EDITOR’S BUNKER BRIEFING (9 November 2020) No.33

NATO Secretary General attends Munich Security Conference
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with then Vice President Joe Biden at a meeting in 2016.

Dear Readers,

Congratulations to US President-elect Joe Biden after a relentless surge in support, particularly via postal votes, saw him overtaking President Trump in a number of key states. Trump, a president who had already been impeached by the House of Representatives (majority Democrat), but crucially not the Senate (majority Republican), made spurious claims about the legality of the democratic process that had brought him to power four years ago – and that continued to affirm Republicans in the House.

The huge turnout of the voting public, again especially through postal votes as a sizeable number of citizens chose to keep away from voting centres due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, led to the slow counting of votes in many states.

President Trump has been a hugely controversial figure, both nationally and internationally. While his ‘cold-shouldering’ of NATO did result in European members committing to paying more for their own defence, trust in the United States as an ally has suffered, something that was actually started by President Obama’s ‘pivot towards East Asia,’ although this was in part a recognition of China’s expansionist ambitions.

In that region, President Trump’s wayward personal rapprochement with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un has seemingly lost any momentum had had been built, underlined when the largest nuclear missile known to exist in North Korea was shown at a parade in early October. While there have not been any recent missile tests, there is no clear reason why testing has stopped, or even if it will resume.

The Peace Deal and normalisation of relations between Israel and Sudan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates has come relatively quickly, and perhaps took the Palestinian leadership, as well as that in Iran, off-guard. Whether a further ‘five’ nations (including Saudi Arabia and Oman) will add to this momentum in the new Biden era remains to be seen.

With war still raging in Yemen, and Iran and Syria having moved out of the spotlight during the Presidential frenzy in the United States, it can only be a matter of time before their reaction to a seemingly more secure Israel is made clear.

President Biden walks into a job that is fraught with difficulties, beginning with how to introduce a policy which might bring help to loosen the raging grip that COVID-19 has on the United States, something that President Trump fundamentally failed to do.

America’s strategic adversaries, Russia and China, may look to take advantage of what is likely to be an extremely disjoined hand-over of power up to and beyond the end of January 2021. President Biden should quickly assure friends and allies that, in the areas of the world that are based on democratic values and that are dependent on globalisation, ‘America first’ has to be drastically re-evaluated if the US is to repair its worldwide standing.



A signal support system specialist prepares the radio system used to allow soldiers and airmen to keep in constant communications with one another during a mission. (DoD)

The Department of Defense (DoD) has released ‘Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy’ on how it intends to ensure “unfettered access to the airwaves, or spectrum, which facilitates GPS, radio, satellite and cell phone communications.”

The DoD’s stated intent is to “ develop superior electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) capabilities; evolve to an agile, fully integrated EMS infrastructure; pursue total force EMS readiness; secure enduring partnerships for EMS advantage; and establish effective EMS governance to support strategic and operational objectives.”

The DoD believes that its forces are operating in an increasingly congested, contested, and constrained electromagnetic operational environment (EMOE). They define accordingly:

  • Contested – Enemy activities detect, disrupt, exploit, degrade, deny, deceive, or destroy friendly EMS capabilities for the purpose of military advantage.
  • Congested – Military and civilian EMS-dependent systems continue to crowd the spectrum and increase the amount of unintentional interference.
  • Constrained – Domestic and international regulations cause the amount of spectrum available for military access to decrease.

“The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of radiation frequencies that are used to transmit information wirelessly. While frequencies above 300GHz make up infrared light, visible light, ultraviolet light, and x-rays, frequencies at 300GHz and below are used to transmit information for cell phones, television, radio, satellite communications, GPS, hand-held two-way radios and even key fobs that lock and unlock cars,” states the DoD.

To overcome this, the DoD sees a requirement to “develop new capabilities, new techniques, and better integration within DoD and with its partners to enhance spectrum efficiency, maximise spectrum compatibility, and ensure EMS superiority.”

According to Frederick D. Moorefield, the DoD’s deputy chief information officer for command, control and communications the EMS is increasingly crowded: “That includes 5G, the next G coming, SATCOM, tactical radios, commercial and federal — everybody’s using spectrum more and more.”

Solutions to this problem, states Moorefield, include being “dynamic enough to be able to move around at different frequency bands…[to develop] spectrum sharing capability, …as well as new kinds of technology that are able to determine on their own what frequency they ought to be on at any time.”


The postponement of the UK’s Integrated Security, Defence and Foreign Policy Review and delay to the multi-year Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) is not only delaying a substantial re-evaluation of the UK’s role in the world, but is also likely to cause serious delays to equipment procurement projects, and significant cost increases to some of those already in progress.

The Integrated Security, Defence and Foreign Policy Review, announced on 19 December 2019 during the Queen’s Speech was to have been “the most radical reassessment of [the UK’s] place in the world since the end of the Cold War.” It was to have been far more comprehensive and inclusive than either of the Strategic Defence and Security Reviews of 2010 and 2015. However, the impact on Government spending caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and also the effects of Brexit at the end of 2020 and both likely to impact short term defence planning and spending, although holding to a NATO commitment to spend at least two percent of GDP on defence remains.

In a Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) report entitled A Reckoning Postponed? The Defence Arithmetic of the Integrated Review, author and deputy director general Malcolm Chalmers warns that major procurement programmes planned for the next decade, such as the Future Combat Air System and the Future Nuclear Warhead System, need budget commitment over the next five years if they are to be in operational service before 2040.

According to Chalmers: “There will be a temptation to delay key decisions on these two programmes until the Integrated Review that follows the next general election. But this would risk an extended period of planning blight, in which capabilities atrophy and timetables for deployment of the resulting systems slip into the 2040s.”

The pressure to cut defence budgets will be large over the short term, particularly post-COVID, but numerous commentators are now underlining the importance in early investment in major projects so as to avoid significant problems to defence contracts in years to come as a result. Chalmers warns, “Their technological complexity, together with the changing nature of requirements over time, typically leads to large increases in costs over initial estimates, as well as significant delays.”


5 November, 2020 – Canada. The State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Canada of Standard Missile 2 (SM-2) Block IIIC missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $500 million.

5 November, 2020 – Romania. The State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Romania of F-16 Modernisation and Logistics Support and related equipment for an estimated cost of $175.4 million.

5 November, 2020 – 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 four (4) Weapons-Ready MQ-9B Remotely Piloted Aircraft and related equipment for an estimated cost of $600 million.


Highlighting a selection of $100 million+ government awarded contracts awarded between 2-6 November and Foreign Military Sales contracts.

6 November
Rockwell Collins; Interstate Electronics; and Raytheon Technologies have collectively been awarded contracts totalling $552 million for Military GPS Users Equipment Miniature Serial Interface Increment 2 Application Specific Integrated Circuit (MGUE Inc 2 MSI ASIC). This contract provides for all activities to design, develop, build, integrate, qualify the MSI receiver card with next generation ASIC to enable production of M-Code-capable GPS receiver products for various service applications identified in the MGUE Inc 2 Capability Development Document and all other user platforms that require secure positioning navigation and timing capability. Air Force Space Command is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin was awarded an Other Transaction Authority agreement with a ceiling of $339 million for the Mid-Range Capability. US Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office is the contracting activity.

5 November
General Dynamics Electric Boat received a $9.4 billion modification to previously awarded contract which exercised an option for construction and test of the lead and second ships of the Columbia class SSBN 826 and SSBN 827, as well as associated design and engineering support. This modification to the integrated product and process development (IPPD) contract supports the fiscal 2021 construction start of the lead ship (SSBN 826) and advance procurement, advance construction, coordinated material buys and full construction of the follow hull (SSBN 827) in fiscal 2024. Efforts within the ship include the Common Missile Compartment which is a joint U.S./United Kingdom effort. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin has received a $53 million modification contract for miscellaneous support for 50 retrofit aircraft to the Taiwan F-16 Peace Phoenix Rising program. This modification provides for contractor over and above support and acquisition of legacy aircraft hardware and equipment. Foreign Military Sales funds in the full amount are being obligated at the time of award. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the contracting activity.

4 November
Altamira Technologies; Amergint Technologies; Carahsoft Technology; Geosite; Lyteworx Automation Systems; MarkLogic; Rebellion Defense; Rhombus Power; Soar Technology; Vidrovr; Advanced Simulation Research; Borsight; Datanchor; Digital Mobilizations; EFW; F9 Teams; Hewlett Packard Enterprise; Infinity Labs; Radiant Mission Solutions; Microsoft; Ortman Consulting; Peraton; R2 Space; and Sierra Nevada, have collectively been awarded $950 million in contracts to compete for future efforts associated with the maturation, demonstration and proliferation of capability across platforms and domains, leveraging open systems design, modern software and algorithm development in order to enable Joint All Domain Command and Control. These contracts provide for the development and operation of systems as a unified force across all domains (air, land, sea, space, cyber and electromagnetic spectrum) in an open architecture family of systems that enables capabilities via multiple integrated platforms. The Air Force Life Cycle Management is the contracting activity.

Airborne Tactical Advantage has been awarded a $441 million IDIQ contract which provides contractor-owned and operated Type III high subsonic and Type IV supersonic aircraft to Navy fleet customers for a wide variety of airborne threat simulation capabilities in support of the Specialised and Proven Aircraft program, Contracted Air Services. The Naval Air Warfare Center is the contracting activity.

3 November
Northrop Grumman Systems received a $57 million contract which provides for the manufacture and delivery of 19 full rate production Lot 14 GQM-163A Coyote supersonic sea skimming targets; 16 for the Navy and three for the government of Japan. Additionally, this contract procures associated technical and administrative data. Fiscal 2020 weapons procurement (Navy) funds in the amount of $48 million; and Foreign Military Sales funds in the amount of $9 million will be obligated at time of award. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River is the contracting activity.

2 November
Akima Logistics Services; DynCorp International; M1 Support Services; PAE Aviation and Technical Services; and Vertex Aerospace have collectively been awarded an $838 million IDIQ multiple award contract for helicopter maintenance services in support of Air Force Global Strike Command, Pacific Air Forces, Air Education and Training Command, and Air Force District of Washington requirements. This contract provides helicopter maintenance, aircrew flight equipment maintenance and weapons maintenance services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Air Force Installation Contracting Center is the contracting activity.

Huntington-Ingalls Industries – Newport News Shipbuilding has been awarded a not to exceed $284 million modification contract, and a not-to-exceed $30 million modification to previously awarded contract, for the accomplishment of CVN 79 single phase delivery and Joint Strike Fighter (F-35C) capabilities. The Navy is transitioning to a single-phase delivery approach to meet both Fleet requirements and a congressional mandate of ensuring that CVN 79 is capable of operating and deploying Joint Strike Fighter (F-35C) aircraft before completing the post-shakedown availability as codified in Section 124 of the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.

Sodexo Management has received a $124 million modification contract for the management and operation of mess halls in support of the Marine Corps Regional Garrison Food Services Program. The Marine Corps Installation Command is the contracting activity.

Sodexo Management has been awarded a $121 million modification contract for the management and operation of mess halls in support of the Marine Corps Regional Garrison Food Services Program. The Marine Corps Installation Command is the contracting activity.


No further confirmations.


No further cancellations.

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

Keep safe and healthy everyone.

Andrew Drwiega

Armada International / Asian Military Review