Connect with us
[adrotate group="1"]

Military News

HASC chairman bolsters Blue Origin’s argument to delay launch competition

WASHINGTON — As the Air Force prepares to start the second phase of its launch services competition, it is looking increasingly unlikely that it will heed Blue Origin’s call to delay the contract award, currently slated to occur in early 2020. But the head of the House Armed Services Committee is pushing back on that…

Published

on

HASC chairman bolsters Blue Origin’s argument to delay launch competition

WASHINGTON — As the Air Force prepares to start the second phase of its launch services competition, it is looking increasingly unlikely that it will heed Blue Origin’s call to delay the contract award, currently slated to occur in early 2020.

But the head of the House Armed Services Committee is pushing back on that course of action, telling Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson in a March 28 letter that the service should take time to reassess its current plan — and hinting that there could be language in the fiscal year 2020 defense authorization bill that addresses the launch service procurement program.

“I would like to convey my concern that the Air Force is rapidly pressing ahead with its Launch Services Procurement (LSP) plan, including issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) in a way that risks undermining the Air Force’s goal of maximizing and sustaining fair and open competition, and without sufficient information to properly evaluate next generation launch systems,” said Democratic Rep. Adam Smith. Blue Origin is based in Smith’s home state of Washington.

“Given these concerns about maximizing fair and open competition, I urge you to delay the upcoming RFP until these concerns are resolved and until there is further clarity on a path forward that maximizes fair and open competition.”

The Air Force is set to release a request for proposals for LSP sometime over “the next couple weeks,” said Lt. Gen. John Thompson, head of the Space and Missile Systems Center. SMC is charged with procuring the Air Force’s space systems.

“We’re anticipating a spring award next year,” he told reporters on March 27, adding that he knows of no discussions inside the Pentagon about prolonging the award date.

Blue Origin has been quietly been making the case to Congress that moving to source selection that quickly would be a mistake — and its argument is gaining traction with key members of Congress like Smith and Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., chairwoman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, who asked Thompson about the LSP schedule during a March 27 hearing.

Sign up for our Military Space Report Get the latest news about space and strategic systems

Subscribe

Enter a valid email address (please select a country) United States United Kingdom Afghanistan Albania Algeria American Samoa Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, The Democratic Republic of The Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote D’ivoire Croatia Cuba Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guam Guatemala Guinea Guinea-bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and Mcdonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hong Kong Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Marshall Islands Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Micronesia, Federated States of Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands Netherlands Antilles New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Northern Mariana Islands Norway Oman Pakistan Palau Palestinian Territory, Occupied Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Puerto Rico Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Helena Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and The Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia and Montenegro Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and The South Sandwich Islands Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan, Province of China Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States United States Minor Outlying Islands Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela Viet Nam Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, U.S. Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe

Thanks for signing up!

×

By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Early Bird Brief.

The company argues that the Air Force should push back source selection by one to two years, an industry source told Defense News. An additional year would give competitors time to hit key milestones like critical design reviews, engine qualifications and major component testing, while two years would allow for companies to launch their rockets for the first time.

All of those events could give the Air Force more data with which to make a more informed decision, the source said.

In his letter to Wilson, HASC chairman Smith seemed to agree with Blue Origin’s argument, saying that “there seems to be a rush” to move the competition forward despite delays in getting the competition started.

The award for the first phase of the LSP program was delayed until October 2018, giving the companies that won public-private partnership money — Blue Origin, United Launch Alliance and Northrop Grumman — less than six months to work on their brand-new rocket designs.

“Understanding it is important to make the right decision on such a monumental step in our space program, I encourage the Air Force to take more time to obtain additional information before moving forward,” Smith said.

ULA’s agreement is worth $967 million to develop the Vulcan Centaur, Northrop’s stands at $792 million for its OmegA rocket, while Blue Origin’s clocks in at a $500 million to build its New Glenn system. SpaceX, which did not win funding under the Phase 1, is also widely expected to compete for the Phase 2 contract.

The battle will culminate with the Air Force’s downselect to two launch providers, who will continue to bid against each other for the next five years, Thompson said. The service has told competitors to expect to bid for five launches per year.

“We are ready to issue an RFP for the launch service procurements. All potential offerors have sufficient maturity, and we expect a full and open and robust competition,” he told lawmakers on Wednesday.

Thompson also pushed back on the idea that starting a competition now would limit the Air Force’s ability to learn about the companies’ launch systems as they move through the design process.

“Offerors will be able to update their proposals throughout the evaluation period if they have technological maturities or design review completions. We’re confident we’re on the right path for our nation’s warfighting capability, and that we’re being good stewards of the taxpayer’s dollars,” he said.

Blue Origin contends that, by cutting off the competition next year, it could be artificially capping a playing field that may be able to support more than two launch service providers.

“If the Air Force follows through on its stated plan to award exclusive five- to eight-year contracts to just two of these companies, it would dangerously limit competition and undermine the opportunity to access the full range of extraordinary technological breakthroughs taking place in an incredibly fast-moving commercial space launch market,” Barbara Comstock, a former House representative for Virginia who now works for Blue Origin, wrote in a March 18 editorial in Defense One.

The industry source added that once the Air Force downselects to two competitors, the U.S. government will be locked into doing business with the new rocket manufacturers it picks — and one or two of the companies that won a Phase 1 contract will no longer be receiving funding from the government to continue developing their offerings.

Once that happens, there’s no guarantee that firms will continue to invest internally in developing the equipment specific only to national security launches, he said.

Thompson, however, hinted that the Air Force may take steps to ensure that the competitors who lose out on Phase 2 still are incentivized to continue building their rocket designs, so that they can participate in later iterations of the program.

“When we make the award next spring, then my guess is we’ll have an opportunity to discuss with those offerors who did not receive awards how we will keep them in the game so we can compete for Phase 3, which will be our next launch service procurement in the future,” Thompson said.

Having a choice among four launch providers is a new phenomenon for the Air Force, which for more than a decade relied on ULA — a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing — to build rockets for national security launches. That changed in 2015, when SpaceX’s Falcon 9 was certified by the Air Force.

Another major disruption came about a year later, when Congress passed legislation limiting the number of Russian-made RD-180 engines that ULA could purchase for its Atlas V rocket at 18 engines.

So far, six RD-180s have been used by ULA, leaving 12 for upcoming launches. Thompson told reporters that the service doesn’t have clarity on when those RD-180s will run out, as the schedule has not been set in stone for all of those launches.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

code

Military News

US-developed hypersonic missile hit within 6 inches of target, says Army secretary

WASHINGTON — U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy reported in his speech at the Association of the U.S. Army conference that the Pentagon’s hypersonic missile hit within 6 inches of its target. “Hypersonic missiles are hitting their targets with a variance of only a mere 6 inches,” he said during his speech at the virtual opening…

Published

on

By

US-developed hypersonic missile hit within 6 inches of target, says Army secretary

WASHINGTON — U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy reported in his speech at the Association of the U.S. Army conference that the Pentagon’s hypersonic missile hit within 6 inches of its target. “Hypersonic missiles are hitting their targets with a variance of only a mere 6 inches,” he said during his speech at the virtual opening ceremony Oct. 13. The Common-Hypersonic Glide Body, or C-HGB, launched and flew at hypersonic speed to “a designated impact point,” according to a statement issued the day of the test. Hypersonic weapons are capable of flying faster than Mach 5 — much faster than the speed of sound — and can maneuver between varying altitudes and azimuths, making it harder to detect. The C-HGB — made up of the weapon’s warhead, guidance system, cabling and thermal protection shield — will serve as the base of the Pentagon’s offensive hypersonic missile. Each of the services are developing appropriate launching systems. The Army is gearing up for another flight test in the third quarter of fiscal 2021 followed by a second flight test in the first quarter of fiscal 2022, Lt. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood told Defense News in an interview ahead of the AUSA conference. Then there will be two more flight tests in the third quarter of FY22, Thurgood added. “So we’ll start the sequence now where we really accelerate our flight testing,” he said. The Army plans to deliver a hypersonic missile and launcher to a unit in the fourth quarter of FY21. Both China and Russia are actively developing and testing their respective hypersonic missile capabilities.

Continue Reading

Military News

Army engineers use 1950s breaching tech; robots might solve the problem

Soldiers tasked with breaching a minefield or similar obstacle now rely on state of the art equipment and techniques — from the 1950s. The Army aims to get those humans out of one of the most dangerous battlefield scenarios through a combination of better ways to neutralize mines or obstacles, better detection of said mines…

Published

on

By

Army engineers use 1950s breaching tech; robots might solve the problem

Soldiers tasked with breaching a minefield or similar obstacle now rely on state of the art equipment and techniques — from the 1950s. The Army aims to get those humans out of one of the most dangerous battlefield scenarios through a combination of better ways to neutralize mines or obstacles, better detection of said mines or obstacles, and robots to do the job. Early versions of this are underway in some testing scenarios but likely won’t hit deploying units until 2028. And a full-fledged solution isn’t expected until 2035, according to a panel at this year’s Association of the U.S. Army conference. Army engineers, along with technology centers for ammunition, night vision and sensors, are tackling this thorny problem. The 2028 timeline would add semi-autonomous machines to the kit, while also improving detection, neutralization, fire control and munitions for engineers encountering these complex problems. The 2035 solution would combine air and ground autonomous platforms to essentially do the job for soldiers. And this planning isn’t for a one-off, rare occurrence. Sign up for the Army Times Daily News Roundup Don’t miss the top Army stories, delivered each afternoon (please select a country)United StatesUnited KingdomAfghanistanAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of TheCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’ivoireCroatiaCubaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuineaGuinea-bissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia, Federated States ofMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNetherlands AntillesNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestinian Territory, OccupiedPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRwandaSaint HelenaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and The GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbia and MontenegroSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and The South Sandwich IslandsSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwan, Province of ChinaTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-lesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaViet NamVirgin Islands, BritishVirgin Islands, U.S.Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe Subscribe × By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Army Times Daily News Roundup. “The more you distribute a force in our multi-domain operations concepts, the more likely you are to have to do breach missions as adversaries respond to this construct,” said Maj. Gen. David Hill, deputy commanding general, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Command. Get all the news from the 2020 AUSA annual meeting. That’s because as units disperse, adversaries will want to rapidly deploy minefields or other such obstacles to isolate and channel the attackers, such as a battalion or even brigade formation on the move. Running into a minefield creates a choke point while also stalling the advance. That creates time for targeting and precision long range fires to take effect. A “Terrier” armored digger from the United Kingdom’s 22nd Engineer Regiment, 8th Engineer Brigade, maneuvers during a Robotic Complex Breach Concept demonstration with the U.S. military at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, in April 2018. (Spc. Hubert D. Delany III/Army) Earlier this year, the Army ran a platoon-size robotic wingman breach, remotely controlling a vehicle from cover at a distance. Army researchers used upgraded Bradleys, dubbed Mission Enabler Technologies-Demonstrators, or MET-Ds. Those upgrades include a remote turret for the 25mm main gun, 360-degree awareness cameras and enhanced crew stations with touchscreens Right now, human soldiers in infantry units employ a Bangalore torpedo, a handheld, tube-section charge that allows them to snake an explosive, one section at a time, through an obstacle to blow it and create a path. The automated, longer range options are essentially mechanized versions of this that have been around since the 1970s. Soldiers launch a string of explosives through the air that lands on the obstacle and is denotated quite close, as much as 100 yards, from the impediment. This just won’t do in an area of ever-present drone coverage and precision fire on all sides. Once blown through, a human engineer team marks the obstacle with signs and flags so the next unit can find its way through the treacherous territory. But in recent years, more attention has been given to the development of smart mines that can move themselves around the battlefield and reconfigure. If an adversary has this technology, it would render lane marking useless. In fact, the markings could make the situation even more dangerous by giving a false sense of security to oncoming friendly forces. The Army’s efforts to address all these battlefield problems also apply to other methods of maneuver and threats, such as asymmetric improvised explosive devices in common use for the past two decades. Breaching and route clearance also mimic wet gap crossing, Brig. Gen. Mark Quander noted. “In both cases we’ve got to try and figure out, ‘How do we sense and detect where the obstacle’s at?’” Quander said. That means better sensors and better ways of getting that data to the right place at the right time. That means better aided target recognition and machine learning, said Michael Grove, principal deputy for technology and countermine night vision and electronic sensors at the Army’s Communications-Electronics, Research and Engineering Center. Adding artificial intelligence into the mix will help find the obstacles when, or before, they’re reached, giving commanders more options on how to avoid or handle them.

Continue Reading

Military News

Soldier’s badass Van Halen tribute goes viral

There’s no better way to honor a fallen guitarist than to shred. After the death of legendary rocker Eddie Van Halen, who at 65 lost a battle with cancer on Oct. 6, Army Staff Sgt. Austin West took to the web to share a live tribute in honor of the late musician on Facebook. “I…

Published

on

By

Soldier’s badass Van Halen tribute goes viral

There’s no better way to honor a fallen guitarist than to shred. After the death of legendary rocker Eddie Van Halen, who at 65 lost a battle with cancer on Oct. 6, Army Staff Sgt. Austin West took to the web to share a live tribute in honor of the late musician on Facebook. “I wanted to show my respect but mainly my emotions for what had happened,” West told Military Times in a text conversation. Now, his video has over a million views and thousands of comments. “It felt great but not for myself but for Eddie!” West said. The fact that so many watched “showed how much love people had for him and what he’s done for music,” he added. Many viewers were touched by what they saw and offered encouragement to West to keep Van Halen alive through his own guitar playing. Sign up for the Early Bird Brief Get the military’s most comprehensive news and information every morning (please select a country)United StatesUnited KingdomAfghanistanAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of TheCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’ivoireCroatiaCubaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuineaGuinea-bissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia, Federated States ofMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNetherlands AntillesNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestinian Territory, OccupiedPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRwandaSaint HelenaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and The GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbia and MontenegroSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and The South Sandwich IslandsSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwan, Province of ChinaTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-lesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaViet NamVirgin Islands, BritishVirgin Islands, U.S.Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe Subscribe × By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Early Bird Brief. “If you pull the trigger on a gun that fast, you could win a war on your own,” wrote user Michael Mottram. “Awesome playing and cheers for your service fella.” During the three-minute tribute, West covered some of Van Halen’s best-known works, including “Eruption.” West hopes that people enjoyed the music and feel inspired. The 26-year-old has been playing for 13 years, and did a tour with the U.S. Army Soldier Show in 2015, which stopped at 74 bases. He once played a single song for an AC/DC tribute band. “We never rehearsed the song or played together, and it was done flawlessly in front of 10k people!” he noted. Although he currently serves as an Army recruiter, West will soon be joining the Army music group “As You Were” for a three-year tour, WWNY reported. “We have careers in which you can fulfill your dreams but always creates peace within our communities!” West said. “Music is the universal language.” If he could send a message to the late Van Halen, West said it would be that he’s “inspired so many like myself and to ask if he’d like to rip up some tunes together!”

Continue Reading
error: Content is protected !!