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  • Can Army Futures Command Overcome Decades Of Dysfunction?

    28 août 2018 | International, Aérospatial, Terrestre

    Can Army Futures Command Overcome Decades Of Dysfunction?

    By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR. ARMY S&T CONFERENCE: How broken is the procurement system the new Army Futures Command was created to fix? It’s not just the billions wasted on cancelled weapons programs. It’s also the months wasted because, until now, there has not been one commander who can crack feuding bureaucrats’ heads together and make them stop bickering over, literally, inches. “I have not always been an Army Futures Command fan,” retired Lt. Gen. Tom Spoehr told the National Defense Industrial Association conference here. But as he thought about his own decades in Army acquisition, he’s come around. How bad could things get? When he was working in the Army resourcing office (staff section G-8), Spoehr recalled, the Army signals school at Fort Gordon wanted a new radio test kit that could fit in a six-inch cargo pocket. The radio procurement programmanager, part of an entirely separate organization, reported back there was nothing on the market under eight inches. The requirements office insisted on sixinches, the acquisition office insisted they had no money to develop something smaller than the existing eight-inchers, and memos shot back and forth for months. At last, Spoehr warned both sides that if they didn’t come to some agreement, he’d kill the funding. Suddenly Fort Gordon rewrote the requirement from “fit in a cargo pocket” to “cargo pouch” and the procurement people could go buy an eight-inch kit. That kind of disconnected dithering is what Army Futures Command is intended to prevent. “I had the money, but nobody really had control of all of this,” Spoehr said. As a result, he said, “we probably spent six months trading memos back and forth on the size of the radio frequency test kit.” Multiplying that by thousands of requirements over hundreds of systems, and the wasted time and money gets pretty bad. But what’s often worse is when the requirements are unrealistic and no one pushes back. Most notoriously ,Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki demanded easily airlifted Future Combat Systems vehicles that weighed less than 20 tons but had the combat power of a 60-ton M1 Abrams tank. The designs eventually grew to 26 tons, and the performance requirements came down, but by then FCS had lost the confidence of both Congress and Defense Secretary Bob Gates, who canceled it in 2009. It was another casualty of overly ambitious requirements drawn up by staff officers in isolation from the people who’d actually have to build them. Army Futures Command is structured to force those two groups to talk to each other from the start. Full article: https://breakingdefense.com/2018/08/can-army-futures-command-overcome-decades-of-dysfunction

  • Senate passes $675 billion defense budget bill, with hopes of avoiding funding lapse next month

    28 août 2018 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR

    Senate passes $675 billion defense budget bill, with hopes of avoiding funding lapse next month

    By: Leo Shane III WASHINGTON — Senators on Thursday advanced an $857 billion appropriations measure that includes full defense funding for fiscal 2019 and raises hopes that Congress may be able to avoid a government shutdown or short-term budget extension for Pentagon programs this fall. The measure, which passed 85-7, includes money for the departments of defense, health and human services, labor and education. The so-called “minibus” of appropriations bills was touted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as making America “stronger overseas and right here at home.” Of the total, $675 billion would be set aside for military spending next year, including nearly $68 billion in overseas contingency funds. The levels are in line with the recently adopted defense authorization bill and the budget deal reached by Democrats and Republicans last spring. “The funds meet many of the requirements of our military commanders, equipping and training units to meet and to overcome the most dangerous of emerging global threats,” McConnell said before the vote. “As ever, we are to provide adequate training, weaponry and skills so that Americans always prevail on the battlefield.” Full article: https://www.militarytimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2018/08/23/senate-passes-675-billion-defense-budget-bill-with-hopes-of-avoiding-funding-lapse-next-month

  • These 7 Chinese companies each topped $5B in defense sales — and could rival American firms

    24 août 2018 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre

    These 7 Chinese companies each topped $5B in defense sales — and could rival American firms

    By: Aaron Mehta WASHINGTON — With China now the second-largest spender on defense in the world, Chinese companies are logically going to rank among the largest defense firms. But quantifying that number has proven incredibly difficult thanks to the opaque nature of both government spending and the firms themselves. Now, a London-based think tank has concluded that seven Chinese firms would rank among the top 20 defense companies in the world, each breaking $5 billion in defense revenues — a proportion that rivals any one nation outside the U.S. Lucie Beraud-Sudreau and Meia Nouwens, two researchers with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, looked at eight key defense firms from China — the China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC), China Electronics Technology Enterprise (CETC), China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO), China South Industries Group Corporation (CSGC), China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC). The researchers looked at the largest defense firms and key subsidiaries, excluding a pair of nuclear-focused Chinese companies, classifying each as defense- or civilian-focused. Then they used the differentiation to calculate how much of each company’s total revenues was derived from defense-related sales. Full article: https://www.defensenews.com/top-100/2018/08/23/these-7-chinese-companies-each-topped-5b-in-defense-sales-and-could-rival-american-firms

  • Army EOD soldiers will soon get a whole new kit — and new robots

    23 août 2018 | International, Terrestre

    Army EOD soldiers will soon get a whole new kit — and new robots

    By: Todd South BETHESDA, Md. — The explosive ordnance disposal community has played a key role in operations in recent wars, and that role will only grow as the Pentagon shifts its focus to major combat operations against near-peer threats. With that growing role, the equipment those EOD technicians carry with them will change, too. At the National Defense Industrial Association’s annual Global EOD Symposium recently, multiple speakers focused on how the community has spent the past two decades primarily working the improvised explosive device threat. But they cautioned that old and new threats will emerge in major combat. Repeated throughout their comments was the admonition that the community must be “full EOD, not just IED.” To meet that mission, the Army is turning to technology to help fill the gaps. Pat McGrath, chief of the materiel development branch for Army Training and Doctrine Command’s EOD concerns, laid out some of the new items in the works. Army EOD teams will soon have three aerial drones, soldier-borne sensors, tiny “nano” helicopter drones and tethered Unmanned Aerial Sensors at their disposal. The enhanced render safe kit will also include binocular night vision devices, lightweight dismounted X-ray machines, lightweight electronic countermeasures, and lightweight mobile detectors for radiation and chemicals. The Army needs 176 kits and expects to have initial operational capability by 2021, McGrath said. Full article: https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2018/08/22/army-eod-soldiers-will-soon-get-a-whole-new-kit-and-new-robots

  • US Army pursues alternatives for a Stryker-based active protection system

    21 août 2018 | International, Terrestre

    US Army pursues alternatives for a Stryker-based active protection system

    By: Jen Judson WASHINGTON — While the U.S. Army has been working to qualify a Virginia-based company’s active protection system for the Stryker combat vehicle, it is also in the process of evaluating several additional APS solutions for the platform beginning in November. “The Army will be executing a fourth non-developmental APS system evaluation,” Army spokeswoman Ashley Givens told Defense News in a recent statement. The evaluation will be on the Stryker platform, she confirmed, adding that the service has received three responses to a request for information released earlier this year asking for more Stryker-focused APS solutions. “At this time the Army is still reviewing the proposals of the vendors to confirm viability,” Givens said. More than a year ago, the Army determined it needed to field an interim APS solution for the Abrams tank as well as the Stryker and Bradley. The service decided to rapidly assess off-the-shelf APS systems to fulfill an urgent operational need after failing — over a 20-year period — to field an APS capability. The Army has since selected three different systems: Israeli company Rafael’s Trophy system, which is deployed in the Israeli army, for Abrams; Iron Fist from IMI, another Israeli company, for the Bradley; and Herndon, Virginia-based Artis’ Iron Curtain for Stryker. While the Army has stayed on track with Abrams, due to a combination of earlier funding availability and qualifying an already fielded system, it has struggled to stay on schedule with the other two configurations. In January, Col. Glenn Dean, the program manager for Stryker, who also manages the service’s effort to install APS on combat vehicles, told Defense News that Iron Curtain’s delay was partly due to a decision to replace the radar originally intended for the APS. “We’ve had some other issues," he said. "We have learned that that system probably is not as mature as originally envisioned, so the contractor had some difficulty getting to the point they were ready to start characterization, and then we had some, I will call it, friction on the test range.” At the time, Iron Curtain had roughly three weeks of testing left to wrap up government characterization. Dean said the program office would be ready to generate final reports and bring it to the Army for a decision in the March time frame. In April, the Army released a sources-sought notice looking for other APS solutions for Stryker and also received, in fiscal 2018, $25 million to qualify a fourth system as part of the interim APS program being called the Expedited Active Protection Systems activity. According to Givens, the program office has completed the installation and characterization phase of the ExAPS activity, but “we are currently awaiting an Army decision on the next phase of activity for Iron Curtain.” In January, Col. Glenn Dean, the program manager for Stryker, who also manages the service’s effort to install APS on combat vehicles, told Defense News that Iron Curtain’s delay was partly due to a decision to replace the radar originally intended for the APS. “We’ve had some other issues," he said. "We have learned that that system probably is not as mature as originally envisioned, so the contractor had some difficulty getting to the point they were ready to start characterization, and then we had some, I will call it, friction on the test range.” At the time, Iron Curtain had roughly three weeks of testing left to wrap up government characterization. Dean said the program office would be ready to generate final reports and bring it to the Army for a decision in the March time frame. In April, the Army released a sources-sought notice looking for other APS solutions for Stryker and also received, in fiscal 2018, $25 million to qualify a fourth system as part of the interim APS program being called the Expedited Active Protection Systems activity. According to Givens, the program office has completed the installation and characterization phase of the ExAPS activity, but “we are currently awaiting an Army decision on the next phase of activity for Iron Curtain.” The Army’s evaluation process of additional systems is expected to come in the form of a live-fire “rodeo” — for lack of a better term — where the service has invited a small number of the RFI respondents with the most promising potential solutions to have their APS capability put to an initial limited test against a set of threats defined by the Army, according to a source familiar with the effort. The respondents are required to fund the demonstration primarily at their own cost, but some Army funding will be used to conduct the tests. At least two companies have been invited to participate in the rodeo, the source said. One those companies is likely Germany’s Rheinmetall. The company has advocated hard for the Army to also qualify its Active Defense System, and the Army admitted, prior to receiving FY18 dollars, that it would want to qualify ADS if it had the funds. Full article: https://www.defensenews.com/land/2018/08/20/army-pursuing-possible-alternatives-for-a-stryker-based-active-protection-system

  • 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 Corps wants lighter body armor for counterinsurgency conflicts

    16 août 2018 | International, Terrestre

    The Corps wants lighter body armor for counterinsurgency conflicts

    By: Shawn Snow  The Corps wants new lighter body armor to give commanders more flexibility in low-intensity conflicts on the battlefields of places like Iraq and Afghanistan. The Marines posted a request for information, or RFI, Wednesday to seek out industry support in fielding a new, lighter body armor that will complement the Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert, or ESAPI, plates already fielded by Marines. According to the RFI, the Corps is seeking new armor to provide “protection from non-armor piercing rounds that are currently prevalent in counterinsurgency operations and other low intensity threat environments.” “Our current ESAPI plates do an amazing job of protecting Marines and have saved many lives,” Nick Pierce, Individual Armor team lead, program manager of Infantry Combat Equipment at Marine Corps Systems Command, said in a command release. “The only problem is Marines are currently given a binary choice between taking on 15 pounds to be protected or zero pounds and very little protection. This new lightweight plate would protect Marines and give commanders the choice of what plate to use based on the specific mission.” https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/your-marine-corps/2018/08/15/the-corps-wants-lighter-body-armor-for-counterinsurgency-conflicts/

  • Athletic trainers and greener kitchens on the way as Corps caters to ‘combat athletes’

    15 août 2018 | International, Terrestre

    Athletic trainers and greener kitchens on the way as Corps caters to ‘combat athletes’

    By: Shawn Snow  The Corps plans to hire a slew of athletic trainers, and come October Marines will likely notice a new healthier food menu and layout at their respective chow halls. It’s all part of an effort by the Corps to reduce injuries across the force and cater to combat athletes in similar fashion to division one collegiate players. The new chow facilities or “athletic kitchens” will boast healthier options with fresh fruit and vegetables up front. There will be a cold bar option with yogurt, granola and fresh fruit in the morning and a salad bar for lunch and dinner. “As you go through the line it’s going to be the green stuff,” Col. Stephen Armes, the director of the Force Fitness Division told Marine Corps Times in an interview. “All the healthy stuff is going to be up front.” The new chow halls are going to resemble college athletic dining facilities with fresh greens and an assortment of healthy proteins, according to Armes. But unhealthy food is not disappearing, the Corps just plans to make it harder for you to choose that option. “Sometimes you just need a cheeseburger, there’s nothing wrong with that,” Armes said. But, a Marine is “going to have to fight to get down to that cheeseburger.” The Corps is also on the verge of hiring new athletic trainers separate from the nearly 600 Force Fitness Instructors already fielded across the Marines. Full Article: https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/your-marine-corps/2018/08/14/athletic-trainers-and-greener-kitchens-on-the-way-as-corps-caters-to-combat-athletes/

  • Pentagon is rethinking its multibillion-dollar relationship with U.S. defense contractors to boost supply chain security

    14 août 2018 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR

    Pentagon is rethinking its multibillion-dollar relationship with U.S. defense contractors to boost supply chain security

    By Ellen Nakashima The Pentagon has a new goal aimed at protecting its $100 billion supply chain from foreign theft and sabotage: to base its weapons contract awards on security assessments — not just cost and performance — a move that would mark a fundamental shift in department culture. The goal, based on a strategy called Deliver Uncompromised, comes as U.S. defense firms are increasingly vulnerable to data breaches, a risk highlighted earlier this year by China’s alleged theft of sensitive information related to undersea warfare, and the Pentagon’s decision last year to ban software made by the Russian firm Kaspersky Lab. On Monday, President Trump signed into a law a provision that would bar the federal government from buying equipment from Chinese telecommunications firms Huawei and ZTE Corp., a measure spurred by lawmakers’ concerns about Chinese espionage. “The department is examining ways to designate security as a metric within the acquisition process,” Maj. Audricia Harris, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said in a statement. “Determinations [currently] are based on cost, schedule and performance. The department’s goal is to elevate security to be on par with cost, schedule and performance.” The strategy was written by Mitre Corp., a nonprofit company that runs federally funded research centers, and the firm released a copy of its reportMonday. “The major goal is to move our suppliers, the defense industrial base and the rest of the private sector who contribute to the supply chain, beyond a posture of compliance — to owning the problem with us,” said Chris Nissen, director of asymmetric-threat response at Mitre. Harris said the Pentagon will review Mitre’s recommendations before proceeding. She added that the Department of Defense, working with Congress and industry, “is already advancing to elevate security within the supply chain.” Testifying to Congress in June, Kari Bingen, the Pentagon’s deputy undersecretary for intelligence, said: “We must have confidence that industry is delivering capabilities, technologies and weapon systems that are uncompromised by our adversaries, secure from cradle to grave.” Security should be seen not as a “cost burden,” she told the House Armed Services Committee, “but as a major factor in their competitiveness for U.S. government business.” The new strategy is necessary, officials say, because U.S. adversaries can degrade the military’s battlefield and technological advantage by using “blended operations” — hacking and stealing valuable data, manipulating software to sabotage command and control systems or cause weapons to fail, and potentially inducing a defense firm employee to insert a faulty component or chip into a system. “A modern aircraft may have more than 10 million lines of code,” Mitre’s report said. “Combat systems of all types increasingly employ sensors, actuators and software-activated control devices.” The term “Deliver Uncompromised” grew out of a 2010 meeting of senior counterintelligence policy officials, some of whom lamented that the Defense Department was tolerating contractors repeatedly delivering compromised capabilities to the Pentagon and the intelligence community. Addressing the security issue requires greater participation by counterintelligence agencies, which can detect threats against defense firms, the report said, and ideally, the government should establish a National Supply Chain Intelligence Center to monitor threats and issue warnings to all government agencies. Ultimately, the military’s senior leaders bear responsibility for securing the supply chain and must be held accountable for it, the report said. The Defense Department, although one of the world’s largest equipment purchasers, cannot control all parts of the supplier base. Nonetheless, it has influence over the companies it contracts with as it is the principal source of business for thousands of companies. It can shape behavior through its contracts to enhance supply-chain security, the report said. Legislation will be needed to provide incentives to defense and other private-sector companies to boost security, Mitre said. Congress should pass laws that shield firms from being sued if they share information about their vulnerabilities that could help protect other firms against cyberattacks; or if they are hacked by a foreign adversary despite using advanced cyber­security technologies, the report said. Contractors should be given incentives such as tax breaks to embrace supply chain security, the report suggested. The Department of Homeland Security is addressing the security of the information technology supply chain through its newly established National Risk Management Center. “What we’re saying is you should be looking at what vendors are doing to shore up their cybersecurity practices to protect the supply chain,” said Christopher Krebs, DHS undersecretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate. The National Counterintelligence and Security Center, an agency of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that coordinates the government’s counterintelligence strategy, said in a report last month that software-supply-chain infiltration has already threatened critical infrastructure and is poised to endanger other sectors. According to the NCSC, last year “represented a watershed in the reporting of software supply chain” attacks. There were “numerous events involving hackers targeting software supply chains with back doors for cyber espionage, organizational disruption or demonstrable financial impact,” the agency found. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/the-pentagon-is-rethinking-its-multibillion-dollar-relationship-with-us-defense-contractors-to-stress-supply-chain-security/2018/08/12/31d63a06-9a79-11e8-b60b-1c897f17e185_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.265ce85b6eb1

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