The middle of summer, especially the middle of August, usually translates into what we in the editorial side of the media call a ‘slow news’ day. Everyone goes on holiday and business activity slackens off. However, we have all been experiencing this since around the end of March (at least from a European perspective).
However, tensions continue between the countries founded on ‘the rules based order’ of the world, and those who want to divide alliances and exploit any perceived weakness that results. Many nations are also looking at how they can increase their self-reliance, particularly in terms of boosting their national defence industries. The cost to recover from COVID is still being calculated, but it may be that multinational development partnerships still provide the most economical way to develop capability in a timely manner.
GENERAL NEWS AND ITEMS OF INTEREST
TAIWAN INCREASES DEFENCE BUDGET; SIGNS F-16 FIGHTER DEAL WHILE CHINA AND US SHOW FORCE
On Thursday 13 August, the Republic of China’s (Taiwan) government revealed its proposed 2021 defence budget worth $15.4 billion (NT$453.4 billion), just over a 10 percent increase on the 2020 budget. China’s foreign ministry disparaged the announcement.
The Taiwanese government also formerly signed an agreement to buy 66 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 70 fighters [the full order could be up to 90] with 75 Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 AESA radars, a deal publicly announced in 2019. Deliveries are expected up to 2026.
The same week China’s People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command was concluding exercises in the Taiwan Straits. Senior Colonel Zhang Chunhui, spokesman during the Chinese exercise called them “a necessary move responding to the current security situation in the Taiwan Straits and were meant to safeguard national sovereignty.” This directly refers to China (People’s Republic of China) continuing claim over Taiwan as part of its territory.
Almost concurrently to these events, the US Navy began an exercise of its own in the South China Sea on Friday 14 August. The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group comprises the carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, USS Antietam (CG 54), USS Mustin (DDG 89), and USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115). The Group conducted flight operations, maritime air defence operations as part of the ongoing campaign to assert international rights to a free and open Indo-Pacific including the South China Sea.
INDIA BANS 100 DEFENCE IMPORTS TO BOOST NATIONAL DEFENCE INDUSTRY
India’s Department of Military Affairs (DMA) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have drawn up a list of 101 items which will be continually embargoed for import.
According to an MoD statement: “The list was prepared by MoD after several rounds of consultations with all stakeholders, including the Army, Air Force, Navy, DRDO, defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs), Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and private industry to assess current and future capabilities of the Indian industry for manufacturing various ammunition /weapons /platforms /equipment within India.”
The Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) initiative, introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is a development from the Make in India strategy which was launched in 2014 with limited success.
According to Business Today India: “Artillery guns, light combat helicopters, assault rifles, corvettes, radars, armoured fighting vehicles (AFV), and transport aircraft are among the 101 defence items that will not be imported.”
However, this is somewhat of a gamble for the Indian Government. The danger is that if investment, both national and foreign, is slow to arrive and innovation lacks funding, added to the fact that defence acquisition remains notoriously slow paced, then the Indian military will fall behind in the race to keep up technologically with its peers and advisories.
USAF HYPERSONIC MISSILE HEADS TOWARDS BOOSTER TEST FLIGHT
The United States Air Force (USAF) conducted its final captive carry test of Lockheed Martin’s AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) on 8 August.
The ARRW was attached underneath the wing of a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress belonging to the 419th Flight Test Squadron, flying out of Edwards Air Force Base, California.
A statement issued by the 412 Test Wing confirmed that “the flight resulted in the successful transmission of telemetry and GPS data from the AGM-183A IMV-2 (Instrumented Measurement Vehicle) to Point Mugu Sea Range ground stations. The test verified system integration with the B-52 launch platform and telemetry while practicing concepts of operations that will be utilised during its first Booster Test Flight later this year.”
The ARRW is a rapid prototyping programme that will bring a conventional hypersonic weapon into service by the early 2020s. It will be used as a precision strike weapon against heavily defended high-value targets.
“These weapons will enable application of conventional firepower anywhere in the world at eye-watering speed,” said Lt. Col. Michael Jungquist, 419th Flight Test Squadron Commander and Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force Director.
US GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Highlighting a selection of $100 million+ government awarded contracts awarded between 10-14 August.
US Air Force
Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $62 billion IDIQ contract for new production of F-16 Foreign Military Sale (FMS) aircraft [see story above]. This contract involves 100 percent FMS to FMS partner nations. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the contracting activity.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has received a $188 million contract for Belgium MQ-9B SkyGuardian procurement. This contract provides for four MQ-9B unmanned air vehicles, two Certifiable Ground Control Stations, spares and support equipment. This contract involves Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to Belgium and is the result of a sole-source acquisition. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the contracting activity.
Electric Boat is awarded a $125 million contract for the labor and material efforts required to plan the USS Hartford (SSN 768) engineered overhaul (EOH) availability. The contracting approach will include advance planning, engineering, design efforts, prefabrication and shipyard execution work, including growth work and new work, necessary to prepare for and accomplish the maintenance and modernisation work as defined in the USS Hartford EOH availability work package. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.
BAE Systems San Diego Ship Repair is awarded a $103 million contract to prepare for and accomplish repair and alteration requirements for USS Preble (DDG 88). The purpose is to maintain, modernise, and repair the USS Preble. The USS Preble will receive comprehensive modernisation for DDG-51 class ships to ensure a mission relevant service life. BAE Systems will provide the facilities and human resources capable of completing, coordinating, and integrating multiple areas of ship maintenance, repair, and modernisation for USS Preble. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.
(Largest contract award of the day).
Moderna TX was awarded a $1.5 billion contract for 100 million filled drug production doses of a SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-1273 vaccine. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.
Messer Construction was awarded a $126 million contract for construction of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center Intelligence Production Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. US Army Corps of Engineers is the contracting activity.
HGL-APTIM JV was awarded a $110 million contract for environmental construction activities in support of the Welsbach General Gas Mantle Superfund Site in Camden and Gloucester City, Camden County, New Jersey. US Army Corps of Engineers is the contracting activity.
Amentum Services is awarded a $430 million contract for the operation and maintenance of the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC). AUTEC is the Navy’s large-area, deep-water, undersea test and evaluation range. Underwater research, testing and evaluation of anti-submarine weapons, sonar tracking and communications are the predominant activities conducted at AUTEC. The contractor performs AUTEC range operations support services and maintenance of facilities and range systems. In addition, the contractor is responsible for operating a self-sufficient one square mile Navy outpost. The Naval Undersea Warfare Center is the contracting activity.
Whiting-Turner Contracting is awarded a $149 million contract for construction of Hurricane Florence Recovery Package 1 located in Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. The contract also contains 21 planned modifications and six unexercised options, which if exercised, would increase cumulative contract value to $161 million. This project provides replacements for various buildings damaged during Hurricane Florence. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command is the contracting activity.
JOINT ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE CENTER
Deloitte Consulting was awarded a Systems Engineering, Technology, and Innovation prime integrator task order for an estimated $106 million to design and build the Joint Common Foundation artificial intelligence development environment for the Department of Defense Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. The contracting activity is the Defense Information Systems Activity/Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization.
Continental Tide Defense Systems; Gibbs & Cox; McKean Defense Group; NDI Engineering; and Q.E.D. Systems are each awarded IDIQ contracts for a combined, $165 million to provide engineering, technical, logistics and program management services to perform the functions for Navy and Army surface ships, submarines, and assault craft. Functions include engineering, technical and logistics support for in-service ship systems and equipment, refurbishment and testing of electrical and electrical control equipment, program management, programmatic, engineering and implementation coordination support for equipment upgrades and ship modernisation initiatives and direct fleet support for afloat units at the waterfront. The Naval Surface Warfare Center is the contracting activity.
General Dynamics Land Systems was awarded a $428 million contract for the field level maintenance, field service representative support, contingency maintenance support, new equipment training and total package fielding for the family of Stryker vehicles. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.
Sierra Nevada was awarded a $318 million contract for simple key loader production, engineering and sustainment support services. US Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity.
NEW EVENT CANCELLATIONS
No new event cancellations or rescheduling this week.
Keep safe and healthy everyone.
Armada International / Asian Military Review