13 novembre 2020 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité

Britain moves to protect its defense industry from foreign influence

By:  

LONDON – Defense and space industries are among nearly twenty sectors named by the British government in the introduction of new legislation Nov. 11 aimed at tightening regulations allowing it to block potentially hostile direct foreign investment.

The government said the National Security and Investment Bill will strengthen its ability to investigate and intervene in mergers, acquisitions and other types of deals potentially posing a threat to British national security.

Artificial intelligence, robotics, military or dual-use technologies, satellite and space technologies, defense and critical suppliers to the government were among 17 industry sectors included in the new legislation.

The new powers allow the government to act against investors from any country, including the United States.

“Under the National Security and Investment Bill, the government will be taking a targeted, proportionate approach to ensure it can scrutinize, impose conditions on or, as a last resort, block a deal in any sector where there is an unacceptable risk to national security,” said the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial strategy in a statement.

The acquisition of sensitive assets and intellectual property, as well as the acquisition of companies is covered by the legislation.

The government said the move brings British legislation into the 21st century.

Reporting of deals in the sectors covered by the legislation will be mandatory and companies could face heavy fines and the transactions made void if they fail to get approval from the Business department.

Britain’s effort to shut the door on unwelcome investors like the Chinese is part of a growing trend among Western nations.

Earlier this year the United States introduced mandatory notification requirements for transactions concerning specified types of businesses as part of a broader program of reform.

The Australian government have also introduced legislation requiring foreign investors to seek approval to acquire a direct interest in sensitive national security businesses.

The powers pending before parliament are similar to those already in place with allies like France, Germany and Italy, said the government.

Paul Everitt , the chief executive of the defense, aerospace and security lobby group ADS, welcomed the move but said it was important the government didn’t deter overseas investors.

“The government’s plans must strike an appropriate balance between putting protections in place and continuing to ensure the UK remains an attractive environment for international investment,” said Everitt.

Consultant Howard Wheeldon, of Wheeldon Strategic Advisory, also supported the government action, but he cautioned: “Does it [the legislation] have sufficient teeth? We certainly need to protect our specialist industry but we must also ensure and expect the playing field to be kept level.”

https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2020/11/12/britain-moves-to-protect-its-defense-industry-from-foreign-influence/

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  • U.S. Air Force to Develop AI-Powered Combat UAV

    2 avril 2019 | International, Aérospatial

    U.S. Air Force to Develop AI-Powered Combat UAV

    Author: Mike Rees The U.S. Air Force has announced that its Office of Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation at the Air Force Research Laboratory is working on fielding a prototype Autonomous Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle as an Early Operational Capability as early as 2023. The program, known as Skyborg, and the SDPE office have issued a request for information to industry to conduct market research and concept of operations analysis to learn what is commercially available now as high technology readiness level capabilities which can meet the requirements and timeline of the Skyborg program. Skyborg officially stood up as a fiscal year 2019 funded pathfinder program through SDPE in October 2018, according to Ben Tran, Skyborg program manager. “There was a lot of analysis that determined what was put into the CRFI,” Tran said. “We’ve been given the overall objective to have an early operational capability prototype fielded by the end of calendar year 2023, so this is our first step in determining what the current state of the art is from a technology perspective and from a systems engineering perspective to provide that EOC capability in 2023.” Low cost, attritable, unmanned air vehicles are one way to bring mass to the fight when it comes to addressing potential near-peer engagements in the future, according to Tran. “We also know there is heavy investment by our near-peer adversaries in artificial intelligence and autonomy in general. We know that when you couple autonomy and AI with systems like low-cost attritables, that can increase capability significantly and be a force multiplier for our Air Force and so the 2023 goal line is our attempt at bringing something to bear in a relatively quick time frame to show that we can bring that kind of capability to the fight.” Matt Duquette, an AFRL Aerospace Systems Directorate engineer, brings a background in UAV control, autonomy, and modeling and simulation of UAVs, especially teams of UAVs to the effort while assisting the Skyborg program with formulating its approach to the autonomy system and some of the behaviors that the UAVs will have. “Skyborg is a vessel for AI technologies that could range from rather simple algorithms to fly the aircraft and control them in airspace to the introduction of more complicated levels of AI to accomplish certain tasks or subtasks of the mission,” Duquette said. This builds on much of the AFRL foundational work with AI shown with programs such as Have Raider and the Auto Ground and Air Collision Avoidance systems, which prove that levels of autonomy in high performance aircraft are not only possible, but also practical. “Part of our autonomy development is building assurance into the system. You can either build assurance by using formal methods or approaches where at design time, as you develop these autonomous capabilities, you guarantee certain behaviors, or a more practical approach is to assess the capabilities of these behaviors at run time, meaning while they’re running on the aircraft. So, those are the capabilities that we’re interested in looking at from the experimentation level to see what type of assurance you need in the system so you can mix high and low criticality.” “We’re looking at a range of vehicle performance parameters – mission analysis will help us determine what the final outcome is and the responses from the CRFI will help us understand what the performance is of currently available systems and whether those will meet the needs or not. Everything from keeping up with combat platforms to slower platforms for sensing. There will be a range of possibilities there,” said Patrick Berry, from AFRL’s Sensors Directorate, who is supporting the Skyborg program by conducting modeling, simulation and analysis. Although Skyborg is not scheduled for any particular type of aircraft platform at this time, Tran said the CRFI emphasizes the importance of an open systems architecture, having modularity in the system, not only from a sensing capabilities standpoint, but overall mission systems, as well as the autonomy associated with the mission capability for the platform. “We’ve partnered with the 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and specifically an organization called the Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force and we’re working with them beginning with small, fast-moving UAVs to test the current state of the art in AI and autonomy in those airplanes and the ability for them to autonomously team and collaborate in flight,” Tran said. Machine learning has progressed greatly over the last few years and we’re very inspired by those results and excited by things that are going on in the gaming industry for instance,” said Maj. Ryan Carr, from AFRL’s Aerospace Systems Directorate. “We expect that technology will continue to mature fairly rapidly. What we really need to understand is, ‘How do you take that and do something like bring it to the real world and fly with it for example?’ The thing we’re trying to get at early on is how to do that safely. We’re talking about run-time assurance, working hand-in-hand with the flight test community who have a very long record of safe flight testing. That’s really what we want to focus our attention on in this early period,” Carr said. “We want to do this in a way that builds trust in the system as you go along so that when you get to that EOC, you will have established a baseline of trust so that operational youth will believe what the system will do or believe it’s safe. It’s not just that end-state capability, it’s the trust as you go along,” he added. Before operational AI innovation can occur, the Air Force must field an autonomous system that meets an immediate operational need and can serve as an iterative platform to facilitate complex AI development, prototyping, experimentation and fielding, and that system is Skyborg, the CRFI says. https://www.unmannedsystemstechnology.com/2019/03/u-s-air-force-to-develop-ai-powered-combat-uav/

  • Study finds these gaps in Army’s small unit counter-drone capabilities

    6 juillet 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Study finds these gaps in Army’s small unit counter-drone capabilities

    Army units at and below the battalion level are unprepared to defeat aerial drones and current plans can’t keep up with rapidly evolving technology, according to a recent study. Back in 2016, the Army Research Office asked an outside organization, The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, to evaluate their counter drone capabilities for battalion and below operations. The report they published earlier this year notes some significant gaps and threats to soldiers with this technology. “Contrary to the past, when U.S. warfighters may have found (improvised explosive devices), now the IEDs will find our warfighters,” according to the report. While the Army and Marine Corps, which also included representatives in the study, are throwing resources at the small drone problem, they are not keeping pace with the threat. “Army time frames are significantly out of sync with the rapidly advancing performance capabilities of individual (small Unmanned Aerial Systems) and teams of sUASs,” according to the report. The report noted that most of the service’s counter drone asset work was focused on heavy vehicle platforms or on fixed sites, which leaves smaller units most likely to first encounter the threat more exposed. “Significant quantities of man-portable” counter-drone systems have been fielded, Army spokesman Maj. Chris Ophardt told Army Times in an email. The Army will continue to pursue those capabilities based on emerging threats. Based on his response, which did not include details of capabilities, the Army is pursuing other ways to defeat drones. A large portion of the study was classified, due to operational security concerns. “Future Army C-UAS systems will encompass a variety of potential platforms to include fixed, mobile, and Soldier-portable capabilities,” Ophardt wrote. But beyond the types of systems employed, what they’re targeting or attacking also came under fire in the report. The Army and other branches have invested significantly in counter-drone technology, “often focusing on detecting radio frequency transmissions and GPS signals of individual sUASs. However, today’s consumer and customized sUASs can increasingly operate without radio frequency (command and control) links.” Drones now available can use automated target recognition, tracking, obstacle avoidance and other software-enabled activities instead of traditional RF and GPS. Ophardt did not divulge specifics of how the Army is addressing this, but responded that the service’s counter drone capabilities, “include multiple methods in order to detect, identify and defeat enemy UAS.” A new school began last month at Fort Benning, Georgia to give basic trainees familiarity with small drones. The drone school gives infantry and scouts the ability to fill out a seven-line report when they encounter a drone then relay that info to their headquarters. The students use both fixed-wing and helicopter small drones. They also learn defensive tactics such as how to use dispersal and hiding tactics to minimize casualties from drone-coordinated fires, according to an Army release. Those introductory tactics can help even brand-new soldiers start thinking about how to deal with drone threats. But, at the same time, the low-level tactics currently used for counter drone work have tried to use “kinetic effects,” basically shooting down the drone by interfering with its signals or overheating its circuits. The report noted that method isn’t practical on a wide scale for large numbers of troops, especially dismounted units. That path only adds more gear from the equipment to the batteries, to an already overloaded soldier, not to mention the “cognitive load” of training and using another piece of equipment, according to the report. Ophardt responded that the Army’s counter-drone strategy included “multiple methods” to detect, identify and defeat” enemy drones. The major provided a similar response when asked about Army efforts at counter-drone tactics, capabilities against swarming drones and collaboratively acting drone groups, which the report remarks will be more prevalent and sophisticated as soon as 2025. Report authors urge Army leaders to adjust their timelines for matching tech development, which are woefully inadequate for the exponential changes in software, hardware and drone capabilities. Current Army time frames consider near-term planning to run from now until 2025; mid-term planning in the 2026 to 2035 window and far-term at the 2036 to 2050. Those efforts mirror vehicle acquisition strategy timelines, not the drone arena. The report pushes for a near-term planning of one to two years, mid-term at the three- to five-year level and far term in drone tech at the six- to eight-year range. The advances are happening so quickly, authors point out, that it is “impossible to predict performance capabilities beyond eight years.” https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2018/07/05/study-finds-these-gaps-in-armys-small-unit-counter-drone-capabilities

  • Contract Awards by US Department of Defense - May 18, 2020

    19 mai 2020 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité

    Contract Awards by US Department of Defense - May 18, 2020

    AIR FORCE Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Redondo Beach, California, has been awarded a not-to-exceed $2,375,000,000 undefinitized contract modification (P00013) to contract FA8810-18-C-0006 for Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared Polar Space Vehicles 1 and 2. This modification adds Phase One for design/development, critical path flight hardware procurement, and risk reduction efforts leading to a critical design review to the basic contract. Work will be performed in Redondo Beach, California, and is expected to be completed by December 2025. Fiscal 2020 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $70,500,000 are being obligated at the time of award. Total cumulative face value of the contract is $2,419,295,532. Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, is the contracting activity. Lockheed Martin Corp., Orlando, Florida, has been awarded a ceiling $485,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for Department of Defense and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Sniper, Infrared Search and Track (IRST); and Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) navigation pod (fixed wing) hardware production. This contract provides the necessary resources required for the management, fabrication, upgrade/retrofit, integration support and testing and shipping of its non-developmental item (NDI) Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods (ATP) System, NDI LANTIRN Fixed Image Navigation Set upgrades, and the NDI IRST system as it relates to the requirements document associated with each specific delivery order placed under this contract. Work will be performed in Orlando, Florida, and various locations to be identified at the order level. The work is expected to be completed by May 2025. This contract involves FMS to (this list is not all inclusive): Bahrain, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey. This award is the result of a sole-source acquisition. FMS funds in the amount of $34,900,000 are being obligated at the time of award under delivery order FA8540-20-F-0034 for the country of Morocco. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, is the contracting activity (FA8540‐20‐D‐0001).  Canadian Commercial Corp., Ottawa, Canada, has been awarded a $44,473,960 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the installation of the Block Upgrade 7.0/8.1 kits into C-130J cargo aircraft. This contract provides for installation of government provided BU 7.0/8.1 kits into designated C-130J aircraft. Work will be performed in British Columbia, Canada, and is expected to be completed by Oct. 5, 2025. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition and four offers were received. Fiscal 2020 aircraft procurement funds in the amount of $4,690,950 are being obligated at the time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8625-20-D-2016). The Corporation of Mercer University, Warner Robins, Georgia, has been awarded a $9,039,309 task order (FA8523-20-F-0029) on basic contract FA8523-20-D-0001 to provide Laboratory Intelligence Validated Emulators (LIVE)-Virtual-Constructive (LVC) closed loop engineering test and evaluation of newly developed electronic warfare (EW) systems. This order provides integration of gold-standard intelligence community threat definitions into the Electronic Warfare and Avionics Integrated Support Facility, where LVC closed loop operational test – vertical testability demonstration simulations and testing will be conducted to inform the baseline capability and to identify growth areas for improving operational survivability, reliability and mission success of fielded EW systems in support of airborne U.S. warfighting elements. Work will be performed in Warner Robins, Georgia, and is expected to be completed by May 13, 2022. Fiscal 2020 operations and maintenance funds in the amount of $4,140,106 are being obligated at the time of award. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, is the contracting activity. JOINT ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE CENTER Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., McLean, Virginia, has been awarded a five-year, $800,000,000 task order contract (47QFCA20F0032) to deliver the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) artificial intelligence (AI) enabled products to support warfighting operations and be instrumental in embedding AI decision-making and analysis at all tiers of Department of Defense (DOD) operations. This is a General Services Administration (GSA) Alliant 2 government-wide acquisition contract for AI products that will leverage the power of DOD data to enable a transformational shift across the DOD that will give the U.S. a definitive information advantage to prepare for future warfare operations. Specific tasks of this order will encompass a wide mix of technical services and products across the full spectrum of technical support to the JAIC Joint Warfighter National Mission Initiative. This will include data labeling, data management, data conditioning, AI product development, and the transition of AI products into new and existing fielded programs and systems across the DOD. The task order contract award has a base period through May 2021 with option years that run through May 2025. GSA Federal Systems Integration and Management Center, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity. ARMY Lockheed Martin Corp., Grand Prairie, Texas, was awarded a $497,301,405 modification (P00035) to contract W31P4Q-17-D-0026 for Phased Array Tracking on Radar to Intercept Advanced Capability-3 missile support center post-production support. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of May 18, 2022. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity. Central Environmental Inc., Anchorage, Alaska, was awarded a $26,990,428 firm-fixed-price contract to relocate an existing road. Bids were solicited via the internet with two received. Work will be performed in Porterville, California, with an estimated completion date of July 30, 2021. Fiscal 2018 civil construction funds in the amount of $26,990,428 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento, California, is the contracting activity (W91238-20-C-0009). Dignitas Technologies LLC,* Orlando, Florida, was awarded an $8,723,110 firm-fixed-price contract to provide technical and management support for the Program Executive Office for simulation, training and instrumentation and provide access to Army Mission Command information systems. Bids were solicited via the internet with five received. Work will be performed in Orlando, Florida, with an estimated completion date of May 31, 2025. Fiscal 2018, 2019 and 2020 other procurement (Army); 2020 research, development, test, and evaluation (Army); and 2020 operations and maintenance (Army) funds in the amount of $1,615,202 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Orlando, Florida, is the contracting activity (W900KK-20-C-0024). DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY Clear Resolution Consulting, Baltimore, Maryland (HHM402-20-D-0018); NextGen Federal Systems, Morgantown, West Virginia (HHM402-20-D-0019); S2 Technologies, Smithfield, North Carolina (HHM402-20-D-0020); LBO Technology LLC, Leesburg, Virginia (HHM402-20-D-0016); Lock4 LLC, Red Springs, North Carolina (HHM402-20-D-0017); Parra Consulting Group, Middletown, Maryland (HHM402-20-D-0014); and SHINE Systems, Charlottesville, Virginia (HHM402-20-D-0021), have been awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with a ceiling of $99,500,000 for facility management, logistics, administrative, readiness, executive and security support services to support the National Media Exploitation Center. Task orders will be competed among all awardees. The contract has a base period of performance from May 29, 2020 to May 28, 2025, with an optional ordering period from May 28, 2025 to May 27, 2030. All task orders must be completed no later than one year after the end of the ordering period. Work will be performed in the National Capital Region; Charlottesville, Virginia; and Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. Fiscal 2020 operations and maintenance funds in the amount of $1,000 are being obligated on task order after award. This contract has been awarded through a HUBZone set-aside competitive acquisition and sixteen offers were received. The Virginia Contracting Activity, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity. DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY Metrex Research LLC, doing business as Orascoptic, Madison, Wisconsin, has been awarded a maximum $45,000,000 fixed-price with economic-price-adjustment, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for hospital equipment and accessories for the Defense Logistics Agency electronic catalog. This was a competitive acquisition with 115 responses received. This is a five-year contract with no option periods. Location of performance is Wisconsin, with a May 17, 2025, performance completion date. Using military services are Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2020 through 2025 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (SPE2DH-20-D-0040). CORRECTION: The contract announced on May 8, 2020, for S&L Aerospace Metals LLC,* Flushing, New York (SPRRA1-20-D-0043), for $24,386,400, was announced with an incorrect award date. The correct award date is May 15, 2020. MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems, Moorestown, New Jersey, is being awarded a $22,300,000 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification (P00365) under Aegis Combat Weapon System development contract HQ0276-10-C-0001, which covers multiple Aegis Weapon System baselines and platforms. This modification increases the total cumulative contract value by $22,300,000, from $3,211,352,549 to $3,233,652,549; $64,900,000 of which was obligated for Aegis Ashore Japan (under Contract Line Item Number 0135). Under this modification, the contractor will continue performing engineering design support services necessary for continuation of planning efforts and risk reduction efforts required to maintain initial operational capability schedule to support the Aegis Ashore Japan Foreign Military Sales main case. The work will be performed in Moorestown, New Jersey, with an expected completion date of July 31, 2020. Funds from the government of Japan in the amount of $22,300,000 are being obligated at the time of award. This contract modification is the result of a sole-source acquisition. The Missile Defense Agency, Dahlgren, Virginia, is the contracting activity. WASHINGTON HEADQUARTERS SERVICES Chenega Healthcare Services LLC, San Antonio, Texas, has been awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with an overall ceiling of $10,000,000. This contract provides COVID-19 contact tracing for the Pentagon support services. Fiscal 2020 operations and maintenance funds in the amount of $508,000 are being obligated at the time of the award. The expected completion date is May 17, 2025. Washington Headquarters Services, Arlington, Virginia, is the contracting activity (HQ0034-20-D-0008). *Small business https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Contracts/Contract/Article/2190758/source/GovDelivery/

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