17 mars 2023 | International, Aérospatial

Pentagon chooses Australian firm to build hypersonic test aircraft

The aircraft, which will support efforts to increase the cadence of hypersonic flight testing, is scheduled to fly for the first time in early 2024.


Sur le même sujet

  • General Dynamics to begin building US Army's new light tank next month

    10 octobre 2022 | International, Terrestre

    General Dynamics to begin building US Army's new light tank next month

    GDLS will initially deliver 26 vehicles, but the contract allows the Army to buy 70 more.

  • For Europe, it’s naval business as usual

    25 octobre 2018 | International, Naval

    For Europe, it’s naval business as usual

    By: Tom Kington , Pierre Tran , Andrew Chuter , and Sebastian Sprenger Is there enough drive to reach a unified shipbuilding enterprise? ROME, LONDON, PARIS AND COLOGNE, Germany — As European shipbuilders prepare to transform their nations' rising military budgets into naval power, local priorities are acting as formidable forces against the integration of a fragmented market. Two years ago, Italian defense think tank CESI produced a document lamenting the fractured state of the European naval industry, warning that firms on the continent would be swept aside by foreign competition if they failed to team up and take on the world. The paper provided the ideological underpinning for proposals by Italian shipyard Fincantieri to jointly build vessels with France's Naval Group, a plan being considered by both governments. But today, one of the authors of the report, Francesco Tosato, says that despite European Union moves to integrate the defense industry, little has changed in the naval sector. “We still have six or eight types of frigates, each with manufacturing runs of no more than 10 vessels, which is unsustainable,” he said. Supporters of integration say shipyards will be able to cut costs through synergies and avoid competing against each other in export markets. “The Germans are building U-212NG submarines with the Norwegians, but they are not integrating,” he added. A second analyst agreed that integration is not happening, but offered a positive outlook. “With European governments not wanting to spend on naval vessels, it is all about exports, and buyers in Asia and the Middle East want to deal with one government, not with Europe,” said Peter Roberts, director of military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute in London. “They may want a German frigate with a French radar and MBDA missiles, but they still want one national point of contact,” he added. Roberts also argued that European multinational shipbuilders risked stifling competition. “That could lead to poorer designs and higher prices,” he said. In addition, one European industrial giant may be unable to offer different types of vessels to export customers with a variety of requirements. “Customers have bespoke needs, which means systems integrators are crucial,” Roberts said. “Why not have systems intergrators working on a European basis? That could be the starting point for integrating Europe's industry, rather than putting together shipyards.” German angst In Germany, meanwhile, industry officials and lawmakers are bickering over whether surface shipbuilding is, or should be, a national priority so critical that contracts must go to German yards. (The Ministry of Defence has only designated submarine construction as such a key capability.) That debate permeates the competition for the MKS-180 program, a novel multi-use combat ship. The thought that Dutch contractor Damen, one of the bidders still in the race, could win the contract over the purely German team of German Naval Yards and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems has some coastal politicians and trade unions up in arms. There is a lot at stake for German shipbuilders. A recent MoD strategy document proclaimed a national objective of restoring the balance between out-of-area missions and homeland defense. The latter area has been chronically underfunded in the rush to provide troops at the tip of the spear with equipment that works, the argument goes. That dynamic will “inevitably mean an increase in forces, including warships and modernization of the fleet,” a spokesman for the Germany Navy told Defense News. For example, the service plans to buy at least one new warship annually over the next 10 years, plus 46 helicopters. Combined with a new deployment and manning scheme, officials hope to raise the entire fleet's operational availability to 50 percent compared with today's 30 percent, meaning more vessels theoretically will be ready to fight at any given time. Those plans could directly translate into jobs in Germany, and domestic shipbuilders, including heavyweight TKMS, are doing their part to support the demand for government favoritism toward their own yards. British exclusivity The situation is similar in the United Kingdom, where shipbuilding for the Royal Navy is by definition a domestic affair. It has been a little more than a year since the British government published a national shipbuilding strategy, which in part called for a greater surface warship building capability. BAE Systems has had a stranglehold on the business since it first merged and then in 2009 acquired VT Shipbuilding. BAE Systems' two surface warship building yards in Glasgow, Scotland, meet the government requirement that complex warships must be locally built. The Conservative government, however, made it clear in its shipbuilding strategy that while BAE would continue to build in Glasgow the planned eight Type 26 anti-submarine warfare frigates destined for the Royal Navy, it wanted another yard to build a fleet of five Type 31e general purpose frigates. Peter Parker, the author of the strategy report, justified the creation of a second naval build center, saying it would be unprecedented for BAE to run two new programs side by side. But it hasn't been smooth sailing for British Ministry of Defence officials running the Type 31e program, as they seek sufficient bidders to hold a robust competition. Building frigates in a British yard with a price of no more than £250 million (U.S. $329 million) and an in-service date of 2023 has proved a challenge. The government stopped the competition earlier this year after it failed to attract a sufficient level of interest from qualified vendors. But officials got the show back on the road Aug. 20, restarting discussions with potential suppliers on a revised plan. Competition documents were issued to industry last month, with potential bidders mandated to reply by Oct. 19. With German and the British shipyards hoping to secure their respective turfs at home, the Fincantieri-Naval Group deal could still become the poster child for European naval-industry consolidation. At least, that's the theory. French maneuvers French officials appeared to get cold feet earlier this month on a key aspect of the merger arrangement: a proposed cross-shareholding of 5 to 10 percent. “Bercy is not keen,” said an industry executive, referring to the French Economy and Finance Ministry, located in a vast modern building resembling a bridge by the river Seine. A source with the French Armed Forces Ministry would only say: “Negotiations take time. We need more time.” Even before that wrinkle, the French and Italian governments requested “clarification” from Fincantieri and Naval Group after the two companies submitted dossiers in mid-July for a partnership. The request for clarification referred to the key elements of cooperation in research and development, common purchase of parts and offers in export markets, an industry executive told Defense News. Cross-border cooperation in foreign sales is seen as significant, as Naval Group has set a target of exports accounting for half of annual sales compared to the present estimated one-third of revenue. Competition with Fincantieri raises the cost of sales and cuts profit margins, as each seeks to submit competitive offers. If Naval Group and Fincantieri do manage to forge an industrial alliance, that will reverse a declining trend in cooperation. Previous French attempts to work with Italy in building a common MU90 light torpedo led to nothing, while the level of common parts on the FREMM multimission frigate fell compared to that realized on the Horizon air-defense frigate. European industrial cooperation also stalled on the Scorpene attack submarine, with Spanish shipbuilder Navantia opting to pursue its own S-80 diesel-electric boat rather than work with Naval Group. Tom Kington, Andrew Chuter, Pierre Tran and Sebastian Sprenger contributed to this report. https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2018/10/21/for-europe-its-naval-business-as-usual/

  • Joint Artificial Intelligence Center Keeps Branching Out

    4 novembre 2020 | International, C4ISR

    Joint Artificial Intelligence Center Keeps Branching Out

    By Yasmin Tadjdeh When the Pentagon's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center was stood up in 2018, it was established to bring together the Defense Department's various AI programs and projects. Two years later, JAIC is pivoting to new mission sets, expanding its portfolio and more closely working with industry. The organization is currently working on 30 different projects across six different areas including joint warfighting operations, warfighter health, business process transformation, threat reduction and protection, joint logistics and joint information warfare. The center is built “around getting a spark going or getting a prototype or making a market in some way, and then handing it off for transition and scaling right to a customer,” said Nand Mulchandani, JAIC chief technology officer. “We're now starting to demonstrate great and exciting success across those products.” The joint warfighting mission initiative is the organization's flagship product and is looking at means to transform the way the United States will go to war, Mulchandani said during an exclusive interview with National Defense on his first day back as chief technology officer after serving as the acting head of JAIC. In late September, Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Michael Groen was confirmed by the Senate to serve as its director. “Our early products ... were really focused on kind of starter AI projects when it came to things like predictive maintenance and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” Mulchandani said. “The algorithms were not that hard. ... [However,] joint warfighting is the hardest problem at the DoD for us to take on.” The center is starting with technology such as human-machine teaming and decision support, Mulchandani said. “There are different ways of displaying information, about communicating information, about absorbing information,” he said. “We're spending time with our commanders, with training and education, etc., on how to absorb AI-enabled systems. And we want to do that in a very systematic, deliberate way where we start out with human-machine teaming, decision support, etc., and then work our way toward things like autonomy and others.” Joint warfighting will contribute to many Pentagon efforts such as joint all-domain command-and-control and the Air Force's Advanced Battle Management System program, he said. In May, the center awarded the joint warfighting operations initiative's prime contract to Booz Allen Hamilton. The contract has an $806 million ceiling. However, the center would likely not spend all of the funding because the entire budget of the JAIC over a couple of years is around $800 million, Mulchandani said during a recent briefing with reporters. Despite the center being gung-ho about the initiative, a continuing resolution for fiscal year 2021 — which began Oct. 1 — could have an outsized effect on joint warfighting programs, he noted. “What this really impacts ... is new starts, our ability to start a bigger new project that we have been potentially forecasting for starting with new FY ‘21 money,” he said. That will require some programs to be delayed. However, JAIC “will be receiving some money as part of the CR that will allow us to kick-start some of these new projects and things along the way, and then scale them ... when we get out of the CR mode” after a full-year appropriations bill is passed by Congress, he added. JAIC had been planning for a continuing resolution for some time, Mulchandani noted. “Many of our projects and products ... have actually been pre-funded through much of the money that we got in FY ‘20,” he said. “We have contracts and vendors and other things working months and months out into the new fiscal year. ... We're not in a crisis mode at all.” Meanwhile, JAIC's relationship with industry has continued to improve over the past two years, Mulchandani said. When it was first stood up, much attention was put on what some perceived to be a reluctance from Silicon Valley to work with the Pentagon. “A lot of people ask us [about] the whole thing with Google and Project Maven and whether that's still” a strained relationship, he said, referring to a 2018 incident where thousands of Google employees signed a letter objecting to the company's work with the Defense Department's Project Maven, a pathfinder AI effort to better analyze drone footage. Google subsequently backed out of the program. However, JAIC collaborates closely with the tech giant now, he said. “We're working with Google on a number of projects directly ... whether it be health or other types ... of products there,” he said. “We have contracts with Google that we're working on, but all the other bigger vendors as well.” Mulchandani said JAIC is working with all of the largest technology companies in Silicon Valley. “Name an AI vendor and we either have work going on with them, or they're involved in some way in some of the newer projects that we're doing,” he said. As the organization continues to work with industry, it is setting up initiatives to better take advantage of rapid acquisition, Mulchandani said. It currently has partnerships with a number of contracting vehicle organizations such as the General Services Administration, the Defense Innovation Unit and the Defense Information Systems Agency. Additionally, legislation is currently in front of Congress that could grant JAIC direct acquisition authority. “We obviously are very excited about that, [but] it's not done yet,” he said. “When the final vote happens and we do get it, we'll be very pleased and happy, and if we don't get it, well, we'll still be obviously continuing business with the partners that we have.” The center is also working on an acquisition effort called Project Tradewind which is a way for JAIC and the Defense Department writ large to better reach out to small companies, he said. Contract vehicles will be created that any organization across the department will be able to use to gain access to “teensy weensy, little companies that normally would hate to work with — or wouldn't know how to work with — the DoD,” Mulchandani said. “They can use Project Tradewind's acquisition frameworks to be able to interact with us in a very low overhead way.” During remarks at the Defense Department's Artificial Intelligence Symposium and Exposition, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper touted the work JAIC has done since its inception. “We have come a long way since establishing the JAIC two years ago,” he said. “Today, more than 200 talented civil service and military professionals work diligently to accelerate AI solutions and deliver these capabilities to the warfighter. From helping the Joint Force organize, fight and win at machine speed, to enhancing wildfire and flood responses through computer vision technology, the JAIC is utilizing every aspect of AI as a transformative instrument at home and abroad.” The center is lowering technical barriers to AI adoption by building a cloud-based platform to allow Defense Department components to test, validate and field capabilities with greater speed and at greater scale, he said. “The goal is to make AI tools and data accessible across the force, which will help synchronize projects and reduce redundancy, among many other benefits,” he said. JAIC is also working on ways to better train the Defense Department's acquisition workforce to buy AI products, Esper noted. The organization, in partnership with the Defense Acquisition University and the Naval Postgraduate School, was slated to launch an intensive six-week pilot course in October to train over 80 defense acquisition professionals of all ranks and grades. The trainees will learn how to apply AI and data science skills to operations, Esper said. The Defense Department plans to request additional funding from Congress for the services to grow the effort over time, he said. Dana Deasy, the Pentagon's chief information officer, noted JAIC's journey is still evolving. Meanwhile, the military is “generating positive momentum from our early days as AI pioneers toward a mature organization of AI practitioners,” he said. The center is now starting to deliver real AI solutions to the warfighter while leading the Defense Department in AI ethics and governance, he noted. Its budget is also growing. It went from $89 million in fiscal year 2019 to $268 million in fiscal year 2020, and the Pentagon plans to spend more than $1.6 billion over the next few years thanks to strong bipartisan support from Congress and Defense Department leadership, Deasy said. The organization is already generating early returns on investment in its mission initiatives, from predictive maintenance to business process transformation, Deasy noted. The center recently delivered an innovative engine health model predictive maintenance capability that is being utilized by Black Hawk helicopter maintainers from the U.S. Army's Special Operations Aviation Regiment, he said. Additionally, JAIC — via its business process transformation initiative — is delivering language-processing AI applications to the Washington Headquarters Service and the Pentagon's administrative and financial management teams, Deasy said. “These capabilities are automating the review of thousands of documents and memos for consistency, accuracy and compliance, thus increasing speed and efficiency while reducing manual, laborious processes,” he said. The center is also laying down the foundations for the Joint Common Foundation, an AI development environment that will broaden opportunities for developers across the Pentagon to build and deliver artificial intelligence capabilities in a secure DevSecOps infrastructure, he said. According to the General Services Administration, DevSecOps promotes a cohesive collaboration between development, security and operations teams as they work toward continuous integration and delivery of products. However, “while we develop and deliver these important near-term projects, we have to be ready for the contingencies of a changing and unpredictable operating environment,” Deasy said. “This is why I believe the true long-term success of the JAIC will depend on how the organization adapts and delivers real-world solutions when the strategic landscape and priorities change.” The organization is already proving it can adapt via its Project Salus effort — which is named after the Roman goddess of health and well-being — that has helped with the federal government's COVID-19 response, he said. “Working alongside a team of private industry partners, the JAIC developed a predictive-logistics AI dashboard platform for the U.S. Northern Command that enabled National Guard teams to assist states and municipalities with mitigating panic buying and managing supply chains,” he said. “That project went from concept to code in a matter of weeks. More importantly, it demonstrated the JAIC's ability to support the emergent needs of a combatant commander and deliver real AI solutions during a national emergency.” https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2020/11/3/joint-artificial-intelligence-center-keeps-branching-out

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