“A leader leads by example not by force.” – Sun Tzu

Dear Readers,

The 45th President of the United States, Donald J Trump, has been acquitted of inciting the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January, 2021, but remains as the only US President in history to be impeached twice. His acquittal on a majority vote of 57 guilty verdict (including seven Republicans), against 43 Republican not guilty votes, meant that the threshold of 67 guilty votes needed to impeach was not achieved. Notably President Biden, the 46th President, distanced himself in so far as was possible from the proceedings.

Now comes the difficult job. The world has seen another side of America develop over the past four years. It has witnessed the US President electing to believe the words and assurances of the leader of one of its ideological rivals, Russia’s President Putin, over his own intelligence services. It has seen the bedrock on which NATO stands be shaken and taken to the brink of its biggest member considering leaving.

While NATO alliances are perhaps more easily repaired, those in the Indo-Pacific may take significantly longer. Where democracy is not strong, these countries have been shocked that such turmoil could exist in one of the bastions of democracy. And who knows, there is still a possibility now that this situation could recur in four years time.

The slogan ‘America First’ has damaged trust globally, especially among allies. Most nations believe that their own country should come first why wouldn’t they – but the real skill is in the diplomacy of reaffirming mutual respect and trust that the other guy ‘will have your back’ when the going gets tough. This is the soldier’s mantra – to fight for the guy beside you. This goes for countries too. If there is doubt, then global rivals for power will seek to undermine confidence in the relationship, particularly using economic incentives as China has already done. The US reputation has been damaged in the international community; reassurance and recommitment to many relationships needs to begin immediately.


Prototype KF-X fighter
Prototype KF-X fighter in early production at Korean Aerospace (KAI).


South Korea’s joint project with Indonesia over the development of the KX-F (IX-F) next generation fighter now looks to be at the point of collapse with Indonesia allegedly still owing a reported $548 million in development costs.

The partnership programme, which was agreed on 15 July 2010, envisaged an 80/20 split in funding for the development of a new 5th Generation fighter, the KF-X. Indonesia would receive around 50 of the new fighter with South Korean taking the remainder of the proposed production run up to 200 aircraft. Deliveries were slated to begin in 2026 with the first prototypes under construction and first flight due in 2022.

However, development has been slow, with contributing factors including the US Government blocking Lockheed Martin from exporting previously agreed key technologies, in particular Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars, infrared search and track (IRST), electro-optical target tracking devices, and radio jammer technology. This meant that South Korea had to turn to its own industry with assistance from other foreign contractors to develop necessary systems – which extended the ultimate delivery time.

Now, with deadlines for delivery having slipped, the development cost rising and other existing aircraft such as Dassault’s Rafale now looking more attractive to Indonesia [reports at the end of 2020 stated that a deal for 48 Rafales is nearing conclusion], the prospect that Indonesia will withdraw from its deal with South Korea is immanent.

Indonesia has also reportedly shown interest in buying other new fighters. Hope of acquiring Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightening IIs was instead steered by the US Government towards buying F-16 Block 72s instead. The Indonesian government has also looking into purchasing Russian Su-35s, but this has also not come to fruition.

On 10 February, the chief of South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) Kang Eun-ho briefed media that talks were being conducted between the two nations in order to ‘sound out each other’s position.’ This sounds more like a negotiation over terms for withdrawal and what the financial penalties might be for Indonesia. If this does happen, and unless it can find another partner, the development and through life costs of the KF-X fighter to South Korea are likely to far exceed anything that was originally foreseen.

Controlling a robotic hand using a virtual reality headset.
Controlling a robotic hand using a virtual reality headset.


Taking people out of ‘harm’s way’ and replacing them, or supplementing them, with robotics is a focus for numerous military science and technology projects. In the United Kingdom, nine different organisations working on 11 projects have collectively been granted $1.1 million (£800,000) funding by the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), a cross-government organisation established to finding and funding exploitable innovation to support UK defence and security.

DASA ran a Telexistence Competition on behalf of the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) chief scientific adviser and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), and managed by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).

The competition’s aim was to identify and assist in the development of ‘telexistence’ technologies. Telexistence is defined by the UK government as “a system, or a system of systems, which allows a human user to operate in an environment without physically being there. This could be achieved by using a real-time, remotely operated avatar which relies on the integration of:
– Telepresence: a visual-audio solution which enables a human operator to experience the sensation of self-presence in a remote environment,
– Haptic feedback: an immersive solution which transmits sensory information from the remote environment to the human operative,
– Robotics: a manoeuvrable solution which enables a human operator to interact with the remote environment

The nine selected organisations are: Veolia Nuclear Solutions; Cyberselves Universal; Digital Kinematics; Createc; L3Harris Technologies; Holoxica; University of Leeds: TNO; and Sheffield Hallam University.

According to Rob Baldock, programme manager for Emerging Technology at DSTL, this competition represents the next stage after “several years of developing the concept of telexistence inside DSTL from the idea of combining different areas of emerging science into the concept of projecting human presence into a remote environment and immersive feedback for the operator.”

Sara Huntingdon, the NDA’s head of innovation underlined the benefits that would result from working with “a really diverse range of ideas and new technologies developed by the supply chain, including many organisations and SMEs that we have not worked with before. Encouraging technology transfer across different sectors and maturing a broad range of technologies that move humans away from potentially harmful situations will benefit us all.”

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

11 February, 2021 – Jordan
The State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Jordan of an F-16 Air Combat Training Centre and related equipment for an estimated cost of $60 million.


Highlighting a selection of $100 million+ government awarded contracts awarded between 8 – 12 February 2021 and Foreign Military Sales contracts.

12 February
AECOM Technical Services; APTIM Federal Services; Atkins Black & Veatch FSB JV; Benham – Mead & Hunt; Burns & McDonnell; HDR Environmental, Operations and Construction; Jacobs Government Services; OTIE-Merrick JV; Michael Baker International; Parsons Government Services; Leo A Daly; Pond-CDM Smith JV; Tetra Tech; TransSystems GHD JV; Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions; Woolpert RS&H; and WSP Mason Hanger JV have collectively been awarded a $2billion IDIQ multiple award contract for architect and engineering services. This contract supports the Air Force worldwide infrastructure design and construction missions, specifically for the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, Air Force Installation Contracting Center, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and Army Installation Management Command directorates. The 772nd Enterprise Sourcing Squadron is the contracting activity.

Moderna US was awarded a $1.6 billion modification contract for an additional 100 million doses of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-1273 Moderna vaccine. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems was awarded an $111 million contract for MK80 series general purpose tritonal bomb components. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.

Northrop Grumman Systems has received a $236 million modification contract. The total cumulative face value of the contract is $686 million. This modification provides for the exercise of three option contract line items to procure eight Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar Gallium Nitride full rate production systems with associated travel and one lot of the initial provisioning package (spares) in support of Program Executive Officer Land Systems. The Marine Corps Systems Command is the contracting activity.

11 February
Archer Western Federal JV was awarded a $205 million contract for construction of a new 916-car parking structure and of a new spinal cord injury/community living center. US Army Corps of Engineers is the contracting activity.

10 February
BAE Systems Land & Armaments has been awarded a $183 million modification contract for Amphibious Combat Vehicles (ACVs). The total cumulative face value of the contract is $3.3 billion. This modification provides for the exercise of options for the procurement of 36 full rate production ACVs and associated production and fielding and support costs. Marine Corps Systems Command is the contracting activity.

9 February
Covalus; Holitna Construction; Martek Global Solutions; and Workplace Solutions will compete for each order of the $495 million contract to support military healthcare construction/renewal projects. US Army Corps of Engineers is the contracting activity.

8 February
(Highest award of the day). Raytheon Technologies, Pratt and Whitney, Pratt and Whitney Engines is awarded a $49 million modification contract which provides for one conventional take-off and landing and two short take-off/vertical landing F135 engines to support F-35 Lightning II Block Four developmental testing program for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and non-U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) participants. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity.)

Bell Boeing Joint Project Office is awarded a $12 million order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement that provides non-recurring engineering services for the conversion area harness aircraft modification. Additionally, this order procures 72 conversion area harness base retrofit kits, 63 conversion area harness supplemental retrofit kits, and interim spares in support of the Marine Corps MV-22 aircraft, the Air Force CV-22 aircraft, the Navy CMV-22 aircraft, and the government of Japan V-22 aircraft. Fiscal 2021 aircraft procurement (Navy) funds in the amount of $8 million; fiscal 2021 aircraft procurement (Air Force) funds in the amount of $1,787,911; fiscal 2020 aircraft procurement (Navy) funds in the amount $480,888; and Foreign Military Sales funds in the amount of $1.3 million will be obligated at time of award. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity.


28-31 October, SITDEF, Lima, Peru 2021
8th International Exhibition of Technology for the Defence and Prevention of Disasters.


7-10 April, INDO DEFENCE, INDO AEROSPACE, INDO MARINE, Expo and Forum, Jakarta Indonesia. Statement from the organiser on 20 March: “It is with enormous regret and disappointment that we have to announce the cancellation of this year’s Roy
The new date for these events is 2-5 November, JIEXPO Kemayoran, Jakarta 2022https://indodefence.com/

2-3 June CANSEC, Ottowa, Canada, 2021
On 9 February, Christyn Cianfarani, president and CEO, CADSI stated: “With consideration for the needs of our members and stakeholders, restrictions on mass gatherings continuing throughout 2021, and current and possible future emergency measures imposed by public health authorities as they manage emerging COVID-19 variants, CADSI has no other choice but to postpone CANSEC to 2022.”
New date for this event is 1-2 June, Ey Centre, Ottawa, 2022https://www.defenceandsecurity.ca/CANSEC/

Best wishes,

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

Andrew Drwiega

Armada International / Asian Military Review