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  • Héroux-Devtek announces acquisition of Québec-based Alta Précision Inc.

    10 juin 2019 | Local, Aérospatial

    Héroux-Devtek announces acquisition of Québec-based Alta Précision Inc.

    Héroux-Devtek Inc., the world's third-largest landing gear manufacturer, announced that it has concluded the acquisition of all the outstanding shares of Montreal-based Alta Precision Inc., a manufacturer of high-precision landing gear components. The transaction, which is subject to final purchase price adjustments, is valued at $23 million and was funded through the corporation's credit facilities. Héroux-Devtek, with its head office in Longueuil, Que., has 1,960 employees around the world, of which approximately 800 are located in Québec following the acquisition of Alta Precision Inc. Since its inception in 1942, Héroux-Devtek has grown from a small repair and overhaul facility to a world-class supplier of landing gear and actuation systems, delivering on major platforms such as the Boeing 777 and 777X. This acquisition, along with those of CESA, Beaver and Tekalia announced over the last year, strengthen its leadership position around the world. “The acquisition of Alta Precision Inc. expands our portfolio of commercial products by providing both access to new programs and additional content on existing platforms. It also comes with the backlog and manufacturing capacity necessary to grow the existing business”, said Martin Brassard, president & CEO of Héroux-Devtek. “We would like to welcome the Alta Precision Inc. employees and its president Guillermo Alonso who will join the growing Héroux-Devtek team. Together, we are confident in our ability to add value to Alta Precision Inc.'s operations and meet growing demand for our world-class landing gear offering”, added Brassard. “We are delighted to join Héroux-Devtek, a leading landing gear manufacturer for the global aerospace industry. With its growing customer base in North America and Europe, we will play a strong role in accelerating the growth of the corporation,” said Alonso, president of Alta Precision Inc. Founded in 1980, Alta Precision Inc. is a privately owned company which operates a state-of-the-art 72,000 square foot facility located in Montreal, Que. The company has approximately $18 million in annual revenues and employs 110 highly skilled personnel. Alta Precision Inc. manufactures complex landing gear components and assemblies for large customers such as Embraer, Safran, Liebherr and the United States Air Force. Alta Precision's strong backlog is comprised mainly of commercial aircraft landing gear components for the new E-2 and Airbus A-220 programs and for the Boeing 787 and Airbus A-350, two recent and growing commercial platforms. https://www.skiesmag.com/press-releases/heroux-devtek-announces-acquisition-of-quebec-based-alta-precision-inc/

  • One new commander — 3 changes of command

    10 juin 2019 | Local, Aérospatial

    One new commander — 3 changes of command

    by Bill McLeod MGen Alain Pelletier assumed command of 1 Canadian Air Division (1 CAD), Canadian NORAD Region (CANR), and the Joint Force Air Component (JFAC) from MGen Christian Drouin at a parade and ceremony held in front of the Air Division Headquarters Building in Winnipeg, Man., on May 16, 2019. The triple commands meant that the parade had three separate signing ceremonies with three lieutenant-generals in attendance. LGen Al Meinzinger, commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, presided over the change of command for 1 CAD and was also the reviewing officer for the parade. LGen Christopher Coates, deputy commander of NORAD, signed the change of command for CANR and LGen Mike Rouleau, commander of Canadian Joint Operations Command, signed the change of command for the JFAC. After the parade was formed up on the sunny but gusty morning, but before the ceremony began, a low and slow flypast in front of the seated VIP guests and dais by a pair of noisy Canada geese drew a laugh from everyone. After the review of the parade, MGen Drouin addressed the crowd at the ceremony and reflected on his experiences. “I will repeat here what I said at my change of command in 2016,” he said. “Aren't we living in a great country? I came from a modest upbringing and barely spoke any words of English. I got the opportunity to fly helicopters and they paid me to have that much fun — pretty cool. To eventually end up commanding our country's operational air force is simply incredible.” MGen Drouin went on to thank the province of Manitoba and the city of Winnipeg for their support for various programs, such as the relocation program that the province's special envoy for military affairs, Jon Reyes, has been championing. He also said that, despite growing up a “Habs fan by birth”, he was now a Jets fan. Following the signing of certificates for the three commands, LGen Rouleau related a story about his experience with the RCAF. “I took the Challenger [aircraft] here with the Air Force commander. He gave me a lift and it was awesome, and I got off the plane with my suitcase and my briefcase,” said Rouleau. “It was raining sideways. I slipped on one of the stairs and, before I knew it, I was on my behind at the bottom of the stairs and LCol Dave Snow, who was flying the Challenger, was there to grab me. It dawned on me that it was like the story of my career with the Air Force. When I was down and needed help, someone from the Air Force was there to get me out of there.” LGen Coates' remarks focused on the NORAD mission. “Our success at NORAD hinges on our inter-operability, which is especially complex because of our unique bi-national structure,” he said. “We rely on cohesive actions by our regions for mission success.” “NORAD headquarters has been taking a serious look at our ability to deter adversarial aggression in today's dynamic security climate, especially with the increase in the scale and complexity of our adversary's military activity. The close coordination that you drove with [the Alaska NORAD Region] to respond to activities in our Arctic helped NORAD stretch our resources to deliver a harmonized strategic message to our adversaries.” “This is clearly an emotional day as we bid farewell to an experienced dedicated commander within the RCAF and we welcome another,” said LGen Meinzinger. “I think it's even more poignant as it's MGen Drouin's last week in uniform and I know today is certainly more precious, poignant, and meaningful to him and his family.” LGen Meinzinger then spoke of the successes that 1 CAD experienced under MGen Drouin's leadership and congratulated MGen Pelletier on his new command role. “I know firsthand the capabilities and the outstanding qualities you bring to the post, your tremendous skill, your professionalism, your leadership, and your class,” LGen Meinzinger told MGen Pelletier. “You have commanded at all levels and I believe you are perfectly suited to move the operational Air Force forward. “You are the right leader at the right time to tackle the challenge ahead.” MGen Pelletier expressed his pleasure at being asked to take command. “I'm thrilled and honoured to be amongst you today on a traditional Winnipeg cool and windy day, to take command of the famous 1 CAD, a division that stems back to 1957, if my history is right, the operational arm of the Air Force,” he said. “It is my intent to continue advancing the yardstick well set by MGen Drouin, in the improvement of the command and control of RCAF activities in order to better support the whole spectrum of Canadian Armed Forces operations at home and abroad.” At the end of the ceremony there was a real flypast by a CH-146 Griffon helicopter — not Canada geese — from 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, followed by a reception. https://www.skiesmag.com/news/one-new-commander-3-changes-of-command/

  • Contract Awards by US Department of Defense - June 7, 2019

    10 juin 2019 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, Sécurité, Autre défense

    Contract Awards by US Department of Defense - June 7, 2019

    NAVY Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is awarded a $1,808,545,655 cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-award-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for continued design maturation and development of Block 4 capabilities in support of the F-35 Lightning II Phase 2.3 Pre-Modernization for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps; and non-U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) participants. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in August 2026. Fiscal 2019 research, development, test and evaluation (Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps); and non-U.S. DoD participant funds in the amount of $98,998,910 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract combines purchases for the Air Force ($732,460,990; 40.50 percent); Navy ($371,475,278; 20.54 percent), Marine Corps ($345,974,784; 19.13 percent) and non-U.S. DoD participants ($358,634,603; 19.83 percent). This contract was not competitive procured pursuant to U.S. Code 2304(c)(1). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity (N00019-19-C-0010). Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Baltimore, Maryland, is awarded a $958,049,562 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of 30 full-rate production Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar units under the portfolio management of Program Executive Officer Land Systems, Quantico, Virginia. This procurement also includes spares parts and retrofit kits. Work will be performed in Linthicum, Maryland (37 percent); East Syracuse, New York (28 percent); Stafford Springs, Connecticut (7 percent); Tulsa, Oklahoma (6 percent); Syracuse, New York (4 percent); Valencia, California (3 percent); San Diego, California (3 percent); Richardson, Texas (3 percent); Farmingdale, New York (2 percent); St. Paul, Minnesota (2 percent); Gilbert, Arizona (1 percent); Phoenix, Arizona (1 percent); Lowell, Massachusetts (1 percent); Littleton, Colorado (1 percent); and Durham, North Carolina (1 percent), and is expected to be complete by Jan. 13, 2025. Fiscal 2019 procurement funds (Marine Corps) in the amount of $194,748,327 will be obligated at the time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract award was not competitively procured in accordance with Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1 and 10 U.S. Code § 2304(c)(1). The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Virginia, is the contracting activity (M67854-19-C-0043). Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, is awarded a $61,697,197 cost-plus-award-fee modification to previously-awarded contract N00024-18-C-2313 to exercise options for accomplishment of lead yard services (LYS) for the DDG 51-class destroyer program. LYS provides necessary engineering, technical, material procurement and production support; configuration; class flight and baseline upgrades and new technology support; data and logistics management; lessons-learned analysis; acceptance trials; post-delivery test and trials; post-shakedown availability support; reliability and maintainability; system safety program support; material and fleet turnover support; shipyard engineering team; turnkey; crew indoctrination, design tool/design standardization, detail design development, and other technical and engineering analyses for the purpose of supporting DDG 51 Class ship construction and test and trials. In addition, DDG 51 Class LYS may provide design, engineering, procurement and manufacturing/production services to support design feasibility studies and analyses that modify DDG 51-class destroyers for foreign military sales programs sponsored by the Department of the Navy and the Department of Defense. Work will be performed in Bath, Maine (95 percent); Brunswick, Maine (4 percent), and other locations below one percent (1 percent) and is expected to be completed by June 2020. Fiscal 2015, 2016 and 2017 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funding in the amount of $58,345,440 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity. L3 Communications MariPro Inc., Goleta, California, is awarded a $41,440,334 cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, sole-source contract to provide support services to sustain U.S. and allied navy training and test and evaluation ranges around the world. L3 will repair or replace original equipment manufacturer systems. Services and associated deliverables include the design, production and installation of both shore electronic systems and ocean sensor system hardware assemblies; operation and maintenance of the delivered hardware to support operational test events of the delivered system, and data products identified in the contract data requirements lists. Other services under this requirement include operating, maintaining, repairing, performing logistics support, refurbishing, modernizing, upgrading, revising, improving, performing information assurance and expanding of range hardware, software and its performance. Work will be performed at various locations throughout the world and is expected to be completed by June 2024. Fiscal 2019 operation and maintenance (Navy) funding in the amount of $245,477 will be obligated at time of award and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured, in accordance with 10 U.S. Code 2304(c)(1) - only one responsible source and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements. The Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport, Newport, Rhode Island, is the contracting activity (N66604-19-D-A900). AIR FORCE EMC Corp., Irvine, California, has been awarded a $74,423,388 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for instrumentation support, configuration, management, development, loading, integration, analysis and decommutation (ILIAD) and flight test instrumentation systems operation. This contract provides for greater mission capabilities by accessing contractor personnel with specialized training and expertise in utilization and troubleshooting of the ILIAD system. Work will be performed at Edwards Air Force Base and Irvine, California, and is expected to be complete by June 6, 2024. This award is the result of a sole-source acquisition. Fiscal 2019 research and development funds in the amount of $109,387 are being obligated at the time of award. The Air Force Test Center, Directorate of Contracting, Test Range and Specialized Contracting Branch, Edwards AFB, California, is the contracting activity (FA9304-19-D-0001). DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY Science Applications International Corp., Fairfield, New Jersey, has been awarded a maximum $90,000,000 firm-fixed-price, 254-day bridge contract for facilities maintenance, repair, and operations items. This was a sole-source acquisition using justification 10 U.S. Code 2304 (c)(1), as stated in Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1. Locations of performance are New Jersey, California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, with a Feb. 18, 2020, performance completion date. Using military services are Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2019 through 2020 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (SPE8E3-19-D0008). ARMY Quantum Spatial Inc., St. Petersburg, Florida (W912GB-19-D-0021); and Woolpert-Black & Veatch, Beavercreek, Ohio (W912GB-19-D-0022) will compete for each order of the $49,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract for surveying and mapping services. Bids were solicited via the internet with 10 received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of June 6, 2024. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Wiesbaden, Germany, is the contracting activity. Encanto Facility Services 2 LLC,* Albuquerque, New Mexico, was awarded a $45,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract for maintenance, repair, upgrade and minor construction of real property facilities at Fort Hood, Texas. Bids were solicited via the internet with 10 received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of June 7, 2022. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth, Texas, is the contracting activity (W9126G-19-D-0031). Exp Federal, Chicago, Illinois (W912GB-19-D-0013); Stanley COWI JV, Muscatine, Iowa (W912GB-19-D-0014); Black & Veatch, Overland Park, Kansas (W912GB-19-D-0012); and WSP USA Inc., Virginia Beach, Virginia (W912GB-19-D-0015) will compete for each order of the $36,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract for general architect and engineering services. Bids were solicited via the internet with five received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of June 6, 2024. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Wiesbaden, Germany, is the contracting activity. Komada LLC,* Colorado Springs, Colorado, was awarded a $22,090,954 firm-fixed-price contract for repair of Teller Dam at Fort Carson, Colorado. Bids were solicited via the internet with seven received. Work will be performed in Fort Carson, Colorado, with an estimated completion date of Oct. 30, 2020. Fiscal 2019 operations and maintenance Army funds in the amount of $22,090,954 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha, Nebraska, is the contracting activity (W9128F-19-C-0028). Medvolt Construction Services LLC,* Kansas City, Missouri, was awarded a $18,058,404 firm-fixed-price contract for construction of flood walls, earthen levees, interior storm water piping, tributary channel realignment and bank stabilization, and detention pond with gatewell, at Swope Park Industrial Area in Kansas City, Missouri. Bids were solicited via the internet with three received. Work will be performed in Kansas City, Missouri, with an estimated completion date of Nov. 28, 2022. Fiscal 2019 civil construction funds in the amount of $18,058,404 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City, Missouri, is the contracting activity (W912DQ-19-C-1074). The Boeing Co., Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, was awarded a $10,115,993 modification (P00025) to contract W58RGZ-17-C-0059 to support CH-47F Block II Engineering and Manufacturing Development program. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, with an estimated completion date of July 27, 2021. Fiscal 2019 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $10,115,993 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity. Eco & Associates Inc.,* Tustin, California, was awarded a $10,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract for architect and engineer services. Bids were solicited via the internet with nine received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 7, 2024. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, San Francisco, California, is the contracting activity (W912P7-19-D-0004). NWI&T Atkins SB JV LLC,* Idaho Falls, Idaho, was awarded a $10,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract for architect and engineer services. Bids were solicited via the internet with nine received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 7, 2024. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, San Francisco, California, is the contracting activity (W912P7-19-D-0005). WASHINGTON HEADQUARTERS SERVICES Copper River Technologies, Anchorage, Alaska, has been awarded a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity with a maximum amount of $21,000,000. The contract is to provide professional-level analytical, communication, event management, and logistics services as well as administrative-level general and executive services to provide continuous process improvement, business process reengineering, and organizational efficiencies support services to Facilities Services Directorate (FSD), Space Portfolio Management Division, other FSD Divisions and satisfy Department of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Washington Headquarters Services requirements. Work performance will take place in Arlington, Virginia. Fiscal 2019 operations and maintenance funds in the amount of $3,322,696 are being obligated at time of award. The expected completion date is June 6, 2024. Washington Headquarters Services, Arlington, Virginia, is the contracting activity (HQ0034-19-D-0015). *Small business https://dod.defense.gov/News/Contracts/Contract-View/Article/1870180/source/GovDelivery/

  • Raytheon Technologies Corporation: UTC, Raytheon make marriage official

    10 juin 2019 | Information, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité, Autre défense

    Raytheon Technologies Corporation: UTC, Raytheon make marriage official

    By: Aaron Mehta Updated with comments from officials on June 10, 2019, at 9:21 a.m. ET. WASHINGTON — Raytheon and United Technologies Corporation will officially merge into a new entity called Raytheon Technologies Corporation, with the deal taking place in first half of 2020. Following Saturday reports that a merger was imminent, the two firms made the news official Sunday, launching a website about the planned all-stock deal. On Monday, Raytheon CEO Thomas Kennedy and UTC CEO Greg Hayes held a conference call, where the two revealed that discussions about a potential merger started in summer 2018, before taking off in earnest this January. “It's like a mirror,” Kennedy said of UTC, noting both companies invest heavily in new technologies while remaining “platform agnostic.” Hayes added that there is roughly a one percent overlap between the two firms portfolios. The new company will be roughly 50-50 defense and commercial, with plans to spend $8 billion on R&D after combining. Much of that funding will go towards high-end defense programs, including, per a news release, “hypersonics and future missile systems; directed energy weapons; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) in contested environments; cyber protection for connected aircraft; next generation connected airspace; and advanced analytics and artificial intelligence for commercial aviation.” The new firm has a “tremendous opportunity to invest” in the future, Hayes said. “The resources of the combined company will allow us to do things on a stand alone basis that would have been very difficult” individually. Hayes also expressed his belief the Pentagon would not see major issues, given the limited overlap. However, other trouble may be brewing; during a Monday interview with CNBC, U.S. President Donald Trump expressed concern about the agreement. While being billed as a “merger of equals,” UTC shareowners will own approximately 57 percent and Raytheon shareowners will own approximately 43 percent of the combined company. A spokesperson for Raytheon confirmed to Defense News Sunday that the combined company will be based in the greater Boston area. Raytheon is based in the Boston suburb of Waltham, while UTC is based in Farmington, Conn. Per a news release, the new company will have approximately $74 billion in pro forma 2019 sales. The release also highlights that the merged company will be a major player in both the defense and commercial aerospace markets, giving greater market resiliency. Byron Callan, a defense analyst with Capital Alpha Partners, wrote Sunday in a note to investors that the merger may be a sign of market trends to come. “An RTN-UTX deal may be a signal (a siren?) that 1) this U.S. defense cycle is peaking, and firms need to start repositioning for growth in 2021 and beyond; 2) Maybe the commercial aerospace outlook is looking wobbly too and Western firms need to hedge against fallout from a U.S.-China trade split. A U.S. recession is overdue; 3) Defense firms will need to fund more of their own R&D in the future so joining a larger firm will limit margin pressure which could be evidenced in the 2020s,” Callan wrote. Callan also sees “some overlap in the defense portfolios” for the two companies, primarily through the Mission Systems segment of Collins Aerospace. That could require some small divestitures down the road as the deal is finalized, but there do not appear to be any major issues that would lead to objections from the Pentagon. “Both are active in defense communications, though Collins has a larger share. Both have imaging/IR products, though Raytheon has a larger product offering,” he wrote. “Collins provides large space imaging mirrors used in surveillance satellites but it's not clear to us if there is an overlap with Raytheon's classified space payload work.” The deal should create a mammoth defense contractor second only to Lockheed Martin. Raytheon already ranked number two on the most recent Defense News Top 100 list, with $23.5 billion in defense revenues, 93 percent of its overall revenue total; UTC has $7.83 billion in defense revenues, a mere 13 percent of its overall figures. However, that UTC number came before its acquisition of Rockwell Collins and its $2.28 billion in defense revenues, which will naturally increase United's overall number. The move comes after 18 months of major defense consolidation. In addition to UTC's move on Rockwell, there was the General Dynamics acquisition of CSRA, Northrop Grumman's acquisition of Orbital ATK, and L3 and Harris announcing in Oct. 2018 that they would combine to form what at the time appeared to be the seventh largest global defense firm. https://www.defensenews.com/industry/2019/06/09/raytheon-technologies-corporation-utc-raytheon-make-marriage-official/

  • Bourget 2019 : IAI dévoilera le drone T-Heron

    10 juin 2019 | Information, Aérospatial

    Bourget 2019 : IAI dévoilera le drone T-Heron

    Par Justine BOQUET A l'occasion de l'édition 2019 du salon du Bourget, Israel Aerospace Industries dévoilera son nouveau drone T-Heron. Israel Aerospace Industries a annoncé le 4 juin que le salon du Bourget serait l'occasion de présenter son nouveau drone militaire, le T-Heron. Ce dernier né dans la famille Heron pourra être employé pour la conduite de missions tactiques. Il permettra de collecter et transférer des informations vers les forces au sol. Capable d'emporter une charge utile de 180 kilos, le T-Heron a été conçu afin de pouvoir être équipé de différents types de capteurs en fonction des missions opérationnelles. Afin de mettre au point ce nouvel aéronef, IAI a capitalisé sur son expérience dans le domaine des drones. Ainsi, l'industriel rappelle que la famille des drones Heron a accumulé plus de 1 700 000 heures de vol en opérations. http://www.apps-drones.com/bourget-2019-iai-devoilera-le-drone-t-heron-124297

  • The Army wants a singular focus, not one-off solutions

    10 juin 2019 | Information, C4ISR

    The Army wants a singular focus, not one-off solutions

    By: Mark Pomerleau The days of one-off solutions for providing situational awareness and command-and-control information in the Army could be numbered. “We are on the verge of putting tactical common operating environment capability into the Army organization in the very near term,” Col. Troy Crosby, project manager for mission command at Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, said June 6 at the C4ISRNET Conference in Arlington, Virginia. The Army is getting ready to field the first set of capabilities under a new modernized network architecture in 2021, which will include the first iteration of the Command Post Computing Environment (CP CE). CP CE is a web-enabled system that will consolidate current mission systems and programs into a single user interface. Crosby said CP CE is on the verge of receiving a critical decision from the Army this month as to whether or not it has passed all of its tests and can be used by soldiers in combat. The Army has been trying to incorporate a DevOps process for CP CE using a variety of units to experiment with the capability that can provide direct feedback on the system to the program office. However, one of the key lessons they learned, according to Crosby, was they used too many test units: six in total. “With that many partners trying to do all the exercises that those different level echelon commands and organizations wanted to do, that piece became untenable,” he said. “I think at least for our portfolio, somewhere around three is a much better level.” Similarly, Crosby noted that the difficulty with mission command is each commander has their own way of performing it. As the Army was trying to come up with a common solution for all units with CP CE, they had to make sure they tailored the capability for the Army rather than an individual commander they received feedback from during the developmental process. https://www.c4isrnet.com/show-reporter/c4isrnet-conference/2019/06/07/the-army-wants-a-singular-focus-not-one-off-solutions/

  • How industry can build better AI for the military

    10 juin 2019 | International, Autre défense

    How industry can build better AI for the military

    By: Kelsey Reichmann As AI becomes more prominent in the national security community, officials are grappling with where to use it most effectively. During a panel discussion at the C4ISRNET conference June 6, leaders discussed the role of industry building AI that will be used by the military. After studying small and big companies creating AI technology, Col. Stoney Trent, the chief of operations at the Pentagon's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, said he found commercial groups do not have the same motivations that exist in the government. “Commercial groups are poorly incentivized for rigorous testing. For them that represents a business risk,” Trent said. Because of this, he the government needs to work with the commercial sector to create these technologies. “What the Defense Department has to offer in this space is encouragement, an incentive structure for better testing tools and methods that allows us to understand how a product is going to perform when we are under conditions of national consequence because I can't wait,” Trent said. “Hopefully, the nation will be at peace long enough to not have a high bandwidth of experiences with weapons implementations, but when that happens, we need them to absolutely work. That's a quality of commercial technology development.” For this to take place, the Department of Defense needs to help create the right environment. “All of this is predicated on the Pentagon doing things as well,” said Kara Frederick, associate fellow for the technology and national security program at the Center for a New American Security. “Making an environment conducive to the behaviors that you are seeking to encourage. That environment can be the IT environment, common standards for data processing, common standards for interactions with industry, I think would help.” Panelists said national security leaders also need to weigh the risks of relying more on AI technology, one of which is non-state actors using AI for nefarious purposes. Trent said he sees AI as the new arms race but noted that in this arena, destruction may be easier than creation. “AI is the modern-day armor anti-armor arms race,” Trent said. “The Joint AI Center, one of the important features of it is that it does offer convergence for best practices, data sources, data standards, etc. The flip side is we fully understand there are a variety of ways you can undermine artificial intelligence and most of those are actually easier than developing good resilient AI.” Frederick said part of this problem stems from the structure of the AI community. “I think what's so singular about the AI community, especially the AI research community, is that its so open,” Frederick said. “Even at Facebook, we open source some of these algorithms and we put it our there for people to manipulate. [There is this] idea that non-state actors, especially those without strategic intent or ones that we can't pin strategic intent to, could get a hold of some of these ways to code in certain malicious inputs [and] we need to start being serious about it.” However, before tackling any of these problems, leaders need to first decide when it is appropriate to use AI Rob Monto, lead of the Army's Advanced Concepts and Experimentation office, described this process as an evolution that takes place between AI and its users. “AI is like electricity,” he said. “It can be anywhere and everywhere. You can either get electrocuted by it or you target specific applications for it. You need to know what you want the AI to do, and then you spend months and years building out. If you don't have your data set available, you do that upfront architecture and collection of information. Then you train your algorithms and build that specifically to support that specific use case...AI is for targeted applications to aid decisions, at least in the military space, to aid the user.” Once the decision is made how and where to use AI, there are other technologies that must make advances to meet AI. One the biggest challenges, said Chad Hutchinson, director of engineering at the Crystal Group., is the question of hardware and characteristics such as thermal performance. “AI itself is pushing the boundaries of what the hardware can do,” Hutchinson said. Hardware technology is not the only obstacle in AI's path. These issues could stem from policy or human resource shortfalls. “What we find is the non-technology barriers are far more significant than the technology barriers,” Trent said. https://www.c4isrnet.com/show-reporter/c4isrnet-conference/2019/06/09/how-industry-can-build-better-ai-for-the-military/

  • German spat over Airbus could spoil fighter fest at Paris Air Show

    10 juin 2019 | International, Aérospatial

    German spat over Airbus could spoil fighter fest at Paris Air Show

    By: Sebastian Sprenger COLOGNE, Germany — A lingering dispute between German lawmakers and Airbus could nix immediate plans to move forward with a future Franco-German-Spanish fighter aircraft, Defense News has learned. The kerfuffle goes back to a February request for information by members of the Bundestag's Budget Committee. Citing the government's role as a major shareholder in the company, lawmakers called on the administration to provide in-depth information about Airbus locations, programs and management equities throughout Europe. Airbus is one of two prime contractors for the Future Combat Air System, an ambitious project to field a sixth-generation fighter aircraft by 2040. The envisioned weapon also includes new sensors, drones and a complex data infrastructure, making it Europe's preeminent industrial project for decades to come. Lawmakers in Berlin are worried that German defense-industry interests, presumably channeled through Airbus, could get the short shrift once substantial contracts are up for grabs amid French competition, led by Dassault. The Budget Committee reiterated its request for the company deep dive on June 5, when members approved the initial batch of funds for the FCAS program: $37 million for a study on propulsion options. Lawmakers inserted a note into their approval text that makes answering the February request a condition for entering into follow-on agreements with France. Meanwhile, officials in Paris and Berlin have been planning signing ceremonies for such pacts with Ursula von der Leyen and Florence Parly, the German and French defense ministers, respectively, at the Paris Air Show in mid-June. It's expected the pair will ink the concept study plan and a key governance document called the framework agreement. Meanwhile, the Spanish defense minister, Margarita Robles, is expected to be on hand to sign the program's memorandum of understanding, a more high-level, vague text beginning Madrid's road to full participation. As of Friday, lawmakers had yet to receive the requested information on Airbus, which is to include an analysis of management personnel down to the third tier throughout different locations, separated by programs and individual job functions. As June 10 is federal holiday in Germany, that leaves four business days next week before the Paris Air Show begins. An Airbus spokesman told Defense News on Friday the company is working to resolve the issue and is coordinating with the government. A Defence Ministry spokesman did not immediately return an emailed request for comment. Documents obtained by Defense News suggest that a previous back-and-forth between the Budget Committee and Airbus, through the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, left a bit of bad blood, raising the question of whether the company will comply at all. While executives provided some information — forwarded in a confidential letter to the Bundestag by the ministry on April 26 — Airbus largely claims the detailed data demanded by the committee would needlessly reveal competitive secrets. “Airbus, in return, asks for information about the background of the request,” the company's written response states. “The question must be raised whether other companies where the German government is a shareholder, like Deutsche Bahn [the German rail service], is subject to similar requests.” The company claims to have given the administration a detailed personnel breakdown by subsidiary and nationalities in 2018, which was also offered to committee members. According to Airbus, no lawmakers were interested. Airbus Defence and Space, which would lead the conglomerate's work on FCAS, is based in Ottobrunn near Munich, Germany. As of December 2018, roughly 40 percent of the subsidiary's employees were based in Germany, around 22 percent in France, 27 percent in Spain and 12 percent in the United Kingdom, the company wrote to lawmakers in April. As the FCAS program progresses, Budget Committee members want the government in Berlin to safeguard a 50-50 cost and workshare plan with France. https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2019/06/07/german-spat-over-airbus-could-foil-fighter-fest-at-paris-air-show/

  • How did the two offerings competing to be the US Army’s future engine measure up?

    10 juin 2019 | International, Aérospatial

    How did the two offerings competing to be the US Army’s future engine measure up?

    By: Jen Judson WASHINGTON — Cost appears to have played a major role in the Army's decision to pick GE Aviation's T901 engine for its future helicopter engine, based on a look at documents laying out the service's post-award analysis, obtained by Defense News. Yet, other factors not shown could have also contributed to the Army's choice, which the Government Accountability Office upheld following a protest from losing team Advanced Turbine Engine Company (ATEC) — a partnership between Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney. The GAO is expected to release a redacted version of its decision next week, which could shed more light on how the Army decided to move forward with GE. While the cost of GE'S engine seems to have been a deciding factor, the document outlining the service's criteria to determine a winning engine design to move into the engineering and manufacturing development phase states that “all non-cost/price factors when combined are significantly more important than cost/price factor.” According to that chart, the Army said it would primarily measure the engine submissions against its engine design and development, followed by cost/price, followed by life-cycle costs and then small business participation in order of importance. The Army assessed ATEC's and GE's technical risk as good and gave ATEC a risk rating of low while it gave GE a risk rating of moderate when considering engineering design and development for each offering. Both GE and ATEC had moderate risk ratings when it came to engine design and performance. And while GE received a technical risk rating of moderate for component design and systems test and evaluation, ATEC received low risk ratings for both. Almost all other technology risk assessments and risk ratings were the same for both engine offerings. GE scored “outstanding” in platform integration capabilities. Based off the chart, it appears ATEC won, so its likely the documents are not an exhaustive representation of how the Army decided to move forward with GE. While both ATEC and GE offered prices within the Army's requirements, GE came in 30 percent lower in cost. And according to Brig. Gen. Thomas Todd, the program executive officer for aviation, in an interview with Defense News in April, GE was also working on trying to shrink the timeline within the EMD phase by roughly a year. But, in ATEC's view, the charts show it had offered the best value product to the Army. ATEC's president, Craig Madden, told Defense News that the company took the Army's selection criteria laid out in the request for proposals seriously across the board from engineering design and development factors to cost to even small business participation, where it scored higher than GE in the analysis chart. “We did come in higher in cost but this was considered a best value evaluation and not lowest price, technically acceptable,” Madden said. “I think low price is good for a plastic canteen or a bayonet, it's not good for a highly technical turbine engine.” And despite coming in at a higher cost, Jerry Wheeler, ATEC's vice president said, the up front cost in the EMD phase will be higher but the delta would shrink when considering life-cycle costs of both engine offerings. Both ATEC and GE received good technical ratings and were given risk ratings of low. When just going by the chart, GE's four moderate risk ratings in key categories means “they could have disruption in schedule, increased cost and degradation of performance,” Madden said. He added ATEC was also focused on lowering risk, so that, although the Army offered incentives to finish the EMD phase earlier than 66 months, ATEC presented a plan to complete at 66 months with a plan to look at acceleration wherever possible. ATEC is now pushing to be a part of the EMD phase, essentially extending the competition, so that more data on engines can be garnered. The Army had periodically weighed keeping the EMD phase competitive with two vendors, but ultimately chose to downselect to one. For GE, the Army made the right decision and had enough data to do so. “The U.S. Army competitively selected GE's T901 engine over ATEC T900 engine after more than 12 years of development,” David Wilson told Defense News in a statement. “Those 12 years included the Advanced Affordable Turbine Engine (AATE) program, during which both companies ran tow full engine tests,” he said. Additionally, both companies executed a 24-month technology maturation and risk reduction contract where GE self-funded and successfully completed and tested a third engine, a full-sized T901 prototype engine, with successful tests on all components, Wilson said. “We've done three full-engine tests and provided an unprecedented amount of test data to the Army for them to determine which engine was the best to move forward with in EMD,” he added. Funding a second engine through EMD would cost more than twice as much and delay critical Army modernization by at least two years, Wilson argued. https://www.defensenews.com/land/2019/06/07/how-did-the-two-offerings-competing-to-be-the-us-armys-future-engine-measure-up/

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