EDITOR’S BUNKER BRIEFING (13 July 2020, No.17)


Dear Readers,

With the COVID-19 virus spreading at extremely serious levels across the United States and South American countries, it is sometimes difficult to keep a focus on what adversaries continue to do while democratic nations look introspectively at their national woes.

The need for the reinforcement of ‘the rules based order’ among international democratic societies is under pressure now more than at any time in recent history. With the destabilisation of many nations, particularly through the deepening economic recession and subsequent rise of unemployment, the potential for malicious actors to sow seeds of discontent and incite instability is increasing. Those looking to ‘divide’ democracies’ in this way need to be exposed. It may be prudent to remember the words of the infamous propagandist, Joseph Goebbels: “Propaganda works best when those who are being manipulated are confident they are acting on their own free will.”



In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, NATO and the European Union (EU) have strengthened their cooperation, said NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană speaking at the EU Defence Washington Forum, a conference organised by the Delegation of the European Union to the United States, in cooperation with the Brookings Institution.

Geoană stated that the COVID-19 pandemic meant that major organisations and “like-minded nations” needed to work closely together, not only in dealing with the medical challenge, but also to combat the rise of disinformation.

“One new area where NATO and the EU and also other global players, the G7, the UN and others have been working together is in fighting disinformation. On counter-narratives, that countries like Russia or China or non-state actors, also Iran, are abusing of in this pandemic to basically put a seed of discord within democratic societies”, he stated.

He said that strong North American – European cooperation was fundamental “not only of transatlantic security, but an indispensable part of global order.”



Last week the joint strike force of the US Navy carriers USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan carried out dual carrier operations in the South China Sea. China contests such exercises through its unrecognised claims to the maritime area based on the ‘Nine Dash Line’.

The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan strike groups conducted several exercises including air defence, tactical manoeuvring drills, simulated long-range maritime strike scenarios, and coordinated air and surface exercises.

“Reagan’s object is ‘Peace Through Strength,’ and that is exactly what her dedicated Sailors bring to this theatre,” said Capt. Pat Hannifin, Ronald Reagan’s commanding officer stated that the exercises showed US commitment “to our allies and a free and open Indo-Pacific.…These operations with Nimitz demonstrate that we are but one component of a much larger and equally committed naval force.”

The US Navy has a history of such dual carrier exercises in the Indo-Pacific. Over the last decade, in November 2018 the USS Ronald Reagan and USS John C. Stennis strike groups exercised in the Philippine Sea; two years earlier in September 2014 the USS George Washington and USS Carl Vinson operated in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group consists of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), CVW-17, the guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59), the guided-missile destroyers USS Sterett (DDG 104), and USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114).

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group consists of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), CVW-5, the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54), and the guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89). 


The Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) currently is pursuing six AI mission initiatives: joint warfighting operations; warfighter health; business process transformation; threat reduction and protection (previously known as HADR); joint logistics (which includes predictive maintenance); and joint information warfare (incorporating cyber operations).

“Just as with traditional software, AI software is relevant to the full spectrum of DOD activities, from the back office to the front lines of the battlefield,” said Nand Mulchandani at a Department of Defense (DoD) briefing on 8 July.

In June, Mulchandani became the new acting director of the JAIC. Formed in 2018, the JAIC’s objective is to pick “low technology risk areas, but solid payout projects in areas such as disaster relief and predictive maintenance.”

The month before, in late May, the JAIC awarded an $806 million joint warfighting operation’s prime contract to Booz Allen Hamilton (an organisation that specialises in transformative solutions). The task is to focus AI into Joint Warfighting Operations (JWO) Mission Initiatives (MI).

Highlighting one example, Mulchandani said the JAIC was “developing, in collaboration with the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab and Army PEO C3 (Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications), the fire support cognitive assistant that will help commanders triage incoming communications and support Joint All-Domain Command and Control, also called JADC2.”



As this briefing edition closed on Sunday evening the US media was reporting a fire on the US Navy’s amphibious warship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) at the naval base in San Diego, California.

News reports stated that several sailors had been taken to hospital although there was no further detail on their condition. It is understood that the vessel was undergoing routine maintenance at the time of the fire.

According to USNI News: “Prior to arriving in San Diego in 2018, Bonhomme Richard spent six years in Japan as part of the US Forward Deployed Naval Force.”


Highlighting a selection of $100 million+ government awarded contracts awarded between 6-10 July 2020:

10 July
Boeing was awarded a $150 million modification on the Ground-based Midcourse Defense development and sustainment contract (DSC). The scope of work under the current DSC includes development, fielding, test, systems engineering, integration and configuration management, equipment manufacturing and refurbishment, training and operations and sustainment for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense weapon system and associated support facilities. Under this modification, the Missile Defense Agency executes the procurement of four additional Configuration 2 Ground Based Interceptor boost vehicles to maintain the fleet and flight test programs. The Missile Defense Agency is the contracting activity.

ASMD received a $100 million IDIQ architect-engineer contract for design and engineering services for various projects funded by the government of Japan (GOJ) direct cash contributions (or otherwise referred to as the Mamizu funds) and US funds for the development of infrastructure and facilities covered by the Defense Policy Review Initiative under the cognisance of Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Pacific. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific is the contracting activity.

9 July
(Largest contract award of the day). Lockheed Martin received a $56 million contract modification for systems integration engineering support and procures long lead material to ensure the ASQ-239 electronic warfare/countermeasures production capability remains on track to meet Lot 17 deliveries. This modification provides for the continuation of Block 4 electronic warfare development without creating a gap in engineering resources in support of the Navy, Air Force and non-Department of Defense (DOD) participants. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity.

8 July
BFBC was awarded a $138 million modification contract to modify the existing electrical attributes (closed-circuit TV, linear ground detection system and shelters) on the Barry M. Goldwater Range, Yuma 10/27 design-build border infrastructure project. US Army Corps of Engineers is the contracting activity. 

MNDPI Pacific JV has been awarded a $99 million IDIQ, architect-engineer contract for architect-engineer services for various structural, waterfront and other projects at locations under the cognisance of Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Pacific. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific is the contracting activity.

7 July
Advanced Technology International was awarded a $450 million contract modification for large-scale manufacturing of antibodies directed to novel coronavirus. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity. 

6 July
Raytheon was awarded a $6 billion modification to six-year base contract for depot-level repairables and consumable spare parts, as well as repair and engineering services for multiple weapon systems. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime.

Vigor Marine was awarded a $133 million contract to prepare for and accomplish repair and alteration requirements for USS McCampbell (DDG 85) chief of naval operations scheduled depot maintenance availability. USS McCampbell will receive comprehensive modernisation for DDG 51 class ships to ensure a mission relevant service life. These improvements will include hull, mechanical and electrical technology insertion; as well as provide critical warfighting improvements, such as upgraded machinery control system, integrated bridge and navigation system (to include physical throttles); advanced galley upgrade; wireless communications and digital video surveillance system upgrade; upgrade to a fiber optic local area network backbone; AEGIS baseline 9 upgrade (that includes updated guns weapons system); enhanced Vertical Launching System; multi-mission signal processor; and Ballistic Missile Defense 5.0 upgrade. The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility is the contracting activity.

Cubic Defense Applications has been awarded a $99 million IDIQ contract which supports the Surface Training Immersive Gaming and Simulations effort and provides for the development, delivery and total life cycle support of a new virtual environment training system. This system will be one of the pillars under the overall Surface Training Advanced Virtual Environment Program. The Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division is the contracting activity.

Jacobs/B&M JV, received a $99 million IDIQ, architect-engineer contract for architect-engineer services. This includes the design, engineering, specification writing, cost estimating and related services at various locations under the cognisance of then Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Pacific. The NAVFAC Pacific is the contracting activity. 


No events reconfirmed this week.



NOW 7-10 April, 2021, at Jakarta International Expo (JIExpo) Kemayoran, Jakarta . Indonesia. Old date: 4-7 November 2020.

Organiser statement: After closely monitoring the risk and impact of COVID-19 on a daily basis and further consideration with key community members and partners, PT Napindo Media Ashatama as the organiser and Ministry of Defence as a host has taken the decision to postpone Indo Defence, Indo Aerospace, and Indo Marine 2020 Expo & Forum to 7 – 10 April 2021.”


Keep safe and healthy everyone.

Andrew Drwiega

Armada International / Asian Military Review