$18M to Alion for Special Ops mobile repair systems under WSTIAC contract. (Nov 22/10)
The US Department of Defense’s Information Analysis Centers (IACs) are research and analysis organizations operated by the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC). Chartered by the DoD to help researchers, engineers, scientists and program managers, IACS offer specialized research staff to DoD agencies and military services.
The mission of the IACs is 2 two-fold: (1) IACs provide access to worldwide scientific and technical information to improve the productivity of personnel in the defense science and technology communities. The IACs accomplish this mission by collecting, analyzing, synthesizing, and disseminating relevant information in clearly-defined and structured subject areas; (2) IACs serve their respective fields by providing technical services and solutions…
“[Recently] Retired RAAF air vice-marshal Peter Criss has put aside usual conventions to openly question the wisdom of Canberra spending about $16 billion for the F-35 Lightning, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter. The Government committed an initial $300 million to become an early partner in the JSF program, with a final decision to be made by 2008. But Mr Criss says the RAAF should, in fact, consider buying the F-22 Raptor…”
Criss’ disquiet was the first significant breaking of ranks by top military brass over this issue, but Australia’s opposition Labor Party soon stepped into the fray with a formal statement, discussing the fighter gap that will exist between the F-111’s planned retirement early in 2010 and the proposed F-35A LRIP(Low Rate Initial Production – a more expensive phase) purchase in 2013 or later.
A subsequent purchase announcement and follow-on contracts for 24 F/A-18F Block II Super Hornets have only intensified the discussion. While that F/A-18F purchase is very close to a fait accompli, Australia’s F-35 purchase has moved from an assumed conclusion to a very serious debate. DID’s Spotlight article chronicles those positions, while offering links and background materials from both sides of the Australian debate. In the end, however, the F-22’s production line shutdown by the USA made the issue moot.
DJ Elliott is a retired USN Intelligence Specialist (22 years active duty) who has been analyzing and writing on Iraqi Security Forces developments since 2006. His Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle is an open-source compilation that attempts to map and detail Iraqi units and equipment, as their military branches and internal security forces grow and mature. While “good enough for government use” is not usually uttered as a compliment, US Army TRADOC has maintained permission to use the ISF OOB for their unclassified handouts since 2008.
This December 2009 compilation is reproduced here with full permission. It offers a set of updates highlighting recent changes in the ISF’s composition and development, followed by the full updated ISF OOBs in PDF form. Reader feedback and tips are encouraged.
Guest article by Ian Cookson & Grant Thornton Corporate Finance LLC
Aerospace component M&A activity remained strong in 2008, and was one of the best performing sectors, with the same number of transactions as the record set in 2007. Activity was again weighted toward the first half of the year (in a 60/40 split), with a similar number of transactions in the second half of 2008 as 2007. Although 40% of transactions were led by private equity groups, this masks a shift in the second half where strategic buyers proved more successful in winning bids (by a factor of 3:1). Private equity buyers found it harder to raise the levels of debt that supported prices of previous acquisitions.
The strong level of aerospace component activity is in stark contrast to U.S. M&A activity as a whole, which declined by a third in volume terms from the prior year (and substantially more by value). However, the number of smaller deals across all industries (under $50 million) remained remarkably constant. It is this category of smaller deals that is more reflective of aerospace component transactions.
Something big is going on in the history of war, and maybe even humanity itself. The US military went into Iraq with just a handful of drones in the air and zero unmanned systems on the ground, none of them armed. Today, there are over 5,300 drones in the US inventory and another roughly 12,000 on the ground. And these are just the first generation, the Model T Fords compared to what is already in the prototype stage. This is what is happening now. Peering forward, one Air Force lieutenant general forecast that “given the growth trends, it is not unreasonable to postulate future conflicts involving tens of thousands.”
For my book Wired for War, I spent the last several years trying to capture this historic moment, as robots begin to move into the fighting of our human wars. The book features stories and anecdotes of everyone from robotic scientists and the science fiction writers who inspire them to 19 year old drone pilots and the Iraqi insurgents they are fighting. The hope wasn’t just to take the reader on a journey to meet this new generation of warriors–both human and machine, but also to explore the fascinating, and sometimes frightening, political, economic, legal and ethical questions that our society had better start facing in how our wars will be fought and who will fight them. In other words, “What happens when science fiction becomes battlefield reality?”
Despite all the enthusiasm in military circles for the next generation of unmanned vehicles, ships, and planes, there is one question, however, that people are generally reluctant to talk about. It is the equivalent of Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter, the issue That-Must-Not-Be-Discussed. What happens to the human role in war as we arm ever more intelligent, more capable, and increasingly more autonomous robots?
Back in December 2005, “Russia to Dominate $5.33B Portable Anti-Armor Market Through 2014” covered analyst firm Forecast International’s global predictions for man-portable, unguided, anti-tank and bunker-buster weapons. In January 2009, the firm’s rolling forecast sees the market’s value holding steady at “over $5 billion” over the next 10 years, still sees Russia as the dominant player, and still sees European players grabbing a dollar share that outweighs their market share. Compared with 2005, however, there is a rising contender.
Forecast International sees Russian weapons accounting for 59.3% of global production in this segment, and 46.5% of the market’s dollar value through 2018. (2005: 68% of production and over 51% of market value through 2014)…
“One of the biggest challenges facing the new administration, as well as future administrations, is the effective acquisition of complex products… This report examines contracting for complex products by reviewing the U.S. Coast Guard’s experience with its Deepwater Program… a major “system of systems” acquisition to upgrade and integrate the Coast Guard’… Important elements are missing from the Deepwater story, notably the impact of contract management and the behavior of each party within the IDIQ(Indefinite Delivery/ Indefinite Quantity) contract design… Although Deepwater has garnered headlines for some of its stumbles, a more complete review of the early phases suggests a more mixed and balanced record.”
DID has covered numerous aspects of the US Coast Guard’s $25 billion Deepwater program-of-programs; “US Coast Guard’s Deepwater Effort Hits More Rough Sailing” offers a good summary of developments to date, and links to most of the key articles. Readers can download the full IBM CBG report [PDF], which recommends more investment in building up the acquisition workforce (a workforce that is often cut short-sightedly when budgets get smaller), which leads to a better understanding of risk drivers. They CBG also recommends a commitment to learning by trying different kinds of contracts for complex systems, ensuring that the contracts can be modified mid-stream in light of experience, and collecting lessons learned.
Giuseppe Ceracchi: “Minerva as the Patroness of American Liberty”
In this day and age, more people associate “Minerva” with a strict teacher at a fictional wizard’s school than with Rome’s incarnation of Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, knowledge, and war. As “WIRED: A Different Kind of Net-Centric Warfare in Iraq” revealed, however, Minerva’s ancient incarnation remains very relevant today. “The surge” in Iraq is best known for its increase in the number of American troops, but that was actually its least significant feature. Its most significant feature was a major shift in the way the Americans fought the war, using a counterinsurgency doctrine that acted on the lessons from successes like Malaysia – and on newer insights from social scientists embedded with the American military. See also General Petraeus’ December 2008 remarks in Washington [Transcript | Slideshow].
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has previously served as the president of Texas A&M University. Under his watch, the US DoD has unveiled The Minerva Initiative to foster longer-term research that’s relevant to the national security community. Now the first awards have been made under that program…
The collapse of the Soviet Union triggered a twin collapse for Russia’s vast arms industries. On the one hand, revelation of the state’s bankruptcy collapsed domestic arms spending. As a follow-up punch, it also collapsed aid-financed exports to dependent Soviet client states. Russia’s arms industry has been clawing its way back ever since. During the 1990s, China effectively replaced Russia as the industry’s core domestic market, underwriting the R&D base and creating a springboard for further exports.