13 octobre 2021 | International, Aérospatial

Huntsville wins 500 jobs building America’s next-generation missile defense

Northrop Grumman has won a $14B contract to build a new defense against incoming missile strikes, and much of that work will happen in Huntsville


Sur le même sujet

  • Is the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System program gearing up to be the next major acquisition failure?

    21 avril 2020 | International, Aérospatial

    Is the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System program gearing up to be the next major acquisition failure?

    Valerie Insinna   WASHINGTON — Since Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein took over as the service’s top general in 2016, the Air Force has made figuring out how to connect its weapons with those of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps its biggest priority. The Air Force is set to have spent $300 million on the Advanced Battle Management System through fiscal year 2021. However, the service is still struggling to define what ABMS needs to do and how much it will cost, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released April 16. "The Air Force has not established a plan or business case for ABMS that identifies its requirements, a plan to attain mature technologies when needed, a cost estimate, and an affordability analysis. … To date, the Air Force has not identified a development schedule for ABMS, and it has not formally documented requirements,” it read. That could have significant consequences for the program down the road, GAO continued: “GAO’s previous work has shown that weapon systems without a sound business case are at greater risk for schedule delays, cost growth, and integration issues.” The GAO made four recommendations: create a cost estimate and a plan laying out how to afford the program, formalize the decision-making authorities of those involved in ABMS, and develop a list of technologies that are expected to fit into the initial system. In a response to the report, Kevin Fahey, the assistant secretary of defense for acquisition, concurred with all four recommendations — a sign that, going forward, the Air Force may be required to solidify more of its ABMS plans. The Air Force has maintained that the program’s unconventional structure and methodology is a feature, not a bug. It wants to use a series of experiments to help discover and mature new technologies that can be weaved in alongside legacy platforms. For instance, the first ABMS experiment connected SpaceX’s Starlink constellation with an AC-130 gunship, and the next demo will employ a Kratos Valkyrie drone carrying communications gear that enables the F-22 and F-35 to securely share data while allowing them to maintain stealth. Air Force officials have said technologies that are proven to be successful and mature during the experiments could become programs of record inside the ABMS family of systems. However, the Air Force does not seem to have a firm plan for what technologies it needs and when to bring them online, the GAO said. The service has identified 28 development areas that includes a new cloud network, a new common radio, and apps that provide different ways of presenting and fusing data. However, none of those areas are linked to specific technical requirements, and the Air Force hasn’t explained what organizations are responsible for the development of those products. In one damning section, GAO compared ABMS with several cancelled programs with similar aims, such as the Army’s Future Combat Systems program that sought to field a family of manned and unmanned technologies and the Joint Tactical Radio System, which was intended to create a government-owned software defined radio. These programs publicly flamed out after millions of dollars were spent in development, in part because certain technologies were not mature enough and caused the schedule to unravel. The scope of ABMS will be far larger than those previous programs, the Pentagon’s Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation told the GAO. But because the Air Force has not provided a detailed acquisition strategy, CAPE does not have confidence that the Air Force will be able succeed where those programs have failed. “Given the criticality of the battle management command and control mission and the planned retirement of legacy programs, the lack of an ABMS business case introduces uncertainty regarding whether the needed capabilities will be developed within required time frames,” the GAO said. Figuring out who has responsibility and decision-making authority for ABMS is also a messy proposition, the GAO said. The ABMS effort is led by a chief architect, Preston Dunlap, who is responsible for managing tradeoffs among the portfolio of technologies and guide experimentation efforts. However, existing programs that will be part of the ABMS family will retain their separate program office with their own independent management, and the Air Force has yet to clarify whether Dunlap will be able to redirect those program’s funding to fall in line with ABMS objectives. For example, the Air Force’s program office for space is currently working on a data integration project that could correspond with ABMS efforts to field a cloud network. But “although some ABMS funds have been obligated for this project, there is no documentation to support that the Chief Architect will be able to direct the PEO to change the project objectives or timeline to align with ABMS requirements once they are defined,” the GAO said. The role of the Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability or AFWIC, which was established in 2017 to help define how the service will fight wars in the future, is also unclear. An AFWIC senior official told the GAO that the organization began leading the service’s multidomain command and control initiatives in 2019, but it is uncertain whether AFWIC also has the power to change the direction of the ABMS program. https://www.c4isrnet.com/c2-comms/2020/04/20/is-the-air-forces-advanced-battle-management-system-program-gearing-up-to-be-the-next-major-acquisition-failure/

  • What’s standing in the way of an Arab NATO?

    21 novembre 2018 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR

    What’s standing in the way of an Arab NATO?

    By: Agnes Helou BEIRUT — The so-called Arab NATO, a U.S.-led initiative, has the potential to address threats to the Gulf and the Middle East. So what is delaying the creation of such an alliance? An Arab NATO would consist of six Gulf states (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar) plus Egypt and Jordan. “It is an American idea that has been approved by the Arab Gulf countries, but it didn’t take shape yet. I expect such a NATO to be successful, but we are still at the beginning,” explained Maj. Gen. Hamad bin Abdallah al-Khalifah, the commander of the Royal Bahraini Air Force. Last month, the Bahraini minister of foreign affairs said at the IISS Manama Dialogue 2018 that the idea of an Arab NATO would become reality by 2019. One sign of progress: Gulf countries already share military capabilities and in joint training and operations, such as the Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen. “We have been sharing information between coalition fighters all along the operations, and we have been training alongside with the Gulf countries through joint exercises, and this enhances our capabilities,” al-Khalifah said. On the other hand, there are clear challenges ahead for such an Arab NATO. These include issues of interoperability; the eight nations operated different types of military platforms. For instance, Egypt operates the Russian Mig-25M and the American F-16, while Saudi Arabia operates the American F-15SA and the European Eurofighter Typhoon and the UAE operates the F-16 and the French Mirage. Replying to a question about data sharing between various platforms, Rick Groesch, Lockheed Martin vice president for the Middle East, said: “When a country buys U.S. equipment, there are certain things signed up in their agreement. In other words, a country can’t put a non- U.S. weapon on a U.S. weapon system without approval from the government.” But data sharing is not the only obstacle for an Arab Nato. The relationship between Qatar and other Gulf countries following a blockade of the former remains unresolved. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut relations with Qatar in June 2017 in a form of land, maritime and air blockade. Another shared concern among the eight countries is Iran and its proxy militias. Commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, mentioned Iran specifically as a threat to stability in the Gulf region, during the 2nd Manama Airpower Symposium on Nov. 13. “Iran continues to cause risks to other nations and act as a destabilizing agent across this region. They aim to disrupt the balance of power and place at risk the livelihood of citizens,” Guastella said. “When the Iranian military exercises are aimed at the blocking at the Strait of Hormuz, the potential of miscalculation of military intent has strategic consequences. Their actions are directly aimed to threaten all of our economies." Observing similar alliances may prove helpful in standing up an Arab NATO, he added. “There is value in looking at what NATO has been able to do and the successes of an alliance that has guaranteed essentially stability for the region there for decades," he said. "Could some of those lessons apply here? Could some similar alliance of like-minded nations in the Gulf come together in a way that offers the same stability it is offered? Could some of this be applied here? I think the answer is yes, and I think that the step to reach it should be considered by all nations involved.” https://www.defensenews.com/global/mideast-africa/2018/11/20/whats-standing-in-the-way-of-an-arab-nato

  • Unmanned aircraft could provide low-cost boost for Air Force’s future aircraft inventory, new study says

    6 novembre 2019 | International, Aérospatial

    Unmanned aircraft could provide low-cost boost for Air Force’s future aircraft inventory, new study says

    By: Valerie Insinna  WASHINGTON — As the U.S. Air Force looks to increase the size and capability of its aircraft inventory, the service should assess the possibility of using drones as a low-cost and highly available alternative to manned airplanes, posits a new study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The CSIS report, which was obtained by Defense News and other news outlets ahead of its Oct. 29 release, compares three recent congressionally mandated studies on the Air Force’s future force structure by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank, the federally funded research organization MITRE Corp. and the service itself. All three studies were broadly supportive of retaining existing unmanned aircraft, or as the Air Force terms them, Remotely Piloted Aircraft or RPAs. However, the CSIS report makes the case that the low cost and high mission capable rate of RPAs like the MQ-9 Reaper or RQ-4 Global Hawk merits more attention when making future force planning. “I think we need a roadmap for RPAs in terms of what are the new missions that we can begin to transition over to RPAs and some new operational concepts for how we use them,” CSIS senior analyst Todd Harrison told reporters at a Oct. 28 briefing. “I say this more from a cost perspective and a readiness perspective because our RPA fleet stands out from the rest of the Air Force in that it costs a lot less to operate [them] and we utilize them much more,” he said. “We need to leverage that. That’s a strength that we need to double down on.” Harrison pointed to two data points supporting a wider use case for RPAs. Despite clocking in the highest number of flight hours per airframe, drones boast some of the highest mission capable rates in the Air Force’s inventory, averaging near 90 percent for the MQ-9 and its predecessor, the MQ-1, and around 75 percent for the RQ-4 Global Hawk. Those aircraft are also cheap to operate, with some of the lowest costs per flying hour or total ownership costs in the inventory, Harrison said. The Air Force, MITRE and CSBA studies provide solid support for keeping the Air Force’s current RPA force. The Air Force’s study, which proposes a growth to 386 total operational squadrons, would add two squadrons of unmanned strike aircraft, although it does not say what kind of aircraft should be acquired. It also recommends an increase of 22 squadrons of aircraft devoted to command and control or the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission sets, but does not provide a breakdown of what specific capability gaps need to be addressed or whether they could be filled by unmanned aircraft. The MITRE and CSBA study, by contrast, advocate retaining the current inventory of MQ-9 Reapers and RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance drones. CSBA also recommends the procurement of a new, stealthy MQ-X drone that could be used for strike, electronic attack and other missions in a contested environment.   Despite the broad support, the three studies do not necessarily portend a wider acceptance or demand for unmanned aircraft in the next budget, Harrison said. “I wouldn’t count on it happening that soon. I think this is a wider term change that’s going to be needed. Part of it is a cultural change within the Air Force and part of it requires some real strategic thinking about what are the types of missions where unmanned is going to make sense and how do we best leverage those,” he said. “The RPAs that we have today, they didn’t come about overnight. They evolved. A lot of the time they faced a lot of institutional resistance, but they proved themselves. They proved themselves valuable in the kind of fights that we’ve been in in the past 20 years.” One mission area that could be flown by unmanned aircraft in the future is aerial refueling, Harrison said. The Navy in 2018 awarded Boeing a contract to produce an unmanned carrier-based tanker drone known as the MQ-25. That aircraft, like all Navy planes, will use the simpler probe and drogue for refueling. Refueling via a rigid boom, as utilized by Air Force tankers, makes for a more challenging development, but the remote vision system on Boeing’s KC-46 tanker — which allows the boom operator to steer the boom using a series of cameras as his or her only visual cue — is a step in the right direction, he said. Another potential area for expanded RPA use could be the development of low-cost drones that can be flown in swarms or as “loyal wingmen” to manned aircraft, the CSIS report stated. These “attritable” aircraft can be expended during a conflict without making an adverse impact on the mission or putting human pilots at risk. https://www.defensenews.com/air/2019/10/29/unmanned-aircraft-could-provide-low-cost-boost-for-air-forces-future-aircraft-inventory-new-study-says/

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