Dear Readers,

As Britain tries to restart its economy following the current control of the COVID-19 virus, it seemed to have chosen last week to face-off two of its economic and political strategic adversaries: Russia and China.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab squarely accused Russian Intelligence Agencies of trying to hack into, and steal, the UK’s research into a vaccine for coronavirus, an attack which had been corroborated by US and Canadian intelligence agencies (both Five Eyes partners).

Raab called the Russian cyber attack to damage or profit from this act “’outrageous and reprehensible” and said that Russia needed to be held to account.

It was also announced that Prime Minister Boris Johnson, following a meeting with the National Cyber Security Centre, took its advice regarding the security of the UK’s 5G network and reversed a previous decision to allow Chinese company Huawei to be part of the its roll-out.

From the end of 2020 no UK telecommunication operator would legally be able to buy Huawei equipment. The government was now talking about Huawei as a “high risk vendor” and that all of its equipment would be withdrawn from the UK’s communications network by 2027 (it was acknowledged that this would adversely effect and delay the UK’s role out of 5G).


US Secretary of State Pompeo Slams Chinese Nine-Dash-Line Claim to SCS



“Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea (SCS) are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them,” stated US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo one week ago on 13 July.

The stark language used will be welcomed by the nations around the SCS that have experienced Chinese incursion into their own maritime waters established and recognised under international law.

The release by the Department of State affirmed that “Beijing has offered no coherent legal basis for its ‘Nine-Dashed Line’ claim in the South China Sea since formally announcing it in 2009. In a unanimous decision on July 12, 2016, an Arbitral Tribunal constituted under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention – to which the PRC is a state party – rejected the PRC’s maritime claims as having no basis in international law.”

Pompeo’s statement against claims made to the region by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) pulled no punches: “Beijing uses intimidation to undermine the sovereign rights of Southeast Asian coastal states in the South China Sea, bully them out of offshore resources, assert unilateral dominion, and replace international law with ‘might makes right.’”

He promised that America would stand with its regional allies “in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources, consistent with their rights and obligations under international law.”

It is difficult to see how the Chinese island building campaign that has significantly enhanced the PRC’s military presence on islands within the SCS over the last few years will be slowed or even reversed.

The US Navy continues its Freedom of Navigation transits by warships through the SCS, but a much more robust commitment will be required to have any effect on the current situation.

The UK’s announcement that the Royal Navy’s largest ever aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, would likely deploy to the region and the Pacific in 2021, perhaps indicated a renewed strategic commitment by the British government to the region. China predictably reacted strongly against such a move. An attitude that can only have been made worse by the British Prime Minister’s announcement the same week that Chinese communications company Huawei would be extracted from the UK’s 5G communications structure. Both decisions are likely to impact future trade deals as the UK carries out Brexit. 

NATOs Exercise Sea Breeze Concludes in Black Sea


NATO’s annual Black Sea exercise, Sea Breeze, concluded on Sunday 19 July after nine days. Staged off the Bulgarian coast, eight NATO and partner nations were involved including: Belgium, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Spain, Romania and Turkey.

Between them they contributed 26 warships and nine aircraft. Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group (SNMCMG2) also participated.

According to NATO, the first vessels to arrive into the Black Sea on 7 July were those of SNMCMG2: HS Aliakmon (flagship), ESPS Tambre, TCG Amasra and ITS Gaeta, led by Commander Dimitrios Katsouras of the Hellenic Navy. This group was later joined by ROS Lupu Dinescu, arriving in Burgas (BUL) on 10 July.

SNMG2 was the second group to arrive to the Black Sea on 9 July, comprising three frigates from Spain, Romania and Turkey, led by Rear Admiral Manuel Aguirre of the Spanish Navy.

During the exercise, the vessels conducted maritime security patrols and interoperability missions.

Trio of Autonomous Testbeds Link Up Over Queensland


Boeing Australia has completed end-to-end mission flights with three high performance test beds in the Queensland outback as part of its Autonomous Systems Platform Technology Project. The objective was to trial the mission system software from take-off to landing.

Announced on 16 July, the three test jets all took off autonomously, formed up in the air and then landed autonomously again.

Emily Hughes, director of Boeing’s Phantom Works International said: “While we have previously flown larger numbers [of] aircraft autonomously, this was our first opportunity to perform an end-to-end mission test with three high performance test bed aircraft, at speeds of up to 200 kilometres per hour,” said Hughes.

The Autonomous Systems Platform Technology Project is a joint investment between Boeing’s and the Queensland Government. The software being developed will allow on-board autonomous command and control that will mean that the vehicles can “perceive, process, communicate and act in accordance with their programmed mission – without input from a human operator.”

Boeing will move its testing to the Cloncurry flight test facility in North West Queensland to conduct the follow-on tests. Cloncurry is Australia’s first drone flight test facility.

The technology developed as part of this project is informing Boeing’s development autonomous aircraft, including the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.


Highlighting a selection of $100 million+ government awarded contracts awarded between 13-17 July. Unsurprisingly there are numerous contracts being awarded by the DoD in connection with fighting coronavirus.

17 July
Lockheed Martin received a $15 billion IDIQ contract for C-130J development, integration, retrofit and production activities for all C-130J variants. This contract provides flexibility to accommodate the broad enterprise of activities associated with the C-130J program. This contract involves Foreign Military Sales and is the result of a sole-source acquisition. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the primary contracting activity.

Stryker, doing business as Stryker Endoscopy, has been awarded a maximum $225 million IDIQ contract for patient monitoring and capital equipment systems and accessories. Location of performance is California. Using customers are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support.

Collins Aerospace was awarded a $126 IDIQ contract in support of US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) for continued research, development, production and sustainment of the common avionics architecture system, avionics management system and cockpit management system used on Army special operations aircraft. USSOCOM is the contracting activity.

Raytheon Missiles and Defense received a $125 million modification to previously awarded contract to exercise options for the Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR) low rate initial production (LRIP). This option exercise is for the production of six EASR LRIP units; four AN/SPY-6(V)2 (air and missile defense radar) EASR rotator LRIP units; and two AN/SPY-6(V)3 EASR fixed-faced LRIP units. The AN/SPY-6(V)2 EASR rotator LRIP units will be deployed on the USS Bougainville (LHA-8); USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74); USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD-29); and USS Harrisburg (LPD-30). The AN/SPY-6(V)3 EASR fixed-faced LRIP units will be deployed on USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79); and USS Brooke (FFG-1). The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin is awarded a $935 million contract for the procurement of support equipment, autonomic logistics information system hardware, training systems, site activations and integrated contractor support for the F-35 Lightning II. Additionally, definitised line items on this contract support tasking that will result in improvements to the reliability, availability, maintainability and total ownership cost of the F-35 Lightning II for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, non-Department of Defense (DOD) participants and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity.

16 July
Transcend Technological Systems has been awarded a $485 million IDIQ contract for the Hill Enterprise Data Center (HEDC) – sustainment, modernisation, and consolidation. This contract provides for sustainment and onboarding support for the HEDC and applications within the HEDC. Air Force Sustainment Center is the contracting activity.

15 July
General Dynamics Land Systems, received a $249 million hybrid contract for Increment I of the Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.

14 July
US Navy
(Largest contract award of the day). Bay City Marine; Caliedo & Sons Services; Delphinus Engineering; Epsilon Systems Solutions; Propulsion Controls Engineering; Pacific Shipyards International; QED Systems; Confluence, doing business as Regal Service; Marisco); and Integrated Marine Services are awarded a $49 million modification, increasing the ceiling for a total of $98,000,000 on the surface multi-award (SURFMAC), IDIQ contract. The SURFMAC is a firm-fixed-price IDIQ for the procurement-involving repair, maintenance and alteration of US government waterborne vessels and surface ships visiting or homeported in the Hawaiian Islands. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.

13 July
Boeing has been awarded a $22.8 billion IDIQ contract that provides for design, development, integration, manufacturing, test, verification, certification, delivery, sustainment and modification of F-15EX aircraft, as well as spares, support equipment, training materials, technical data and technical support. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the contracting activity.

Blue Rock Structures; Daniels & Daniels Construction; Joyce & Associates Construction; Military & Federal Construction; Quadrant Construction; and TE Davis Construction are awarded a $90,000,000 modification IDIQ contracts for general construction services within the Marine Corps Installations East area of responsibility. After award of this modification, the total maximum dollar value for all six contracts combined will be $339,000,000. The work to be performed provides for general construction services including, but not limited to, new construction, demolition, repair, alteration and renovation (total/partial/interior/exterior) of buildings, systems and infrastructure, which may include civil, structural, mechanical, electrical and communication systems; installation of new or extensions to existing high voltage electrical distribution systems; extensions to the existing high pressure steam distribution systems, potable water distribution systems and sanitary sewer systems; additional storm water control systems; painting; removal of asbestos materials and lead paint; and incidental related work. Work is expected to be completed by December 2020. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic is the contracting activity.


No new event cancellations or rescheduling this week.


Keep safe and healthy everyone.


Andrew Drwiega

Armada International / Asian Military Review