Defense Business Brief: Printed parts for broken weapons; GAO: F-35 plan unrealistic; ICBM lobby; and more.
Broken weapons won’t have to wait so long for replacement parts under a U.S. Army effort to combine 3D printing and artificial intelligence. “We invested in our advanced manufacturing facility at Rock Island Arsenal, which is our center of excellence, and now have the ability to 3D print hundreds, approaching thousands, of parts for our equipment in the field,” Gen. Edward Daly, the head of Army Materiel Command, said Thursday at a virtual Association of the U.S. Army conference. “We're also integrating artificial intelligence and high speed data processing to improve decision making in both speed and accuracy and using robotics and machine learning to improve our manufacturing processes.”
GAO: F-35 update plan is unrealistic. The $14 billion effort to upgrade existing jets’ hardware and software “routinely underestimated the amount of work needed to develop Block 4 capabilities, which has resulted in delays, and has not reflected historical performance into its remaining work schedule,” a new Government Accountability Office warns. “Unless the F-35 program accounts for historical performance in the schedule estimates, the Block 4 schedule will continue to exceed estimated time frames and stakeholders will lack reliable information on when capabilities will be delivered.”
Over the past week, the Biden administration approved five foreign military sales worth more than $2.1 billion. The lion’s share of that total is a $1.77 billion sale of five Boeing-made P-8 submarine hunting planes to Germany, approved by the State Department on March 12. The P-8s would replace German P-3 subhunters slated for retirement in 2024. On March 16, State notified Congress that it also approved CH-47 and AH-64 helicopter training and logistics deals worth $315 million for The Netherlands; a $210 million deal for 54 Stryker infantry carrier vehicles for North Macedonia; and a $46 million deal to send 120 Javelin missiles to Norway.
There’s a new report about the ICBM lobby from Bill Hartung at the Center for International Policy. “Over the past decade, major ICBM contractors have made roughly $1.2 million in campaign contributions to members of the ICBM Coalition, and over $15 million more to members of key committees that play a central role in determining how much is spent on ICBMs: the Senate and House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittees and the Senate and House Defense Appropriations Subcommittees.” Northrop Grumman, which is developing the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, a new ICBM that will replace the Minuteman III, spent the most lobbying members of the ICBM coalition, according to the report.
Making moves. GM Defense has named Rick Kewley, a West Point graduate and 27-year General Motors employee, its executive chief engineer. The company also named Jesse Tolleson, a former House Armed Services Committee Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee staff director, its government relations director.
From Defense One
What Do We Know About China's Newest Missiles? // Ma Xiu and Peter W. Singer
Much can be gleaned from open sources, from official announcements to commanders' online bios.
Better Weapons or More Soldiers? Army Chief Says He's Being Forced to Choose // Marcus Weisgerber
"We'd like to make it bigger, but what we have to do is prioritize," said Gen. James McConville.
How SecDef Austin Can Make the Most of His India Visit // Vikram J. Singh and Joe Felter
The defense secretary should pave the way for more and deeper defense trade and technology cooperation.
Key Official: Defense Information Operations 'Not Evolving Fast Enough' // Patrick Tucker
China will soon harness AI to supplant Russia as the world leader in information warfare, a DIA leader said.
DARPA Aims to Boost US Manufacturing of Certain Chips // Mila Jasper
Better processes for converting general-purpose chips to specialized ones would pay big dividends, agency says.
DARPA Seeks Chips that Can Crunch Data Without Decrypting It // Mila Jasper
Current methods of doing "fully homomorphic encryption" require too much computing power to be used widely.
ISIS Affiliate In Mozambique Riding a 'Wave of Momentum' // Patrick Tucker
New attacks are shutting down LNG production as Al Sunnah strengthens ties with the larger group.
Biden's Idea for a Saudi Offensive Arms Halt Is Unfeasible // Bilal Y. Saab
A solid defense needs a potent deterrent, which requires a credible offense.