7 décembre 2023 | International, Terrestre

Eight contract opportunities to watch in FY24

There are several major U.S. defense competitions expected in fiscal 2024, with just these eight estimated to be worth a total of $61.9 billion.


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  • The Five Most Important Facts About The F-35 Fighter

    15 février 2021 | International, Aérospatial

    The Five Most Important Facts About The F-35 Fighter

    When the Clinton administration first conceived the notion of a “joint strike fighter” in 1995, it was the ideal solution to a host of military challenges. The basic idea was a family of highly survivable tactical aircraft that could share common technology to accomplish a dozen different missions for three U.S. military services. The Air Force would use it to replace Cold War F-16 fighters in aerial combat, bombing of ground targets and close air support of troops. The Navy would use it to extend the striking range of carrier-based aircraft. The Marines would use it to land on a dime anywhere expeditionary warfare was being waged. And everybody, including allies, would use it to collect vast amounts of intelligence that could be shared securely with coalition partners in future conflicts. From the beginning there were those who thought the joint strike fighter was an unrealistic dream—a project that expected too much from one plane, and would likely go into a tailspin as costs mounted. The program probably never would have gotten off the ground if military threats had been at a fever pitch. But the Soviet Union had collapsed and China was an afterthought at 3% of global GDP, so the Clinton administration decided to take a gamble. Today, that gamble has paid off. Hundreds of the planes, now designated F-35s, are operational with ten military services around the world. It took longer to come to fruition than originally planned, but in the end the joint strike fighter met its goals for survivability and versatility. That makes it one of the greatest engineering feats of the post-Cold War generation—a testament to the discipline and skill of the American aerospace industry. However, unless you've been following the F-35 program closely, you probably don't know most of this. President Trump entered office with little understanding of F-35, and only gradually came to grasp why it mattered so much to the joint force. The Biden administration hopefully will exhibit a smoother learning curve. Just to be on the safe side, though, it's worth repeating for the umpteenth time what makes F-35 unique. It really is invisible to enemies. When F-35 participates in training exercises, it typically defeats adversary aircraft at a rate of better than 20-to-1. It would do the same in wartime against Russian or Chinese fighters, because it was designed to absorb or deflect radar energy, so opposing pilots can't see it before they are shot down. In addition, F-35 is equipped with an advanced jamming system that tricks or suppresses hostile radars, both in the air and on the ground. Enemy radars might detect something in the distance, but they can't track it or target it. Also, F-35's powerful turbofan engine masks and dissipates heat before heat-seeking missiles can home in. It is more than a fighter. F-35 isn't just the most survivable combat aircraft ever built, it is also the most versatile. In its fighter role it can clear the skies of opposing aircraft that threaten U.S. forces. In its strike role, it can precisely destroy a vast array of targets on the ground (or at sea) with a dozen different smart bombs and missiles. But that is just the beginning. F-35's onboard sensors can collect and share intelligence from diverse sources across the spectrum. Its jamming system and air-to-air munitions make it a superior escort for less survivable aircraft. Its vertical-takeoff-and-landing variant can land anywhere Marines need it to be, while its Air Force version can carry nuclear weapons to provide regional deterrence. The cost of each plane has fallen steadily. As the government planned, the cost to manufacture each F-35 has fallen steadily with each new production lot. If fact, it has fallen at a faster rate than Pentagon estimators expected. At $78 million, the price tag for the Air Force variant in the latest lot is similar to that for the F-16 which the new plane will replace, even though it is much more capable. It is also far below the list price for commercial jetliners. The cost of keeping F-35s operational and ready for combat is also falling. The cost per flight hour for each plane has fallen 40% since 2015, and further savings are expected as maintenance procedures are refined. Prime contractor Lockheed Martin LMT -0.4% LMT -0.4% LMT -0.4% (a contributor to my think tank) has proposed a performance-based logistics package in which it would assume much of the financial risk for assuring the fighters are fit for combat. Many U.S. allies have committed to the program. A majority of America's most important allies have elected to replace their Cold War fighters with the F-35. These include Australia, Belgium, Demark, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, South Korea and the United Kingdom. Several of these countries helped to pay for the plane's development, and now contribute to its production. Allies favor the F-35 for its price and performance, but also because coalition warfare unfolds more smoothly when participants share the same capabilities. The “interoperability” of so many friendly air forces flying the same highly survivable, versatile fighter will ease the challenge of executing complex war plans in the future. The domestic economic impact is huge. The F-35 airframe is integrated in Texas. Its engines are made in Connecticut. Its jamming system is manufactured in New Hampshire. Altogether, there are 1,800 U.S. based suppliers to the program sustaining over a quarter-million jobs. The annual economic impact of the program in the U.S. is estimated at $49 billion. Additional suppliers are located in allied countries. Whether at home or abroad, the vast scale of the F-35 program, with over 3,000 aircraft likely to be delivered, has a significant impact on communities. Although national security is the sole rationale for building the plane, it helps to pay for houses and schools in thousands of communities, and makes a sizable contribution to the U.S. trade balance. Because of F-35, America will dominate the global market for tactical aircraft through mid-century. Companies engaged in building F-35 contribute to my think tank. https://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthompson/2021/02/12/the-five-most-important-facts-about-the-f-35-fighter/?ss=aerospace-defense&sh=ee75fa760b57

  • Germany establishes new military space command

    14 juillet 2021 | International, Aérospatial

    Germany establishes new military space command

    The German military has announced the creation of a separate command dedicated to space, becoming the latest of a handful of nations prioritizing more resources and missions among the stars.

  • How to take EU-NATO relations from words to action

    4 décembre 2019 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité

    How to take EU-NATO relations from words to action

    By: Jeffrey A. Stacey After the successful 2011 Libya operation, it appeared the U.S. and European allies were on the cusp of a new era of working together on international crises, only to stall out thanks to economic austerity and populist elections. Now that the refugee crisis in Europe is subsiding and allied troops and equipment have deployed to Poland and the Baltics, the window of opportunity has once again opened for deepening relations between the European Union and NATO. By setting up an EU-NATO informal track, regularizing operational transitions and embarking on expanded coordination in out-of-area operations — all of which are more crucial, given a potential Brexit and the 2020 U.S. election — these two crucial, overlapping alliances can step into a new era. There are two logical diplomatic tracks to be pursued: a formal track centered on implementation of EU and NATO ministerials/summits, as well as an informal track centered on working through difficult issues and preparing them for decision-makers. Senior officials from both organizations have commented recently that the informal track would be particularly useful for the kind of deep-dive, “peer around the corner” strategizing that busy officials are rarely afforded an opportunity to engage in. The EU is a global leader in what it calls “crisis management,” and what NATO refers to as “stabilization and reconstruction.” Joint planning ahead of such operations, aligning civil/military planning in advance, will allow for improved outcomes in theater. In general, NATO would gain a new capability to act in the immediate aftermath of its military operations when a crisis occurs, and the EU would gain the opportunity to spearhead joint Western crisis management as a matter of course. Taking a cue from the so-called changing of berets in the 2004 NATO mission in Bosnia — when European soldiers involved in the terminating NATO mission simply changed their uniforms out for EU uniforms and remained in place to take part in the EU follow-on mission — there is a strong likelihood that a similar arrangement can be made for deployed civilians. The EU and NATO have ample reasons to agree to regularize operational leadership transitions in moving from the military phase of a conflict to the post-conflict stabilization phase. Here's how it could work: The EU would be designated to spearhead the stabilization phase, having jointly planned this phase of the operation with NATO civilian planners at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. NATO would commit to always selecting a European as the head of the NATO temporary civilian operation, and would call up a modest number of civilian experts from the nations, who would deploy to theater and engage in a delimited number of core stabilization tasks with the plan for a larger EU-led civilian deployment to absorb the NATO operation. NATO civilian operators would focus on a discrete set of core stabilization tasks awaiting the follow-on EU mission to become more comprehensive. Once a decision to deploy a civilian mission occurs in Brussels, the NATO stabilization mission would devolve to the EU. Most of the civilian experts will already be from EU countries, with the mission head also European. The rest of the NATO civilians can be seconded to the civilian operation mission via framework agreements such as the extant one between the U.S. and the EU that already has seconded Americans to EU missions in Africa. This operational compromise would prevent either alliance from playing second fiddle, ushering in a new era of co-planning and cooperating for both. Why can't both sides “just do it,” i.e., simply enact a leadership transition in theater whenever the need arises? Pragmatism can work in the moment, but it doesn't set precedents, as proven by the fact this is not already happening; past “impromptu” experiences of working together on the ground have not led to any pattern or even expectation of repeat or improved cooperating since. This proposal is firmly in the EU's interests, as it will put it fully in the driver's seat of crisis management and bring the EU the recognition it deserves for its existing capabilities and substantial operational experience. This proposal is also firmly in NATO's interests, for the alliance that almost split over its ongoing Afghanistan operation has no interest in further prolonged field deployments. There is also an additional strategic opportunity for both, as closer EU-NATO cooperation would be an important means for keeping the U.K. connected with its EU partners in the security and defense field following Brexit. But with crises around the world proliferating, in more pressing terms these two critical overlapping alliances among Western allies need to jointly become more operationally ready. Despite the political challenges in numerous Western countries, an agreement to overcome the EU-NATO operational impasse is on the cards. Prior to the negative impact of U.S. President Donald Trump's arrival, NATO-EU relations had been at their pinnacle. With an EU-NATO informal track and a means for overcoming the operational hurdle in hand, substantial progress can still be made prior to the next U.S. administration. https://www.defensenews.com/opinion/commentary/2019/12/03/how-to-take-eu-nato-relations-from-words-to-action/

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