In physics, a moire pattern is an interference pattern created when two grids are overlaid at an angle, or when they have slightly different mesh sizes. It’s an appropriate name for DARPA’s Membrane Optic Imager Real-Time Exploitation (MOIRE) project, which aims to use diffractive optic membranes to conduct tactical video surveillance from space. That’s very useful when looking at territory where an intruding UAV is likely to be shot down, or when conducting operations to find, say, mobile SCUD missiles within a large potential area.
Making that happen involves a 20-meter diameter optic membrane surveying an area of more than 10 x 10 km at least once a second, with ground resolution better than 2.5 meters, and the ability to detect moving vehicles. Field of regard would be larger, of course, at 10 million square kilometers that could be covered from geosynchronous orbit. Finally, all of this has to cost less than $500 million per copy. How hard could all that be? Hard enough for DARPA, apparently…
Booz & Co’s strategy + business magazine has “A Skeptic’s Guide to 3D Printing“, which applies the time-tested forecasting approach Wright developed at the Curtiss Aeroplane Company. We’re fans of Additive Manufacturing – my next set of glasses are being made this way. Even so, USNI’s April 2013 “Print Me a Cruiser!” article demonstrates that Wright’s analytical tools aren’t as widespread as they need to be within the military professions.
One of Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter’s last acts involved an interim policy to replace the previous DoD Instruction 5000.02 acquisition guidelines supplement. The defense Acquisition Portal’s Program Management Community of Practice builds on that with Frank Kendall’s personal memo to everyone in the DoD Acquisition Workforce.
Over the last decade, a belief has taken root in global naval circles that shallow littoral chokepoints for maritime trade, operations in and around failed states like Somalia, and expeditionary stabilization operations, will become key foci for many deployments. That realization has driven a number of approaches to naval construction. In the Netherlands, Royal Schelde’s Sigma Ships are designed in block modules, which can be added or subtracted to build anything from an offshore patrol vessel to a large frigate. Denmark is already building its Flyverfisken Class and Absalon Class ships, which leverage the mission module concept and can be used in roles ranging ranging from mine or sub hunting, to anti-ship warfare/ land attack, to carrying troops. Sweden’s Visby Class stealth corvettes helped to inspire the American concept of the Littoral Combat Ship – which has been criticized both for its cost, and for having fewer and less flexible high-end weapon options than any competitor.
Germany’s response has been the F125 frigate, which might best be described as an “expeditionary frigate” design. It doesn’t use the Danish or American mission module concept. Instead, it includes a number of features aimed at making it a strong contributor to long international deployments in littoral environments, and to naval support for stabilization operations.
This week DID’s Olivier Travers is attending WBR’s 2013 Defense Logistics event. Email me if you’d like to meet up or submit logistics themes for us to look into.
Vice Admiral Mark Harnitchek has been heading the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) for 2 years and presented an update on the agency’s challenges and progress during WBR’s 2013 Defense Logistics conference. He candidly talked about how DoD at large, and DLA specifically, had benefited from “budget largesse” in recent years, especially with supplemental budgets (i.e. OCO / war spending) and had grown “thicker in the middle” as a result. In plain admission of the government’s shortcomings, the development of a “culture of judiciousness” to apply better judgment and save money is necessary within DLA. This is a welcome evolution in public discourse after so much hand-wringing about sequestration and befuddlement at the very idea of having to operate within financial constraints.
VADM Harnitchek was equally frank in recognizing that part of the agency’s focus will translate into margin pressure for contractors. Like other DoD senior officials, he’s broadcasting a clear signal that budget constraints are expected to stay and everyone should learn to operate within them. This should lead to increased reliance on commercial capabilities and less DoD resources, in relative terms. To that effect, fuel and food are pretty much already run “factory to foxhole” through commercial suppliers.
Christine Fox will succeed Ashton Carter as the USA’s Deputy Defense Secretary. The acting DDS is a budget specialist who was part of a recent management review, and has served as president of the federally funded R&D Center for Naval Analyses.
DID will cover WBR’s Defense Logistics conference on Dec. 3-5 in Alexandria, VA. The following entry gives a quick sense of the massive scale of US military logistics, for background context. It aims to provide orders of magnitude and key datapoints, rather than extremely precise and detailed data.
The US Department of Defense is well known as one of the largest organizations worldwide, with its sprawling physical footprint across the world and massive needs for storage, transportation, and distribution. How big of a logistics user and provider do they turn out to be? Let’s find out.
Iran’s Condor Legion, Hezbollah, has been fighting and even running large sections of Assad’s war in Syria for some months now. With the USA on the sidelines and ineffective, the Gulf Arab states are reportedly recruiting a Sunni counterforce in places like Pakistan. That should provide lots of good training for future bad actors – but the logic of the war compels it. The thing is, it takes way more than recruitment to build an effective counterforce, including media outlets, and consistent revenue/operative training via components like criminal enterprises with global reach. Hezbollah wasn’t built in a day.
The Scottish Government has put forward its proposed plans for independence, including details its foreign relations and defense plans. Since then, Thin Pinstriped Line has been methodically backing up its claim that the SDF plan suffers from ‘fantasy fleet’ syndrome, dismantling the proposed Navy and Air Force plans. Following them through the numbers, explanations, and relevant considerations is an educational exercise for anyone in the field.
One country’s disaster can be another country’s good fortune. After Australia’s bargain-hunting naval helicopter program had turned into a A$ 100 million per helicopter upgrade nightmare, they had some unpleasant choices to make. In 2007, Australia’s Liberal Party government elected to continue the Super Seasprite program – but their successor Labor Party government reversed that decision in 2008, and come to an interesting agreement with Kaman: We stop development, you get the helicopters for resale, we agree on financial terms for both items.
In 2013, New Zealand decided that replacing their 5 existing SH-2Gs helicopters with 8 upgraded, low airframe life SH-2G(I)s was an attractive deal. Especially with missiles and training simulators thrown in. Australia’s problem had become their opportunity.