9 août 2019 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre

Hypersonics by the dozens: US industry faces manufacturing challenge

By: Jen Judson

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. —The U.S. military is a few years from launching offensive hypersonic weapons that are currently under development. But building those initial missiles is one thing — manufacturing the weapons in multitude is another issue entirely.

“I would say we really need to understand, again, how can we produce precision hardware at scale,” Michael Griffin, the Pentagon's undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, told a group of reporters Aug. 7 at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.

“If we talk about ballistic missile defense or hypersonic offense and we talk about proliferating architectures, we need any dozens, many hundreds, maybe thousands of assets,” he added. “This takes us back to the Cold War where at one point we had 30,000 nuclear warheads and missiles to launch them. We haven't produced at that kind of scale since the wall came down.”

As hypersonic missiles become a reality, industry is going to have to relearn how to effectively, efficiently and economically produce them, Griffin said.

While industry has developed warheads, glide bodies and other components, there is no industrial base equipped to manufacture hypersonic weapons.

Things are moving in the right direction when it comes to bringing industry up to speed and preparing for larger-scale manufacturing of missiles, Griffin said. But building these systems is challenging because, for example, hypersonics require a greater degree of thermal protection than what has been required of other weapons in the past, he noted.

Building hypersonics is no longer a technical issue or a matter of understanding physics, but rather an issue of understanding the industrial engineering required to produce a larger number.

“I'm not sure how much help the government can be there,” he said. “Mass production is not what we do. ... That is going to be an industry problem.”

The Army is just weeks away from awarding a contract to a company that will work with the federally funded laboratory that developed a hypersonic glide body to develop manufacturing plans and strategies. Other companies will have a turn as well. The effort is spearheaded by the service's Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office.

Griffin stressed that the weapons manufacturing process needs to be affordable. “Our adversaries have clearly found ways to make them affordable. China has these things now by the thousands. What do we do to learn, once again, how to produce sophisticated things at scale and affordably?” he said.

China is able to field new systems every few years, Griffin noted, while the U.S. takes a decade or more to get through a cumbersome acquisition process.

“It don't believe that the issues facing the United States aerospace and defense establishment are issues of specific technologies,” he said. “I believe that over the last 30 years ... we've become lost in our processes.”

https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/smd/2019/08/08/hypersonics-by-the-dozens-us-industry-faces-manufacturing-challenge/

Sur le même sujet

  • How is quantum technology used in the military? - Army Technology

    22 avril 2024 | International, C4ISR

    How is quantum technology used in the military? - Army Technology

    Quantum technology is at the forefront of most advanced nations’ long-term defence planning, from the US and EU to China.

  • British MoD shortlists four vendor teams for its multibillion-dollar Skynet satellite program

    17 juin 2020 | International, C4ISR

    British MoD shortlists four vendor teams for its multibillion-dollar Skynet satellite program

    By: Andrew Chuter LONDON – Four international consortia have been shortlisted by Britain's Ministry of Defence to enter the final stage of bidding to operate ground control facilities for its Skynet satellite communications network. Teams led by Airbus Defence & Space, Babcock Integrated Technology, BT and Serco, have been down-selected for the Skynet 6 Service Delivery Wrap program following the MoD's Defence Digital organization release of an invitation to tender document to the remaining contenders June 12. The make-up of one of the teams vying for the ground station operations contract is already known, while others have yet to announce who their partners are. Serco has declared its team will involve satellite operator Inmarsat, IT specialist CGI UK and the U.K. arm of defense giant Lockheed Martin. British communications company BT, Babcock and Airbus are all keeping their teaming arrangements under wraps for the time being. Airbus, Britain's biggest satellite builder, did though coincide the MoD Skynet 6 down-select with a separate space partnering announcement of its own. The company said June 16 it had teamed with KBR, Leidos UK, Northrop Grumman and QinetiQ to launch a new space initiative known as Open Innovation-Space aimed at increasing British involvement in future satellite communications efforts. No mention was made by Airbus of the Skynet 6 program. All the companies are working under strict Skynet 6 non-disclosure agreements with the MoD which forbid communication with the media and others. The ground station program is the second part of the MoD's wider Skynet 6 project to equip the military and government with a new generation of beyond-line-of-sight communications capabilities starting around 2028. The Skynet 6 program has already seen Airbus start work on a new satellite, called Skynet 6A, to act as a capability gap filler between 2025 and the introduction of the follow-on, new-generation capacity. A deal for preliminary design work and long-lead time manufacture was signed by Airbus and the MoD in March and the contract to build the Skynet 6A spacecraft is in the final stages of government approval and expected to be announced within weeks. The other two key parts of a program presently expected to cost in total around £6 billion ($7.6 billion) are the Enduring Capability project, to provide next generation communications capabilities, and the Secure Telemetry, Tracking and Command (STTC) project for providing assured sovereign control and management of satellites. The MoD has settled its STTC requirements for SkyNet 6A but its options for the longer term remain open. Work on defining what the Enduring Capability requirement might look like has been underway for a while and industry executives here expect the effort to be ramped up in the coming months with the first tranche of recommendations due to be presented to the MoD early next year, said people with knowledge of the program. The next-generation communications requirement is planned to get underway next year with the release by MoD of a pre-qualification questionnaire. One industry executive, who asked not to be named, said securing the Service Delivery Wrap deal was an important stepping stone towards satellite builders securing the big prize – the Enduring Capability requirement. “It will help the winning consortium secure local skills in the sector, help in understanding the customers communications requirements and assist in filling in the revenue gaps between what is often sporadic investment in satellites and payloads,” the executive said. Space is an industrial and military priority for the British, and while it remains unclear how the worsening economic picture here might impact defense spending it is hoped the sector ,and programs like SkyNet 6 and the Galileo global navigation satellite system replacement project, might escape the worst of the expected cuts. One cost cutting option the British are reckoned to have been looking at is to use future SkyNet 6 spacecraft to double up its use by carrying a GNSS capability as well. Skynet ground facilities are currently operated by Airbus as part of a wider private finance initiative (PFI) deal signed in 2003 to build, own and operate a constellation of communication satellites and associated capabilities on behalf of the British military. That deal expires Aug 2022. The winning Service Delivery Wrap contender is slated to take over ground operations from that point after a transition phase. In a contract note issued June 16 the MoD said the return date of the invitation to tender is set for June next year. The Service Delivery Wrap arrangement runs for five years, not including any transition phase, with two single-year extension options also expected to be included in the deal. The terms of the existing PFI arrangement entail the MoD paying a nominal fee of a Pound in exchange for which it will take ownership of hundreds of millions of Pounds worth of assets in the shape of ground infrastructure and the Skynet 4 and 5 satellite fleets currently operated by Airbus. This time around the MoD wants to retain overall ownership of the capability in order to help grow its space skills and management experience by way of owning the ground station assets with the winning consortium working under a straightforward service provision deal. https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2020/06/16/british-mod-shortlists-four-vendor-teams-for-its-multibillion-dollar-skynet-satellite-program/

  • Cyber consequences: Attacks are hitting the C-suite

    16 novembre 2017 | International, Aérospatial, C4ISR, Sécurité

    Cyber consequences: Attacks are hitting the C-suite

    Ask Charles Bouchard what keeps him awake at night and the chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin Canada won't hesitate: “Our ability to protect our cyber systems.” At a time when access to intellectual property (IP) is raising debate among aerospace OEMs, suppliers, in-service support and MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) companies, and governments and militaries, protecting data is a hot topic. Lockheed Martin has seen enough of its IP stolen in recent years to take the problem seriously. But Bouchard believes many industry executives don't truly understand the challenge or the cost. “It's one thing to say, we want the IP. The next question is, can you defend it? Can you protect it? That is a problem today,” he told Skies. “Subcontractors . . . need to protect their data because they are connecting to our systems, especially if IP will be passed to them. How are we going to do that? We have gone beyond putting a guard at the front gate and a lock on the door. [And] for some, it's a significant investment.” Cyber defence is a national imperative, said retired Major-General Robert Wheeler, a 32-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a senior advisor to Avascent Global Advisors. Whether the threat comes from nations or non-state actors such as terrorist or criminal organizations, cyber experts are seeing an increase in frequency and capability “in this particular type of warfare.” “They are going after companies that are not prepared to deal with it, to take their IP and create havoc...,” the former deputy chief information officer in the Office of the Secretary of Defense told executives at the Canadian Aerospace Summit in Ottawa Nov. 7. Modern aircraft, with their vast supply chains and increasingly networked systems, present an attractive “avenue for bad guys to get in.” In a presentation that highlighted recent attacks in Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere, Wheeler showed how the relentless pursuit of corporate and government data has jeopardized military, commercial and critical infrastructure systems and programs. The 2011 attack on Defence Research and Development Canada, for example, was not only a costly systems problem to fix, it also raised questions about what government, industry and research data was exfiltrated. Likewise, the 2015 hack of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management was alarming because the benign-sounding agency houses the security clearances, including digital photo and biometric identification, for government, intelligence and military personnel. “Data is the commodity of the 21st century,” said Wheeler. While the sheer volume of new data might be a sign that more intellectual property is being created and the economy is growing, corporate breaches are keeping pace, and “the cost of each breach is accelerating” in terms of dollars and lost IP. Cyber attacks are also starting to impact the C-suite, he noted. The 2013 breach of Target's payment card system cost chief executive officer Gregg Steinhafel his job, and executives with credit reporting agency Equifax have been “publicly flogged” in the wake of the hack of millions of client records in October. ere may be greater consequences for companies that don't do due diligence, Wheeler suggested, pointing to changes taking shape in the legal regime following the Target attack. While greater investment in cyber defence is important, “this is not a technology issue,” he said. “This is a leadership issue” that requires a change in organizational culture and executives who understand the challenge and can “walk the talk.” It also requires more employee training, not only in best cyber hygiene practices, but also in how to use networking and cyber tools to be more resilient, agile and quick to respond. The payoff is a more effective, efficient and competitive company. “[So] many solutions to problems of this world today are in the data,” he said. “If you do this correctly . . . there is an opportunity to be more competitive, more collaborative, to come up with faster ideas in an environment and age when we have to come up with faster ideas.” https://www.skiesmag.com/news/cyber-consequences-attacks-hitting-c-suite/

Toutes les nouvelles