Defense Watch

Space Revamp. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, who opposed a House proposal to create a space corps in the Air Force Department, said she is not yet ready to comment on the final space management overhaul provisions that lawmakers have included in the newly unveiled fiscal year 2018 defense authorization conference report. “The language is just out and, of course, it’s still pending legislation” because the full House and Senate have not yet voted on it, she told reporters at the Pentagon Nov. 9. ” We haven’t gone through the whole bill” yet. While the legislation rejects the space-corps proposal, it makes several other major changes that affect Air Force space efforts, including ending the Air Force secretary’s role as the Defense Department’s principal space adviser.

JPSS-1 Launch Delayed. The liftoff of the first Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS-1) has been delayed from Nov. 10 to Nov. 14 to replace a faulty battery on the launch vehicle booster, according to Vandenberg AFB, Calif. Built by Ball Aerospace for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA, the weather satellite will lift off on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta 2.

DoD Appointees. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis announces a slew of Department of Defense Senior Executive Service appointments and assignments, including Veronica Blount Daigle to become principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for readiness. Daigle serves as the senior adviser for national security in the Office of Management and Budget. She also is former director of the Force and Infrastructure Analysis Division in the office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation in the Department of Defense. 

… Civil Works. Ryan A. Fisher is selected to become principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army for civil works. Fisher is chief of the Planning & Environmental Branch in the Pittsburgh District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

… DSD Assistant. Justin T. Johnson is selected as special assistant to the deputy secretary of defense. Johnson is special assistant to the undersecretary of defense for comptroller in the Department of Defense, and served on Department of Defense Landing Team with the Trump Transition Team.

… Public Affairs. Charlie E. Summers is selected as the principal deputy assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs. Summers serves in the Navy Reserve, and is most recently executive director for the Veterans Count. He holds the rank of captain in the Navy Reserve, where he serves as a public affairs officer. Summers is also a former Maine state senator and was the state's 48th secretary of state.

… DARPA Director. Steven H. Walker is selected as director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Walker is currently the deputy director of DARPA and has served as the acting director since January 2017. Walker’s 30-year career includes important technology development efforts in the areas of advanced propulsion, aero-acoustics, space systems and hypersonics.

… Army Acquisitions. Jeffrey S. White is selected for assignment as the principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology. White is vice president of business development; vice president of federal energy, infrastructure, and healthcare; and vice president of Army programs for Siemens Government Technologies.

Virtual Training. Meggitt Training Systems introduces its new immersive, multi-screen FATS 300 system at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference  (I/ITSEC) 2017. The debut follows the introduction of the FATS 100P portable training system and Live-Fire Screen earlier this fall. The system includes five free-standing flat screens arranged in hexagonal format with the remaining side used as an entrance. Five digital cameras feed information into the hit detection system. Short-throw projectors allow users freedom of movement within the training space. The system can be operated in a variety of lighting conditions, featuring a combination of scenario sounds, plus those added by the instructor for increased realism. Soldiers can train with rifles, pistols, machine guns, anti-armor and non-lethal deterrents like pepper spray and Tasers. Other weapon types can be added via installed software. The system can support up to 20 simulated weapons, including a maximum of four assigned to a single user.

DARPA Contract. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) selects Northrop Grumman to collaborate on development of a graph processor chip that aims to enhance efficiencies and capabilities of today’s top processors. As a part of DARPA’s newly instated Hierarchical Identify Verify Exploit (HIVE) program, Northrop Grumman will work with five other entities to implement and evaluate real-time performance of various graph algorithms in a newly developed HIVE chip. HIVE seeks to create and integrate technologies that will potentially lead to the development of a generic graph processor, responsible for quickly analyzing large data sets to determine correlations and dependencies that were not able to be discovered before.

Japan Missile Defense. Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera is set to visit the Hawaii test facility for the land-based Aegis Ashore missile defense system in January 2017, according to local media reports. During the visit, the U.S. plans to conduct missile intercept tests and Japan hopes to learn more about the system’s operations and what to be aware of in deployment. Reports also say Onodera is expected to speak with Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command.

German P-3C. Germany awards Lockheed Martin a $158.5 million contract for the second phase of the German Navy P-3C Orion mission system refresh program to upgrade processing suites on the country’s eight P-3Cs. This is planned to support operations through 2035. The refresh is part of an overall fleet upgrade which includes structural mid-life upgrades and upgrading the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) cockpit capability. The program uses Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) components to reduce future obsolescence costs. This award takes the program from Preliminary Design Review through completion in 2022.

State Cyber Update. The chairman and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a letter on Wednesday to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson requesting an update on his department’s cyber security strategies. Tillerson is planning for a department reorganization that includes shutting the State Department’s cyber diplomacy office and shifting its responsibilities to the State Department’s economics bureau. Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) want an update on Tillerson’s plans for the office and request that reports on cyber deterrence are made available to the public.

MGT/NDAA. The final version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2018 retains a conference-approved proposal for an amendment which creates working capital funds for federal agencies to use toward IT modernization. The amendment originally began as the Modernizing Government Technology Act and was first introduced by Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas). If approved, the working capital funds can be accessed for up to three years and used towards phasing out legacy IT systems.

T-ESB-5. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer says the next Expeditionary Sea Base ship, (T-ESB-5) will be named in honor of Marine Corps Vietnam war veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Miguel Keith. The ships is set to carry up to 250 personnel and support missions including air mine countermeasures (AMCM), counter-piracy, maritime security, humanitarian and disaster relief mission, and crisis response operations. The Future USNS Miguel Keith will be built at the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) in San Diego. The Navy expects ship delivery in 2019.

Tomahawks. The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) awarded Raytheon a $260 million modification to procure 196 Tomahawk Block IV all-up-round vertical launch system missiles and spares. It also covers procuring spare parts and support for UK missiles. Work is expected to be finished by August 2019.

International Navy Exercises. The U.S. Navy, South Korean Navy, and Royal Australian Navy conducted a multilateral maritime interdiction operations (MIO) exercise off South Korea from Nov. 6-7. The exercise aimed to improve partner interoperability and focus on interdicting security threats that impact regional security. Personnel from partner countries in Europe, North America, and Asia also participated in the MIO exercise as observers. South Korean Rear Adm. Choi Seong-mo said the drill focused on stopping the shipment of North Korean nuclear and WMD material out of the country. The USS Chafee (DDG-90) joined a Korean destroyer and two Australian frigates in the exercise.

P-3B. The U.S. Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $260 million undefinitized modification for the modernization and upgrade of four Greek P-3B Orion aircraft. The work covers structural mid-life upgrades, tailored phased depot maintenance, country-specific designed mission integration and management system, and new avionics. The mid-life service aims to extend the service life of aircraft by 15,000 flight hours each. The work is expected to be finished by December 2023.

LCS PSA. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) awards BAE Systems a $22.5 million modification to exercise options for post-shakedown availabilities (PSAs) for the Littoral Combat Ships USS Little Rock (LCS-9) and USS Sioux City (LCS-11). This includes all manpower, support services, material, non-standard equipment, and associated technical data and documents needed to prepare for and complete the PSA. Work will occur in Jacksonville, Fla., and is expected to be finished by February 2019.

Another Laser Demo. The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) awards General Atomics a $9 million contract for Low Power Laser Demonstrator (LPLD) Phase 1 work. The company will perform the next step for the LPLD effort, addressing laser power and aperture size by integrating and testing a low-power laser on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Work is expected to be finished by July 2018. This is the second LPLD Phase 1 contract awarded, following Lockheed Martin in October. The LPLD program aims to intercept ballistic missiles in their boost phase with directed energy/laser weapons.

Triton Targeting. The Naval Surface Warfare Center awarded Raytheon a $7.2 million firm-fixed-price contract to produce and deliver three multi-spectral targeting systems (MTS) “B” AN/DAS-3 and one electronic unit for the Navy’s MQ-4C Triton UAV. This equipment supports low-rate initial production (LRIP) two efforts for the Triton. Work is expected to be finished by January 2020.

CG-53 Aegis. The Navy said the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG-53) tested the new Aegis Baseline 9 Combat System in a live-fire exercise off Southern California on Oct. 24. CG-53 is the first cruiser to upgrade to the newest Aegis system, which increases the range and accuracy of the missile defense system. In the test the Mobile Bay fired two Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) and one Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) missile from the ship’s forward launcher. The Navy said primary objectives of testing the Fire Control Loop in the new baseline system are successfully demonstrated. Baseline 9 also enables CG-53 to use the SM-6 missile, the Navy said.

Naval Propulsion. NAVSEA awarded Bechtel a nearly $230 million modification for naval nuclear propulsion components. Work will occur largely in Monroeville, Pa., with 11 percent in Schenectady, N.Y.

AH-1Z. NAVAIR awarded Bell Helicopter Textron a $38 million modification to build and deliver two full-rate production Lot 14 AH-1Z aircraft. Work is expected to be finished by Nov. 2019 and will occur in Fort Worth and Amarillo, Texas.

Air Force Cyber Shift. The Air Force is repurposing its airmen that provision services for the service’s information networks so that they can be used in defending weapons systems and critical infrastructure, says Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, commander of Air Force Space Command. “We need to focus on the side of the spectrum that our nation depends on us for and that’s the defense of our weapons systems and critical infrastructure,” he says at the CyberSat17 conference last week. Raymond says that the majority of the Air Force’s 30,000 airmen are currently devoted to “provisioning services.”

…Opportunities for Industry. Raymond says that as the Air Force moves its own personnel away from basic support functions to cyber warfighting needs, it opens opportunities for industry to help. “We’re hoping to partner with industry to secure and procure enterprise IT as a service and allowing us to repurpose our airmen to do the job that our nation needs them to do, to defend, and if necessary, fight and go in in the cyberspace domain.”

Soldier Cyber Awareness. U.S. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, tells reporters in Brussels that allied military leaders are addressing concerns with their troops about the potential of the Russians to hack their personal electronic devices as part of information warfare operations. “It's a matter of training now,” he tells the Brussels press corps at the NATO Defense Ministerial Nov. 9.  “They have to be aware of this.  They have to know how to protect themselves.  They have to expect it going in.  The guidance that I have given to troops to include American, plus as the NATO SACEUR Commander, is it's part of our responsibilities to prepare them for the environment they are going to be in and activity short of conflict that includes information, disinformation, those kind of things are part of our world today.” Media reports in early October said Russian had been hacking into the smartphones of NATO soldiers to gather information about forces and even to intimidate individual troops.

Missile Defense Concerns. While Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, supports the $4.4 billion increase for missile defense that lawmakers have included in the fiscal year 2018 defense authorization conference report, he is concerned about industry’s ability to support such a big, rapid jump in spending. “The lack of predictability is the biggest enemy of the industrial base,” he says. “You can’t just change things overnight.” If it turns out that the full increase cannot be spent, "you have to use common sense," he adds.

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