IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Oct 25, 2019

Already more than two years late when it was delivered to the U.S. Navy in 2017, the new Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier could be facing further hurdles. The Congressional Research Service says that the USN may require more funds to address technical issues which have emerged at the Newport News shipyard. Initially budgeted at $10.5 billion, the new carrier’s cost has ballooned past $13 billion.

Oct 25, 2019

Lumineye Inc., an Idaho-based company, has been asked by the U.S. Army to supply wall-penetrating radar originally developed for first responders in disaster zones. The technology could be a critical asset in urban combat where enemies hide in buildings and other infrastructure.

Oct 24, 2019

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper wants NATO to contribute more to the defense of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region. The U.S. has agreed to send three Patriot anti-missile batteries as well as fighters and other aircraft to Saudi Arabia as a counter to Iranian threats.

Oct 24, 2019

A commentary published in a Washington newspaper speculates about what would have happened if last month’s drone attacks on Saudi petroleum filters had targeted nuclear reactors. Calling them “radioactive sitting ducks”, the authors point out that Saudi Arabia plans to build several nuclear power plants, following the example of the neighbouring United Arab Emirates as well as Egypt and Turkey.

Oct 24, 2019

An Israeli system designed to protects tanks from increasingly-sophisticated anti-armour missiles will be installed on U.S. Army tanks for testing during next year’s Defender Europe exercises. The first units of the Trophy Active Protection System developed by Haifa-based Rafael Advanced Defense Systems were delivered earlier this month.

Oct 24, 2019

The U.S. Air National Guard plans a new tuition assistance pilot program in 12 states and two territories. To begin next October and run for an initial three years, the payments of up to $4,500 a year are described as a bid to enable current personnel to pursue off-duty educational opportunities which could be an added inducement to prospective recruits.

Oct 24, 2019

The key element of a British air-breathing hypersonic engine has been successfully tested at a site in Colorado. Reaction Engines, which is collaborating on the project with BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Boeing’s HorizonX division, says the precooler heat exchanger had been run at the equivalent of Mach 5.

Oct 24, 2019

MGen Jeannie Leavitt, head of U.S. Air Force recruitment, is on a mission to improve diversity and give the ranks greater flexibility. Leavitt, who was the first female USAF fighter pilot and first female wing commander, says having all recruitment services under one roof gives uniformed and civilian members a chance to tailor their services to suit their situations.

Oct 24, 2019

The Rand Corp., a respected non-profit global policy think tank, says President Donald chose the worst option for northeastern Syria by suddenly announcing a U.S. troop withdrawal. The other options, it says, were remaining indefinitely or preparing for an orderly pullout. It says Trump “defaulted to the worst of these alternatives” and created an opening for Russia, Syria and Iran to fill the resulting power vacuum.

Oct 24, 2019

In a bid to break a parliamentary deadlock over his promise to take Britain out of the European Union, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pinning his hopes and possibly his own political future on the outcome of a general election. He plans to ask the House of Commons to vote Oct. 28 on having an election Dec. 12.

Oct 24, 2019

A draft Advancing Cybersecurity Diagnostics & Mitigation Act, which would give state and local governments access to a federal cybersecurity suite, has been endorsed by the U.S. House Homeland security committee. The core Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program launched by the Department of Homeland Security six years ago offers a suite of tools and services which feeds data back to a central dashboard offering a bird’s-eye view of the cyber landscape.

Oct 23, 2019

A draft bill which would have facilitated the extradition to China of Hong Kong residents charged with crimes has been withdrawn after months of often violent public protests. Secretary for Security John Lee made the announcement but refused to answer questions in the former British colony’s legislature.

Oct 23, 2019

The Turkish defence ministry has launched its first indigenous submarine program, saying domestic contractors will design and develop the vessels for construction at the Gölcük naval shipyards for first delivery by 2040. They evidently will have air-independent propulsion systems.

Oct 23, 2019

The U.S. Senate has approved the accession of North Macedonia to NATO in a 91-2 vote, putting it a step closer to becoming the alliance’s 30th member. The vote is being seen as a message to the European Union, which had opted not to begin membership talks with the tiny Balkan state earlier this week. 

Oct 23, 2019

Iraqi defence minister Najah al-Shammari has given the U.S. four weeks to withdraw its troops from his country after they transited from northeastern Syria to Iraq. His remarks followed a meeting in Baghdad with U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

Oct 23, 2019

U.S. Department of Defense spending on classified projects has continued to rise, accounting for some $756 billion or nearly 11 per cent of its 2019 budget request of $718 billion. Critics say excessive hidden spending hinders congressional oversight, leads to waste and undermines public trust.

Oct 23, 2019

As NATO tries to deal with fallout from Turkey’s military offensive in northeastern Syria, an Egyptian academic in Britain is suggesting that the crisis is problematic for the alliance. Marwa Wasfy, a doctoral candidate and assistant lecturer at the University of Kent, points out that ever since Turkey joined in 1952, the relationship has never been an easy one. She also says in a published commentary that the question for NATO now is whether the political and strategic costs of keeping Turkey as a member is worthwhile.

Oct 23, 2019

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has allayed speculation for now about his parliamentary minority forming a formal or informal coalition government. He also has promised a gender-balanced cabinet which will be be sworn in Nov. 20.

Oct 22, 2019

Cameron Ortis, a senior RCMP official charged with violating the Security of Information Act and breach of trust for allegedly disclosing secrets to an unknown recipient and planning to reveal additional classified information to an unspecified foreign entity, has been granted bail. The terms of his release include having to live with his parents, reporting to RCMP weekly, and being prohibited from using any Internet-connected devices.

Oct 22, 2019

Only a few hours before a five-day ceasefire in northeastern Syria was due to expire, Russia and Turkey have agreed to police a buffer zone they say will end bloodshed along Syria’s border. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin – struck during their meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi – also would see Kurdish militia withdraw at least 30 kilometres away from the Turkish border, as well as from the towns of Tel Rifaat and Manbi.

Oct 22, 2019

A U.S. Marine Corps squadron of Lockheed Martin F-35Bs will deploy aboard the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier on its maiden voyage in 2021. RN Fleet commander VAdm Jerry Kyd says the concept moves beyond “operability” to “proper integration” of operational assets. 

Oct 22, 2019

The U.S. Air Force has confirmed that Boeing’s risk-reduction contract for a new generation of ballistic missiles will receive no additional funding. A company spokesman says this is despite the fact that Boeing had not only delivered “substantial value” but also met all contract milestones. 

Oct 22, 2019

In a day-after analysis of the Oct. 21 general election, the Angus Reid Institute says that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s minority win was due mainly to the Liberal Party’s campaign in Ontario.

Oct 22, 2019

The military buildup in Australia’s Northern Territory is expected to continue in response to growing Chinese capabilities. To support U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps activities in the region, Australia and the U.S. will spend some $2 billion on an array of aircraft support facilities, accommodations, training areas and ranges.

Oct 22, 2019

Senior European legislators have joined their U.S. counterparts in expressing “deep regret” over President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria and the subsequent Turkish offensive. In a rare joint statement, they say they “consider the abandonment of the Syrian Kurds to be wrong” and “jointly condemn in the strongest terms the Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria.”

Oct 22, 2019

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's long-standing Prime Minister, says he cannot form a government in the aftermath of September’s general election. The vote ended in a deadlock with the Blue & White Party whose leader, Benny Gantz, will try to put together a government. Netanyahu says Gantz repeatedly rebuffed his proposals for a coalition between their parties.

Oct 22, 2019

The U.S. government’s procurement portal, Federal Business Opportunities, is being decommissioned. A “data freeze” takes effect Nov. 8 and a new website is scheduled to be operational Nov. 12.

Oct 22, 2019

With 338 seats in the House of Commons at stake in the Oct. 21 general election, the incumbent Liberals under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saw their majority of 177 seats in the last Parliament reduced to a minority 157. The still-unofficial results show the Conservatives under Andrew Scheer increasing their representation to 121 seats from 95. The Bloc Quebecois’ representation increased to 32 seats from 10 with new leader Yves-Francois Blanchet; the New Democratic Party under Jagmeet Singh was reduced to 24 from 39 due to a Bloc resurgence; and the Greens under Elizabeth May increased to three seats from two. The fledgling People’s Party of Canada won no seats, including that of leader Maxime Bernier. One independent candidate was elected: former Liberal cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould. There were nine independent MPs in the last Parliament and five seats were vacant at dissolution.

Oct 21, 2019

The Department of Defense says it will not approve Lockheed Martin’s full-rate production of the F-35 this year and that it might not do so until early 2021. The problem evidently is that there are development problems with a Joint Simulation Environment designed to evaluation the aircraft in a range of high-threat scenarios.

Oct 21, 2019

The first a dozen additional Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers has been transferred to Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington state and once all have arrived, the base will have 59 as it prepares to reactivate the 97th Air Refueling Squadron. The largest tanker fleet in the world, it is shared with the Washington Air National Guard 141st Air Refueling Wing.

Oct 21, 2019

Ellen Lord, the Department of Defense’s undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, is looking into the U.S. Army’s $45 billion effort to replace its Bradley Fighting Vehicle fleet after disqualifications of other prospective suppliers has left only one bidder. Also under scrutiny is an $85-billion ballistic missile program which has been left with only one bidder. The Government Accountability Office reported in May that the DoD had not competed two-thirds of major contracts.

Oct 21, 2019

Simplifying and consolidating cybersecurity infrastructure is one of the most significant challenges facing the sector, according to Craig Harber, chief technology officer of the Bethesda-based Fidelis Cybersecurity consultancy. The former Cyber Command and National Security Agency technical officer says the need is more urgent than ever because some cybersecurity investments translate directly to poor security.

Oct 21, 2019

Even as U.S. troops withdrew from northeastern Syria as Turkey ramped up its attack on Kurdish militia, the U.S. has continued to use unmanned aerial systems to monitor the situation, including prisons holding thousands of Daesh prisoners and their families. Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has told his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Ekar, that Turkey must adhere to the terms of the 120-hour cessation of hostilities announced last week.

Oct 21, 2019

The U.S. Army’s first “organic brigade electronic attack asset”, the Multi-Functional Electronic Warfare Air Large pod supplied by Lockheed Martin and mounted on a General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle, has flown in its first Army exercise. Testing continues as the new platform is not scheduled to enter service for a couple of years.

Oct 21, 2019

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper says U.S. troops leaving Syria are being redeployed to western Iraq to continue operations against Daesh. This is despite President Donald Trump’s insistence that he is bring soldiers home from “endless wars” in the region.

Oct 21, 2019

The Japanese government is preparing to send its own assets to ensure safe transport of oil through Middle East chokepoints, but not as part of a U.S.-led coalition. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says that while his country, which has maintained relations with Iran, will cooperate with the U.S., has “decided to pursue our own measures separately.”

Oct 21, 2019

After a summit in Toulouse, French and German officials are confident about their countries' collaboration on developing new generations of fighter aircraft and main battle tanks. They are addressing reports that both projects are at risk of failure due to political and industry-related differences.

Oct 21, 2019

Project Quarterback is a U.S. Army effort to accelerate tank warfare by using artificial intelligence to synchronize battlefield data from all other assets such as unmanned aerial systems, radar, satellites and even troopers’ goggles. Kevin McEnery, deputy director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team, says synchronizing a brigade or division targeting cycle can take 96 hours. He says that could be reduced to 96 seconds with AI.

Oct 19, 2019

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is threatening to “crush” Kurdish militia if they do not withdraw from a planned safe zone in northern Syria during what was supposed to be a 12-hour cessation of hostilities and which both sides are accusing the other of violating. “We will start where we left off and continue to crush the terrorists' heads,” he says, adding that if upcoming talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin don’t yield a solution, Turkey would “implement its own plans.”

Oct 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Defense Department is close to finalizing a new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification framework for assessing suppliers’ protection of sensitive data. After extensive feedback since the first draft was released six weeks ago, Ellen Lord, undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, says the next iteration should be published in the first week of November, setting the stage for a final version in January after further comment.

Oct 18, 2019

President Donald Trump has called his former Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, “the world s most over-rated general.” Once one of his most highly-praised cabinet members, the former Marine Corps general resigned last December.

Oct 18, 2019

Retired USMC Gen James Mattis is using humour to respond to derisive criticism by President Donald Trump. The former Secretary of Defense says he’s “not just an overrated general” but “the world’s most overrated.” He says he was honoured to be described thusly by Trump because the president once called actor Meryl Streep overrated. “I guess I’m the Meryl Streep of generals, and frankly that sounds pretty good.”

Oct 18, 2019

Mick Mulvaney, acting chief of staff to President Donald Trump, has acknowledged that Trump used promised military aid to press Ukraine to investigate a U.S. domestic political matter involving the Democratic Party. The administration had denied for weeks that it had demanded the quid pro quo but Mulvaney has admitted the ploy to reporters.

Oct 18, 2019

As it contemplates how to manage the digital identities of all users of the U.S. military's IT infrastructure, the Defense Information Systems Agency is reaching out to the private sector. Its proposed Enterprise Identity Service would store usernames and passwords for employees, vendors and other authorized users in a single record, facilitating broad oversight of digital credentials and online.

Oct 18, 2019

The U.S. Army has refined its search for new rifles to three prospective suppliers of prototypes which would use a common 6.8mm round for not only the Army but also the Marine Corps and Special Operations Forces. The latest list, which could be refined further, includes AAI Corporation Textron Systems, General Dynamics-OTS and Sig Sauer.

Oct 18, 2019

A replacement for the U.S. Patriot missile defence system’s radar is to be supplied by Raytheon, which designed and supplied the original hardware. The new installation, budgeted at $384 million, will provide 360-degree threat detection capability.

Oct 18, 2019

Three proposals to supply some 210 infantry fighting vehicles have been received by the Czech Republic’s defence ministry. The competitors for the $2.2 billion contract are General Dynamics European Land Systems’ Ascod, BAE Systems’ CV90, and Rheinmetall’s Lynx. A fourth bidder, a joint venture between Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall, opted not to compete, saying it would require a costly rebuild of its Puma platform.

Oct 18, 2019

After failing to secure a sale to the Philippines, Korea Aerospace Industries is seeking other markets for a heavily-armed version of its twin-engine KUH-1 Surion utility helicopter, developed in collaboration with Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters). A KAI spokesman says the KUH-1E has been in development for four years.

Oct 18, 2019

Improvements in artificial intelligence technologies means that government procurement agencies need to renew how they approach industry, according to the World Economic Forum. It says in a discussion paper that traditional processes might not be suitable due to new and unique risks to manage and the possibility of unintended consequences.

Oct 18, 2019

A day after Turkey agreed to suspend its incursion into neighbouring Syria, the noise of artillery and small arms could still be heard Oct. 18 around the northeast Syrian town of Ras al-Ayn ​​​. A spokesperson for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said the militia would not withdraw until the firing stopped.

Oct 18, 2019

The U.S. and Turkey have markedly different interpretations of the 120-hour northern northern Syria “ceasefire” announced Oct. 17. Turkey prefers “pause”, pending talks between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russia counterpart, Vladimir Putin, who supports Syrian President Bashir al-Assad. The deal struck by Erdogan and U.S. Vice-President Mike Pense requires Kurdish militias to withdraw from a "safe zone," but that zone hasn't been properly defined.

Oct 17, 2019

Turkey has agreed to what could become a permanent ceasefire in northeastern Syria after an initial 120-hour ceasefire has facilitated the withdrawal of Kurdish-led militia from the region. The decision has been confirmed by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence hours after an Oct. 17 meeting in Ankara with President Tayyip Erdogan. In return, the U.S. administration agreed to remove sanctions on Turkey.

Oct 17, 2019

Bucking the US tradition of non-intervention in Canadian elections, former US President Obama stepped into the spotlight to sway voters by saying  "I hope our neighbors to the north support [Justin Trudeau] for another term." This is not Obama's first public endorsement of a foreign leader during elections.

Oct 17, 2019

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker confirms that Britain and the European Union have agreed a new Brexit deal. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We’ve got a great new deal that takes back control.”

Oct 17, 2019

Two years after the U.S. Army said that a new combat vehicle was among its top priorities, the floor at this week’s Association of the United States Army’s annual conference and trade show was crowded with robotic technologies. Prospective domestic suppliers have been joined by competitors from Germany and South Korea. Meanwhile, commanders are concerned about linking up all the new technologies available to them.

Oct 17, 2019

Rethinking a key element of its training, the British Army is enlisting the private sector to deliver a “surrogate for warfare” by the time the syllabus is overhauled over the next few years. The Ministry of Defence plans to issue Requests for information Nov. 1, formally launching an industry competition to secure the first phase of the project. “Collective training will become a surrogate for warfare; driving adaptation, generating combat ethos, empowering commanders, and delivering tactical innovation,” the Army says.

Oct 17, 2019

U.S. Cyber Command is working with the Department of Energy and industry on a more coherent approach to cyberattacks. A philosophy of “persistent engagement” is predicated on the notion of constant contact with potential enemies in cyberspace and officials have stressed this includes enabling other partners. It also includes using its unique authorities to operate outside U.S. networks as a way to provide warning for domestic agencies about potential threats.

Oct 17, 2019

The U.S. Army is to be provided with open-source capabilities by BAE Systems through a $437-million task order. Working with publicly-available sources but through a secure cloud environment, the company is to provide training, policy and governance recommendations, assessments and implementation of emerging capabilities.

Oct 17, 2019

U.S. companies sold more than $55 billion in weapons to foreign buyers in the 2019 fiscal year and LGen Charles Hooper, head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, is looking to increase sales. He says that while they have long been a foreign policy instrument, government-sanctioned sales now are “a tool of first resort.” One of his levers is a continued push for furtgher reductions in various surcharges and other fees.

Oct 17, 2019

There evidently are problems with integration of Javelin anti-tank missiles onto the U.S. Army’s Stryker combat vehicle, according to program manager Col. Bill Venable who has confirmed that the project is being delayed by more than a year. An earlier iteration required the vehicle operator to dismount and fire the missile but the Army, in trying to mount the system alongside a 30mm cannon, has had difficulties linking it to the Strykers’ remote weapons station.

Oct 17, 2019

The House of Representatives has voted 354-60 for a resolution condemning the withdrawal of troops from northern and facilitating Turkey’s attack on the local Kurdish population. The vote saw 129 members of the president’s Republican Party join ranks with 225 members of the Democrat majority in the House. The resolution also calls on the U.S. to continue humanitarian support for Kurdish communities while working to ensure that Turkey acts with restraint.

Oct 15, 2019

Ethical hackers apparently have found critical vulnerabilities in Department of Defense systems through a “hack the proxy” program which probed the DoD’s virtual private networks. Of the 312 vulnerabilities identified, nine were considered “high severity.” An Army secure file-sharing site was taken offline last year after a similar exercise disclosed a critical weakness.

Oct 15, 2019

Defender Europe 2020, a U.S.-led exercise involving at least a dozen NATO allies, is expected to be the largest military exercise in Europe in the last 25 years. Drills involving 37,000 personnel are to be held in 10 counties, mainly in Germany and Poland. U.S. forces and equipment are expected to begin arriving in February to prepare for the April-May exercise.

Oct 15, 2019

Approximately 500 U.S. Army troops are being deployed to Lithuania for winter training staring in the Pabradė region of eastern Lithuania. The exercise includes 30 tanks and 95 other vehicles.

Oct 15, 2019

Capt. Kevin Domon-Grenier, Snowbird 5 in the RCAF’s CT-114 Tutor demonstration team, ejected safely from his Tutor jet just before an Oct. 13 airshow in Atlanta, Ga. There were no injuries on the ground when the aircraft crashed in a sparsely-populated area. The rest of the show was cancelled.

Oct 15, 2019

A merger of Raytheon Co. and United Technologies Corp. has been approved by shareholders in separate meetings. The transaction, resulting in Raytheon Technologies Corp., is expected to close early next year once UTC has divested non-aerospace subsidiaries and the deal has regulatory approval.

Oct 15, 2019

If test shots of precision strike missiles being developed by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin later this year are successful, they could set the stage for the U.S. Army to push its potential range parameters to at least 550km. The tests are scheduled for November and December at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Oct 15, 2019

A strategic cannon with a potential range of nearly 2,000km is being considered by the U.S. Army. It is collaborating with the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico and a U.S. Navy support centre in Virginia on development of a prototype by 2030.

Oct 15, 2019

U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy says modernization programs are threatened by budget haggling in Congress. “Our adversaries are investing in tomorrow today, unconstrained by a continuing resolution and singularly focused on shifting the current balance of power," he says, lamenting a congressional measure which could effectively freeze spending.

Oct 15, 2019

Nearly 60,000 Kurds trained by the U.S. and allies over the last few years are under sustained assault by Turkish forces in northern Syria. A counterterrorism campaign to knock out Daesh sleeper cells is at risk of collapsing as Turkish aerial bombardments destroyed a camp tasked with taking out insurgents and their financial backers. President Donald Trump, who effectively paved the way for the Turkish invasion, said Oct. 14 that the Kurds may intentionally be releasing Daesh prisoners to draw the U.S. back in to the conflict.

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