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April 24, 2019
Navy executes successful test of AEGIS Virtual Twin software in missile test
By Ed Adamczyk



The destroyer USS Thomas Hudner successfully test-fired an SM-2 missile using the AEGIS Virtual Twin system of software, the U.S. Naval Sea Command said on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of U.S. Naval Sea Command


April 24 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy successfully executed a live-fire drill controlled by the AEGIS Virtual Twin, a prototype software upgrade for the AEGIS weapon system, the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command said.

Crew aboard the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Thomas Hudner, partnered with the Navy's Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems, fired a standard SM-2 missile made by Raytheon Corp. to successfully intercept a target during the drill.

The Navy announced the March 25 test, conducted off the Virginia coast, on Tuesday.

The virtual twin, a prototype of the AEGIS Virtual Combat Management System, is the entire set of computer code which makes up the AEGIS Combat System Baseline 9, USNI reported. Housed within several servers, it takes up considerably less space on a ship than the actual Aegis Combat System.

Using virtualization technology and installed in small cases, it can run the AEGIS Weapon System code in a fraction of the original space. The Seas Systems Command said in a statement that the entire set of cases could fit under a dining room table, with future designs able to free shipboard space for other purposes.

Since it contains software code identical to that already in use in the Aegis system, it offers the capability of installation on ships without additional cost or time for at-sea testing.

"It is great to be a part of the evolution of AEGIS," said Cmdr. Nathan Scherry, commanding officer of the USS Thomas Hudner. "Virtual Twin has a tremendous role as the next step for the Guided Missile Destroyer's weapon system, and I am really excited to see it advance both tactically and as a feedback loop for continuous improvement of the weapon system's software."

 

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April 24, 2019
VT Halter awarded $745.9M for Coast Guard's new Polar Security Cutter
The contract covers engineering and detail design of the Coast Guard's new polar icebreaker, as well as for materials and construction of the first ship.
By Ed Adamczyk

A U.S. Coast Guard ship cuts through Arctic Ocean ice. The Defense Department awarded a $945.9 million contract to VT Halter Maritime Inc. to design and build a new class of Polar Security Cutter. Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard


April 24 (UPI) -- VT Halter Marine Inc. of Pascagoula, Miss., received a $745.9 million contract for design and construction of the U.S. Coast Guard's lead Polar Security Cutter.

The contract, announced Tuesday by the Department of Defense, calls the company to handle engineering and detail design for the new class of vessel, as well as for the first ship to be constructed by 2024.

Options on the contract to build two more vessels under the PSC program would bring the total contract to $1.94 billion.

The class was renamed in September from Heavy Polar Ice Breaker to Polar Security Cutter by the Coast Guard to highlight its importance to national security. The icebreakers are the Coast Guard's first new ship for that purpose in over 40 years, and will have search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, environmental response and national defense mission capabilities.

RELATED National security cutter Midgett completes acceptance trials for Coast Guard

"When we talk about icebreaking capability, that doesn't sell very well to all audiences," Rear Adm. Melvin Bouboulis, said last year at the American Society of Naval Engineers Fleet Maintenance and Modernization Symposium. "We understand that some folks think just it goes and breaks ice, but we've purposely changed the name of that program to Polar Security Cutter because it is really the U.S. presence in the Arctic regions and preserving our national interest and security in those areas."

The Coast Guard notes in a 48-page report released Monday, called the Arctic Strategic Outlook and released on Monday, noted that "dramatic changes in the physical environment" of the Arctic Ocean have allowed China and Russia to become more competitive there. It noted that because of China and Russia's "persistent challenges to the rules-based international order around the globe," there is concern of "similar infringement to the continued peaceful stability of the Arctic region."

The report calls for upgrades of ships, aircraft, communications and unmanned missions in the region.

The PSC program is a Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Coast Guard Level 1 investment, according to the Department of Defense. The initial award calls for engineering and detail design of the PSC ship, as well as the purchase of long lead-time materials and construction.

The ship will be jointly managed by the Coast Guard, the United States' lead agency for assuring surface access in polar regions, and the U.S. Navy.

The majority of VT Halter Marine's work will be performed at its Pascagoula, Miss., facilities. If options for two more ships are exercised, work will continue through November 2027. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, D.C., is the contracting agency.

 

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Shanahan cleared in Pentagon investigation
By: Aaron Mehta
9 hours ago
25.04.2019
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, center, and David Norquist, far right, the Defense Department's budget chief, arrive to testify at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the fiscal year 2020 Pentagon budget, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 26, 2019. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

WASHINGTON — Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has been cleared by the Pentagon’s Inspector General’s office, in a move that likely paves the way for nomination to the full secretary job.

In a 47-page report released Thursday, the IG wrote that no evidence was found that Shanahan used his position in the department to provide preferential treatment to the Boeing Co., where he worked for over three decades.

“We determined that Mr. Shanahan fully complied with his ethics agreements and his ethical obligations regarding Boeing and its competitors,” investigators concluded.

Aside from Shanahan himself, the IG interviewed top leadership from across the department. That including Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Gen. Joe Dunford and Gen. Paul Selva, the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Unnamed military services chiefs, DoD undersecretaries and “other senior officials who regularly dealt with acquisition and budget issues; and other senior DoD civilian and military leaders" were interviewed as well.

The investigators also looked at more than 5,600 pages of unclassified documents and approximately 1,700 pages of classified documents.
News of Shanahan’s clearance was first reported Thursday morning by the Wall Street Journal.

It has been widely expected for months that Shanahan, who came in as the deputy secretary of defense in summer of 2017, will be the official successor to Mattis as the full secretary of defense. He appears to have a positive relationship with President Donald Trump, and few other names have arisen as a possibility since Mattis left at the end of last year.

However, the IG investigation reportedly caused the White House to press pause on any moves to nominate the former Boeing executive for the defense department’s top spot. In response, Shanahan launched something of a press tour, doing a one-on-one interview on Fox News, increasing his visibility with reporters and talking openly about why he feels he can do the job.

“I show up every day, put my shoulder to the wheel because I believe in what we’re doing,” he told Defense News during a recent trip to Florida. “I want to make a contribution to national defense. And I believe I can deliver on the National Defense Strategy.”

Notably, the IG says that the investigation was launched in part because of request from the office of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a Senate Armed Services Committee member who is also running for the Democratic nomination for president. Should Shanahan receive the nomination, Warren may be a vocal opponent.

“Secretary Shanahan has at all times complied with his Ethics Agreement, which screens Boeing matters to another DoD official and ensures no potential for a conflict of interest with Boeing on any matter.," said Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, Shanahan’s spokesman. “The report speaks for itself.”

Detailed findings
The IG launched its investigation based on accusations of five ways Shanahan may have violated his ethics agreement:
  • That he “Boosted” or “praised” Boeing in meetings.
  • Made disparaging remarks about Boeing’s competitors, including Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson.
  • “Repeatedly dumped” on the F-35 aircraft in meetings and called the F-35 aircraft “f---ed up”
  • Put “his finger on the scale when it comes to Pentagon priorities” for procuring Boeing aircraft that the Military Services did not want, including forcing Neller to buy Boeing F/A-18s, and threatening to cut other Air Force programs unless Goldfein supported buying Boeing F-15Xs.
  • "Involved himself” in the KC-46 program by “weighing on” the Air Force to accept the aircraft after technical problems delayed Boeing’s delivery.
Following a series of interviews, the IG also decided to look into whether Shanahan had inappropriate contact with Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, suggested that a DoD official visit a Boeing simulation facility, and discussed a classified matter related to a Boeing product.

During the course of the investigation, Shanahan repeatedly expressed confidence he would be cleared.

“I appreciate the IG addressing these accusations,” he said during the same Florida trip. “What I would say is, look, I have over 30 years of experience doing large-scale engineering and manufacturing. I’ve brought that experience, management expertise to the Department of Defense.

What I would tell people is I’m not at all biased towards Boeing. I’m biased toward performance for the Department of Defense, I’m biased toward performance for the taxpayer and most importantly I’m biased towards performance for the war fighter.”

He then seemed to point directly at one of the prime accusations in the CREW complaint — that he referred to the F-35 joint strike fighter as “f---ed up” — by saying “I would also add: I know substandard industry performance. And I am an equal opportunity critic of substandard-performing programs. And I will always criticize substandard performance.

“My history has always been to call things the way I see it because at the end of the day, that’s what our war fighters deserve and that’s why I joined the Department of Defense.”

The IG’s findings line up with Shanahan’s statements. Specific to the F-35 comments, the IG concluded that “Mr. Shanahan did not ‘repeatedly dump’ on the F-35 aircraft in meetings. Rather, we determined that Mr. Shanahan’s comments related to the F-35 program and its performance, and were consistent with other comments about problems in the F-35 program made by other senior DoD officials.”

On the specific F-35 comment, the IG noted a differentiating between the F-35 program at the Pentagon and contractor level, and the plane itself.
“Mr. Shanahan told us that he did not say that the F-35 aircraft was ‘f---ed up.’ He told us that the F-35 aircraft is ‘awesome.’ Mr. Shanahan told us that he said the F-35 program was ‘f---ed up,'" the IG wrote.

https://www.defensenews.com/pentagon/2019/04/25/shanahan-cleared-in-pentagon-investigation-report/
 

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Air Force secretary raised ethical concerns about Shanahan
By: Aaron Mehta
4 hours ago
25.04.2019

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan have had clashes in the past. (Adrian Cadiz/U.S. Air Force; Sgt. Amber I. Smith/U.S. Defense Department)

WASHINGTON — Since his early days in office, Patrick Shanahan has butted heads with secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson over the Pentagon’s future space architecture.

But a new inspector general investigation into the acting secretary of defense — released Thursday, and clearing him of any wrongdoing in regards to pushing products from his previous employer, Boeing — shows the tensions existed at a different level than previously reported.

Of the 33 witnesses interviewed by the IG’s office, including former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, the joint chiefs, and other top Pentagon officials, Wilson was the only one to raise red flags about Shanahan’s behavior.


“None of the other witnesses told us that they had any concerns regarding his adherence to his ethical obligations. Many reported that Mr. Shanahan was attentive to his ethical obligations,” the IG wrote.

While Wilson raised concerns about Shanahan’s actions, others in the Pentagon interviewed by the IG noted that the former executive was preemptive in avoiding what may be conflicts of interest.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, for instance, said there were two cases when the KC-46 tanker started to stray into a conversation, and that Shanahan “actually interjected and said, ‘We have to stop the conversation.’ And one of those times he actually got up and said, ‘Hey, I do understand you need to talk about this, so I’m going to depart.’”

But Wilson, who has announced her intention to leave the Pentagon next month and return to academia, has repeatedly butted heads with Shanahan over space issues, in particular over the formation of the Space Force and the Space Development Agency over the last eight months.

Sources familiar with the relationship describe it as tense, between two people who seem to have personal distaste for one other.

Wilson’s concerns came from three areas. The first, Shanahan’s potential role in a decision to accept the KC-46 tanker despite ongoing issues from manufacturer Boeing; second, a December meeting between Shanahan and Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX; and third, whether the former executive shared classified information from Boeing programs improperly.

“I felt in a difficult ethical position myself in that case,” Wilson said, via the IG, of the meeting between Shanahan and Musk. "That one directly involved [Mr. Shanahan]. The other [KC-46 and classified matter] may be just sloppy staff work, but I think at least on one occasion, I felt uncomfortable.”

Despite these three concern areas, Wilson did tell the IG she felt Shanahan mostly acted properly when talking about his past with Boeing.

“It’s not as though he touts Boeing as a company … I don’t recall him saying something specific about Boeing,” Wilson is quoted as telling the IG.

“In almost every meeting there were references to the Dreamliner. And I never really took those issues as being any kind of an ethical problem.”
Wilson also stated that Shanahan may have said, “’We would never have done it this way. Or we wouldn’t do it this way,’” adding: “It was more comparing his experience and criticizing a contractor that he felt wasn’t getting the supply chain right.”

She later told the IG that she never had a discussion with Shanahan about buying the F-15X, a Boeing-made jet.

The concerns
The first concern raised by Wilson came at the end of 2018, when the Air Force was debating whether to accept the first KC-46A tanker from Boeing, despite ongoing issues with the plane. Wilson indicated there was pressure from Shanahan or his office to just accept the plane.
Wilson “expressed concern to [the IG] that Mr. Shanahan or his staff may have created the appearance of favoritism” for Boeing by asking Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, to chair a meeting about the tanker, as well as the fact Shanahan’s office had received a copy of a memo meant for Mattis. She also raised concerns after Shanahan’s staff asked her to coordinate with Mike Griffin, the Pentagon’s research and engineering head, on the tanker issue – despite the KC-46 not directly being in his portfolio.

On Dec. 28, Wilson “noted to her staff Mr. Shanahan’s recusal and expressed her concern that Mr. Shanahan’s office had received a copy of her memorandum. Ms. Wilson also told her staff that she would decide on the next steps herself, and directed Air Force personnel not to participate in an OSD meeting that Mr. Shanahan’s chief of staff suggested Ms. Lord should convene.

Eventually, a decision was made by Will Roper, the Air Force’s acquisition head, to accept the planes; Roper told the IG that “the allegation that Mr. Shanahan pressured the Air Force to accept the KC-46 was ‘absolutely untrue.’”

Per the IG, “None of the documents we reviewed indicated that Mr. Shanahan received Ms. Wilson’s information memorandum, asked questions of any involved parties, expressed an opinion, issued guidance, made a recommendation, or otherwise participated in the matter of the Air Force acceptance of the KC-46.”

The Musk complaint dates to a Dec. 6, 2018 meeting between Shanahan and Musk. At the time, Musk’s SpaceX was in competition with Boeing over a launch contract. Per the IG, Wilson told Shanahan she did not think he should meet with Musk, and when the meeting went ahead, she shared her concerns about the meeting with Thomas Ayres, the Air Force general counsel.

Ayres, in turn, reached out to the Standards of Conduct Office (SOCO) to inquire whether they saw an issue with the meeting. However, Shanahan’s team had already reached out to SOCO weeks ahead of the meeting and received clearance as long as acquisition issues were not directly
discussed.

That information “allayed” Ayre’s concerns and “he later told this to Ms. Wilson,” the IG report reads. The IG found nothing foul occurred in the meeting.

The details on the classified matter are, unsurprisingly, thin. But it appears Wilson raised concerns about Shanahan’s comments regarding a Boeing program that is related, in some way, to the classified issue being discussed. However, after talking with three other witnesses, the IG found no issue with Shanahan’s comments.

“In this case, Mr. Shanahan’s comments were about general DoD capabilities and did not constitute a recommendation or decision about a particular matter involving Boeing,” the IG concluded. “Secretary Mattis made a decision about the particular matter separately and without Mr. Shanahan’s input. Mr. Shanahan’s comments did not violate his ethical obligations.”

https://www.defensenews.com/pentagon/2019/04/25/air-force-secretary-raised-ethical-concerns-about-shanahan/
 

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Trump transfers background investigation power to Pentagon
By: Jessie Bur
25.04.2019

The Department of Defense will have full responsibility for conducting background investigations of federal employees and contractors, under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump April 24.

The Trump administration has long telegraphed the transfer, as background investigations for DoD personnel were already assigned to the Pentagon under the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2018, and officials maintained that transferring the whole process to one agency would be more efficient.

“Implementing that legislative mandate while retaining the benefit of economies of scale in addressing the federal government's background investigations workload, avoiding unnecessary risk, promoting the ongoing alignment of efforts with respect to vetting federal employees and contractors, and facilitating needed reforms in this critical area requires that the primary responsibility for conducting background investigations government-wide be transferred from the Office of Personnel Management to the Department of Defense,” Trump wrote in the executive order.

The order also mandates that the Defense Security Service, which began the process of taking over security clearance IT systems from the Defense Information Systems Agency in March, change its name to the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency.

According to the order, the change requires that “no later than June 24, the DCSA shall serve as the primary entity for conducting effective, efficient and secure background investigations for the federal government for determining whether covered individuals are or continue to be eligible for access to classified information or eligible to hold a sensitive position."

The federal government has long struggled with a security clearance investigation backlog,which was listed on the Government Accountability Office’s list of systems most susceptible to fraud, waste and abuse.

The Trump administration has previously listed the transfer of background investigation services away from the Office of Personnel Management’s National Background Investigation Bureau to the DoD as the beginning of breaking apart OPM entirely into other agencies.

The move has drawn criticism from federal employee groups as an attempt to politicize the civil service.

Trump’s executive order also places the responsibility for background investigation IT systems in the hands of the secretary of defense, who will be required to oversee work to “design, develop, deploy, operate, secure, defend, and continuously update and modernize” such systems.

DoD and OPM leadership will also be responsible for coordinating the transition of operations, including the designation of background investigation personnel to the Pentagon.

https://www.federaltimes.com/management/2019/04/25/trump-transfers-background-investigation-power-to-pentagon/
 

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Can this tracked robot haul as much as a mule and as quietly as a bear?
By: Kelsey D. Atherton

Designed for all-terrain travel, the tracked Grizzly is first and foremost a cargo beast of burden. (Textron)

Internal combustion is loud and so is war.

The roar of vehicles is as expected a part of modern combat as the booms from explosives and the staccato ring of gunshots, but not all of war has to be. Electrical engines are quiet, and especially against the din of battle, the softer sounds of a humming electrical engine can achieve something like stealth. In this light, Textron’s Grizzly unmanned ground vehicle could fine a quiet niche on future battlefields.

Despite its ursine namesake, the Grizzly is fundamentally a pack animal, more than a deadly foe. It is a mule-drawn cart in function if not form, a tracked platform built to lighten the loads of the soldiers it accompanies into battle. The Grizzly is a tracked vehicle powered by a hybrid diesel-electric engine, and aimed at the Army’s “Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport” (SMET) program.

For the SMET program, the Army wants a vehicle that can carry about 1,000 pounds worth of soldier equipment — likely lightening the loads of nine soldiers across an infantry squad. In summer 2018, the Army tested multiple robot-wagons by having them transport nine rucksacks, six boxes of MREs and four water cans, or roughly the long-range load for a unit of light infantry. (Developed by Howe & Howe, the Grizzly participated in the 2018 exercise as the RS2H1. Textron acquired Howe & Howe in December 2018)

The SMET program wants the robots to be able to travel 60 miles over three days, and it must also be able to provide a spare kilowatt hour of power while moving, and at least 3 kilowatt hours while stationary. According to Howe & Howe, the Grizzly performed a 60-mile trek in less than half the time required.

The Army is set to makes is selections in the SMET program next month, and if a showing of the Grizzly in its booth at a tradeshow in March 2019 is any indication, Textron is optimisticabout its robot’s chances. There remains the chance that the Army will decide the technology just isn’t there yet for any machine, and hold off on any of the robots for the near future.

They wouldn’t be the first service to do so; after years of work and tests in exercises, the Marine Corps ultimately turned down the Legged Squad Support System, a robot mule designed to carry rucksacks on the march, for being too loud in the field.

Infantry is quieter than most, and if a SMET-selected robot, like perhaps the Grizzly, can operate electrically at the same volume or quieter than the soldiers around it, that’s a boon.

Can this tracked robot haul as much as a mule and as quietly as a bear?
 

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US Army picks 5 teams to design new attack recon helicopter
By: Jen Judson
23.04.2019
Sikorsky's S-97 Raider has hit 200 knots in a recent flight test, according to Lockheed Martin. (Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky)

WASHINGTON — AVX Aircraft Co. partnered with L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, Bell Helicopter, Boeing, Karem Aircraft and Lockheed Martin-owned Sikorsky have won awards to design a new Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) for the U.S. Army over the next year, the service announced April 23.

Only two teams will move forward, at the end of the design phase, to build flyable prototypes of the future helicopter in a head-to-head competition.

The Army laid out a handful of mandatory requirements that the vendors had to meet and also a list of desired requirements for initial designs, Col. Craig Alia, the Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team chief of staff, told a select group of reporters just ahead of the contract awards.

The service also looked at the vendors’ execution plans and evaluated timing as well as funding profile requirements. “The ones that were selected were clearly meeting the mandatory requirements and were in the acceptable risk level of the execution plan and the desired requirements," Dan Bailey, who is the FARA competitive prototype program manager, added. The prototype program falls under the purview of the Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center’s Aviation Development Directorate.

AVX and L3 unveiled its design for the FARA competition at the Army Aviation Association of America’s annual summit in Nashville, Tennessee, earlier this month. The design uses AVX’s compound coaxial and ducted fans technology. The companies said its single-engine design meets 100 percent of the Army’s mandatory requirements and 70 percent of its desired attributes.

The CEO of Textron, Bell’s parent company, said during a recent earnings call, that its FARA design will be based on its 525 technology rather than its tiltrotor technology. Bell has built and flown a tiltrotor prototype — the V-280 Valor — for the Army’s Future Vertical Lift program.

Karem has been working to develop technology under a small contract to help build requirements for FVL aircraft focused on a medium-lift helicopter.

Sikorsky’s offering will be based off of its X2 coaxial technology seen in its S-97 Raider and the Sikorsky-Boeing developed SB-1 Defiant, which are now both flying.

“This is the culmination of years of investment in the X2 Technology Demonstrator and the S-97 RAIDER aircraft that have proven the advanced technology and shown its ability to change the future battlefield,” Tim Malia, Sikorsky’s director of Future Vertical Lift Light, told Defense News in an emailed statement shortly after the announcement.

“We continue to fly the S-97 RAIDER to inform the design for FARA, which provides significant risk reduction to the program schedule and technical objectives. We are eager to continue to support the US Army, and we are excited that the Sikorsky FARA X2 will be ready for this critical mission," he said.

A total of eight teams submitted data and potential designs for FARA, but upon evaluation, three of those did not meet mandatory requirements, according to Bailey.

It is not publicly stated who the losing teams were, but MD Helicopters had previously protested the Army’s decision to not enter into a first phase agreement with the company to develop a FARA prototype, arguing to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that the Army “unreasonably” evaluated its proposal and failed to promote small business participation.

The GAO denied the protest earlier this month on the grounds it did not have authority to review protests of contracting mechanisms like Other Transaction Authorities (OTA) which the Army used in this case.

The awards were made two months ahead of an already ambitious schedule to get FARA prototypes flying by 2023. A production decision could happen in 2028, but the service is looking at any way possible to speed up that timeline.

The Army has to move quickly, Alia said. Echoing his boss, Brig. Gen. Wally Rugen, the FVL CFT director, he said the Army is “at an inflection point. We can’t afford not to modernize. We know the current fleet is fantastic, but we can’t indefinitely continue to incrementally improve 1970s to 1980s technology.”

FARA is intended to fill a critical capability gap currently being filled by AH-64E Apache attack helicopters teamed with Shadow unmanned aircraft following the retirement of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters.

The service has tried and failed three times to fill the gap with an aircraft.

The Army is also planning to procure another helicopter to fill the long-range assault mission, replacing some UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters in the fleet, simultaneously.

With the advent of the new Army Futures Command — that is focused on six major modernization priorities of which FVL is third — the service is moving faster on prototyping capability to ultimately procure major weapon systems at a somewhat unprecedented speed. Through the AFC and the use of contracting mechanisms like OTAs, the Army has found a way to compress parts of the acquisition process that previously took three to five years into periods of time often amounting to less than a year.

“What is exciting about the new process the Army has put in place,” Bailey said, “in basically a year’s period of time, we’ve gone through concept, through an approved set of requirements, to developing an innovative approach to contracting, to building industry partnerships to have industry propose to us a plan and a solution.”

And the Army rigorously evaluated those FARA proposals, Bailey said, all within that year.

The teams have until January or February next year to provide design plans and an approach to executing the build of the prototypes followed by potential larger-scale manufacturing, Bailey said.

The second phase of the program will be to build prototypes, and “only two will make it into phase 2 and they all know that now,” Bailey added.
According to Rugen, when the request for proposals was released, the Army did not want to get locked into keeping inflexible requirements, but the request did state that the aircraft should have a maximum 40-foot rotor diameter.

The Army also asked for the aircraft to be able to accept some government furnished equipment including an engine, a gun and a rocket launcher, Alia said.

When it comes to some of the desirable attributes for a new aircraft, the Army is considering speed, range and payload possibilities, Alia said, but the service “wanted to encourage innovation by industry to come to us with their ideas and unique ways of meeting both mandatory and desirable characteristics and that is where we got some great feedback from industry and some innovative designs.”

https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/aaaa/2019/04/23/us-army-picks-5-teams-to-design-new-us-army-attack-recon-helicopter/
 

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Marines to field enhanced handheld targeting system later this year
By Allen Cone
APRIL 25, 2019

A U.S. Marine with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa uses a Common Laser Range Finder-Integrated Capability system to locate targets on February 20. Photo by Sgt. Katelyn Hunter/U.S. Marines

April 25 (UPI) -- The U.S. Marine Corps plans to field a new version of an existing handheld GPS targeting system later this year, the military branch announced on Thursday.

New technologies are being integrated into an updated Common Laser Range Finder-Integrated Capability by the Marines -- including changes to reduce time and movement required for use of the system, as well as increased communications abilities -- ahead of its expected fielding.

The original CLRF-IC was fielded in 2012 and updated in 2017. The Marine Corps Systems Command's Ground Combat Element Systems then wanted to integrate an enhanced digital magnetic capability into the device.

In January 2018, German-based Kollsman received a $15.9 million contract for the systems and objective lens covers. Elbit is the U.S. subsidiary of the company.

The configuration change will reduce the time and movement required by Marines when using the system, which uses an eye-safe laser range finder and algorithms to determine a target's location, according to the Marine Corps. The location is then transmitted to the advanced field artillery tactical data system or another fire support system.

"Previously, the magnetic effects of an environment would cause the operator to go through a series of sitting and standing, stepping to the left and to the right in order to calibrate the system," Jeff Nebel, MCSC's Fire Support Coordination team lead, said in a news release. "What we're integrating is a new digital magnetic compass so the operator can calibrate the system basically the same way you do your cellphone -- just rotate it left to right, and up and down a few times."'

In addition, the new system will have the capability to export video or still-pictures from the CLRF-IC to a target handoff system. This will allow Marines to transmit photographs of targets to Marine Corps headquarters in helping identify enemies.

The system transmits information faster than the original version, and it features day and night cameras, a rangefinder and celestial positioning precision so Marines can use the system in various weather conditions.

MCSC put the device's technical and operator manuals on an application for electronic access, so Marines don't need to carry printed manuals in the field.

Marines performed an in-production ECP, and will begin fielding the enhanced CLRF-IC system in the next couple of months, Nebel said.

Nebel projects the system will reach full operational capability by early 2021.

"We took a short pause from our fielding so we could incorporate the in-production ECP, and that pushed back our FOC," Nebel said. "But now we're going to be able to get a more capable system out to Marines."

The first system incorporated the common laser range finder and a thermal laser spot imager.

In 2015, the Marines awarded Kollmans a $73.4 million contract for delivery of the updated system.

The 2017 binocular-like system weighs in at 3 pounds, compared with 12 pounds for the first one.

The new Marines system has had reviews in testing, including the light weight, Nebel said.

"If you're subtracting weight in one place, that means Marines can carry extra gear that previously would have overburdened them," Paul Knight, lead systems engineer for the system, said. "The CLRF-IC reduces that weight significantly."

Marines to field enhanced handheld targeting system later this year
 

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Next Marine Sergeant Major Ran Across IED-Filled Ground to Reach Fallen Comrade
25 Apr 2019
By Gina Harkins
U.S. Marine Sgt. Maj Troy E. Black addresses Marines, Sailors and guests during the 1st MLG Relief and Appointment Ceremony aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 7, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Zabolotniy, Camp Pendleton)

U.S. Marine Sgt. Maj Troy E. Black addresses Marines, Sailors and guests during the 1st MLG Relief and Appointment Ceremony aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 7, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Zabolotniy, Camp Pendleton)


Sgt. Maj. Troy Black wasn't going to leave one of his Marines behind.

When he deployed as sergeant major of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, in 2010, Black went out on more than 50 missions, covering 10,000 miles of terrain filled with improvised explosive devices. When one of those IEDs detonated, killing a Marine, Black ran several hundred yards through unswept territory to reach him.

His actions earned him a Bronze Star with Combat "V" Device. Now, he will become the 19th sergeant major of the Marine Corps.

"[Black's] boldness under fire continually imbued his Marines with confidence and a steady resolve," his Bronze Star citation states. "He consistently demonstrated a sincere dedication to his Marines and Sailors, and inspired them to overcome incredible challenges to accomplish their mission."
That set the example for more than 1,100 troops during that deployment from April to September 2010. The Marines, sailors and soldiers he helped lead were spread across three provinces and partnered with two Afghan battalions.

"Sergeant Major Black distinguished himself through his exceptional leadership, operational input, and devotion to duty," according to the citation.

"Both on the battlefield under fire and on the firm bases, he courageously set the example."

Black routinely braved enemy fire to provide frontline guidance and encouragement, according to the award. He "fearlessly led the battalion ... through several significant engagements with the enemy."

"By his extraordinary guidance, zealous initiative, and total dedication to duty, Sergeant Major Black reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service," the citation states.

When Black left the 3/7 in 2011, he credited his Marines with making the battalion successful during his time there.

"[It was the] leadership in the Marines, great officers, great staff [noncommissioned] officers, and the leadership dedication in the NCOs and below," he said.

Black will replace Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Ronald Green later this year.

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/04/25/next-marine-sergeant-major-ran-across-ied-filled-ground-reach-fallen-comrade.html?ESRC=eb_190426.nl
 

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Army Issues $723M Modification on Lockheed Hellfire II Missile Contract
Nichols Martin
April 26, 2019



The U.S. Army has awarded Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) a $723.5M contract modification to provide multiple variants of the Hellfire II missile system.

Lockheed will deliver missiles to domestic and foreign military sales customers that include Lebanon, Netherlands and France, the Department of Defense said Thursday.

Hellfire II uses a semi-active laser guidance technology and performs air-to-ground strike missions with the Army platforms such as the AH-64 Apache, OH-58 Kiowa Warrior and MQ-1C Gray Eagle.

The company will perform contract work in Orlando through Sept. 30, 2022, and receive the full amount of the modification at the time of award.

https://www.govconwire.com/2019/04/army-issues-723m-modification-on-lockheed-hellfire-ii-missile-contract/
 

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Lockheed Martin's AEHF-4 On-orbit Test Proves Successful And Marks First Of Its Kind

SUNNYVALE, Calif., April 29, 2019 -- Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) is excited to announce the successful completion of AEHF-4 spacecraft on-orbit test and available for Satellite Control Availability (SCA).

The AEHF-4 on-orbit test (A4 OOT) successfully activated the payload, built by its major subcontractor, Northrop Grumman, and demonstrated that AEHF-4 met all of its requirements. A4 OOT was the first ever test to have all six AEHF operational terminals communicating over XDR. The terminal types include AEHF SMART-T, FAB-T, MMPU, NMT, Global ASNT and ACF-IC

"This is a major milestone to celebrate with our customers at Space and Missiles Systems Center (SMC) the U.S. Air Force and our teammates Northrop Grumman, L3 Communications and Aerojet. As we turn our focus on launching AEHF-5 in June, one month early, I want to congratulate everyone involved in completing this one of a kind, high-performance network in space. This is a tremendous accomplishment for the AEHF program and I am proud of the team for consistently exceeding the customer's mission needs," said Mike Cacheiro, vice president of Protected Communications for Military Space.

The addition of AEHF-4 to the constellation provides a new capability of global extended data rate (XDR) communications. XDR communications provides data rates to its users five times higher than medium data rate (MDR) and 350 times higher than low data rate (LDR) communications. Milstar, the predessor to AEHF, uses both LDR and MDR communication modes to directly support the warfighter.

This was the last step before control authority of the satellite is handed over to the U.S. Air Force SMC where it will join the combined AEHF-Milstar constellation.

The AEHF constellation provides global, survivable, highly secure and protected communications for strategic command and tactical warfighters operating on ground, sea and air platforms. The jam-resistant system also serves international partners including Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

For additional AEHF information, visit : www.lockheedmartin.com/aehf.

 

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AEHF: Online and In Orbit

aehf-launch.jpg.pc-adaptive.1920.medium - Copy.jpeg

Photo: United Launch Alliance


The Mission
Now a critical element of U.S. national security, military satellite communications delivers vital connectivity to armed forces around the globe, making warfighters safer and more effective.

The Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) system provides vastly improved global, survivable, protected communications capabilities for strategic command and tactical warfighters operating on ground, sea and air platforms. The jam-resistant system also serves international partners including Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

AEHF is a case study in cost-reduction. Through a continuing focus on affordability via fixed pricing, streamlined engineering teams, improved manufacturing and economies of scale, we lowered satellite cost by more than 35 percent in AEHF’s most recent block buy. In 2014, the Department of Defense honored the U.S. Air Force AEHF Program with the David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award for saving $1.6 billion from initial government estimates.

A single AEHF satellite provides greater total capacity than the entire legacy five-satellite Milstar constellation. Individual user data rates will be increased five-fold, permitting transmission of tactical military communications, such as real-time video, battlefield maps and targeting data. In addition to its tactical mission, AEHF assures the critical protected communications links for national leaders, such as the President and Joint Chiefs of Staff, in all levels of conflict.

Lockheed Martin is currently under contract to deliver six AEHF satellites and the Mission Control Segment. The program has begun production of the fifth and sixth AEHF satellites, and initial operational capability of the system was July 28, 2015.

The AEHF team includes the U.S. Air Force Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate at the Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Sunnyvale, Calif., is the AEHF prime contractor, space and ground segments provider as well as system integrator, with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, Redondo Beach, Calif., as the payload provider.


The Satellite

Protected vs. Secure Communications
Protected-vs-Secure-Sat-Communication-infographic.jpg.pc-adaptive.1920.medium - Copy.jpeg


 

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Guantanamo Bay Admiral Fired Due to Loss of Confidence
28 Apr 2019
Task Force Guantanamo conducted a change of command ceremony welcoming incoming commander Rear Adm. John C. Ring and bidding farewell to outgoing commander, Rear Adm. Edward B. Cashman here, Tuesday, April 17, 2018. He was relieved of command April 27, 2019 due to loss of confidence in his ability to command. (Jerry Saslav/U.S. Army)

Task Force Guantanamo conducted a change of command ceremony welcoming incoming commander Rear Adm. John C. Ring and bidding farewell to outgoing commander, Rear Adm. Edward B. Cashman here, Tuesday, April 17, 2018. He was relieved of command April 27, 2019 due to loss of confidence in his ability to command. (Jerry Saslav/U.S. Army)
By Hope Hodge Seck

The commander of the joint task force that operates the detention camps at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been fired, U.S. Southern Command announced Sunday.

Rear Adm. John Ring, commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, was relieved Saturday by SOUTHCOM commander Adm. Craig Faller due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command, officials said in a release. Army Brig. Gen. John Hussey, deputy commander of JTF-GTMO, is now serving as acting commander.

"This change in leadership will not interrupt the safe, humane, legal care and custody provided to the detainee population at GTMO," officials said in a statement.

A spokesman for SOUTHCOM told Military.com that Ring has been temporarily assigned duties at the command's Miami headquarters pending forthcoming permanent reassignment. He would not comment on the reasons for Ring's relief or any additional actions that might be taken.
Ring took command of JTF-GTMO in April 2018. A naval flight officer, he was commissioned in 1988 and previously served as the executive assistant to the Navy's director of air warfare. He has also completed command tours with the carrier Nimitz, the dock landing ship Comstock, and Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 113.

According to his command biography, Ring's awards include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal and Meritorious Service Medal, and he is a past recipient of Hawkeye NFO of the Year and the Navy and Marine Association peer selected leadership award.
JTF-GTMO has had 17 commanders since its creation in 2002.

Guantanamo Bay currently houses 40 detainees.

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/04/28/guantanamo-bay-admiral-fired-due-loss-confidence.html?ESRC=eb_190429.nl

More on this story: US Armed Forces
 

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Small Eye In The Sky: Special Forces Will Soon Have New Enduring ISR Option
Tethered Indago small UAS delivers continuous intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance at fraction of cost


VINEYARD, Utah, April 29, 2019 - Combating counterinsurgency, conducting reconnaissance, collecting information vital to national security, United States Special Forces conduct some of the most sensitive and critical missions.



  • Lockheed Martin Indago
The people and infrastructure required for these missions also require constant protection through reliable intelligence and surveillance. That's why Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] expanded its Indago portfolio to include a tethered option.

Without the tether, Indago 3 flies for 50-70 minutes and can be carried in a rucksack, leading the group 1 small unmanned aerial system (UAS) industry in endurance and transportability. For uninterrupted ISR, special forces can quickly configure the tether, taking away the need for battery reliance.

"When it comes to unmanned systems and capability, size does matter," said Michael Carlson, Business Development manager for Indago. "We want to make something as important as force and facility protection as simple and effective as possible – the tethered Indago can do that."
Its payloads provide high resolution, daytime, electro-optical imagery capable of reading a license plate from a 1000-foot standoff distance. For nighttime, it provides detailed thermal infrared that can identify a person, weapon, and other intelligence, such as warmth of vehicle tracks on the surface. This includes imagery in black hot, white hot, and ironbow, an orange and purple heatmap color scheme.

https://news.lockheedmartin.com/2019-04-29-Small-Eye-in-the-Sky-Special-Forces-Will-Soon-Have-New-Enduring-ISR-Option

More Details on Indago UAS:

 

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China leads U.S. on potent super-fast missiles
by Reuters -
26th Apr 2019


China is leading the U.S. in a race to deploy hypersonic missiles that would defeat existing air defense systems, according to senior U.S. officials.
The combination of speed, maneuverability and altitude of these missiles makes them difficult to track and intercept. They travel at speeds of more than five times the speed of sound or about 6,200 kilometers (3,853 miles) per hour. Some will travel as fast as 25,000 kilometers per hour, according to U.S. and other Western weapons researchers. That’s about 25 times as fast as modern passenger jets.

Admiral Harry Harris, the former head of U.S. Pacific Command, told the House Armed Services Committee in February last year that hypersonic weapons were one of a range of advanced technologies where China was beginning to outpace the U.S. military, challenging its dominance in the Asia-Pacific region.

Last April, Michael Griffin, the U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that China has deployed, or is close to deploying, hypersonic systems armed with conventional warheads. These can travel thousands of kilometers from the Chinese coast and threaten American forward bases or carrier battle groups, he said.

“We do not have defenses against those systems,” Griffin said.

Russia may have already fielded a hypersonic weapon. At a parade in May last year, the Russian military displayed what it had earlier said was a hypersonic missile. Russian President Vladimir Putin has described the missile as invincible.

Russia’s defense ministry did not respond to questions from Reuters about its hypersonic weapons capabilities.

The Chinese military in 2014 said it had conducted a hypersonic test flight. By early 2016, it had conducted six successful tests, according to U.S. military officials.

In early November, China unveiled a new ballistic anti-ship missile, the CM-401, at the biennial airshow in the southern city of Zhuhai. Reports in the official state-controlled media said the new missile was a hypersonic weapon.

An information panel alongside a model of the new missile said the CM-401 was a “high supersonic” ballistic missile which had a trajectory reaching near space. It had a range of up to 290 kilometers, the panel said.

China, Russia and the United States have focused research and development on two classes of these weapons: hypersonic glide vehicles and cruise missiles that fly at hypersonic speeds, according to U.S. and other Western weapons analysts and military officials. Both types could carry conventional or nuclear payloads.

A hypersonic glide vehicle is boosted aloft on a rocket to heights of between 40 km to 100 km above the earth before detaching to glide along the upper atmosphere towards its target. It is released at a height and speed that would allow it to glide unpowered to the target. Control surfaces on the glide vehicle mean it can steer an unpredictable course and maneuver sharply as it approaches impact.

These glide vehicles follow a much flatter and lower trajectory than the high, arching path of a ballistic missile, these researchers say. That makes them much harder to detect early with radar, giving missile defenses less time to respond.

Hypersonic cruise missiles, meanwhile, have internal engines. But unlike regular cruise missiles, they travel far faster and higher.

After years of stop-start development of hypersonics, the U.S. is now trying to accelerate testing and deployment to match China and Russia, according to senior Pentagon officials.

Last year, the U.S. Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin Corporation two contracts to develop hypersonic missiles. And, the U.S. navy said it conducted a successful test of a long-range hypersonic missile on October 30, 2017. Last month, the Pentagon awarded missile-maker Raytheon Company a $63.3 million contract for hypersonic weapons development, the company said in a statement.

“Frankly, we were the leaders in that 10 and 15 years ago, and we just let it drop,” Griffin told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee in April last year. “We need to get started again.”

https://www.defenceweb.co.za/joint/science-a-defence-technology/china-leads-u-s-on-potent-super-fast-missiles/
 

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