16 février 2022 | International, Naval

French military tees up new tech in rush to conquer the seabed

The goal of the new strategy is to equip the French military with the ability to reach depths of 6,000 meters, or nearly 20,000 feet, said Minister of Defense Florence Parly in a Feb. 14 press conference.


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  • How does the US Air Force plan to keep bombers affordable?

    21 septembre 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    How does the US Air Force plan to keep bombers affordable?

    By: Daniel Cebul WASHINGTON — The U.S. strategic bomber program plays a vital role in U.S. nuclear and conventional posture, providing both penetrating and standoff capabilities that allow the U.S. to hit targets almost anywhere in the world. But as the Air Force expands from 312 to 386 operational squadrons — planning to increase the bomber squadron from nine to 14 — how can the service keep costs within reason? A key to keeping down modernization costs will be the force's ability to field systems that can easily be updated as new technology develops, according to Gen. Timothy Ray, commander of Global Strike Command. “What I really want to drive home is that if we have a force, whatever the size of the force, it has to be affordable,” Ray said at the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space and Cyber Conference on Sept. 18. Ray believes prices will be affordable depending on the service's “ability to field a relevant force as part of our integrated capabilities, both nuclear and conventional, that has a rapid capability to be updated and modified.” Communications systems, weapons, sensors and defensive capabilities are very sensitive to technological change, which “is already going on much faster than what we can field right now using the old legacy processes,” Ray said. Ray pointed to the B-21 bomber as having "the right attributes that are going to set us up for success.” Others suggest that looking at the unit price for bombers is deceptive and does not allow the Air Force to address its critical modernization needs. “It is very easy to look at individual unit cost [per bomber], but that does not equate to value," Retired Lt. Gen David Deptula said. "People, particularly programmers, like to talk about cost, but they don't talk about the effectiveness piece.” This sentiment was echoed by retired Lt. Gen. Bob Elder Jr., who feels the public and some military members do not appreciate the active role bombers play in defending the U.S. As busy as these bombers are, Edler said, “it's a bargain” for how much the Air Force pays for them. Deptula also believes that if the Air Force is serious about modernization, it is past time that requirements for meeting U.S. strategic goals determine force structure, rather than depending on “arbitrary budget lines.” “For way too long our force structure has been solely driven by the budget and not the war-fighting demands of our nation's security strategy,” he said. “I dare say no one will argue with the preamble of the Constitution, which basically talks about how we form government to provide for the common defense, and then to promote the general welfare. It doesn't say the other way around.” “People will say the new enterprise is going to be too expensive, so don't keep it. I don't agree,” Ray said, adding that a more competitive approach will enable the Air Force to drive down procurement and modernization costs. “I have got to know our competitive nature of our approach will draw the talent from industry; or if I'm not quite certain with a technical capability or the capability is so far advanced I can't draw the talent from industry, now I find myself with an important issue,” Ray noted. In regard to ensuring the service can get the funding to grow its squadrons, Ray added: “Where you drop cost down and have a rapid modification capability or a relevant force for an extended period of time, then you begin to tell a more complete story,” which he explained should help dollars keep flowing into necessary programs. https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/air-force-association/2018/09/20/how-does-the-us-air-force-plan-to-keep-bombers-affordable

  • The Army’s future vertical lift plan may have a supplier problem

    6 mai 2020 | International, Aérospatial, Terrestre

    The Army’s future vertical lift plan may have a supplier problem

    By: Aaron Mehta WASHINGTON — Army rotorcraft programs could net industry an average of $8 billion to 10 billion per year over the next decade — but defense companies can expect major challenges for its lower-tier suppliers, some of whom might choose not to come along for the ride. Those are the findings of a new study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, released Wednesday. It follows a November report outlining cost concerns about the service's Future Vertical Lift (FVL) plan. The Army plans to field a future attack reconnaissance aircraft, or FARA, by 2028 and a future long-range assault aircraft, or FLRAA, by 2030. The modernization program is one of the top priorities for the Army. First, the good news for industry. The study found an annual market of $8 billion to 10 billion for Army rotorcraft programs over the next decade, with a potential dip occurring only in 2026, when the two new programs are spinning up. That's a strong figure that should keep the major defense companies happy. However, lower-tier companies may find themselves unprepared to actually manufacture FLRAA and FARA parts, given the newer production techniques the Army plans to use — things like additive manufacturing, robotics, artificial intelligence, digital twins, and data analytics. And if that happens, the service could face a supplier problem that could provide a major speed bump for its plans of having the systems ready to go at the end of the decade. Convincing those suppliers, many of whom lack cash on hand for major internal investments at the best of times, to put money down in the near term to redevelop their facilities and retrain people is going to be an “expensive issue,” said Andrew Hunter, who co-authored the study for CSIS along with Rhys McCormick. “They need a really compelling reason to invest.” “For a company that is devoted to the defense aviation market, they don't necessarily have a choice to not make the transition,” Hunter told reporters in a Tuesday call. “However, there is a dollars and cents issue, which is you have to be able to access the capital. If you can't, the primes will quickly go somewhere else.” And some companies with a broader market share in the commercial world may decide investing in modernization isn't worth the effort and simply leave the defense rotorcraft market, leaving the primes to scramble to find replacements. In that case, Hunter said, the primes could potentially look to bring that work in-house. Companies “are looking at the equation” of the commercial versus defense markets when making these decisions, said Patrick Mason, the Army's top aviation acquisition official. But he noted that the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which his hitting commercial aviation firms particularly hard, may cause some companies to consider the benefits of defense, which is historically smaller but more stable than the commercial aviation world. Mason also emphasized the importance of keeping suppliers with experience in the unique heat requirements or material aspects as part of the service's rotorcraft supply chain, saying “Those are the ones we remain focused on because those are the ones who could end up as a failure.” https://www.defensenews.com/2020/05/06/the-armys-future-vertical-lift-plan-may-have-a-supplier-problem/

  • The Pentagon's Research Arm Wants AI to Help Design More Secure Tech

    16 août 2019 | International, C4ISR

    The Pentagon's Research Arm Wants AI to Help Design More Secure Tech

    The Pentagon is exploring how artificial intelligence can help build more digitally secure vehicles, weapons systems and other network-connected platforms in a fraction of the time it takes today. For years, cyber experts have urged agencies to make security a priority when building new systems, but that's easier said than done, at least when it comes to military tech, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Virtually every piece of military hardware includes a digital component and understanding how adversaries might attack these so-called “cyber physical systems” before they're constructed requires a lot of manpower and computer modeling. Because the Defense Department works under tight deadlines, officials often limit the number of designs they consider, potentially passing up more effective but out-of-the-box options, according to DARPA. But using artificial intelligence, the Pentagon could significantly accelerate the construction of cyber physical systems while also unlocking more effective—and yet unimagined—designs, the agency said. On Tuesday, the agency kicked off a research initiative that will focus on building AI-powered tools that help the Pentagon rapidly assess different blueprints for cyber physical systems. According to DARPA, the tech developed under the Symbiotic Design for Cyber Physical Systems program would “be a game changer, and may result in a new generation of unexpected, counterintuitive design solutions.” As it stands, the process for building cyber physical systems is decentralized, iterative and resource-intensive, officials said. Different teams design different parts of the system, and errors frequently arise as those components are pieced together, forcing the department to go back to the drawing board. But with “AI co-designers,” the process would change dramatically: Humans would feed both project requirements and preliminary blueprints into the tech, and the tools would propose different designs for individual components of the system. Officials would then work with the machine to narrow down possible designs, and the system would test different component combinations to find the most effective overall system. While today the Pentagon must constantly address vulnerabilities as they arise, using AI, officials would start building cyber physical systems with a blueprint that's already been thoroughly tested and optimized. “We expect order of magnitude improvement in design productivity, but equally important, the appearance of surprises, in the discovery of unconventional but highly performant designs,” officials said. DARPA plans to divide the program into three tracks, with teams working together to design the AI co-designer itself, develop a way for humans to interact with the system and build a training regimen to teach the AI to learn from the successes and failures of previous system design. The program is expected to run for about four years, and interested vendors must submit their final proposals by Oct. 14 https://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/2019/08/pentagons-research-arm-wants-ai-help-design-more-secure-tech/159210/

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