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News From Washington
Army Seeks Projectile Tracking System
As reported in Commerce Business Daily, a market survey is being conducted by the US Army TACOM-ARDEC procurement network for a projectile tracking system. The survey requests descriptions of tracking equipment and data that supports the projectile tracking capability using interferometric technology. A recent test of existing equipment demonstrated the ability to track 155 mm projectiles to 18 km in range with accuracies of 0.3 mils and 5 m in range. Potential contractors will be required to display comparable accuracies from live fire tests of an existing system.
Improvements are being sought for application to tracking and commanding a family of self-adjusting artillery and mortar projectiles. For more information, contact Robert McMinn, contract specialist, at (973) 724-3504.
Europe Attempting to Integrate Its Defense Market
A report from the General Accounting Office (GAO) (GAO/NSIAD-98-6) discusses the efforts being made by the European countries to integrate their market for defense equipment. The reduced ability to develop and procure defense items solely from the countries’ own domestic companies has placed pressure on European governments to develop a unified European armament procurement policy and related industrial base. Currently, the European governments have formed two organizations to improve cooperation among the countries. Although progress is being made, some government and industry representatives feel that national sovereignty issues and complex company ownerships still inhibit the consolidation needed to become competitive.
In the absence of a unified armament policy, European governments still retain their own procurement policies and purchase from domestic suppliers when possible. When not available domestically, many governments look to US suppliers first. Transatlantic industrial partnerships appear to be easier to form than cooperative programs involving governments. Some US companies are trying to develop long-term relationships with European defense companies to create product lines that will meet European requirements.
Two European armament agencies were formed in 1996, including the French Organisme Conjoint de Cooperation en Matiere d’Armement (OCCAR), a joint management organization for France, Germany, Italy and the UK, and the Western European Armaments Organization (WEAO), a subsidiary of the Western European Union that includes the OCCAR members and others. OCCAR’s goals include the consolidation of program management; coordination of long-term requirements and development of a common investment policy; replacement of the present work share policy based on funds contributed; acceptance of additional members subscribing to stated goals; and preferential consideration to equipment from OCCAR members. The WEAO’s goal is to promote European armament cooperation, strengthen the European defense technology base, create a defense market and offer an appropriate framework for a European armaments agency.
EIA Studies Middle East Defense Electronics Market
A recent international study conducted by the Electronics Industries Association (EIA) concludes that the Middle East will continue to be one of the world’s most attractive markets for US defense contractors over the next five years. The study estimates that over 30 percent of all worldwide arms deliveries will be shipped to the region during that period.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Israel and Egypt are expected to continue to strengthen their armed forces with new purchases as a precaution against the possible resurgence of Iraq and potential threats from Iran. In addition, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey have increased their activity in the market.
Major market opportunities include advanced fighter aircraft, attack and transport helicopters, air defense systems and command, control, communications and intelligence systems. The study finds that opportunities exist for available maintenance and support contracts and that the major regional arms purchasers are seeking new equipment rather than older systems from excess inventory. For additional information, contact Margo Anderson of the EIA at (703) 907-7571.
Army’s Digitization Demonstration Falls Short of Expectations
According to Defense Daily, an assessment of the Army’s recent battlefield digitization experiment by the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA) concludes that state-of-the-art communications and computer equipment did not demonstrate an ability to make the primary ground combat force more lethal. Reporting on the brigade-size experiment held at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, CA, the IDA concludes that the experimental digital force failed to prove the Army’s hypothesis that the new equipment will add combat capability because the equipment provides improved situational awareness. The IDA report states that there was no compelling evidence of increased lethality and survivability, reduced fratricide or increased operational tempo relative to the nondigitized brigades.
The IDA identifies the inability of numerous developmental communications and computer units to pass essential information to battlefield commanders as the principal reason why the experimental brigade did not display a tactical advantage in the mock battles. The applique computer system failed about 75 percent of the time to successfully distribute overlays or graphics of the battlespace needed to display friendly and enemy formations. In addition, text messages reached their destinations only 23 percent of the time.
10-year Forecast Focuses on Defense Information Superiority
The information superiority portion of the EIA’s recent report entitled "33rd Annual 10-year Forecast of Defense, NASA and Related Electronic Opportunities" finds that, contrary to popular belief, commercially available computing and communication systems alone cannot achieve the Department of Defense’s (DoD) information superiority goal. The study concludes that military-unique information technologies that cannot be purchased from commercial sources must be developed and exploited quickly to gain the advantages desired for next century’s armed forces.
The report notes that even though commercial information research investment is three times that of the DoD’s, other nations can buy the latest commercial products faster than the US’ military procurement system. The report recommends that the DoD rules be simplified so that the commercial items needed to get US forces to information parity can be acquired quickly and that the money saved be applied to the military technology development needed to reach superiority.
While space systems are critical to information technology, the proliferation of commercial imagery and communications satellites prevent the US from denying access to this resource to its enemies. Accordingly, the study recommends that the DoD should also use commercial instead of dedicated systems.
The advanced battlespace information system (ABIS), the starting point for the EIA study, was praised highly by the EIA team. The close cooperation between technologists and warfighters made it possible to aim technologies at operational needs and create an architecture that suited all elements. The report voices concern that the services have not yet agreed to the common architecture. The cost of building the ABIS architecture is estimated to be approximately $5 B per year for the next 10 years.