role in not just setting up communications networks but defending them. It's only recently taken on an offensive role, and primarily in cyberspace rather than electronic warfare. So all these leading Army organizations have the same focus on defense. Their job is to keep the network working under attack. But defense is not enough on its own. A tank doesn't just need armor: It needs a gun. Maybe a network doesn't just need cybersecurity and resilience against jamming: It needs to be able to attack the other side's network. A rmy Secretary Mark Esper has made clear the Big Six priorities are unlikely to change, so don't expect him to add electronic warfare as Big No. 7 any time soon. But there is still some wiggle room to spin off subsidiary priorities with their own Cross Functional Teams. In fact, from the beginning, there've been eight Cross Functional Teams, not six: The network priority is also supported by that Precision Navigation & Timing CFT, while the soldier equipment CFT spun off a training simulations CFT. Now, that eight-fold structure hasn't changed since the initial announcement in 2016. But there's no fundamental reason why the Army couldn't add a ninth CFT for electronic warfare, supporting the network priority area alongside the PNT team. What this would take — besides a memo from Esper and Milley — would be a fundamental change in how the Army thinks about “the network,” as an offensive weapon instead of a mere technical function. his is a philosophical shift. There's a longstanding tendency in Western militaries to focus on reducing what Clausewitz called the friction and fog of war, the innumerable minor mishaps, miscommunications, and misunderstandings that constantly impede military operations. The ambition to “lift the fog of war” reached its peak of hubris in the “transformation” movement before the invasion of Iraq, where the fog rolled in again unstoppably. Eastern tradition, by contrast, has long seen fog and friction as not only obstacles but weapons: You want to reduce them for your own side, of course, but also to increase them for the enemy. Hence Sun Tzu's maxim that “all warfare is based on deception,” a concept the Russians have embraced with their doctrine of maskirovka and which seems well-suited to the information age. So, instead of treating the network simply as an electromagnetic means to reduce our fog and friction, why not extend the concept to include electromagnetic means to increase the enemy's fog and friction? Instead of an asset to be defended, what if it's a weapon to attack? s the Network a Weapon? There are signs the Army is starting to think this way. At the Capitol Hill forum, Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty — current head of Army Cyber Command and former chief of the Cyber Center at Fort Gordon — even talked about the network as a “weapon” and (intentionally or not) echoed Sun Tzu. “We've truly started to operationalize the Army networks,” Fogarty said. “That's the foundational weapons platform for a modern military.” Without the network, he said, you can't do persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); long-range precision fires (LRPF) with missiles and artillery; logistics; medical evacuation; or command and control (C2, what the Army now calls “mission command”). Now, Fogarty's list is about how the network enables other parts of the Army, rather than the network taking the offensive itself. Still, calling the network a “weapons system” is a long way from the old-school Army view of it as a mere utility, a technical convenience the geeks set up in the back room so the real mencan go up front and fight. Why is the network so fundamental, in Fogarty's view? Because, he said, “our ability to operate and defend that network is what gives our commanders the ability to do two things: to see the adversary and see ourselves.” Once again, Fogarty is not talking about using the network to attack, only to “operate and defend.” Nevertheless, he's sounding an awful lot like Sun Tzu: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Or as Fogarty put it, with less elegance but more specificity: “In the multi-domain battlespace, not of the future but of today, against peer and near-peer adversaries, whoever has the ability to sense, understand, decide, and act faster than their opponent (will) enjoy decisive advantage.” (He's referring to an updated version of the classic OODA loop: Observe, Orient, Decide, & Act). That requires bringing formerly disparate specialties together in new ways, said Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, the deputy chief of Army staff for intelligence (G-2). “Our primary challenge is one of integration,” he told the AOC forum. “Future forces must integrate SIGINT, electronic warfare, and cyber capabilities to provide situational awareness” — i.e. know yourself, know your enemy — “and enable commanders to deliver kinetic and non-kinetic fires” — i.e. both physical attacks, like missiles, bombs, and shells, and intangible ones, like hacking and jamming. This transition can be intellectually and culturally wrenching, Berrier admitted. “While the tribes have come together, there are still members of the tribes that are a little obstinate,” he said to laughter. For those who don't see the inherent benefits, however, Berrier added, “another reason we're doing it is that the Chief of Staff of the Army told us to do it.”

  • Despite Trump’s Rhetoric, U.S. Defense Firms Pitch Moving Production To India

    August 1, 2018 | International, Aerospace

    Despite Trump’s Rhetoric, U.S. Defense Firms Pitch Moving Production To India

    As big defense firms line up to pitch their fighter planes to India, the government of Narendra Modi is demanding they build in India, something that might be at odds with the Trumpian America First philosophy. By PAUL MCLEARY WASHINGTON: The Trump administration has cleared the decks for what promises to be a huge increase in technology and weapons exports to India, putting the country on the same footing as members of NATO, and allies like Japan and Australia, when it comes to favored export status. While the new status may pave the way for major U.S. defense firms to lock up multi-billion deals with the Indian government, those deals would likely come with the stipulation that production be moved to India, something American defense giants like Lockheed Martin and Boeing have promised to do, even if it runs counter to the Trump administration's focus on creating more manufacturing jobs at home. Such offsets, as they are known in the arms export business, are a staple of such deals and are a crucial part of negotiations. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross made the announcement yesterday as part of the US government's continuing efforts to draw closer to Delhi, partly as a bulwark against Chinese expansionism in the region. Granting India Strategic Trade Authorization status also comes as the Indian military is considering spending tens of billions of dollars on drones, fighters and helicopters made by U.S. defense manufacturers. Ross, speaking at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event, said the move reflects India's efforts to abide by multilateral export rules, and “provides India greater supply chain efficiency, both for defense, and for other high-tech products.” India's ambassador to the United States, Navtej Sarna, added that it is a sign of trust in India's “capabilities as an economy and as a security partner, because it also...would allow the transfer of more sensitive defense technologies,” and “fleshes out our defense partnership in a big way.” But the new trade status can only do so much, and India's decades-long reliance on Russian weaponry over U.S. or European equipment is something that shows no sign of changing anytime soon, a fact that rankles many on Capitol Hill. In Washington, the House recently passed its version of the 2019 NDAA, which granted Defense Secretary James Mattis' request to waive sanctions on partner countries that have bought Russian arms in the past, but the Senate has yet to take up the bill, and is expected to vote on it some time next month. The waivers, Mattis said in a series of letters to lawmakers, would allow the Pentagon to forge closer ties with countries like India, Vietnam, and Indonesia, by not penalizing them for having Russian equipment, even as they move closer to the U.S. But the chronically chaotic state of the Indian military's acquisition practices also presents significant hurdles, according to experts. Air Marshal M. Matheswaran, former deputy chief of the defense staff in the Indian Ministry of Defense told an audience at the Stimson Center in Washington that the Indian government and military often seek to simply to “fill in technological gaps” they believe they have, rather than building strategically. “Their procurement is a mess. They're not joint. They're risk adverse. They've just got a ton of problems,” one former White House official, who asked to speak anonymously, told me. “Broadly, in procurement they have tried in the post-Cold War era to diversify their procurements as a political sop to potential partners,” he said. “They start to move more through the pipeline than they can actually pay for, and they end up building this very motley force in a way that's not always coherent.” As it stands, the United States accounts for about 12 percent of India's defense imports, a number which is expected to grow 6.2 percent annually through 2023, according to a recent study by Avescent, a consulting firm. The Indian defense budget, at more than $53 billion, is the fifth-largest in the world, and as the Avascent analysis noted, it “is also one of the most competitive,” as local companies battle it out, along with a mix of Russian, French, Israeli, and American firms. The air force, for example, flys Russian MiG and French Rafale fighters, along with American C-17 and C-130 transport aircraft and Israeli Heron drones. In recent years, France has emerged as the big winner in several hard-fought awards, inking an $8.6 billion contract for 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in 2016 — which will serve as India's primary nuclear delivery aircraft — and a deal for six Scorpene-class submarines for $4.6 billion in 2005. As part of the government's “Make in India” initiative, most of the work on the subs will be done at the Mazagon dockyard in Mumbai. But Russia isn't going anywhere. Moscow is on the verge of finalizing a $3.2 billion contract for four S-400 surface-to-air missile systems with India, part of about $12 billion worth of Russian arms deals in the works with the Indian government. The two countries are also close to finalizing a $1.1 billion deal for 48 additional Mi-17-V5 military transport/utility helicopters, with final signatures expected during Russian President Vladimir Putin's October visit to India. According to local reports, the contract will mandate that 30 percent of the work be done by the Indian defense industry, as part of the Modi government's push to build up the Indian manufacturing sector. The helicopters joint U.S.-made Chinooks and Apaches in the country's rotary-wing fleet. The Indian government says that it doesn't have a problem with such a mix and match approach, however, even if it does complicate supply chains. Currently, the big contract up for an award is the Indian Air Force's requirement for 110 aircraft, expected to be worth as much as $15 billion. Boeing has announced it would join with Indian firms Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Mahindra Defense Systems to manufacture its F/A-18 Hornet in the country if it wins the contract, and Lockheed Martin has pledged to move its entire F-16 production line to India from Greenville, S.C., to India, potentially at the expense of 250 South Carolina jobs. “The F-16 gives the Indian industry a unique opportunity to be at the center of the world's largest fighter aircraft ecosystem,” Lockheed exec Vivek Lallsaid earlier this year in his pitch, adding that the company was ready to equip the jets with the same target tracking device currently on the F-35, as well as a helmet-mounted tracking system and a new radio data link system. Swedish defense giant Saab Group is also in the running for the fighter deal, and has announced it is ready to do a “full” technology transfer of its Gripen-E fighter jet production to India if it wins the competition. Boeing, in conjunction with Indian manufacturer Tata has already moved part of its Apache helicopter fuselage manufacturing to India, and the factory will eventually be the sole supplier of the part for Boeing's worldwide sales. The promise was one of the keys to the company winning the $3.1 billion deal in 2015 for 22 Apache and 15 Chinook helicopters. While the deal for the fighter planes shakes out over the coming months, the competition is merely one part of a larger American push, which included a recent visit by the Pentagon's top weapons buyer, Ellen Lord, and the upcoming “two-plus-two” meeting between defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and their American counterparts, James Mattis and Mike Pompeo. And in a jab at the Russians, Indian officials announced this week that they would be replacing their Russian-made Pechora air defense systems around the capital in a $1 billion deal to buy the NASAMS-II, manufactured by Kongsberg and Raytheon.

  • Navy Exercises Options For Additional Future Frigate Design Work

    August 1, 2018 | International, Naval

    Navy Exercises Options For Additional Future Frigate Design Work

    By: Ben Werner The Navy has exercised options adding several million dollars to the future guided-missile frigate (FFG(X)) conceptual design work being performed by five shipbuilders in contention for the final hull design. The Navy expects bids from the following shipbuilders – Austal USA, Huntington Ingalls Industries, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine. A final request for proposal is expected in 2019, with the Navy planning to award a single source design and construction contract in 2020, according to the Navy. Ultimately, the Navy plans to build a fleet of 20 frigates Each company was awarded initial contracts of $15 million in February to start design work. The latest contract modification, announced Monday, sends between $6.4 million and $8 million in additional funding to each company to be used fleshing out their designs. “Each company is maturing their proposed ship design to meet the FFG(X) System Specification. The Conceptual Design effort will inform the final specifications that will be used for the Detail Design and Construction Request for Proposal that will deliver the required capability for FFG(X),” Alan Baribeau, a Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman, said in an email to USNI News. Each design for the future frigate competition is based on existing designs the shipbuilders are already producing. The Navy expects to spend between $800 million and $950 million on each hull, which will follow the Littoral Combat Ship. In terms of combat and communications systems, the Navy plans to use what is already deployed on LCS platforms. USNI News understands the new frigates will use the COMBATSS-21 Combat Management System, which uses software from the same common source library as the Aegis Combat System on large surface combatants. Missile systems for the frigate include the canister-launched over-the-horizon missile; the surface-to-surface Longbow Hellfire missile; the Mk53 Nulka decoy launching system and the Surface Electron Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) Block 2 program with SLQ-32(V)6. The ships would also require an unspecified number of vertical launch cells. The frigate design also is expected to include the SeaRAM anti-ship missile defense system and several undersea warfare tools. The complete list of companies awarded contract options on their respective contracts include: Austal USA LLC (Austal), Mobile, Alabama – $6,399,053; initial contract award – $14,999,969 General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine – $7,950,000; initial contract award – $14,950,000 Huntington Ingalls Inc., Pascagoula, Mississippi – $7,997,406; initial contract award – $14,999,924 Lockheed Martin Inc., Baltimore, Maryland – $6,972,741; initial contract award – $14,999,889 Marinette Marine Corp., doing business as Fincantieri Marinette Marine, Marinette, Wisconsin – $7,982,991 initial contract award – $14,994,626

  • GE wins $631 million U.S. defense contract: Pentagon

    August 1, 2018 | International, Aerospace

    GE wins $631 million U.S. defense contract: Pentagon

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - General Electric Co (GE.N) has been awarded a $631 million contract for repair, replacement and program support of engine components used on the F/A-18 E/F and EA 18G aircraft, the Pentagon said in a statement on Tuesday. Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Eric Beech

  • France confirms Fincantieri-STX shipyard deal, cautious on defense merger

    August 1, 2018 | International, Naval

    France confirms Fincantieri-STX shipyard deal, cautious on defense merger

    ROME (Reuters) - The French government continues to support Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri's (FCT.MI) takeover of STX France, finance minister Bruno Le Maire said on Wednesday, but cautioned against hastening a related defense naval merger. Speaking in Rome after a meeting with the Italian government, he told journalists France had not changed its position on the deal, quelling concerns the takeover could be hampered by tenser relations between Paris and Italy's new anti-establishment government. However, he warned against hastening a merger between Fincantieri and French military shipyards operator Naval Group which has been seen as a possible follow-up to the takeover of STX. “It would not be wise” to discuss a defense merger now, Le Maire told reporters, stressing that this was not part of the deal reached in 2017. Under the terms of that agreement between France and Italy, Fincantieri bought a 50 percent share in STX, but it took effective control of the French shipyards thanks to a 12-year loan of a 1 percent stake by the French state, which is subject to review clauses. Relations between France and Italy have soured in recent weeks over spats on migrants and after the Italian government raised doubts on the TAV French-Italian rail link project which would connect Lyon and Turin. Le Maire said after his meeting on Wednesday with Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio that Paris was still waiting for Italy's position on the project.

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