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  • ‘A Little Bit Disruptive’: Murray & McCarthy On Army Futures Command

    September 7, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Land, C4ISR

    ‘A Little Bit Disruptive’: Murray & McCarthy On Army Futures Command

    By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR. "It's establishing buy-in over the next three, four, five years from the institution (of the Army)," Gen. Murray said. "It's about establishing buy-in on Capitol Hill, because if I don't have buy-in there, this won't survive.” DEFENSE NEWS CONFERENCE: The Army's new Futures Command won't tear down the most failure–prone procurement system in the entire US military. Instead, both its commander and the Army's No. 2 civilian emphasize they want to be just “a little bit disruptive” and “work with the institution.” That will disappoint critics of the service's chronically troubled acquisition programs who saw the Army's much-touted “biggest reorganization in 40 years” as an opportunity to tear the whole thing down and start again. The necessary change to Army culture “is going to take time,” brand-new four-star Gen. John “Mike” Murray said here yesterday, “and I think you do that by being a little bit disruptive, but not being so disruptive you upset the apple cart.” “It's hard, Sydney, because you know, you have to work with the institution,” Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy told me after he and Murray addressed the conference. “You don't want to go in there and just break things.” Work Through The Pain Reform's still plenty painful, acknowledged McCarthy, who's played a leading role in round after round of budget reviews, cutting some programs to free up funding for the Army's Big Six priorities. The choices were especially hard for 2024 and beyond, when top priorities like robotic armored vehicles and high-speed aircraft move from the laboratory to full-up prototypes. “You've got a lot of people out investing, and they're all doing good things, but they weren't the priorities of the leadership,” McCarthy told me yesterday. “You have to explain to folks why you're doing what you're doing. You need them focused on the priorities of the institution” – that is, of the Army as a whole, as set by leadership, rather than of bureaucratic fiefdoms with a long history of going their own way. But what about the pushback from constituencies who see their priorities being cut, particularly upgrades to keep current platforms combat-ready until their replacements finally arrive? “If you don't accept the risk that you talked about, (if you don't) slow down or stop the upgrade of legacy systems, you never get to next generation equipment,” brand-new four-star Gen. John “Mike” Murray said here yesterday, “and I think you do that by being a little bit disruptive, but not being so disruptive you upset the apple cart.” In other words, funding for incremental upgrades will crowd out funding for potential breakthroughs. That's largely because the incremental approach looks lower-risk – right up to the point where the enemy fields something revolutionary that your evolutionary approach can't counter. Full article:

  • The Army Wants Autonomous Aviation Tech. But Do Pilots Trust It?

    September 7, 2018 | International, Aerospace

    The Army Wants Autonomous Aviation Tech. But Do Pilots Trust It?

    By Matthew Cox U.S. Army leaders are looking to autonomous technology to be the game-changer on the future battlefield, but experts are wrestling with how the service will convince aviators and leaders to trust machines to help them make life-or-death decisions in a split second. Part of the Army's new modernization effort involves manned-unmanned teaming, a concept that will rely on unmanned, autonomous aircraft and ground vehicles working, in some cases, as forward scouts to identify and select targets much quicker than humans can. Army leaders have stressed that there will always be a "human in the loop" to prevent misjudgements that could result in unintended casualties. But aviators and leaders are still reluctant to trust machines to think for themselves. "Trust in autonomy is going to be a challenge as we move forward; there is a huge psychological component to it," Patrick Mason, deputy for the Army's Program Executive Office Aviation, told an audience Wednesday at the Association of the United States Army's Aviation Hot Topic event. Col. Thomas von Eschenbach, director of the Capability Development and Integration Directorate at the Army's Aviation Center of Excellence, has been running simulations to experiment on how autonomy and artificial intelligence can make aviators more effective. "When you add autonomy and you add AI ... you quicken the pace of decisions," von Eschenbach said. "We don't want to take things away from a human; we want to want to enable humans to be faster [and] more agile, and make the decisions inside somebody else's decision cycle. Full article:

  • Planes, tanks and helicopters: Equipment shortfalls are hurting the Guard’s readiness, leaders say

    September 7, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Land

    Planes, tanks and helicopters: Equipment shortfalls are hurting the Guard’s readiness, leaders say

    By: Kyle Rempfer NEW ORLEANS — The Tennessee National Guard currently has trainers in Ukraine, armored units in Poland, aviators in Kosovo, and other airmen and soldiers deployed across Southeast Asia and the Middle East. That's to say nothing of domestic missions like disaster relief for which they are also responsible. Although those missions are broad, Tennessee Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Max Haston said his guardsmen are well trained to accomplish their tasks. Still, readiness shortfalls on big-ticket items strain their capabilities. “The biggest thing that does impact readiness ... is ensuring we have a common platform across our services,” Haston told Military Times. “We've done a terrific job of taking care of our soldiers with the fielding of individual personal equipment — ballistic vests, helmets, all that stuff. ... But it's the major end items. It's the tanks, the Bradley [fighting vehicles], the helicopters and the planes," he said. Haston explained that readiness issues aren't exclusive to Tennessee Guardsmen. He said they were “enterprise-wide," and boiled down to “dollars and cents.” Readiness concerns aren't something the Guard cooked up on its own. It was the first issue Defense Secretary Jim Mattis brought up during his speech at the 2018 National Guard Association of the United States conference in New Orleans last month. “The way we're going to address the challenges we face is we're going to restore readiness across our force, and you [the National Guard] are considered every bit a part of that force as any active element," Mattis said. “We cannot be unprepared when destiny in the form of mobilization day taps us on the shoulder, for then it will be too late." While his words were welcomed, Guard leadership was still left wondering what the next step will be while they juggle missions abroad with training constraints at home due to outdated equipment. One example: the Tennessee Army National Guard's 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment operates M1A1 Abrams AIM SA tanks, according to Haston. However, active-duty Army units, by and large, are operating the newer M1A2 SEP variant. Full article:

  • Viasat wins contract for internet aboard Air Force One

    September 7, 2018 | International, C4ISR

    Viasat wins contract for internet aboard Air Force One

    By: Kelsey Atherton Air Force One's most important mission is to support managing an apocalypse. The daily function of the vehicles is, of course, regular transport of the president of the United States, an airborne White House that transports the functions of the executive branch to wherever it may travel. But it is as a command center in crisis, up to and including nuclear war, that the special modifications of highly customized Boeing 747s are most valuable. In all of that, it is the ability of the airplane to continue to communicate with people on the ground that matters most. On Sept. 6, the United States Defense Information Systems Agency awarded Viasat a contract worth $55.6 million a year to provide U.S. government senior leader and VIP aircraft with in-flight broadband and connectivity services. Valued at $559.8 million for the base year and seven follow-on years, the contract may, in a major crisis, prove that value in maintaining a consistent chain of command. Viasat first won a contract to provide the bandwidth in 2016. “The service enables an elite connectivity experience with the ability to use the in-flight broadband connection to stream full-motion high-definition video for en-route command-and-control (C2) missions,” says Viasat. It also, Viasat continues, allows the people on board the connected aircraft “to access real-time intelligence and other location-based, live-sensor data for critical decision-making and more.” With the broadband provided by the Viasat connection, a president on board Air Force One can receive the relevant intelligence reports, communicate with counterparts elsewhere in government and the military, and then respond to the crisis by crafting an appropriate response. Or even a tweet.

  • Northrop Grumman secures $164M contract for Hawkeye aircraft for Japan

    September 7, 2018 | International, Aerospace

    Northrop Grumman secures $164M contract for Hawkeye aircraft for Japan

    By: Mike Yeo MELBOURNE, Australia — The contract for the last of four Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft ordered by Japan has been awarded, as the country announces plans to reorganize its airborne early warning aircraft command. According to a Sept. 5 contract award announcement by the U.S. Department of Defense, Northrop Grumman has been awarded a $164 million firm-fixed-price modification to an existing contract for a new-build E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft . This follows similar contract awards in November 2015, July 2016 and June 2018, and brings the total procurement cost for Japan for the four E-2Ds to $633 million, not inclusive of engineering and other related costs. The first Japanese E-2D is currently undergoing flight tests, having made its first flight from Northrop Grumman's Aircraft Integration Center of Excellence in St. Augustine, Florida, in October 2017, with delivery expected in late 2019. The E-2D is the latest variant of the E-2 Hawkeye carrierborne, airborne early warning aircraft, which is already being operated by the U.S. Navy. It features a new Lockheed Martin AN/APY-9 ultrahigh-frequency-band radar, which is able to detect and track cruise missiles and low-observable aircraft. However, the Japanese aircraft are not fitted with the Cooperative Engagement Capability, or CEC, like U.S. Navy E-2Ds. CEC is a sensor network with integrated fire control capability that combines data from multiple battle-force air-search sensors on CEC-equipped units into a single, real-time, composite track picture. Japanese media has also previously reported that the Defense Ministry is looking to equip its E-2Ds and Aegis-equipped destroyers with CEC, allowing the former to guide missiles fired by the latter. Full article:

  • It’s Now Possible To Telepathically Communicate with a Drone Swarm

    September 7, 2018 | International, Aerospace, C4ISR

    It’s Now Possible To Telepathically Communicate with a Drone Swarm

    BY PATRICK TUCKER DARPA's new research in brain-computer interfaces is allowing a pilot to control multiple simulated aircraft at once. A person with a brain chip can now pilot a swarm of drones — or even advanced fighter jets, thanks to research funded by the U.S. military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. The work builds on research from 2015, which allowed a paralyzed woman to steer a virtual F-35 Joint Strike Fighter with only a small, surgically-implantable microchip. On Thursday, agency officials announced that they had scaled up the technology to allow a user to steer multiple jets at once. “As of today, signals from the brain can be used to command and control ... not just one aircraft but three simultaneous types of aircraft,” said Justin Sanchez, who directs DARPA's biological technology office, at the Agency's 60th-anniversary event in Maryland. More importantly, DARPA was able to improve the interaction between pilot and the simulated jet to allow the operator, a paralyzed man named Nathan, to not just send but receive signals from the craft. “The signals from those aircraft can be delivered directly back to the brain so that the brain of that user [or pilot] can also perceive the environment,” said Sanchez. “It's taken a number of years to try and figure this out.” In essence, it's the difference between having a brain joystick and having a real telepathic conversation with multiple jets or drones about what's going on, what threats might be flying over the horizon, and what to do about them. “We've scaled it to three [aircraft], and have full sensory [signals] coming back. So you can have those other planes out in the environment and then be detecting something and send that signal back into the brain,” said Sanchez. The experiment occured a “handful of months ago,” he said. It's another breakthrough in the rapidly advancing field of brain-computer interfaces, or BCIs, for a variety of purposes. The military has been leading interesting research in the field since at least 2007,. And in 2012, DARPA issued a $4 million grant to build a non-invasive “synthetic telepathy” interface by placing sensors close to the brain's motor centers to pick up electrical signals — non-invasively, over the skin. But the science has advanced rapidly in recent years, allowing for breakthroughs in brain-based communication, control of prosthetic limbs, and even memory repair.

  • France-Parly satisfaite des nouvelles fonctionnalités de l'A400M

    September 7, 2018 | International, Aerospace

    France-Parly satisfaite des nouvelles fonctionnalités de l'A400M

    PARIS, 6 septembre (Reuters) - La ministre française de la Défense Florence Parly s'est déclarée jeudi satisfaite des nouvelles fonctionnalités en cours de test sur l'avion de transport militaire A400M d'Airbus. “Nous sommes dans une phase extrêmement positive”, a-t-elle observé lors d'une rencontre avec l'Association des journalistes professionnels de l'aéronautique et de l'espace (AJPAE), disant attendre l'intégralité des fonctionnalités en 2021. Les retards successifs du programme A400M ont conduit les pays clients, comme la France, à réceptionner des appareils n'ayant pas toutes les fonctionnalités contractuelles, comme le largage de parachutistes par les portes latérales, des équipements électroniques de défense et le ravitaillement en vol d'hélicoptères. En mars, Reuters avait révélé que l'armée allemande avait dit dans un rapport confidentiel voir un “risque important” que l'A400M n'ait pas toutes les capacités tactiques requises après 2021, au moment du retrait de sa flotte de C-160 Transall. “Chaque étape que nous passons est une étape qui se franchit avec succès et donc ceci aide chacun à être un peu patient”, a ajouté Florence Parly. L'armée française avait annoncé au printemps la réception de son 14e A400M, avec un objectif de 25 unités en 2025 et une cible de 50 à terme. Le président exécutif d'Airbus Tom Enders a fait état fin juillet d'avancées dans les négociations avec les pays clients de l'A400M pour parvenir à un amendement du contrat d'ici la fin 2018.

  • Réglementation ITAR : la France veut réduire sa dépendance aux Etats-Unis

    September 7, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR

    Réglementation ITAR : la France veut réduire sa dépendance aux Etats-Unis

    Par Michel Cabirol La France a lancé un plan pour réduire les dépendances de l'industrie d'armement aux composants américains qui entrent dans la fabrication de certains programmes français. La France veut réduire sa dépendance aux composants américains dans la Défense afin de ne pas gêner l'exportation de ses programmes, a déclaré jeudi la ministre des Armées Florence Parly. La France doit actuellement demander aux Etats-Unis la levée d'interdictions sur certains composants. "Nous avons besoin progressivement de nous désensibiliser par rapport à un certain nombre de composants américains, ce qui ne veut pas dire nécessairement pouvoir se désensibiliser complètement", a-t-elle expliqué lors d'une rencontre avec l'Association des journalistes professionnels de l'aéronautique et de l'espace (AJPAE). La France a d'ailleurs lancé un plan pour réduire les dépendances par rapport à ces composants américains. "Je ne donnerai pas d'exemple précis mais nous avons été confrontés, dans des échanges liés à des prospects exportations, à des difficultés. Et nous savons bien que ces difficultés sont liées en apparence à des questionnements stratégiques et en réalité souvent à des problèmes de concurrence commerciale. Il ne faut pas en être dupes", a-t-elle expliqué. Si un système d'armes contient au moins un composant américain sous le régime de la réglementation américaine ITAR, les Etats-Unis ont le pouvoir d'en interdire la vente à l'export à un pays tiers. Ainsi, ils ont récemment bloqué la vente de missile de croisière Scalp, qui devait armer le Rafale, à l'Egypte et au Qatar. En 2013, Washington avait déjà refusé une demande de réexportation de la France aux Emirats Arabes Unis de composants "made in USA" nécessaires à la fabrication de deux satellites espions français (Airbus et Thales). La visite de François Hollande aux États-Unis en février 2014 avait permis de régler positivement ce dossier. Lors de son audition en juillet dernier à l'Assemblée nationale, Florence Parly avait reconnu que "nous sommes à la merci des Américains quand nos matériels sont concernés". "Avons-nous les moyens d'être totalement indépendants des composants américains ? Je ne le crois pas. Cherchons-nous à améliorer la situation ? La réponse est oui", avait-elle déjà assuré en juillet. La France travaille notamment à désensibiliser les futurs programmes d'armement. Ainsi Florence Parly a affirmé que cette moindre dépendance serait cruciale pour la viabilité du futur programme d'avion de combat (SCAF). Cela passe pour Paris et Berlin d'avoir la capacité d'exporter ce futur système d'armes. Elle a estimé que les industriels devaient prendre en compte ce dossier en lançant des investissements en matière de recherche et de technologie pour être en mesure de fabriquer un composant analogue qui échapperait au dispositif ITAR. "Certains industriels l'ont compris", a-t-elle précisé. C'est le cas du missilier MBDA dans le cadre du développement du futur missile air-air MICA-NG. Ce programme, qui sera opérationnel en 2025, est développé en prenant en compte la contrainte ITAR. Ils seront ITAR Free, assure-t-on à La Tribune. Florence Parly a également rappelé la dépendance de la France pour les drone MALE Reaper. "Pour armer les Reaper, il faut une autorisation du Congrès américain. Est-ce satisfaisant ? Non. Mais aujourd'hui on n'a pas le choix", a-t-elle expliqué, faisant référence aux drones achetés aux Etats-Unis depuis 2013. Pour autant, l'armement des Reaper ne signifie pas que la France armera le futur drone MALE de reconnaissance et de surveillance en préparation pour 2025. "Dans les spécifications, il sera possible de l'armer, ce qui ne signifie pas qu'aujourd'hui la décision est prise sur la question de savoir s'il sera en définitive armé", a-t-elle souligné.

  • Pentagon’s A&S reorganization should be completed a year ahead of time

    September 7, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR

    Pentagon’s A&S reorganization should be completed a year ahead of time

    By: Aaron Mehta WASHINGTON — Last December, Ellen Lord sat down with reporters and told them that the reorganization of the Pentagon's Acquisition, Technology and Logistics office would be a two-year process. Now, however, Lord believes her Acquisition and Sustainment office will beat that target, easily. “I believe we are going to be pretty squared away” by the first quarter of calendar year 2019, Lord told Defense News in an interview following her appearance at the second annual Defense News Conference. “I believe those last critical slots — a lot of [deputy assistant secretary of defense] slots, a few director slots — will all be filled by March of '19. We're excited to get going on the work,” she said. The AT&L reorganization included splitting the office into two new units — the undersecretaries of Acquisition and Sustainment, led by Lord, and of Research and Engineering, led by Mike Griffin. In July, Deputy Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan released a memo — obtained first by Defense News — finalizing the structures of the new organizations. Full article:

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