15 April 2019

Boeing wins $14.31bn contract to increase lethality of US bombers

Boeing has been awarded a $14.31bn flexible acquisition and sustainment contract for the US Air Force’s (USAF) bomber aircraft – the B-1 Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers.  

The indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract from Air Force Life Cycle Management Center requires the company to perform the modification, modernisation, engineering, sustainment and test of the weapons systems.  

The US DoD announced on Friday: “This B-1/B-52 Flexible Acquisition and Sustainment contract provides for the upcoming modernisation and sustainment efforts to increase lethality, enhance survivability, improve supportability, and increase responsiveness.” 

Boeing will undertake the contract work in Oklahoma City. The work is anticipated to be completed by 11 April 2029.  

The USAF will offer funds for research, development, test, and evaluation of around $1.21m on the first task order at the time of the award.  

The latest contract comes after Boeing secured a $250m contract to perform integration of the long-range stand-off (LRSO) cruise missile weapon system on the B-52H strategic bomber aircraft.  

Under the contract, Boeing will carry out aircraft and missile carriage equipment development and modification and provide testing and other services to support the full of the missile on the USAF’s fleet of 76 B-52H platforms.  

The LRSO nuclear-armed air-launched cruise missile is expected to replace the existing AGM-86 air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) on the B-52H bomber.  

Initially designed with a ten-year life span, the ALCM has been in service with the USAF for around 35 years.  

The B-52H Stratofortress, which entered service in 1961, is the USAF’s principal strategic nuclear and conventional weapons platform. The US is currently developing hypersonic weapons that can be attached to a B-52h.  

With a wingspan of 185ft, the aircraft offers a payload capacity of 70,000lbs and can achieve a speed of 650mph.  

The B-1B Lancer is a long-range, multi-mission, supersonic conventional bomber. The aircraft has been in use with the USAF since 1985.  

12 April 2019

US Navy awards $3.2bn contract to Northrop for extra E-2D aircraft 

The US Navy has awarded a $3.2bn multi-year procurement (MYP) contract modification to Northrop Grumman to supply an additional 24 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft.  

The fixed-price-incentive-firm contract is for the full-rate production of the aircraft for fiscal years 2019-2023.  

According to Northrop, the contract includes an option to deliver nine more foreign military sales aircraft. 

The company expects to complete the production of the 24 US Navy E-2D aircraft by 2026.  

Northrop Grumman vice-president manned airborne surveillance programmes integrated product team leader Jane Bishop said: “This aircraft continues to demonstrate its strategic value to our warfighters with early warning, command and control.  

“With this contract, we’ll continue production of these highly specialised aircraft while delivering innovative solutions that outpace advancing threats over the life of the fleet.”  

The carrier-based E-2D serves as the Navy’s airborne early warning and command and control aircraft system, providing expanded battlespace awareness for carrier strike groups and keeping them out of harm’s way.  

The aircraft’s advanced radar technology enables it to work with ship-, air- and land-based combat systems to track and defeat air, ship and cruise missiles at extended range.  

The navy can also deploy the aircraft in support of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capacity for civilian emergency coordination.  

The company has so far delivered 37 E-2D to the US Navy, with the first successful flight test with aerial refuelling conducted in 2016.  

Northrop also delivers a series of capability upgrades to the aircraft. Later this year, the firm will release the third upgrade, which includes an aerial refuelling capability to extend the aircraft’s endurance.  

The latest contract is the second multi-year procurement contract awarded to Northrop. The first US Navy E-2D aircraft contract was awarded in 2014.  

For the Navy, the latest MYP represents significant cost savings to the tune of $410.6m over the lifetime of the contract.  

E-2/C-2 Airborne Tactical Data Systems Program Office (PMA-231) programme manager captain Keith Hash said: “This is a critical element in providing the next generation of world-class command and control aircraft to the fleet.  

“The use of the MYP contract allows a substantial savings over the use of single-year contracts and helps us fulfil our mission to increase US Naval power at sea by providing our fleet the information they need to accurately plan and win the fight today and tomorrow.”  

11 April 2019 

UK’s DASA unveils £2m competition to foster counter-UAS technology 

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has launched a competition to seek robust and cost-effective next-generation solutions to tackle the future threats posed by drones.  

The £2m competition is run by the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), the MoD’s innovation wing, and is the latest stage in Defence Science and Technology Lab’s (Dstl) ongoing research programme into countering unmanned aerial systems (UAS).  

Companies in the defence industry are invited to submit proposals to neutralise the risks posed by hostile drones to the defence and security of the UK both at home and abroad. 

The MoD aims to develop new defensive capabilities by leveraging autonomous decision-making mechanisms and networked sensing systems that can detect, track, identify and defeat hostile UAS. It is also looking at developing its own swarm of drones.  

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “As the security threats from hostile drones are evolving at pace, it’s critical that our armed forces benefit from the very latest technology to stay ahead.  

“This competition will draw on the brightest and best of our defence industry to find innovative solutions that will ensure we are protected in the years to come.”  

The competition is focused on finding solutions to three key challenges, including next-generation counter-UAS technology, flexible counter-UAS technology, and countering future UAS systems.  

The first phase of the competition will involve delivering a proof of concept of the proposals for further development and integration in subsequent phases.  

It is expected to take place from July to March. The phase will have a minimum funding of £800,000 to fund multiple contracts.  

Dstl principal engineer David Lugton said: “Hostile UAS is a challenging threat in many different ways and requires cutting-edge technology and well-thought-out system approaches to counter it effectively. Through this competition, we are looking to inspire and develop a range of solutions to mitigate the threat posed by UAS now and in the future.  

“Among the technologies we’re looking for, we’d be interested in those which can detect and track multiple threats simultaneously, with minimal human oversight, and against a broad spectrum of UAS types.”  

Lugton added that DASA was also interested in particular systems that can overcome line-of-sight blockages, as well as comprehensive networks that can link multiple systems together to give a better picture of the drone threat.  

Countering threats posed by drones was one of the key talking points at the recent Security and Counter Terror Expo 2019.  

11 April 2019 

Amazon and Microsoft to battle it out for Pentagon’s $10bn JEDI contract 

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has revealed Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (ASW) as the two remaining contenders for its $10bn Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract.  

The contract is winner-takes-all and one of these companies will work with Pentagon to deliver secure cloud services for no less than ten years.  

The cloud offers several benefits to organisations, and could help the DoD to achieve missions more quickly, speed up the innovation process and help businesses to grow by reducing costs. 

Both AWS and Microsoft declined to comment on the announcement.  

However, it seems that AWS could have the lead on Microsoft after AWS’s successful work with the US Intelligence Community, including providing cloud services to the Central Intelligence Agency under the C2S contract.  

AWS is currently the only cloud service provider with the accreditation to address the full range of DoD data classifications – Unclassified, Sensitive, Secret, and Top Secret.  

However, Microsoft’s established history of providing cloud services, with more than 70 compliance offerings and 95% of Fortune 500 companies using the Microsoft cloud.  

The announcement ruled out the other contenders for the JEDI contract – namely IBM and Oracle, as they did not meet the minimum requirements of the contract.  

Oracle has been involved in a court case against the US DoD according to Bloomberg. The company filed a lawsuit in the US Court of Federal Claims last December, alleging that a former Oracle employee who worked on the bidding process and now works at ASW had a conflict of interest.  

The new announcement, however, inherently marks the end of that legal dispute.  

Another original contender, Google, withdrew from the JEDI contract bidding process in October 2018, citing that it preferred a multiple source contract, which would allow the DoD to “choose the right cloud for the right workload”.  

A Google spokesperson said in a statement at the time: “We are not bidding on the JEDI contract because first, we couldn’t be assured that it would align with our AI Principles.  

“And second, we determined that there were portions of the contract that were out of scope with our current government certifications.”  

11 April 2019

Jamaica buys Thales’ maritime surveillance technology to boost security 

The Jamaican Government has ordered new maritime surveillance technology from French firm Thales to strengthen its coastal surveillance capabilities.  

Under the contract, Thales will provide a turnkey system built around several Coast Watcher 100 long-range coastal surveillance radars, electro-optical sensors, and global maritime distress and safety system radios.  

The system will also comprise a National Control Center that will merge data from all sensors to provide a full operational capacity to the Jamaica Defense Force. 

Thales’ Coast Watcher 100, which is manufactured in Rouen, is a long-range coastal surveillance radar built for round the clock unmanned operation.  

The radar will ensure optimal detection, identification and tracking of small, highly manoeuvrable and fast targets, as well as low-altitude airborne threats to deliver advanced maritime surveillance.  

The maritime surveillance technology can be deployed to detect targets even in challenging environments.  

“Coast Watcher 100 maritime surveillance radars will allow the Jamaica Defense Force to benefit from the state of the art solution in detection, surveillance and control.” 

The air and surface targets that can be detected by Coast Watcher 100 include inflatable dinghies or jet-skis, warships, as well as low-level aeroplanes and helicopters.  

The contract was awarded as part of the Jamaican Government’s Maritime Domain Awareness Capability Initiative, a comprehensive programme designed to mitigate criminal maritime activities around the Jamaican coast.  

According to Thales, the system architecture enables the radar to counter the threat of piracy and smuggling operations.  

Thales Latin America vice-president Ruben Lazo said: “Thales’s high technologies help our customers make the best decision in real time. Coast Watcher 100 maritime surveillance radars will allow the Jamaica Defense Force to benefit from the state of the art solution in detection, surveillance and control.”  

The latest order builds on the existing relationship between Thales and the Jamaican government.  

The country already uses Thales air traffic control centres and radars to secure its airspace.  

Jamaica Defense Force placed an order in 2013 with the company for the supply of 12 Bushmaster armoured vehicles.  

Last month, the company received a contract from the French Defence Procurement Agency to supply Coast Watcher 100 radars to enhance maritime threat detection.  

9 April 2019

Williams creates F1-inspired tech for lightweight military shelters 

Williams Advanced Engineering is developing 3D lightweight military shelters for troops, using innovative composite technology derived from Formula One (F1).  

The engineering company is working in collaboration with the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) to speed up delivery of the protective, yet lightweight military shelters.  

Williams Advanced Engineering managing director Craig Wilson said: “Lightweighting is a key principle of motorsport and the use of carbon fibre has been crucial to the ongoing development of racing and on into more mainstream applications. 

“To think that innovations from the team here at Williams Advanced Engineering can deliver enhanced, lighter protection for the armed forces is a great feeling for us. We look forward to working with Dstl and DASA to enable deployment of our technology by service personnel for their protection.”  

The F1 composite technology employs fibre-reinforced polymer, namely glass fibre, carbon fibre, aramid and IR absorbing materials.  

“Lightweighting is a key principle of motorsport and the use of carbon fibre has been crucial to the ongoing development of racing and on into more mainstream applications.” 

They can offer varying levels of requirement-specific protection based on the molecular structure of the composite material. For example, some could be adapted to be tougher while others will be more lightweight, depending on the mission requirement. Composite shelters can be modified to protect against blasts, fragmentation, ground shock, and even thermal detection.  

The composite lightweight military shelters are much easier to carry than existing ones made from steel or alloys, but the cost of composite materials and issues with production tooling and ease of handling have restricted the use of composites to low-volume, high-performance applications.  

However, DASA’s ‘Take Cover’ competition offers an opportunity for Williams to implement its composite technology and become a leader in delivering advanced composite materials for use by the UK Ministry of Defence.  

“DASA was created to find and fund exploitable innovation for defence and security,” said DASA delivery lead Dr Adam Staines.  

“Key for this mission is wider engagement with non-traditional suppliers across a range of industrial sectors.  Accessing cutting-edge technology developed initially for F1 is a prime example of this engagement.  

“Lightweight foldable materials which can be assembled quickly to provide protection for troops was a key aim of this DASA themed competition. In addition to protecting troops and saving lives on the battlefield this technology has potential uses for domestic security and humanitarian applications.”  

Minimising the heavy burden of carrying equipment on the battlefield is essential for the army, as is the protection of troops – another area where F1 technology has been used.  

5 April 2019

QinetiQ wins £1.3bn LTPA amendment to modernise UK defence facilities 

Security and defence contractor QinetiQ has signed an amendment agreement with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) to modernise 16 defence facilities across the nation.  

The amendment to the 25-year Long Term Partnering Agreement (LTPA) secures £1.3bn for QinetiQ in the form of revenue through to 31 March 2028. Under the LTPA, QinetiQ will continue to provide experimentation, testing and evaluation, and training support to the MOD.  

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Ensuring our cutting-edge equipment is tried and tested before it is sent to the frontline is crucial to our military’s capability. 

“This £1.3bn investment will not only guarantee our armed forces’ have the reliable, state-of-the-art weaponry they need, but will also support jobs across the nation.”  

In order to combat the growing sophistication of threats from adversaries, the UK needs updated and advanced military weapons capabilities, as well as testing and training in the use of weaponry, which QinetiQ will provide.  

As well as the modernisation of UK defence facilities, the amendment allows QinetiQ to deliver on future MOD programmes such as the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier programme and the Dreadnought submarine programme.  

“This £1.3bn investment will not only guarantee our armed forces’ have the reliable, state-of-the-art weaponry they need, but will also support jobs across the nation.” 

QinetiQ chief executive Steve Wadey said: “Today’s agreement enhances our contribution to the safety and operational effectiveness of UK Armed Forces in an era when threats to our security remain acute and are changing rapidly.  

“In line with our strategy, we are introducing innovative ways of working and making selective investments to reinforce the UK’s position as a world-leader in the generation and assurance of military capability. This will enable us to support the MOD’s future programmes and win more work from both UK and international customers.”  

Future MOD investment projects include noise and electromagnetic signature measurement for stealth enhancement of ships, submarines and aircraft; ground-based electronic warfare capabilities to give the UK and operational advantage, and a new digital test and evaluation ‘backbone’, which can employ quick data analytics to improve new capabilities.  

DE&S chief executive officer Sir Simon Bollom said: “This latest contract amendment under the LTPA demonstrates how we are continuing to support our key defence programmes by investing in essential test and evaluation services.  

“This is another example of how DE&S is working collaboratively with industry and the front line commands to ensure our armed forces have the best value equipment and training to meet the operational demand.”  

The LTPA contract between the MOD and Qinetiq was last extended in 2008.  

4 April 2019

Raytheon and USAF to modernise legacy space debris tracking system 

A Raytheon-led consortium is partnering with the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) to modernise and simplify the legacy space debris tracking and monitoring system Space Defense Operations Center (SPADOC).  

The SPADOC is a 1990s-era system that reached the end of its planned service life.  

The USAF intends to replace SPADOC with modern systems in a bid to simplify operations and enable greater space situational awareness and collision avoidance capabilities, including space debris tracking. 

However, the development of the new system is expected to take several years before it becomes operational.  

Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services programme director Dave Fuino said: “Within just a few months we brought together a team, developed the technology to modernise it, got it on contract and held a series of demos to prove it worked. We went from concept to proving the solution in less than a year, which is really remarkable.  

“Between the experience of our North American Aerospace Defense Command teammates, a.i. solutions, Zivaro and E&M Technologies, and leading emulation companies Fundamental Software and M2 Technologies, we addressed the aging SPADOC system. It’s a game changer.”  

Under the modernisation project, Raytheon and AFLCMC will use modern computer hardware to emulate SPADOC’s capabilities, providing the same functionality as the existing system.  

"SPADOC provides critical space-tracking capabilities that we must sustain and maintain while we wait for new systems to come online." 

Known as SPADOC Emulation Analysis Risk Reduction (SPEARR), the emulated environment is expected to provide a greater sustainable system that requires minimum maintenance and offers significant reductions in power and cooling consumption.  

The reduced consumption is due to the integration of SPADOC’s capabilities into two small server racks instead of being spread over 1,000ft² of an ageing, analogue computer system.  

US Air Force Legacy Space Branch chief Bob Taylor said: “SPADOC provides critical space-tracking capabilities that we must sustain and maintain while we wait for new systems to come online.  

“At the same time, it’s critical that we address the obsolescence risk of an ageing SPADOC system. So we came up with a really innovative, modern solution to this problem.”  

Taylor added that the team used proven emulation technology to find a solution and reduce obsolescence risk.  

Raytheon and AFLCMC will now focus on evaluating options for fielding SPEARR.  

Other partners in the project include a.i. solutions, Zivaro and E&M Technologies, and emulation companies Fundamental Software and M2 Technologies.  

The partnership announcement comes as the US Government continues to develop its space force.