Fighter Market. Forecast International projects industry will build more than 3,855 fighter aircraft over the next decade. The consulting group’s new fighter aircraft study values that production at more than $281 billion and says that the build will peak next year at 400 planes and remain at that annual level through 2027 before dipping between 2027 and 2031. The Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will account for the largest share of fighter production due to demand from DoD and U.S. allies in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. “The long-term outlook for the remaining U.S.-built fighters – the Boeing F-15 and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin’s F-16 – continues to improve,” Forecast International said. “The U.S. Air Force is procuring a new, upgraded version of the F-15E, and Congress is likely to continue to buy more F/A-18E/F Super Hornets for the U.S. Navy. Lockheed Martin has also secured new customers for the latest version of its F-16 fighter as a lower-cost alternative to the F-35.”
Douglas Royce, a senior aerospace analyst at Forecast International, said that the business outlook for the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, and Saab Gripen, “is more mixed.” Royce said that Dassault “has received a wave of new orders recently for the Rafale, and the Typhoon will rely on orders from Germany and Spain to keep the line running over the long term, but the Gripen will remain in production at only a low rate unless Saab can secure new customers.”
ACV Pause. The Marine Corps announced on July 20 it has paused all waterborne operations with its Amphibious Combat Vehicles following an incident with two vehicles during a training exercise at Camp Pendleton in California the day prior. “This is the right thing to do,” said Lt. Gen. David Furness, the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for plans, policies and operations, who directed the pause. “A pause on ACV waterborne operations will give us time to conduct an investigation, learn from this event, and ensure our assault amphibian community remains ready to support our nation.” The two ACVs, which are built by BAE Systems, became disabled in heavy surf during the incident, while there were no reported injuries to Marines .
Zephyr UAS. The Army’s Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing/Space Cross-Functional Team is now conducting stratospheric experiments with Airbus’ Zephyr ultra-long endurance stratospheric unmanned air system (UAS), Futures Command announced on July 21. Futures Command said a first flight with Zephyr, launched on June 15, broke the world record for longest duration UAS flight of 26 hours, which was set in 2018, and has now amassed 36 days of flight time as it operates over Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. The demonstration is testing the system’s “energy storage capacity, battery longevity, solar panel efficiency and station-keeping abilities,” according to the announcement. A second flight is expected in the coming weeks where Zephyr will be launched and travel over the Pacific Ocean, and will include demonstrating an Army Futures Command-developed prototype payload.
Kiwi P-8A. Boeing debuted the first New Zealand-bound P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft on July 21 as it rolled out of the paint shop. The New Zealand air force previously bought four P-8As to replace its aging fleet of six P-3K2 Orion aircraft. The first New Zealand plane features the native New Zealand Kiwi bird, with first flight scheduled in the next few weeks to be followed by mission systems installation. The first plane will deliver to the New Zealand Ministry of Defence later in 2022.
RIMPAC USVs. Four of the Navy’s prototype Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs) are currently participating in the biennial international Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022 exercise. The Navy noted while unmanned systems have participated in previous RIMPACS, this is a milestone with four different vehicles operating autonomously and by manned teams. The vessels are the Medium USVs Sea Hunter and Seahawk as well as the Overlord USVs Nomad and Ranger. The Navy said the USVs are executing a “range of missions” and will work side-by-side with RIMPAC participants by carrying payloads, provisioning intelligence and gathering data in a real-world environment to determine how they function within the larger fleet. “While our prototyping efforts have grown and matured significantly in the last four years, their performance in the RIMPAC exercise marks another significant milestone in manned-unmanned teams,” Capt. Scott Searles, program manager of the Unmanned Maritime Systems (PMS 406) program office, said in a statement.
Kuwait FMS. The State Department on July 21 approved a potential $397 million deal with Kuwait for advanced weapons to support its ongoing acquisition of Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft. Under the deal, Kuwait would receive 60 AIM-120 C-7/8 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles, 250 MK-84 General Purpose 2000LB bombs, 501 MK-83 General Purpose 1000LB bombs, 350 KMU-556 Joint Direct Attack Munition tail kits for GBU-31V1 2000LB bombs, 702 MXU-667 Air Foil Groups for GBU-48 Enhanced Paveway II 1000LB bomb and 702 MAU-210 Enhanced Computer Control Groups for GBU-48 Enhanced Paveway II 1000LB bombs. “The proposed sale will improve Kuwait’s ability to meet current and future regional threats. Kuwait intends to use these missiles and munitions with the Eurofighter Typhoon fleet it is acquiring,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency wrote. The prime contractors for the deal are Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin.
…UAE FMS. The department also approved a possible $206 million deal with the United Arab Emirates for an Oceanographic Observation Equipment System. The UAE would receive multi-site sensors, multiple remote data collection facilities, support for centralized data analysis center 8 data analysis workstation, fiber optic communications suites, power supplies; uninterruptible power supplies, power and data distribution support for the system. “The proposed sale will provide the UAE with real-time oceanographic data in defense of the UAE maritime boundary, natural resources and ports.” The prime contractor for the deal is Lockheed Martin’s Rotary and Mission Systems segment.
T-ATS 13 and 14. The Navy last Friday awarded Austal USA a $156 million contract modification, exercising options to build a third and fourth Navajo-class Towing, Salvage, and Rescue Ships, T-ATS-13 and 14. This is the first class of steel ships the company is producing. The contract originally covered detail design and construction of T-ATS-11-15. The option for T-ATS-12 was previously exercised in 2021. In awarding these two options, the Navy is allowing the first four of five planned Navajo-class ships to be built by Austal USA. Construction on T-ATS-13 and 14 is expected to start in fall 2023 and spring 2024 respectively, with deliveries planned for fall 2025 and spring 2026. Construction work is expected to be finished by January 2026. “The T-ATS program is special to our team as it represents the start of construction of a new class of ship for our shipbuilding team. This contract is important because it provides us the backlog to really optimize production over the course of these four ships,” Austal USA President Rusty Murdaugh said in a statement.
Sub Batteries. The Navy held a ribbon cutting ceremony inaugurating a new submarine battery testing facility at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane Division at Crane, Ind. on July 21. This new Submarine Battery Evaluation Center (SUBBEC) test facility aims to better test and evaluate submarine batteries, with the first battery cells set to be tested and evaluated this upcoming fall. NSWC Crane has served as the In Service Engineering Agent for underwater vehicle batteries since the 1980s. The Navy said the SUBBEC will provide full scale submarine battery and energy storage testing and modeling capabilities unique to the Navy. The SUBBEC will also “better evaluate design or profile changes prior to implementation of profile changes to the Fleet. SUBBEC testing will improve the Navy’s ability to predict, control, and mitigate low capacity batteries,” the service said in a statement.
LCS-32. The Navy accepted delivery of the future USS Santa Barbara (LCS-32) Independence-variant littoral combat ship at shipbuilder Austal USA’s shipyard in Mobile, Ala. on July 21. LCS-32 previously finished at-sea acceptance trials on June 3. After delivery, the ship is next set to sail to its homeport of San Diego, Calif., with commissioning planned in the second quarter of fiscal year 2023. Three other Independence-variant LCS are under construction by Austal in Mobile, including the recently launched future USS Augusta (LCS-34), Kingsville (LCS-36), and Pierre (LCS-38). LCS-32 is the third LCS delivered to the n\Navy this fiscal year after the Freedom-variant USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul (LCS-21) in November 2021 and Independence-variant USS Canberra (LCS-30) in December 2021.
Role of Cyber and Space. Cyber and space will be key to future U.S. warfighting, says U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown. “We really started to see how cyber played a role in aspects of military operations during the ISIS campaign,” Brown says in reflecting back on his days at U.S. Central Command between 2013 and 2018, including as the deputy CENTCOM commander. “It’s going to have even a bigger role as we go into whatever the next conflict is going to be. Space is also now [a high priority] with [Chief of Space Operations] Gen. [John “Jay”] Raymond–having a Space Force, and there’s a number of militaries around the world having more space dialogue, and that part’s going to be contested as well. I think we’ll be more distributed in our operations, using more technology, an aspect of crewed-uncrewed platforms teaming together.”
FirstSource III Update. The Department of Homeland Security says it plans to notify small businesses on or about Aug. 3 if they’ve been selected for a chance to compete in Phase I of the FirstSource III small business information technology program, which is estimated to be worth $10 billion over 10 years. The Phase I down-select notices had been planned for Sept. 1 but were delayed due to having to review a large number of proposals, 637 offers from 325 vendors. DHS says updates for the second phase of the program are forthcoming. The FirstSource II contract vehicle was awarded in 2012 to 40 companies.
TSA’s Capital Account. Transportation Security Administration Chief David Pekoske last week told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee it will be “somewhat distant into the future” before his agency is able to complete the deployment of biometric verification technology at airport security checkpoints due to current funding levels. Pekoske was referring to the Credential Authentication Technology-2 (CAT-2) systems, which he previously said will take into the mid-2040s to finish rolling out. “That’s why my focus is on getting the capital account of TSA at a level more commensurate with where we see the need to close security gaps, which CAT does.” Any focus on TSA’s anemic procurement account would be a good thing. The agency had previously made a priority the acquisition of next generation carry-on baggage scanners, known as checkpoint CT machines. Yet with limited funding full-operating capability won’t be achieved until about 2036.
Brand Name Change. General Electric last announced the new brand name for its GE Aviation business, GE Aerospace. The aviation business, known for its engines that power commercial and military aircraft, will continue trade under the stock ticker symbol GE once the company completes previously announced spin-offs of its healthcare and energy businesses in 2023 and 2024 respectively. “Our new name maintains the brand’s strong standing in the aviation sector, and also sets forth a confident vision to compete and advance in the field of aerospace and defense for future generations,” said H. Lawrence Culp, Jr., chairman and CEO of GE, and CEO of GE Aerospace.
BD21 on Hold. The Department of Homeland Security has deferred planned acquisition milestones of a new biological threat detection program until a capability assessment is complete, a department official said last week. The Biodefense in the 21st Century (BD21) effort is being looked at as part of a wider strategic review of the DHS Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office’s bio-surveillance programs, Gary Rasicot, acting assistant secretary for the office, told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Rasicot said that in June the DHS under secretary for management directed that the BD21 program focus only on “agent agnostic detector solutions and to pursue technology maturation.” Program acquisition milestones are on hold “until we understand what the technology can provide [and] what other capabilities are out there,” he said. BD21 is supposed to replace the existing BioWatch program and reduce the time to detect a potentially life-threating biological event in the nation’s cities.
New Cyber Sprint. As part a national summit held at the White House on July 19 to discuss strengthening the cyber workforce and education, the Departments of Commerce and Labor, with support of other agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, launched a 120-day Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Spring to give individuals the opportunity for training and mentorship to begin a career in the cyber workforce. The sprint “is a national campaign to encourage employers, industry associations, labor unions, and training providers to explore Registered Apprenticeship as a recruitment, training, and retention strategy and connect with DoL’s Office of Apprenticeship to develop new apprenticeship programs or quickly join existing programs,” says the website, apprenticeship.gov.
Army Network. The Army announced on July 20 it will hold its next network modernization-focused technical exchange meeting (TEM) with industry on December 7 and 8 in Nashville. The event will focus on development efforts and priority areas related to the Army’s Capability Sets (CAPSET) 25 and 27. The Army is currently modernizing its tactical network in capability drops, or CAPSETs, every two years. The discussion in December will include specific sessions on the Army’s interest in network transport, Unified Network Operations, modular standards, waveform development, data, cloud and modern security architecture. “The TEM 9 discussion will be focused on both Pacific and European theater of operations, including warfighter perspectives, lessons learned and lessons applied for unified network and data centric modernization priorities and experimentation,” the Army wrote.