”We cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbours.” – Sun Tzu

Dear Readers,

President Biden’s series of meetings with the G7 leaders in the United Kingdom, NATO Leaders and Heads of State in Brussels on 14 June and culminating with the Russian President Vladimir Putin on 16 June in Geneva, Switzerland, represents a very heavy first schedule for the 78 year old politician’s first foreign trip as President.

Repairing the damage to US-European relations, both politically and militarily (noting all of Trump’s criticisms of NATO and threat at one point to reconsider US membership of the organisation), will be welcomed by the Europeans although there has been a ‘sea-change’ in trust. While a significant number of Republicans still ‘support the lie’ of Trump’s bogus election victory claim, the unease that Trump or someone ‘Trump-like’ might run for the White House in the next election will endure as a major concern for European leaders. Long term commitments requested by the US will be measured against a ‘doomsday scenario’ of the US administration ‘going rogue’ again.

But Biden will be working behind the scenes to lock-in support for his meeting with President Putin. During an interview with NBC News broadcast on 11 June, President Putin praised ex-President Trump for not being a politician and describing him as an ‘extraordinary and talented individual’, words designed to feed into Trump’s support base back in the US. How disconnected must that Republican support base be to warm to the words of a man founded in communism during his years maturing as a KGB officer, and one who would eventually lead that organisation, and his word trusted by Trump against his own US intelligence services. And all this while decrying Democrats for their alleged socialist policies.

Putin, trying to ramp up pressure on Biden stated that ”we have a bilateral relationship that has deteriorated to its lowest point in recent years” – perhaps forgetting that those last four years were under the leadership of the ‘talented’ Trump.

This also deliberately ignores the fact that Russia’s foreign policy is mainly to blame for this deterioration under Putin through the instigation of invasions (Crimea and Ukraine) and the threat to the Baltic states, the conduct of biological attacks in other nation states (Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, UK), the destabilisation of Western elections through state-controlled cyber hackers, and more recently the lack of action against cyber criminals who instigate attacks on Western companies such as that on Colonial Pipeline in May (irrespective of whether they are directly controlled by the Russian intelligence services).

President Biden will use the next few days to rally as much European support as possible to allow him to ‘play hardball’ with Putin if necessary. The autocratic leadership of Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi Jinping both trying to subvert the ‘rules based order’ that has been prevalent since the last World War, unity is needed now – and quickly,

Sorry, no quiz today.

Best to all,

Editor


AI IMPROVED AIR WEAPONS WILL INCREASE CAPABILITY – BUT WON’T BE A PANACEA

Artificial intelligence (AI) integrated into weapons, particularly missiles, will take target identification and prosecution to the next level. AI will be able to process information quicker, but this does not mean a human will be out of the process that reaches a firing decision.

“A weapon, once fired, might be able to detect collateral or sensitive issues and be able to delay an attack or increase the explosive power needed,” said Group Captain Gareth Prendergast, the deputy assistant Chief of Staff (DACOS) Force Development within Air Capability, Royal Air Force, speaking during an Artificial Intelligence in the Weapons Domain seminar on 9 June and hosted by the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS).

The advantages that AI is likely to bring will be a “reduce workload of the human operator” allowing them to make better decisions. AI employed in data fusion is also likely to give more definition and clarity to a particular scenario.

However, Prendergast was quick to add that AI was not a panacea for every task and that much development was needed during the initial programming, particularly in considering variables of outcome.

“Grey zone operations are rising,” he noted, which “could lead to AI decision making worsen the situation.” There were also legal and policy regulations to consider (such as the Rules of Engagement – Ed) and these were now lagging behind rapidly developing technology.

While AI is sure to improve many systems and capabilities, Prendergast warned that it will remain as “a tool within a system and not an end in itself.” He also cautioned about the need to protect newly developed capabilities against “counter-AI” technology.


UNMANNED AIR-TO-AIR REFUELLING – A SIGN OF THINGS TO COME

The refuelling of a US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet by an unmanned MQ-25 on 4 June was a landmark event, not only for aircraft carrier operations, but in the wider field of military aerial refuelling in general. Both platforms come from Boeing’s stable of manned and unmanned aircraft.

The elimination of any manned element to a platform means additional weight, in this case fuel, can be added. While larger manned refuelling aircraft will be needed up to the medium term, flying an unmanned or even optionally manned aircraft has advantages, not least in saving aircrew from having to conduct such missions, the danger of which will increase hugely in future A2AD and contested air environments.

The advantages of a small MQ-25 refuelling platform may also include allowing it to contribute towards more specialised, small package operations where a larger aircraft may be too observable.

Boeing states that 25 T1 flights have now been conducted, testing both aircraft and ARS aerodynamics, over numerous flight conditions. Digital simulations have also been conducted. Later this year the US Navy will conduct deck handling trials from one of its own carriers.


US MAJOR ARMS SALES (Defence Security Cooperation Agency – DSCA).

No further announcements since last week.


US GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS

Highlighting a selection of $100 million+ government awarded contracts awarded between 7-11 June 2021 and Foreign Military Sales contracts.

11 June
US NAVY
Amentum Services; American Roll-On Roll-Off Carrier Group; Bahrain Fujairah Marine Services; Crowley Government Services; DaeKee Global; DFS Technical Services; Disaster Management Group; Downie Jones Ship Stores, Australia; Downie Jones Ship Stores Hong Kong; Global Defense Logistics, Romania; Global Maritime Logistics Support, Philippines; Horizon Strategies; JT Square, Singapore; KVG; Meridian Global Consulting; Multinational Logistic Services, Malta; OPS, Republic of Korea; Qube Ports, Australia; Relyant Global; Shipping Consultants Associated, United Kingdom; Seabulk Logistics Services; Stirling Advanced Logistical Services, Jordan; TechTrans Intl; Toll Remote Logistics, Australia; TranLogistics; US21; Vantage International Partners; Vectrus Systems; and Waypoint, are awarded a $121million multiple award of IDIQ contracts to provide worldwide expeditionary supplies and services to support humanitarian and disaster relief, military exercises, and contingencies. If the option period is exercised, the total estimated value of the contracts combined will have a ceiling value of $242 million. Work will be performed in 22 geographic regions: North America; Caribbean and Bermuda; Central America; South America; Middle East; Bahrain; United Arab Emirates; Africa; Eastern Europe and Western Asia; Western Europe; Mainland Asia; Japan; Indian Ocean; Sri Lanka; Australia and Oceania; Pacific Islands; Philippines; Indonesia; Malaysia and Singapore; Thailand; Vietnam; and Southeastern Asia. Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center Yokosuka, Japan, is the contracting activity.

Leidos has been awarded an $26.9 million contract for ship-installation, integrated logistic support, fleet support, and life-cycle-sustainment of the Navy’s AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 surface ship undersea warfare systems. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $61.7 million. The contract combines purchases for the Navy (97.6 percent); and the governments of Japan (two percent) and Australia (0.4 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales program. Fiscal 2021 shipbuilding and conversion includes Foreign Military Sales Japan funds in the amount of $205,855 (one percent); and Foreign Military Sales Australia funds in the amount of $38,730 (one percent). The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.

US AIR FORCE
Textron Aviation Defense has been awarded a $12.4 million contract action for Tunisia T-6C long lead items procurement and site survey. This contract provides for the procurement of long lead production items and spares to support delivery of eight T-6Cs in 2022 and conducting a site survey in Tunisia. This contract involves Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to Tunisia. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the contracting activity.

10 June
US ARMY
Harris Global Communications was awarded a $3.3 billion contract for radios, communication equipment, ancillary and spare parts, and related services. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.

MD Helicopter was awarded a $29.4 million modification contract to provide maintenance capabilities in support of the Afghan Air Force. Fiscal 2021 Pseudo Foreign Military Sales funds in the amount of $14.4 were obligated at the time of the award. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.

US NAVY
Boeing has been awarded a $78 million modification contract that exercises an option to procure various material associated with a quantity of 36 Stand-Off Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM ER) data link pods and containers in support of the SLAM ER obsolescence redesign program for the government of Saudi Arabia. Foreign Military Sales in the amount of $78 million will be obligated at the time of award. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems has received a $8 million order that provides for non-recurring engineering in support of the design of the Common MH-60R/S Aircraft survivability equipment architecture to integrate the APR-39C(V)2 radar warning receiver into the MH-60S avionics system and implement common audio and symbology architecture across the MH-60R and MH-60S aircraft for the US Navy and foreign military sales (FMS) customers. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity.

09 June.
US AIR FORCE
Raytheon has been awarded a $3.1 billion IDIQ contract for F-15 Radar Eagle Vision. This contract provides for the production, modernisation and support of the F-15 APG-82 radar system to rapidly deliver and stay aligned with the F-15 weapon system program. This contract currently does not have any delivery orders for Foreign Military Sales (FMS) but does allow for future FMS orders and is the result of a sole-source acquisition. The F-15 Division Contracts Branch is the contracting activity.

US ARMY
Merck, Sharp & Dohme has received a $1.2 billion contract for 1,696,629 treatment courses of the oral antiviral MK-4482. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.

Stell Environmental Enterprises; Cardno-EA JV; HDR Envr; Jacobs Engineering Group; PHE-Baker JV2; ACT Services; PHE-Baker JV2; SERES-ARCADIS SB JV2; MSE Group; and AECOM Technical Services, will compete for each order of the $249 million contract for architect and engineering services. US Army Corps of Engineers is the contracting activity.

CDM Constructors awarded a $25 million contract for construction of an office building and a maintenance works aircraft hangar. Work will be performed in Israel. Fiscal 2021 Foreign Military Financing funds in the amount of $25 million were obligated at the time of the award. US Army Corps of Engineers is the contracting activity.

US NAVY
Booz Allen Hamilton; CACI; Science Application International; Capstone; and Serco, are awarded an estimated $109 million via modification IDIQ, multiple award contract to provide technical support services for functions such as chief information officer strategic support; data and information management; engineering support; information technology system support; network support; information assurance/cyber security; enterprise business intelligence/enterprise business analytics; software analysis; hardware maintenance and development; and business process reengineering in support of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Navy Personnel Command, the Navy Manpower Analysis Center, Commander Naval Education and Training, and Commander Navy Recruiting Command. Naval Supply Systems Command is the contracting activity.

08 June
US NAVY
I.E. Pacific; Patricia I. Romero, doing business as Pacific West Builders; Peter Vander Werff Construction; Heffler Contracting Group; Sea Pac Engineering; Intercontinental Construction Contracting; SGS; Shore Herman JV; and CJW Joint Venture, are awarded a $495 million IDIQ multiple award construction contract for construction, repair, and renovation of commercial and institutional facilities at various government installations located in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. Types of projects may include, but are not limited to, airport buildings, office and administrative buildings, communications facilities, vehicle maintenance facilities, armouries, parking garages, barracks facilities, prison facilities, fire stations, religious buildings, hotels, dining facilities, hospital and medical facilities, warehouse facilities, school facilities, and commercial facilities.. NAVFAC Southwest is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin is awarded a $137 million modification contract that adds scope to provide continued support services, including program management, non-recurring unique requirements, and training in support of increment five integration of Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers into the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity.

AV3; Bridges System Integration; FGS; Futron; iSoft Solution; Mission Analytics; and US International Development Consortium, are awarded an estimated aggregate ceiling of $100 million IDIQ contract in support of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Integrated Command, Control and Intelligence (IC2&I) Division. These contracts provide engineering and technical support services for legacy, current, and next generation audio/video systems, including efficient information exchange of voice, video and/or data from concept through deployment and the planning, research, design, testing, integration, verification, customisation, installation and system operations support of those systems, subsystems, and components in support of the IC2&I Division, which integrates and delivers products for command, control, communications, computers, combat systems, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems for the US Department of Defense, various other US government departments and agencies and foreign governments. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division is the contracting activity.

US ARMY
Vanquish Worldwide was awarded a $258 million contract for logistics support services, including maintenance, supply and transportation. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.

07 June
US ARMY
Airbus US Space & Defense was awarded a $119 million modification contract for an extension of contractor logistics support services for the UH-72 Lakota. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.


EVENTS CONFIRMED

No new updates


RESCHEDULED EVENT

No new updates.


Andrew Drwiega
Andrew Drwiega, Editor-in-Chief, Armada International / Asian Military Review.

Best wishes,

Andrew Drwiega

Editor-in-Chief
Armada International / Asian Military Review