Australia is trying to determine who is behind what has been called an extensive hack of sensitive defence information.
About 30GB of data was compromised in the hack on a government contractor, the BBC and other news outlets have reported. That information included commercially sensitive data on Australia’s F-35 program. Data on P-8 Poseidon aircraft and C-130 transport aircraft was also compromised. Naval data was also included in the hack.
“It could be one of a number of different actors,” Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne told the Australian Broadcasting Corp “It could be a state actor, (or) a non-state actor. It could be someone who was working for another company.”
He said the information was not classified.
Australia’s special advisor on cyber security, Alastair MacGibbon, said there are a number of ways the breach could have taken place. “Unfortunately, there are a range of ways that the attacker could have got in, including default passwords on certain key parts of the IT infrastructure of the target company,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
The target of the hack was an aerospace firm with about 50 employees.
United Technologies is buying avionics and aircraft parts manufacturer Rockwell Collins in a deal considered one of the largest in aerospace history.
The total sale will cost United Technologies $30 billion U.S. The deal was announced Monday.
What’s the reason behind the purchase?
The transaction creates an aircraft-parts giant better positioned to withstand the squeeze from plane makers Boeing and Airbus for pricing discounts and higher output, Bloomberg News reports. It pointed out that the “resulting company will boast a broad suite of products for commercial aircraft, from Rockwell Collins’s touchscreen cockpit displays to jet engines made by the Pratt & Whitney division of United Technologies.”
Pratt & Whitney makes the engine for the F-35, among other aircraft.
“This acquisition adds tremendous capabilities to our aerospace businesses and strengthens our complementary offerings of technologically advanced aerospace systems,” UTC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Greg Hayes said in a statement. “Together, Rockwell Collins and UTC Aerospace Systems will enhance customer value in a rapidly evolving aerospace industry by making aircraft more intelligent and more connected.”
Collins Aerospace Systems will be the name of the new unit, according to United Technologies.
Comments by U.S. President Donald Trump about Finland’s fighter jet replacement program has lawmakers in that country baffled. At a joint press conference Monday with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, Trump announced that Finland had agreed to buy “a large number” of Super Hornets from Boeing.
One problem. Finland’s fighter replacement competition is still years away from selecting a winning aircraft. Finland has received responses to its request for information about fighter jets from a number of firms, which not surprisingly, were/are interested in any similar Canadian program.
Boeing provided information on its Super Hornet, Dassault Aviation gave details on the Rafale and the Eurofighter organization provided information on the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Other responses to the request came from Lockheed Martin, with its F-35, and Saab with the Gripen E. Finland’s Ministry of Defence denied Trump’s claims. It noted that the program is years away from a decision (2021 is when Finland is expected to select a winner).
“President Trump’s remarks are baffling,” Matti Vanhanen, chairman of the Finnish national parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, told Defense News.
“There are still years to run in the fighter replacement competition before a final decision is reached. If the leadership of the United States harbors the idea that the matter is a done deal, then this is not good.”
Dutch air force officers are updating their Canadian counterparts about their progress on the acquisition of F-35 fighter jets as the aircraft’s manufacturer tries to convince the Liberal government of the plane’s suitability as an interim replacement for aging CF-18s.
Lt.-Gen. Dennis Luyt, the head of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, said his organization has been providing updates to Canada on its F-35 purchase and aircrew training. “They are very interested in our experiences,” Luyt said in a recent interview.
“We’re on track,” he added. “It’s looking very promising.”
The Netherlands is purchasing the F-35A as the replacement for its F-16 fighter jets. The Dutch parliament approved an initial order of eight aircraft in March 2015.
The first aircraft are to be delivered in 2019 and Dutch pilots and maintenance crews are currently undergoing training in the U.S. The Netherlands will purchase up to 37 F-35s.
A Dutch air force F-35 was recently on display at the international air show in Abbotsford, B.C.
Luyt said if Canada does eventually buy the F-35, that acquisition would further strengthen the user group of nations operating the plane. Having allied air forces capable of being interoperable with each other is important, he added. “If we operate the same platform it’s obviously a big thing,” Luyt explained.
In a June 1 letter, Lockheed Martin offered the Liberal government the F-35 as an “interim” fighter aircraft.
Last year, the Liberals announced a proposal to buy 18 interim fighter jets from Boeing to deal with a capability gap facing the Royal Canadian Air Force. But that multibillion dollar plan to acquire Super Hornet jets has been thrown into limbo after Boeing filed a trade complaint in the U.S. against Bombardier of Quebec. The Liberal government broke off discussions with Boeing on the Super Hornet deal.
Lockheed Martin has seen opportunity in the rift and has told the Liberals it can deliver F-35s on a similar schedule that was being considered for the Boeing planes. Lockheed Martin president Marillyn Hewson said in the June 1 letter to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and then procurement minister Judy Foote, that Canada could acquire the F-35 at a cost of between $80 million U.S. and $85 million U.S. per aircraft.
Sajjan’s office stated that no decisions have been made about the interim fighter jet and that various options are being looked at.
Luyt said the Netherlands conducted an extensive process to purchase a new fighter jet. “The biggest thing we needed (was) to make a technology leap to a 5th Generation aircraft” he pointed out.
Part of the consideration in selecting the F-35 was interoperability with U.S. forces. If the Dutch air force goes into combat it will likely be with the U.S. “That (interoperability) is an important consideration but not the only one,” Luyt explained.
Every F-35 contains components manufactured by Dutch companies, Lockheed Martin has noted. On Aug. 16, the U.S. Department of Defense announced the overseas warehouse and distribution centre for parts for F-35s in Europe would be located in the Netherlands.
Luyt said one of the other main attractions of the F-35 is that it will be constantly upgraded. “It will be state of the art for decades,” he added.
Aug. 22 (UPI) — Lockheed Martin Aeronautics is receiving a $427.1 million order against an existing contract for ancillary and pilot flight equipment for F-35 Lightning II production, the Department of Defense announced on Monday.
The equipment will go toward low-rate Lot 11 F-35 construction for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and foreign military participants in the program. The work will primarily take place in Inglewood, Calif., and White Plains, N.Y., with an expected completion date of December 2020.
The F-35 Lightning II 5th generation stealth fighter is slated to replace much of the U.S. fighter fleet and many foreign air forces. The U.S. is by far the largest customer, with an expected procurement of well over 2000 aircraft for the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. Foreign customers are also expected to purchase hundreds of the aircraft, including key members of NATO.
The F-35 is the most expensive weapons program in U.S. history and has been marked by delays, cost overruns, and development problems. The Block 3F software package required to make it fully operational is still pending fixes and final verification, though Lockheed says the software issues will be resolved by the end of 2017.
Last year, the Liberals announced a proposal to buy 18 interim fighter jets from Boeing to deal with a capability gap facing the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Lockheed Martin has offered the Liberal government the F-35 as an “interim” fighter aircraft, a move sure to turn up the heat on rival U.S. aerospace firm Boeing still embroiled in a trade dispute with Canada.
Last year, the Liberals announced a proposal to buy 18 interim fighter jets from Boeing to deal with a capability gap facing the Royal Canadian Air Force. But that multibillion dollar plan to acquire Super Hornet jets has been thrown into limbo after Boeing filed a trade complaint in the U.S. against Bombardier of Quebec.
The Liberal government broke off discussions with Boeing on the Super Hornet deal.
But Lockheed Martin has seen opportunity in the rift between Canada and Boeing and has officially offered its F-35 as an interim aircraft to supplement the RCAF’s aging CF-18 jets. Lockheed has long contended the F-35 is more cost effective and more advanced than the Super Hornet.
Asked about the Lockheed Martin offer, Matthew Luloff, a spokesman with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office, responded that the federal government continues “to explore many options to provide an interim solution to supplement the CF-18s until the permanent replacement is fully operational.”
“We have not yet made a decision,” he added in an email. “Discussions must demonstrate that the interim fleet is appropriately capable and can be obtained at a cost, schedule, and economic value that are acceptable to Canadians.”
Lockheed Martin has noted that it continues to provide the Canadian government with updated information on the maturity of the F-35 program and the operational status of the jet.
The F-35 will be showcased Aug. 11-13 in Canada at the airshow at Abbotsford, B.C. The U.S. Air Force will be flying the plane at the show and F-35s from the Netherlands will be making their first appearance in Canada.
The Boeing Super Hornet will also appear at the air show. Boeing declined to comment about Lockheed Martin’s offer to the Canadian government on providing F-35s as interim aircraft.
Boeing was well on its way to wrap up the deal to provide Canada with the 18 Super Hornets. That was expected to be completed by the end of the year and cost between $5 billion and $7 billion.
But in April, Boeing complained to the U.S. government that Quebec-based Bombardier was receiving subsidies, which in turn allowed it to sell its C-Series civilian passenger aircraft at below-market prices. Boeing convinced the U.S. Commerce Department and International Trade Commission to launch an investigation into Bombardier.
That prompted the Liberals to start backing away from a Super Hornet deal with Boeing, although federal officials acknowledged they were still talking with the U.S. government over acquiring fighter aircraft. “It is not the behaviour of a trusted partner,” Sajjan said of Boeing in an unprecedented speech in late May to defence industry executives.
The interim jets would be used to help bridge the gap until a new replacement fleet for Canada’s CF-18 fleet can be purchased. The Liberals have said they will buy 88 new jets to replace the CF-18s.
The previous Conservative government had committed Canada to buying the F-35 but backed off that promise as the aircraft became controversial because of increased costs and technical issues.
Canada, however, still remains a partner in the F-35 program and Canadian firms have contributed a large amount of equipment and parts to the stealth fighter.
But buying F-35 jets for the interim fighter aircraft program would potentially be embarrassing for the Liberals. During the election campaign, Justin Trudeau vowed his government would never buy the F-35. As prime minister, Trudeau later claimed the F-35 “does not work.”
Boeing has declined a Canadian government request to drop its complaint against Bombardier. Boeing has said it considers the issue a commercial matter.
But Boeing’s actions run a risk for the aerospace company that wants to continue to do more defence business in Canada, analysts say.
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — The U.S. Air Force has yet to stand up a squadron of F-35s in Europe, but it’s already working on how to integrate the fifth-generation combat jet with some of its closest allies in the region.
U.S. Air Forces in Europe this week brought together about 50 senior military fliers and planners from eight nations, all with a stake in the newest and most expensive fighter aircraft on the block.
The two-day forum on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter served to promote cooperation among the U.S. and its European counterparts that are already flying the plane or plan to do so. The goal was to share lessons learned and build common approaches that will support integrated flying operations in Europe in the future.
“We have to find a way to nest it all together,” said Gen. Tod Wolters, USAFE and Air Forces Africa commander.
“At the end of the day, if we can say this is something that we’re fusing into the system … we’re in a great place,” he told the group, which included fighter pilots, base commanders and chiefs of staff. The Army, NATO and the Marine Corps also sent representatives, as did Lockheed Martin, the F-35 Lightning II manufacturer.
The forum, which concluded late Thursday, was the first of its kind in Europe, officials said. It followed a similar conference held in March in the Pacific, where Japan, South Korea and Australia have all purchased the F-35.
Joining the U.S. at the European forum were Israel, Italy, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Turkey. Those nations have all purchased the aircraft. Israel and Italy are the first to be flying the plane in the region.
“We like to remind (people that) Italy was the first nation to fly the airplane overseas, across the Atlantic, so we are very proud of that,” said Maj. Gen. Aurelio Colagrande, chief of staff of Italy’s air command, noting that his country’s air force currently has three F-35s in its inventory.
The aircraft has had problems, he said, but that’s to be expected from a “brand-new machine.”
Despite those challenges, “we are very confident that the F-35 is a very capable airplane and all the issues that we are having right now will be solved in the future,” he said.
In the States, too, the F-35 program has been beset by technical and other problems. Most recently, F-35A flight operations at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., were temporarily paused last month when some pilots experienced symptoms similar to hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation.
The U.S. is expected to spend nearly $400 billion to buy about 2,443 aircraft, making it the Pentagon’s most expensive procurement program in history. President Donald Trump, Sen. John McCain and other prominent critics of the program have assailed its budget overruns.
But Lockheed Martin officials said Thursday the company is continuing to drive down costs because of manufacturing efficiencies gained through increased production rates. They expect to drop the cost for one aircraft to $85 million in 2019, about the same price tag as a fourth-generation fighter, said Bob Dulaney, a Lockhead Martin aeronautics representative.
The cost for the Air Force version of the plane fell below $100 million for the first time earlier this year, according to a February report in The New York Times.
The U.S. Air Force in Europe is still on track to stand up its first squadron overseas at Royal Air Force Lakenheath in 2020, said Col. Todd Canterbury, director of Headquarters Air Force F-35 Integration Office.
“Facilities are under construction as we speak,” he said, “as well as other infrastructure that comes with adding two more squadrons.”
It’s been a long time since the U.S. and some of its European allies and partners gained a new aircraft system around the same time, said Maj. Gen Timothy Fay, USAFE-AFAFRICA vice commander.
“Bringing the F-35 into this theater will really change the way we do business here in a way that we probably haven’t seen for decades,” Fay said.
France and Germany will study a joint program to build a next generation fighter jet. The aircraft would succeed the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon.
The two nations will draw up a roadmap in mid-2018 to develop the next generation fighter.
France operates the Rafale while Germany flies the Eurofighter.
The development sends a message to Britain which has opted to leave the European Union, say defence analysts. The Telegraph newspaper in the UK has noted that some analysts have questioned the exclusion of the UK in the potential new program, saying it is a sign of Britain’s waning influence as Europe’s leading military power in the wake of the vote for Brexit.
Still, BAE in the United Kingdom hopes it – and the UK – will be involved in some way.
“I can’t say what it will be, and I can’t say when (but) one way or another, the U.K. and BAE will have an involvement,” Chris Boardman, managing director of BAE’s military air and information activities, told reporters in response to the news.
Britain is purchasing the F-35 but continues to operate and upgrade its Typhoons.
Defence trade deliverables grew substantially in 2016. Markets expanded by $4.3 billion to hit $62.5 billion, as imports rose despite global defence spending falling between 2010 and 2013. However the total export backlog – orders placed but yet to be delivered – has fallen by around five percent and is on track to decline rather than stabilize over the coming three years.
“For the first time we are forecasting a decline in our expectations for the global defence export market. This is happening for a number of reasons including falling energy prices, increasing domestic production and the world simply pausing for breath after such a long run of increases,” said Ben Moores, senior analyst, Jane’s by IHS Markit.
“Traditionally deliveries have slipped to the right so it could well be that the fall in the total market comes in 2018. This would be the first fall since our records began in 2009,” Moores said.
Key findings from the Global Defence Trade Report:
Middle East countries imported $21 billion in defence equipment in 2016 – one third of the entire global market – and will import at least $22 billion annually for the next four years.
Saudi Arabia increased its lead as top global importer, now importing nearly three times as much as its closest rival, India. This dominance is set to continue for at least five years with further large aviation, vehicle and naval orders.
The US remained the highest exporter in 2016, supplying $23.3 billion worth of military goods.
Military imports throughout Western Europe rose from $7.9 billion in 2013 to $8.9 billion in 2016. This climb takes western European imports back to 2010 levels.
Large order backlogs in Asia, including Japan ($14 billion), South Korea ($12 billion) and Taiwan ($13 billion).
Significant rise in defence export opportunities to Vietnam, Indonesia, Taiwan, Iraq and Egypt.
Middle East’s spending spree continues
The largest Middle Eastern defence importers – Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Iraq – remained among the top importers in the world for 2016, importing a total of $15.2 billion in defence systems. This figure is up from $9.9 billion in 2014, and represents more than all of Western Europe’s imports combined.
“Saudi Arabia’s 2016 imports grew from $4.9 billion to $8.3 billion – an increase that is three times more than the entire Sub-Saharan African market,” Moores said. “As the Middle East has assets against which it can borrow until oil prices recover, we expect to see sustained growth in defence spending for the next few years.”
Based on the existing order backlog, Jane’s forecasts that this region will continue to import an annual average of $22 billion in equipment over the next four years, before dropping off sharply after 2020.
US dominates export market
The US remained the highest exporter in 2016, increasing its relative market share at the expense of Russia to supply $23.3 billion worth of goods and equipment in 2016, compared with $21.5 billion in 2014. Its primary export strength is in its aerospace products; set to continue with strong orders in place for its F-35 program.
For the third year in a row, Saudi Arabia was the primary recipient of American military equipment in 2016. Although the US’s 10-year backlog remains strong, political uncertainty in countries such as Saudi, UAE and Qatar means there is a possibility that some of these projects may be cancelled.
Western Europe falls short of 2009 outlay
Military imports throughout Western Europe rose from $7.9 billion in 2013 to $8.9 billion in 2016. This slight climb takes Western European imports back to 2010 levels but still some way off 2009’s $12 billion peak.
“While we don’t foresee a return to pre-2008 import commitments, Western Europe finally saw a return to growth in defence spending in 2015 which will translate into sustained deliveries in the next couple of years,” Moores said.
Western European exports fell from $16.3 billion in 2009 to $14.9 billion in 2013, but increased notably to hit $17.8 billion in 2016. Germany, France and Sweden all enjoyed sizeable increases in export levels over the past year, primarily in military aerospace markets.
Eastern Europe holds strong backlog
“Military imports for European states West of Russia totalled $900 million in 2016, and the delivery backlog for these states currently stands at $4.6 billion for the next five years, confirming our earlier forecasts,” Moores said.
Russia, the region’s leading exporter and the world’s second largest exporter, saw a slight decline in 2016 to $6.3 billion. However, this is not indicative of further decline in the short term, as Russia has a strong backlog out to 2020.
Asian imports grow despite Chinese cuts
Military equipment imports to East Asia increased from $10.4 billion in 2015 to $12.8 billion in 2016. China has been cutting import deliveries over the last six years but this has been counter balanced by South Korea, Taiwan and Japan which have all seen large increases over the same time frame.
“There remains a slight chance that South Korean exports will overtake China in 2017 depending on delivery schedules of various programmes but in the longer term China has a bigger overall backlog,” Moores said.
More than 1,000 jobs are being created at RAF Marham as the base undergoes its biggest upgrade since the Second World War.
A £250m investment is being made in buildings, runways and other infrastructure on the Norfolk air base as it prepares for the arrival of the most advanced warplane ever built for UK armed forces.
Work is under way on the headquarters for the F35 Lightning force, a giant hangar where the aircraft will be maintained and a training centre where air and ground crews will learn about the aircraft. The transformation of one of ther RAF’s key stations has been code-named Project Anvil.
Group Capt Ann Gibson, head of the Lightning basing team, said: “At the peak of it, we think there’s going to be 1,200 people working on Anvil at any one time.
“The MoD does encourage all its contractors to use local employees. I do know there are a lot of local subcontractors involved.”
Balfour Beatty, one of the principal building contractors, has secured work worth £80m on Anvil’s three massive buildings.
Dean Burgess, its regional managing director, said it would have up to 500 employees on site, 50pc of them hired locally.
“We set ourselves a target of 30pc and we’re maxing on that,” he said. “We’ve extended our partnership with the College of West Anglia, we’ve got apprenticeship schemes and graduate schemes.”
The massive hangar which will house the Lightning has been built on the site of a hangar which housed Wellington and Stirling bombers during the Second World War. Group Capt Gibson said the refurbishment was the largest Marham had seen since then.
Station commander Group Capt Rich Davies, who leaves the base in two weeks’ time, has spent 24 of his 27 years in the RAF flying the Tornados which have been based at Marham since the early 1980s.
“I’m probably the last true Tornado station commander,” he said. “I will hand over to a new station commander whose job will be to take that aircraft out of service whilst bringing a new aircraft into service.”
Air Commodore David Bradshaw, commander of the F35 Lightning force, said: “The F35 Lightning is the most cutting edge piece of technology that exists in the world.
“Having it here at RAF Marham secures the future of RAF Marham, which the local community is very happy about.”
The first buildings are expected to be completed by next summer, when the first Lightnings arrive in Norfolk flown by 617 Sqn, aka the Dambusters.
A naval air squadron will also be based at Marham – bringing the biggest deployment of the Senior Service Nelson’s County has seen.
Having ‘lost its competitive edge’ in air warfare, the Royal Air Force (RAF) needs to exploit technologies such as cloud computing and airborne communications networks, a service chief has argued.
Speaking at the Air Power Conference on 12 July, AVM Rocky Rochelle, Chief of Staff Capability, said: ‘We all know there are pressures out there in the contested environment… the very notion is that we appear to have lost our competitive edge and it’s important that we rapidly try to regain our competitive edge.’
He emphasised the importance of creating a fully networked and connected force capability which exploits satellite and cloud technology as well as next generation platforms such as the F-35 and HMS Queen Elizabeth, which connect RAF capabilities to the maritime environment.
According to Rochelle, the UK armed forces needs to change its approach to information and data. The forces should move away from a focus on ‘collect’, towards viewing data as something that can be exploited on a ‘second by second basis’ to provide vital information to fighter pilots.
The air force should also become more accustomed to sharing information with allies, NATO and ‘coalitions of the willing’ in order to fully exploit the benefits that information offers to cooperation and operational effectiveness.
He added that such information sharing is vital in supporting the extended global reach of the RAF, in particular its role in counter terrorism, in which integrated operations need to utilise multiple platforms capable of sharing situational awareness and actively exploiting satellite data.
In addition, he told the Air Power Conference that a significant shift is required to move the RAF away from a focus on platforms and towards prioritising capabilities and outcomes.
Rochelle also warned that the UK had ‘taken its eye off the ball’, in particular with regards to homeland security.
The RAF has established a Rapid Capability Office – governed by three 3-star generals – as one way in which the air force hopes to improve the force’s ability to keep pace with industry advancements, bring down the barriers to innovation and encourage appropriate risk-taking.
The Rapid Capability Office is also designed to improve relations between the air force and industry. Bringing industry to the table at the ‘brainstorming stage’ could save significant time in the development process and contribute to a more agile acquisition process, said Rochelle.