In a move that both validates the technology underlying Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and promises to help advance it, especially in terms of security, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has taken a step toward developing its own, privately managed VoIP system. Nortel Networks recently received a contract worth up to US$20 million to migrate the department’s network to one that, through installation of new software and other upgrades, will be able to support VoIP.
A key consideration was doing away with private control of the phone networks that the DoD relies upon, though the system was also designed to avoid completely scrapping existing phone and data networks. Testing has been completed and that the rollout is expected to give DoD more flexibility, better control of its own communications needs and provide long-term cost benefits. Previously, the ability of the current DSN system to respond to any given crisis could be restricted because it is managed by telecom companies, and not under direct governmental control. The project will result in a new, multifunction switching capability fully contained with the agency that will enable it to prioritize traffic based on urgency, and eventually enable it to consolidate voice, data and video conferencing.
For the second time in five months, Hizbollah militants operating an Iranian-made drone successfully penetrated Israel’s air defenses and flew unmolested for nearly nine minutes on April 11 over Western Galilee cities and settlements before returning safely to southern Lebanon. Local residents first reported the UAV which was not initially picked up by Israel’s elaborate, overlapping sensor-fused early warning network.
According to Lockheed-Martin, an acquisition decision information paper released by the Department of Defense on April 18, 2005 states “The Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics) [Michael W. Wynne] approved the full rate production capability of the F/A-22.” This F/A-22 program milestone follows initial operational test findings in February and March by both the Air Force and the Department of Defense.
The F/A-22 Raptor, the world’s most advanced fighter, is built by Lockheed Martin in partnership with Boeing and Pratt & Whitney. Parts and subsystems are provided by approximately 1,000 suppliers in 42 states. F/A-22 production takes place at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics facilities in Palmdale, CA; Meridian, MS; Marietta, GA; and Fort Worth, TX, as well as at Boeing’s plant in Seattle, WA. Final assembly and initial flight testing of the Raptor occurs at the Marietta plant facilities. The Raptor is slated to reach initial operational capability in December 2005 at Langley Air Force Base, VA.
Israeli defense industry executives are reporting that the U.S. has frozen Israel out of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter development of a program as punishment for its military cooperation with China, including its work on Harpy anti-radar attack UAVs acquired by China from state-owned Israel Aircraft Industries in 1994. Israeli Defense Ministry officials refused to confirm the report, noting only that they were in dialogue and hoped that “within its framework understandings will be reached soon.”
In recent weeks the White House has warned European countries not to lift a boycott on China arms sales, and even restricted the sale of mapping software to China developed from U.S. naval sonar technology. The Bush administration has also pressured Israel to ‘roll back’ its defense relations with China.
The European Parliament is backing continuation of the EU’s weapons embargo to China, while other EU officials are stating that they intend to continue to press for its removal. Meanwhile, growing support of the ban from Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden in light of China’s human rights record, its new law authorizing the use of force against Taiwan, risks to major industry investments across the Atlantic, and threats from the US Congress to cease defense cooperation with EU countries has prevented the required “consensus” on the issue within the EU.
On March 22, 2005, the U.S. Air Force announced that it would soon award contracts for 18 to 24 rocket launches. A pre-solicitation notice explains that the government should award the contracts on or before Oct. 1, 2005. These rockets carry payloads for the Department of Defense and the National Reconnaissance Office.
Acting Air Force Secretary Peter Teets said the Air Force plans to buy launches from both Boeing and Lockheed Martin Inc.
Military officials turned on a new command center in Cheyenne Mountain, CO this month, complete with new hardware, software and big-screen displays. The event marks the second major milestone for the Air Forces $1.5 billion Integrated Space Command and Control (ISC2) program for NORAD. The renovation of the command center inside the granite-hardened facility occurred in two phases. Phase 1, completed by John Bowman Inc., involved construction of the center and “battle cab”. Phase 2, performed by Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems business unit, consisted of the design, purchase and installation of the hardware, software and big-screen displays. Federal Computer Weekly: Cheyenne center upgrade complete. See also NORAD’s March 4, 2005 news release.
France launched the Forbin, its first of the Horizon class 7,000-metric-tonne air defense frigates from DCN’s shipyard in Lorient on March 10. The Horizon program budget totals EUR $3 billion (USD $4 billion), of which approximately one-third was spent on development costs. A total of four Horizon warships are being developed and built by Horizon SAS, a joint venture between France’s DCN and Thales (Armaris) and Italy’s Fincanteri and Finmeccania, Rome (Orizzonte Sistemi Navale).
British defense contractor BAE Systems PLC has agreed to buy U.S. rival United Defense Industries (UDI), subject to approval. The transaction was conducted through its subsidiary BAE Systems North America Inc., which entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire the net debt and fully diluted share capital of United Defense for $75 per share in cash, or some $3.97 billion total. The acquisition is subject to both regulatory and shareholder approval.
The F-15K Strike Eagle made its first flight in St. Louis last week. Flown by Boeing Chief F-15 Test Pilot Joe Felock and Chief Weapons Systems Officer Rick Junkin, the F-15K completed an aggressive speed run easily surpassing Mach 2, accomplished both engine shut-downs and restarts, and passed instrument and avionics checks of primary backup systems.
The Republic of Korea (ROKAF) selected the F-15K advanced derivative of the F-15E Strike Eagle for its Next Generation Fighter Program in 2002. Under a $3.6 billion contract, Boeing will deliver 40 aircraft to the ROKAF beginning this year and ending in August 2008. The formal F-15K rollout ceremony will take place on March 16, 2005 in St. Louis, MO. Boeing: Boeing’s Newest Fighter Aircraft Makes First Flight