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  • BAE's $1.3 Billion Contract for Howitzer Delayed by U.S. Army

    19 juillet 2018 | International, Terrestre

    BAE's $1.3 Billion Contract for Howitzer Delayed by U.S. Army

    By Anthony Capaccio The U.S. Army is delaying approval of full-scale production of BAE Systems Plc's new self-propelled howitzer, citing the need to improve quality before proceeding with additional contracts options valued at about $1.3 billion. The Army postponed triggering the most lucrative phase of the program for London-based BAE to “adequately address quality control issues,” service spokeswoman Ashley John said in an email Wednesday. “The Army will continue to work closely with BAE leadership to resolve the concerns.” The delay came after Bloomberg News reported last week that the howitzer's manufacture was hobbled by poor welding, supply-chain problems and delivery delays. Among the setbacks have been a six-month halt in deliveries last year because of welding flaws and the return of 50 of 86 vehicles that had already been delivered to repair production deficiencies. The U.S. Army is delaying approval of full-scale production of BAE Systems Plc's new self-propelled howitzer, citing the need to improve quality before proceeding with additional contracts options valued at about $1.3 billion. The Army postponed triggering the most lucrative phase of the program for London-based BAE to “adequately address quality control issues,” service spokeswoman Ashley John said in an email Wednesday. “The Army will continue to work closely with BAE leadership to resolve the concerns.” The delay came after Bloomberg News reported last week that the howitzer's manufacture was hobbled by poor welding, supply-chain problems and delivery delays. Among the setbacks have been a six-month halt in deliveries last year because of welding flaws and the return of 50 of 86 vehicles that had already been delivered to repair production deficiencies. Self-propelled 155mm howitzers are the centerpiece of the Army's artillery. The weapon is mounted on a tracked vehicle and travels with another that hauls ammunition. The Army's “long-range precision strike” program tops the service's list of modernization priorities. “We are working very closely” with the Army and the Defense Contract Management Agency, which oversees contractor performance, “and are confident the actions we have taken will support the effective transition to full production,” BAE spokeswoman Alicia Gray said in a statement. The Army eventually wants to buy 576 howitzers and ammunition carriers in an $8.1 billion program. An initial $413.7 million contract laying the groundwork for full production was awarded in December. A full-production decision would have increased vehicle production to about 60 from 48 a year. The program has been in low-rate production for several years. Gray said last week that the company is investing about $125 million to upgrade equipment to prepare “for an expanded production portfolio and accommodate the expected surge in customer requirements.” ‘Tough-Love' Approach The delay “is consistent with the increasing Army ‘tough-love' approach to contractor program-execution challenges,” such as its continuing refusal to accept delivery of Boeing Co.'s AH-64 Apache attack helicopters because of corrosion of a critical rotor assembly part that needs to be fixed, according to James McAleese of McAleese & Associates, a McLean, Virginia-based defense consulting firm. Contractors should expect “quality assurance scrutiny to increase” as the Army “drives aggressive increases in multiple production programs” for missiles, ammunition and ground combat vehicles, he said. Sections of the howitzers are initially produced at BAE's York, Pennsylvania, facility with final assembly in Elgin, Oklahoma. The program has a strong advocate in Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the No. 2 Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. In its version of the fiscal 2019 defense policy bill, the panel authorized spending $110 million more than the $351.8 million requested. In a new report, the Pentagon's testing office said that testing of the howitzer at Fort Riley in Kansas found it was “operationally effective,” providing accurate fire as it traveled with other units of a brigade combat team while evading enemy counter-fire. That, however, is when the howitzers weren't dogged by reliability problems, according to the report by testing office Director Robert Behler. It cited “the number of breech, cannon, and firing train sub-component failures” and “interruptions from stuck and ruptured primers” that “contributed to delays in mission completion.” The Army's leadership is on a campaign to assure the public it's improving the oversight of its major acquisition programs, including getting its new Futures Command ready for initial operations. The Army last week chose Austin, Texas, as the location for the command that will consolidate brainpower to evaluate future threats facing the Army, decide on the technology needed to counter them and oversee development of that technology through existing commands.

  • US Navy asks Congress to shift millions of dollars to fix high-tech supercarrier

    19 juillet 2018 | International, Naval

    US Navy asks Congress to shift millions of dollars to fix high-tech supercarrier

    By: David B. Larter WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy needs to get the permission of lawmakers to move $62.7 million to fix a number of hiccups in its high-tech new carrier, the Gerald R. Ford, during its post-shakedown availability that kicked off July 15. The money, part of a larger DoD reprogramming request from June, will go toward fixing a number of issues that arose during its recently concluded post-delivery trials, according to a copy of the request obtained by Defense News. According to the document, the Navy needs to move: $12.7 million to fix “continuing technical deficiencies” with the Advanced Weapon Elevators. $30 million for “tooling and repair” of the main thrust bearings, issues that the Navy has blamed on the manufacturer. $20 million for additional repairs, a prolonged post-shakedown availabilty, and parts and labor. By: David Larter The Navy told Congress in May that it was going to exceed the Ford's $12.9 billion cost cap because of needed repairs and alterations. The $62.7 million was part of that total repair bill. The repairs and technology setbacks extended the Ford's PSA at Huntington Ingalls' Newport News Shipbuilding from eight months to 12 months, according to a statement from Naval Sea Systems Command, and significantly added to the cost. The ship will then proceed to full-ship shock trials ahead of its first deployment, a priority pushed by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., according to the document. Since its delivery, the Ford has spent 81 days at sea during the eight times it was underway, a July 15 NAVSEA release said. “The ship has completed 747 shipboard aircraft launches and recoveries against a plan of approximately 400,” the release said. “CVN 78 successfully completed fixed-wing aircraft/helicopter integration and compatibility testing, air traffic control center certification, JP-5 fuel system certification, daytime underway replenishment capability demonstration, ship's defensive system demonstration, Dual Band Radar testing, and propulsion plant operations.”

  • Contract award for US Air Force’s Huey replacement helicopter at risk of delay until FY20

    19 juillet 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Contract award for US Air Force’s Huey replacement helicopter at risk of delay until FY20

    By: Valerie Insinna FARNBOROUGH, England — The U.S. Air Force's contract for a replacement to the UH-1N Huey helicopter could be delayed until fiscal 2020 unless Congress adds another $83.4 million to the program. According to a reprogramming request sent by the Defense Department to Congress, the UH-1N replacement effort is currently considered a “high risk” program due to a pre-award protest by competitor Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin subsidiary, which was dismissed in May. The protest had temporarily put a hold source selection, deferring a contract planned for June to September. Current funds would expire at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, meaning that if an award was further delayed it would take until FY20 to inject more money to continue on with the program, the request stated. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson acknowledged in May that the contract could be awarded sometime this fall. “We're going to try and not let that slip too much because we know we need to get the Hueys replaced, but we did get a delay,” she had said. The Air Force's aging UH-1Ns are most well-known for the role they play defending nuclear missile sites, and it is the importance of this mission that has led to criticism from leaders in Congress and in the U.S. military — including U.S. Strategic Command head Gen. John Hyten — who have said the service needs to move more quickly to procure new helicopters. Three companies are competing for the Huey replacement award, with the first of a total of 84 new armored helicopters expected for delivery as early as 2020 — although if a contract is delayed until FY20 it seems likely that fielding will not be possible for another couple of years. Sikorsky is offering the HH-60U, a version of its UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with modifications like a rescue hoist and electro-optical sensor. Sierra Nevada Corp. has pitched a modernized, life-extended version of used Army UH-60L aircraft that its calling “Sierra Force.” Meanwhile, Boeing and Leonardo are partnering on the MH-139, a militarized version of the Italian firm's civilian AW139 helicopter. Boeing submitted the final proposal for the aircraft Tuesday, it confirmed in a statement. “The Boeing MH-139 is capable, affordable, and ready to serve the United States Air Force's urgent UH-1N replacement needs,” the company said. "With a hot production line in Philadelphia, we are well-positioned to meet the USAF's delivery requirements for fielding this vital platform as soon as possible.” While the requirements for the helicopter were not made public, the Air Force has specified nine fully loaded troops without needing to be refueled for an endurance of at least 225 nautical miles. They also should be able to fly three hours while maintaining a 135-knot cruise speed.

  • Salon de Farnborough : Héroux-Devtek signe un contrat avec Boeing

    18 juillet 2018 | Local, Aérospatial

    Salon de Farnborough : Héroux-Devtek signe un contrat avec Boeing

    Au deuxième jour du Salon international de l'aéronautique de Farnborough au Royaume-Uni, mardi, l'industrie québécoise a été plus active, notamment gr'ce à Héroux-Devtek, qui a décroché un contrat militaire auprès de Boeing. Présente au plus important rendez-vous du secteur cette année, l'entreprise de Longueuil a indiqué mardi avoir été retenue par le géant américain pour la fabrication du train d'atterrissage principal des avions de chasse Super Hornet F18 et du EA-18G Growler. La valeur de l'entente n'a pas été précisée, mais Héroux-Devtek sera également responsable de la fabrication de pièces de rechange destinées aux nouveaux appareils ainsi qu'aux quelque 700 avions F18 de la flotte de l'armée américaine. « Nous sommes ravis d'avoir été choisis, a indiqué le président et chef de la direction de la société québécoise, Gilles Labbé. Ceci confirme nos liens de plus en plus étroits avec Boeing et représente une avancée importante pour nos activités du secteur de la défense. » Les premières livraisons doivent débuter à compter du troisième trimestre de 2020. Héroux-Devtek fait déjà affaire avec Boeing dans le cadre d'un important contrat pour la fabrication des trains d'atterrissage des avions de ligne 777 et 777X – en plus d'être responsable de la fabrication de pièces de rechange – ainsi que ceux de l'hélicoptère militaire Chinook. L'analyste Benoît Poirier, de Desjardins Marchés des capitaux, a souligné que cette nouvelle entente démontrait que Héroux-Devtek était capable d'élargir ses liens d'affaires avec le géant américain. « L'annonce confirme également, selon nous, que Boeing demeure engagée à l'égard du Canada en dépit de la récente dispute commerciale entre l'entreprise et Bombardier [à propos de la C Series] », a-t-il écrit dans une note. Derek Spronck, de RBC Marchés des capitaux, a pour sa part estimé que ce nouveau contrat venait ouvrir la porte à une croissance significative des revenus de la société d'ici 2020. À la Bourse de Toronto, le titre de Héroux-Devtek a bondi en début de séance, se rapprochant temporairement de son sommet annuel de 16,75 $. Le titre a finalement terminé la séance à 15,40 $, en hausse de 10 cents, ou 0,65 %, par rapport à son cours de clôture de lundi. D'autres annonces effectuées par la délégation québécoise présente à Farnborough : La société française spécialisée dans les services techniques et industriels Groupe NSE et Drakkar, un fournisseur canadien de services d'impartition, vont créer plus de 100 emplois à Montréal sur 3 ans dans le cadre de la mise sur pied d'une entreprise de services techniques et logistiques. Le gouvernement Couillard prêtera 11,5 millions de dollars sans intérêt à Esterline CMC Électronique, qui modernisera son usine montréalaise au coût de 24,4 millions de dollars, notamment afin de consolider 93 emplois. Safran Systèmes d'atterrissage Canada, qui fait partie du groupe industriel français Safran, reçoit une aide de deux millions de dollars de Québec afin de moderniser son usine de Mirabel. Ce projet est évalué à 11,8 millions de dollars. Aéro Montréal et Aerospace Wales Forum, la grappe aérospatiale du Pays de Galles, ont convenu d'un rapprochement afin de simplifier l'accès aux entreprises québécoises et galloises aux maîtres d'œuvre et à leurs chaînes d'approvisionnement. Le Consortium de recherche et d'innovation en aérospatiale au Québec, le Consortium en aérospatiale pour la recherche et l'innovation au Canada et le Hamburg's Center of Applied Aeronautical Research ont signé une entente de coopération entourant la recherche collaborative.

  • US Air Force awards Rolls-Royce with Global Hawk, Triton sustainment contract

    18 juillet 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    US Air Force awards Rolls-Royce with Global Hawk, Triton sustainment contract

    By: Daniel Cebul WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force has awarded Rolls-Royce a sustainment contract to maintain, repair and overhaul engines for the Air Force Global Hawk and U.S. Navy Triton fleets. The six-year, $420 milllion indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract also includes sustainment engineering services for Rolls-Royce's AE 3007H engine, the same one that powers the Global Hawk and Triton, as well as several commercial airliners. The contract services will be completed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, where Rolls-Royce and the Air Force have a public-private partnership to operate an engine depot. “Rolls-Royce has a long and successful history of supporting U.S. Air Force and Navy engines, and our innovative public-private partnership at Tinker Air Force Base has enabled us to work together in a new way and will be a key component of maximizing engine availability," said Paul Craig, president of Rolls-Royce's defense services division. “This new contract includes engine services for the Navy's Triton fleet, and we look forward to continuing this public-private partnership for years to come, focusing on customer support and enhancing mission success,” he added. The Global Hawk has been suggested as a possible alternative to the JSTARS battle management program. Gen. Mike Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, told reporters in February the Global Hawk could see further investment as the service looks to replace JSTARS' ground moving target indicator, or GMTI, radar capability. "The Global Hawk Block 40 is certainly not the same thing as JSTARS, but it does provide useful GMTI information,” Holmes said. “We'll spend some money to bring that information and make it more useful in real time.” The Triton UAV is preparing to take on a key role in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions for the Navy, given its high-altitude, long-endurance capabilities. While the Navy relies on the P-8 Poseidon for anti-submarine surveillance, the Triton will perform high-altitude ISR to fill gaps. The Australian government announced June 26 it will purhcase six Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Tritons for more than $1 billion. When life sustainment costs are calculated into the deal, the estimated value increases to more than $5 billion.

  • Lockheed awarded $450.7M contract for Saudi patrol ships

    18 juillet 2018 | International, Naval

    Lockheed awarded $450.7M contract for Saudi patrol ships

    By Stephen Carlson July 17 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin out of Baltimore, MD. has received a $450.7 million modification to an existing contract for production of four Multi-Mission Surface Combatant ships for the the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Work will be performed in Crozet, Va., Iron Mountain, Mich., Milwaukee, Wisc., Sweden, Great Britain and other locations across the United States. The contract is expected to be completed by October 2025. Foreign military sales funding for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the amount of $225.6 million will be obligated at time of award . The Multi-Mission Surface Combatant is a highly maneuverable surface warfare ship capable of coastal and operations in the open ocean. The MMSC is equipped with the COMBATSS-21 Combat Management System. It is based off the AEGIS system used by air defense destroyers around the world. The vessel integrates the Mk110 57mm deck gun into the system as well, allowing for more accurate fires against incoming targets like aircraft and small boats. It can mount the Mk 41 Vertical Launch System which can mount various surface-to-air and surface-to-surface weapons like the Standard and the Tomahawk.

  • US Air Force looks to accelerate artificial intelligence contracts

    18 juillet 2018 | International, Aérospatial, C4ISR

    US Air Force looks to accelerate artificial intelligence contracts

    FARNBOROUGH, England — The Air Force is still not moving fast enough to recruit the software talent that it needs to harness emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, its acquisition head said Tuesday. "I don't think we're attracting enough people. Whether they're the right people or not, I think that's a separate question. I'm not sure that we'll be able to answer that until we're working with a broader set of the industry base that's working AI,” Will Roper, the Air Force's undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logstics, told reporters at Farnborough Airshow. “I contend that the companies driving AI are a different breed of company than those who drive evolution in hardware, especially companies that drove hardware that have gotten us to today's military. The paces are faster, turnovers are quicker. Software is done in month cycles not year cycles.” Over the past year, the Air Force has charted some successes and some failures in its attempts to integrate tech like AI and big data analytics with legacy hardware systems like fighter jets or air operations center. It has established the Kessel Run Experimentation Lab, a group of industry and airmen in Boston that are iterating new capabilities for air operations centers. Instead of rolling out a large software package, the coders focus on app-like updates that can more rapidly insert new functionality into the AOC. But it's also suffered setbacks — most notably, Google's stated intention to withdraw from future Defense Department projects after some employees objected to the company's work on Project Maven, a program would allow the Pentagon to use AI to review footage from drones. Some have worried that could have a chilling effect on future efforts. Roper said that a big focus of his job is changing how the Air Force approaches software. In the past, software was a product that could be bought in cycles, just like a physical product like a missile or aircraft. Now, it's a service that must be reworked constantly, he said. “You get a good set of coders in, they can push out so much code per month. You put them with the user that's going to use the code and together they're able to collaborate to make sure that the developer is creating something that the operator is using,” he said. “That's working very well for us in Boston, and we're looking to expand that. That's the basic mechanism to move towards AI. We're going to need people that are working with us that are software people that are working, tweaking algorithms with the users that use them, and it's probably a different company than have worked with us over the past 10 years.” The Air Force has to get those companies under contract faster, in weeks instead of months, Roper said. It's looking for opportunities to use contract vehicles specifically delegated for small businesses and to use AFWERX — its outreach arm to nontraditional contractors who are creating promising commercial technologies — to introduce startups to the service. But Roper acknowledged there was no easy answer to the problem. One possible way to inject AI into Air Force programs — although a mundane one — is to use it for predictive maintenance technologies that use sensors to forecast when a component will break, said Air Force Under Secretary Matt Donovan. “It's very exciting for us and I think it holds a lot of potential to reduce our sustainment costs,” he said, noting that sustainment makes up a whopping 70 percent of the life-cycle cost of any given product. Roper agreed that sustainment was a great area to begin employing AI, and that experience could help the Air Force begin to figure out how to use the technology for classified applications.

  • Boeing Gets $3.9 Billion Contract for New Air Force One

    18 juillet 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Boeing Gets $3.9 Billion Contract for New Air Force One

    By Anthony Capaccio Capping off a contentious contracting tussle with President Donald Trump, Boeing Co. received a $3.9 billion contract to continue development, modification and testing of two new aircraft to serve as Air Force One, according to two people familiar with the decision. The planes, Boeing 747-8s, would be delivered by December 2024. That would be Trump's last full year in office if he wins a second term. Congressional committees were informed of the decision on Tuesday. Trump reached an informal deal in late February with Chicago-based Boeing for the fixed-price contract that a White House spokesman said at the time would save taxpayers $1.4 billion from an earlier projection for buying and outfitting two presidential jets. But public estimates suggest the savings would be far less -- perhaps a few hundred million dollars. Trump shook the defense industry -- and put all large U.S. companies with government contracts on notice -- when he began criticizing the Air Force One contract more than a month before he took office in January 2017. On Dec. 6, 2016 he wrote on Twitter that “Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!” That surprising statement was followed by talks with Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg. After a visit to Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in January, Muilenburg said, “We're going to get it done for less than that, and we're committed to working together to make sure that happens.” Announcement of the contract came the same day Trump said in an interview with CBS that the new aircraft will be painted “be red, white and blue, which I think is appropriate,'' instead of its traditional white, blue and light-blue color scheme. The Air Force said last year that it saved some money when the president reached a preliminary deal with Boeing for two 747 jumbo jets to serve as Air Force One, taking advantage of an unusual limited-time discount on planes once bound for Russia. Much of the costs for the presidential plane come from pricey and complex modifications required to turn Boeing's iconic hump-backed jets into the flying fortresses that ferry U.S. presidents around the world. The jets would be outfitted with dual auxiliary power units, rather than the one electrical power system standard for commercial jets, along with a complex communications system, work and rest quarters for the first family, elevators to ease boarding, self-defense capabilities and other features, according to Air Force budget documents. The Air Force decided in 2015 to award Boeing a sole-source deal to build the Air Force One replacements without competition while insisting that subcontractors be allowed to bid on its specialized equipment. The service determined then that Boeing's aircraft was the only one manufactured in the U.S. “that when fully missionized meets the necessary critically important capabilities” that the president needs.

  • Following industry trend, Airbus dives into data

    18 juillet 2018 | International, C4ISR

    Following industry trend, Airbus dives into data

    By: Andrew C. Jarocki WASHINGTON — Airbus has created a new advanced data analytics system for the defense market, gathering data from vehicles to better plan maintenance and study mission performance. The firm announced the program, SmartForce, at the 2018 Farnborough Airshow. The program is meant to “enable substantially more efficient maintenance by drilling into the wealth of data acquired by new generation helicopters and aircraft,” according to a company news release. The company added it will “more rapidly perform root-cause analysis and faster trouble shooting.” The use of artificial intelligence to make sense of data has become a growing focus for the defense and intelligence community, as has cloud computing for handling the massive volumes of data. “Our digital analytics services support the goal of enhanced mission readiness of our operators' aircraft," said Stephan Miegel, head of military aircraft services at Airbus Defence and Space, “and they provide predictive solutions which all contribute to reduced workload and costs.”

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