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Exercise Judicious Response Epic Guardian 2019 begins in Morocco
Written by Africom -
30th Apr 2019

At the invitation of the Governments of the Kingdom of Morocco, the United Kingdom and the United States, US Africa Command and subordinate service components have commenced the joint exercise Judicious Response Epic Guardian 19 in and around Agadir, Morocco.

Military personnel from the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces and the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence are participating alongside US personnel in the exercise, which began on 29 April. Exercises Judicious Response and Epic Guardian have previously been held as two separate, annual exercises that promote cooperation and understanding between regional allies and partner nations.

Previous iterations of Epic Guardian were held in Ghana, Malawi, Cameroon, Djibouti, Cabo Verde, Burkina Faso, and the Seychelles. This is the second iteration of Judicious Response to be held on the African continent, US Africa Command said. All prior iterations were Command Post Exercises held in Stuttgart, Germany, the location of US Africa Command headquarters.

https://www.defenceweb.co.za/land/land-land/exercise-judicious-response-epic-guardian-2019-begins-in-morocco/
 

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Fired Marine Commanding Officer Was Arrested on Drunk Driving Charge
29 Apr 2019
By Gina Harkins

Col. John B. Atkinson, incoming commanding officer, after a change of command ceremony at Lejeune Hall, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., on June 23, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Timothy A. Turner)

Col. John B. Atkinson, incoming commanding officer, after a change of command ceremony at Lejeune Hall, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., on June 23, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Timothy A. Turner)

A Marine colonel who was fired from his job as commanding officer of a Virginia-based unit was arrested earlier this month for allegedly driving while intoxicated.

Col. John Atkinson was arrested April 12 in Prince William County, Virginia, according to police records. Atkinson, 49, was released after agreeing to appear in court May 24.

It's Atkinson's first alleged offense. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

Maj. Gen. Vincent Coglianese, head of Marine Corps Installations Command,fired Atkinson from his job as commanding officer of Headquarters and Service Battalion in Quantico, Virginia, last week.

Marine officials declined to say whether he's facing additional punishment.

"It would be inappropriate to comment on the circumstances that led to the decision to relieve Col. Atkinson due to the ongoing investigation," Maj. Simba Chigwida, a Marine Corps Installations Command spokesman, told Military.com.

Atkinson, who lives just outside Prince William County, allegedly refused a blood or breathalyzer test at the time of his arrest, according to court records. Doing so can result in the court suspending a driver's license for a year, Virginia law states.

In January, he was also fined for driving without a license, according to court records.

If found guilty, Atkinson faces a minimum $250 fine and could have his license revoked for a year.

Marine Corps commanders must be held to high standards, Chigwida said, and they receive training to prevent these situations.

"These expectations are reinforced during mandatory commanders' courses for new commanders and regular, recurring meetings with installation commanders," he said. "The purpose of the directed Commandants Combined Commandership Course is to educate commanders, sergeants major, and their spouses on the fundamental authorities, responsibilities, programs, and practices that contribute to a successful command tour."

Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller also institutionalized the Protect What You've Earned campaign, which is designed to help eliminate alcohol misuse, sexual assault, suicide and domestic violence. Leaders are encouraged to inspire good behavior among their Marines and initiate conversations with their troops about good decision-making.

"The topic of responsible use of alcohol and protecting what you've earned is something we emphasize constantly to all of our Marines," Chigwida said.

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/04/29/fired-marine-commanding-officer-was-arrested-drunk-driving-charge.html?ESRC=eb_190430.nl
 

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Gitmo Task Force Commander's Firing Comes After Criticism of Detainee Treatment
29 Apr 2019
By Matthew Cox
Rear Adm. John Ring, Joint Task Force Guantanamo Commander, speaks to JTF Troopers during an All Hands meeting at the Camp Bulkeley Lyceum on May 17, 2018. (National Guard/Sgt. Zachary Tomesh/112th MPAD/JTF GTMO PAO)

Rear Adm. John Ring, Joint Task Force Guantanamo Commander, speaks to JTF Troopers during an All Hands meeting at the Camp Bulkeley Lyceum on May 17, 2018. (National Guard/Sgt. Zachary Tomesh/112th MPAD/JTF GTMO PAO)

Just one day before his abrupt firing as commander of detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Rear Adm. John Ring said publicly that detainees there may not be receiving adequate medical treatment.

Adm. Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, relieved Ring as the head of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo on Saturday due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command.

On Friday, Ring was quoted in a Defense One article as questioning the U.S. policy that prevents the transfer of detainees to the United States, even in the case of a medical emergency.

"I'm sort of caught between a rock and a hard place," Ring said in Defense One. "The Geneva Conventions' Article III, that says that I have to give the detainees equivalent medical care that I would give to a trooper. But if a trooper got sick, I'd send him home to the United States. And so I'm stuck. Whatever I'm going to do, I have to do here."

Ring was scheduled to move onto another assignment after a change of command in June, but his abrupt firing "had nothing to do" with his comments in the Defense One story, Army Col. Amanda Azubuike, spokeswoman for SOUTHCOM, told Military.com on Monday.

Guantanamo Bay currently houses 40 detainees, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who allegedly planned the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Ring was also quoted as saying that some of the detainees are "prediabetic" and could develop serious health conditions as they get older.

"Am I going to do dialysis down here? I don't know. Somebody has got to tell me that," he told Defense One. "Are we going to do complex cancer care down here? I don't know; somebody has got to tell me that."

Ring was relieved as a result of an investigation that began in March and ended in mid-April, before the Defense One story was published, Azubuike said.

The New York Times reported Sunday that Ring had been outspoken in the past about the facilities at Guantanamo Bay. Last June, he told reporters that the "top-secret prison where the military segregates high-value detainees, called Camp 7, would become inadequate as the prisoners aged," according to The New York Times.

The timing of Ring's firing seemed interesting, however, to human rights attorney Patricia Stottlemyer, who posted this tweet Sunday:
"JTF GTMO commander is fired days after he stated that the inadequate medical care at #Guantanamo placed him at odds with his obligations under the Geneva Conventions. There's a statutory bar on transferring detainees to US even for emergency medical care."

The bar on transfers has been part of the National Defense Authorization Act for several years, Stottlemyer told Military.com in an interview.
"The Senate has, for several years, included in its version of the NDAA a provision that would allow for the temporary transfer of detainees to the US for emergency medical treatment, but it has not made it into the final bill," said Stottlemyer, an associate attorney at Human Rights First, an independent advocacy organization.

Guantanamo Bay was also in the news recently as a potential site under consideration by the Department of Homeland Security for detaining migrant children apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border, several media outlets reported.

"It's a terrifying prospect that we detain migrant children at all, but certainly putting them somewhere where they would have less access to adequate medical care ... it makes that independent monitoring and providing adequate care for these children much more difficult," Stottlemeyer said.

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/04/29/gitmo-task-force-commanders-firing-comes-after-criticism-detainee-treatment.html?ESRC=eb_190430.nl

More on this story: US Armed Forces
 

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APRIL 30, 2019
Boeing awarded $5.7B for KC-46 Pegasus combat capability work
By Allen Cone


A KC-46 departs Boeing's plant headed for McConnell Air Force Base on Jan. 25. Photo courtesy of Boeing


April 30 (UPI) -- Boeing has been awarded a $5.7 billion post-production contract for combat capability for the U.S. Air Force's troubled K-46 Pegasus refueling tanker aircraft.
The indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract, announced Monday by the Department of Defense, includes non-recurring and recurring requirements centered on user-directed and Federal Aviation Administration-mandated KC-46 air vehicle needs.


The KC-46 fleet is planned to replace the Air Force's Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers.
The company's $49 billion KC-46 program has seen multi-year delays and expenditure overruns. And deliveries have been halted multiple times because of foreign materials found in the jets after arrival from the factory.

Work on the new contract will be performed at Boeing's plant in Seattle and is expected to be complete by April 28, 2029.
Fiscal 2018 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $9.1 million have been obligated on the first delivery order at the time of award.

The military aerial refueling and strategic military transport aircraft are built from from empty Boeing 767 jet airliners in Everett, Wash., then transferred to a facility at the south end of Paine Field called the Military Delivery Center. That's where the jet's military systems, including the refueling and communications equipment, are installed.

The first two KC-46s were flown from Boeing's facilities to McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., in January, but deliveries were stopped within weeks.
The Air Force halted deliveries of the aircraft on Feb. 21 due to foreign object debris, including trash and industrial tools. Eight tools were found in aircraft under production at Boeing's facility, and two more in tankers delivered to the U.S. Air Force, according to an internal Boeing memo.
After inspections by the Air Force and the creation of an additional inspections plan, deliveries resumed about one week later.


In April, however, the Pentagon again halted accepting deliveries aircraft due to foreign object debris. The Air Force and Boeing has been working on an even more intense inspection process, including draining fuel tanks on all new aircraft so that they can be inspected for foreign object debris -- as with the rest of the planes -- Defense News reported.

Boeing plans to deliver 36 aircraft this year, said Mike Gibbons, Boeing vice president.

Boeing awarded $5.7B for KC-46 Pegasus combat capability work
 

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USS Harry S. Truman will not be retired early, vice president Pence says
May 1, 2019


Vice President Mike Pence speaks to Sailors during an all-hands call in the hangar bay aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Photo: US Navy

US Navy aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) will not be retired halfway through its service as was earlier planned, US vice president Mike Pence told sailors aboard the carrier during a visit on April 30.

CVN 75 was set to be decommissioned 25 years early in an effort to cut costs and enable a drive towards modernization.

The plan was to mothball the carrier ahead of its mid-life refueling overhaul and thereby save over $3 billion.

“We are keeping the best carrier in the world in the fight,” Mike Pence was quoted as saying. “We are not retiring the Truman.”

The vice president was visiting the carrier at its Norfolk homeport where it returned following a dynamic force deployment in December 2018.

“This ship has served as a constant sign to the world that we will always ensure our security,” said Pence. “We will always stand for peace through strength. During each deployment in its prolific career, USS Truman has taken the fight to the enemy on our terms, on their soil.”

The decision not to retire the US Navy’s eighth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier was praised by senator Tim Kaine. “As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I have pushed hard against the Administration’s plans to mothball the Truman at the midpoint of its working life. I am gratified that the Administration listened and is now committed to the refueling. This is the right call for our national security.”

“It appears the Trump administration’s plan to retire the USS Truman decades ahead of schedule was a budget gimmick all along,” senator Mark Warner commented. “While I am glad the administration ultimately reconsidered this terrible idea, the incoherence here has not been good for morale or defense planning.”

Congresswoman Elaine Luria, a 20-year navy veteran and vice chair of the HASC Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, said she was glad that the administration reversed itself because this “would have been an awful decision for Hampton Roads and America.”

“As someone who served two years on the USS Harry S. Truman, I have firsthand knowledge of its value and ability to bring sustained power anywhere on Earth,” Luria said.

 

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US Navy exercises option for two more Navajo-class ships under $128M contract
May 1, 2019


Photo: US Navy

The US Naval Sea Systems Command has awarded Gulf Island Shipyards a $128.5 million contract modification to exercise options for the construction of additional two towing, salvage and rescue ships.

These will be the second and third ships in the class which will be known as Navajo-class, in honor of the major contributions the Navajo people have made to the armed forces.

Designated T-ATS 6, the new class of vessels will be based on existing commercial towing offshore vessel designs and will replace the current T-ATF 166 and T-ARS 50 class ships.

According to the contract modification, work under the contract is expected to be complete by November 2021.

The initial contract includes options for potentially seven additional vessels, and each additional ship will be named in honor of prominent Native Americans or Native American tribes.

Gulf Island Shipyards was awarded a $63.5 million contract for the detail design and construction of the new towing, salvage and rescue ship which will be based on existing commercial towing offshore vessel designs and will replace the current T-ATF 166 and T-ARS 50 class ships in service with the US Military Sealift Command.

The T-ATS will serve as open ocean towing vessels and will additionally support salvage operations and submarine rescue missions. The first ship in the class will be built at the company’s shipyard in Houma, Louisiana, and is expected to be completed in March 2021.

 

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USS Montgomery becomes first LCS to complete SWATT
April 30, 2019

uss-montgomery-becomes-first-lcs-to-complete-swatt.jpg

USS Montgomery (LCS 8) launches a RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) during a missile exercise. Photo: US Navy

Littoral combat ship USS Montgomery (LCS 8) became the first ship in its class to complete Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training in the US 3rd Fleet area of operation (AOR).


The training, which concluded April 22, provided the crew of the Independence-class USS Montgomery (LCS 8) advanced level training to increase their tactical proficiency, lethality, and interoperability.


Montgomery conducted several training exercises during the multi-day training event, including anti-submarine, surface, and air warfare. Complex live-fire events included torpedo countermeasure exercises and gunnery exercises.


“SWATT is the culmination of a phased training approach which prepares our ships and our sailors to win the fight,” said Capt. Matthew McGonigle, commander, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron ONE. “The Montgomery crew demonstrated that they are ready, capable and committed to meet the mission the navy and our nation requires of them.”


Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center mentors, warfare tactics instructors (WTIs), and technical community experts planned the events, briefed shipboard teams, and embarked to train and mentor watch teams throughout the duration of the advanced tactical training. Training evolutions used a formalized plan, brief, execute, debrief (PBED) process.

 

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May 1, 2019
Raytheon receives $419 million for Sidewinder missiles, parts
By Ed Adamczyk

Aviation ordnance men lift an AIM-9M Sidewinder air-to-air missile to load it onto an F/A-18 Hornet aboard USS Nimitz. Photo by Yesenia Rosas/ U.S. Navy/UPI | License Photo

May 1 (UPI) -- Raytheon Missiles Systems was awarded a $419 million contract modification to build the Lot 19 AIM-9X missile, the Defense Department announced on Tuesday.

The contract modification covers tactical missiles, captive test missiles, air training missiles, parts and spare parts for the missile, known as the Sidewinder.

The parts include optical target detectors, guidance units, steering equipment and electronic units, and the contract also calls for materials in support of repairs, depot maintenance and refurbishment.

The missile has been in service, with modifications, since 1956, and is standard equipment in the military forces of many nations. Work will primarily be performed at Raytheon's Tucson, Ariz., facility, as well as facilities across the United States and Canada, and completed by October 2022.

The U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force are the major funders of the contract, with lesser amounts from the governments of Qatar, Australia, South Korea, Norway, Slovakia, Japan, Denmark, Morocco, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Oman, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Turkey, Romania, Taiwan, Finland, Indonesia, Israel and Malaysia. All the countries are customers under the Defense Department's Foreign Military Sales program.

The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting agent.

 

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May 1, 2019
Northrup Grumman to integrate countermeasures system on aircraft for U.S., allies
By Ed Adamczyk

The Navy's Large Aircraft Countermeasures system, seen here on a KC-130, will be integrated onto other aircraft of the Navy, Army and militaries of Britain and Norway. Photo courtesy of Northrup Grumman

May 1 (UPI) -- Northrup Grumman Systems Corp. was awarded a contract to integrate the U.S. Navy's Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures onto aircraft of the U.S. military and two allies.

The Department of Defense announced the contract, to be completed by June 2021 and not to exceed $132.2 million, on Tuesday.

The contract calls for obtaining the equipment, analysis and technical support required to integrate the Navy's LAIRCM system onto aircraft for the Army and Navy, as well as those of Britain and Norway.

LAIRCM is an active countermeasure to defeat threat missile guidance systems by directing a high-intensity laser beam at an incoming missile. It has heat-seeking capabilities, automatically countering an incoming missile system by honing in on its infrared light emission.

Under the contract, Northrop Grumman will provide advanced threat warning sensors, replaceable control indicator units, signal processors, infrared missile warning sensors, Guardian Laser Transmitter Assemblies [GLTAs], multi-role electro-optical end-to-end test sets, GLTA shipping containers, high capacity cards, signal processor replacements smart connector assemblies and other hardware.

The Navy is responsible for 79 percent of the contract cost, with the Army responsible for 15 percent and the foreign governments, through the Defense Department's Foreign Military Sales agency, with the rest.

Most of the work will be performed at Northrup Grumman facilities in Rolling Meadows, Ill., and Goleta, Calif.

The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting agent.

 

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US could lose a key weapon for tracking Chinese and Russian subs
By: Joe Gould and Aaron Mehta

WASHINGTON — A key tool in the U.S. Navy’s fight against Russian and Chinese submarines weighs eight pounds, is three feet long and it doesn’t even explode.

The sonobuoy is an expendable, waterborne sensor that has been air-dropped by the hundreds to detect enemy subs, a go-to capability for America and its allies for decades. The Pentagon wants to buy 204,000 sonobuoys in its fiscal 2020 budget request, a 50 percent spending increase over 2018.

But just as the U.S. military needs them most, this critical capability is under threat, and it’s got nothing to do with an enemy nation. Without government investment in the market, the Pentagon says it may no longer have a reliable supplier, according to officials who spoke to Defense News.

Like so many systems in the Pentagon’s arsenal, America has just one proven supplier. In this case, it is a joint venture between the United States and the UK called ERAPSCO. The Pentagon says ERAPSCO will dissolve by 2024 and that neither side of the partnership — Sparton Corp., of Schaumburg, Illinois, and Ultra Electronics, of Middlesex in the U.K. — will be able to make the necessary investments to produce the capability independently.

It’s an “acknowledged weakness” in the industrial base that required the Pentagon find a solution, said Eric Chewning, a top Pentagon official who was until January the head of the Pentagon’s industrial policy office.

As a result, U.S. President Donald Trump in March signed a memo invoking the Defense Production Act to declare domestic production for the five types of AN/SSQ sonobuoys “essential to the national defense” and grant the Pentagon authorities to sustain and expand the capability. The Air Force, in anticipation, issued a market research solicitation to find suppliers beyond ERAPSO.

The Pentagon requires "comprehensive individual production lines ... for the five sonobuoy types, but the two companies would “require assistance to establish independent production lines,” said DoD spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews.

“Due to the significant efforts and expenditures, it is unlikely that either the JV partners (or any other entity) will be independently able to make the necessary investments to develop and produce the required sonobuoy demands by 2024,” Andrews said, adding that “DoD intervention into the market is necessary.”

A staple of the sub-hunting P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft and the MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter, multi-static active coherent, or MAC, sonobuoys have a battery life of about eight hours. Because they’re tracking submarines that are in constant motion, a sonobuoy dropped in one place may become useless soon after. If a P-8 is hunting blind, its full cache of 120 might get used up in a single mission and abandoned.

“It depends on how much area the P-8 needs to search and how quickly the target submarine is moving,” said naval analyst Bryan Clark, of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “The search area for the system depends on the detectability of the target submarine. If the P-8 is conducting a barrier search, it may not need to expend that many sonobuoys. If it is tracking a moving, quiet submarine, though, it could use up its entire sonobuoy load and need to come back for reloading.”

With Russian and Chinese sub activity on the rise, anti-submarine forces have been unexpectedly busy in recent years, burning through supplies of all kinds of sonobuoys.

The Navy’s sonobuoy budget climbed from $174 million in 2018 to $216 million in 2019 to $264 million in the 2020 budget request. In 2018, the Pentagon asked Congress for a $20 million reprogramming for sonobuoys for 6th Fleet, after including $38 million for sonobuoys on its unfunded priorities list.

Analysts agree that sonobuoys will only become more important to the U.S. and its allies as Russia and China’s sub technology advances.

“With the new generation of quiet submarines being fielded by Russia and China, traditional approaches to [anti-submarine warfare] using our submarines or surface ships are becoming less successful,” Clark said. “Our ships and submarines have to get too close to the Russian or Chinese submarine to hear them on passive sonar, and ship and submarine active sonars are relatively short range and expose the transmitting platform to detection.”

Russia’s subs are the most capable, and Moscow is devoting considerable resources to modernizing them, said Nick Childs, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. China’s subs are “technologically still behind the curve,” but the country is investing heavily to become a competitor in underwater capabilities.

“Russia’s submarine force is likely to remain the most potent and challenging of its naval arms, with continued significant investment, and to the extent that its submarines activities continue, [the U.S. Navy will] be demanding of such things as sonobuoys,” Childs said.

Industrial challenge
ERAPSCO produces four of the five types of sonobuoys, which the Navy is in negotiats to buy on a four-year contract through 2023. Looking to boost competition, the service has been pushing Sparton and Ultra Electronics to dissolve the partnership and sell sonobuoys independently at the end of this contract.

But Sparton disclosed in an annual report last year that “due to the significance of the effort and expenditures required, there can be no assurance that Sparton, or both of the ERAPSCO joint venture partners,” would be able to meet the Navy’s requirement independent of one another.

Facing financial troubles, Sparton agreed to be acquired by Ultra Electronics in July 2017, but the companies cancelled their $234 million deal less than a year later, after the U.S. Department of Justice planned to block it over antitrust concerns.

Sparton then sold itself to Cerberus Capital Management, a New York City-based private equity firm specializing in distressed assets, for $183 million, roughly a year later. Cerberus owns major brands like office supply retailer Staples and grocery chain Safeway, but also defense contractors DynCorp, and as of December, Navistar Defense.

Andrews, the Pentagon spokesman, laid out the government’s concerns in a statement to Defense News.

“The DoD/DoN anticipates purchasing over 204,000 sonobuoys per year across the five types. To meet this demand, the DoD/DoN requires secure and stable sonobuoy suppliers,” Andrews wrote. “Based on these requirements and need for a stable sonobuoy industrial base, comprehensive individual production lines are required for the five sonobuoy types.

"This Defense Production Act Title III project is intended to sustain and reconstitute the industrial base for U.S. Navy sonobuoys and ensure at least two sources of sonobuoy manufacturing," Andrews said, adding: "For these reasons, President Trump, DoD, and DoN found use of DPA funds, coupled with industry investment, to be the most cost-effective, expedient, and practical approach to meet critical AN/SSQ series sonobuoy capability requirements."

The Defense Production Act, invoked in Trump’s memo, allows the department to give funding to producers of key industrial needs. It’s something the department is trying to use more in the wake of a major industrial base study, released last year.

“Part of what we wanted to do was inject capital to make sure there was support to the industrial base so that you could have two or more viable suppliers,” Chewning, the former industrial policy head, told Defense News recently. “It just made sense given the existing shortfall, and what had been allowed to happen within the industrial base, that we used the DPA Title III authorities to create incentives to expand production and strengthen.”

Chewning, who is now chief of staff to Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, said that he was going off information gleaned from before he left the Industrial Policy job. He described the situation as being “active, not reactive.”

Ultra Electronics and Sparton declined to comment on the future of their joint venture.

“Ultra Electronics remains committed to our US Navy partners to ensure the continued success of sonobuoy production and future development efforts. Our focus is, and will continue to be set on meeting the growing ASW requirements of the fleet,” the company said in a statement.

If the United States was open to buying sonobuoys outside its borders, there are other Western producers of the technology, including close allies Britain and France. But those production lines are being tapped by others, and with the U.S. likely to be the biggest procurer of the systems going forward, losing a U.S. internal production capability could lead to shortages worldwide.

And fundamentally, naval analysts Childs and Clark agree having a domestic supplier for the U.S. is vital, both for production needs and for, as Childs puts it, remaining “at the cutting edge of what is a critical technology area."

David Larter in Washington contributed to this report.
US could lose a key weapon for tracking Chinese and Russian subs
 

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Army to outfit all Double V-Hull Strykers with 30mm firepower
By: Jen Judson  
02.May.2019


WASHINGTON — The Army has decided to outfit all of its brigades equipped with Double V-Hull A1 Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles with 30mm guns following an evaluation of the vehicle equipped with the cannons in Europe, according to an Army official.

The service plans to open up a competition to integrate and field up-gunned DVHA1, the official told Defense News on background.

The Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and the Army Requirements Oversight Council decided on March 20 to equip future Stryker brigades with 30mm Medium Caliber Weapon System (MCWS) capability after reviewing lessons learned from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Europe, but also directed the Army to ensure that the new MCWS capability be applied to the more mobile, better protected DVH ICVVA1 that will be the basis for the future Stryker fleet, according to the official.

Based on an urgent operational need out of Europe, the Army was provided emergency funding from Congress in 2015 — a little over $300 million — to rapidly develop and field a Stryker with a 30mm cannon specifically for the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, which is permanently stationed in Germany. The funding covered development, eight prototypes and upgrades to 83 production vehicles, as well as spares.

The Army spent 18 months to put together its upgunned Stryker using off-the-shelf solutions, such as the remote turret, from Kongsberg in Norway, and the 30mm cannon from Orbital ATK and shipped those vehicles off to Europe for an evaluation that went on for the better part of a year.

The plan going forward is to execute a competition in two phases to select a 30x173mm-equipped MCWS integrated onto a Stryker DVH ICVVA1, the official said, which will lead to equipping the first brigade with a new capability in fiscal year 2022.

Army Contracting Command released a Request for Quote to begin the first phase of the Stryker MCWS program on April 9.

The recent request called for integration designs. The Army will award up to seven design integration study contracts for potential vendors to study integrating a MCWS onto a Stryker ICVVA1 platform.

The Army will supply both a Stryker platform and the XM813 30mm cannon to build production representative system samples, the official said.
The service will then circulate a draft request for proposal this fall to begin the second phase of the program, which will establish a full-and-open competition to award a production contract for a MCWS integrated onto an ICVVA1, which will be based on vendors’ production representative system samples and proposals.

The MCWS will be part of a suite of lethality improvements for Stryker formations which include the Common Remote Operated Weapons Station-Javelin (CROWS-J) — that was also on the Stryker ICV Dragoon in Europe — and the Stryker Anti-Tank Guided Missile Vehicle (ATGM) engineering change proposal program.

The Army is also developing a host of other capabilities for the Stryker through the Army Futures Command Cross-Functional Team initiatives, according to the official.

Col. Glenn Dean, the Stryker program manager, told Defense News last fall that between early user testing in 2018 and subsequent fieldings, there had been an overall “very positive response” to the lethality and effectiveness of the Stryker ICVD.

“The cannon provides a tremendous standoff and additional maneuver space, and it is very effective against the threats they are concerned about in Europe,” he said.

But some feedback suggested that the physical layout of the vehicle could use some improvements, particularly when it came to situational awareness.

The turret for the cannon takes up a lot of roof and hatch space and also affects how equipment is stowed.

But the Army was already making modifications to the Dragoon based on feedback from the field, according to Dean.

It is unclear what the specific requirements might be for a more lethal Stryker, but one factor up for debate could be whether there is a need to reload and operate the turret under armor, which could change the physical nature of the vendors’ designs.

Another issue to work out is what is necessary for a field-of-view inside the vehicle and how that might be achieved and who might control the cameras providing a view of the battlefield.

Soldiers in the Stryker ICVD noted a lot of dead zones where users couldn’t see. The Army made improvements to the cameras used on the vehicles in Europe providing an overlapped field-of-view.

Army to outfit all Double V-Hull Strykers with 30mm firepower
 

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Pilots safely eject from Air Force T-6 trainer before crash
A T-6 Texan II, used for pilot training by the U.S. Air Force, crashed Wednesday afternoon southwest of Hastings, Okla.
By Clyde Hughes
MAY 02, 2019

Student pilots prepare for take-off in a T-6 Texan II on March 27, 2019, at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma. Photo by Airman Zoë T. Perkins/U.S. Air Force


May 2 (UPI) -- Two crew members safely ejected from a T-6 Texan II trainer plane southwest of Hastings, Okla., near Lake Waurika Wednesday afternoon, military officials said.

The incident happened about 2 p.m. about 40 miles from Sheppard Air Force Base, located north of Wichita Falls, Texas. The plane was part of a pilot instructor training mission at the time of the incident, an Air Force statement said.

The Air Force did not give details about the incident except to say that an investigation has started and for the public to contact the air base if debris from the plane is found. Officials urged the public not to touch the debris for safety reasons.

The T-6A Texan II is a single-engine, two-seat primary trainer is designed to train Joint Primary Pilot Training students in basic flying skills common to U.S. Air Force and Navy pilots.

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UPDATE 1/2: A T-6 Texan II from Sheppard AFB, Texas crashed just before 2 p.m. today southwest of Hastings, Okla. Both crew members ejected safely and have returned to base. The aircraft was performing a pilot instructor training mission at the time of the accident.
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Pilots safely eject from Air Force T-6 trainer before crash
 

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Air Force test-launches Minuteman missile from Vandenberg
By: The Associated Press
02.May.2019  

This photo provided by Vandenberg Air Force Base shows an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (Airman 1st Class Aubree Milks/Vandenberg Air Force Base via AP)


VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — A fiery streak lit up the California sky as the U.S. Air Force conducted an early morning test of an unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile.

The Air Force Global Strike Command says the missile was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base northwest of Los Angeles at 2:42 a.m. Wednesday.

The ICBM's re-entry vehicle traveled approximately 4,200 miles (6,759 kilometers) over the Pacific to a target in the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

An Air Force statement says such tests are scheduled years in advance to verify the accuracy and reliability of the weapon system, and are not a response or reaction to world events or regional tensions.

The test was conducted by a team from the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming.

 

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Shanahan: Super Hornet on track to meet readiness goals, but F-16s and F-22s still struggling
02.May.2019
By: Valerie Insinna

WASHINGTON — The Super Hornet is set to meet the 80 percent mission-capable rate goal by the end of the year, the Pentagon’s top civilian said Wednesday, but it remains unclear whether the F-35, F-22 and F-16 will be able to meet the mark.

Last fall, then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis gave the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps until the end of fiscal 2019 to bring their F-35s, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, F-22 Raptors and F-16s up to an 80 percent mission-capable rate — a key metric to determine the health of a flying squadron’s aircraft.

Of those, the “real emphasis was on the F-35 and F/A-18,” acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said May 1 during a House Appropriations Committee panel, and the Super Hornet has made a “tremendous” amount of headway over the past year.

“The Navy has made significant progress with the F/A-18s. I think they’re on track to meet the goal in September,” he told lawmakers.

However, Shanahan suggested the F-22 and F-16 are unlikely to hit the 80 percent goal, adding that the F-22 “has struggled” and the F-16 “is a bit of a high bar” to clear.

Shanahan was unclear on whether the F-35 — which is available in three different variants used by the Air Force, Marine Corp and Navy — will be able to meet the mandate this year.

“The F-35s, being brand-new aircraft, that [80 percent] should be the baseline where we start,” he said. “The F-35 will come home. We’re going to drive that home.”

In a statement to Defense News, Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Chris Harrison said the service’s F-35s are on track to meet the 80 percent mission-capable rate by the beginning of FY20, and “operational squadrons [currently are] consistently performing in the mid-to-high 60% range.”

The Air Force and Navy did not provide information about the F-35’s progress by press time.

The services stopped publishing mission-capable rate statistics last year, citing operational sensitivity, but a March report by the Government Accountability Office found all variants of the F-35 operated at a mission-capable rate of about 50 percent from a period of May to November 2018.

However, Mattis’ mandate specifies that only the F-35s used by operational squadrons must meet the readiness marker. Because there are only a small number of operational F-35 squadrons, and those units typically have newer and more reliable aircraft, the services may stand a better chance of getting to the 80 percent rate.

Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek concurred with Shanahan’s assessment of the F-16 and F-22, saying that damage from Hurricane Michael to Tyndall Air Force Base’s F-22s and ongoing difficulties with maintaining the F-22’s low-observable coating were likely to prevent the Raptor from achieving an 80 percent mission-capable rate this year.

However, the service remains “optimistic” that it will be able to get its F-16s over the finish line by the end of FY19, she said.

Given the low availability of tactical aircraft in recent years, it would be an impressive accomplishment to get any of the fighter jets to meet the 80 percent goal.

In August, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer told reporters that half of the service’s Super Hornet aircraft were mission capable — a huge increase from 2017 when two-thirds of the fleet were unavailable to fly.

In 2017 — the last year the Air Force put out data — F-22s held a 49 percent mission-capable rate and the F-16 hovered around 65 to 70 percent, depending on the model.

Despite the services’ difficulties meeting the aviation readiness goal, Shanahan maintained that pushing toward an 80 percent mission-capable rate for those platforms was a worthy endeavor.

“It’s a lot of iron to keep on the ground, and given all the training missions and the productivity we can generate, I think holding that standard is smart for now,” he said.


 

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Sexual assault increased in US military in 2018: report
By Agence France-Presse
-
May 3, 2019

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan called for tougher action against sexual assault in the US military Thursday after an annual Pentagon report said the number of assaults in 2018 had risen from recent years.

Sexual assaults reported by Defense Department employees, both men and women, jumped 13 percent last year to 7,263 compared to 2017.
Moreover, actual sexual assaults were likely to be about triple the reported number, given the estimate that just one out of three victims in the military file a complaint.

“It is clear that sexual assault and sexual harassment are persistent challenges,” Shanahan said in a statement.

“To put it bluntly, we are not performing to the standards and expectations we have for ourselves or for each other. This is unacceptable.”

Based on a survey taken only every two years, the report said that not only the number but the prevalence of sexual assault was on the rise in 2018.
Around 6.2 percent of women in the Department of Defense experienced sexual assault or unwanted sexual contact in 2018, compared to 4.3 percent two years earlier, according to the report.

The level for men was much lower and relatively stable: 0.7 percent experienced assault in 2018, slightly higher than 0.6 percent two years ago.
The problem was worst in the Marines: some 10.7 percent of women in that service reported sexual assault last year, compared to 7.5 percent in the Navy and lower rates in the other services.

Sexual assaults on men from all services was in the 0.7-0.8 percent range.

Shanahan said he supported a proposal to seek a specific crime for sexual harassment under the military’s unique justice system.
 

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