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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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Sheppard AFB
✔@SheppardAFB


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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1:59 AM - May 2, 2019

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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Pentagon expects China to add international military bases
By Agence France-Presse
-
May 3, 2019


The US Defence Department expects China to add military bases around the world to protect its investments in its ambitious One Belt One Road global infrastructure programme, according to an official report released on Thursday (May 2).

Beijing currently has just one overseas military base, in Djibouti, but is believed to be planning others, including possibly Pakistan, as it seeks to project itself as a global superpower.

“China’s advancement of projects such as the ‘One Belt, One Road’ Initiative (OBOR) will probably drive military overseas basing through a perceived need to provide security for OBOR projects,” the Pentagon said in its annual report to Congress on Chinese military and security developments.

“China will seek to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan, and in which there is a precedent for hosting foreign militaries,” the report said.

That effort could be constrained by other countries’ wariness of hosting a full-time presence of the People’s Liberation Army, the report noted.
But target locations for military basing could include the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the western Pacific.

China has already established well-armed outposts on contested atolls it build up in the South China Sea.

Last year, there were reportedly discussions on a base in the Wakhan corridor of northwest Afghanistan.

In addition, The Washington Post recently identified an outpost hosting many Chinese troops in eastern Tajikistan, near the strategic junction of the Wakhan Corridor, China, and Pakistan.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has sought to project the country’s power beyond its immediate “back yard” in East and Southeast Asia.

This includes strengthening the country’s presence in international institutions, acquiring top-flight technology and establishing a strong economic presence worldwide.

It also includes projecting the country’s military force on land, sea and in space, the report notes.

“China’s leaders are leveraging China’s growing economic, diplomatic, and military clout to establish regional preeminence and expand the country?s international influence,” the report said.

Beijing in particular increasingly see the United States as becoming more confrontational in an effort to contain China’s expanding power, it said.
Beijing meanwhile has taken note of a growing suspicion in many countries of the One Belt One Road programme, and has toned down its aggressive rhetoric in response.

Nevertheless, the Pentagon said Beijing’s leadership has not altered its fundamental strategic goals.
 

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AAI nets $20.5M for mine sweep system on Littoral Combat Ships
The Unmanned Influence Sweep System Unmanned Surface Vehicle program allows the LCS to sweep for acoustic, magnetic and combination-type mines.
By Allen Cone
MAY 3, 2019

The littoral combat ship mission module program tests the in-port launch and recovery of an unmanned surface vehicle during integration testing of the unmanned influence sweep system of littoral combat ship USS Independence in San Diego. Photo by Steen Jensen/Naval Surface Warfare Center

May 3 (UPI) -- AAI Corp. was awarded a $20.5 million contract for engineering and technical services for the unmanned influence sweep system, which allows the Navy's Littoral Combat Ships to perform mine warfare sweep missions.

Work is expected to be completed by this September, including 70 percent in AAI's plant in Hunt Valley, Md., and 30 percent in Slidell, La., the Defense Department announced Thursday.

The system, which is part of the mine countermeasures mission package, allows LCS crews to sweep for acoustic, magnetic, and magnetic/acoustic combination mine types.

The UISS program will satisfy the Navy's need to conduct rapid, wide-area mine clearance, according to the Navy.

In January, the UISS, as well as the Knifefish, another unmanned undersea vehicle, completed successful testing aboard the USS Independence.
Both systems verified the communications link between Independence and the unmanned systems, as well as executed multiple launch and recovery evolutions from the ship.

"These test events mark a critical milestone for the LCS Mission Module Program, having now successfully tested each vehicle in the MCM MP -- that is, an MH-60S helicopter, MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter, UISS and Knifefish UUV -- on board an Independence-variant LCS," the Navy said in a news release.

These systems then will undergo shore-based testing before completing final integration on an LCS. The LCS Mission Module program office plans to incrementally deliver MCM MP systems to the fleet in advance of the formal MCM MP initial operational test and evaluation events beginning in 2021.

Navy fiscal 2019 research, development, test and evaluation funding in the amount of $7.7 million has been obligated when the new contract was awarded, and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

On Thursday, Huntington Ingalls Industries received a $931.7 million contract from the U.S. Navy for planning yard services to support littoral combat ships. The planning yard services include post-delivery life-cycle support, maintenance development and scheduling, and modernization planning, engineering and material support, the company said.

There are two versions of the LCS -- the Freedom variant, built by Lockheed Martin and Marinette Marine, and the Independence variant, built by General Dynamics and Austal USA. The Navy has 33 LCS vessels planned, under construction or in service.

 

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DOD Official Details Continuing Chinese Military Buildup
  • May 03, 2019
  • By Jim Garamone
WASHINGTON --
China continues to build up its military to challenge and supplant the United States as the preeminent power in the Indo-Pacific region, the assistant defense secretary for Indo-Pacific security affairs said today.


A man speaks at a Pentagon podium.

Randall G. Schriver, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, briefs the Pentagon press on the contents of the new DOD report on Chinese military power.
DOD photo by Army Sgt. Amber Smith


Randall G. Schriver briefed the Pentagon’s press corps following the release of the new China Military Power Report. He said China continues to challenge U.S. military advantages, such as America’s ability to deploy and sustain forces anywhere in the world and its unparalleled alliance system.

China is investing money and time into capabilities and capacity, Schriver said.

“Our 2019 report finds that in the coming decades, China seeks to become both prosperous and powerful, and the report notes that China has a stated goal of becoming a world class military by 2049,” he said.

China Building Military
China is continuing to build its missile force, Schriver said, and it has begun building a second aircraft carrier. The nation is sailing two new cruisers and is building more, he said. And China’s air force has flown its J-20 fifth-generation aircraft, Schriver said. The aircraft has stealth characteristics and many U.S. officials have said they believe it may contain technologies stolen from U.S. manufacturers.

Chinese conventional forces are moving to improve training and evaluation of ground, sea and air forces, he said. Newly published doctrine “emphasizes realistic and joint training across all domains and tasks the PLA to prepare for conflict aimed at ‘strong military opponents,’” Schriver said.

China is emphasizing civil-military integration with civilian companies entering the military market to achieve greater efficiencies, innovation and growth, he said.


Chinese sailors march.

Chinese sailors stand in formation in Beijing during a visit by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson to China’s naval headquarters, Jan. 16, 2019. Richardson was on a three-day visit to Beijing and Nanjing to continue the ongoing dialogue with the chief of China’s navy and to encourage professional interactions at sea, specifically addressing risk reduction and operational safety measures to prevent unwanted and unnecessary escalation.
Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Elliott Fabrizio

The report also touches on Chinese espionage, including cybertheft, targeted investment in foreign companies with crucial technologies and its exploitation of access that Chinese nationals may have to U.S. technology. “In 2018, we saw specific efforts targeting such areas as aviation technologies and anti-submarine warfare technologies,” Schriver said.

DOD officials have said they expect China will increase its military footprint, both in and out of the Indo-Pacific region. “We believe China will seek to establish additional bases overseas as well as points for access,” Schriver said. He cited Chinese desires to establish military bases in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Western Pacific.


International Status-Seeking
China has been working seriously to bulk up its worldwide status for more than 20 years. China’s economy is expanding and the Chinese Communist Party can mandate a strategy unchecked by democratic forces in the nation. Two programs — the “Made in China 2025” and “One Belt, One Road” initiatives — point to the path China would like to take to ensure it is the preeminent power in the region.

Schriver said the initiatives have caused concern in many nations that following them would mean a loss of sovereignty if the nations by into the Chinese strategy. “Chinese leaders have softened their rhetoric and sought to rebrand [the initiatives], however the fundamental goals of these programs have not changed,” he said.


The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis transits the South China Sea.

The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis transits the South China Sea at sunset, Feb. 25, 2019. The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan D. McLearnon
The report covers Chinese efforts in “influence operations” — Chinese efforts to influence media, culture, business, academia in other countries to accept the Chinese way.

China continues efforts to claim the South China Sea and East China Sea. They continue to claim land on its borders with India and Bhutan.

China’s attitude toward Taiwan continues to be threatening as they use elements of persuasion and coercion against the island,” Schriver said. He said this is destabilizing to the entire region.

The U.S. National Defense Strategy says the United States is in competition with China, but that does not preclude the United States and China from working together when the interests align, Schriver said. “We continue to pursue a constructive results-oriented relationship between our countries, and it is an important part of our regional strategy to have stable, constructive relations with China and a relationship which mitigates the risk of incidents or accidents.”

 

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Defense Intelligence Agency Releases Report on China Military Power
By DIA Public Affairs
Washington, D.C., Jan. 15, 2019 —

Contact:
James Kudla, james.kudla@dodiis.mil, 202-231-0818
CDR Pam Rawe, pamela.rawe@dodiis.mil, 202-231-0808

Washington, D.C. – (January 15, 2019) The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) today released China Military Power, a product that examines the core capabilities of China’s military.

This volume in DIA’s series of Military Power reports provides details on China’s defense and military goals, strategy, plans, and intentions. It examines the organization, structure and capability of the military supporting those goals, as well as the enabling infrastructure and industrial base.

“This report offers insights into the modernization of Chinese military power as it reforms from a defensive, inflexible ground-based force charged with domestic and peripheral security responsibilities to a joint, highly agile, expeditionary, and power-projecting arm of Chinese foreign policy that engages in military diplomacy and operations across the globe,” said Lieutenant General Robert P. Ashley, Jr., DIA director.

Since Mao Zedong’s Communist Revolution in October 1949 brought the Chinese Communist Party to power, China has struggled to identify and align itself with its desired place in the world. Early factional struggles for control of party leadership, decades of negotiations to define territorial boundaries, and continued claims to territories not yet recovered have at times seemed at odds with the self-described nature of the Chinese as peace-loving and oriented only toward their own defense.

Chinese leaders historically have been willing to use military force against threats to their regime, whether foreign or domestic, at times preemptively. Lack of significant involvement in military operations during the last several decades has led to a sense of insecurity within the People's Liberation Army as it seeks to modernize into a great power military.

“As China continues to grow in strength and confidence, our nation's leaders will face a China insistent on having a greater voice in global interactions, which at times may be antithetical to U.S. interests," said Lt. Gen. Ashley. "With a deeper understanding of the military might behind China's economic and diplomatic efforts, we can provide our own national political, economic, and military leaders the widest range of options for choosing when to counter, when to encourage, and when to join with China in actions around the world.”

The Military Power series of unclassified overviews is designed to help the public achieve a deeper understanding of key challenges and threats to U.S. national security. It focuses on our near-peer competitors, and challengers such as Iran, North Korea, and terrorism.

“This product and other reports in this series are intended to inform our public, our leaders, the national security community, and partner nations about the challenges we face in the 21st century,” Lt. Gen. Ashley said.

DIA has a long history of producing comprehensive and authoritative defense intelligence overviews. In 1981, DIA published the first unclassified Soviet Military Power report, which was translated into eight languages and distributed around the world.

Two years ago, in the spirit of Soviet Military Power, DIA decided to once again produce and publish unclassified defense intelligence overviews of the major foreign military challenges we face. DIA published the first in the new series, Russia Military Power, in June 2017.


LINK to report: Military Power Publications

DIA officers are united in a common vision – to be the indispensable source of defense intelligence expertise for the nation. For more than 57 years, DIA has met the full range of security challenges faced by the United States. DIA intelligence officers operate across the globe, supporting customers from forward-deployed warfighters to national policymakers.

 

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New report explains how China thinks about information warfare
By: Mark Pomerleau
03.May.2019


The Chinese military has established a Network Systems Department, responsible for information warfare. (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)

The Department of Defense’s annual report on China’s military and security developments provides new details about how China’s military organizes its information warfare enterprise, an area that has been of particular interest to U.S. military leaders.

In 2015, the People’s Liberation Army created the Strategic Support Force, which centralizes space, cyber, electronic warfare and psychological warfare missions under a single organization. The Chinese have taken the view, according to the DoD and other outside national security experts, that information dominance is key to winning conflicts. This could be done by denying or disrupting the use of communications equipment of its competitors.

The 2019 edition of report, released May 2, expands on last year’s version and outlines the Chinese Network Systems Department, one of two deputy theater command level departments within the Strategic Support Force responsible for information operations.

“The SSF Network Systems Department is responsible for information warfare with a mission set that includes cyberwarfare, technical reconnaissance, electronic warfare, and psychological warfare,” the report read. “By placing these missions under the same organizational umbrella, China seeks to remedy the operational coordination challenges that hindered information sharing under the pre-reform organizational structure.”

As described in previous Pentagon assessments, Chinese military leaders hope to use these so-called non-kinetic weapons in concert with kinetic weapons to push adversaries farther away from its shores and assets.

“In addition to strike, air and missile defense, anti-surface, and anti-submarine capabilities improvements, China is focusing on information, cyber, and space and counterspace operations,” the report said of China’s anti-access/area denial efforts. This concept aims to keep enemies at bay by extending defenses through long range missiles and advanced detection measures, which in turn make it difficult for enemies to penetrate territorial zones.

Cyber theft and collective strategic importance
This year’s report includes two subtle changes from last year’s edition regarding China’s cyber activities directed at the Department of Defense.
While last year’s report documents China’s continued targeting of U.S. diplomatic, economic, academic, and defense industrial base sectors to support intelligence collection, the latest edition points out that China’s exfiltration of sensitive military information from the defense industrial base could allow it to gain a military advantage.

In recent years, China has been accused of leading major hacks on defense contractors and the U.S. Navy, leading an internal review by the Navy to assert that both groups are "under cyber siege,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Additionally, this year’s report points out that taken together, the cyber-enabled campaigns threatened to erode military advantages, a trope often heralded by top leaders.

New strategies and approaches from the U.S. military seek to be more assertive in the defense of U.S. interests from such cyber probes.

 

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Editorial: Let these Pentagon leaders do their job
By: Jill Aitoro
03.May.2019


Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan at the Pentagon on April 2, 2019. ( Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith/DoD)

WASHINGTON — I’m going to start by stating the obvious: Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan was nominated for a Pentagon post (deputy secretary at that point) because of his industry experience.

And while we’re at it, so was Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord. And so was Army Secretary Mark Esper, and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood. And there are others that I’m forgetting.

They were all nominated because of their industry experience. We all know this. So can we just please allow them to do their jobs?
As a reminder, part of the reason we all know about their industry experience is because the nominations were dissected on the Hill, among the think tank community, watchdog groups and, yes, in the media.

And appropriately so. The risk of Pentagon leadership coming from top defense companies is favoritism, either for a particular company or for the industrial base at large. That risk, or the potential of a conflict of interest, is hard to ignore. During Shanahan’s nomination hearing in 2017, then-Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain said it this way: “I’m not overjoyed that you came from one of the five corporations that receive 90 percent of the taxpayers’ dollars. I have to have confidence that the fox is not going to be put back into the henhouse.”

Fair.

But remember: they were all appointed. Quite easily, in fact. All of those skeptics on the Hill, McCain included, accepted what was fed to them, as well as to the think tanks and to the watchdog groups and to the media — assurances that the proper safeguards were in place, that firewalls would prevent handing out favors.

And for almost two years, we haven’t heard much to lead anyone to believe that those safeguards weren’t serving their purpose.

But then came murmurings about Shanahan’s likely nomination to defense secretary. People pointed to all the recent wins for his former employer, Boeing. They talked of an investigation by the Pentagon’s inspector general that some heard was underway. And they were right. We all waited to hear what would come of it.

And we learned he was cleared. But then came the report.

Overshadowing the fact that 32 witnesses had no concerns regarding Shanahan’s adherence to his ethical obligations was the fact that one did — Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. We heard about her concern that Shanahan’s office had received a copy of her memo related to the KC-46 (the IG report said it didn’t appear he had read it). We heard about her “concern that

Mr. Shanahan or his staff may have created the appearance of favoritism” for Boeing.

To be clear, she didn’t say there was favoritism. Just that it might have seemed that way. None of the concerns noted in the report appear to have any merit in fact — at least not to the IG.

She also said 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.”

And that’s a bad thing?

As I said before, acting Defense Secretary Shanahan was brought to the Pentagon because of his industry experience. That experience could and should provide valuable insight into a number of areas that are forever challenging the department — from gaps in the supply chain, to flaws in how procurement programs are structured, to how contractors work together on programs, to best practices in trimming overhead in manufacturing. And, yes, it means comparing what he sees now to how he saw it work (or fail) in his prior life.

Proper oversight is important. If concerns were voiced, an investigation was appropriate. But if government is going to overly restrict these individuals from tapping their expertise or create proverbial muzzles that prevent or dissuade them from performing, then why are they there in the first place?

 

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McConville picks up torch in race to modernize Army, warns Congress not to mess with budget
By: Jen Judson  
03.May.2019

Gen. James McConville, the Army's vice chief of staff, played a key role in developing Army Futures Command, which is tasked with modernizing sustainment technology. (Spc. Markus Bowling/U.S. Army)

WASHINGTON — Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville breezed through his Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing May 2 for the position of Army chief of staff, answering a variety of questions that showed he’s picking up the torch in the service’s race to modernize the force.

This comes as no surprise, as he’s been at the table for all the major, transformative changes the Army has made in the past several years. He also has contributed to large and small decisions across all of the service’s programs by taking part in extensive, deep dives into portfolios to make sure efforts align with the Army’s goal to have a fully modernized force by 2028.

But McConville stressed the Army can’t accomplish any of that with an unpredictable budget — if the government relapses into continuing resolutions or sequestration.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., asked McConville what would happen to the Army if budget caps kicked back in, cutting defense programs by 13 percent, which would translate to the Defense Department having to operate at $71 billion below fiscal 2019 funding levels.

“It would be devastating to the United States Army,” he said. “I think we’ve made tremendous gains over the past two and a half years.

"We are at a critical point in modernization where we are starting to bring on systems which we believe we must have in great power competition and to avoid great power conflict,” McConville said, adding the Army would have to make cuts or stop growing the force and that it would affect the overall quality of life for soldiers and their families.

“We need the budget and we need the budget we requested,” he said.

Should Congress fail to pass an FY20 budget on time and instead adopt a continuing resolution, McConville said about 85 modernization programs would be unable to start.

The Army is undertaking ambitious modernization efforts through the new four-star-led Army Futures Command, which is taking on capabilities development in long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicles, future vertical lift, the network, air and missile defense, and soldier lethality. Many of these efforts will kick off major prototyping efforts in the next year.

McConville added there are 33 production line increases planned in FY20 for current weapons systems that won’t get those increases, and commands will have to slow down training to hedge against funding uncertainty.

This means readiness of the present force will suffer, as will the Army’s future readiness, he said.

This year, the Defense Department shifted $164 billion of defense spending in its FY20 request into its overseas contingency operations account to stay within the statutory budget cap level of $576 billion. This move was met with resistance by House Democrats, who blasted what they view as an accounting stunt during a May 1 hearing in a House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.

According to McConville’s answers to prepared policy questions distributed at the hearing, should OCO funding not be available as part of the Army’s budget, it would “be catastrophic to the Army’s readiness and modernization efforts.”

Without going into detail, he wrote that if forced to make cuts in FY20 due to a lack of OCO funding, the Army would have to “reduce training, slow modernization efforts, decrease quality of life initiatives at installations, and reduce end strength, ultimately resulting in reversing our readiness gains over the last three years and the inability to meet National Defense Strategy requirements at acceptable risk.”

McConville advocated for a variety of modernization programs during the hearing, such as the Army’s No. 1 modernization priority, long-range precision fires. He said if the Army sticks to LRPF efforts underway and stays on track, then “future chiefs will no longer have to say they are outgunned or out-ranged in the future.”

McConville’s nomination will now be forwarded for consideration by the full Senate.

 

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US operations in Afghanistan caused 134 civilian casualties in 2018, says Pentagon
by Gabriel Dominguez, London
03 May 2019

US military operations in Afghanistan caused 134 civilian casualties in 2018, according to a report published on 2 May by the US Department of Defense (DoD).

A total of 76 civilians were killed and 58 injured during missions conducted as part of Operation ‘Freedom’s Sentinel’ and those in support of the NATO-led ‘Resolute Support’ mission, according to DoD data.

The vast majority (70) of those killed died as a result of aerial operations with the remaining six dying as a result of ground missions.

The Pentagon said that US Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) conducted counter-terrorism missions against al-Qaeda, Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K), and associated militant groups to “prevent their resurgence and ability to plan and execute external attacks”.

 

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