Hybrid Electric JLTV. Oshkosh Defense has been granted five patents related to its new hybrid electric version of the Joint Light Tactical, the eJLTV, the company said on Aug. 22. The patents are related to the eJLTV’s accessory drive approach, battery and inverter integration, and the range and capability, according to Oshkosh Defense, which it said strengthens “the company’s intellectual property position in hybrid-electric technology.” Oshkosh Defense unveiled the eJLTV in January, noting the technology can be adapted to the current conventionally-powered JLTV fleet and was designed to meet the military’s growing interest in exploring ground vehicle electrification opportunities. “Hybrid electric vehicle technology provides silent drive, extended silent watch, enhanced fuel economy, and increased exportable power that enables it to be used in combat and reconnaissance scenarios,” Oshkosh Defense’s vice president and general manager of joint programs, said in a statement. “The addition of these recent patents underscores our unique ability to deliver innovative solutions that meet the needs of our customer and advance technology for the tactical wheeled vehicle fleet.”

FLRAA Timeline.

Maj. Gen. Walter Rugen, director of the Army’s Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team, declined to provide a specific update this week on when exactly the Army may make a decision on who will build the service’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA). “We’re in our quiet period. What I can assure everyone is that the Army will do this to the utmost standard. And that utmost standard is being heavily worked on every day,” Rugen said during a C4ISRNET discussion. A production contract for the FLRAA program to find a Black Hawk replacement is expected this fall, when the Army will decide between either Bell’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor offering or a Sikorsky-Boeing team’s Defiant X platform. 

Morocco FMS. The State Department on Aug. 25 approved a potential $141.1 million foreign military sale with Morocco for six Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio Systems (MIDS-JTRS). Under the deal, Morocco would also receive KY-100M Narrowband/ Wideband Terminals, KIV-78 and KIV-77 Cryptographic Appliques, AN/PYQ-10 Simple Key Loader (SKL) additional secure communications, cryptographic devices, and precision navigation equipment and software support. “The proposed sale will improve Morocco’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing timely Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance and target acquisition for its security and defense,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement. The principal contractors for the FMS case are General Atomic Aeronautical Systems Inc., Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies Inc., and Leonardo. 

AUKUS Issues. The Navy Program Executive Officer for Strategic Submarines on Aug. 24 said adding additional submarine construction to the U.S. industrial base for the AUKUS Australian nuclear-powered attack submarine effort is detrimental to the U.S. Navy “without significant investment to go drive to provide additional capacity, capability to go do that.” Rear Adm. Scott Pappano said during an Air Force Association Mitchell Institute event. He added the same is likely true for the U.K. industrial base, the other partner in the Australia effort. He noted the three governments are still in the middle of an 18-month study to analyze the options for Australia. The final decision is set to be made public in March 2023.

Navy Links. BAE Systems announced on Aug. 23 it won a $43 million contract from the Navy to produce seven Network Tactical Common Data Link (NTCDL) systems, which will allow the service to transmit and receive real-time intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data simultaneously from multiple sources. The system also allows for the exchange of command and control information over multiple data links. The NTCDL systems are bound for aircraft carriers and the new Constellation-class frigates. BAE said the NTCDL specifically allows the real-time exchange of voice, data, imagery and full-motion video from various sources. The company noted its NTCDL solution is modular, scalable and designed to increase link capacity.

SEACAT. The 21st annual Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) exercise ended after 10 days on Aug. 26. It included in-person and at-sea engagements to further collaboration and cooperation among 21 Indo-Pacific countries focused on shared maritime security challenges. It specifically includes mutual support and common goals to address crises, contingencies and illegal activities at sea using standardized tactics, techniques and procedures. It was the first full-scale and in-person SEACAT exercise in two years after COVID-19 pandemic restrictions limited it to virtual and non-contact at sea engagements. Participant countries included the U.S., Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Canada, Fiji, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the U.K. and Vietnam. The shore phase included an Unmanned Aerial Systems workshop to share best practices and improve maritime domain awareness while the sea phase included boarding operations.

Hypersonic Testing. Older Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk drones—those of Block 20 and 30 vintage—are moving to DoD’s Test Resource Management Center to support DoD’s SkyRange hypersonic testing program near Grand Forks, N.D. The conversion of the drones to RangeHawks “will integrate advanced payloads to equip the aircraft with the capability to support the testing of hypersonic vehicles and other long-range weapons,” Northrop Grumman said. “RangeHawks provide over-the-horizon altitude, endurance and flexibility, which are critical for collecting telemetry and other data to monitor the vehicle during flight tests. Increasing the capacity of hypersonic vehicle testing furthers research and development necessary to remain competitive in the global landscape.” Northrop Grumman said that hypersonic testing with RangeHawks is less costly and complex than the previous method of ship-based sensor testing. “RangeHawks are equipped with sensors to demonstrate an alternative data-collection support system to test hypersonic systems, and have participated in several hypersonic test events in the Pacific and elsewhere,” the company said.

An Arctic Ambassador. In recognition of the need to further U.S. interests in the Arctic, the Biden administration plans to elevate the current Office of the U.S. Coordinator for the Arctic Region within the State Department by appointing an Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic Region. The new ambassador position “will advance U.S. policy in the Arctic, engage with counterparts in the Arctic and non-Arctic nations as well as Indigenous groups, and work closely with domestic stakeholders, including state, local, and tribal governments, businesses, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, other federal government agencies and Congress,” the State Department said last Friday. The Arctic Ambassador will require Senate confirmation.

New Secret Service Chief. President Biden last week named Kim Cheatle to be the next director of the U.S. Secret Service, which would make her the second woman to lead the 157-year-old agency. Cheatle spent 27 years with the Secret Service before retiring in 2021. She is currently a senior director at Pepsico North America overseeing facilities, personnel and business continuity. Cheatle also served on Biden’s security detail when he was vice president. Cheatle will succeed James Murray, who previously announced he would be retiring to take a job in the private sector.

Cyber Cooperation. The U.S. Treasury Department and Israel’s Ministry of Finance last week finalized a bilateral memorandum of understanding on cybersecurity cooperation that builds on a partnership the two agencies established in November 2021 to protect critical infrastructure in the financial sector. “This partnership has already resulted in the sharing of real-time cyber threat data to prevent the spread of ransomware and other cyber-attacks from impacting the U.S. financial sector,” says Wally Adeyemo, deputy secretary of the Treasury. The new MoU enhances cooperation on information sharing around incidents and threats, staff training and study visits, and cross-border exercises.

Civilian Casualties. In response to direction from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last January, the Pentagon has released a new Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan (CHMR-AP) that puts the reduction of civilian casualties high on the priorities list for combatant commanders, yet the Pentagon has still not yet released a DoD instruction that is to lay out the fine details of accomplishing such decreases in civilian casualties. The new 36-page plan charges DoD with fielding a central data management platform for CHMR by 2025. The U.S. military has not maintained an enterprise-wide, comprehensive database for civilian harm operational reporting and data management,” per the CHMR-AP. “Maintaining reliable operational data and effective knowledge management on civilian harm incidents is critical to understanding the root causes of civilian harm, characterizing harm, and identifying measures to mitigate civilian harm in future operations while preserving mission-effectiveness and force protection.”