It’s been a big year for global armies, with the US putting the final touches on a $738bn defence budget, investment in lasers, a Warrior CSP update and a heated fight over the future Department of Defence cloud, while all eyes turned to China’s military might. Here are some highlights from 2019.

GAO report highlights challenges for US Army equipment modernisation

In February the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report into US Army readiness highlighting the progress and challenges in modernisation efforts. The GAO found that the US Army is on track to reach its readiness objectives for 2022. However, there are some challenges that may hinder US Army readiness in terms of equipment repair and modernisation in the coming years.

The report noted: “GAO has made 44 recommendations in prior unclassified work described in this statement. DoD and the Army have generally concurred with them, have implemented seven, and have actions underway to address others.

“Continued attention to these recommendations can assist and guide the Army moving forward as it seeks to rebuild the readiness of its force and transforms for the future.”

Heated battle for JEDI comes to the boil

In April, The US Department of Defense (DoD) named Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (ASW) as the two remaining contenders for its ten-year, $10bn Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract.

The cloud platform is designed to unify a range of data pools held by the Pentagon and streamline access to information. Amazon were originally favourites to win the cloud contract, however, fast-forward to today and Amazon has filed a complaint in US federal court after the contract was handed to Microsoft. Amazon claims the decision was unfairly influenced by US President Donald Trump’s personal dislike of owner and founder Jeff Bezos.

Raytheon and UTC agree blockbuster merger

In June, Raytheon agreed to a merger of equals with United Technologies (UT), creating a new company called Raytheon Technologies. The merged company is expected to generate around $74bn in sales.

Raytheon chair and CEO Tom Kennedy said: “Today is an exciting and transformational day for our companies and one that brings with it tremendous opportunity for our future success. With our enhanced capabilities, we will deliver value to our customers by anticipating and addressing their most complex challenges, while delivering significant value to shareowners.”

US Army looks to poach the navy’s lasers

In July, the US Army announced plans to employ laser technology developed by the US Navy on ground systems, according to a senior army official.

Speaking at the Association of the United States Army Institute of Land Warfare breakfast, the principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the army for acquisition, logistics and technology and director of the Army Acquisition Corps Lieutenant General Paul Ostrowski said: “The intent is to work with the navy, and we are doing that right now, in order to increase the power of that laser system from beyond 100kW up to maybe the 250kW mark.”

The US Army has successfully put the development of laser systems at the heart of future defence against aerial attacks from drones or conventional aircraft while also reducing the costs involved.

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