EDITOR’S BUNKER BRIEFING (19 October 2020) No. 30

Andrew Drwiega, Editor-in-Chief, Armada International / Asian Military Review.

Dear Readers,

The vulnerability of the international technology supply chain in a global economy is one of the consequences now coming to the fore in the thinking of government strategic defence planners. The return of Great Power Competition.

One of the results of the return of Great Power Competition, the possibility of changing alliances either by choice or coercion, is now triggering an assessment of the vulnerability of not only the supply of individual items, but also the access to raw materials.

Manufacturing and tier supply chains abroad may well have provided a cheaper option to more expensive options at home over the last few decades, but anti-access area denial (A2AD) may yet prove to be an economic weapon.



Furthering the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) increasing investment in high level technology (also lessening dependence on foreign suppliers), on Thursday 15 October the DoD announced that over $197 million would be allocated to advance microelectronics technology in order to “strengthen the American microelectronics industrial base.”

“This critical industry will underpin the development of other Department of Defense technology priorities such as artificial intelligence, 5G communications, quantum computing, and autonomous vehicles,” read the statement.

“Today’s awards support the Department’s mission to promote microelectronics supply chain security and accelerate U.S. development of the very best in circuit design, manufacturing, and packaging. It’s critical for the DOD and American industry to work together in meaningful partnerships to ensure the United States leads the world in microelectronics far into the future,” said Michael Kratsios, acting under secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

The money will be invested in two DOD programmes: the Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes (RAMP) using Advanced Commercial Capabilities Project Phase 1 Other Transaction Award, and the State-of-the-Art Heterogeneous Integration Prototype (SHIP) Program Phase 2 Other Transaction Award.

Microsoft and IBM will receive $24.5 million through the RAMP Phase 1 to advance commercial leading-edge microelectronics physical “back-end” design methods with measurable security.

Intel Federal and Qorvo will receive the bulk $172.7 million for SHIP Phase 2 to develop and demonstrate a novel approach towards measurably secure, heterogeneous integration and test of advanced packaging solutions.

This will help the DoD in its push to a new quantifiable assurance strategy, helping to overcome previous restrictions in working with leading civilian organisations.


In September, Hughes Defense conducted a demonstration for the US Army of its HeloSat high-data rate communications through the rotor blades of a Black Hawk helicopter.

In an exclusive interview with Armada International, Wayne Marhefka, senior director, Business Development at Hughes announced that during the testa in May, late June and at the end of September 2020, the Hughes system had delivered 17 Mbps on and off a flying Black Hawk.

The various demonstrations were performed for a variety of Army and some international customers, including special forces. “We were transmitting full motion video at all events – initially over Ku-band and Inmarsat I5 high capacity band and Ku-30B. Data rates have varied between 2Mbps to 17Mbps – we were amazed that we could get such a high rate through the rotor blades uninterrupted.”

Hughes has been working since a flight test in 2013 with a GD antenna: “we got 10 Mbps back then through the rotor blades but the problem was size, weight and power.” The big antenna helped us getting the higher data rates.

The military have desired beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) wide-band satcom, particularly to their helicopters to allow situational awareness to troops inside the helicopters and for ISR collection.

The antenna is sited on a removable mount fixed on the upper surface of the Black Hawk where the body of the helicopter and the tail meet. Attached to hard points, it is FAA certified.

“We have had around 14 different flights of between 40 minutes to one hour. Once flying we are testing how the units performs with the vibration, pitch and roll,” said Marhefka. The data rate also depends on the age of the satellite and its technology.

“Some customers want more information to the aircraft (4Mbps x 2Mbps), while other who are perhaps transmitting ISR video and images need more data off the aircraft (2Mbps x 4Mbps). So we need to make sure our system has a minimum capability of 4Mpbs x 4Mbps,” sadi Marhefka.


The Swedish Government will increase defence spending by $3 billion (SEK 27.5 billion) during the 2021–2025. This represents nearly a 40 percent rise over the period compared with 2020. Around $8.8 billion (SEK 79 billion) will be spent over the four year period.

“The proposals in the bill should be seen against the background of the deteriorating security situation in Sweden’s neighbourhood and in Europe over time. Sweden will be affected if crisis or an armed conflict arises in our neighbourhood,” said Minister for Defence Peter Hultqvist. “An armed attack against Sweden cannot be ruled out,” he added.

Investment will occur organisationally and a number of military units would be re-established including: the Norrland Dragoon Regiment (K 4) in Arvidsjaur; the Älvsborg Amphibious Regiment (Amf 4) in Gothenburg; Uppland Wing (F 16) in Uppsala; the Bergslagen Artillery Regiment (A 9) in Kristinehamn; the Dalarna Regiment (I 13) in Falun; and the Västernorrland Regiment (I 21) in Sollefteå, with a training detatchment in Östersund.

There will also be organisational expansion including specialist skills in cyber defence and foreign intelligence gathering. A national service drive also boost the number of trained people available to the armed forces from 60,000 in 2020 to 90,000 by 2025.


16 October, 2020 – Romania. The State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Romania of Naval Strike Missile (NSM) Coastal Defense Systems (CDS) and related equipment for an estimated cost of $300 million.


Highlighting a selection of $100 million+ government awarded contracts awarded between 13-16 October and Foreign Military Sales contracts.

16 October
Barbaricum; iGov Technologies; and NexTech Solutions, were awarded three IDIQ contracts with a maximum combined ceiling of $780 million under the Targeted Requirement Execution multiple award contract for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance related equipment solutions as well as related incidental development and/or other services in the following four categories: system integration, hardware and modifications, specialised communications solutions, and networks and signal processing capabilities. US Special Operations Command is the contracting activity.

15 October
Raytheon Missiles and Defense received a $239 million modification contract for StormBreaker production Lot 6. The current action relates to classified Foreign Military Sales (FMS), and 6.3 percent of contract value supports FMS. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the contracting activity.

Redhorse; Cyber Point International; Elder Research; Barbaricum; and Enterprise Resource Performance were awarded blanket purchase agreements (BPAs), each with a $100 million ceiling, to provide services to the Department of Defense Joint Artificial Intelligence Center Missions Directorate. The services include software development, machine learning, cognitive and systems engineering, operations research, and user experience design. The contracting activity is the Air Force District Washington.

DRS Network & Imaging Systems was awarded a $10 million contract for Direct Support Electrical System Test sets. Fiscal 2010 Foreign Military Sales (Kuwait) funds were obligated at the time of the award. The US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.

AAR Aircraft Services was awarded a $67 million modification to an IDIQ contract to procure P-8A Poseidon aircraft depot scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, fulfillment of depot in-service repair/planner and estimator requirements, technical directive incorporation, airframe modifications, aircraft on ground support and removal and replacement of engines in support of the Navy, the government of Australia, and Foreign Military Sales customers. Work will be performed in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is expected to be completed in October 2021. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity.

Boeing received a $61 million modification to previously awarded IDIQ contract to procure P-8A Poseidon CFM56-7B27A/3 and CFM56-7B27AE engine depot-level maintenance and repair in support of the Navy, the government of Australia, and Foreign Military Sales customers. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity.

StandardAero is awarded a $46 million modification IDIQ contract to procure P-8A Poseidon CFM56-7B27A/3 and CFM56-7B27AE engine depot-level maintenance and repair in support of the Navy, the government of Australia, and Foreign Military Sales customers. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity.

14 October
(Highest award of the day). CAPE Environmental Management was awarded a $90 million modification IDIQ contract for environmental remedial action services at various sites within the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Pacific area of responsibility (AOR). This modification brings the total cumulative contract value to $185 million. The work to be performed provides for, but is not limited to, remedial actions such as removal actions, expedited and emergency response actions, pilot and treatability studies, facility operation and maintenance and performing other related activities associated with returning sites to safe and acceptable levels. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific is the contracting activity.

13 October
(Highest award of the day). Longbow was awarded a $32 million modification contract for generic spare parts kits for AH-64E Apache helicopters. Fiscal 2020 Foreign Military Sales (India, Morocco, Netherlands, and United Arab Emirates) funds were obligated at the time of the award. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.


No new reconfirmations.


No new event cancellations.

Keep safe and healthy everyone.

Andrew Drwiega

Armada International / Asian Military Review