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  • Nexter armored vehicle could soon include tethered drones

    11 juin 2018 | International, Aérospatial, Terrestre, C4ISR

    Nexter armored vehicle could soon include tethered drones

    VERSAILLES, France ― Nexter has unveiled a concept version of its Titus armored vehicle adapted to carry augmented mission systems, including a tethered drone, unmanned ground vehicles and a remote controlled 20mm cannon. The six-wheeled vehicle serves as a multipurpose platform to develop capabilities that could one day be fitted to vehicles such as the Griffon troop carrier. One of the capabilities is a captive UAV tethered to the vehicle, which could be used for observation and artillery targeting, a Nexter executive told journalists May 16. The UAV can fly to a height of 50 meters. A quieter option is a small, stand-alone UAV, which can also be launched from the vehicle's roof for reconnaissance missions. The hull has an outside compartment to deploy small unmanned ground vehicles, or UGV, to detect improvised explosive devices as well as chemical, biological and radiation weapons. The vehicle is armed with a remote controlled 20mm cannon, with options for a 25mm or 30mm weapon. The gun, UGV and UAV could be controlled inside or outside the vehicle with a smart pad. Another capability that could be installed includes a “virtual fence” for facial recognition for the vehicle's crew and troops. Nexter displayed the demonstrator vehicle at an artillery day event in December at the Canjuers Army base in the southeast of France. Nexter also showed off Themis, a tracked UGV armed with a 20mm gun. The vehicle is supplied by Milrem of Estonia. Themis is armed with an ARX 20mm remote controlled cannon with a 2-kilometer range and armor piercing shells. Other options are 12.7mm and 14.5mm heavy machine guns. The vehicle could support disembarked troops with heavy firepower and be used to open roads. Themis weighs 1 ton, travels at 24 kph and has an all-terrain capability. It is powered by electricity and diesel, with the latter delivering an endurance of 10 hours. Many countries, particularly for special forces, have shown interest in the vehicle, a Nexter executive said. A firing test is due to be held this year.

  • Thales propose de l'IA pour le pod Reco NG

    11 juin 2018 | Aérospatial

    Thales propose de l'IA pour le pod Reco NG

    Dans le cadre du standard F4 du Rafale, Thales propose d'employer l'intelligence artificielle pour améliorer les performances du pod Reco NG. Thales propose d'utiliser l'intelligence artificielle pour changer la façon d'employer le pod Reco NG du Rafale. Le Reco NG est utilisé pour réaliser des photos hautes définitions d'un thé'tre d'opération. Ce système peut couvrir 3 000 km2 de terrain en une heure. Mais l'analyse des données à postériori nécessite un important travail de la part des interprétateurs images des armées. Il faut en effet une heure à un spécialiste pour analyser l'équivalent de 10 km2 de terrain explique Thales.Il faut en conséquence un délais de plusieurs heures après le retour de mission du chasseur avant que les données ne puissent être exploitées. Thales a développé des algorithmes spécifiques aux missions militaires qui pourraient permettre au système de reconnaitre lui même en direct des éléments d'intérêt. Pour apprendre au pod à identifier ces éléments qui intéressent les militaires, les équipes de Thales ont créé deux millions d'images synthétiques reproduisant des zones géographiques, des contextes, des situations météo très divers. Les capacités de discernement du système ont ensuite été confrontées à 10 000 images réelles avec des résultats très positifs annonce Thales. Cette innovation pourrait changer les profils des missions de reconnaissance du Rafale. Pour l'heure les plans de vols de ce type de missions sont définis à l'avance, le pilote devant orienter son appareil et le pod en fonction des zones d'intérêt qui lui ont été indiquées. L'innovation proposée par Thales permettrait de faire remonter en temps réel vers le pilotes la presence d'éléments interessants. Ce dernier pourrait ainsi réorienter sa mission en cours de vol. Le premier tri en temps réel pourrait aussi permettre d'optimiser la bande passante des liaisons de données en n'envoyant vers les centres de commandement que des images à priori intéressantes. Physiquement l'intégration de l'IA sur le pod Reco NG se traduirait par l'ajout d'un processeur. Thales a développé des circuits adaptés offrant les capacités de calcul adaptées tout en limitant la consommation de puissance (20 watt). Le standard F4 du Rafale est en cours de définition. Les armées, la DGA et les industriels échangent et négocient actuellement à propos des innovations qui seront apportées au Rafale dans le cadre de ce programme dont le lancement est prévu cette année.

  • Air Force's New Battle Management System Will Be Based at Robins

    11 juin 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Air Force's New Battle Management System Will Be Based at Robins

    By Oriana Pawlyk Robins Air Force Base has been selected to host an elite system that will fuse intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensor data from around the world, the Air Force announced Wednesday. The Georgia base, which currently hosts the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft, or JSTARS, will be home to the next-generation Advanced Battle Management System, the service said in a release. "We must adapt our capability to survive in the changed threat environment and move swiftly to advanced battlefield management and surveillance," said Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. "The critical capabilities at Robins allow us to leverage key expertise and accelerate toward the network needed for contested environments." The ABMS is intended to replace the current JSTARS fleet, which will keep flying until the mid-to-late 2020s. The network, which fuses the data from hundreds of sensors to provide situational awareness for combatant commanders across the globe, will function "as [a] decentralized system that draws on all domains," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein. "This is an important step as we move forward with a resilient and survivable network to ensure we are ready to prevail against changing threats," Goldfein said in the release. The network will leverage air and space systems and will include "a fusion center and associated supporting activities," the service said. "In addition, the network will also include some remotely piloted aircraft at Robins with sensors capable of collecting and transmitting information from the battlefield." Officials have said RPAs such as MQ-9 Reaper aircraft would be used to plug into such a network for additional situational awareness. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, both Republicans from Georgia, were optimistic but cautious about the announcement Wednesday. They have previously voiced concerns over the Air Force's plan to cancel the JSTARS recapitalization program in favor of the ABMS. "We welcome any and all new missions that the Air Force is willing to bring to Robins, and I will continue to work with the Air Force as the implementation of this plan proceeds," Isakson said in a joint statement with Perdue. "In the meantime, I urge Secretary Wilson to work with us to ensure that there will be no capabilities gap that could put our warfighters at risk during the transition to this new system." Perdue added, "This additional new mission at Robins will be critical to fulfilling President Trump's National Defense Strategy and provides for the new Advanced Battle Management System." Both senators in August said they were "alarmed" to find out earlier that month that the Air Force might pursue "alternative intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms" instead of procuring a JSTARS replacement. The service in 2016 launched a $6.9 billion request for proposal for the engineering, manufacturing and development phase of the upgraded aircraft. It had planned to buy 17 new aircraft. In February, during the Air Force's fiscal 2019 budget rollout briefing, service officials said they were scrapping the initiative. The current JSTARS fleet is capable of developing, detecting, locating and tracking moving targets on the ground. The Air Force on Wednesday said there is no intent to reduce manpower at Robins as it transitions to ABMS. Lawmakers want to ensure there is no capability gap for troops on the ground as the service moves from the E-8C to the ABMS system. In April, the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee in its markup to the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act said it will cap funding for the ABMS program until the Air Force restores the JSTARS recapitalization contract. The HASC passed its version of the fiscal 2019 bill on May 10. But members of the Senate Armed Services Committee have hinted they are open to the Air Force's effort to invest in a more survivable system than the JSTARS, which could be shot down. "There's a recognition in the Senate bill that we don't want to retire aircraft too quickly before a replacement capability arises such that we end up with a gap," an SASC staffer told Defense News on May 30. But "we do not direct them to proceed with the recap out of concerns with survivability, which we share with the department." The Senate is poised to vote on the bill in coming weeks.

  • Here are just some of the ways Canadian technology keeps Americans safe

    11 juin 2018 | Local, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR

    Here are just some of the ways Canadian technology keeps Americans safe

    It's been a week since the Trump White House slapped Canada with steel and aluminum tariffs on the ground that reliance on our imports was threatening the “national security” of the United States. If Canadians are particularly galled at this, it might be because no foreign country in modern times has done more to arm and equip the United States than Canada. “I would not be surprised if every single major aircraft or warship in U.S. military service today has Canadian components in it,” said Richard Shimooka, a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. Below, a cursory summary of some of the Canadian stuff used by history's most powerful military. Landing gear We'll start with an entry that directly concerns steel and aluminum. Quebec-based Héroux-Devtek is the world's third largest aircraft landing gear company, and some of that is thanks to a longstanding relationship with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy. Specifically, Héroux-Devtek is in charge of landing gear repair and overhaul for several large U.S. aircraft, including the heavy-lift C-130 Hercules. Of course, landing gear is made almost entirely of steel or aluminum. So, thanks to these new tariffs, American military procurers are either going to start getting hosed on their Héroux-Devtek contracts — or they're going to have start getting their landing gear overhauls from a U.S. company that isn't their first choice. Armoured personnel carriers “Canada and the US have been building military equipment for each other since the summer of 1940,” David Bercuson, a military historian at the University of Calgary, told the National Post. “Literally billions of dollars of such equipment has passed the border since then.” The most obvious example is the Stryker. There are nearly 5,000 Stryker armoured personnel carriers in the U.S. military, and all of them were built in London, Ontario. Not only that, but the Stryker is even based on a Canadian design, the LAV III. Coming in at a rock bottom $4 million apiece, the Americans use Strykers for everything: Ambulances, firefighting, missile platforms, chemical weapons defence and mine detection. They even started rigging them up with giant lasers to shoot down enemy drones. Armoured vehicles happen to be a Canadian specialty. While the United States was busy throwing money at big ticket items such as tanks and attack helicopters, the shoestring Canadians have gotten very good at the much cheaper task of simply strapping guns and armour to oversized trucks. And if a U.S. diplomat found themselves touring Iraq in an armoured Toyota Land Cruiser, chances are good they were shielded from bullets and IEDs by Canadian workmanship. Specialized aircraft Here again, the United States has it covered when it comes to big ticket aircraft such as fighters or bombers. But the U.S. military will occasionally call up Canadian plane-makers when it needs something quirky. Bombardier has retooled some of its airliners and business jets to act as airborne radar platforms. When the United States Army Parachute Team appears at air shows, they're jumping out of a Canadian-made de Havilland Twin Otter. De Havilland has also hooked up the Americans with some of its famously rugged prop planes for use in electronic warfare, remote cargo drops or simply moving National Guard troops around Alaska. All told, the U.S. military is flying more planes built in Canada than in any other foreign country. The U.S. military's only cargo drone (and it has the most Canadian name imaginable) A U.S. special forces unit is pinned down on a remote Central Asian mountaintop. Surrounded by militants on all sides, it needs an emergency airlift of water and ammunition to even see daybreak. Enter the SnowGoose, an unmanned autogyro specializing in precision deliveries to special forces. The SnowGoose is the U.S. military's only cargo drone, and it's an all-Canadian creation. An emerging theme on this list is that Canada is great at building niche military hardware for cheap, and the SnowGoose is no exception. As the drone's Stittsville, Ont. builders note, it can move cargo across a battlefield at a fraction of the price of other drones. Nuclear fuel Uranium is a big part of the modern U.S. military. It has more than 100 nuclear-powered vessels in the navy, and there's also those 7,000 atomic weapons it still has lying around. Canada has sold a whole lot of uranium to the U.S. military, going all the way back to the initial atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. However, the taps were somewhat shut off in the 1960s, when Canada started limiting uranium exports to “peaceful” purposes. Still, with Canada ranking as the United States' top uranium dealer, we help keep their uranium topped up enough to have plenty left over for the military. Speaking of nuclear weapons, it might behoove the White House to remember that if a Russian or North Korean missile should happen to be fired in their direction, a Canada-based NORAD station will likely be among the first to let them know. Making fighter jets last forever This entry should fill thrifty Canadians with particular pride: We've gotten so good at squeezing every penny out of our CF-18s that we're now globally renowned experts at fighter jet life extension. Among other things, Canada invented “robotic shot-peening,” a method of using robots to restore aging aircraft with a precision never before known. The technology has been exported to Europe, Australia and, in 2013, the U.S. Navy brought in the Quebec aerospace company L-3 MAS to give its jets a makeover. Battlefield communications Tactical radios are another niche technology in which Canadian companies have a built a slow but steady reputation with the Americans. In a 2017 reporton Canada/U.S. military industrial cooperation, the Center for Strategic and International Studies noted that the U.S. military has been using Canadian radios since the 1960s. Ultra TCS, headquartered in Montreal, remains a supplier of tactical radios to both the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. And these aren't just walkie-talkies; they're hyper-advanced networks that can provide email, voice and even video hook-ups to American troops in battle. Jeeps That's right. The Second World War-era Willys Jeep — one of the most American vehicles in history — was manufactured in part by Canada. Ford Motor Company of Canada churned out thousands of Jeeps after the Second World War. In 1952 alone, Canadian factories were making an average of seven of them per day. According to Ford Canada's website, “these postwar Canadian-made Jeep were shipped to the United States, for the American military forces.” Space robots DARPA is the U.S. agency tasked with pursuing military so cutting edge that they occasionally veer into outright science fiction. Last year, DARPA signed a deal with Canada's MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates to design robots that could be dispatched into space in order to repair U.S. military satellites. And like most times Canada is brought in for U.S. military stuff, the robot space mechanic program is indeed intended as a cost saving measure. Canada has been a leader in space defence for some time. Our beloved Canadarm, in fact, technically qualifies as an early military space robot. Over the course of the space shuttle program 11 missions were sent up to perform classified work for the Pentagon. We still don't know the specifics of what the Canadarm did for Uncle Sam on those missions, but the arm is a certifiable Cold Warrior.

  • Yokota airmen improve gas mask with 3D printer, potentially saving Air Force $8 million or more

    11 juin 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Yokota airmen improve gas mask with 3D printer, potentially saving Air Force $8 million or more

    By SETH ROBSON YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Tokyo-based airmen used a 3D printer and American ingenuity to modify a standard-issue gas mask into an aircraft oxygen system, potentially saving millions of dollars and improving aircrew safety. The idea of hooking up the M-50 joint-service, general-purpose mask to an aircraft was hatched during brainstorming sessions by airmen from Yokota's 374th Maintenance Squadron and 374th Operations Support Squadron. “We took the mask and added some off-the-shelf parts and some 3D-printed parts and converted it into a piece of equipment that can work in an aircraft,” said Senior Master Sgt. David Siemiet, an aircrew flight equipment superintendent. Gear used now — the Aircrew Eye/Respiratory Protection System, or AERPS — is expensive, heavy and fault prone with long waits for replacement parts, said C-130 Hercules pilot Capt. Matthew Kohl. When the ubiquitous, light and cheap M-50 is connected to an oxygen system, air flows through its chemical filters to the user, whose eyes are protected by goggles, Siemiet said. To build their prototype, the airmen looked at an Army system that hooks soldiers' masks to air blowers to overcome the stifling environment inside a battle tank. The airmen came up with a cap that blocks airflow into one side of the mask and an adaptor that allows it to attach to a hose that can be plugged into an oxygen system. The modification, which the airman call “AERPS Ultra,” uses a few standard parts and two components made on a 3D printer that aircraft materials technology craftsman Sen. Airman David Petrich bought for a few hundred dollars of his own money. It costs only about 75 cents to modify one mask, and the project has the potential to save the Air Force at least $8 million and countless man hours, according to Tech. Sgt. Eric Lundeen, another aircraft materials technology craftsman involved in the project. The M-50 weighs less than a pound, a lot less than the 40 pounds of chemical-protection gear now used by aircrew. Unlike the current system, the lighter masks don't need a power supply that must be hooked to on-board electricity and uses expensive batteries, Petrich said. “You can wear the mask onto the plane and latch in and you are good to go,” he said. The mask modifications can be done on base without the need to pay a contractor, Siemiet added.

  • Création d'un conseil conjoint de Défense Canada-France

    11 juin 2018 | Local, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR

    Création d'un conseil conjoint de Défense Canada-France

    La France et le Canada ont décidé de rapprocher leurs armées en créant un conseil conjoint de Défense d'ici la fin de l'année, a annoncé mercredi à l'AFP une source gouvernementale canadienne. Ce «Conseil de défense conjoint ministériel sera convoqué d'ici la fin de l'année 2018» et permettra de mieux coordonner les actions des armées canadiennes et françaises, a déclaré à l'AFP ce haut responsable canadien. Cette annonce intervient à l'occasion de la visite à Ottawa du président français Emmanuel Macron, venu se coordonner avec le premier ministre Justin Trudeau en amont du sommet du G7 qui se tient vendredi et samedi au Québec. Intitulée officiellement «Conseil franco-canadien de coopération en matière de défense», cette structure doit permettre aux armées des deux pays de conduire davantage d'opérations conjointes, a précisé cette source. Il est notamment «envisagé» de mener à terme des opérations de maintien de la paix franco-canadiennes sous les auspices des Nations-Unies, a-t-on précisé. En outre, Paris et Ottawa «s'engagent à mettre en place un Conseil des ministres franco-canadien, autour du président de la République française et du premier ministre du Canada», selon une déclaration transmise à l'AFP. Ce Conseil des ministres se réunira «au minimum» tous les deux ans «pour faire un bilan de cette coopération renforcée et développer des actions conjointes», a ajouté le haut responsable canadien. La France mène déjà de tels Conseils des ministres binationaux avec l'Allemagne et le Québec.

  • House panel unveils $674.6B Pentagon spending bill

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

    House panel unveils $674.6B Pentagon spending bill

    BY REBECCA KHEEL - 06/06/18 12:39 PM EDT The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday unveiled its $674.6 billion Pentagon spending bill for fiscal 2019. The bill would provide $606.5 billion in base discretionary funding, which is about $900 million less than the Trump administration requested but $17.1 billion more than this year's spending level. The bill would also provide $68.1 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. “With the changing global dynamics and ever-growing threats to our security, it is absolutely imperative that our military is properly trained, equipped and fully supported in order to do their jobs,” Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said in a statement. “This legislation does all of this by including robust funding for our troops, the defense programs and activities necessary to accomplish our national goals and ideals, and to continue to rebuild our military.” The money would pay for a boost of 15,600 troops across the military and a 2.6 percent pay raise for service members, both matching what was requested by the administration. The bill would also provide $145.7 billion for equipment purchases and upgrades. That's split $133 billion for base requirements — or $2.5 billion more than requested — and $12.7 billion in OCO. The procurement money includes $22.7 billion for 12 new Navy ships, two more ships than the administration requested. The two extra ships are littoral combat ships, which Congress continues to support buying — despite the Navy's plan to transition away from the ship — so that shipyards keep working and will be able to keep pace on future orders. The bill would also fund a slew of aircraft, including $9.4 billion for 93 F-35 fighter jets and $1.9 billion for 24 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft. The bill includes funding for the procurement of 16 more F-35s than requested. The plane is built by Lockheed Martin in defense appropriations subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger's (R-Texas) district. Granger said the bill is an extension of last year's efforts to address readiness shortfalls. “It is a product of countless meetings and briefings with our military leaders and demonstrates our commitment to ensuring the U.S. military is the strongest, most capable military in the world,” she said in a statement. “Our military must have the resources it needs to respond to and deter threats from countries like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, and also counter violent extremists throughout the world.”


    11 juin 2018 | International, Aérospatial


    BETHESDA, Md., June 7, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) announced the doubling of its venture capital fund to $200 million and recent investments in early-stage companies focused in the areas of autonomy and advanced manufacturing. "Our focus is on finding and investing in companies developing cutting-edge technologies that will grow our business and disrupt our industry," said Chris Moran, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures. "We're developing long-term strategic partnerships with companies and helping them navigate through the early stages of product development while leveraging our decades of experience working with government customers." Enabled by tax reform legislation, Lockheed Martin Ventures is focusing the additional $100 million on early-stage companies in the areas of sensor technologies, autonomy, artificial intelligence and cyber. With the fund's latest investment, Lockheed Martin expanded its relationship with nTopology, creator of ELEMENT, an emerging software technology in the high-growth additive and advanced manufacturing sectors. "Our investment in nTopology will bring strategic advantages in Lockheed Martin's computational design processes and help shorten the periods between the design and manufacturing phase," said Moran. The increase in the venture fund is part of $460 million that Lockheed Martin is investing as a direct result of tax reform savings. The tax reform legislation enables Lockheed Martin to make investments that improve its global competitiveness, including investing in transformative technologies that will bring lasting benefits to customers, employees and communities. The company is making additional investments enabled by tax reform savings, including: $200 million additional investments in capital expenditures and research and development in 2018 $100 million in employee training and educational opportunities over the next five years $50 million investment in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education enrichment, including the establishment of a new Lockheed Martin STEM Scholarship Fund $10 million for the launch of the Lockheed Martin Innovation Prize competition More details of Lockheed Martin's investments enabled by tax reform legislation can be found here. About Lockheed Martin Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 100,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. SOURCE Lockheed Martin

  • Watchdog warns Pentagon to fix F-35 tech problems before full-rate production starts

    11 juin 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Watchdog warns Pentagon to fix F-35 tech problems before full-rate production starts

    By: Valerie Insinna WASHINGTON — The F-35 fighter jet is finally cruising toward the end of its development phase, but a congressional watchdog is warning the Defense Department not to move to full-rate production until it's certain it's resolved all critical technical issues. The F-35 Joint Program Office intends to make a decision in October 2019 on whether to move to full-rate production, but had planned to defer certain critical technical deficiencies until after that time, the Government Accountability Office stated in a June 5 report. That could make the program more expensive overall. “In its rush to cross the finish line, the program has made some decisions that are likely to affect aircraft performance and reliability and maintainability for years to come. Specifically, the program office plans to resolve a number of critical deficiencies after full-rate production,” it wrote. “Resolving these deficiencies outside of the developmental program may contribute to additional concurrency costs.” The GAO advised the F-35 JPO to resolve all critical deficiencies before full-rate production — a recommendation with which the JPO concurs and says it will pursue. However, it's important to understand what “resolve” means in this case. “The Department of Defense expects the F-35 Program to resolve all critical deficiencies prior to entering Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E), with either a fix, a Service Operational Test Agency approved workaround or a formal acceptance of the deficiency,” the JPO said in a statement. “The full-rate production decision will include an assessment of SDD [development phase] and IOT&E DRs [deficiency reports], as well as follow-on improvement DRs deferred for post-SDD action.” Translation: While the JPO will take steps to address all critical deficiencies, there are some that may require future work in order to be completely fixed. GAO noted that it is common practice for Defense Department acquisition programs to require that problems are “resolved” and not “fixed” because it “affords the department with more flexibility to develop alternative solutions rather than technical fixes.” In a statement, Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin's vice president of the F-35 program, said the company was working with the JPO to prioritize and correct issues. The F-35's next stage The GAO report was also critical about the JPO's new plan for Block 4 follow-on modernization, telling its congressional audience that it should consider holding back funding for that phase of the program until the JPO provides full details including an independent cost estimate, final acquisition strategy and test plan. Last year, Vice. Adm. Mat Winter, the F-35's program executive, announced that the JPO would pursue a path of rapid, agile software modernization during Block 4 called continuous capability development and delivery, or C2D2. The thrust behind C2D2 is for the government to constantly be developing, testing and delivering new capabilities as they become available, instead of as part of a traditional batch of upgrades every couple years. Currently, the cost of the new plan is unknown. The Department of Defense plans to update its acquisition strategy in time for a Defense Acquisition Board meeting this month, when it will decide when to start the competition for Block 4 development. By: Valerie Insinna Currently, the cost of the new plan is unknown. The Department of Defense plans to update its acquisition strategy in time for a Defense Acquisition Board meeting this month, when it will decide when to start the competition for Block 4 development. Sign up for our Military Space Report Get the latest news about space and strategic systems Subscribe However, a full business case won't be finalized until March 2019 — despite the fact that the Pentagon has asked for $278 million in fiscal 2019 for Block 4 development. “As a result, DOD requested funding for modernization over a year before the program has a business case for Block 4,” the report stated. “This means that the program is asking Congress to authorize and appropriate funds for Block 4 without insight into its complete cost, schedule, and technical baselines. Furthermore, once Congress appropriates these funds, DOD would be able to award a contract, beginning a long-term commitment to Block 4, the costs of which are not fully understood.” However, the GAO also acknowledged that there are some elements of that plan that could end up being a boon to the DoD. For one, it plans to use “government-owned open systems architecture and acquire data rights” for Block 4 development, which could increase competition throughout the F-35's life cycle and make it easier and cheaper to upgrade the platform. The C2D2 strategy may also “potentially shorten time frames for delivering capabilities over a traditional acquisition approach,” the agency said in the report. Most of the noted flaws in the C2D2 plan revolve around oversight — specifically the DoD's decision to keep Block 4 underneath the F-35 program instead of making it a separate acquisition program. “According to DOD's January 2018 report, however, each capability will be baselined separately in the program's future Block 4 annual reports to Congress,” the GAO noted. “We will review these future reports to Congress to determine what level of insight they provide into the program's cost, schedule, and performance goals.”

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