May 18, 2021
Russia rejects claim it launched Pentagon cyberattack, New trinational deal paves way for FCAS demonstrator program, USAF supports testing of AI and robotic dogs, Babcock teams with Leonardo for Canada FAcT pilot training, Lockheed Martin awards training subcontract for Franco-German Super Hercules squadron.
HERE ARE THE TOP INDUSTRY AND WORLD STORIES
Russia rejects claim it launched Pentagon cyberattack (Times)
• The head of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency has rejected allegations that his country was behind a massive cyberattack on the US government, saying the claims are “like a bad crime novel”.
• Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s Intelligence Service (SVR), was responding to accusations from UK and US authorities that Russian intelligence carried out the Solar Winds hack, a months-long cyber-raid on computer systems at the Pentagon, homeland security, treasury and commerce agencies.
• In his first interview with a foreign journalist, Naryshkin told the BBC: “I’d be flattered to hear such an assessment of the work of the Foreign Intelligence Service, which I run. Such a high evaluation. But I don’t have the right to claim the creative achievements of others as my own.
• “All these claims about cyberattacks, poisonings, hacks, interference in elections which are blamed on Russia are so absurd and in some cases so pathetic that in a conversation between two respectable and highly educated people, and I count you and I as such, is doesn’t seem appropriate to comment.”
• “These claims are like a bad crime novel.”
• Asked specifically if he was saying that Russia is “squeaky clean” and not involved in election meddling, novichok attacks or other foreign interference, he said: “Regarding these accusations which have been levelled at us publicly, that’s right, Russia is not involved.”
• Naryshkin said he did not want to accuse the US of being behind the Solar Winds attack, however, he quoted from documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, to suggest that the tactics of the attack were similar to those used by American and British intelligence agencies.
New trinational deal paves way for FCAS demonstrator program (Defense News)
• Nearly four years after the pan-European Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program was first brought to light, the three partner nations have reached a deal to develop a demonstrator fighter aircraft by 2027.
• French Minister of Defense Florence Parly formally announced Monday that France, Germany, and Spain had finalized an agreement that will allow industry partners to start developing a flying prototype aircraft, after months of uncertainty surrounding the negotiations.
• The agreement is a shot in the arm for the multinational program, as stakeholders are racing to reach a financing deal before the German Bundestag leaves town for their summer recess in late June. Disputes among the nations’ industry partners over elements such as intellectual property rights and work share slowed progress. In April, however, France’s Dassault Aviation and Germany’s Airbus reached their own deal to move on to the demonstrator phase. The two companies, along with Spain’s Indra, lead each country’s industrial participation.
• If the program remains on schedule, the first FCAS demonstrator will launch one decade after the French and German government leaders first agreed to jointly build a new sixth-generation fighter aircraft. Spain was brought on as a full nation partner in 2020.
• The quality of the demonstrator phase of FCAS – also known as SCAF, for the French name système de combat aérien du futur – will be key to the success of the overall program, observers have previously noted. The goal is to reduce the risk of technological hurdles early on, in order to avoid delays and additional cost hurdles further down the line, analysts previously told Defense News.
USAF supports testing of AI and robotic dogs (Shephard News)
• USAF teams are supporting the testing of AI and robotic dogs at Tyndall AFB, Florida.
• Two teams from Hanscom AFB are helping the development of new force protection technology at Tyndall AFB.
• Teams within the Force Protection and Special Programs Divisions supplied and integrated four prototype Quad-legged UGVs into the 325th Security Forces Squadron.
• The Vision 60 model robots, designed by Ghost Robotics, can provide surveillance and perimeter security in difficult terrain or unsafe conditions.
• The robots are outfitted with 14 sensors and will be integrated with the Immersive Wisdom-developed C2 software Vanguard, using semi-autonomous and user-operated modes.
• The prototypes are equipped with advanced multi-directional, thermal and infrared video capabilities, allowing for AI-based threat detection.
• Despite the range of complex technology outfitted on the robots, experts say the user interface is simple to operate.
• Maj Jareth Lamb, chief, Force Protection Modernization Branch, said: ‘They come with a control pad and joystick, so for anyone who’s ever played a video game before, you can easily pick it up’.
Babcock teams with Leonardo for Canada FAcT pilot training (Janes)
• Babcock and Leonardo announced on 14 May that they are to team on Canada’s Future Aircrew Training (FAcT) programme.
• Babcock Canada and Leonardo Canada have signed a letter of intent (LOI) to offer a joint solution to meet the country’s military flight-training requirements.
• “Babcock and Leonardo can offer a modern and comprehensive solution, drawing on their long experience as leading providers of civil and military fixed-wing, rotary-wing, and mission training services. The companies stand ready to offer an innovative and comprehensive turnkey solution to meet all of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s training requirements,” the companies said in a joint statement.
• FAcT will cover all facets of Canada’s military flight-training requirements, with a formal request for proposals (RFP) expected this year and a contract award in 2023. One contract will be issued to cover all the requirements, including maintenance and infrastructure services. The contract period is expected to be at least 20 years.
• According to the statement, Babcock “delivers unrivalled technical instruction across multiple locations and aircraft types”, while Leonardo “can cover the entire pilot training syllabus with a unique range allowing the training syllabus to be tailored to air force requirements”. Although no aircraft types are mentioned in the announcement, Leonardo has previously said that the M-345 High Efficiency Trainer (HET) aircraft may form part of its bid.
Lockheed Martin awards training subcontract for Franco-German Super Hercules squadron (Shephard News)
• Lockheed Martin has awarded a training services subcontract for the Franco-German C-130J squadron to Rheinmetall and Thales.
• Thales and Rheinmetall have obtained a contract to certify the future training centre organisation for the Franco-German C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft fleet.
• The two companies are participating in the contract as subcontractors to Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor of the Franco-German multinational training centre and manufacturer of the C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft.
• Rheinmetall and Thales will provide personnel and services related to the certification of the training centre organisation.
• The training centre qualification is to be completed in Q1 2024 and the training operation will commence in the same year.
• An optional operating phase may follow the initial establishment and certification phase.
• If the operating phase is awarded, Thales and Rheinmetall will provide all management personnel, qualified flight and ground crew instructors and maintenance personnel for the operation of all training devices.
• The training centre is to be established at Évreux in Normandy. It will host the new French and German C-130J Super Hercules as a joint transport squadron with ten aircraft.
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WE’RE KEEPING AN EYE ON
Government should have stalled May 17 reopening due to Indian variant, Sage member says (Telegraph)
• The Government should have “stalled” the May 17 reopening because of the Indian variant, a member of Independent Sage has said.
• Dr Zubaida Haque told Good Morning Britain said: “What the Government should have done was to stall this stage of the road map, particularly because we didn’t pass test four – test four of the Government’s road map said that if we think that there’s any further risk from new variants of concern, we should stall – they completely ignored that and have gone ahead.”
• Her colleague Professor Gabriel Scally, also a member of Independent Sage and a leading public health expert, told Sky News “we should be throwing the kitchen sink at this” in places like Bolton and Blackburn to reduce infection.
• He said vaccinating younger age groups, thorough contact tracing and support for people to self-isolate was needed.
• “As well as that, we do need a lot of vigilance and a lot of information to the public so that they understand that the virus hasn’t gone away, it’s still there and it may be much, much more infectious,” he said.
DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THIS?
Last Dambuster joins call for bomber medal (Times)
• The last surviving Dambuster and the royal portrait artist commissioned to paint him in his 100th year have joined forces to call for a dedicated medal to be awarded to Bomber Command veterans.
• George Leonard “Johnny” Johnson, a bomb-aimer during the raid on the Möhne, Sorpe and Eder dams in 1943, and Dan Llywelyn Hall, the youngest artist to paint a portrait of the Queen, have called for the national “slight” against the men to be corrected.
• The 125,000 volunteers who carried out the bombing campaign against Nazi Germany — almost half of whom lost their lives — were never awarded a campaign medal, unlike those who served in Italy, Africa, the Pacific and the Arctic.
• Some have argued that a dedicated medal would be inappropriate because 300,000 or more civilians were killed in mass bombing raids on German targets.
• Llywelyn Hall sold his portrait of Johnson at auction last week for £2,500 to raise money for Group 617, a veterans charity in south Wales.
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