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  • B-21 Bomber Critical Design Review by End of Year

    26 juin 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    B-21 Bomber Critical Design Review by End of Year

    JOHN A. TIRPAK The secret B-21 bomber will progress to a major milestone—critical design review—by the end of this year, Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office director Randall Walden said Monday. Walden also revealed that the B-21 is merely one of 28 programs being managed by the RCO, which he noted is funded at about $30 billion over the five-year future year defense plan. Walden, speaking at an AFA Mitchell Institute event in Arlington, Va., said the B-21 has already passed its preliminary design review, and noted that the release of drawings for the bomber is progressing well. As for critical design review, "we haven't done it, but we're on our way," and he predicted it would happen by the end of December. Major design work on the bomber is taking place at Northrop Grumman's Melbourne, Fla., facility. He acknowledged that subscale models of the aircraft have been tested in wind tunnels, but said no full-size version has yet been fabricated. "Component testing" is moving along at an "appropriate" speed, he said. "We're looking forward to ... an 'on-time' start of production," Walden said. Walden has spoken publicly about the RCO in a number of venues, but was more forthcoming than usual about the organization and its products at the Mitchell event. Of the 28 projects in the RCO's portfolio, 13 are "ACAT 1," he noted, meaning they are major defense acquisition programs, which usually means a major platform, like an aircraft, missile, or command and control system. While Walden would only identify the B-21 and X-37 orbital vehicle among those that the RCO is working on, he said the majority of the rest could best be characterized as "family of systems" projects. Interestingly, Walden said the RCO has not been called on to undertake any hypersonics programs. The Air Force is pursuing hypersonics projects with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the other services are conducting independent research in the field. Walden said the RCO has about 220 people, who are headquartered at JB Anacostia-Bolling, in Washington, D.C. Among them are experts from the line Air Force who are "embedded" with programs to offer operator advice on design and development. Four bomber pilots are attached to the RCO to advise on the B-21's development, he noted. The B-21 program manager—who Walden did not name—has had experience with management of the F-22 and F-35 programs, he said. The B-21 program has long been scheduled to produce a "usable asset" in the 2024 timeframe, according to comments offered by Air Force officials for the last three years. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), chair of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces panel, revealed in March that problems had arisen with airflow to the B-21's engines, and Walden said Monday that these had been resolved. "Complex weapon systems, especially engine integrations, ... you've got to get throat sizes done right, prior to anything being built" he said, referring to the serpentine tunnels by which air reaches the B-21's engines, which are buried in the fuselage. The RCO obtained "insight from actual lab testing" and found the optimal solution, he said. The RCO has been asked to help with the set-up of a dedicated "Space RCO" at the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles AFB, Calif., and Walden said he has recommended veterans of his own shop to run it, especially those who have worked on space systems, and they have been hired, he said. Walden resisted allowing his own people to be hired away for the new organization, he said. Walden was asked whether the RCO is working on a successor platform to the X-37, and although he did not reply directly, he did say that it is "no different from any other system, ... it starts to get old," and there begin to emerge problems with vanishing vendors and parts obsolescence. However, he forecast no "big change" in that program in the near future. The X-37 tends to fly two-year missions, and various agencies that use the data collected from it are very happy with its activities, he said. Walden told Air Force Magazine he is not experiencing trouble obtaining the workforce he requires, but he said he's aware that major vendors are experiencing difficulties hiring all the engineering and especially software talent needed to execute the Air Force's array of high-tech projects. He also reported that the RCO's experience with protests—wherein a contractor not selected for a program complains that the judging was not fair—is no worse, and probably somewhat better, than that experienced by the Air Force in its "white world," or non-secret programs. Commenting on the "culture" of the RCO, Walden said it is largely based on the Lockheed "Skunk Works" model of small teams with tightly defined objectives and a vastly shortened reporting chain. Where the RCO saves time and money is usually in the area of "deciding to do" something and not going into endless coordination efforts. The RCO can save two to three years on a project simply by having the authority to make decisions, Walden said, avoiding "the tyranny of consensus." It reports to an executive committee comprised of the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the service's acquisition executive, and the Pentagon's acquisition chief. It's not possible to rush the development of, say, an aircraft, he said, noting that basic design must be gotten right or problems are inevitable later on. It takes about three years at a minimum to develop a design, he said. Asked whether the RCO can provide a model to the overall acquisition system, Walden said it can be applied to a degree, but there is the risk that the organization could get too big. "There is a knee in the curve. I can't tell you" what it is, he said, but at a certain size, an RCO-like acquisition agency would no longer be able to do things rapidly. The value of something of constrained size, like the RCO, is to "make a decision, get on contract," Walden said. The mainstream acquisition system takes "an inordinate amount of time" on those two steps. An analysis of alternatives can take up to three years and "sometimes no one makes a decision," Walden said. Walden insisted the RCO is fully observant of the 5000-series of acquisition regulations, but makes a careful review of them on all its efforts and works to "avoid" the ones that don't really affect its programs. He also said the organization turns away many people who want to be involved in overseeing or getting briefed on RCO activities unless they are required under regulations. Even so, he said the RCO has a good relationship with Congress because it tries to be transparent with members, and even when it runs into problems, people on Capitol Hill "want to help." He added that the Pentagon's "risk-averse" acquisition process took many years to get that way and reversing that mindset to one of risk-taking and experimentation will not happen quickly. http://www.airforcemag.com/Features/Pages/2018/June%202018/B-21-Bomber-Critical-Design-Review-by-End-of-Year.aspx

  • Florence Parly lance une initiative européenne de défense à neuf

    26 juin 2018 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR

    Florence Parly lance une initiative européenne de défense à neuf

    LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - Neuf pays européens dont l'Allemagne, la Belgique et le Royaume-Uni ont signé lundi la lettre d'intention de l'initiative européenne d'intervention (IEI) prônée par Paris pour porter une approche novatrice de la défense hors des dispositifs de l'UE. Par l'IEI, la France ambitionne de doter les Européens d'une capacité d'action et de prévention autonome de l'UE, pour des conflits mais aussi des crises humanitaires ou environnementales, en mutualisant la planification militaire, le soutien aux opérations, l'anticipation et le renseignement. “Face aux doutes éventuels, il faut affirmer ses convictions”, a déclaré la ministre des Armées Florence Parly à l'issue de la signature. “Les Européens doivent être forts, les Européens doivent être capables, de plus en plus, d'assurer leur protection et leur souveraineté et donc cette initiative est en faveur de la souveraineté européenne”, a-t-elle ajouté. L'Allemagne, la Belgique, le Danemark, les Pays-Bas, l'Estonie, la France, le Portugal, l'Espagne et le Royaume-Uni ont signé lundi à Luxembourg le premier acte de l'initiative. La ministre des Armées, qui a porté le projet qu'Emmanuel Macron avait appelé de ses voeux en septembre lors d'un discours à la Sorbonne, a estimé qu'il répondait en outre aux appels américains pour une Europe qui assume plus sa sécurité. “Cette étape va permettre de commencer très vite des travaux communs qui impliqueront les états-majors des différentes forces armées”, a-t-elle précisé dans un entretien au Figaro. “Une première rencontre aura lieu mi-septembre à Paris pour mettre en place un programme de travail concernant l'anticipation, la planification et l'organisation d'exercice”, poursuit-elle, évoquant l'étude de scénarios concrets, “par exemple pour préparer l'exfiltration de ressortissants”. Absente de la liste des signataires, l'Italie “réfléchit à la possibilité de rejoindre cette initiative, mais n'a pas pris de décision définitive”, a précisé Florence Parly. Dans un communiqué, elle ajoute que “d'autres pays européens, capables, volontaires et partageant les objectifs de l'IEI, pourront rejoindre l'Initiative européenne d'intervention”. MOBILISATION PLUS RAPIDE L'accord à neuf a ménagé des concessions à l'Allemagne sur le maintien d'un lien fort entre l'IEI et la Coopération structurée permanente (Pesco ou CSP), le pacte de défense entériné en décembre dernier par 25 pays de l'Union européenne (excluant un Royaume-Uni sur le départ). “L'Allemagne ne souhaitait pas que l'Initiative européenne d'intervention soit détachée de la CSP. C'est parce que nous maintiendrons entre les deux mécanismes un lien fort qu'elle a décidé d'adhérer”, a précisé Florence Parly. En dépit d'inquiétudes quant à l'accumulation de dispositifs, le secrétaire général de l'Otan Jens Stoltenberg a salué la décision, jugeant que l'initiative faciliterait la modernisation des armées européennes et leur rapidité de mobilisation. “Je pense que cela peut renforcer la disponibilité des forces, car nous avons besoin d'une disponibilité élevée”, a-t-il déclaré à la presse en marge de la réunion des ministres de la Défense et des Affaires étrangères de l'Union européenne. Paris, qui entend stimuler des réponses européennes plus promptes face aux crises, se place au centre d'une réorganisation des structures européennes de défense post-Brexit, en incluant la puissance militaire britannique au sein de cette nouvelle initiative. Le ministre allemand des Affaires étrangères, Heiko Mass, a paru lundi partager l'impatience française et a dit souhaiter que la politique étrangère européenne soit décidée par un vote à la majorité à l'avenir, et non par une décision à l'unanimité. Londres entend conclure un traité avec l'Union européenne en matière de sécurité d'ici 2019, en vue notamment de garder après le Brexit accès aux bases de données, contrats d'armement et au partage d'informations au sein de l'Union, un projet soutenu par plusieurs Etats membres mais dont d'autres ne veulent pas. “Notre engagement dans la sécurité de ce continent est sans conditions”, a déclaré lundi un diplomate britannique, qui déplore la vision idéologique de certains pays pour lesquels le départ du Royaume-Uni de l'Union doit être total. https://fr.reuters.com/article/topNews/idFRKBN1JL1S2-OFRTP

  • Team Dedrone Wins USSOCOM ‘Game of Drones’ Competition

    26 juin 2018 | International, C4ISR

    Team Dedrone Wins USSOCOM ‘Game of Drones’ Competition

    Dedrone announced that its team of Echodyne Corporation, Squarehead Technologies and Battelle, won first place at ThunderDrone's “Game of Drones” outdoor demonstration at Nellis Air Force Base and AFWERX enclave, June 18-20. Hosted by AFWERX, Team Dedrone bested five other teams in the last of three ThunderDrone rapid prototyping events focusing on countering small, unmanned aerial drones. Team Dedrone successfully demonstrated the capabilities of a layered detection, tracking, classification and mitigation solution that defends protected airspace against aerial drone threats. Initially 93 counter-drone technology companies formed teams and were narrowed down through a series of three rapid prototyping events. The Dedrone platform is a fully automatic counter-drone solution, designed to detect, classify and mitigate drone-based threats. Dedrone's software, DroneTracker, gathers intelligence from Dedrone's RF sensors, Echodyne's MESA radar and Squarehead Discovair acoustic sensor. Once DroneTracker makes a positive identification of a drone, Battelle's non-kinetic defense system, DroneDefender™, is automatically triggered to defeat the drone and eliminate the threat. The Dedrone platform combines hardware sensors and machine-learning software, providing early warning, classification of and mitigation against all drone threats. Based in San Francisco, Dedrone was founded in 2014. ThunderDrone is a U.S. Special Operations Command and SOFWERX initiative dedicated to drone prototyping, which focuses on exploring drone technologies through idea formation, testing and demonstrating efforts that are being conducted collaboratively with the Department of Defense's Strategic Capabilities Office. SOFWERX leads collaboration between special operations warfighters and select contributors from industry and academia on technology and innovation efforts to bring drones, tactical swarms and their associated data science applications to the special operations community. Team Dedrone Quotes: “Dedrone's open platform and architecture allows customers to combine the best in drone detection and mitigation technology, such as with RF sensors from Dedrone, radar from Echodyne, acoustic sensors from Squarehead, and jammers from Battelle,” shares Joerg Lamprecht, CEO and co-founder of Dedrone. “This multi-layered sensor platform ensures that all organizations, including those under USSOCOM, are provided complete airspace security that is safe from all drone threats.” “ThunderDrone provided us with our first opportunity to simultaneously engage against multiple UAVs with two DroneDefender V2 systems,” shares Alex Morrow, Technical Director of cUAS Programs at Battelle. “Battelle is pleased with another successful demonstration of our DroneDefender V2.” “Echodyne's compact solid-state radar repeatedly demonstrates an unparalleled combination of range, tracking accuracy and value in countering UAS threats,” notes Eben Frankenberg, Echodyne CEO. “We're pleased that our beam steering radar once again contributed its indispensable capabilities as part of the award-winning Team Dedrone solution.” “Discovair's directional acoustics add a near unspoofable layer of super hearing. The ability to deal with drones hinges on detection. In cluttered areas and up against any drone system, even passive ones – Discovair acoustic sensor has proven to shine,” shares Stig Nyvold, CEO of Squarehead Technology. “Discovair's importance as part in the systems of systems has once again been proved. We are very excited to be part of this team and look forward to the future.” https://www.uasvision.com/2018/06/26/team-dedrone-wins-ussocom-game-of-drones-competition/

  • How the Navy can lean in to software superiority

    26 juin 2018 | International, Naval, C4ISR

    How the Navy can lean in to software superiority

    Andrew C. Jarocki The Navy needs to take a "hard look” at its digital needs according to a senior Navy software official, especially in technology such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, or risk vital weapons systems failing on the future battlefield. Attendees of the Amazon Web Services Public Sector Summit in Washington June 21 heard warnings that obsolete and slow approaches are driving up costs of time and resources for the Navy's newest technologies that interact with one another in combat. "It's really a matter of making System A talk to System B,” said Richard Jack, a lead engineer and project director at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific. “A logistics system that needs to be able to interact with a weapons system.” Software superiority is an important part of the Navy's plan for a global competitive edge, from unmanned underwater vehicles to drones operated from ships. Unless the Navy wants to get an error message at a crucial combat moment, they will have to search outside their own technology labs for the solution to the interoperability challenge, Jack said. “The Navy can't do this alone, as 99 percent of the brain trust is in the cloud service providers and the industry,” Jack stated. He expressed the need to “take advantage” of lessons learned by cloud industry leaders on big data collection and interpreting results to make predictions . Jack suggested accelerating operations with increased cloud computing, creating shared infrastructure to make sure data centers are connected, eliminating duplicative investments across some programs, and further expanding AI and machine learning advancements. The software engineer expressed confidence that learning from cloud service providers will result in the Navy enhancing warfighting abilities, envisioning a cloud to allow instant data sharing “between a weapons system, an airframe, a UAV, and a logistics system” at the same time. Jack also praised cloud computing as important to the “compile to combat” program, in which the Navy is experimenting with ways to deploy new software capabilities to ships at sea in less than 24 hours. While the cloud can “be super fast and super efficient” for accessing large amounts of data anywhere, Jack also promised that it also allows the Navy to “really push the boundaries of machine learning,” even though “we are behind the curve” at the moment. Through “strategic partnerships” with the “Amazons, Googles and IBM Watsons of the world,” Jack promised the Navy could accomplish even more in the areas of AI and machine learning that will dominate warfighting in the era of the cloud. https://www.c4isrnet.com/it-networks/2018/06/25/how-the-navy-can-lean-in-to-software-superiority/

  • Atlas Elektronik, Thales Deutschland to develop K130 CMS

    26 juin 2018 | International, Naval

    Atlas Elektronik, Thales Deutschland to develop K130 CMS

    Beth Stevenson Atlas Elektronik and Thales Deutschland have been contracted to jointly develop the combat management system (CMS) for the German navy's next five Braunschweig-class K130 corvettes. The FüWES K130 consortium will deliver the capability for vessel 6-10 plus for a test and training centre in Wilhelmshaven, and the work will be finished in 2025, it said. FüWES K130 is led by Atlas, and it will develop the hardware element of the CMS plus an update to the software delivered for the first five K130s that have already been delivered to the navy. The contract for these next five ships follow the same format as that provided for the first five signed in 2003, and any changes introduced will just counter obsolescence issues and compliancy requirements of the German government, the companies said. http://www.janes.com/article/81308/atlas-elektronik-thales-deutschland-to-develop-k130-cms

  • Le Rafale toujours en lice pour le remplacement des F-16, malgré une offre "hors procédure"

    26 juin 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Le Rafale toujours en lice pour le remplacement des F-16, malgré une offre "hors procédure"

    C'est toujours le flou autour des offres pour le remplacement des F-16. Pour rappel, trois avions sont sur la table du gouvernement : le F-35 américain, l'Eurofighter Typhoon européen et le Rafale français qui lui, est "hors procédure" — c'est-à-dire que l'offre n'a pas été faite dans le cadre de l'appel d'offres officiel. Une situation qui a déjà donné naissance à quelques cacophonies au sein du gouvernement, le ministre de la Défense voulant privilégier les offres rendues en bonne et due forme, et le Premier laissant entendre que l'offre française (plutôt alléchante) serait examinée, malgré le fait qu'elle n'ait pas respecté les procédures. Et quatre mois avant que le gouvernement ne doive rendre sa décision, rebelote. Le ministre de la Défense Steven Vandeput (N-VA) a déclaré dans dans les pages du Morgen que la proposition de la France pour le remplacement des F-16 était exclue, "On ne peut pas faire comme si les Français faisaient partie de la procédure", affirme Steven Vandeput , vendredi. La décision est bien entendu à prendre au sein du gouvernement et le ministre a toujours dit qu'il y présenterait les éléments concernant ce dossier, a indiqué vendredi le cabinet de Steven Vandeput (N-VA), tout en rappelant que les Français n'ont pas introduit leur offre dans le cadre de la procédure officielle. Paris toujours en lice Sa sortie dans le Morgen a rapidement conduit le Premier ministre Charles Michel à réagir en soulignant que l'offre de Paris était toujours en lice et que la décision finale serait "prise au sein du gouvernement et nulle part ailleurs". "L'offre des français est sur la table du gvt. Nous devons encore discuter. Les discussions ne sont pas closes. Il y a toujours trois candidats constructeurs, deux dans la procédure classique et une autre proposition émanent des français", a alors précisé Steven Vandeput à l'entrée du conseil des Ministres Interviewé sur Radio 1, M. Vandeput a précisé qu'il ne voulait pas envoyer un message au Premier ministre avec son intervention dans la presse, mais uniquement "mettre les points sur les i" après que le constructeur français Dassault - qui produit le Rafale - a lancé une large campagne de communication sur son offre. Sur la question d'un contexte géopolitique européen, avec le projet d'une Europe de la Défense qui pourrait influencer le choix du gouvernement, le ministre de l'Intérieur Jan Jambon répond : "Ce projet là est très important, mais il est pour l'horizon 2045. D'ici là, nous devons acheter de nouveaux avions et on ne peut pas attendre." "On n'achète pas des bicyclettes, il faut tout analyser : le prix, les éléments techniques... On doit maintenant envisager toutes les options, même celle du prolongement éventuel des F-16" a quant à lui déclaré le vice-Premier Didier Reynders. https://www.rtbf.be/info/belgique/detail_remplacement-des-f-16-la-proposition-francaise-est-exclue-pour-steven-vandeput?id=9952799

  • Security and defence cooperation: EU will enhance its capacity to act as a security provider, its strategic autonomy, and its ability to cooperate with partners

    26 juin 2018 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité

    Security and defence cooperation: EU will enhance its capacity to act as a security provider, its strategic autonomy, and its ability to cooperate with partners

    Today, foreign affairs ministers and defence ministers discussed the implementation of the EU Global Strategy in the area of security and defence. The Council then adopted conclusions which highlight the significant progress in strengthening cooperation in the area of security and defence and provide further guidance on next steps. Permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) The Council adopted today a common set of governance rules for projects within the PESCO framework. The sequencing of the more binding commitments undertaken by member states participating in PESCO is expected to be defined through a Council recommendation, in principle in July 2018. An updated list of PESCO projects and their participants, including a second wave of projects, is expected by November 2018. The general conditions for third state participation in PESCO projects are expected to be set out in a Council decision in principle also in November. Capability development plan and coordinated annual review on defence (CARD) The Council approved the progress catalogue 2018, which provides a military assessment of the prioritised capability shortfalls and high impact capability goals to be achieved in a phased approach. It forms a key contribution to the EU capability development priorities. These priorities are recognised by the Council as a key reference for both member states' and EU defence capability development initiatives. The aim of CARD, for which a trial run is being conducted by the European Defence Agency, is to establish a process which will provide a better overview of national defence spending plans. This would make it easier to address European capability shortfalls and identify new collaborative opportunities, ensuring the most effective and coherent use of defence spending plans. European defence fund The European Defence Fund is one of the key security and defence initiatives by the Commission, reaffirmed in its proposal for the future multiannual financial framework (2021-2027), with a proposed envelope of €13 billion. The European Defence Fund aims to foster innovation and allow economies of scale in defence research and in the industrial development phase by supporting collaborative projects in line with capability priorities identified by Member States within the CFSP framework. This will strengthen the competitiveness of the Union's defence industry. Under the current financial framework, with the same objectives, the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) was agreed by the representatives of the co-legislators on 22 May 2018. The Council welcomes this agreement. The EDIDP should aim at incentivising collaborative development programmes in line with defence capability priorities commonly agreed by EU member states, in particular in the context of the capability development plan. European peace facility The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy proposed the creation of a European Peace Facility in the context of the future multiannual financial framework, an off-EU budget fund devoted to security and defence. The aim of the facility would be: funding the common costs of military operations under the Common Security and Defence Policy (currently covered by the Athena mechanism); contributing to the financing of military peace support operations led by other international actors (currently covered by, for example, the African Peace Facility); and providing support to third states' armed forces to prevent conflicts, build peace and strengthen international security. The Council takes note of the proposal and invites the relevant Council preparatory bodies to take the work forward and present concrete recommendations on the proposed facility. Military mobility The aim of improving military mobility is to address those obstacles which hinder the movement of military equipment and personnel across the EU. The High Representative and the Commission presented a joint communication on improving military mobility in the EU on 10 November 2017 and an action plan on 28 March 2018. The Council welcomes this action plan and calls for its swift implementation. As a first step in this direction, the Council approves the overarching high-level part of the military requirements for military mobility within and beyond the EU. The Council also stresses that improvement in military mobility can only be achieved with the full involvement and commitment of all member states, fully respecting their national sovereignty. The conclusions also touch on other strands of work in the field of EU security and defence, including strengthening civilian CSDP, developing a more strategic approach for EU partnerships on security and defence with third countries, and increasing resilience and bolstering capabilities to counter hybrid threats, including further developing the EU's strategic communication approach together with member states. Background On 14 November 2016, the Council adopted conclusions on implementing the EU Global Strategy in the area of security and defence. These conclusions set out three strategic priorities in this regard: responding to external conflicts and crises, building the capacities of partners, and protecting the European Union and its citizens. Since then, the EU has significantly increased its efforts in the area of security and defence. Progress was noted and further guidance provided through Council conclusions on 6 March 2017, on 18 May 2017 and 13 November 2017. Council conclusions on strengthening civilian Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) were adopted on 28 May 2018. At the same time, the EU has also increased its cooperation with NATO, on the basis of the joint declaration on EU-NATO cooperation signed by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and NATO Secretary-General on 8 July 2016 in the margins of the Warsaw summit. http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2018/06/25/security-and-defence-cooperation-eu-will-enhance-its-capacity-to-act-as-a-security-provider-its-strategic-autonomy-and-its-ability-to-cooperate-with-partners/

  • The Countries Where F-35 Sales Are Taking Off

    26 juin 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    The Countries Where F-35 Sales Are Taking Off

    Since the first F-35 rolled off Lockheed Martin's production line in 2006, the fifth-generation multirole stealth fighter has taken the world by storm. U.S. F-35s deployed to Europe and the Pacific in 2017, and Israel has reportedly already used its jets in combat in the Middle East. Soon, the Arab world might get its first F-35 — the United Arab Emirates is in talks with the United States about buying the aircraft. To date, the program's reach has expanded to 12 nations around the globe, and all signs point to the F-35 continuing to dominate the Western fighter market for decades to come. But tensions between historically close NATO allies could threaten the fate of one partner nation's F-35 fleet: Turkey. Here's the breakdown of the global F-35 fleet. https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/06/22/the-countries-where-f-35-sales-are-taking-off/

  • Future US Navy weapons will need lots of power. That’s a huge engineering challenge.

    26 juin 2018 | International, Naval

    Future US Navy weapons will need lots of power. That’s a huge engineering challenge.

    David B. Larter WASHINGTON ― The U.S. Navy is convinced that the next generation of ships will need to integrate lasers, electromagnetic rail guns and other power-hungry weapons and sensors to take on peer competitors in the coming decades. However, integrating futuristic technologies onto existing platforms, even on some of the newer ships with plenty of excess power capacity, will still be an incredibly difficult engineering challenge, experts say. Capt. Mark Vandroff, the current commanding officer of the Carderock Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center and the former Arleigh Burke-class destroyer program manager who worked on the DDG Flight III, told the audience at last week's American Society of Naval Engineers symposium that adding extra electric-power capacity in ships currently in design was a good idea, but that the weapons and systems of tomorrow will pose a significant challenge to naval engineers when it comes time to back-fit them to existing platforms. “Electrical architecture on ships is hard,” Vandroff said. Vandroff considered adding a several-megawatt system to a ship with plenty of power to spare, comparing it with simultaneously turning on everything in a house. “When you turn everything on in your house that you can think of, you don't make a significant change to the load for [the power company],” Vandroff explained. “On a ship, if you have single loads that are [a] major part of the ship's total load, [it can be a challenge]. This is something we had to look at for DDG Flight III where the air and missile defense radar was going to be a major percentage of the total electric load ― greater than anything that we had experienced in the previous ships in the class. That's a real technical challenge. “We worked long and hard at that in order to get ourselves to a place with Flight III where we were confident that when you turned things on and off the way you wanted to in combat, you weren't going to light any of your switchboards on fire. That was not a back-of-the-envelope problem, that was a lot of folks in the Navy technical community ... doing a lot of work to make sure we could get to that place, and eventually we did.” In order to get AMDR, or SPY-6, installed on the DDG design, Vandroff and the team at the DDG-51 program had to redesign nearly half the ship — about 45 percent all told. Even on ships with the extra electric-power capacity, major modifications might be necessary, he warned. “We're going to say that in the future we are going to be flexible, we are going to have a lot of extra power,” Vandroff said. “That will not automatically solve the problem going forward. If you have a big enough load that comes along for a war-fighting application or any other application you might want, it is going to take technical work and potential future modification in order to get there.” Even the powerhouse Zumwalt class will struggle with new systems that take up a large percentage of the ship's power load, Vandroff said. “Take DDG-1000 ― potentially has 80-odd megawatts of power. If you have a 5- or 6-megawatt load that goes on or off, that is a big enough percentage of total load that it's going to be accounted for. Electrical architecture in the future is still an area that is going to require a lot of effort and a lot of tailoring, whatever your platform is, to accommodate those large loads,” he said. In 2016, when the Navy was planning to install a rail gun on an expeditionary fast transport vessel as a demonstration, service officials viewed the electric-power puzzle as the reason the service has not moved more aggressively to field rail gun on the Zumwalt class. Then-director of surface warfare Rear Adm. Pete Fanta told Defense News that he wanted to move ahead with a rail gun demonstration on the JHSV because of issues with the load. “I would rather get an operational unit out there faster than do a demonstration that just does a demonstration,” Fanta said, “primarily because it will slow the engineering work that I have to do to get that power transference that I need to get multiple repeatable shots that I can now install in a ship.” https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2018/06/24/future-navy-weapons-will-need-lots-power-thats-a-huge-engineering-challenge/

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