17 juin 2019 | International, Aérospatial

GE Sees Military as Driving Next-Gen Technology

PARIS - “Military is where the commercial business was 10 years ago,” says GE Aviation president and GEvice chairman David Joyce. With commercial now set after a decade of renewal (the CF6 replaced by the GEnx, GE90 by GE9X, CFM56 by Leap, CF34 by Passport, and the emergence of the Catalyst turboprop engine), hundreds of engineers and research and development resources are being tasked with creating future generations of military powerplants. Now that the commercial side has proved that new materials such as ceramic matrix composites and technologies such as additive manufacturing are viable, affordable and producible, the military has the confidence to lead the march into new territory.

Technologies developed for commercial engines have enabled new military capabilities; in turn, military research and development will enable even newer commercial engines decades into the future. It's a virtuous cycle, Joyce explains.

GE is on a roll: it has won the U.S. Army's ITEP competition to replace all T700 engines in Black Hawk and Apache helicopters with the ultra-fuel-efficient single-shaft ITEP next-gen helicopter engine, and it won contracts worth a billion dollars to develop its AETD three-stream adaptable fighter engine as far as demonstrating it on the ground in an F-35. Flight tests could follow, as could eventual reengining of the F-35 fleet. But in any case, GE will be ready with an engine for sixth-generation fighters.

In addition, the ubiquitous F404/F414 is being upgraded and continues to win new competitions, including the USAF's new Boeing-Saab T-X trainer and several foreign future fighter programs; the T408 turboshaft powers the new Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion; and a team is working full time on competing to reengine the B-52 bomber. Business is growing “at really good rates” on both manned and unmanned “black” programs, says Joyce, and hybrid electric is being studied for future applications including UAVs, he adds.

He believes GE already has the enabling technologies for the next decade, “but industrializing them is a different thing.” The company has already invested “billions of dollars” in developing a manufacturing and supply chain of materials and technologies for its commercial engines, and this will continue,

“Additive manufacturing may be the most disruptive technology that I've seen in the industry in a long time,” says Joyce, “as it opens up a space for designers and for manufacturing that is on a different dimensional plane. It takes a long time to learn how to design with additive. It takes even longer to learn how to manufacture with additive at speed and high rate from a quality standpoint of view.

“We are jumping in with both feet because the results on the back end when you get it right are extraordinary,” he adds.

“It's going to pay off a whole load more in the next 20 years. This is going to be the best [real return on investment] that we've ever done.”


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  • The Pentagon can now buy US-made small drones from these five companies

    21 août 2020 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité

    The Pentagon can now buy US-made small drones from these five companies

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Currently nine countries meet that threshold: the United States (3.42 percent), Bulgaria (3.25 percent), Greece (2.28 percent), the United Kingdom (2.14 percent), Estonia (2.14 percent), Romania (2.04 percent), Lithuania (2.03 percent), Latvia (2.01 percent) and Poland (2 percent). Noticeably absent are Germany (1.38 percent), France (1.84 percent) and Italy (1.22 percent) — the fourth, seventh and eighth largest economies in the world. These are wealthy countries that can afford to make the necessary investment. Indeed, the combined GDP of NATO Europe is nearly on par with the U.S. — about $17.5 trillion versus about $20 trillion. Yet, the U.S. spends more than double on defense than our European NATO allies. Other than political will, there is no real reason that European NATO countries cannot spend 2 percent of their GDP for their own defense. Yet, even though Germany previously pledged to meet its 2 percent obligation, Berlin is proposing a new metric based on a country's defense needs — perhaps because U.S. President Donald Trump has stated that he wants European allies to spend 4 percent of their GDP on defense (a metric even the U.S. does not meet). Beyond spending, there is the question of what threat NATO should counter. Originally created in 1949, NATO was intended to counter the Soviet military threat and communist expansion. At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies had some 4 million troops and 60,000 main battle tanks deployed against Western Europe — and threatened invasion via the North German Plain, Hof Corridor and Fulda Gap. But today's Russian Federation is not the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, NATO's European countries have the resources to counter a Russian military threat (although it's worth noting that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recently said: “We don't see any imminent threat against any NATO ally.”) NATO Europe's combined GDP is 10 times larger than Russia's — more than $17 trillion versus $1.7 trillion. And current defense spending is also in Europe's favor by more than 4-to-1 ($287 billion versus $65 billion). Again, there is no practical reason why NATO Europe cannot make the necessary investments to provide for its security. It is more a question of political will. Moreover, if NATO is concerned about Russia as a potential threat, it should think twice about continuing to expand the alliance eastward onto Russia's doorstep. Rather than providing increased security, it may do more to provoke the Russian bear. Part of the problem is that NATO has largely strayed from its original purpose of collective defense against the Soviet Union (and now Russia). According to the NATO website, the organization is “an active and leading contributor to peace and security on the international stage” that “promotes democratic values and is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes” with “approximately 20,000 military personnel ... engaged in NATO operations and missions around the world.” If Russia is deemed a threat to Europe and NATO, then the European members of NATO need to take primary responsibility for defending themselves against that threat — and they should view that threat widely to include Russian cyberthreats as well as misinformation and disinformation campaigns meant to undermine elections. That doesn't mean a U.S. withdrawal from NATO. But it is long past the post-World War II era when European countries were struggling to regain their footing and needed America to be the bulwark of its defense. Europe as a whole is today an economic powerhouse — second only to the United States. NATO Europe can and should do more to provide for its own security rather than depending on the U.S. to act as the front line of its defense. All that needs to happen is for those countries to be as serious as they were with COVID-19 and take the same approach to national security as they did when the pandemic began. Charles V. Peña is a senior fellow with Defense Priorities. He has experience supporting the U.S. departments of Defense and Homeland Security. He previously served as the director of defense for policy studies at the Cato Institute, and he is author of “Winning the Un—War: A New Strategy for the War on Terrorism.” https://www.defensenews.com/opinion/commentary/2020/08/20/money-and-missions-nato-should-learn-from-europes-pandemic-response/

  • US Navy’s aging surface fleet struggles to keep ships up to spec, report shows

    6 octobre 2020 | International, Naval

    US Navy’s aging surface fleet struggles to keep ships up to spec, report shows

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The declining trend comes after years of intense focus on readiness inside the Defense Department, but the Navy says that recent changes to how the Navy conducts the notoriously intrusive INSURV inspections are making the fleet more ready. Still, the slipping scores do raise questions about whether the Navy's much-in-demand surface combatants are getting adequate time in maintenance. For INSURV, ships are graded across a wide variety of systems, with scores adding up to a “figure of merit” where perfect equals 1.0. Over more than 30 surface ship inspections in 2019, the Navy tracked a 20 percent drop in scores between 2014 and 2019 in the main propulsion plant and another 20 percent drop in scores for the ships' electrical systems. Aegis, which is the beating heart of the combat systems on cruisers and destroyers, saw a slight but concerning drop from a figure of merit of 0.88 in 2017 to 0.77 in 2019. 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The inspections were also changed from an event that is planned for well in advance, to an event that comes with little notice, and requests for delays to the inspection were prohibited. The short-notice INSURV inspections are designed to get a more accurate picture of ships' readiness, instead of allowing sailors ample time to borrow parts from other ships and make temporary fixes that can boost the overall score on the inspection, according to Naval Surface Force Pacific. “Because ships knew exactly when the inspection would occur, they were able to put their best foot forward during the exam,” said SURFOR spokesperson Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman. "Over time, it became clear the (consistently good) INSURV scores ships were receiving did not accurately capture the material condition of the surface fleet. “As a result, Navy leadership directed that future INSURV inspections be performed at any time during a ship's [deployment cycle], and with minimal notice. At the same time, the Board of Inspection and Survey eliminated the possibility of ships receiving a delay to their inspection date due to a late occurring equipment casualty. The inspection is therefore more ‘come as you are' than it has been in the past.” SURFOR has also directed that ships conduct more rigorous and regular shake-out tests, such as directing the ships to max out their propulsion system in what's known as a “full power run,” and has increased the frequency of inspections of the ship's transmission, known as the main reduction gear, and monitoring of the health of the ships' SPY-1 radar system, Schwegman said. The surface fleet has made investments in increasing self-sufficiency of sailors so they can fix their own gear and made sure they have the right spares on board their ships to make sure they can fix broken gear, Schwegman said. The goal is to make sure the fleet gets away from relying too heavily on technical experts employed by the companies who make the gear on ships. “While we have the funding and availability of technical representatives (and we send them, to include with COVID-19 protocols in place), we will continue to ensure that ships are able to maintain most if not all of their equipment should technical assistance not be immediately available,” Schwegman said. Lingering questions Part of the issue, of course, is that the Navy's surface fleet is getting older. The cruisers are all closing in on their expected 35-year expected hull lives, and the first 27 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are not far behind them. Keeping the radars going in earliest ships has been a particular challenge, as has maintaining the aging engineering plants. There remain questions, however, about how much the roughly 10-to-20 percent drop in scores across critical areas inspected by INSURV is attributable to the change in the inspection regime that SURFOR points to, said Bryan Clark, a retired U.S. Navy submarine officer and senior fellow at Hudson Institute. “Probably part of that 10-20 percent is a function of just not being able to prepare as much as you would in the past,” Clark said. "The way you'd do it in the past is you'd see you had INSURV coming up and you'd have a bunch of [preventive maintenance checks] you'd perform to make sure the equipment they were going to test was in working order. You'd go run things that are almost never run and see, ‘Oh, I need to go fix that.' “So, really the old system was to both test the ship as well as force the ship to make sure all of its systems were working at the right level of capability. Now it's much more of a test where they come on board, test a bunch of stuff and they see if it works or not.” But given that the downward trends go back so far, it's also likely that the high demands placed on the force continue to degrade the material condition of the ships without adequate time for maintenance, Clark said. “Part of it has to be that the Navy continues to struggle to put the time and money into maintenance availabilities that they need to,” Clark said. “Particularly in the surface fleet, the ships' schedules have just not been able to be freed up they way they need to be, and in some cases they've had to manage costs and growth, which meant they couldn't do all the maintenance they needed to.” The move to schedule more INSURV inspections will likely yield good results over the long term, he added, but said the whole outlook on how the Navy deploys must change if any significant progress is to be made. “Doing INSURV more frequently is a good time, especially since it is pretty much the most comprehensive inspection your ship is going to get,” Clark said. "You test things that you use infrequently so that you don't need to find out they don't work in extremis. “But I suppose I question how much the Navy really has taken a turn on readiness. They've put more money into it due to supplemental funding. They've done a much better job managing availabilities. But Navy-wide, you need to complement that with a supply-based model where you tell combatant commanders ‘We just can't get you the forces you want because they need to go into maintenance and they have to be there for as long as they need to be there.'” https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2020/10/05/the-us-navys-aging-surface-fleet-struggles-to-keep-ships-up-to-spec-report-shows/

  • Armed Services committees and the election: Here’s what we know

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

    Armed Services committees and the election: Here’s what we know

    By: Joe Gould WASHINGTON — As results for key congressional races and the presidency continue to roll in, several Senate Armed Services Committee leaders are still battling tough races. But here is what we do know, as of mid-morning Thursday. This story will be updated as results come in: • Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue, the chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee, is leading in his race against Democrat John Ossoff, potentially denying Democrats what would have been a vital pickup for seizing control of the Senate. It's also too soon to call the race between Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump for the state's 16 electoral votes. Democratic hopes of controlling the Senate for the first since 2015 appear to be slipping. To win the Senate, Democrats would have to gain three seats if Biden prevails against Trump, or four seats if Trump wins the election. • Senate Military Personnel Subcommittee Chairman Thom Tillis, R-N.C., led challenger Cal Cunningham by 96,000 votes and declared victory Wednesday, but Cunningham refused to concede while more than 117,000 absentee ballots were outstanding. • Senate Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee Chairman Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, on Thursday morning appeared to have a 60,000-vote lead on Independent challenger Al Gross, with only half the votes counted. However, Alaska's tally is expected to take days as officials count mail-in ballots. • Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, had a similarly tough race but denied Democrats what would have been a key pickup for seizing control of the Senate. Ernst, the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee chair and a member of Senate Republican leadership, is the first female combat veteran elected to Congress. • Michigan Democrat Sen. Gary Peters, the ranking member on the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, prevailed Wednesday night in a razor-tight race against businessman and Iraq war veteran John James. Hours after Biden defeated Trump in the state, Peters was roughly 60,000 votes ahead. • Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and ranking member Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., both won reelection handily, and if the Senate stays in Republican hands, they will almost certainly stay in their leadership roles. Senate Airland Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cotton, R-Ark., had no Democratic challenger and won reelection. Senate Cybersecurity Subcommittee Chairman Mike Rounds, R-S.D., also won. New Hampshire Democrat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, another senior member of SASC, easily won a third term. All three were projected wins. • SASC Republican Sen. Martha McSally, the Air Force's first female fighter pilot to fly in combat, lost to Mark Kelly, an astronaut and retired Navy captain, in Arizona. She has yet to concede, however. • SASC Democrat Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., lost decisively to Republican opponent Tommy Tuberville. • House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., soundly defeated his Republican challenger, while two lead Republican contenders to replace Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, as ranking member ― Reps. Mike Turner of Ohio and Mike Rogers of Alabama ― also won reelection. • Two Democratic freshmen on HASC ― Reps. Kendra Horn of Oklahoma and Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico ― lost seats that Democrats flipped in 2018. As of Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-N.Y., was trailing his Republican challenger but refused to concede until absentee ballots are counted. • Nebraska Republican Rep. Don Bacon, a former Air Force one-star general whose policy positions sometimes clashed with Trump, carved out a reelection win. Because Nebraska awards its electoral votes by congressional district, NE-02 was also a crucial win for Biden. • Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., won reelection. Slotkin, a former CIA analyst and Pentagon official, is at the top of an influential class of Democratic freshmen who have hands-on national security experience. Addressing supporters Wednesday, she reportedly said Biden will win in Michigan, but there may be a tumultuous transfer of power. https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2020/11/04/armed-services-committees-and-the-election-heres-what-we-know/

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