EDITOR’S BUNKER BRIEFING (26 October 2020) No.31

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

Dear Readers,

A meeting of NATO Defence Ministers has to address the thorny issue of two of its members ‘squaring up’ to one another in the Eastern Mediterranean – Greece and Turkey – never a good sign for supposed allies. Turkey continues to cause problems within NATO, no least for its incursion into Northern Syria (against the US backed Kurds) and its firm support of Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia. As NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg confirmed earlier this week, “NATO is not part of the conflict in and around Nagorno-Karabakh.” Nor does it want to be, preferring to let the already formed Minsk Group to take the lead.

It is also of no surprise that spending on intelligence programmes is on the increase – and will continue to do so. Both Russia and China have used the US and Europe’s expeditionary commitments into Iraq and Afghanistan to watch for, and learn the weak points in ‘western armour’ and how to exploit them (I recommend The Dragons and the Snakes: How the Rest Learned to Fight the West by David Kilcullen as good background reading). The West is now playing catch up to a noticeable extent – especially when it comes to social media and the proliferation of fake and harmful news.



Meetings of NATO Ministers of Defence – 22-23 October 2020, Brussels, Belgium

On 23 October, NATO defence ministers discussed a variety of topics from long term training missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, through to the need for deconfliction between two of its own members, Greece and Turkey.

While supporting the peace process, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg called on the Taliban to “reduce the unacceptable levels of violence [and to] break all ties with Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.”

Defence Ministers also agreed that NATO’s mission in Iraq should be expanded to strengthen Iraq’s forces so that they could stop the return of Daesh in any significant form.

The long running hostility between Greece and Turkey was also discussed, particularly the urgent need for deconfliction to prevent clashes such as those recently witnessed at sea between naval vessels belonging to the two countries. To assist this, a NATO safe and secure network 24/7 hotline was established.

Defence ministers also reached a decision to create a NATO Space Centre at Allied Air Command in Ramstein, Germany. According to a NATO release: “this will be a focal point for space support to NATO operations, sharing information, and coordination.” This will include the support of “NATO missions and operations from space, including with communications and satellite imagery.”

Perhaps harking back to some of US President Trump’s previous criticisms of NATO in terms of financial contributions, Stoltenberg revealed that “2020 will be the sixth consecutive year of increased defence spending by European Allies and Canada, with an increase this year of 4.3 percent in real terms.”


NORTH SEA (4 Oct, 2020) The full United Kingdom (UK) Carrier Strike Group (CSG) assembled at sea. The CSG is led by the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R 08) and includes flotilla of destroyers and frigates from the UK, the Netherlands, the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG 68), and 15 F-35B Lightning II’s from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 and the UK’s 617 Squadron. (Royal Navy)

The US Navy and the UK’s Royal Navy have committed to a Statement of Intent regarding Future Integrated Warfighting.

Signed on 21 October by US Navy Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday and Royal Navy First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Tony Radakin, the agreements aims are to “set a cooperative vision for inter-changeability between the two navies, synchronise pioneering capabilities, strengthen operating concepts, and focus our collective efforts to Deliver Combined Seapower”.

The shared vision not only emphasises interoperability, but goes further towards interchangeability. “This positive step should enable critical force elements to become transposable; from ships of one navy operating in the other navy’s task forces, to manned and unmanned vehicles operating from the decks of each other’s ships for refuelling, re-arming and re-tasking. This exchange of capability must be frictionless and immediate, allowing operational commanders to trust the assets they have at all times.”

The collaboration will not only take in research, development and acquisition issues, but also focus on more specific areas including: digital transformation; artificial intelligence, increased lethality, autonomy and remotely piloted systems; and assured C2 and integrated fires.


On 21 October, the Department of Defense revealed that its spend on the Military Intelligence Programme (MIP) was $23.1 billion in FY20 (up from $21.2 billion in FY19) which was in accord with the National Defense Strategy. The figure is always released in arrears and It covers both the base budget and Overseas Contingency Operations.

According to a report issued by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), Intelligence Community Spending: Trends and Issues (updated on 6 November 2019), the “National Intelligence Program (NIP), supports strategic planning and policymaking, and the Military
Intelligence Program (MIP), supports military operational and tactical levels of planning
and operations.”

“A program is primarily MIP if it funds an activity that addresses tactical or operational-level requirements specific to the DOD,” states the CRS. Recipients of MIP funding include:

  • Agencies supporting tactical operations such as ‘countering improvised explosive devices; identifying and tracking high-value targets; and improving battlespace awareness.”
  • Technology programmes such including advanced sensors application, foreign materiel acquisition and exploitation and horizontal fusion.
  • US Special Command (USSOCOM) requirements such as “outfitting aircraft—both manned and unmanned, fixed and rotary wing—with advanced ISR and data storage capabilities that will work in multiple environments.”
  • Air Force MIP funds are mainly in connection with Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms including space as well as manned and unmanned aircraft.
  • Army MIP funds are directed into GEOINT, SIGINT, HUMINT, MASINT, and CI.
  • Navy MIP are used to understand the capabilities of foreign navies and their weapons systems, as well as examining cyber and crypto capabilities and operations.
  • Marine Corps MIP funds areas such as the intelligence preparation of the battlefield, and target analysis, as well as GEOINT, SIGINT, CI, and ISR among others.


21 October, 2020 – Taipei, Taiwan. The State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO) of:

  • eleven (11) High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) M142 Launchers and related equipment for an estimated cost of $436.1 million.
  • one hundred thirty-five (135) AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) Missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $1.008 billion.
  • six (6) MS-110 Recce Pods and related equipment for an estimated cost of $367.2 million.


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

23 October
AMI Industries has been awarded a $700 million IDIQ contract for the delta qualification, production and fielding of a next generation ejection seat for various Air Force Mission Defense systems. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the contracting activity.

L-3 Technologies has received a $9 million modification contract for management support services. This contract involves 100 percent Foreign Military Sales (FMS), and is the result of a sole-source acquisition. The 645th Aeronautical Systems Group is the contracting activity.

22 October

Leidos received a $149 million IDIQ contract to provide services and supplies for the operation of the Naval Array Technical Support Center facility. The Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division is the contracting activity.

21 October

(Highest award of the day). Deloitte & Touche was awarded a $52 million contract that provides audit remediation, risk management, financial management and reporting, data analytics and related services for the Deputy Chief Financial Officer Program within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller). Washington Headquarters Services is the contracting activity.

20 October
a.i. solutions is being awarded a $203 million contract with a three-year base value of $77,728,390 and two one-year options for quality and mission assurance advisory and assistance services. Fiscal 2020 and 2021 research, development, test and evaluation; and Foreign Military Sales funds in the amount of $4.5 million are being obligated at time of award. The Missile Defense Agency is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin received a $138 million modification contract which adds scope to continue the development of pilot training device software to align the F-35 air system with continued capability development. Additionally, this modification provides for testing and continuous re-certification activities for dual capable F-35 aircraft as Block 4 capabilities are developed, matured and fielded in support of the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and non-Department of Defense (DOD) participants. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity.

Sikorsky Aircraft was awarded a $13 million modification contract for one UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter. Fiscal 2010 Foreign Military Sales (Jordan) funds in the amount of $13 million were obligated at the time of the award. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.

19 October
Brockington and Associates; New South Associates; Southeastern Archaeological Research; and Environmental Solutions and Innovations, will compete for each order of the $83 million contract for providing multidisciplinary cultural resource-related services for projects undertaken by the US Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis District. US Army Corps of Engineers is the contracting activity.


27 – 29 July 2021, Changi Exhibition Centre, Singapore


No new event cancellations.

Keep safe and healthy everyone.

Andrew Drwiega

Armada International / Asian Military Review