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Air Force rolls out new medical model to minimize troop downtime
The U.S. Air Force is assigning care teams to "holistically" treat airmen instead of waiting for them to seek care, in addition to other care plans, as part of an effort to keep troops ready to deploy.
June 28, 2019
By Ed Adamczyk

View attachment 8624
The U.S. Air Force announced the rollout Thursday of a new model for medical care for active-duty airmen, focusing on faster return to deployability status. Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force

June 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force unveiled a procedural model focused on treating active-duty airmen to return them to deployment status.

The Air Force Medical Reform model, announced on Thursday, organizes dedicated provider care teams into an operational medical readiness squadron. A quicker return to availability is the goal, officials said.

The new structure is based on a pilot program conducted by the 366th Medical Group at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, which reorganized the group into two squadrons, each with "provider teams" that include medical and administrative professionals responsible for coordination of care through diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation.

Teams were able to employ holistic treatment, including visits to airmen at their duty locations to better understand workplace issues.

"We had more than 400 airmen on the base who were considered 'non-mission capable' when we launched in March 2018," Col. Steven Ward, commander of the 366th, said in a statement.

"In six months, we reduced that number by nearly one-fourth. Our provider teams focused relentlessly on getting airmen back into the fight," Ward said. "It was a real culture change for our provider teams focusing just on airmen and building relationships with their assigned squadron and leadership. That narrow focus really helps providers get to know their patients and solve health problems before they can negatively affect the mission."

Minimizing a service person's downtime is the goal of the program, and the new structure brings airmen back to full capability faster.

The reorganization comes after the Air Force initiated a "deploy or get out" policy in February, under which airmen in non-deployable status were given 12 months to return to deployability or risk separation from the military. At the time, 34,000 people in the Air Force held that status.

"Restructuring where care is delivered lets our providers focus on each group to improve the quality of care, create efficiencies, and most importantly, get injured or ill Airmen back into the fight more quickly," said Brig. Gen. Susan J. Pietrykowski, of the Office of the Air Force Surgeon General.

The Air Force Medical Service plans to first roll out the new medical organization model to 43 Air Force military treatment facilities within the continental United States.

 

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Navy to christen littoral combat ship Oakland on Saturday
June 28, 2019
By Allen Cone
View attachment 8625
This is an artist's rendering of the USS Oakland, which is under construction at Austal's Shipyard in Mobile. Image courtesy of the U.S. Navy

June 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy will christen the USS Oakland, a littoral combat ship, during a ceremony Saturday at the vessel's manufacturing site in Mobile, Ala.

Kate Brandt, who is Google's sustainability officer, will serve as the Oakland's sponsor and christen the ship by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow in a Navy tradition. U.S. House Rep. Ken Calvert, of California, will deliver the christening ceremony's principal address.

Twice before ships have been named after the California city. The first Oakland was commissioned in 1918 and used for cargo transport. The second Oakland was commissioned in 1942, and during seven years of service played a key role in many antiaircraft missions across the Asia-Pacific theater of operations.

"The christening of the future USS Oakland marks an important step toward this great ship's entry into the fleet," Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said in a news release. "The dedication and skilled work of our industry partners ensure this ship will represent the great city of Oakland and serve our Navy and Marine Corps team for decades to come."

The Oakland, designated as LCS 24, will be homeported in another California city -- San Diego.

Construction began in 2017 and the ship's keel was authenticated on July 20, 2018.

The Independence variant of the LCS is built by Austal USA in Mobile, while the Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin in Marinette, Wis.

Five more of the Independence ships are in various stages of construction, according to the U.S. Navy. The USS Cincinnati was delivered to the Navy last Friday. The USS Kansas City is preparing for sea trials. Also being constructed are the USS Mobile, USS Savannah, USS Canberra. Four are more under contract.

Six of the ship variants are in operation.

All LCS vesels being constructed and delivered to the Navy are named after cities, except for the USS Gabrielle Giffords, which honors former the U.S. House member from Arizona.

The LCS is designed for operation in near-shore environments but capable of open-ocean operation, handling threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft. The ships, which have a crew of 40, are smaller than the Navy's destroyers, amphibious assault ships and aircraft carriers.

 

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Lockheed nets $106.1M for Apache night vision targeting sensor systems
June 28, 2019
The contract sees Lockheed Martin providing the U.S. Army, Netherlands and Britain with night vision sensor systems for the Apache attack helicopter.
By Allen Cone

View attachment 8627

The modernized target acquisition designation sight/pilot sensor is described as the "new eyes of Apache" that provide aircrews "ownership of the night" with enhanced situational awareness, and greater performance and survivability, Lockheed Martin said. Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin

June 28 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin was awarded a $106.1 million contract to supply the U.S. Army, Netherlands and Britain with modernized night vision sensor systems for the Apache attack helicopter.

The contract includes subcomponent production and technical services for the target acquisition designation sight/pilot night vision sensor systems, or M-TADS/PNVS, the Defense Department announced Thursday.

Procurement for the Netherlands and Britain is through foreign military sales.

Work locations and budgetary funding will be determined with each order with an estimated completion date of March 31, 2023.

Lockheed describes the sensor as the "new eyes of Apache" that provide aircrews "ownership of the night" with enhanced situational awareness, and greater performance and survivability. They are used in adverse weather missions.

Boeing is the prime contractor for the Apache, which is the world's most advanced multi-role combat helicopter, according to the company. Boeing has delivered more than 2,200 Apaches around the world since the aircraft entered production. The first AH-64A was delivered to the U.S. Army in January 1984.

The current variation is the AH-64E.

Also Thursday, the Pentagon announced Boeing was awarded a $47.7 million contract to improved drive system-enhancement cut-in on the Apache AH-64E production line and for the Apache Longbow Crew Trainers.

Work on the Boeing contract will be performed at the company's plant in Mesa, Ariz., with an estimated completion date of March 31, 2022. Fiscal 2010, 2018 and 2019 foreign military sales, and aircraft procurement, Army funds in the combined amount of $23.4 million were obligated at the time of the award.

 

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NATO allies agree to partner on acquiring maritime munitions
June 27, 2019
By Allen Cone
View attachment 8628
The USS Donald Cook detected, tracked and successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile as part of Formidable Shield 17, a three week-long NATO military exercise in October 2017. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Europe-Africa

June 27 (UPI) -- Eight countries, including seven NATO allies and one partner nation, on Thursday reached a memorandum of understanding on multinational cooperation for maritime battle decisive munitions.

The defense ministers of Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Finland signed the agreement at a meeting in Brussels, Belgium. Finland is a partner nation.

NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller said at the signing ceremony that the memorandum was "a significant first step towards establishing European stockpiles of high quality maritime munitions. In time, this initiative will enhance our forces' interoperability, our ability to share munitions, and our capacity work together in an effective and efficient way."

As part of the agreement, the eight nations plan to cooperate in acquiring maritime munitions in an effort to achieve economies of scale with associated lower unit prices. In addition, they also will discuss other cooperation aspects in munitions, including common warehousing.

Munitions include surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles, torpedoes and gun shells.

Last July, the seven NATO allies signed a letter of intent to help standardize naval weapons by combining munitions purchases to achieve economies of scale.

And also during the summit last year, 16 NATO members and three partner nations -- Austria, Finland and Macedonia -- signed a memorandum of understanding on multinational cooperation for land battle decisive munitions.

In January, Denmark, France and the Netherlands become the first nations to receive shipments of new anti-tank weapons under the NATO multinational sharing project.

Land munitions, including mortars, artillery shells, rockets and missiles, are produced in the United States.

"This initiative seeks to address a problem that NATO first encountered during the Libya Operation: when some allies ran out of their stockpiles of munitions, they found it incredibly difficult to use those of other air forces," NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller said last August in a NATO release. "We realized that we needed a new, flexible approach to the provision of air-to-ground precision-guided munitions."

 

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USS Billings undergoing repairs in Montreal after striking moored ship

June 27, 2019
By Allen Cone
View attachment 8629
The littoral combat ship USS Billings conducts acceptance trials on Lake Michigan on Dec. 6, 2018. Last Friday, the ship struck a moored merchant ship while leaving its slip in Montreal. Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin/U.S. Navy

June 27 (UPI) -- The USS Billings, a Freedom-class littoral combat ship, is undergoing repairs in Montreal after striking a moored merchant ship last week.

The Billings, which was delivered to the Navy in February and is designated as LCS 15, made contact with the bulk carrier Rosaire Desgagnes as it was leaving its slip at 2 p.m. Friday, a U.S. Navy official told USNI News.

Two tugs were assisting the warship named for the city in Montana when the starboard side of the warship made contact with the port side of the carrier moored at the pier at Montreal's Sainte-Marie neighborhood.

"Billings sustained minor damage above the waterline," Lt. Cmdr. Courtney Hillson told USNI News. "While the ship is able to safely transit to its homeport, Naval Station Mayport, Fla., the ship will temporarily remain in port in Montreal to conduct a full damage assessment."

Earlier this month, the Billings got underway from Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Wisconsin to transit to her future home port. The ship is due to be commissioned in Key West on Aug. 3.

Hillson said no injuries were reported from either vessel and an investigation into the incident is ongoing.

A video, which appears on the Facebook page Shipspotting Canada, shows the Billings going up against the side of the Rosaire Desgagnes. The direction of her exhaust stream suggests a strong wind would have set her toward shore.

Witnesses said the Billings lost control after the lines were let go and hit the vessel that was behind it, according to First Coast News in Jacksonville, Fla.

Construction of the Billings began in 2014 and the launching was in 2017.

Fincantieri Marinette Marine, an American subsidiary of Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri Marine, is a subcontractor responsible for building the ship. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor. Five Freedom-variant destroyers are being constructed in the Wisconsin shipyard.

Freedom-class LCSs sail through the Great Lakes and up the St. Lawrence Seaway to get out into the Atlantic Ocean.

The USS Billings Facebook page makes no mention of the incident but includes photos and video of it transiting the Great Lakes.

In January 2018, another Freedom littoral combat ship, the USS Little Rock, was stranded for four months in Montreal waiting for St. Lawrence River to thaw. It had departed from a commissioning ceremony in Buffalo, N.Y.

The USS Montgomery, an Independence-class LCS, has been involved in two collisions in October 2016.

A tug collided with the Montgomery while leaving Mobile, Ala., to escape Hurricane Matthew, causing a foot-long crack in her hull. After temporary repairs, the Montgomery she hit the wall of one of the locks in the Panama canal, causing an 18-inch-long crack.

 

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House panel approves bill to pay Coast Guard members during government shutdowns
June 28, 2019
By Ed Adamczyk

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The U.S. Coast Guard should be protected from missing paychecks in the event of a future government shutdown, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee agreed Wednesday. File Photo by PO3 Johanna Strickland/U.S. Coast Guard/UPI | License Photo

June 28 (UPI) -- A House committee approved legislation that would allow U.S. Coast Guard members to be paid during any future government shutdowns.

The voice vote came on Wednesday as the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act of 2019.

The Coast Guard is primarily funded by the Department of Homeland Security, which was affected by the 35-day shutdown of the government in 2018. Coast Guard members missed a Jan. 15 paycheck and were reimbursed after funding was restored in late January. The 41,000 active duty Coast Guard members, 6,000 reservists and 8,500 civilian workers remained on the job despite the shutdown. An employee support program offered suggestions for managing family finances during the shutdown, including garage sales and babysitting, that was widely criticized.

"The federal government may have been partially shut down earlier this year, but the brave men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard were still one hundred percent on the job-in the dead of winter no less-carrying out life-saving rescues, interdicting drugs at sea, and doing whatever was necessary to keep our coastal communities safe," Committee Chairman Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said in a statement Wednesday. "I want to make sure this hostage-taking never happens again."

The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2019 finalizes appropriations for the Coast Guard and the Federal Maritime Commission through the 2021 fiscal year. It includes language suggesting an overhaul of the Coast Guard's icebreaking fleet on the Great Lakes, and authorizes $110 million on design work for updated icebreakers.

 

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US Senate passes its defense policy bill 86-8, setting up fight with House
By: Leo Shane III and Joe Gould
28 June 2019

View attachment 8647
An F/A-18E Super Hornet launches from the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), which was sailing the Arabian Sea. (Mass Communications 3rd Class Jeff Sherman/Navy via AP)

WASHINGTON — Senators on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a $750 billion defense authorization bill for next year despite concerns from congressional Democrats over the size spending totals, an expansion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and a lack of a check on President Donald Trump’s war powers.

The 86-8 vote all but erased a week of uncertainty surrounding the must-pass budget policy measure, which has passed Congress for more than five consecutive decades. That measure has faced a difficult path this year as the White House and Democratic leaders spar over a host of military issues.

Among the Democratic presidential candidates, Sens. Corey Booker and Amy Klobuchar voted “nay,” while Sens. Michael Bennet, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren did not vote — likely due to the primary debates in Florida this week. Republicans Mike Braun, Rand Paul and Mike Lee also voted “nay” alongside Democrats Ed Markey, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., framed the bill as a continuation of the Trump administration’s efforts to “rebuild” the military and to counter threats from around the globe.

“The world is more unstable and dangerous than any time in my lifetime,” Inhofe said when he introduced the bill. “The National Defense Strategy gave it to us straight: strategic competition with China and Russia; continuing threats from rogue countries like Iran and North Korea, and terrorist organizations; new technology and new war-fighting domains in outer space and cyberspace; not to mention, years of underfunding under the previous administration.”

“This is a very good bill,” the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, said in the run up to the vote. “It passed our committee on a vote of 25-2, a totally bipartisan vote. It contains many needed authorities, funding authorizations, and reforms that will help the men and women of our armed services.”

The House is expected to vote on its version of the measure next month, after floor debates on issues of transgender enlistment, nuclear weapons limits, climate change’s impact on national security and money for President Donald Trump’s controversial southern border wall.

The Senate version adopted Thursday bypasses most of those issues, but does contain authorization for about $17 billion more in defense spending next year than House Democrats have backed in their appropriations measures. The two chambers are expected to reconcile their bills in conference during the weeks and months ahead.

In an unusual move designed to advance the massive defense bill before the July 4 congressional recess, senators approved the legislation on Thursday pending the outcome of a day-long vote on U.S. military involvement in Iran on Friday.

The amendment, which needs 60 votes to pass, would prohibit funding of U.S. military action against Iran without the approval of Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other Senate leaders opposed the measure but allowed the vote to accommodate Democrats in Florida for the party’s primary debates. It is expected to fail, given a lack of support among the majority Republicans.


Spending fight
House Democrats have set a defense budget target of $733 billion next year, and already adopted that level as part of a broader government appropriations plan.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., has argued that level is an appropriate increase in funding from fiscal 2019 (up about 2.4 percent) that meets military readiness and modernization needs without the potential for waste and abuse.

But Inhofe has called the $750 billion figure the “bare minimum” needed for the military to respond to evolving security threats. The White House and House Republican lawmakers have backed that level too.

By passing the Senate authorization bill with bipartisan backing, supporters are hoping they’ll have extra momentum for that higher spending level as they head into inter-chamber negotiations. Those will begin after the House passage of the authorization bill and are expected to last into the fall.

If the two sides can’t reach a deal on defense (and non-defense) spending levels by Oct. 1, they risk triggering another partial government shutdown.

Other provisions
The measure contains a 3.1 percent pay raise for troops starting next January, in line with plans from House Democrats and the White House. If approved, it will be the largest yearly pay boost troops have seen in a decade.

It also goes along with White House plans to add about 6,200 service members to the active-duty force next year. Of that, about 2,500 would be added to the Navy, 2,000 for the Army, 1,700 for the Air Force and 100 for the Marine Corps.

Senators included about $300 million in new spending authorities for improvements to military housing, in response to reports of substandard living conditions at bases around the country. The House defense plan includes similar provisions but only half the money. The White House’s draft includes no such plans.

On the nuclear arsenal, the Senate plan would fully fund Pentagon modernization programs, including the triad of delivery systems. That is sure to be a sticking point when the measure reaches negotiations with House Democrats, who have proposed sharp cuts in that area.

It authorizes $10 billion for 94 fifth-generation Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, adding 16 to the administration’s request, while buying eight fourth-generation F-15X aircraft for $948 million, shorting the administration’s F-15X request by $162 million. It also authorizes $2.8 billion for 15 KC-46A aircraft, or three more.

Twelve new ships are included for $24.1 billion. Submarine spending includes $4.7 billion for Virginia payload modules in two Virginia-class subs and advanced funding for an additional Virginia-class submarine.

For the Army, it surpasses the administration’s request with 48 AH-64E Apaches and 33 UH-60V Black Hawk conversions, but seven fewer UH-60M Black Hawks. The service would buy 65 Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicles, 53 Paladin Integrated Management sets, and spend $393.6 million on the Stryker, adding to the administration’s request for the 30mm cannon upgrade.

 

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Army awards key contracts to build virtual trainers
29 June 2019
By: Jen Judson


View attachment 8648
Soldiers at Fort Carson, Colorado, tried out a prototype of the Reconfigurable Virtual Collective Trainer-Air, which will be a part of the future Synthetic Training Environment. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army)


WASHINGTON — The Army has awarded several key contracts to build virtual trainers, which make up a critical part of the service’s developing Synthetic Training Environment (STE).

Cole Engineering Services, Inc. (CESI) was selected from a pool of vendors with solutions for ground and air virtual trainers on June 28 to build a prototype of the Army’s Synthetic Training Environment’s Reconfigurable Virtual Collective Trainer (RVCT).

The Army sifted through a total of 11 responses to a request for solutions issued in April — eight RVCT solutions that address aircraft, two that address ground platforms and one that covered both air and ground capability in a comprehensive solution.

“As a result of a multi-stage competition, the comprehensive solution, provided by Cole Engineering Services Inc., was selected as the winning vendor providing best value to the government,” a June 28 statement sent to Defense News from Army Contracting Command- Orlando said.

The total value of the prototype project, if all phases and options are exercised, is $81.4 million.

The Army also awarded a $95 million contract June 19 to VT MAK, a subsidiary of Singapore company ST Engineering in the United States, to deliver both Training Simulation Software (TSS) and a Training Management Tool (TMT) — two essential elements that, when combined with One World Terrain, form the STE’s Common Synthetic Environment (CSE).

The CSE enables the RVCT, the Soldier Squad Virtual Trainer and the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS).

The awards mark big progress in developing the STE — essentially a virtual world in which to train soldiers for war and aims to move the service away from its stove-piped training systems from the ‘80s and ‘90s.

The new system will allow soldiers to train collectively — which is critical to preparing for multidomain operations across air, ground, sea, cyber and space — with greater fidelity. The STE will ultimately also be used as a mission planning tool.

The idea is to be able to click on any place on a virtual globe and go there. Soldiers can then train virtually in an exact environment in which they can expect to operate in reality.

The STE was prioritized through the establishment of Army Futures Command and has its own cross-functional team led by Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais to push efforts forward quickly.

Prior to the standing up of the new four-star command aimed at rapidly building and procuring more modern equipment, the STE wasn’t going to be ready until 2030.

Now that timeline has been shrunk through new approaches in development and acquisition. The contracts awarded this month, for example, are Prototype Other Transaction Agreements under the Training and Readiness Accelerator (TReX), which allowed the service to move more quickly through a competitive process.


The plan moving forward for the RVCT is “upon successful completion of this prototype effort,” the Army would award a follow-on production contract “without the use of competitive procedures,” according to the ACC-Orlando-issued statement.

But if the vendor fails to “demonstrate progress” or “be unsuccessful in the accomplishment of the goals of this prototyping effort,” the Army “reserves the right to return to the results of this competition and award additional Other Transaction Agreements to one or more of the vendors that responded to the initial Request for Solutions, as appropriate within the scope and evaluated results of the competition,” the statement notes.

Should the vendor move forward, a follow-on effort could include continued development, further scaling of the solution and integration of future capabilities.

The Army estimates the fielding quantity for the prototype would be 210 (or greater) RVCT-Air trainers and 656 ground versions “at various locations for Full Operational Capability,” according to the statement.

 

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The US Navy wants Congress to slow its roll on ‘Buy American’
28 June 2019

View attachment 8649
A rendering of the Bath Iron Works/Navantia FFG(X) design. (Courtesty of General Dynamics Electric Boat)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Navy wants Congress to go easy on “buy American” provisions and balance the need to get new capabilities out quickly and affordably with its desire to push business to domestic industry.

The service opposes a provision passed by the House in the 2020 defense appropriations bill that would prohibit the use of funds for the next-generation frigate if the service tries to contract for any auxiliary equipment, such as pumps, propulsion equipment or shipboard cranes not manufactured in the United States.

The admiral overseeing the FFG(X) program told an audience June 20 that he thought a discussion about expanding the domestic industrial base was worthwhile, but that the approach must be measured against the Navy’s ability to move quickly and achieve savings.

“This is a discussion we need to be having as a Navy and as a nation in regards to the industrial base and the supplying of major equipment on our ships – we certainly comply with existing statutes with regards to ‘buy American,’” said Rear Adm. Casey Moton, program executive officer for unmanned and small combatants. “And I think there is a lot of value in us having the discussion about moving towards a more robust domestic source of supply; We have to get to a place where we have a domestic supply that’s robust enough to support competition, so we are not locked into sole-source in some of those areas. That’s got to be a factor.”

His argument is that if “buy American” means you have to buy from only one supplier because there is only one supplier who makes the part you are looking for, that company can inflate prices because it has no competition. That then, in turn, drives up the total cost of the program.

Moton went on to argue that with the Navy facing down peer competitors such as Russia and China, the Navy needs to be flexible.

“The point is that we have to have a measured discussion,” he said. “It has to happen in such a way so that we arrive to where we want to go as Navy and as a country without impacting our ability to get a new capability out there that the Navy needs, particularly in an era of great power competition.”

The Navy released its final request for proposal to industry June 20, with at least four competitors: Fincantieri, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works with a Navantia design, Huntington Ingalls Industries and Austal USA.


‘Dumb’
In an information paper to Congress on the measure, which originated in the House Appropriations Committee, the Navy argued that if enacted, it would drive up costs and add critical delays into the program.

“The FFG(X) program is nearing completion of conceptual [design phase], the primary purpose of which is to stabilize requirements and mature the designs in advance of the competition for [detailed design and construction],” the Navy information paper said. “The proposed language would delay the primes’ readiness to respond to a DD&C request for proposal.”

Several of the components that would be covered in the bill, such as auxiliary propulsion units, are not available in the United States and would require redesigns to fit American-made parts, the paper noted. Furthermore, it would put systems in the fleet that are not common with systems that are already in service on other ships, reducing commonality and driving up the cost of spare parts and training for unique systems.

Achieving commonality with systems already in the fleet was one of the key goals spelled out by the Navy at the outset of the program.

The delays would undercut Navy efforts, pushed on by pressure from lawmakers, to cut down the time it takes to develop and acquire major systems, said Thomas Callender, a retired submarine officer and analyst with the Heritage Foundation.

“Congress will tell you: ‘We want you to go faster and cut costs.’ Then they’ll turn around and add requirements that slow the program down and increases costs,” Callender said.

The Democrats’ appropriations bill will not pass in its current form because of policy riders that will be non-starters for Republicans, but it’s unclear whether this particular policy rider will survive the final cut.

Bryan McGrath, a retired destroyer skipper and the deputy director at Center for American Seapower at the Hudson Institute, said Congress is stepping in too late in the process and the program is already too far along for this kind of meddling.

“I think it’s unwise, meddlesome and I would like to see the adults on Capitol Hill … assert themselves,” McGrath said. “They just put a [request for proposal] out. We’ve been at this for a year and a half with design contracts. This train hasn’t just left the station, it’s already almost at the halfway point.

“I believe the Congress has the power and authority to do this. I think it would be dumb to do this. It’s just too late in the game.”

Joe Gould contributed to this report from Washington.


 

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US Air Force general: No pause in drone operations amid Iran tension
By: Valerie Insinna
29 June 2019
View attachment 8650
An RQ-4 Global Hawk is seen on the tarmac of Al-Dhafra Air Base near Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Airman 1st Class D. Blake Browning/U.S. Air Force via AP)

WASHINGTON — Iran’s downing of a U.S. surveillance drone has not slowed the U.S. Air Force’s flight operations in the Middle East, its top general said Wednesday.

“We’re continuing to fly. And we continue to fly where we need to be, when we need to be there,” Air Force Chief of Staff Dave Goldfein said at an Air Force Association event.

“This is a conversation we could have in the South China Sea, this is a conversation we could have anywhere in terms of international airspace. In the global commons, we continue to protect those global commons for everyone and we continue to operate where we need to operate.”

On June 19, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down a U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance—Demonstrator drone, a version of the RQ-4 Global Hawk used by the Air Force and a precursor to the Navy’s MQ-4 Triton. BAMS-D, like other versions of the RQ-4, conducts its high-altitude surveillance missions without weapons.

Iran has maintained that the RQ-4 had been flying inside its airspace — a claim that U.S. officials have repeatedly denied. On June 20, Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, head of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, presented a map showing the drone’s location over international waters and told reporters that the aircraft had been operating at high altitude approximately 34 kilometers from Iran at the time it was attacked by Iranian surface-to-air missiles.

“This attack is an attempt to disrupt our ability to monitor the area following recent threats to international shipping and free flow of commerce. Iranian reports that this aircraft was shot down over Iran are categorically false,” Guastella said. “The aircraft was over the Strait of Hormuz and fell into international waters.”

The downing of the BAMS-D was also precipitated by a number of attacks on less expensive MQ-9 Reaper drones, which the U.S. Defense Department ties to Iran.

Both Iranian and U.S. leaders have publicly stated that they contemplated actions that could have led to loss of life, which would have greatly escalated the dispute between the two nations. Iranian leaders have said they opted not to strike down a manned P-8 maritime plane operating near the RQ-4 that was shot.

U.S. President Donald Trump also considered a strike on Iranian missile and radar sites as retaliation for the RQ-4 attack, but he stopped the mission because the response — which could have killed as many as 150 people — was not proportionate to shooting down one unarmed drone, he said in a tweet.

Goldfein downplayed U.S.-Iran tension on Wednesday, saying he didn’t see a “significant change” in the Iranian military’s capabilities and that his role as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff continues to be providing Trump with a range of military options.

“And so we continue to do that, to make sure that the options that are presented are executable and that he understands the implications. Then of course it’s the decisions of our civilian leadership whether to employ those options,” he said.

 

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Boeing Insitu awarded $390 million Blackjack and ScanEagle drone contract
Contract includes dozens of drones for the US Marine Corps, US Navy and foreign military sales, including to Canada, Poland and Oman
JUNE 29, 2019

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US Marines prepare to launch an RQ-21 Blackjack UAS during a Weapons and Tactics Instructors Course at Yuma, Arizona, on October 13, 2017.

Boeing subsidiary Insitu was awarded a more than $390 million contract to supply Blackjack and ScanEagle drone systems for the U.S. military and for foreign military sales, the U.S. Department of Defense said in a release.

The $390,390,785 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N00019-19-D-0033) provides for up to 63 RQ-21A Blackjack air vehicles for the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy, the Friday, June 28 release said.

It also provides for up to six RQ-21A unmanned aircraft systems and up to 17 air vehicles for foreign military sales, including to Canada, Poland and Oman.

Insitu will also provide up to 93 ScanEagle unmanned aircraft systems in various configurations.

Training, test and engineering, operations support, maintenance and other services are also included.

Work is expected to be completed in June 2022.

The RQ-21A Blackjack small tactical unmanned aircraft system is a military version of Insitu’s Integrator drone that is capable of operating from land and sea.

It first flew in February 2013 and the U.S. Navy received two Blackjack systems in July 2015. The U.S. Marine Corps conducted its final mission with Textron’s RQ-7B Shadow in July 2018, replacing it with the Blackjack.

The RQ-21A is essentially a larger, more-capable version of the ScanEagle. It has a wingspan of 4.9 m (15.7 feet) and Insitu says it has a ceiling greater than 20,000 feet and an endurance greater than 16 hours at a cruise speed of 60 knots. It can carry a payload of up to 17.7 kg (39 lb).

A single RQ-21A unmanned aircraft system includes five air vehicles with multi-mission payloads, two ground control stations and other equipment.

The standard payload configuration includes an electro-optic imager, a mid-wave infrared imager, a laser rangefinder and infra-red marker, but the system’s modular design enables rapid customization with imagers, communication systems, electronic warfare systems and signals intelligence capabilities.

Both the Blackjack and ScanEagle system use a trailer to pneumatically launch the drone, and both are recovered using Insitu’s SkyHook system.

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A ScanEagle drone sits on its catapult prior to launch.

The Boeing Insitu ScanEagle drone is a small, portable low-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle that can operate over land and sea.

The UAV has a flight endurance of up to 18 hours and is used for battlefield intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance. It has a wingspan of 3.1 m (10.2 feet), and flies at a cruise speed of 50-60 knots with a flight ceiling of 19,500 feet. The drone can carry a payload of up to 5 kg (11 lb).

A single ScanEagle system reportedly comprises four air vehicles, a ground control station, a remote video terminal and the launch and recovery systems. The drone carries a stabilized electro-optical and/or infrared camera on a lightweight inertial stabilized turret system. It can also carry a miniature synthetic aperture radar.

In June, Insitu was awarded almost $48 million for 34 ScanEagle UAVs for Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam, and in April, Lebanon received six Boeing Insitu Scan Eagle unmanned aerial systems from the U.S.

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US Marines prepare to launch an RQ-21 Blackjack UAS during a Weapons and Tactics Instructors Course at Yuma, Arizona, on Octocber 13, 2017. Image: US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Rhita Daniel

Boeing Insitu awarded $390 million Blackjack and ScanEagle drone contract
 

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Germany to Buy US-made Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missiles for $122M
29 June 2019

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The United States State Department yesterday approved a possible sale to Germany of 91 AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) Tactical Missiles, and up to eight AGM-88E AARGM Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM) for an estimated $122.86 million.

The Government of Germany has requested to buy the missiles through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) acting as its Agent, Also included in the proposed sale are up to six telemetry/flight termination systems, Flight Data Recorders (FDR), U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services and miscellaneous support equipment, and other related elements of logistical and program support.

The AGM-88E AARGM is an upgrade to the older generation AGM-88B High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM), which Germany first purchased in 1988. The AGM-88E AARGMs in this case will be manufactured using a mixture of new components and older sections from Germany's existing stock of AGM-88Bs provided as Government Furnished Equipment (GFE).

Germany has requested that the NSPA act as its agent for the FMS procurement and case management to support the AARGM program. The principal U.S. contractor will be NGIS, Ridgecrest, CA. The integration efforts will be via a Direct Commercial Sale (DCS), initiated by the Luftwaffe, between the Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) and the AARGM Original Equipment Manufacturer, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, formerly known as Orbital ATK (OA).

 

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Germany through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) – AGM-88E AARGM Missiles

Transmittal No: 19-24
WASHINGTON, June 28, 2019 -

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Germany, through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) acting as its Agent, up to ninety-one (91) AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) Tactical Missiles, and up to eight (8) AGM-88E AARGM Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM) for an estimated cost of $122.86 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.

The Government of Germany has requested to buy, through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) acting as its Agent, up to ninety-one (91) AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) Tactical Missiles, and up to eight (8) AGM-88E AARGM Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM). Also included are up to six (6) telemetry/flight termination systems, Flight Data Recorders (FDR), U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services and miscellaneous support equipment, and other related elements of logistical and program support. The total estimated cost is $122.86 million.

This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a NATO ally, which is an important force for political and economic stability in Europe. It is vital to the U.S. national interests that Germany develops and maintains a strong and ready self-defense capability.

The AGM-88E AARGM is an upgrade to the older generation AGM-88B High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM), which Germany first purchased in 1988. The AGM-88E AARGMs in this case will be manufactured using a mixture of new components and older sections from Germany's existing stock of AGM-88Bs provided as Government Furnished Equipment (GFE). Germany will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment and support into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

Germany has requested that the NSPA act as its agent for the FMS procurement and case management to support the AARGM program. The principal U.S. contractor will be NGIS, Ridgecrest, CA. The integration efforts will be via a Direct Commercial Sale (DCS), initiated by the Luftwaffe, between the Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) and the AARGM Original Equipment Manufacturer, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, formerly known as Orbital ATK (OA). There are no known offset agreements associated with this potential sale.

Implementation of this proposed sale will require five U.S. government personnel and three contractor representatives to travel to Germany to provide Program Management Reviews. Two visits are planned per year over the next five years.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

 

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Navy eyes new launchers on stalwart destroyers for putting hypersonics afloat
By: David B. Larter
30 June 2019

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Sailors remove an expended canister from the destroyer’s vertical launch system on board the destroyer Benfold. The Navy is eyeing swapping out launchers on its DDGs to accommodate hypersonic missiles. (U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Jason Amadi)


WASHINGTON – With bigger, faster missiles in development and bound for the fleet, the Navy’s engineers are eyeing back-fitting upgraded launchers on its stalwart Arleigh Burke destroyers.

The head of Naval Sea Systems Command, Vice Adm. Thomas Moore, told an audience at a conference of naval engineers that the destroyers, because of the vertical launch system and Aegis, the ships were easier to keep relevant than previous destroyers such as the Adams class and the Spruance class. Still, with the service attempting to keep the ships longer, new launcher may be in order to pace the threat from Russia and China, which have been developing hypersonic weapons.

“Vertical launch system has been a real game-changer for us. We can shoot any number of things out of those launchers,” he said. “We’ll probably change those out and upgrade them for prompt strike weapons down the road.”


Putting hypersonic weapons on surface ships would greatly increase the effectiveness of its strike capabilities. The current main strike weapon, the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile, is a subsonic missile and is vulnerable to ever-more advanced Russian and Chinese air defenses.

Prompt strike, which refers to a Department of Defense-wide effort to field hypersonic weapons to quickly strike anywhere in the world, are most likely coming first to submarines, said Thomas Callender, a retired submarine officer and analyst with the Heritage Foundation. Because subs are stealthy and can sneak in closer to land undetected more easily than a surface ship, they make the most sense.

“They’re looking at putting hypersonics on submarines first because where you can get access,” Callender said. “You can potentially then put them on surface ships as an added capability for them but the submarines would be the priority for access and the ranges you can achieve.”

The Navy is designing a new large surface combatant to replace the cruisers and ultimately the destroyers with larger missiles in mind. As a result, the ship may be fairly large, former Surface Warfare Director Rear Adm. Ron Boxall told Defense News last year.


The benefit of larger vertical launch cells is that you can pack more missiles into each cell, if you are not using the cell for the larger hypersonic missiles, Boxall said.

“We are going to need, we expect, space for longer range missiles,” he said. They are going to be bigger. So, the idea that you could make a bigger cell, even if you don’t use it for one big missile, you could use it for multiple missiles — quad-pack, eight-pack, whatever.”

The missiles that would go into a larger launcher are still very much under development.

The Navy is teamed with the Army to develop a booster for a hypersonic missile and the Army is leading a team with the Navy and Air Force to internally build a common glide body and make it producible on a larger scale.

Radar Upgrades
NAVSEA is also examining back-fitting a scaled-down version of the Air and Missile Defense Radar, AN/SPY-6, being developed for the Flight III DDG. The scope of that project, however, remains to be determined.

“We are looking at a scaled-back version of the Air and Missile Defense Radar to back-fit the Flight Is and Flight IIs, similar to how we are looking for a version of the [Enterprise Air Search Radar] developed for [the Ford-class aircraft carriers] to back-fit on some of the old Nimitz-class,” Moore said.

“I’m not sure how many ships it is going to go on, we’re still doing the design work. It’s a fairly significant change to the structure of the ship, AMDR versus Spy.”

The purpose of the upgrade would be used to track the faster, more dynamic missiles being developed by Russia and China.

The array is a smaller version of the SPY-6 intended for the Flight III DDG, the first of which is now under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries. The SPY-6 destined for DDG-125 will have 37 of what are known as radar modular assemblies, or RMA, which are 2-foot-by-2-foot-by-2-foot boxes that use gallium nitride technology to direct radar energy on air targets. The Flight IIA version will have 24 RMAs in the array.

A version of the radar planned for the FFG(X) future frigate is a nine-RMA configuration.

The Navy is aiming to upgrade all of its DDGs to Aegis Baseline 9 or higher with a ballistic missile defense capability and extend the service lives to 45 years as part of an effort to grow the fleet.

But the Navy is going to try to get 50 years out of its Flight IIA ships. The IIAs make up the bulk of the DDG fleet, with 46 total planned for the service — DDG-79 through DDG-124. DDG-127 will also be a Flight IIA.

That upgraded SPY-6 will be far easier to maintain than the current SPY-1D. Raytheon claims the radar can be maintained by simply removing an RMA and switching it out with a new one, with the rest of the work performed off-site.

 

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U.S. NAVY EXPANDS ITS METAL 3D PRINTING CAPABILITIES

The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) in Florida has acquired a new metal 3D printer for its Additive Manufacturing Laboratory (AML).

The addition of a EOS M290 3D printer will allow NSWC PCD to quickly produce parts and prototypes to ‘ensure warfighting dominance.’

“There are many advantages to having access to a metal 3D printer,” said Chuck Self, NSWC PCD AML head. “Major advantages include reduction in time to complete prints, reproducibility, and the complexity of parts available for print.”

“NSWC PCD’S GOAL IS TO PRODUCE EFFICIENT AND QUALITY PRODUCTS TO THE WARFIGHTER, AND THIS PRINTER WILL ALLOW OUR ENGINEERS AND SCIENTISTS TO CREATE STRONG AND COMPLEX PRODUCTS IN A SHORTER TIME FRAME.”

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A 3D printed metal piece part produced by the EOS M290 in the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division. Photo via the U.S Navy.

Integrating 3D printing into the U.S. Navy

The NSWC PCD is located in a US Naval military base near Panama City, Florida. It conducts research on naval warfare and its disciplines include optics, acoustics, mine warfare and robotics.

The U.S. Navy is heavily invested in 3D printing. In 2018 alone, the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) allocated $2.6 million for the introduction of metal additive manufactured parts; Lockheed Martin entered a $5.8 million contract with the force; and, by the end of the year Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) estimated its fleet relied on the use of 1,000 3D printed parts.

More recently, the Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) set up an Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell to provide 24/7 3D printing support, and the Navy has been applying the technology to upgrade various ships in its fleet.

3D printing naval parts with a M290

The latest metal 3D printer added to the AML is an EOS M290 Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) system, which has been used to make products like portable runway mats and hydraulic components. It features a 250 x 250 x 325 mm build volume and uses a 400-watt fiber laser, with an excellent beam quality, inside a nitrogen atmosphere to make accurate, complex, and fully dense parts out of powdered metal.

Halie Cameron, NSWC PCD mechanical engineer said, “The printer is capable of building highly complex geometries that are unable to be fabricated by traditional machining.”

Adding, “A benefit of the printer is part reduction, by combining parts that would have been fabricated separately with traditional machining. As the capabilities grow, metal 3D printers will likely become irreplaceable.”

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EOS M290 Direct Metal Laser Sintering system. Photo via EOS.

Nicole Waters, NSWC PCD machine shops project manager, said the addition of the 3D metal printer allows NSWC PCD to create a collaboration and innovation 3D printing network in the military base.

“Having the metal 3D printer in-house at NSWC PCD allows us to make parts that are customizable to the customer’s needs vice lengthy ordering lead times,” said Waters.

“This gives our scientists and engineers the opportunity to work one on one with the AML personnel to get their product built exactly the way they want. We encourage the One Team motto in the AML and want to create the highest quality parts for our Fleet projects and research prototypes.”

U.S. Navy expands its metal 3D printing capabilities - 3D Printing Industry
 

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