A first indication that the coronavirus outbreak may begin to affect the highly integrated global defense industrial base. Two F-35-related facilities in Italy and Japan have been forced to close due to the coronavirus. Lockheed Martin has stopped production of F-35 components at a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries factory in Japan and ordered employees at another F-35 facility in Italy to work from home, Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters.
“I believe they have decided to shut down for a week,” Lord said of the Japanese facility, but “it doesn’t look like it is affecting deliveries” of the aircraft, she added. Lord didn’t mention any other programs that have been affected.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col Mike Andrews added in a statement that in Japan, the temporary Mitsubishi closure only affects Japanese aircraft, while Lockheed “is restricting travel” to the Cameri facility citing a US Embassy travel alert.
“Pratt and Whitney Resident Engine Team in Cameri have been directed to telework,” he added. “There have been no impacts to the production line.”
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security Ken Rapuano has been tasked with monitoring the virus’ impact on allies, to include “scenario planning” on potential impacts, according to breakingdefense.com.
Undoubtedly, the impact on the defense industries is only a part of the growing consequences of the coronavirus outbreak on global industries in general, and on world supply chains in all field.
International Disaster Management Expert: Unmanned Systems’ Use During Disasters Expanding Dramatically
The international experts on disaster management and leadership, community resilience, and mass casualty events, considered one of the world’s leading experts in medical preparedness for complex emergencies and disasters, told that the use of unmanned systems on emergency for the prevention and coping with disasters has been expanding dramatically. Drones and other unmanned vehicles are extensively employed against the Coronavirus, he said, but this is still not enough.
The Chinese government makes widespread use of unmanned vehicles as it confronts the Coronavirus, both for the prevention of contagion through minimizing human touch, and in order to ease the burden from the medical staff, as well as a remote command and control method. The extensive employment of technological systems when coping with emergency situations and disasters and for saving lives is one of the military laboratories’ major fields of expertise.
With this regard, the author mentions the following use cases of drones:
Focused spraying: Drones enable focused spraying of low-accessibility regions, and without risking the teams.
Epidemiological intelligence: Drone cameras can map and locate patients, disease carriers, bodies, finding convenient access routes for patient treatment, etc.
Direct communications: When communication is deficient, drones could supply a direct link with disconnected communities.
Medical video conference: Assisting in the conducting of direct consultations with a medical doctor or nurse and receiving prevention directions and treatment.
Medications supply: Drones can deliver medications and prevention agents directly to the required destination.
Blood, saliva and secretion samples delivery: Drones can transfer samples from the contaminated area to the lab, in a sterile way and without contaminating other people.
Control of the event management: Drones can supply an authentic image of the scene, especially regarding quarantined areas, access routes, temporary hospitals, and more.
Infrastructure and sanitation examinations: Drones can help examine water systems, sewerage, etc. in order to detect flaws that might exacerbate the epidemiological disaster and cause further contamination.
Focused neutralization of the pandemic’s causes: The factors that led to the current pandemic are under examination. There are several hypotheses. For certain, the source is a certain animal. In such cases, drones can be recruited for checking this assumption, helping to catch the animal and bring it to the lab for tests. In case a certain animal is identified as the source, it can be exterminated in a focused way. It is also possible to detect this animal’s herds, track and neutralize them. Sometimes a virus is spread via mosquitoes (as in the case of the Zika virus), then, too, they can be caught and collected by drones and brought to the lab for tests.
Air quality monitoring: Sensors mounted on drones can monitor the air quality at epidemic regions and even monitor the required levels of environmental treatment spraying.
Artificial intelligence: Of course, all the data accumulated by the drones and the medical know-how can be collected in order to improve preventive medical treatment through artificial intelligence.
Citizens instruction: Drones can showcase videos, images and presentations and instruct specific populations as to the required behavior.
Heavy regulation has been hampering the drone market, and the defence experts evaluate that the market will continue to be affected by massive regulation, however, this is an everyday regulation. The minute a disaster occurs, everything changes. “An emergency is declared, and all the rules of the game are changing swiftly, towards achieving the following major goals: saving lives, preventing suffering, and increasing community resilience. This is the reason why it is probable that in any major disaster, the state would allow the extensive use of drones. The main problem is the lack of enough experts in the world who could find the required features of the disaster response drones.”
The dynamics of the coronavirus global cases are well visualized in this constantly updating dashboard by Johns Hopkins CSSE (Center for Systems Science and Engineering. The dashboard includes confirmed cases by country/region, total deaths and recovered.
World private organizations and government agencies are scrambling to implement business continuity planning (BCP) measures for the coronavirus. BCP is the process of creating systems of prevention and recovery to deal with potential threats to a company or organization.
What BCP measures have been taken in Asia? According to international news agencies, in Hong Kong, many companies have already activated extensive BCPs for the coronavirus in comparison to jurisdictions with similar numbers of confirmed cases, partially due to containment measures from the local government, lessons learned during the SARs outbreak and the region’s close proximity to mainland China.
Measures include remote working arrangements for a large percentage of the workforce. Some companies have provided personal protection supplies such as surgical masks and hand disinfectant for employees who have to come to the office to perform their job duties.
There have been fewer reports of companies in South Korea, Japan or Thailand implementing business continuity measures such as asking employees to work from home or limiting employee travel.
What is Military Role in Coping with Coronavirus?
Concerns have been rising regarding the spread of the Coronavirus outside the boundaries of China, and the World Health Organization has already defined the situation as “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.” Alongside preparedness at the civilian level, what is the role of military forces in coping with this peril?
In Israel, the IDF and the Medical Corps are prepared for the possibility of a contamination, according to the IDF website, however, no details were disclosed regarding the role of the military in the preparations. In spite of caution measures, the IDF Radio reported that Asian soldiers have been training with IDF soldiers. IDF Spokesman commented that there was no risk of contagion.
What role is the US military fulfilling with this regard if an outbreak were to occur in the U.S? The military has substantial medical and logistical assets, from hospital ships to heavy lift transport, and the Pentagon can help civilian authorities respond to a medical emergency — both on US soil and abroad.
According to popularmechanics.com, the use of the U.S. military within American borders is a tricky exercise. Due to an aversion to the domestic use of armed troops reaching back to the Revolutionary War, the military can by law only perform certain missions, and is usually prohibited from law enforcement tasks. Other missions, including transportation, search and rescue, and medical support could be undertaken without legal restriction. The Air Force’s C-5M Super Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III, and C-130J Super Hercules transports can move huge amounts of supplies by air.
The U.S. Navy also has substantial medical assets. Most large ships, including aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships, have extensive medical facilities, including operating rooms, recovery rooms, x-ray machines, and other equipment.
The Navy also has two hospital ships, USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort.
The U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps also maintain dedicated units designed to operate in chemical, nuclear, radiological, and most importantly biological environments. The Marines’ CBIRF – Chemical Biological Incident Response Force is a battalion-sized unit based at Indian Head, Maryland. The CBIRF is a high readiness force capable of deploying quickly to respond to crises. It can deploy one initial response force of 150 personnel within 24 hours, and the second force within 48 hours.
These are only several aspects of the military role in the likelihood of a contagion in the US.