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  • Army Wants 70 Self-Driving Supply Trucks By 2020

    21 août 2018 | International, Terrestre

    Army Wants 70 Self-Driving Supply Trucks By 2020

    By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR. The Army is ready for unmanned vehicles but not yet for a completely unmanned convoy. The 2020 iteration is called Expedient Leader-Follower because the Army still wants a human soldier driving the lead vehicle, with up to nine autonomous trucks following in its trail. But Oshkosh and Robotic Research told me they could take the humans out altogether, if the Army wanted. If you find self-driving cars impressive today, think about Army trucks that can drive themselves off-road, in a war zone, less than three years from now. For all the Army’s embrace of high technology, the service still wants the lead vehicle in the convoy to have a human driver, at least at first. But the unmanned trucks that follow behind will need to stick to the trail without relying on street signs, lane markings, pavement, or GPS. They might not even have a clear line of sight to the vehicle ahead of them, which may turn a corner in a city or disappear into a cloud of dust driving cross-country. En route, they have to avoid not only pedestrians, animals, and vehicles, like civilian self-driving cars, but also rubble, rocks, trees, and shell holes. And they have to avoid solid obstacles without stopping every time they see tall grass, a low-hanging branch, or a dust cloud in their path — the kind of common-sense distinction that’s easy for humans but very hard for computer vision. But the Army is confident it can be done. Army Secretary Mark Esper has publicly enthused about the technology after riding in a prototype, saying it could both free up manpower for the front line — most troops work on logistics and maintenance, not in combat units — and save lives from roadside bombs and ambushes — to which supply convoysare particularly vulnerable. After years of tinkering, the Army has accelerated its Automated Ground Resupply (AGR) program by spinning off something called the Expedient Leader-Follower demonstration. Contractors are currently installing Robotic Research LLC’s computer brains and sensors on 10 Oshkosh M1075 PLS (Palletized Loader System) trucks that’ll be used for safety certification tests in 2019. They’ll convert 60 more to self-driving vehicles in time to equip two Army transportation companies in 2020. While the two units’ main job will be to demonstrate the technology works in field conditions, “if they get called to deploy, they will deploy with the vehicles,” said Alberto Lacaze, president of Robotic Research, in an interview with me yesterday. “That could happen fairly quickly.” Exactly when the large-scale demo starts in 2020 is still a moving target, based mainly on how 2019’s safety testing goes, said Pat Williams, VP for Army and Marine Corps programs at Oshkosh Defense. It’s the Army’s call on whether to compress the timeline, he told me, but “there’s interest in pulling that left where possible.” Full article: https://breakingdefense.com/2018/08/army-wants-70-self-driving-supply-trucks-by-2020  

  • The Navy's Fighter Shortage Is Finally, Slowly Improving

    21 août 2018 | International, Aérospatial, Naval

    The Navy's Fighter Shortage Is Finally, Slowly Improving

    By Kyle Mizokami The U.S. Navy’s horrible fighter availability rate is gradually improving thanks to increased funding for fighter maintenance. At one point in 2017, just one in three F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters was available, a number that’s increased to nearly half of all fighters. The problem is in large part due to past budget shortfalls and delayed introduction of the F-35 fighter jet. The U.S. Navy has 546 F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet fighters, larger, beefier, slightly stealthier versions of the original F/A-18 Hornet. Aircraft readiness rates, or the percentage of aircraft ready for deployment, should typically be north of seventy five percent, depending on type of aircraft, the complexity of the aircraft systems, and the age of the fleet. In 2017, the Navy’s Super Hornet fleet hovered around 30 percent readiness, a shockingly low number the service blamed on minimal maintenance budgets and non-stop operations. The Navy struggled to place flight-capable aircraft with squadrons deploying on aircraft carriers. On the outside things looked fairly normal, as carriers went to sea with flight decks filled with Super Hornets. Behind the scenes however non-deployed squadrons suffered, acting as spare parts donors for deployment-bound ships. This cascading effect had negative implications for stateside squadrons and pilot training. According to DefenseNews, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer cited increased maintenance budgets over the past two years as a major part of the turnaround, allowing the service to fund repairs and spare parts. The service also streamlined maintenance processes, avoiding duplication and increasing efficiency. The maintenance crisis was caused by several problems. The high demand for strike fighters, particularly for combat operations against the Islamic State, increased the amount of wear and tear on the Super Hornet fleet. Super Hornets also act as aerial refueling tankers, increasing flight hours and wear and tear on the platform. Meanwhile the Navy struggled to operate within the budget mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act that trimmed federal spending. Making matters worse, so-called "continuing resolutions" passed during times of budget bickering to keep government going were an inefficient means of spending money and played havoc with the Pentagon's budget. Another problem that indirectly cause the crisis: a delay in the introduction of the U.S. Navy’s version of the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35C. The F-35C, meant to replace older F/A-18C Hornet fighters, is now at least three years behind schedule. As the chart above illustrates, the Navy originally expected the F-35C to be initial operations capable—when the first Navy squadron is at least partially combat-capable—in late 2015. That date has gradually slipped to late 2018 or early 2019. On the outside things looked fairly normal, as carriers went to sea with flight decks filled with Super Hornets. Behind the scenes however non-deployed squadrons suffered, acting as spare parts donors for deployment-bound ships. This cascading effect had negative implications for stateside squadrons and pilot training. According to DefenseNews, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer cited increased maintenance budgets over the past two years as a major part of the turnaround, allowing the service to fund repairs and spare parts. The service also streamlined maintenance processes, avoiding duplication and increasing efficiency. The maintenance crisis was caused by several problems. The high demand for strike fighters, particularly for combat operations against the Islamic State, increased the amount of wear and tear on the Super Hornet fleet. Super Hornets also act as aerial refueling tankers, increasing flight hours and wear and tear on the platform. Meanwhile the Navy struggled to operate within the budget mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act that trimmed federal spending. Making matters worse, so-called "continuing resolutions" passed during times of budget bickering to keep government going were an inefficient means of spending money and played havoc with the Pentagon's budget. Another problem that indirectly cause the crisis: a delay in the introduction of the U.S. Navy’s version of the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35C. The F-35C, meant to replace older F/A-18C Hornet fighters, is now at least three years behind schedule. As the chart above illustrates, the Navy originally expected the F-35C to be initial operations capable—when the first Navy squadron is at least partially combat-capable—in late 2015. That date has gradually slipped to late 2018 or early 2019. As a result of this delay, the Navy was forced to extend the lives of five squadrons of older -C model Hornets while it waited for the F-35C. That work added to the burden of Navy maintenance units already working to keep Super Hornets flying. In addition to the Navy’s maintenance work, Boeing is set to take 40 to 50 Super Hornets a year and upgrade them to the new Block III configuration. DefenseNews says this will also bring the jets in the worst shape back to flying condition. In the long term F-35C production should ease the burden on the Super Hornet community, as the fifth generation fighter will eventually equip half of the strike fighter squadrons deployed on U.S. Navy carriers. The executive branch’s 2019 defense budget also plans for an additional 110 Super Hornets over five years. Finally, the Navy plans to acquire a small fleet of MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial refueling aircraft to take over tanking duties from the overworked strike fighters. Full article: https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/a22778556/us-navy-fighter-shortage-progress

  • Brazil postpones decisions again for its new corvettes

    21 août 2018 | International, Naval

    Brazil postpones decisions again for its new corvettes

    Victor Barreira, Istanbul - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly The Brazilian Navy has postponed by about two months the short list and best and final offer (BAFO) decisions for its ambitious Tamandaré-class corvette project, the second leading priority within the force. The newly established schedule calls for the short list and BAFO announcements to occur in October and December respectively, the navy told Jane’s on 17 August. The navy said it is delaying its decision because it needs additional information from the competitors to properly analyse the bids. Service officials provided no additional details on what information it still requires. The navy has not said how many companies will be included on the short list. Full article: https://www.janes.com/article/82477/brazil-postpones-decisions-again-for-its-new-corvettes

  • BAE wins $146 million contract to upgrade Navy cruiser Gettysburg

    21 août 2018 | International, Naval

    BAE wins $146 million contract to upgrade Navy cruiser Gettysburg

    by James Langford Defense contractor BAE Systems won a $146 million contract for work on the USS Gettysburg, part of a class of guided-missile cruisers whose weapons and computer systems are undergoing upgrades to ensure they reach their 35-year service life. Work on the Gettysburg, which will be performed at London-based BAE's shipyard in Norfolk, Va., is scheduled for completion by 2020, and includes maintenance, modernization and repair, the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement on Monday. The contract includes options that could bring its total value to $151.3 million. Built by Bath Iron Works, Gettysburg was commissioned in 1991 under former President George H.W. Bush. It belongs to the Ticonderoga class, which was first deployed in 1983 and uses Aegis technology to track aerial targets. Carrying Tomahawk missiles, the vessels can support carrier strike groups as well as conduct independent operations. The modernization program for the cruisers includes updates to computer and display equipment as well as electrical and mechanical systems. Weapons and sensor sets will be modified to improve submarine-combat capabilities, the Navy said, and electro-optical systems will be added that can monitor the ship's surroundings without radar emissions. Full article: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/business/bae-wins-146-million-contract-to-upgrade-navy-cruiser-gettysburg

  • U.S. Navy Seeks Real-time Physiological Monitoring System

    21 août 2018 | International, Naval

    U.S. Navy Seeks Real-time Physiological Monitoring System

    The U.S. Navy’s aircrew systems program office intends to host an industry day in late September for a real-time physiological monitoring and alerting ... http://aviationweek.com/defense/us-navy-seeks-real-time-physiological-monitoring-system

  • New contracts will improve capabilities on Royal Canadian Navy frigates

    20 août 2018 | Local, Naval

    New contracts will improve capabilities on Royal Canadian Navy frigates

    DAVID PUGLIESE, OTTAWA CITIZEN The Canadian government announced two contracts Friday for improvements to the Halifax-class frigates. The contracts are related to the Reprogrammable Advance Multimode Shipboard Electronic Countermeasures System (RAMSES), an electronic attack system that protects the modernized Halifax-class frigates against radio frequency guided missiles, and MASS, an integral part of the anti-ship missile defence suite. RAMSES employs jamming signals to track and distract anti-ship missiles from hitting the ship, according to the Royal Canadian Navy. MASS is a firing system used to launch decoys to project vessels against anti-ship missiles guided by radio frequency, laser and infrared seekers. A $94.2-million contract has been awarded to Lockheed Martin Canada to maintain and overhaul, the Reprogrammable Advance Multimode Shipboard Electronic Countermeasures System. A $21.1-million contract was awarded to Rheinmetall Canada to procure and install a third launcher on the frigates, improving the current MASS configuration. The RAMSES contract will be valid until the late 2030s, if all options are exercised, according to the RCN. The MASS replaced the obsolete SHIELD system. The installation of a third launcher will enable 360° anti-ship missile defence coverage for the Halifax-class frigates. https://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/new-contracts-will-improve-capabilities-on-royal-canadian-navy-frigates

  • Rafael Not Giving Up UAS Ambitions

    20 août 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Rafael Not Giving Up UAS Ambitions

    TEL AVIV—Rafael is not giving up on its goal of becoming a manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), with plans to resume talks to buy Israeli UAS maker Aeronautics and evaluate other options as ...   http://aviationweek.com/defense/rafael-not-giving-uas-ambitions

  • Here are the intelligence community’s top 6 priorities

    20 août 2018 | International, C4ISR

    Here are the intelligence community’s top 6 priorities

    By: Mark Pomerleau For the first time in recent history, the intelligence community has established a common vision with common operating principles that reaches all of its disparate agencies. “The leaders of the intelligence community about a year ago got together and we – for the first time I can recall – got together and established a common vision for ourselves called IC 2025,” Sue Gordon, principal deputy director of national intelligence, said Aug. 15 at the DoDIIS conference in Omaha, Nebraska. The vision, she said, explains what the community needs to fulfill the IC’s mission and how the community must work together. Gordon had previously discussed these priorities during a presentation at the GEOINT symposium in April. The priorities include: ♦ Relying on Automated Intelligence using Machines, or AIM. The IC is establishing an AIM center – in concert with the Department of Defense’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center – to help the community harness the power of technology. Gordon said she prefers the “AIM” lexicon because she is interested in outcomes, not technology. One such outcome is the commitment that no U.S. or allied service member will ever be at a disadvantage on the battlefield because and adversary can make better use of data, she said in Omaha. ♦ Developing the right workforce. Gordon said in April that if the intel community is going to harness the power of machines to use more of the data productively, then they have to invest more in humans. ♦ Developing a comprehensive cyber strategy. Cyber is not a thing, it is a vehicle by which so many imperatives are addressed, Gordon said in April, adding that it includes cyber protection. “If you hear about it in public it’s who’s in charge. I think that is a total misnomer,” she said. “We really have to address the cyber attack and the cyber posturing that is happening to us every day and help this administration figure out the response we need.” ♦ Creating a modern data management infrastructure. Pursing data without a purpose, Gordon said at the GEOINT symposium, is probably not going to get the community there but not understanding that data management is the key to any of the elements of success they portend will not put efforts in the right area. ♦ Increasing and leveraging partnerships with the private sector. This is an area most all leaders in the defense and intelligence space acknowledge is necessary for success. ♦ Improving acquisition agility. Part of this comes from security clearance reform, she said in April, describing security clearance reform at DoDIIS as one of the existential threats within the IC. Full article: https://www.c4isrnet.com/show-reporter/dodiis/2018/08/17/here-are-the-intelligence-communitys-top-6-priorities

  • UK restarts frigate competition - but will anyone take part?

    20 août 2018 | International, Naval

    UK restarts frigate competition - but will anyone take part?

    By: Andrew Chuter LONDON - Britain’s Ministry of Defence is restarting its contest to build five general purpose frigates for the Royal Navy after it terminated the original competition due to insufficient interest from industry. The Defence Equipment & Support organisation, the MoD’s procurement arm, has issued a “prior information notice” informing potential bidders it is moving forward with the Type 31e program, and plans a short period of market engagement with companies or consortia that have expressed interest starting on Aug 20. “We have relaunched discussions with industry for our new Type 31e fleet, and this week issued a Prior Information Notice to ensure we do not lose any momentum. We remain committed to a cutting-edge Royal Navy fleet of at least 19 frigates and destroyers, and the first batch of five new Type 31e ships will bolster our modern Navy,” said an MoD spokesperson. “The purpose of the market engagement is for the Authority [DE&S] to share key elements of the new procurement, including technical and commercial elements. The Authority intends to use the feedback from the market engagement to inform the further shaping of its requirements and commercial construct,” said the DE&S in its announcement it was relaunching the competition. DE&S said suppliers should “only respond if they are in a position to undertake the full Type 31e programme, meeting its full requirement including a £1.25billion cost and building the Type 31e in a UK shipyard.” The Type 31e is a key part of the government’s 2017 national shipbuilding strategy which in part seeks to open up the sector to local competition, rather than contract via a non-competitive single source contract with U.K. giant BAE Systems, the world’s third largest defense company according to the Defense News Top 100 list. The fast track schedule for the Type 31e calls for the initial vessel to be in service by 2023, replacing the first of 13 Type 23 class frigates due to be retired by the Royal Navy in the period up to the middle of the 2030’s. The final Type 31e -- the e stands for export -- is due to be delivered in 2028. Eight of the Type 23’s will be replaced by anti-submarine warfare Type 26’s. The remainder of the Type 23’s will be replaced by the Type 31e. DE&S and industry are up against a time crunch on getting the first Type 31e into service, one which some executives here see as daunting, if not unachieveable, thanks to the need to restart the competition. But despite the delay in getting to the competitive design phase contract announcements, DE&S says it remains committed to the 2023 service date. “A new streamlined procedure will present an opportunity to save time in the overall program. We will release more information about our plans when we have completed the market engagement - which we plan to start from Aug 20,” said a second MoD spokesperson. Full Article: https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2018/08/17/uk-restarts-frigate-competition-but-will-anyone-take-part/

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