DRS Systems won a $10.5 million contract modification for an engineering change to the Energy Magazine Prototype design for the DDG51 Class destroyer program. This award is for an engineering change proposal of the Energy Storage Module that will provide capability to supply power to a directed energy load and includes design, build and testing for a total of two prototype units. The Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) Class guided missile destroyers provide a wide range of warfighting capabilities in multi-threat air, surface and subsurface environments. Arleigh Burke class destroyers are equipped with the Navy’s Aegis Weapon System, the world’s foremost integrated naval weapon system. When integrated with the Aegis Combat System, the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) will permit groups of ships and aircraft to link their radars to provide a composite picture of the battle space, effectively increasing the theater space. The capability is designed to provide the Navy with a 21st century fighting edge. Work under the current modification will take place in Wisconsin and is expected to be finished by June 2022.
Lockheed Martin won a 9.8 million order, which provides non-recurring engineering for the production of target designator sets and electro-optical in support of AH-1Z Light Attack helicopters for Foreign Military Sales customers. Contracting activity is the Naval Air Systems Command. The US Marine Corps just recently completed its transition from the AH-1W Sea Cobra attack helicopter to the AH-1Z Viper. The Viper includes new propulsion, fire control, and sensor improvements. The Viper also comes with a fully integrated glass cockpit, third-generation fire control system, new transmission, upgraded landing gear, and improved weapons-carrying capabilities. Work under the order will take place in Florida and estimated completion will be by November 2022.
Middle East & Africa
According to „Israel Defense“, Israel’s MCTECH completed the process of supplying dozens of MC-60P explosive device jammers to a military customer in Southeast Africa last month. MCTECH specializes in the design, development and manufacturing of high-end radio frequency jammers. Reportedly, the MC-60P, developed and manufactured by MCTECH Laboratories, is a modular and portable system that can be quickly deployed or operated while in motion. Its function is to protect troops, explosive ordnance disposal operators and other security forces from radio-controlled improvised explosive devices, or to disrupt enemy transmissions on the battlefield.
According to Tass, Russian Deputy Prime Minister suggested to South Korean Deputy Prime Minister that Moscow could repay its state debt to South Korea by delivering helicopters to the country. Yury Trutnev held a video conference call with Hong Nam-ki. Trutnev’s press service said in a statement that both sides discussed the repayment using helicopters. Earlier, the South Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport validated the certificate of Mi-171A2, a Russian-made civilian helicopter, effectively authorizing its use in the country.
New reports from Greece say that the United States has agreed to sell 20 F-35A fighters to Greece, six of them will be jets that were originally ordered by Turkey but not delivered. Greek newspaper “Estia“ said the order was discussed during Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to the country earlier this month.
According to Northrop Grumman, the company commenced assembly of the first of up to seven MQ-4C Triton high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for Australia. The milestone saw the first jig-load for a Triton intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) UAV for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) take place at Northrop Grumman’s Moss Point facility in Mississippi. Final assembly and flight testing will follow at the company’s Palmdale facility and at Edwards Air Force Base in California, ahead of delivery to Australia in 2023.
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The US Army received the first Infantry Squad Vehicle made by General Motors Defense. The vehicle, which the Army received at GM Proving Grounds, was the result of the first major contract GM Defense, a wholly-owned subsidiary of GM, has won since its formation since 2017. GM Defense delivered the vehicle just 120 days after winning the $214.3 million deal to produce it in June. “One hundred and twenty days from contract award to delivery is a significant milestone, and I am very proud of the team for this accomplishment,” said David Albritton, president of GM Defense in a statement. “We’re leveraging General Motors’ engineering prowess and immense manufacturing capabilities to bring transformative solutions to the military vehicle market.” The Infantry Squad Vehicle is based on the 2020 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 truck, and it uses 90% commercial components, but is designed to carry a nine-soldier infantry squad quickly across a battlefield.
The Pentagon delayed plans to move the F-35 program to full-rate production because simulation testing that’s needed before that can even begin has been delayed until next year. The testing phase was originally scheduled for 2017 but had been delayed to December of this year. Now it’s being moved back again because technical preparations aren’t complete, and both testing and the production decision have been pushed to 2021, according to Jessica Maxwell, spokeswoman for Defense Department acquisition chief Ellen Lord. While it’s not clear, why the test schedule has been delayed again, but in April Lockheed said it expected lower sales and slower deliveries for several of its programs this year due to disruptions caused by the current global pandemic, with the F-35 program being particularly hard hit.
Middle East & Africa
A batch of MiG-29Ms that Algeria ordered in 2018 have been delivered in pieces to the country and they are assembled and ready for flight. These aircraft are now at Oran. This first batch was delivered in a disassembled state. It is unknown how many aircraft are involved in this batch and if the aircraft were delivered as air freight or by boat. The new aircraft are being prepared for their first flights at an air base in the vicinity of Oran. The deal for the new single seat MiG-29M and dual seat MiG-29M2 was signed during the MAKS-2019 International Aviation and Space Salon in Moscow (Russia). The new M-model will replace the older MiG-29S and MiG-29UB in use at Bou Sfer air base. The number of aircraft in this contract is reported to be fourteen aircraft. The new Algerian Air Force MiG-29M/M2 is the same version as the Egypt Air Force MiG-29Ms.
Washington agreed to consider allowing the UAE to buy stealth F-35 fighter jets in a side deal to its normalization agreement with Israel. Israel will not oppose US sales of “specific weapons systems” to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz said, in an apparent reference to the high-tech F-35 warplanes sought by Abu Dhabi. Under a principle of preserving Israel’s “qualitative military edge”, the United States consults with it on proposed sales of advanced arms to other countries in the region.
According to the British Royal Navy, Royal Marines have completed two weeks of rigorous training in the skills needed to protect the UK’s nuclear deterrent. The Royal Marines of 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group are held at very high-readiness year round, guarding the nuclear deterrent carried onboard the Vanguard-class submarines based at Faslane Naval Base in Scotland. The commandos battled in a range of complex environments and challenging scenarios that ensure they are ready to safeguard the nuclear deterrent whatever the situation.
A Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Canberra-class amphibious assault ship has embarked a Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) CH-47 heavy-lift helicopter on its flight deck for the first time, marking a new level of interoperability between the two armed forces. The aircraft underwent deck landing qualification on HMAS Adelaide (L 01), the RAN’s second Canberra-class vessel, as part of Exercise ‘Sea Wader 2020’, which took place off the coast of Queensland, Australia. “The ability to operate our largest amphibious vessels with Singapore’s CH-47 Chinook helicopters means we can work together to mobilize and move personnel or supplies at sea, and enhance our combined joint capability”, said Linda Reynolds, Australia’s Minister for Defense, in a statement.
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Latest updates[?]: A Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Canberra-class amphibious assault ship has embarked a Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) CH-47 heavy-lift helicopter on its flight deck for the first time, marking a new level of interoperability between the two armed forces. The aircraft underwent deck landing qualification on HMAS Adelaide (L 01), the RAN’s second Canberra-class vessel, as part of Exercise ‘Sea Wader 2020’, which took place off the coast of Queensland, Australia. “The ability to operate our largest amphibious vessels with Singapore’s CH-47 Chinook helicopters means we can work together to mobilize and move personnel or supplies at sea, and enhance our combined joint capability”, said Linda Reynolds, Australia’s Minister for Defense, in a statement.
CH-47Fs take off
DII FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record; this FOCUS Article covers the CH-47F/MH-47G Chinook helicopter programs, in the USA and abroad. These helicopters’ distinctive “flying banana” twin-rotor design stems from the brilliant work of aviation pioneer Frank Piasecki. It gives Chinooks the ability to adjust their positioning very precisely, while carrying a large airframe whose load capacity has made it the world’s most popular heavy-lift helicopter. The USA expects to be operating Chinooks in their heavy-lift role past 2030.
The CH-47F looks similar to earlier models, but offers a wide range of improvements in almost every aspect of design and performance. While the related HH-47’s $10-15 billion CSAR-X program win was terminated, delivery orders continue for CH-47Fs and for MH-47G Special Forces configuration helicopters. International orders or formal requests have also come in from Australia, Britain, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the UAE, with India and other countries expected to follow.
As the U.S. decides who will be president for the next four years a review of procurement spending indicates that the Trump Administration has shown little difference in appropriations versus previous administrations, despite claims to have radically increased spending.
The upshot is that the last four years saw about $2.9 in spending appropriated in inflation-adjusted dollars, which was larger than Barak Obama’s second term, but less than the Obama Administration’s first term.
President Trump’s campaign speech claims of spending during his term relative to previous terms are incorrect. President Trump claimed this year that military spending in the 90s “used to be ‘million.’ And then, about 10 years ago, you started hearing ‘billion.’ And now you’re starting to hear ‘trillion,’ right?” Of course, U.S. defense spending hit the billions in the late 1940s, and recent spending has been on pace with spending from the decade previous.
The Trump Administration has done little to change the often-criticized Pentagon trend of investing more money in fewer pieces of equipment, such as fighter jets that cost a quarter billion dollars each when fully kitted out. The navy is running fewer ships that each cost more. Previous administrations did no better in reversing this trend, of course.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stated multiple times that he has no plans to reduce military spending, but indicated a desire to refocus military budgets and planning on “near-peer” powers Russia and China, while attempting to recover some of the goodwill of allies tested by the Trump Administration’s active skepticism in cooperation with allies, especially the NATO alliance.
Sikorsky won a $550.4 million modification, which is for Lot IV low rate initial production and delivery of six CH-53K aircraft and associated aircraft, programmatic and logistics support, rate tooling and physical configuration audits. The CH-53K Super Stallion can be fielded from amphibious assault ships for the transportation of personnel and equipment. The aircraft can be operated from austere and remote forward operating bases. It is Marine Corps’ heavy-lift replacement for the CH-53E Super Stallion. Designed to lift nearly 14 tons at a mission radius of 110 nautical miles, in Navy high/hot environments, the CH-53K is designed to lift triple the baseline CH-53E lift capability. The CH-53K will have an equivalent logistics shipboard footprint, lower operating costs per aircraft, and less direct maintenance man hours per flight hour. The Marine Corps has a requirement for 200 CH-53Ks. Work will take place in Connecticut, Kansas, Washington, Texas, Canada, Wisconsin, the UK and Florida. Estimated completion will be in July 2024.
The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) AWACS qualified Aerospace Controllers (AECs) and Aerospace Control Operators (AC Ops) are now able to wear a new ‘wings’ badge that was officially rolled out on October 23. The North American air arm said the new wings recognizes the demanding training, arduous qualifications, and extensive responsibilities needed to maintain Combat Mission Ready status. „When the AWACS positions were established in 1974, it was assumed that AECs and AC Ops in those positions did not directly contribute to the safe operation of the aircraft, which would justify an upswept wing-style aircrew flying badge. In addition, it was assumed they would only fly occasionally. Our understanding of their responsibilities has changed“, it says in a statement.
Middle East & Africa
Israel’s Elbit was chosen to supply light tanks and wheeled APCs to the Philippine Army. The contracts are said to include nearly $200 million worth of Sabrah tanks and armored combat vehicles. According to reports, Elbit Systems is the winner of two large tenders for the supply of light tanks and wheeled armored personnel carriers to the Philippine Army. According the website, the Israeli Ministry of Defense received the notice of award for these two tenders several months ago. As part of the light tank contract, Elbit will supply 18 Sabrah ASCOD 2 tracked tanks, 10 Sabrah Pandur II 8×8 wheeled tanks, one ASCOD 2 armored command vehicle and one ASCOD 2 armored recovery vehicle worth approximately $196 million. The wheeled APC contract includes 28 IVECO Guarani 6×6 wheeled APCs worth about $47 million. All APCs have a manned turret with a 12.7mm heavy machine gun and a 40mm automatic grenade launcher. In addition, the APCs are equipped with an E-LynX computer-based communication system and a Torch-X combat management system made by Elbit.
Rolls-Royce has signed a collaborative agreement with the UK Ministry of Defense to strengthen ways of working across key Royal Navy programmes. The firm say that the Memorandum of Understanding describes a commitment of both parties to work together to deliver on-going support for Rolls-Royce MT30 and WR-21 engines and an understanding of how that will be done. The agreement will improve on-going support for the Rolls-Royce MT30 engines that power the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) Aircraft Carriers. It also covers support of the WR-21 engines that power the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers.
Lockheed Martin won a $194 million contract modification, which adds a $180,000,000 not-to-exceed, undefinitized line item for the production and delivery of four MH-60R aircraft, and exercises a $13,980,348 option to procure three airborne low frequency sonars in support of the government of Greece. This comes at a time when the Greece is running deep into a dispute with Turkey. In 2019, the US State Department cleared a $600 million foreign military sale (FMS) of seven MH-60R Seahawk multi-mission helicopters to Greece. In July 2020, Greece signed a contract for the purchase of 4 new units, via this program. The MH-60R SeaHawk helicopter is a twin-engine, multi-mission, all-weather Naval utility helicopter, based on the Army’s UH-60 BlackHawk, and is used for a variety of roles including anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), naval special warfare (NSW) insertion, search and rescue (SAR), combat search and rescue (CSAR), vertical replenishment (VERTREP), and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) operations. Work under the modification will take place in New York, Connecticut, Alabama, France and Rhode Island. Expected completion will be in February 2025.
A spokesman of the Chinese defense ministry suggested that China will retaliate if $1.4 billion U.S arms sales to Taiwan go through. „The move seriously damages relations between the two countries and the two militaries, as well as the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. China firmly opposes it,” said spokesperson Col. Tan Kefei of China’s Ministry of National Defense. „China strongly urges the US side to immediately cancel the plans of selling weapons to Taiwan and cease military contact with the island and handle issues related to Taiwan prudently, so as to avoid serious consequences to Sino-American bilateral and mil-to-mil relations, as well as peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” he added. The statement from the ministry noted that, according to Tan, “if the US side discards the basic norms of international relations, violates its commitment and acts capriciously and obstinately, China will for sure resolutely strike back.” The U.S. State Department approved arms deals with Taiwan on Thursday, totaling $1.4 billion.
Four B-1B bombers left Texas this week, arriving in Guam for Bomber Task Force training missions with allied partners, the US Air Force announced. On the way, the bombers integrated with 16 F-15 and two F-2 planes of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force for training over the Sea of Japan, the Air Force said. They also conducted a training exercise with the amphibious assault ship USS America in the western Pacific Ocean. The visit to Guam comes after the Air Force adjusted its force employment model, enabling strategic bombers like to B-1B to be forward deployed in the Indo-Pacific region from a broader array of worldwide locations.
The first AC-130W gunship to record a combat kill has been flown to its final home at Sheppard AFB, Texas whereby it will become a ground instructional trainer for ammo and armament students in the 363rd Training Squadron as well as crew chief student in the 362nd Training Squadron. The aircraft was received from the Lockheed-Martin factory Jun. 6, 1989, with the original nickname of ‘City of Hurricane.’ It recorded its first combat kill on February 9, 2011 and on December 2016, it became the first AC-130W to score a combat kill with the 105mm cannon.
Middle East & Africa
Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the test-firing of the Russian-made S-400 air defense system, adding that US objections did not concern him. The truck-mounted S-400 system was tested in Turkey’s Sinop province on the Black Sea, where it was delivered earlier this month with British-made Banshee drones for use as targets. “It is true that tests have been carried out,” Erdogan said in televised remarks from Istanbul, Bloomberg reported. “What are we supposed to do, not test these capabilities? Obviously we’re not going to ask the US“.
US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday conducted a bilateral Strategic Dialogue via video teleconference with the First Sea Lord this week. The leaders discussed the two navies’ alliance and areas for continued collaboration and cooperation around the globe. Additionally, the two leaders signed a Statement of Intent for ‘Future Integrated Warfighting’ that will set a “cooperative vision for inter-changeability between the two navies, synchronize pioneering capabilities, strengthen operating concepts, and focus our collective efforts to Deliver Combined Seapower, together”.
The Swedish Air Force (SwAF) will retain a number of its Saab JAS 39 Gripen C/D fighters beyond their current planned 2026 retirement date, solidifying an earlier announced plan to make up an anticipated shortfall in Gripen E numbers. The plan, announced by the Swedish Defense Ministry in mid-October and confirmed by manufacturer Saab on October 23, is part of a wider increase in national defense spending by more than 40% between 2021 and 2025 that was revealed by Swedish defense minister Peter Hultqvist. Of the current six Gripen C/D squadrons fielded by the SwAF, four are set to transition to the Gripen E over the coming years. As revealed in Hultqvist’s latest announcement, the two outstanding squadrons will remain operational with their existing Gripen C/D aircraft.
The US Marine Corps at Iwakuni, Japan, announced formation of a new attack squadron on Friday in anticipation of the arrival of F-35B fighter planes. Marine Aircraft Group 12 re-designated Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 242, or VMFA-242. The change is part of the Marine Corps’ ongoing transition process from F/A-18 Hornet fighter planes to the more-advanced F-35B. It will be the second overseas Marine squadron.
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Latest updates[?]: The Swedish Air Force (SwAF) will retain a number of its Saab JAS 39 Gripen C/D fighters beyond their current planned 2026 retirement date, solidifying an earlier announced plan to make up an anticipated shortfall in Gripen E numbers. The plan, announced by the Swedish Defense Ministry in mid-October and confirmed by manufacturer Saab on October 23, is part of a wider increase in national defense spending by more than 40% between 2021 and 2025 that was revealed by Swedish defense minister Peter Hultqvist. Of the current six Gripen C/D squadrons fielded by the SwAF, four are set to transition to the Gripen E over the coming years. As revealed in Hultqvist’s latest announcement, the two outstanding squadrons will remain operational with their existing Gripen C/D aircraft.
South African JAS-39D
As a neutral country with a long history of providing for its own defense against all comers, Sweden also has a long tradition of building excellent high-performance fighters with a distinctive look. From the long-serving Saab-35 Draken (“Dragon,” 1955-2005) to the Mach 2, canard-winged Saab-37 Viggen (“Thunderbolt,” 1971-2005), Swedish fighters have stressed short-field launch from dispersed/improvised air fields, world-class performance, and leading-edge design. This record of consistent project success is nothing short of amazing, especially for a country whose population over this period has ranged from 7-9 million people.
This is DID’s FOCUS Article for background, news, and contract awards related to the JAS-39 Gripen (“Griffon”), a canard-winged successor to the Viggen and one of the world’s first 4+ generation fighters. Gripen remains the only lightweight 4+ generation fighter type in service, its performance and operational economics are both world-class, and it has become one of the most recognized fighter aircraft on the planet. Unfortunately for its builders, that recognition has come from its appearance in Saab and Volvo TV commercials, rather than from hoped-for levels of military export success. With its 4+ generation competitors clustered in the $60-120+ million range vs. the Gripen’s claimed $40-60 million, is there a light at the end of the tunnel for Sweden’s lightweight fighter? In 2013 a win in Brazil started to answer that question.
Honeywell International won a $15.8 million delivery order for V-22 spare parts. The V-22 Osprey is a joint-service, medium-lift, multimission tilt-rotor aircraft developed by Boeing and Bell Helicopters. Boeing is responsible for the fuselage, landing gear, avionics, electrical and hydraulic systems, performance and flying qualities. The delivery order was a sole-source acquisition using justification 10 US Code 2304 (c)(1), as stated in Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1. This is a one-year contract with no option periods. Work will take place in Arizona. Estimated completion date is October 31, 2021.
L3 Technologies von a $23.8 million contract to perform survivable super high frequency (SSHF) upgrades to the E-4B platform. The SSHF upgrade seeks to build new capabilities that form the foundation for maintaining the E-4B as an effective nuclear command, control and communications platform. The E-4B is a militarized version of the 747-200 commercial airliner and acts as the United States’ principle airborne command and control operations center during times of war. Originally designed to carry the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff during a nuclear attack, the aircraft provides a highly survivable, command, control and communications center to direct US forces, execute emergency war orders and coordinate actions by civil authorities. Work will take place in Utah and Nebraska. Expected completion will be by April, 2022.
Middle East & Africa
Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) says it will no longer export its Rotax engines to Turkey after the company become aware that the power plants were installed on the latter’s Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). “We have recently been made aware that some Rotax engines are currently used in military UAVs, and have started a thorough investigation immediately,” Martin Langelier, BPR’s senior vice president and the company’s spokesperson, told Radio Canada International in an email statement. He added that those engines are produced in Austria exclusively for civilian purposes and are certified for civilian use only. An Azerbaijan Bayraktar TB2 was shot down by Armenia last week and components from the wreckage showed that they were made by Canadian companies.
The US State Department announced that the Trump administration intends to give two decommissioned F-16 fighters to Bulgaria. The donation was announced during Assistant Secretary for Political and Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper’s visit to the country. The transfer is subjected to approval by the US Congress. The jets will be used as training aids and general familiarization tools for Bulgarian Air Force personnel.
A US Air Force C-17 had to make an emergency landing with its nose gear up on October 18 in Afghanistan. US Forces in Afghanistan spokesman Army Col. Sonny Leggett confirmed the incident. A video, taken from a car driving by the runway, shows the C-17 landing on its rear landing gear and then easing its nose down as it slows to a stop, with sparks streaking from its fuselage. Pictures of the C-17 on the ground after the emergency landing show the markings of the 62nd and 446th airlift wings at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.
VT-ALW, the second Boeing 777 airliner modified as the VVIP aircraft for the Indian government has arrived home on October 24. The first aircraft, VT-ALV, was delivered to India on October 1.The B777 is fitted with the state of the art defense systems, including missiles and jamming mechanisms. The plane has a state of the art missile defense system called as the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) and Self-Protection Suites (SPS).
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Latest updates[?]: L3 Technologies von a $23.8 million contract to perform survivable super high frequency (SSHF) upgrades to the E-4B platform. The SSHF upgrade seeks to build new capabilities that form the foundation for maintaining the E-4B as an effective nuclear command, control and communications platform. The E-4B is a militarized version of the 747-200 commercial airliner and acts as the United States’ principle airborne command and control operations center during times of war. Originally designed to carry the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff during a nuclear attack, the aircraft provides a highly survivable, command, control and communications center to direct US forces, execute emergency war orders and coordinate actions by civil authorities. Work will take place in Utah and Nebraska. Expected completion will be by April, 2022.
In December 2005, the U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a contract as Product Support Integrator (PSI) for the USAF’s E-4 National Airborne Operations Center fleet. These 4 modified 747-200s were introduced in 1974, and serve as complete flying command posts for national and military authorities. As one might imagine, they are hardened to resist the side-effects of nuclear attack, such as electro-magnetic pulse effects.
The 2005 contract was a 5-year, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract vehicle, with one 5-year option and a $2 billion cost cap. That’s a lot of money for a small fleet, but the E-4’s plays a military and civil role that gives the program enough leverage to justify it. A long history of support from Boeing includes a number of modernizations, and those continue for various systems within the fleet. DID looks at the aircraft, the program, and ongoing awards.