THE RETURN OF GREAT POWER COMPETITION
There is little doubt that Great Power competition is increasing in intensity once more. Both China and Russia are working hard to drive a wedge between nations that adhere to the “Rules Based Order” (RBO)- something that was arguably established at the end of the Second World War to protect the victors and their economies by allow them to control global commerce and rebuild after the war. Ironically the losers of WWII – Germany and Japan – grew to be two of the strongest economies in the world as their industrial base was allowed to rebuild and flourish under the new order.
Russia, the other victor in the European context, under Stalin, had always been seen as the major post-war threat by Winston Churchill, and the continuation of the communist state after the death of Stalin in 1953 and the Soviet invasion of both Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968), together with the building of the Berlin Wall (1961) provided the foundations of the Cold War.
Perestroika promoted by Mikhail Gorbachev broke Russia out of the Cold War and many nations in the West took advantage of the ‘Peace Dividend’ to cut military spending. However, Russia under the autocratic rule of President Vladimir Putin has reengaged with its old western advisories based on a deep routed mistrust of the West but now supported by very rich, loyal oligarchs – and a masterly deployment of realpolitik, and espionage fuelled by cyber activity.
China, now fully awake from its long ‘slumber’ (research attributions to Napoleon Bonaparte), has quickly risen to the status of global economic powerhouse. However, the Belt and Road policy initiative, once seen as China’s drive to reestablish old trade routes, is turning quickly into a strategic push to weaken the position of the United States as a global leader. China too is fully aware of the power of cyber and the need to break the traditional RBO if its strategic aims are to be successful.
UK GOVERNMENT LACKED LEADERSHIP TO COUNTER RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE, ACCORDING TO DELAYED RUSSIAN REPORT
The UK Intelligence and Security Committee’s report on Russian interference in UK elections and referendums was finally made public on 21 July, nine months after it was completed.
Kevin Jones, a member of the current and previous Intelligence and Security Committee, refuted many of the claims by Prime Minister Boris Johnson purporting to reasons for the delay in releasing of the report. Jones said that Johnson’s approval, first sought on 17 October 2019, was only received the day after the General Election (13 December), after having taking a record time to do so. But a further seven months was required to reconstitute the Security Committee, “again a record time” stated Jones.
Jones added that there had been some attempt to discredit the report saying it was “stale and out- of -date”, but added that this was not the case.
Stewart Hosie, also a member of the current and previous Intelligence and Security Committee reported that “the UK is one of Russia’s top western intelligence targets…not just to steal secrets or research but suites Russia if there is disunity in the West.”
The report is critical of how the UK government has dealt with this threat: “There is no clear coordination of the numerous organisations across the UK intelligence community who are woking on this issue ” in addition to a “bizarrely complicated wiring diagram of responsibility amongst ministers for no good reason.”
Jones praised the UK’s paper-based electoral and counting system as difficult to interfere, with the main aim of Russia’s campaign to create “disinformation and discord” among the voting public. Jones said that accepting responsibility was a “hot potato” in government and than there was nobody accepting overall lead, but that “responsibility must be a ministerial priority.”
Allegations that Russia sought to influence voters in the 2016 referendum of membership of the Brexit referendum was “difficult if not impossible to prove” said Hosie, although the report revealed that the Government “did not want to know.”
The UK government have activity avoided looking for evidence that Russia interfered” – to say that no evidence was found was “meaningless if they hadn’t looked for it,” stated Hosie. “There has been no assessment of Russian interference in the EU referendum.”
“The outrage is that no-one wanted to know if there was interference,” stated Jones. “Russian interference is the new normal,” he continued citing that Russian oligarchs and their money has been “welcomed with open arms.” He said that many of these Russians with close links to Russia’s President Putin are “integrated into UK business, political and social scenes.”
Hosie concluded that “the Official Secrets Act is not fit for purpose when it comes to tackling foreign spies.”
There is a further classified annex to the report that is not being made public.
B1 BOMBERS CONDUCT MISSIONS OVER SOUTH CHINA SEA; LINK WITH CARRIERS AND EXERCISE WITH JASDF
Two US Air Force B-1B Lancers conducted a long-range strategic Bomber Task Force (BTF) mission in the South China Sea on 21 July. The bombers staged out of Anderson AF Base on Guam on a 14 hour long mission.
Part of the mission performed by the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron (EBS) included a maritime integration operation with the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group in the Philippine Sea. The B1s were refuelled by KC-135s tankers from the 506th Expeditionary Air Refuelling Squadron.
According to a statement from US Indo-Pacific Command: “The US Strategic Command routinely conducts BTF operations across the globe.”
Home-based at Ellsworth AF Bas, South Dakota, the B-1s conducted bilateral intercept training with the Japanese Air Self-Defence Force (JASDF) F-15Js over the Sea of Japan before arriving into Guam.
WILL THE USS BONHOMME RICHARD BE REPAIRED?
National Steel and Shipbuilding (NASSCO) has been awarded a $10 million contract by Naval Sea Systems Command following the fire onboard the Wasp class amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6). The contract is specifically awarded for emergency firefighting support, dewatering, safety and initial clean-up efforts post-fire over the next few months.
On 7 September 2018, General Dynamics NASSCO received a $217.8 million contract from Naval Systems Command for maintenance and upgrades to the USS Bonehomme Richard. This is the contract that was nearing completion before the fire.
The USS Bonehomme Richard was built by Ingalls Shipbuilding and commissioned into the US Navy in 1998, making it 22 years old. Since June 2019 the ship has been undergoing phased maintenance at General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard at the San Diego Naval Base.
Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman Rory O’Connor told USNI News that the major maintenance work included “strength and integrity repairs of the main propulsion spaces and preservation and repairs of valves, various tanks and machinery spaces. In terms of modernisation, the availability included all of the aviation work items needed to integrate Joint Strike Fighter capability onboard LHD 6 along with upgrades to the radars, combat system and command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) networks.”
On 17 July, a US Navy briefing reported extensive electrical, structural and mechanical damage had been caused by the 13 July fire.
The future for the USS Bonehomme Richard in the long term will depend on how costly it will be to restore the ship to operational readiness viewed in the prism of potential defence cuts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
US GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Highlighting a selection of $100 million+ government awarded contracts awarded between 20-24 July. Unsurprisingly there are numerous contracts being awarded by the DoD in connection with fighting coronavirus.
DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY
General Electric Aviation has been awarded an estimated $259 million modification contract for supplies related to airplane engine platform support. This modification brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $892 million. Using customers are Air Force, Navy and Foreign Military Sales partner countries. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation.
RQ-DPR JV is awarded a $143 million contract for the construction of Hurricane Florence Recovery Package 2, Headquarters, located at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. This contract provides replacements for buildings damaged during Hurricane Florence. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command is the contracting activity.
Archer Western Construction is awarded an $117 million contract for the construction of Hurricane Florence Recovery Package 4, Bridges, located in Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. This contract provides replacements for bridges damaged during Hurricane Florence. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command is the contracting activity.
US AIR FORCE
BAE Systems Technology Solutions and Services received a $495 million IDIQ contract for the Instrumentation Range Support Program. This contract provides for serviceable components and subsystems for instrumentation tracking systems, worldwide for both foreign and domestic government agencies to include radars, telemetry and optical range mission systems, flight termination systems, data acquisition systems and Global Positioning Systems. Work will be performed on participating ranges in the program, including Air Force, Army, Navy, NASA, Department of Energy, as well as foreign ranges in the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Republic of Korea and Switzerland. The 45th Contracting Squadron, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, is the contracting activity.
Boeing; General Atomics Aeronautical Systems; Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems; and Northrop Grumman Systems have each been awarded IDIQ contracts with a shared ceiling of $400 million for all subsequent competitively selected delivery orders in support of the Skyborg Vanguard Program. Skyborg is an autonomous attritable aircraft capable of achieving a diverse set of missions to generate massed combat power. The Skyborg prototyping, experimentation and autonomy development contract will be used to deliver missionised prototypes in support of operational experimentation and develop the first Skyborg air platform with modular hardware and software payloads that will incorporate the Skyborg autonomy core system and enable manned/unmanned teaming. Air Force Life Cycle Management is the contracting activity.
SRC was awarded a $425 million hybrid contract for development, production, deployment and support of the Expeditionary-Low, Slow, Small Unmanned Aircraft System Integrated Defeat System (E-LIDS). US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.
A wide number of colleges and universities have been allocated $147 million in multiple-award, IDIQ contracts to provide educational services to the entire enlisted workforce and to establish the US Naval Community College in support of the Office of the Chief Learning Officer. Work will be performed at various locations across 37 states and the District of Columbia. The Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center is the contracting activity.
US AIR FORCE
AECOM Management Services; AKIMA Logistics Services; DynCorp International; Jacobs Technology; Leidos; M1 Support Services; PAE Services; and Vertex Aerospace have been awarded a maximum $14 billion multiple-award, IDIQ contract for Aircraft Maintenance Enterprise Solution – a strategic sourcing vehicle for Air Force-wide contracted aircraft maintenance. The contractors will provide all organisational-level maintenance services for all aircraft listed in each individual task order performance work statement, which can include any aircraft platform (excluding rotary wing, tiltrotor and remotely piloted aircraft). The Air Force Installation Contracting Center is the contracting activity.
Lockheed Martin was awarded a $702 million modification contract for procurement of Hellfire missiles. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.
US AIR FORCE
Raytheon Missile Systems has been awarded a $375 million IDIQ contract for a miniature self-defense missile. The contract provides for the research and development of a flight-test ready missile. Air Force Research Laboratory is the contracting activity.
Booz Allen Hamilton; Calibre Systems; Janus Research Group; Tec-Masters; and Yorktown Systems Group, will compete for each order of the $247 million contract to provide support to the Fires Center of Excellence; all commands on Fort Sill, Oklahoma; and Army Futures Command, to develop and produce training strategies, doctrine, concepts, instruction and products for the current and future force. US Army Field Directorate Office is the contracting activity.
WASHINGTON HEADQUARTERS SERVICES
Qbase has been awarded a blanket purchase agreement (BPA) contract valued at $103 million to provide a broad range of information technology support services for all of the Defense Acquisition University locations. Washington Headquarters Services is the contracting activity.
Lockheed Martin has been awarded an $861 million modification contract to procure eight Lot 14 F-35A Lightning II repositioned aircraft as a result of the Republic of Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program, and six Lot 14 F-35A aircraft for the Air Force. Additionally, this modification establishes undefinitised line items that provides recurring engineering in support of the modification of the eight Lot 14 F-35A Lightning II repositioned aircraft to a full operationally capable F-35A Air Force configuration. Naval Air Systems Command, is the contracting activity.
DRS Sustainment Systems has been awarded an $189 million hybrid contract for development, production, deployment and support of the Mobile-Low, Slow, Small Unmanned Aircraft System Integrated Defeat System. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.
NEW EVENT CANCELLATIONS
AUSA – NOW ONLY VIRTUAL.
12-14 October, 2020, Washington
Statement from the organisers: “After careful and detailed consideration, we’ve made the difficult decision to convert the 2020 AUSA Annual Meeting from an in-person meeting to a virtual experience…We’re coordinating details for a large virtual event this October. While it may not replace the full experience of the in-person AUSA Annual Meeting, it will serve to keep us connected with Army senior leaders and messages, with industry partners and with AUSA members around the globe.
While we’re very disappointed not to be able to host you all in person this year, please know that we are already looking forward with great anticipation to next year’s Annual Meeting from 11-13 October 2021.
7-10 June 2021, Abidjan / Côte d’Ivoire
Monday 7 June: International conference and round tables, supported by the Minister of Defence of Côte d’Ivoire (by invitation).
Tuesday 8 to Thursday 10 June: Security and Defence Exhibition Supported by the Ivorian Minister of Security and Civil Protection.
No new event cancellations or rescheduling this week.
Keep safe and healthy everyone.
Armada International / Asian Military Review