Russian and Chinese Warships participating in the Sea Interaction 2021 exercise near Japan - 18 October. From USNI News

Dear Readers,

China and Russia continue to demonstrate their apparent closeness following the conclusion of their three-day joint Maritime Interaction exercise in the Sea of Japan from 14-17 October, entitled Sea Interaction 2021 .

Reports indicate that at least 10 significant warships, split evenly between China and Russia, were involved and, according to Russian news agency Tass, around ’20 different combat exercises’ were performed.

Tass reported that the Russian naval ships present included “the Project 1155 large anti-submarine warfare ship Hero of the Russian Federation Admiral Panteleyev, the Project 20380 corvettes Aldar Tsydenzhapov and Gromky (Steregushchy-class), two harbour minesweepers, the Project 877 submarine Ust-Bolsheretsk (Kilo), a missile boat, and a rescue tug. The Chinese warships participating in the exercise included the destroyers Kunming and Nanchang, the corvettes Qinzhou and Luzhou, a diesel submarine, a supply ship, and a rescue vessel.”

The combined fleet transited through the Tsugaru Strait, which runs between the Japanese islands of Hokkaido and Honshu. While this is classified as international waters, it is only so because Japan adheres to a smaller three nautical mile (5.6km) national limit into the strait in contrast to the internationally adopted 12 nautical miles (22.22 km) that they might otherwise claim. The narrowest point of the strait is 12.1 miles (19.5 km).

The Chinese and Russian navies appear to be stepping up their joint exercises across many international maritime regions, from Asia to the Baltic Sea. This arguably mirrors the democratic powers who are extending their own joint exercises. Notably this was embodied by the recent Royal Navy Carrier Strike Group (CSG) deployment centred around the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to the South China Sea and beyond, working with NATO allies and conducting other international exercises along the way.

With fewer allies of note to rely on, China and Russia are likely to keep ignoring their differences and even expand the scope of their military cooperation into multi-domain exercises and planning, sending the message that they also have a global reach when operating together.

Thanks for reading,

Andrew Drwiega


NATO DEFENCE MINISTERS AGREE ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE STRATEGY

Two interesting items of news released by NATO at the end of last week. The first was that Defence Ministers had agreed the first ever NATO strategy for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data exploitation. Both of these are seen as elements of the top seven technology subjects that need close development going forward. The others include quantum-enabled technologies, autonomy, biotechnology and human enhancements, hypersonic technologies, and space.

The AI strategy has four main aims:

  • To provide a foundation for NATO and allies to lead by example and encourage the development and use of AI in a responsible manner for allied defence and security purposes;
  • To accelerate and mainstream AI adoption in capability development and delivery, enhancing interoperability within the Alliance, including through proposals for AI Use Cases, new structures, and new programmes;
  • To protect and monitor our AI technologies and ability to innovate, addressing security policy considerations such as the operationalisation of our Principles of Responsible Use;
  • To identify and safeguard against the threats from malicious use of AI by state and non-state actors.

The strategy has identified six principles of responsible use of AI for defence. These are:

  • Lawfulness: AI applications will be developed and used in accordance with national and international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law, as applicable.
  • Responsibility and Accountability: AI applications will be developed and used with appropriate levels of judgment and care; clear human responsibility shall apply in order to ensure accountability.
  • Explainability and Traceability: AI applications will be appropriately understandable and transparent, including through the use of review methodologies, sources, and procedures. This includes verification, assessment and validation mechanisms at either a NATO and/or national level.
  • Reliability: AI applications will have explicit, well-defined use cases. The safety, security, and robustness of such capabilities will be subject to testing and assurance within those use cases across their entire life cycle, including through established NATO and/or national certification procedures.
  • Governability: AI applications will be developed and used according to their intended functions and will allow for: appropriate human-machine interaction; the ability to detect and avoid unintended consequences; and the ability to take steps, such as disengagement or deactivation of systems, when such systems demonstrate unintended behaviour.
  • Bias Mitigation: Proactive steps will be taken to minimise any unintended bias in the development and use of AI applications and in data sets.

US MAJOR ARMS SALES (Defence Security Cooperation Agency – DSCA)

8 October – Australia, EA-18G Growler Aircraft and Related Defence Services
The State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Australia of MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopters, Related Defense Services, and related equipment for an estimated cost of $985 million.


US GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS

Highlighting a selection of major equipment contracts over $100 million+ and Foreign Military Sales between 12 – 22 October.

22 October
US AIR FORCE
L3 Harris Technologies has been awarded a $120 million contract for a ground-based, deployable electronic warfare capability to reversibly deny satellite communications, early warning and propaganda. This contract provides for the upgrades of 16 Counter Communications Block 10.2 fielded systems which currently operate at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado; Vandenberg Space Force Base, California; Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida; and classified deployed locations outside the continental US. Space Systems Command is the contracting activity.

21 October
US NAVY
(Highest award of the day). L3 Harris Technologies is awarded a $25.5 million contract modification that will provide services and support for flight test instrumentation systems. Strategic Systems Programs is the contracting activity.

20 October
US NAVY
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics is awarded a $206 million modification that adds scope to provide non-recurring engineering, detailed aircraft modification execution planning and technical data packages in support of modifications to the F-35 developmental test fleet aircraft. These modifications are necessary to support flight tests for the F-35 developmental test fleet and for the capabilities delivered under the F-35 Block 4 modernisation in support of the Joint Strike Fighter Program for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and non-US Department of Defense (DOD) participants. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity.

19 October
US NAVY
BAE Systems Technology Solutions and Services is awarded a $154 million IDIQ contract that provides engineering support for the rapid integration of command, control, communications, computers, combat systems, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems onboard small and large craft, commercial and militarised vehicles, transit cases, mobile communications, fixed base stations, command centers, and intelligence systems in support of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Webster Outlying Field, Special Communications Mission Solutions Division. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division is the contracting activity.

18 October
US BAE Systems Technology Solutions and Services is awarded a $137 million IDIQ contract that provides engineering and integrated product support, technical data and configuration management, and technical and project management in support of life cycle management of legacy, current, and future command, control, communications, computers, combat systems, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems and subsystems for the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division is the contracting activity.

15 October
US NAVY
General Dynamics Electric Boat is awarded a $269 million modification contract for lead yard support and development studies and design efforts related to Virginia-class submarines. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.

14 October
US NAVY
Boeing is awarded a $131 million modification IDIQ contract that exercises an option to provide 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.
StandardAero is also awarded a $101 million modification IDIQ contract that exercises an option to provide 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.
AAR Government Services is awarded an $85 million modification (IDIQ contract that exercises an option to provide P-8A Poseidon aircraft depot scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, 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. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity for all three of the above awards.

13 October
US AIR FORCE
(Highest award of the day). Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems has been awarded a $53 million modification contract that provides for the purchase of spare parts under the basic IDIQ contract. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the contracting activity.

12 October
US MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY
Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems is being awarded a $12.3 million contract modification under Foreign Military Sales (FMS) that extends performance and expands Aegis FMS in-scope work under existing contract line item numbers. The Missile Defense Agency is the contracting activity.


EVENT CONFIRMATION

DUBAI AIRSHOW
14-18 November 2021, DWC, Dubai Airshow Site, UAE

LAND FORCES
4-6 October 2022, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Australia


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

Keep safe and healthy everyone.

Andrew Drwiega

Editor-in-Chief
Armada International / Asian Military Review