“Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate.” – Sun Tzu
The deployment of four United States Air Force (USAF) Boeing B1B Lancer bombers to Orland Air Force base in Norway to begin ‘missions’ over the Arctic Circle is an indication that such areas (including the Antarctic) are increasingly part of the strategic battle for control.
Brought up the celluloid classic as ‘Ice Station Zebra’ based on the spy novel of the same name written by Alistair MacLean, the image of American and Russian troops facing each other down over the recovery of photographic film of US missile bases from a returning Russian reconnaissance satellite was highly entertaining and loosely based on a number of incidents during the Cold War including a Soviet Corona satellite landing on Spitsbergen Island (Norway) in 1959 and the CIA’s Project Cold Feet in 1962.
Today however, factors such as the melting ice caps are making navigation possible in previously inaccessible waters which, according to a recently released report ‘Strategic Blueprint for a Blue Arctic’ (5 January 2021), reveals “despite containing the world’s smallest ocean, it has the potential to connect nearly 75 percent of the world’s population.” Further, the economic importance is underlined by the reports statement that, “The region also holds an estimated 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas reserves, 13 percent of the global conventional oil reserves and one trillion dollars’ worth of rare earth minerals.”
Key to understanding why this ‘first’ B1 bomber deployment to Norway is now considered as a necessary requirement is the report’s assertion that ““Russia is investing heavily to enhance its Arctic defence and economic sectors, with a resultant multilayered militarisation of its northern flank.” Great Power competition has well and truly arrived in the polar extremes of planet earth.
To end on a lighter note, here are three more quiz pictures for you to ponder. Again no prizes, but the answers are at the end of this email.
LAST 20 YEARS US MILITARY PROCUREMENT A DISASTER, SAYS HASC CHAIRMAN
The chairman of the US Congress House Armed Services Committee (HASC), Adam Smith (Democrat-Washington State) believes that: “Our acquisition and procurement process over the last 20 years can only be described as a complete disaster – from the F-35, the LCS [littoral combat ship], the expeditionary fighting vehicle, and future combat systems.”
Speaking during a virtual online conversation with Michael E. O’Hanlon, director of Research at the Brookings Institution on Friday 5 March, Mr Smith stated: “We have wasted a spectacular amount of money on weapons systems that either have not worked at all or have not lived up to their promise.”
HASC is responsible for funding and oversight of the Department of Defense (DoD) and the United States Armed Forces.
Mr Smith said that the HASC needed to “seriously scrub programmes like the F-35 – we must make sure that we don’t waste more money.” He added that in the time it took to develop the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) – 10 years – it wasn’t much better than could [theoretically] have been bought at a commercial retailers.”
“Our command and control systems need to be more durable, resilient and replaceable,” he added. “We cannot have systems with single points of failure.”
Mr Smith believes that DoD acquisition plans need to focus more on being outcome oriented and not process driven.
In preserving the position of the US as a global leader, he does not believe it is possible or even desirable for the US to try to dominate China militarily and trying to do so “runs the distinct risk of creating conflict where it does not need to be.”
“We need an entire approach that deters China from doing what we don’t want them to do. Military strength is part of that, but alliances and partnerships and diplomacy and others will play a crucial role in preventing China from taking a hegemonic approach to the region and other parts of the world and undermining international institutions.”
He added that a strong case needed to be made regarding the necessity for US forces to be deployed internationally when required, as well as being more selective in engagements. He noted the public lack of support for drawn-out foreign engagements after experiences over the last couple of decades.
PLA TO STEP-UP USE OF LARGER UAVS TO MONITOR/PATROL CONTESTED BORDERS?
A proposal that would see the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) using smart technology and larger unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to patrol its borders has reportedly been suggested by Commander Hou Yun of the PLA Tibet Military Command, according to a report published in the Global Times, a Chinese English newspaper owned by the Communist Party run People’s Daily. The story has been carried by several Indian news outlets, as India is particularly sensitive to China’s activities on its borders following recent military clashes.
There have been reports that the PLA utilised small to medium sized UAVs during clashes with Indian troops along the Line of Actual Control, although such UAVs are likely to have had limited flight time and may have been subject to adverse weather conditions in such a remote area.
Larger UAVs, probably operating from a prepared road or even small runway, could have increased mission time and range. Suggestions are that these could be of the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) Wing Loong-1 and/or Wing Loong-2 which could carry both ISR systems and potentially wing mounted air launched weapons. The UAVs have a wingspan of 14m and 20.5m respectively.
US MAJOR ARMS SALES (Defence Security Cooperation Agency – DSCA).
No further updates.
US GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Highlighting a selection of $100 million+ government awarded contracts awarded between 1-5 March 2021 and Foreign Military Sales contracts.
US AIR FORCE
The Perduco Group has been awarded a ceiling $500 million IDIQ Small Business Innovation Research Phase III contract for tradespace analysis support. This contract provides for filling critical analysis gaps in acquisitions and increase the rigour of Space Force and Air Force, Army, Navy, and other Department of Defense entities in resourcing decisions towards them. Space Acquisition Management Directorate is the contracting activity. (Awarded 4 Jan, 2021)
Armtec Defense Products was awarded a $207 million contract for Modular Artillery Charge Systems M231/M232-series combustible case assemblies for 155mm propelling charges. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.
Booz Allen Hamilton; General Dynamics Information Technology; HII Mission Driven Innovative Solutions; KAB Laboratories; Leidos; Northrup Grumman Systems; Parsons Government Services; Peraton; Science Applications International; Solute; and Trandes, are awarded a $145 million IDIQ, multiple-award contract by the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific. Technical support includes systems engineering, program and configuration management, hardware and software development, installation, maintenance, sustainment, and training in support of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) activities, ISR systems, and cybersecurity operations. Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific is the contracting activity.
Serco is awarded a $9 million IDIQ contract for Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) waterfront installation support on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). The Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Indian Head Division has a requirement for CIWS waterfront installation support. This contract provides support in performing the functions of an Alteration Installation Team with the installation of ship alterations, ship change documents, and ordnance alterations as related to the CIWS on Navy, Army, Coast Guard, and Foreign Military Sales vessels. The Naval Surface Warfare Center is the contracting activity.
Bryan 77; Environmental Chemical; Eiffage Infraestructuras, Spain; Relyant Global; Sociedad Espanola De Montajes Industriales, Spain; SKE Support Services, Germany; Tepe Bozdemir Adi Ortakligi, Turkey; Tsontos Michael, Greece; and Zafer Taahut Insaat Ve Ticaret Anonim Sirketi, Turkey, will compete for each order of the $250 million contract for construction of new facilities and real property repair and maintenance requirements within Romania. US Army Corps of Engineers, European District, is the contracting activity.
ERAPSCO JV (Sparton Corp. and Ultra Electronics – USSI), is awarded a $71 million modification IDIQ contract which exercises an option for the production and delivery of a maximum quantity of 20,000 AN/SSQ-125 production sonobuoys in support of annual training, peacetime operations and testing expenditures and maintaining sufficient inventory to support the execution of major combat operations determined by the Naval Munitions Requirements Process for the Navy and Foreign Military Sales customers. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity.
DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
22nd Century Technologies; Accenture Federal Services; Advanced Systems Development; Agile Defense; AT&T; BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services; Buchanan & Edwards; BIA; Booz Allen Hamilton; CACI; CGI Federal; Data Systems Analysts; Deloitte; GDIT; Illuminate Mission Solutions; IndraSoft; Intrepid Solutions and Services; Jacobs Technology; M.C. Dean; ManTech; MetroStar; NGSC; Novetta; Octo Consulting Group; Parsons Government Services; Perspecta Enterprise Solutions; SAIC; Smartronix; Solutions By Design II; SOS International; Business Integra Technology Solutions; TELESIS; The Buffalo Group; Trowbridge & Trowbridge; UGROUP; WWTAS; 1CyberForce; Actionable Solutions Group; Aderas; AEEC; Alpha Omega Integration; AnaVation; AOC Connect; Armedia; ASIRTek Federal Services; AttainX; Bowhead Total Enterprise Solutions; Braxton-Grant Technologies; BridgePhase; Castalia; Cedge Software Consultants; cFocus Software; Choisys Technology; CKA; Clear Avenue; Competitive Range Solutions; Creative IT Solutions; Cyber and Engineering Excellence Solutions JV; CyberPeak Innovations; DAN Solutions; Data Intelligence Technologies; Datastrong; Derivative; DigiFlight; Diverse Systems Group; DKW Communications; Dynamo-VariQ JV; Dynanet; Edgewater Federal Solutions; EnDepth Solutions; Enhanced Veterans Solutions; Epsilon; E-volve Technology Systems; Expression Networks; Federated IT; Fortem Services Group; Full Visibility; Fusion Technology; Futron; GCubed Enterprises; George Consulting; Graham Technologies; Halvik; Highlight Technologies; HPI Solutions; Intelligent Innovations Group; Imperative Critical Infrastructure Protection; IMPRES Technology Solutions; Information Management Group; Information Technology Strategy; iNovex Information Systems; Integrated Computer Solutions; InterImage; Invictus International Consulting; IPT Associates; iSenpai; ISPA Technology; IT Concepts; Lentech; Manta Group; MicroTech; Navitas Business Consulting; Netorian; New River Systems; Nisga’a Data Systems; NOVA-Dine; NucoreVision; Obsidian Solutions Group; Occam Solutions; Paradyme Management; Patriot; Plus3 IT Systems; Probity; Pueo Prescient Edge; Quadrint; Red Arch Solutions; RIVA Solutions; RTL Networks; Salience Technologies; Secure Innovations; Seneca Telecommunications; SHINE Systems; SHR Consulting Group; SNA International LLC/Team SNA; SOFTEK FEDITC; Spathe Systems; Spiral Solutions & Technologies; Spry Methods; Storage Strategies; SydanTech; Synertex; Systems Plus; TEAM IMTAS; Team LTG; Technical and Management Resources; TekSynap; TENICA and Associates; Veteran’s First LLC/Team Veteran’s First; Vexterra Group; Volant Associates; Webworld Technologies; and Yahya Technologies, were awarded IDIQ contracts under the Solutions for Information Technology Enterprise (SITE III) contract vehicle with a combined ceiling value of $12.6 billion. This SITE III contract will address the evolving needs vital to the security of the US and facilitates worldwide coverage for integrated information technology intelligence requirements and technical support services to the Defense Intelligence Agency and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. 107 of the 144 awardees are small businesses. The Virginia Contracting Activity is the contracting activity.
Northrop Grumman Mission Systems is awarded a $9 million IDIQ contract for the procurement and sustainment of inertial measurement units. Sustainment efforts include test, teardown and evaluation, failure analysis and repairs. This contract includes purchases for the government of Germany under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. The Naval Surface Warfare Center is the contracting activity.
Avantti Builders Group; Blue Cord Design and Construction; DMCA; Doyon Project Services; ESA South; Global Engineering & Construction; Herman Construction Group; J&J Maintenance; John C. Grimberg; Lego Construction; Royce Construction Services; StructSure Projects; Valiant Government Services; and The Whiting-Turner Contracting, will compete for each order of the $230 million contract for design build projects in support of US Army Medical Command. US Army Corps of Engineers is the contracting activity.
Lockheed Martin Space is awarded a $128 million contract to support the integration of the Trident II (D5) Missile and Reentry Subsystems into the Common Missile Compartment (CMC) for the U.S./United Kingdom Columbia/Dreadnought Submarine construction programs. Fiscal 2021 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) ($114 million); and foreign funds – non Foreign Military Sales ($6 million), in the amount of $120 million will be obligated on this award. The Strategic Systems Programs is the contracting activity.
DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY
Atlantic Diving Supply doing business as ADS has been awarded a maximum $100 million IDIQ contract for patient monitoring systems, accessories and training. Using customers are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support.
13-15 July, 2021 – Farnborough International Airshow Connect.
A statement from Farnborough International states: “FIA Connect, the world’s only major digital trade event for the aerospace and defence industries, will take place on 13 – 15 July 2021. This free to attend on-line event marks the second in a series developed to bridge the gap between biennial Farnborough International Airshows – the next of which is confirmed for July 2022.”
No cancelled events advised.
Answers to the picture quiz
- The Car Armoured Light Standard, or Beaverette for short, was designed by the Standard Motor Company and based on a commercial car chassis. The standard armament was a Bren light machine gun or infrequently a Boys anti-tank rifle. Around 2,800 were made during the early years of World War II but were discontinued in 1942 as they were too heavy and difficult to manoeuvre.
- One of Maj. Gen Percy Hobart’s ‘Funnies’, this was a Churchill Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers (AVRE) tank modified with a petard mortar instead of the usual six pounder gun. It fired a 40-pound projectile that could destroy concrete defences if fired at a close enough range. The original idea came from Lieutenant John James Denovan of the Royal Canadian Engineers who wanted to improve the performance of tanks landing on beaches following the disaster at Dieppe in 1942.
- This picture shows two different version of the same Medium Tank M3. The basic tank with sponson mounted 75mm gun giving good firepower but limited traverse. This was supplemented by a 37mm turret gun; those using the US pattern turrets were called the ‘Lee’ (pictured right), while British pattern turrets were known as ‘Grant’ (pictured left) tanks.
Armada International / Asian Military Review