2 février 2021 | International, Aérospatial

Companies seek end to haggling over FCAS rights with fresh offer this week


COLOGNE, Germany – Airbus and Dassault executives hope to finalize their offer for the next phase of the Future Combat Air System by the end of the week, putting to rest a dispute over the handling of intellectual property rights that has been simmering between partner nations Germany, France and Spain.

At issue is whether countries participating in the development of mainland Europe's futuristic weapon system are free to use the technology to make adjustments of their own later on, said German Air Force Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz.

“It should be clear that if we're developing a European system, there can be no black boxes,” he said at an virtual press conference organized by German aerospace industry association BDLI. The term “black box” refers to technology purchased as-is, with no means by customers to understand, replicate or modify it.

“It must be possible to hand intellectual property rights from branch of industry to another so that it's possible for all partners to make their own developments in the future,” Gerhartz added.

The tri-national FCAS program aims to replace the German Eurofighter and French Rafale fleets by 2040. As envisioned, it will consist of a next-generation manned jet and a series of drones, dubbed remote carriers, that can be tasked to work in concert on anything from reconnaissance to strike missions.

Germany's Airbus and France's Dassault are the primary contractors for the program. As Europe's most ambitious weapons project ever, it is estimated to have a price tag in the hundreds of billions of euros. Spain is meant to be a full participant, with Indra as national lead, getting access to a third of the overall work share.

Next up for the program is additional development work culminating in the presentation of a demonstrator aircraft and remote carriers by 2026 or 2027. Those could be simple, throw-away drones or more elaborate unmanned planes in the style of a “loyal wingman” to the human pilot, said Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, at the same event.

An agreement on intellectual property usage is needed both on the government and industry level before submitting an offer for the upcoming program stage. The idea is to find a compromise by Feb. 5, have the Berlin government submit the documentation to the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, for approval over the next few months, and get the green light to spend additional money before the summer break, Hoke said.

While Airbus is used to sharing its intellectual property rights when selling to the German government, partner nations, France and Spain handle those occasions differently. “I'm confident that we can find a common solution,” Hoke said.

Reinhard Brandl, a lawmaker of Bavaria's Christian Social Union who sits on the Bundestag's appropriations committee, said he shared the optimism but singled out IP rights as a continuing sticking point. “We will look at the agreement very carefully,” he said. “We don't want to see unfavorable concessions just for the sake of an agreement.”

Brandl belongs to a faction of German lawmakers who fear that domestic companies could lose out in a cooperative program with France. That is especially the case, following that logic, because Airbus, as the German lead contractor, is partly French to begin with.

The French, meanwhile, have at times become frustrated with Germany's piecemeal approval process for FCAS funding, a dynamic that could become even more pronounced if money gets tight as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Thomas Jarzombek, the point person for aerospace policy at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, said the program remains crucial for German industry, describing it as a recovery activity for companies post-COVID. “It's become even more important than before,” he said.

Brandl said he still worries about spending cuts in the future, especially during development, as the defense ministry may seek opportunities for more near-term fixes to lagging readiness rates across the force. He proposed anchoring FCAS funding elsewhere in the federal government other than under the auspices of the Bundeswehr, at least until the program gets close to showing actual military utility.


Sur le même sujet

  • Army selects companies to continue in long-range assault aircraft competition

    18 mars 2020 | International, Aérospatial

    Army selects companies to continue in long-range assault aircraft competition

    By: Jen Judson WASHINGTON — The Army has selected Bell and Sikorsky to enter into a competitive demonstration and risk reduction effort ahead of the start of the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft, or FLRAA, program of record. The service is on a tight timeline to field a new long-range assault aircraft by 2030. The CDRR will consist of two phases that will last roughly one year each. The companies will deliver initial conceptual designs, an assessment of the feasibility of requirements and trade studies using model-based systems engineering. The competition for the program of record will begin in 2022 with a plan to field the first unit equipped in 2030. Congress added $76 million in funding to the aircraft program's top line in fiscal 2020 to drive down technical risk and speed up delivery. The money, which Congress approved as part of its FY20 appropriations bill signed into law in December, will fund the CDRR effort. The Army completed its Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration, or JMR TD, for which Bell and the Sikorsky-Boeing team each built aircraft to help the service understand what is possible for a future aircraft — mainly to replace the UH-60 Black Hawk. “These agreements are an important milestone for FLRAA,” Patrick Mason, the Army's aviation program executive officer, said in a statement issued March 16. “The CD&RR continues to transition technologies from the JMR-TD effort to the FLRAA weapons system design. We will be conducting analysis to refine the requirements, conceptual designs, and acquisition approach. Ultimately, this information and industry feedback are vital to understanding the performance, cost, affordability, schedule risks and trades needed to successfully execute the FLRAA program.” Bell has flown its V-280 Valor tilt-rotor demonstrator for two years in the JMR-TD and has logged more than 160 hours of flight time on the experimental aircraft. Sikorsky and Boeing's SB-1 Defiant coaxial demonstrator had a more difficult time getting off the ground due to issues in manufacturing its rotor blades. Its first flight was in March 2019. Even though Defiant has flown for a significantly reduced amount of time, the Army has determined it has enough data to move forward on its FLRAA program rather than extend the JMR TD to wait for the Sikorsky-Boeing team to log flight time. Brig. Gen. Wally Rugen, who is in charge of the service's future vertical lift modernization efforts, said last spring that because of the data collected through the JMR TD process as a well as additional studies and modeling, the service now thinks it has enough information to move more quickly into a full and open competition for FLRAA. Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski, the military deputy to the acquisition chief, said in a Senate Armed Services Airland Subcommittee hearing around the same time that the Army is presenting an acquisition strategy to the Pentagon's acquisition chief focusing on a nondevelopmental item approach to procuring FLRAA. That route, Ostrowski said, could lead to a competitive downselect by FY22. The extra funding provided by Congress will give the service the ability to continue to fly and burn down that inherent risk in developing a new helicopter. “What [that] may do as we hit those gates, is allow us to take what was going to be a primary budget, really a starting budget for the Army in ‘23 and ‘24, and potentially move that selection back to ‘23,” Rugen said recently. “We are not going to go to selection if, number one, we don't have requirements stable, we don't have resources stable, and, number two, the technology is not there.” The Army already has had a robust technology demonstrator program, including an extension, Rugen said, but that type of effort doesn't garner the same data as a prototype demonstration or a full-up weapon system. “In the CDRR [competitive demonstration and risk reduction], we're really trying to develop a weapons system, not the tech demonstrator,” Rugen said. “So we're trying to take it to the next level.” The CDRR will assess a laundry list of technologies identified through an Office of the Secretary of Defense-conducted independent technology readiness assessment, which would require additional evaluation to reduce risk, according to Rugen. Some of these technologies include the powertrain, drivetrain and control laws of the aircraft. “When we look at the software involved in flight controls, we have to really reduce risk there,” Rugen noted. The CDRR will also allow the Army to work on the integration of its mission systems. https://www.defensenews.com/land/2020/03/16/army-selects-companies-to-continue-on-in-long-range-assault-aircraft-competition/

  • Virtual reality training — for pilots, maintainers and more — expands in 2020

    2 octobre 2019 | International, Aérospatial

    Virtual reality training — for pilots, maintainers and more — expands in 2020

    By: Stephen Losey One of the top priorities of Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, the newly minted head of Air Education and Training Command, will be expanding the Air Force's experiment with virtual reality training. So far, the Air Force has had success with Pilot Training Next, which uses VR, biometrics and artificial intelligence to better teach aspiring pilots how to fly. Webb is eyeing similar technologies, under the name Learning Next, to improve other forms of technical training. This could include teaching airmen how to maintain aircraft, fly remotely piloted aircraft or perform other technical tasks. These programs allow students' education to proceed more at their own pace, since they are based on competency and are not tied to a timetable, Wright said. A student who already has the fundamentals down can skip the basics and go right to what he or she needs to learn. AETC is now in the process of broadening Pilot Training Next, which has been a demonstration, to the next phase of wider experimentation, Webb said. He and Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, commander of the 19th Air Force, are working on plans to expand Pilot Training Next. By next summer, Webb wants to have set up Pilot Training Next elements at several squadrons, though it wouldn't be across all undergraduate pilot training bases. A few classes after that, Webb expects, Pilot Training Next will be expanded to all UPT bases. The Pilot Training Next expansion will likely be done methodically, at one base first, Webb said, though he would not say which base AETC is looking at. “What has happened in our last couple of years with Pilot Training Next has been an explosion, out of the box, of innovation,” Webb said. “Make no mistake, the Air Force wants this inculcated as fast as we can go,” he said. AETC is already in the “nascent stages” of testing VR and other technology-enhanced training for maintenance and other technical training as part of Learning Next, Webb said. Maintenance Next is a particular priority and is happening on an experimental basis at Kelly Field at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas, he said, and using VR for RPA training is also proceeding. As the VR pilot training shows, such programs can accelerate in a hurry, he said. Ethics Webb also wants to cultivate an “environment of excellence, professionalism, ethics and character development” during his time at AETC. Webb, who was previously commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, pointed to the ethical clouds that have fallen over parts of the special operations community in recent years. For example, the Navy relieved the entire senior leadership team of SEAL Team 7 earlier this month over what it described as leadership failures that resulted in a breakdown of good order and discipline while deployed. AFSOC took a hard look at itself, Webb said, to make sure it doesn't allow similar lapses to fester. “For a leader, you can never ... talk about core values enough,” Webb said. “If I had to look myself in the mirror from my last command, I can tell you my team knew our mission and vision of priorities backwards and forwards.” But while airmen at AFSOC understood Air Force core values, he acknowledged he didn't always articulate those values in his everyday “walk-around, talk-around” encounters. That can create problems if leaders assume airmen already know about the core values, he said. When a unit starts to feel the pressure from high operations tempos and a lack of resources, Webb said, that “get-'er-done” mentality can lead to bad decisions if airmen don't have a firm foundation of the Air Force core values. “If you don't have a firm foundation, you can go to a dark place with that ... ‘find a way to yes' mentality,” Webb said. “We've got to always talk about professionalism and ethics, and also always talk about our core values. That will be a capstone” of his time at AETC. Webb said he plans to continue with AETC's recent improvements in how special warfare airmen are recruited and trained, which included standing up the new Special Warfare Training Wing and the special warfare-focused 330th Recruiting Squadron. More work needs to be done to “normalize” and fine-tune those units, and more firmly fold them into AETC's everyday culture, he said. https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2019/09/16/virtual-reality-training-for-pilots-maintainers-and-more-expands-in-2020

  • Marines accelerate Force Design transformation in FY24 budget request

    17 mars 2023 | International, Naval

    Marines accelerate Force Design transformation in FY24 budget request

    The commandant also previewed his wish list, which will go to lawmakers later this month.

Toutes les nouvelles