24 décembre 2018 | International, Terrestre

MPF Light Tank Profits Estimated ~$495M: Byron Callan


The Army's said it wants 504 of the MPF light tanks. But analyst Byron Callan is betting that either the Marine Corps or foreign buyers (or both) add another 106, bringing the total to 610 machines.

WASHINGTON: Tis the season to buy... tanks?

When you Google any kind of military hardware, odds are the autocomplete algorithm will suggest “....for sale.” Of course, pricing weapons systems isn't actually so straightforward. Whatever autocomplete may think, you can't actually buy a fighter jet or tank online, and trying to buy one anywhere as a private individual is a good path to prison. The Pentagon announces budget figures and contract values, but how do you figure out what a program will cost before that data's public?

One of our favorite defense industry analysts, Capital Alpha's poetically named Byron Callan, just came up with an estimate for the Mobile Protected Firepowerprogram. The Army just announced Monday that established armsmakers BAE Systems and General Dynamics will build competing prototypes of the new armored vehicle, with a final winner picked in 2022.

Now, MPF is effectively a light tank to accompany airborne troops and other infantry where the massive M1 Abrams cannot go. The Army's said it wants 504 of the vehicles, 14 per infantry brigade (both active-duty and National Guard) plus spares and training vehicles. But Callan is betting that either the Marine Corps or foreign buyers (or both) add another 106 tanks, bringing the total to 610 machines.

Full article: https://breakingdefense.com/2018/12/mpf-light-tank-profits-estimated-495m-byron-callan

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  • USAF Errantly Reveals Research On ICBM-Range Hypersonic Glide Vehicle

    19 août 2020 | International, Terrestre

    USAF Errantly Reveals Research On ICBM-Range Hypersonic Glide Vehicle

    Steve Trimble The U.S. Air Force agency that manages the service's nuclear arsenal has started researching enabling technology for an intercontinental-range, hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), according to a document that was published briefly in error on a public website. Although the document shows a U.S. nuclear weapons agency is researching HGV technology, senior Pentagon officials say there has been no change to a policy that “strictly” limits the emerging class of hypersonic gliders and cruise missiles to non-nuclear warheads. A request for information (RFI) published on Aug. 12 by the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center asks companies to submit ideas across seven categories of potential upgrades for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) designed with a “modular open architecture.” The Air Force often describes the future Ground Based Strategic Deterrent ICBM as featuring a “modular systems architecture,” in contrast with the aging Minuteman III, which does not. Among the seven items on the upgrade list, the Air Force called for a new “thermal protection system that can support [a] hypersonic glide to ICBM ranges,” according to the RFI, which is no longer publicly available on the government's procurement website. The RFI appears to have disclosed information that was not meant by the Air Force's nuclear weapons buyers to be made public. Each of the seven items listed in the RFI's “scope of effort” for ICBM upgrades included a prefix designation of “U/FOUO,” a military marking for information that is unclassified, but for official-use only. Although not technically a classified secret, information marked as “FOUO” usually is withheld from the public. The RFI was removed from beta.sam.gov on Aug. 17 after Aviation Week inquired about the document with the Air Force and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The Defense Department (DOD) has three different operational prototypes for HGVs in development now: the Air Force's AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon, the Army's Long Range Hypersonic Weapon and the Navy's Intermediate Range Conventional Prompt Strike. Once fired from an aircraft, ground-launcher or submarine, all three are designed to strike targets with conventional warheads at intermediate range, which is defined as 1,500-3,000 nm by the official DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. But the Pentagon has no acknowledged plan to develop an HGV with a range beyond 3,000 nm and maintains a policy that “strictly” prohibits arming any such weapon—regardless of range—with nuclear warheads. The two-most senior staffers leading the hypersonic weapons portfolio reiterated that policy during a press conference on March 2. “Our entire hypersonic portfolio is based on delivering conventional warheads,” said Mike White, assistant director of defense research and engineering for hypersonic weapons. “Right,” agreed Mark Lewis, the director of defense research and engineering for modernization programs. “Strictly conventional.” The Pentagon has not changed the policy since March 2, said Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a spokesman for Lewis' office. “DOD is not developing nuclear-capable hypersonic weapons,” Carver said in an email. “There are common technology needs between the nuclear enterprise and hypersonic systems. Particularly in the area of high-temperature materials, we typically collaborate on the development of advanced dual-use materials technology. I will reiterate that our entire hypersonic program portfolio continues to be based on delivering conventional effects only.” Although the DOD upholds the conventional-only policy for hypersonic gliders and scramjet-powered cruise missiles, the source of the RFI raises questions, said James Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The fact that [this RFI] is coming from the nuclear weapons center, it makes it sound an awful lot like this would at least be nuclear-armed or conceivably dual-capable,” Acton said. Although the RFI confirms research is underway, the DOD still has no acknowledged plan to proceed from basic research into the acquisition phase of an ICBM-range hypersonic glider, whether carrying a conventional or nuclear warhead. If the thermal-protection system technology is limited to research only, the RFI by the Air Force's nuclear weapons organization may not violate the DOD policy, which may apply only to fielded weapons. “DOD does a lot of research on a lot of different things and the vast majority of these programs never turn into an acquisition,” Acton said. “It could turn into something, but sophisticated observers recognize that it may not.” The DOD's conventional-only policy for maneuvering hypersonic weapons stands apart from other countries in the field. Russia, for example, has deployed the nuclear-armed Avangard HGV on the SS-19 ICBM. In February, the head of U.S. Northern Command, Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy, said in written testimony submitted to Congress that “China is testing a [nuclear-armed] intercontinental-range hypersonic glide vehicle, which is designed to fly at high speeds and low altitudes, complicating our ability to provide precise warning.” The DOD never has had an announced weapons development program for a conventional- or nuclear-armed, intercontinental-range HGV, but has experimented with air-launched gliders. The Hypersonic Test Vehicle-2 program by the DARPA attempted to demonstrate a range of 4,170 nm, but each experimental glider in two tests staged in 2010 and 2011 failed about 9 min. into a planned 30-min. hypersonic glide. The leading edges of an intercontinental-range HGV could be exposed to temperatures as high as 7,000K (6,726C) on reentry, then endure a prolonged glide phase compared to an intermediate-range system, said Christopher Combs, who researches hypersonic aerodynamics as an assistant professor at the University of Texas-San Antonio. “The bottom line is it's just crazy temperatures,” Combs said. “They're still not dealing with space shuttle or Apollo [capsule] temperatures, but it's still really hot.” The rescinded RFI, meanwhile, also may provide a rare glimpse into the Air Force's plans for the new ICBM developed under the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program. Apart from the thermal-protection system for a hypersonic glider, the scope of effort in the RFI sought industry input on a variety of topics, including: • Fusing data from lower-fidelity, onboard sensors to improve guidance, navigation and control. • New navigation aids to correct inertial measurement unit drift on long-time-of-flight missions. • A lighter, smaller and more efficient “future fuze,” which also could “accept inputs from external subsystems.” • Radiation-hardening techniques for advanced microelectronics, such as a system on a chip or system in a package. • Improved computer hardware and software, including artificial intelligence algorithms. • A more secure architecture and better security sensors for ICBM ground facilities. The Air Force plans to award the contract to Northrop Grumman by the end of the month to launch the engineering and manufacturing development contract for the GBSD program. Northrop remained the sole bidder for the program to deliver more than 600 new ICBMs to the Air Force after a Boeing-led team withdrew from the competition last year. https://aviationweek.com/defense-space/missile-defense-weapons/usaf-errantly-reveals-research-icbm-range-hypersonic-glide

  • US Air Force chief of staff: Our military must harness the potential of multidomain operations

    14 décembre 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    US Air Force chief of staff: Our military must harness the potential of multidomain operations

    By: Gen. David Goldfein Faced with the seemingly impossible task of solving the puzzle of the German military coding machine commonly known as “Enigma” during World War II, British mathematician Alan Turing and his team used a new kind of technology. They built a computing machine that foreshadowed the age of software and algorithms, breaking a code that the Germans changed every 24 hours. Turing's legacy is profound, in war and peace. Today, anyone who has spent time on the internet or social media can't help but have noticed the speed by which algorithms help companies direct targeted advertisements to us — in seconds and minutes — based on their ability to track online interests and behaviors. It is no overstatement to say that the same kind of intuitive speed in understanding and directing information is what our military needs in order to win future wars. This new kind of warfare will require us to defend against and attack foes on land and sea as well as in the air, space and cyberspace. In military parlance, the term for this is “multidomain operations,” an ungainly phrase that has nonetheless become a major focus for each of the military services, including my own, the U.S. Air Force. The term is in vogue now for good reason: Whoever figures out how to quickly gather information in various “domains” and just as quickly direct military actions will have the decisive advantage in battle. Figuring out how to master multidomain warfare will be difficult, but do it we must. History has many lessons here. One analogy I like dates to the American Revolution. As British military forces were preparing to attack Lexington and Concord, patriots devised a simple system to alert Colonial troops. They hung lanterns in the Old North Church in Boston — one if by land, and two if by sea. But how many lanterns would the patriots have hung if the British decided to conduct multidomain operations and attack from both the land and the sea? This would have created a dilemma because they would have to choose to either divide their force and defend both approaches or choose one to defend. However, the patriots had no need to worry about this because the British did not have the ability to control a split force using both land and sea approaches. Without a suitable command-and-control system, a military force cannot effectively take advantage of multidomain operations. Fast forward to today. Having the ability to credibly attack enemies independently by land, sea, air, space or cyberspace — or all at once — creates untenable dilemmas. I'd like our adversaries to always be in the lantern-buying business. Developing the systems, training and methods by which to practice this new brand of warfare will require extraordinary focus from our military. We will have to master and apply quantum computing, artificial intelligence, hypersonic flight, and new concepts for command-and-control that will need to span the globe. In order to build this capability, we will have to develop a new ethos that allows for experimental failure, just as the private sector has done in order to bring us smartphones, robotics and many other cutting-edge technologies that define the speed and precision of modern life. America's new National Defense Strategy correctly focuses the bulk of our nation's efforts on what is called great power conflict, the potential for war with formidable foes like Russian and China. We have known for some time that both are building militaries that harness AI, quantum computers, hypersonic flight and the ubiquitous threat from cyberattacks. To build a military capable of defending and deterring against such threats, it is imperative that the United States learn to fight and defend from beneath the ocean to the outer reaches of space, and everywhere in between. Last month the Air Force kicked off the inaugural Doolittle Wargame, named for the World War II hero Jimmy Doolittle, who led the daring air raid on Tokyo in 1942 that helped turn the tide of war in the Pacific. That mission personified multidomain warfare in that it was launched from an aircraft carrier hauling heavy bombers, something the Japanese were not expecting and were not prepared for. The Doolittle Wargame is the start of our efforts to learn how to harness the potential for extremely fast, unpredictable warfare from the heights of air and space to the expanses of cyberspace. If we can pull this off, it may redefine conventional deterrence in the 21st century. Gen. David Goldfein is the chief of staff for the U.S. Air Force. https://www.defensenews.com/outlook/2018/12/10/us-air-force-chief-of-staff-our-military-must-harness-the-potential-of-multidomain-operations/

  • DARPA Announces Microsystems Exploration Program

    22 juillet 2019 | International, C4ISR

    DARPA Announces Microsystems Exploration Program

    Over the past few decades, DARPA's Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) has enabled revolutionary advances in electronics materials, devices, and systems, which have provided the United States with unique defense and economic advantages. To continue its path of successful electronics innovation, DARPA today announced a new MTO effort called the Microsystems Exploration program. The Microsystems Exploration program will constitute a series of short-term investments into high-risk, high-reward research focused on technical domains relevant to MTO. Leveraging streamlined contracting and funding approaches, awards for each area of exploration – or μE topic – will be made within 90 days of announcement. Each μE topic will run for up to 18 months, during which time researchers will work to establish the feasibility of new concepts or technologies. “This strategy of making smaller, targeted research investments will allow us to capitalize quickly on new opportunities and innovative research concepts,” said Dr. Mark Rosker, director of MTO. “The Microsystems Exploration program provides a way to assess whether or not a concept could evolve into a full program without requiring the use of more significant resources.” The Microsystems Exploration program will employ best practices from DARPA's other fast-track solicitation programs – the agency-wide AI Exploration program and the Defense Science Office's “Disruptioneering” initiative. These programs are focused on enabling rapid advances in artificial intelligence and basic science respectively, and have shown numerous benefits to this approach. Similar to these efforts, the simplified proposal, contracting, and funding process employed by each μE topic will make it even easier for individuals and organizations to contribute to DARPA's mission. Each award may be worth up to $1 million, as described in the individual μE solicitations. To help advance MTO's strategic imperatives, the Microsystems Exploration program will pursue innovative research concepts that explore frontiers in embedded microsystem intelligence and localized processing; novel electromagnetic components and technologies; microsystem integration for functional density and security; and disruptive microsystem applications in C4ISR, electronic warfare, and directed energy. In alignment with these technical domains, the first three potential topics focus on hardware security, novel materials, and new computing architectures for heterogeneous systems. The first potential topic aims to address security issues within the hardware supply chain. 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Recent work has demonstrated the emergence of the material's use in ferroelectric switching, which has enormous potential across a number of applications and devices. However, current exploration of this capability has been limited to a research setting. The “Ferroelectric Nitride Materials and Non-Volatile Memory” related topic could expand on this research, identifying the thickness and doping ranges that exhibit ferroelectric behavior, the robustness and reproducibility of the ferroelectric response, and further demonstrating ferroelectric nitrides as a technologically useful material. Another potential μE topic could seek to address the trade-off between programmer productivity and performance that happens as hardware complexity continues to skyrocket. Advances at the hardware and software level that have enabled continued progress in computing performance, cost, and ubiquity have hit a wall. The expectation is that subsequent performance gains will come from an increased level of parallelism, specialization, and system heterogeneity, which will place further strain on programmer productivity. This “Massively Parallel Heterogeneous Computing” related topic could explore the creation of compiler technology that improves programmer productivity of massively parallel and heterogeneous processing systems. Additional information about the Microsystems Exploration program can be found under Program Announcement DARPA-PA-19-04. Further details on the three potential μE topics can be found under Special Notice DARPA-SN-19-69. The Microsystems Exploration Research Area Announcement Special Notice has been issued solely for information and potential new program planning purposes. All future and official solicitation notices for μE topics will be published to Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) at www.fbo.gov. https://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2019-07-16

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