President Obama will attend today’s Pentagon briefing on strategic adjustments that will lead to a 10+% reduction in the number of ground troops (presumably from peak levels): NYT | Reuters | C-Span stream (to start live at 10:50am ET).
The UK’s defence secretary Philip Hammond will meet his American counterpart Leon Panetta later today. Hammond’s take: “today the debt crisis should be considered the greatest strategic threat to the future security of our nations. The fact is, in this era of austerity… not even the United States can afford the astronomical resource commitment required to deal with every threat from every source.”
Boeing confirmed it’s going to close its Wichita plant in Kansas by the end of 2013. Some of the 2,000+ jobs will be moved to sites in the states of California, Oklahoma and Washington; others will be cut. Congressman Mike Pompeo is fuming while Tom Cole and Rick Larsen are obviously moreupbeat.
Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) chief Marion Blakey: “At this point we see all of the oxygen in the room being absorbed by the presidential debates. We want to be part of that oxygen, if you will.” (WSJ)
The British MoD is using balls of rubber strengthened with Kevlar to deliver fuel by helicopter or transport aircraft. Known as the Mk 5 Air Portable Fuel Containers and manufactured by GKN Aerospace, they weight 2 tonnes (4,400 pounds) when full. See a short video at the bottom of this entry. Now, wouldn’t this make sense slung under a K-Max?
Vincent Manzo, a research analyst at the National Defense University asks [PDF]: where do space and cyberspace fit in questions of deterrence and escalation in cross-domain operations?
DARPA scientists have found that using an antibiotic and a protein together is more effective to fight radiation than when used separately. Well, at least for mice, but the potential for human application seems promising.
Gunther Krauter, the general secretary of Austria’s (left wing) Social Democrats (SPO), said the country should sell its Eurofighter jets. Though they belong to the same political party that’s currently leading the government, such as sale is not on the agenda of defence Minister Norbert Darabos, so he was not thrilled by Krauter’s unexpected suggestion: Austrian Independent | Austrian Times. Austria does plan to sell many of its tanks; another contentious issue is Darabos’ support for ending conscription (Germany did so last year, France too in the late 90’s/early 00’s). The right wing People’s Party (OVP), the junior member in an obviously uneasy coalition, had its spokesman call the SPO (in German) the Unsicherheitspartei (the “non-security party”). Surely there must be a 19-letter word for “ouch” in German.
In December 2011, Avon Protection Systems, Inc. in Cadillac, MI won a 5-year, $176.4 million firm-fixed-price contract to make M61 filter canisters for the new M50 Joint Service General Purpose Mask. Work will be performed in Cadillac, MI, and is expected to run until Dec 22/16. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 6 bids received by U.S. Army Contracting Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD (W911SR-12-D-0001).
The new M50 mask is designed to be more compact, lighter, more comfortable and more effective than the older M40. When worn in conjunction with a MOPP suit, the mask allows over 24 hours of protection against chemical or biological agents and radioactive particulates. Improvements include a single cast, optically correct visor with a wider field of view than the previous twin-lens design, and a twin conformal filter for a 50% improvement in breathing resistance. Anyone who has ever tried heavy physical exertion in a gas mask understands how much that improvement means. The convenient integrated 3L Camelbak for drinking, and clip-on sunglasses or corrective lenses, will also be appreciated.
In the early 1970s, the Brazilian Army acquired a number of tracked M113 armored personnel carriers from the US Army, to serve alongside their locally-built EE-11 Urrutu 6×6 wheeled APCs. The mix is a smart one; wheeled vehicles offer easier mobility, while tracked vehicles offer broader military options, and can handle all types of terrain. Both vehicle types are very old, however, and the Urrutus will soon be replaced by over 2,000 of Brazil’s new VBTP/ Guaranis.
That leaves the Army’s tracked APCs, which are set to get attention of their own now. Under a $41.9 million contract with BAE Systems Land and Armaments in Santa Clara, CA (W56HZV-12-C-0083), the Brazilian Army Depot in Curitiba will receive the supplies and training they need to upgrade 150 of Brazil’s roughly 600 M113A0s (“M113B”) to the M113A2 Mk1 configuration. “Upgrade” is really too modest a word – the depot will strip the APCs down to shells, leaving only the vehicle hulls, hatches and ramps. All other components including the engines, transmissions and cooling systems will be replaced or upgraded using components, tooling and spares from BAE, who will also train the depot staff. This RESET approach lowers the overall upgrade cost, but note that the true cost will be substantially above the BAE contract’s value alone. The M113A2 Mk1 program is expected to last until November 2014, by which time the Guaranis will also be in full production, and entering service. BAE Systems.
US SecDef Leon Panetta will present the result of the Pentagon’s latest strategic review tomorrow. Nothing dramatic or really new appears in the pre-announcement coverage so far: Bloomberg | NYT | Reuters. Expect a confirmation of a relative, but not drastic shift from Europe to Asia, and some program delays.
As chief of the National Guard Bureau and in execution of the 2012 NDAA, US Air Force General Craig R. McKinley is now a statutory member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
New experimental anti-IED device: the remote-controlled leafblower-wheelbarrow hybrid, courtesy of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Fort Halstead, Kent, in England (a site that incidentally DSTL will leave in the years to come). Meanwhile Dr Andrew Baxter at DSTL in Porton Down received an award for his design work on light protected patrol vehicles (LPPV).
Iran’s claims on the Strait of Hormuz are the usual bombastic nonsense but it’s still useful to have some context. The CSIS think tank has a primer. it’s not just the US reaction that’s worth watching (so far, a shrug), but also China’s.
President Obama signed the FY12 defense authorization bill (HR1540) on December 31 but expressed “serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.”
A $355M contract (FA8637-12-D-6001) confirms the USAF procurement of 20 Light Air Support (LAS) Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano aircraft, via Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC). Deliveries of this batch of 20 planes is expected to be completed by the end of April 2014. Last year Hawker Beechcraft filed a GAO protest for being excluded from the RFP and sued the US Air Force after losing the protest. DefenseLink | SNC | DefesaNet [in Portuguese].
Some former officers of the British Armed Forces are concerned that increased use of reserve forces serves to mask lack of personnel in the standing Army.