4 octobre 2018 | International, Aérospatial

Indian Air Force chief defends Rafale fighter deal against claims of crony capitalism

By: and

NEW DELHI and PARIS — Indian Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa defended the decision of India's ruling National Democratic Alliance to buy 36 Rafale fightersfrom France, calling it “a game changer" even as the opposition party criticizes the deal.

Addressing annual news conference, Dhanoha said: "At the appropriate level, the Indian Air Force was consulted, but it is for the government to choose. It was decided to buy two squadrons through a government to-government deal, to meet up emergency requirements.”

India and France signed the €7.8 billion (U.S. $8.99 billion) inter-governmental agreement Sept. 23, under which 36 Rafale fighter aircraft will be procured from Dassault Aviation for Indian Air Force (IAF) in fly away condition. France will invest 30 percent of the total contract value in India's military aeronautics-related research programs and 20 percent into local production of Rafale components to fulfil the mandatory offsets under the deal. The deliveries of Rafale fighters will start this month.

India's main opposition party, Indian National Congress, has claimed on several occasions that the Rafale deal is grossly overvalued and tainted by crony capitalism. The Congress said the Modi government had failed to answer several questions on why public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) had lost the manufacting deal to industrialist Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence Ltd.

“The earlier deal for 126 medium multirole combat aircraft reached an impasse during negotiations," Dhanoa said,, referring to a $12 billion medium, multi-role combat aircraft program that was launchced in 2007 but scrapped 10 years later. "We had three options: wait for something good to happen, withdraw the global tender and start over again, or do an emergency purchase. We did an emergency purchase.”

Dhanoa called the cost of 36 Rafale was “reasonable and adequate."

The latest comments from Dhanoa come after Indian defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman called baseless congressional allegations of a reduction in the number of Rafale jets being purchased from France. Congress has demanded the government explain why instead of 126 Rafale fighter jets, only 36 are being purchased if they were cheaper under the NDA deal than the prior deal.

Sitharaman is expected to hold the first annual defence ministers dialogue with her counterpart Florence Parly in Paris Oct. 12-13, as the two countries seek to expand bilateral defense and strategic ties.

In France, Dassault said the company had picked Reliance as its Indian partner to meet requirements for local offset established by the Indian Defense Procurement Procedure and Make in India policy. The statement followed controversy sparked by remarks by former French president François Hollande, who said the Indian government selected Reliance as the local partner and that the company "had nothing to say on the subject, we had no choice, we took the partner which was presented.”

Dassault put out its statement on the deal for 36 Rafale to India Sept, 21 statement, stating that, in accordance with the policy of Make in India, Dassault Aviation decided to make a partnership with India's Reliance Group.

https://www.defensenews.com/global/asia-pacific/2018/10/03/indian-air-force-chief-defends-rafale-fighter-deal-against-claims-of-crony-capitalism

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  • The UK is ready to kick off an effort to revamp military training

    17 octobre 2019 | International, Terrestre

    The UK is ready to kick off an effort to revamp military training

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Critically, that will be through delivering trained force elements at readiness, but also through contributing to maintenance for the dynamic and complex future operating environments faced in an era of constant confrontation,” said the Army. The Phase 1 RFI is expected to attract responses from at least three of the top British and U.S. defense contractors interested in the sector here. Spokespeople for Babcock International, Lockheed Martin UK and Raytheon UK all confirmed their interest in the program. Its the second time in a few months the three companies have found themselves head-to-head in a competition for a significant military training deal in the U.K. They are also vying for a potentially major deal to train Royal Navy recruits. Babcock and Lockheed Martin already have significant land forces training businesses here, while Raytheon's main training activity in the U.K. is in the commercial sector. A spokeswomen for the U.S.-based SAIC said the company was “not actively pursuing a bid at this time,“ despite murmurings to the contrary. CTTP involves training groups or units up to divisional level. The program is part of the British Army's new Future Collective Training System. The transformation program has been sparked by the need to adapt to the rapid change in the nature of warfare and the re-emergence of state-on-state threats from potential adversaries like Russia and China. For much of the last two decades the British have been engaged in counter insurgency campaigns against terrorist forces in Afghanistan and Iraq operating with comparatively low technology. The need to ramp up the effort to counter complex peer or near peer threats has left some British training facilities and processes short of today's requirements. The British believe collective training needs to be more challenging and conducted in more complex environments, if its formations and units are to maintain battle readiness. Urban operations and information maneuver are among the key skills the British want to improve, said an industry executive who asked not to be named. The benefits of the program go beyond training. The Army said it is also looking to generate more strategic effect and deterrence in the future by conducting collective training in key parts of the world. “The British Army will train in regions of the world that cement our joint and international partnerships and reassure our friends and deter potential adversaries,” said the Army. The British already train in Europe, Canada, Oman, Kenya and Belize. It's possible that list could be expanded. The Phase 1 RFI was supposed to be released at the start of October, but was marginally slowed by various issues. Responses are due Nov. 29.The intention is to follow up Phase 1 with the release of the Phase 2 RFI on Jan. 20, with industry responding no later than Feb. 14. The Army declined to give expected industry contract dates for either phase of the transformation, but the Future Collective Training System is planned to achieve full operating capability in 2025. Upgraded urban training facilities, additional virtual training at Army bases and potential use of innovative synthetic training capabilities are among the potential improvements, said the industry executive. The second phase is expected to build on the work conducted in the first phase, involving a number of services and capabilities that together deliver the full Future Collective Training System. Together the two phases could be worth in excess of £600 million ($770 million), although more precise figures depend upon final requirements, which be driven in part by affordability. The British currently spends about £1 billion annually on collective training. Most, if not all, the companies involved will likely be leading industry teams in some form of partnership with the Army. The commercial model the MoD wants to adopt for the industry alliance with the Army is as yet unclear. CTTP officials are known to have looked at five or six possible options including appointing a strategic delivery partner, a contractural alliance and even private finance. https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2019/10/16/the-uk-is-ready-to-kick-off-an-effort-to-revamp-military-training/

  • How the Army plans to revolutionize tanks with artificial intelligence

    2 novembre 2020 | International, Terrestre, C4ISR

    How the Army plans to revolutionize tanks with artificial intelligence

    Nathan Strout Even as the U.S. Army attempts to integrate cutting edge technologies into its operations, many of its platforms remain fundamentally in the 20th century. Take tanks, for example. The way tank crews operate their machine has gone essentially unchanged over the last 40 years. At a time when the military is enamored with robotics, artificial intelligence and next generation networks, operating a tank relies entirely on manual inputs from highly trained operators. “Currently, tank crews use a very manual process to detect, identify and engage targets,” explained Abrams Master Gunner Sgt. 1st Class Dustin Harris. “Tank commanders and gunners are manually slewing, trying to detect targets using their sensors. Once they come across a target they have to manually select the ammunition that they're going to use to service that target, lase the target to get an accurate range to it, and a few other factors.” The process has to be repeated for each target. “That can take time,” he added. “Everything is done manually still.” On the 21st century battlefield, it's an anachronism. “Army senior leaders recognize that the way the crews in the tank operate is largely analogous to how these things were done 30, 45 years ago,” said Richard Nabors, acting principal deputy for systems and modeling at the DEVCOM C5ISR Center. “These senior leaders, many of them with extensive technical expertise, recognized that there were opportunities to improve the way that these crews operate,” he added. “So they challenged the Combat Capabilities Development Command, the Armaments Center and the C5ISR Center to look at the problem.” On Oct. 28, the Army invited reporters to Aberdeen Proving Ground to see their solution: the Advanced Targeting and Lethality Aided System, or ATLAS. ATLAS uses advanced sensors, machine learning algorithms and a new touchscreen display to automate the process of finding and firing targets, allowing crews to respond to threats faster than ever before. “The assistance that we're providing to the soldiers will speed up those engagement times [and] allow them to execute multiple targets in the same time that they currently take to execute a single target,” said Dawne Deaver, C5ISR project lead for ATLAS. At first glance, the ATLAS prototype the Army had set up looked like something out of a Star Wars film, albeit with treads and not easily harpooned legs. The system was installed on a mishmash of systems — a sleek black General Dynamics Griffin I chassis with the Army's Advance Lethality and Accuracy System for Medium Calibur (ALAS-MC) auto-loading 50mm turret stacked on top. And mounted on top of the turret was a small round Aided Target Recognition (AiTR) sensor — a mid-wave infrared imaging sensor to be more exact. Constantly rotating to scan the battlefield, the sensor almost had a life of its own, not unlike an R2 unit on the back of an X-Wing. Trailing behind the tank and connected via a series of long black cables was a black M113. For this demonstration, the crew station was located inside the M113, not the tank itself. Cavernous compared to the inside of an Abrams tank, the M113 had three short seats lined up. At the forward-most seat was a touchscreen display and a video game-like controller for operating the tank, while further back computer monitors displayed ATLAS' internal processes. Of course, ATLAS isn't the tank itself, or even the M113 connected to it. The chassis served as a surrogate for either a future tank, fighting vehicle or even a retrofit of current vehicles, while the turret was an available program being developed by the Armaments Center. The M113 is not really meant to be involved at all, but the Army decided to remotely locate the crew station inside of it for safety concerns during a live fire demonstration expected to take place in the coming weeks. ATLAS, Army officials reminded observers again and again, is agnostic to the chassis or turret it's installed on. So if ATLAS isn't the tank, what is it? Roughly speaking, ATLAS is the mounted sensor collecting data, the machine learning algorithm processing that data, and the display/controller that the crew uses to operate the tank. Here's how it works: ATLAS starts with the optical sensor mounted on top of the tank. Once activated, the sensor continuously scans the battlefield, feeding that data into a machine learning algorithm that automatically detects threats. Images of those threats are then sent to a new touchscreen display, the graphical user interface for the tank's intelligent fire control system. The images are lined up vertically on the left side of the screen, with the main part of the display showing what the gun is currently aimed at. Around the edges are a number of different controls for selecting ammunition, fire type, camera settings and more. By simply touching one of the targets on the left with your finger, the tank automatically swivels its gun, training its sights on the dead center of the selected object. As it does that, the fire control system automatically recommends the appropriate ammo and setting — such as burst or single shot — to respond with, though the user can adjust these as needed. So with the target in its sights, weapon selected, the operator has a choice: Approve the AI's recommendations and pull the trigger, adjust the settings before responding, or disengage. The entire process from target detection to the pull of the trigger can take just seconds. Once the target is destroyed, the operator can simply touch the screen to select the next target picked up by ATLAS. In automating what are now manual tasks, the aim of ATLAS is to reduce end-to-end engagement times. Army officials declined to characterize how much faster ATLAS is than a traditional tank crew. However, a demo video shown at Aberdeen Proving Ground claimed ATLAS allows “the operator to engage three targets in the time it now takes to just engage one.” ATLAS is essentially a marriage between technologies developed by the Army's C5ISR Center and the Armaments Center. “We are integrating, experimenting and prototyping with technology from C5ISR center — things like advanced EO/IR targeting sensors, aided target algorithms — we're taking those technology products and integrating them with intelligent fire control systems from the Armaments Center to explore efficiencies between those technologies that can basically buy back time for tank crews,” explained Ground Combat Systems Division Deputy Director Jami Davis. Starting in August, the Army began bringing in small groups of tank operators to test out the new system, mostly using a new virtual reality setup that replicates the ATLAS display and controller. By gathering soldier feedback early, the Army hopes that they can improve the system quickly and make it ready for fielding that much faster. Already, the Army has brought in 40 soldiers. More soldier touchpoints and a live fire demonstration are anticipated to help the Army mature its product. In some ways, ATLAS replicates the AI-capabilities demonstrated at Project Convergence in miniature. Project Convergence is the Army's new campaign of learning, designed to integrate new sensor, AI and network capabilities to transform the battlefield. In September, the Army hauled many of its most advanced cutting edge technologies to the desert at Yuma Proving Ground, then tried to connect them in new ways. In short, at Project Convergence the Army tried to create an environment where it could connect any sensor to the best shooter. The Army demonstrated two types of AI at Project Convergence. First were the automatic target recognition AIs. These machine learning algorithms processed the massive amount of data picked up by the Army's sensors to detect and identify threats on the battlefield, producing targeting data for weapon systems to utilize. The second type of AI was used for fire control, and is represented by FIRES Synchronization to Optimize Responses in Multi-Domain Operations, or FIRESTORM. Taking in the targeting data from the other AI systems, FIRESTORM automatically looks at the weapons at the Army's disposal and recommends the best one to respond to any given threat. While ATLAS does not yet have the networking components that tied Project Convergence together across domains, it essentially performs those two tasks: It's AI automatically detects threats and recommends the best response to the human operators. Although the full ATLAS system wasn't hauled out to Project Convergence this year, the Army was able to bring out the virtual prototyping setup to Yuma Proving Ground, and there is hope that ATLAS itself could be involved next year. To be clear: ATLAS is not meant to replace tank crews. It's meant to make their jobs easier, and in the process, much faster. Even if ATLAS is widely adopted, crews will still need to be trained for manual operations in case the system breaks down. And they'll still need to rely on their training to verify the algorithm's recommendations. “We can assist the soldier and reduce the number of manual tasks that they have to do while still retaining the soldiers' ability to always override the system, to always make the final decision of whether or not the target is a threat, whether or not the firing solution is correct, and that they can make that decision to pull the trigger and engage targets,” explained Deaver. https://www.c4isrnet.com/artificial-intelligence/2020/10/29/how-the-army-plans-to-revolutionize-tanks-with-artificial-intelligence/

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