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  • BAE wins Marine Corps contract to build new amphibious combat vehicle

    June 22, 2018 | International, Naval, Land

    BAE wins Marine Corps contract to build new amphibious combat vehicle

    By: Jen Judson WASHINGTON — BAE Systems has won a contract to build the Marine Corps' new amphibious combat vehicle following a competitive evaluation period where BAE's vehicle was pitted against an offering from SAIC. The contract allows for the company to enter into low-rate initial production with 30 vehicles expected to be delivered by fall of 2019, valued at $198 million. The Marines plan to field 204 of the vehicles. The total value of the contract with all options exercised is expected to amount to about $1.2 billion. The awarding of the contract gets the Corps “one step closer to delivering this capability to the Marines,” John Garner, Program Executive Officer, Land Systems Marine Corps, said during a media round table held Tuesday. But the Corps isn't quite done refining its new ACV. The vehicle is expected to undergo incremental changes with added new requirements and modernization. The Corps is already working on the requirements for ACV 1.2, which will include a lethality upgrade for the amphibous vehicle. BAE's ACV vehicle will eventually replace the Corps' legacy amphibious vehicle, but through a phased approach. The Assault Amphibious Vehicle is currently undergoing survivability upgrades to keep the Cold War era vehicle ticking into 2035. BAE Systems and SAIC were both awarded roughly $100 million each in November 2015 to deliver 16 prototypes to the Marine Corps for evaluation in anticipation of a down select to one vendor in 2018. [BAE, SAIC Named as Finalists in Marines ACV Competition] All government testing of the prototypes concluded the first week of December 2017 and the Marine Corps issued its request for proposals the first week in January 2018. Operational tests also began concurrently. Government testing included land reliability testing, survivability and blast testing and water testing — both ship launch and recovery as well as surf transit. Operational evaluations included seven prototypes each from both SAIC and BAE Systems, six participated and one spare was kept for backup. BAE Systems' partnered with Italian company Iveco Defense Vehicles to build its ACV offering. [BAE Systems completes Amphibious Combat Vehicle shipboard testing] Some of the features BAE believed were particularly attractive for a new ACV is that it has space for 13 embarked Marines and a crew of three, which keeps the rifle squad together. The engine's strength is 690 horsepower over the old engine's 560 horsepower, and it runs extremely quietly. The vehicle has a V-shaped hull to protect against underbody blasts, and the seat structure is completely suspended. SAIC's vehicle, which was built in Charleston, South Carolina, offered improved traction through a central tire-inflation system to automatically increase or decrease tire pressure. It also had a V-hull certified during tests at the Nevada Automotive Test Center — where all prototypes were tested by the Marine Corps — and had blast-mitigating seats to protect occupants. The 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division out of Camp Pendleton, California, is expected to receive the first ACV 1.1 vehicles. Marine Corps Times reporter Shawn Snow contributed to this report.

  • The US made the wrong bet on radiofrequency, and now it could pay the price

    June 22, 2018 | International, C4ISR

    The US made the wrong bet on radiofrequency, and now it could pay the price

    By: Aaron Mehta WASHINGTON – The Pentagon's belief in its technology drove the Department of Defense to trust it would have control over the electromagnetic spectrum for years to come, but that decision has left America vulnerable to new leaps in technology from China and Russia, according to a top military official. Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has now concluded that the Pentagon needs to ensure it is keeping up with those near-peer nations, let along reestablishing dominance of electronic warfare and networking. “I think we assumed wrongly that encryption and our domination over the precision timing signals would allow us to evade the enemy in the electromagnetic spectrum. I think that was a bad assumption,” Selva said Thursday at the annual Center for a New American Security conference. “It's not that we disarmed, it's that we took a path that they have now figured out,” Selva said. China and Russia instead focused on deploying “digitally managed radio frequency manipulation, which changed the game in electronic warfare.” He added that a DoD study looking at the next decade concluded “We have some work to do.” Specifically, the United States needs to discover what Selva dubbed “alternative pathways” for communications and command and control systems. “It doesn't have to be a [radiofrequency] game. It's an RF game because we choose to make it so. And we're going to have to do some targeted investments in expanding the capacity of the networks that we use for command and control and battle management,” he said. “If we fail to do that, we're going to kick ourselves into the force-counterforce game inside the electromagnetic spectrum for the balance of the next couple of decades. “We have to adapt to that, and adapt quickly. The work has been done to characterize the problem, and the problem is, we're locked in this point-counterpoint fight with two potential competitors who have taken alternative paths. So we have to unlock a different way to do that work.”

  • Upgrading US Navy ships is difficult and expensive. Change is coming

    June 22, 2018 | International, Naval

    Upgrading US Navy ships is difficult and expensive. Change is coming

    By: David B. Larter WASHINGTON ― The U.S. Navy is looking at extending the life of its surface ships by as much as 13 years, meaning some ships might be 53 years old when they leave the fleet. Here's the main problem: keeping their combat systems relevant. The Navy's front-line combatants ― cruisers and destroyers ― are incredibly expensive to upgrade, in part because one must cut open the ship and remove fixtures that were intended to be permanent when they were installed. When the Navy put Baseline 9 on the cruiser Normandy a few years ago, which included all new consoles, displays and computer servers in addition to the software, it ran the service $188 million. Now, the capability and function of the new Baseline 9 suite on Normandy is staggering. The cost of doing that to all the legacy cruisers and destroyers in the fleet would be equally staggering: it would cost billions. So why is that? Why are the most advanced ships on the planet so difficult to keep relevant? And if the pace of change is picking up, how can the Navy stay relevant in the future without breaking the national piggy bank? Capt. Mark Vandroff, the current commanding officer of the Carderock Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center and former Arleigh Burke-class destroyer program manager, understands this issue better than most. At this week's American Society of Naval Engineers symposium, Vandroff described why its so darn hard to upgrade the old ships and how future designs will do better. Here's what Vandroff had to say: “Flexibility is a requirement that historically we haven't valued, and we haven't valued it for very good reasons: It wasn't important. “When you think of a ship that was designed in the ‘70s and built in the ‘80s, we didn't realize how fast and how much technology was going to change. We could have said: ‘You know what? I'm going to have everything bolted.' Bolt down the consoles in [the combat information center], bolt in the [vertical launch system] launchers ― all of it bolted so that we could more easily pop out and remove and switch out. “The problem was we didn't value that back then. We were told to value survivability and density because we were trying to pack maximum capability into the space that we have. That's why you have what you have with the DDG-51 today. And they are hard to modernize because we valued survivability and packing the maximum capability into the minimum space. And we achieved that because that was the requirement at the time. “I would argue that now as we look at requirements for future ships, flexibility is a priority. You are going to have to balance it. What if I have to bolt stuff down? Well, either we are going to give up some of my survivability standards or I'm going to take up more space to have the equivalent standards with an different kind of mounting system, for example. And that is going to generate a new set of requirements ― it's going to drive design in different directions than it went before. “I suppose you could accuse the ship designers in the 1980s of failure to foresee the future, but that's all of us. And the point is they did what they were told to do. Flexibility is what we want now, and I think you will see it drive design from this point forward because it is now something we are forced to value.”

  • Aerospace firm drops lawsuit against DND as defence officials award it multibillion-dollar contract

    June 22, 2018 | Local, Aerospace

    Aerospace firm drops lawsuit against DND as defence officials award it multibillion-dollar contract

    David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen An Italian aerospace firm dropped a lawsuit against Canada over what it claimed was a rigged aircraft purchase shortly before the federal government awarded it a new sole-source deal potentially worth billions of dollars. But the Canadian Forces and officials with Italian defence company, Leonardo, say the ending of the legal action in May had nothing to do with the company being picked for a new project the same month. Leonardo has been selected by the Royal Canadian Air Force to upgrade its Cormorant search-and-rescue helicopters and provide seven additional aircraft. It is estimated the project will cost taxpayers between $1 billion and $5 billion, a price tag that includes the purchase of simulators and support equipment. Leonardo had been fighting the Canadian government in Federal Court over its 2016 decision to award its rival, Airbus, a contract to build fixed-wing search-and-rescue planes as part of a $4.7-billion program. The company was asking the court to overturn the contract to Airbus and instead award the lucrative deal to Leonardo and its Canadian partners. It alleged the Airbus aircraft failed to meet the government's basic criteria. But that legal action was stopped in May just as the Canadian government was awarding Leonardo the new helicopter deal. The Department of National Defence suggested the decision to drop the lawsuit was not related to its decision to select Leonardo for the sole-source deal. “The Government of Canada's priority is to select a best-value package for the Cormorant Mid-Life Upgrade,” the DND noted in an email. “Decisions related to this procurement were made based on consultations with industry and our subject matter experts and follow standard procurement reviews.” But the sole-source deal to Leonardo caught the aerospace industry by surprise. The RCAF had asked companies just last year for informal proposals on how Canada's future search and rescue helicopter needs could be met. One firm, Sikorsky, went as far as launching a campaign to promote its civilian S-92 helicopter as a cost-effective solution. It proposed that it was cheaper to buy new helicopters than to upgrade the older Cormorants. The federal government acknowledged that it has now received correspondence from aerospace firms raising issues about the sole-source deal with Leonardo. “We have received some responses,” Pierre-Alain Bujold, a spokesman for Public Services and Procurement Canada, stated in an email. “PSPC officials are currently reviewing the responses, in collaboration with the Department of National Defence and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.” “Once this review is complete, officials will determine appropriate next steps and inform respondents accordingly,” Bujold added. But defence industry insiders say the review is simply for the sake of appearances and it is expected the deal with Leonardo will proceed. Leonardo officials said their decision to drop the lawsuit was made in April but it took until the next month before that process could be completed. The Cormorant fleet entered service in the year 2000 and the modernization would allow the helicopters to operate for another 25 years at least. One of Leonardo's subsidiaries was the original manufacturer of the Cormorants. The decision to sole-source the deal moved through the federal system quickly. On April 20, RCAF spokesman Maj. Scott Spurr stated the air force was still examining options on how to proceed and that the next phase of the project wouldn't come until 2019. But on May 24 the Canadian government announced it had decided to go with Leonardo on the exclusive deal. Department of National Defence officials say it was determined that it was more cost effective to stay with the Cormorant fleet as it is a proven aircraft the RCAF knows well. The upgrade program is expected to include the latest avionic and mission systems, advanced radars and sensors, vision enhancement and tracking systems.

  • The Army hopes industry can help figure out its network needs

    June 22, 2018 | International, Land

    The Army hopes industry can help figure out its network needs

    By: Mark Pomerleau The Army is set to hold another technical exchange with industry to better understand what existing capabilities can inform the way ahead for its tactical network. The Army held its first technical exchange in February to provide industry with insights as to specific threats the Army faces, what solutions are needed and the Army's priorities for tactical network modernization. It was hosted by the relevant program office — PEO Command, Control and Communications-Tactical — and the Network Cross Functional Team, which was stood up to help the service innovate faster. The next event will likely take place on August 1 and 2 in Raleigh, NC, and will again be co-hosted by PEO-C3T and the Network Cross Functional Team. Informing these network modernization efforts is the Army's acknowledgement that it does not know exactly what it wants. “In the next couple years and beyond, what's that next future state need to look like? That's why we're relying on outreach to industry,” Maj. Gen. Pete Gallagher, network cross functional team lead, said at a June 21 event sponsored by the AFCEA Northern Virginia chapter. “We conducted a tech exchange meeting in February, [and] we got a lot of great feedback from industry partners helping us figure out what is that next step, that next future state ... so, again, we're going forward in this perpetual state of modernization.” The upcoming technical exchange will be officially confirmed on the Federal Business Opportunities website next week, according to officials, and will focus on cloud, artificial intelligence, data analytics, data logistics, infrastructure and the mission partner environment.

  • Top intelligence officials fear U.S. behind in quantum computing, cyber

    June 22, 2018 | International, C4ISR

    Top intelligence officials fear U.S. behind in quantum computing, cyber

    By: Justin Lynch The universities and research institutions in the United States focusing on quantum computing are “sub-par,” a top National Security Agency official said June 21. The complaint is among a laundry list of examples, topped by cybersecurity, where American innovation in the intelligence field is struggling, said George Barnes, deputy director at the NSA. “We have to be better at playing the long game,” he said. Barnes added that the Chinese “can play the long game” and “they are taking steps that might not be realized for 20 years.” The warnings, made at the Capitol Hill National Security Forum in Washington, highlighted mistrust between the government and private sector, as well as the structural challenges of supporting innovation. Whether it is quantum computing, space or artificial intelligence, Robert Cardillo, Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency worried that “the moment will be too late” for American innovation. Experts say that when quantum computers are fully operational, they will upend the use of password-protected systems, artificial intelligence and other areas of information technology. “Whoever achieves quantum first, everything they are doing and have been doing is irrelevant,” Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, said. He added the United States needs to treat quantum the way it treated the Y2K crisis, where the government “spent billions of dollars and spent a decade preparing ... We need to be the leader.” Hurd said that he supports a recently proposed bill from Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, that aims to “accelerate quantum research and development.” But the intelligence officials at the forum said that the very nature of American government that prioritizes short-term gains may harm innovation. With their centralized five-year plans, China does not have the potential sequesters and fluctuating budgets that are features of the U.S. government. Rob Joyce, the newly installed senior adviser at the NSA, said that government needs to give “more people the license to fail.” He said that while the agency doesn't want to squander taxpayer money, “oversight regulation” does not encourage innovation. Joyce said that the agency needs to boost partnerships with the banking industry, power companies and other areas of critical infrastructure because government has moved to a “support” role. “We are not the finishers now,” Joyce said. Asked what the most important emerging threat was for the NSA, Barnes answered with one word: “Cybersecurity.” “The attack surface is broad and the solution requires government and the public sector together,”Barnes added. Barnes said that that agency is not used to working with the private sector however, and it harms cybersecurity. “Trust is an issue.”

  • Germany’s fighter jet race could start dropping bidders this summer

    June 22, 2018 | International, Aerospace

    Germany’s fighter jet race could start dropping bidders this summer

    By: Sebastian Sprenger COLOGNE, Germany ― A multibillion dollar program to replace the German military's Tornado aircraft is nearing another round of decisions that could narrow the field of bidders. The due date for a “quality gate” review, as the wide-ranging analysis is called in Bundeswehr jargon, has been on the calendar for this month. But officials now say the exercise could last through the summer. The discussions are principally about realizing an extended service life for the 1970s-era Tornados, though exactly by how long remains to be seen. Closely linked to that question is an examination of what potential follow-on aircraft are best suited to pick up the legacy planes' roles in a variety of life-span scenarios. Officials emphasize that no decision has been made on who will build the new planes to replace roughly 90 Tornados. A formal competition is expected to begin later this year or early 2019 among those aircraft types still deemed suitable by the government at that time. In the running is the Eurofigher Typhoon, Lockheed Martin's F-35, and Boeing's F-15 and F-18. The Typhoon is made by a European consortium of Airbus, Leonardo and BAE Systems. Defence Ministry officials have said they prefer the Eurofighter option, arguing that keeping the European aircraft industry busy will be key in strengthening the continent's defense capabilities. That goes especially for the Franco-German alliance in charge of developing a combat-capable aerial drone and, later, a sixth-generation Future Combat Air System. Some in the Luftwaffe, the German air force, are rooting for the F-35. The affinity partly stems from personnel exchanges with the U.S. Air Force, giving German pilots some exposure to the marquee American defense program. All companies delivered their formal offers to the Defence Ministry in April, coinciding with the ILA Berlin air show. Lockheed Martin staged a sizable promotional showing at the event for its F-35, mixing promises about the jet's advanced capabilities with a professed obliviousness to the political minefield of Europe's economic powerhouse that is Germany weighing a U.S. aircraft at this time. As German analysts continue to crunch the numbers on the Tornado-replacement effort, Reuters reported this week that Berlin requested information from the Pentagon in April about what it would take to certify the Eurofighter to deliver nuclear weapons. NATO policies for nuclear burden-sharing dictate that German pilots will carry American atomic bombs in case of a war on the continent. The Luftwaffe has set aside a number of Tornados for that purpose, and any follow-on aircraft will have to be configured to carry out the mission. While the Pentagon has no say over which jet Germany will eventually pick, officials in Washington must approve the integration of American nuclear bombs on the aircraft. Citing sources on both sides of the Atlantic, Reuters reported that the process could take up to 10 years and that the F-35 was in line for the nuclear weapons integration before the Eurofighter would be considered. A wait time of seven years could conflict with Berlin's plan to begin phasing out Tornados starting in 2025. But according to officials, that's where the fine-tuning of the “quality gate” could come into play, making it possible to alter the timing accordingly. “We are confident that Eurofighter Typhoon can deliver all the capabilities the German Air Force requires and perform all the roles that are currently performed on Tornado for Germany,” a Eurofighter spokesman said. “This of course includes the nuclear role.”

  • Here’s the Philippine military’s wish list for its newly approved modernization phase

    June 22, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR

    Here’s the Philippine military’s wish list for its newly approved modernization phase

    By: Mike Yeo MELBOURNE, Australia ― The Philippine government has confirmed that the second phase of its military modernization plan has been approved by President Rodrigo Duterte, clearing the way for the southeast Asian nation to replace some of its elderly and obsolete equipment. The confirmation by Philippine Department of National Defense spokesman Arsenio Andolong on Wednesday will now allow the country to implement sorely needed recapitalization of some of its equipment, the oldest of which dates back to World War II. Andolong also confirmed that the budget for the five-year Horizon 2 modernization program, which will run from 2018-2022, has been set at some 300 billion Philippine pesos (U.S. $5.6 billion). According to sources in the Philippines, this amount will be split into $890 million for the Army, $1.44 billion for the Navy and $2.61 billion for the Air Force, with the rest of the budget going to the military's General Headquarters and the government's arsenal. The list of equipment the Philippines is seeking to acquire under the Horizon 2 program includes multirole fighters, airlifters, maritime patrol aircraft and heavy lift helicopters for the Air Force, while the Army is seeking more artillery, light tanks and multiple rocket launchers. The budget for the Air Force includes an amount set aside for combat utility helicopters. A contract signed in February with the Canadian government for Bell 412 helicopters was canceled after Canadian politicians raised concerns about the Duterte administration's human rights record in its ongoing war on drugs. The Philippines is reportedly now seeking to acquire the helicopters through a commercial sale, while an alternative option of buying the South Korean Korea Aerospace Industires Surion helicopter has also been floated. The Navy's priority will be the acquisition of two corvettes and a similar number of multirole offshore patrol vessels. Other items on its wish list include more anti-submarine helicopters and amphibious assault vehicles, the latter for the country's Marine Corps. Andolong also confirmed that the Navy wants to acquire an unspecified number of submarines under Horizon 2. However, this could prove difficult under a limited budget and because the country's has no experience operating and sustaining a submarine capability. The Philippines, which is an archipelagic nation made up of more than 7,600 islands, faces a myriad security challenges ranging from disputes with China and other southeast Asian countries over the ownership of islands and features in the South China Sea, to ongoing insurgencies with communist guerrillas and Muslim separatists that includes Islamic State-linked militants. In May 2017, the latter seized control of the city of Marawi in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, leading to a five-month siege by government forces, which resulted in large parts of the city being badly damaged during operations to recapture it. During the operation, the United States, which has a mutual defense treaty with the Philippines, provided intelligence and surveillance assistance to government forces with its manned and unmanned aircraft.

  • US Must Hustle On Hypersonics, EW, AI: VCJCS Selva & Work

    June 22, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR

    US Must Hustle On Hypersonics, EW, AI: VCJCS Selva & Work

    By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR. WASHINGTON: China is besting the United States in key military technologies like hypersonic missiles and electronic warfare, Gen. Paul Selva, vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs said today. We can still catch up, he predicted. What about Artificial Intelligence? That's too close to call, said former deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work, so we'd better get a move on. Both men spoke at a CNAS conference on “Strategic Competition: Maintaining The Edge.” “I actually regret talking about the Third Offset Strategy, in hindsight,” Work said, referring to the high-tech initiative he launched in the Obama Pentagon. “It made it sound like we had the advantage and we had the time to think about it and go through the motions.... I wish I would have said, ‘we need to start about upsetting the Chinese offset, which is coming uncomfortably close to achieving technological parity with the US.' “At this point, I would think that the outcome is too close to call,” Work said. “It's time for the US to crack the whip. (Let's) hope it's not too late.” Hypersonics & Electronic Warfare So what are some of these shortfalls? The most high-profile is hypersonics, weapons designed to move through the atmosphere at more than five times the speed of sound. Defense Undersecretary for R&D Mike Griffin has made hypersonics his top priority and has warned that China has conducted 20 times more tests than the US. China has demonstrated some impressive technology, Gen. Selva said today, but the race is far from over. “They haven't mass-deployed hypersonics or long-range ballistic missiles,” he said. “What they have done is proven the technologies, so they are able now to deploy those capabilities on a larger scale. “We are behind in the demonstration of many of those technologies,” Selva admitted, elaborating on a statement he made in January, “but we also can take asymmetric approaches and catch up. We are way ahead in a lot of the sensor integration technologies” — essential for telling the hyper-fast weapons where to go — “and we have to maintain that edge.” What about Electronic Warfare, I asked? Detecting, triangulating, and jamming enemy radio transmissions has long been a Russian strength and is increasingly a Chinese one, while the US disbanded many of its EW forces after the Cold War. Selva's answer got into technical nuances I hadn't heard before. “We're a step behind,” Selva said. “It's not hard to catch up, but as soon as you catch up the fast followers will actually leap over the top of you — and that's the dynamic that's set up by having digital radio frequency management capability.” DRFM, also called Digital Radio Frequency Memory, uses modern computing power to record enemy radio and radar signals, modify them, and copy them, allowing forces to transmit a false signal that the enemy can't tell from the real thing. It's a much more effective way of “spoofing” than traditional analog techniques, which suffered from telltale signal degradation. “We assumed wrongly that encryption and our domination in the precision timing signals would allow us to evade the enemy in the electromagnetic spectrum,” Selva said. It turns that that timing is everything in EW as well as comedy. While GPS is now part of daily life, a much less well-known feature is that GPS requires incredibly precise timing — within about three-billionths of a second — which can be used for other purposes, such as coordinating different radios as they switch rapidly from one frequency to another to avoid enemy detection and jamming. But apparently that wasn't enough to evade DRFM-based jamming, which can create a false timing signal that causes the entire network to fall out of synch. “We took a path that they have now figured out,” Selva said. “The Chinese and the Russians took an alternative path, which was to employ digitally managed radio frequency manipulation, which changed the game in electronic warfare. “We have done an in-depth study of where we are relative to the Chinese and Russians (across) the entire spectrum, and we've got some work to do,” Selva said. “We have to figure out alternative pathways for communications and command and control so it doesn't have to be an RF (Radio Frequency) game...It's an RF game because we chose to make it so.” He didn't specify what the alternatives to radio communication were, but there's been promising work using lasers to beam messages. (Breaking D readers will remember that we first reported the demise of America's lead in spectrum four years ago.) Securing our communications networks isn't enough, Work told me afterwards, because every weapon system now has chips in it that can be hacked into. “We have focused on securing network communications, but our biggest vulnerabilities now, Sydney, are in the DoD Internet of Things — the way you can crack into the network through platforms (e.g. tanks, aircraft, ships) and through components on platforms,” Work said. “The Russians and the Chinese understand these vulnerabilities and really try to exploit them.” So there are really three fronts in cyber/electronic warfare, and Work isn't sanguine about any of them. “Dominating the electromagnetic spectrum, and securing the DoD Internet of Things, and securing networks, all of these three things, in my view, we're well behind in,” he told me. The whole “Chinese theory of victory,” he said, is known (in translation) as “systems destruction warfare” because it focuses on electronically paralyzing command-and-control rather than physically destroying tanks, ships, and planes. Artificial Intelligence Now, artificial intelligence could potentially revolutionize electronic warfare. Computers can identify signals, trace them, and making jamming decisions much faster than human minds — a concept called “cognitive EW.” But that's just one of the many military applications of AI, from advising human commanders to coordinating swarms of combat robots. While Selva didn't address Artificial Intelligence, Work did; it's one of his passions and the central theme of the (now deprecated) Third Offset Strategy. So who's ahead in AI? Defense Innovation Advisory Board chairman Eric Schmidt, a former Google AI guru, told Work he had once thought the US was five years ahead of the Chinese, Work recounted. But after a recent trip to China, Work recounted, Schmidt changed his verdict: “If we have six months, we're lucky.” Schmidt said last year that the US lacks a coherent strategy to counter the Chinese in this area. The US has never been in a competition this intense, Work said. China has made AIan official national priority — something he thinks the White House should do here — and the Chinese have great coders. The Pentagon is now creating a Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, something Schmidt's DIB proposed over a year ago, Work noted. “We've got a lot of advantages and we can do very, very well in this race but don't take anything for granted,” Work told me. Just as politicians are warned never to take victory for granted, neither should DoD. “It's a political rule to always run like you're losing, and that's what we have to do in this area....The Chinese are very clever and very capable competitors, and they're intent on surpassing us.”

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