Defense Watch

Editor's Note. This will be the last issue of Defense Daily in 2017. Our next issue will be dated Jan. 3, 2018. Happy Holidays!

F-35 Production. Lockheed Martin plans to deliver about 90 F-35 Lightning IIs to U.S. and foreign customers in 2018, up from 66 fighter jets this year and 46 in 2016, a company spokesman says. Production is slated to continue increasing in the coming years, reaching a full rate of about 160 jets in 2023. The company has delivered a total of more than 265 F-35s so far.

Hill Air Force Base F-35As fly in formation over the Utah Test and Training Range, March 30, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/R. Nial Bradshaw)

Hill Air Force Base F-35As fly in formation over the Utah Test and Training Range, March 30, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/R. Nial Bradshaw)

F-35 Weapons Tests. The F-35 program has finished a series of developmental tests that show the fighter jet can accurately deliver a wide range of weapons using its latest software upgrade, Block 3F, according to Edwards Air Force Base in California. During the weapons delivery accuracy flight tests, which involved all three F-35 variants, the Lockheed Martin-built aircraft delivered air-to-air missiles, including AIM-120s, the AIM-9X and the United Kingdom’s Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile, and air-to-ground weapons, including the Paveway II and Paveway IV laser-guided bombs, the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb, the GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition and the AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon. “The F-35 proved it was extremely capable in delivering these weapons where we wanted it and how we wanted it delivered,” says Lt. Col. Tucker Hamilton, commander of the Air Force's 461st Flight Test Squadron and director of the F-35 Integrated Task Force. Testers also used the F-35’s GAU-22 25mm Gatling gun, which is internally carried on the Air Force A variant and employed on a gun pod beneath the jet on the Marine Corps and Navy B and C variants.

F-22 Sustainment. The Air Force has awarded a 10-year, $7 billion contract to Lockheed Martin to continue sustaining the F-22 Raptor, the Pentagon announced Dec. 21. Lockheed Martin built the stealth fighter, which achieved its initial operational capability 12 years ago.

Columbia-Class. General Dynamics Electric Boat awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division a contract worth upwards of $468 million to start work on integrating product and process development for the U.S. Navy’s new Columbia-class nuclear ballistic missile submarines. GD Electric Boat is the lead shipyard and contractor while HII serves as a subcontractor. This is part of the Navy’s $5 billion contract in September to complete the detailed design of the vessel. The Columbia-class submarine will replace the current Ohio-class submarines.

PAC-3 Production. The U.S. Army awarded Lockheed Martin a $945 million modification for the initial fiscal year 2018 Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC)-3 production option exercise. This includes 54 U.S. Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missiles, 24 Qatar MSE missiles, 130 Saudi Arabia Cost Reduction Initiative missiles, and associated ground support equipment. Work is expected to be finished by Jan. 2021.

New Cruise Missiles. The Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded $110 million contracts to both Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to design, build and test cruise missile prototypes that use advanced networking to defeat integrated air defense systems. The lab says it received seven bids for the technology demonstration effort, called Gray Wolf.

Payload Deployer. The Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, which recently tapped Orbital ATK to design and build a new platform to deploy small satellites and other secondary payloads from Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) rockets, says it plans to conduct a critical design review in March and conduct the first launch in June 2019. The platform, known as the LDPE, or Long Duration Propulsive EELV Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA), will be based on the company’s ESPAStar platform and will be positioned between the launch booster and the primary space vehicle.

Falcon Heavy. SpaceX says it plans to conduct the first flight test of its Falcon Heavy rocket in January from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch, which has been delayed by several years, was most recently slated to occur in 2017, but SpaceX founder Elon Musk conceded at a conference in July that the rocket’s development has proven more challenging than expected.

F-35 Bases. The Air Force announced Dec. 21 that it plans to base F-35As at Dannelly Field in Alabama and Truax Field Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin starting in 2023. The decision brings to seven the number of active-duty, Reserve and Air National Guard bases slated to host F-35As.

JLTV Contract. Oshkosh Defense received a $100 million order for 258 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV). This is the seventh order for JLTVs since the contract was awarded in Aug. 2015. JLTV is in low-rate initial production (LRIP) and has delivered more than 1,000 trucks since Oct. 2016, according to Oshkosh. Those LRIP vehicles are undergoing government testing, and soldiers and Marines should vehicles for operational use in fiscal 2019. The program also anticipates a Full Rate Production decision in fiscal 2019 and both Army and Marine Corps Initial Operating Capability in early fiscal 2020. “Over time, we are confident there will be opportunities to expand this powerful vehicle platform to include new variants and configurations,” says Dave Diersen, vice president and general manager of joint programs at Oshkosh Defense. “We also see significant international market potential for allies requiring a tactical wheeled vehicle proven to provide the ballistic protection of a light tank, the underbody protection of an MRAP-class vehicle, the network capability of a mobile command center, and the off-road mobility of a Baja racer.”

Mattis On Strategy. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the National Security Strategy (NSS) released Dec. 18 “provides our Nation a clear and comprehensive strategy to address the security challenges that America faces. As the world’s most lethal armed force, the men and women of the United States military ensure our diplomats always speak from a position of strength.  Supported by our allies and partners, we will continue to defend our common security interests as we protect America from those seeking to threaten the freedoms we enjoy.”

...NSS Praise. The Aerospace Industries Association applauds the release of the NSS, calling it a “strong foundation for the future.” The strategy "acknowledges that a strong and resilient industrial base is a cornerstone of American security,” says AIA President and CEO David Melcher. “As an organization and an industry committed to delivering American strength, security, and prosperity, we look forward to partnering with the administration on achieving the goals of this strategy. We are pleased to see that the strategy recognizes that a vibrant industrial base depends on robust, balanced and stable funding, streamlined regulations, stronger trade and security partnerships with our allies, and a talented and motivated workforce. The patriotic workforce, 2.4 million strong, and the innovation at the heart of our industry is the foundation of America’s safety and security.”  

Valor Flight. When the Bell Helicopter V-280 Valor advanced tiltrotor prototype took its first flight Dec. 18, it was with a Spirit AeroSystem- built fuselage. The Bell V-280 lifted off the ground for the first time at Bell Helicopter’s Amarillo, Texas, facility on Dec. 18. Spirit AeroSystems is responsible for designing and building the complete fuselage for the V-280. Spirit AeroSystems delivered the complete fuselage to Bell in the fall of 2015 from its Rapid Prototype facility in Wichita, Kans. Spirit Defense designed and built the fuselage in just under 22 months. The fuselage is comprised of an aluminum sub-structure with composite skins.

Navy Audit. The U.S. Navy awarded the audit firms Deloitte and KPMG LLP a combined $980 million multiple award contract for financial improvement and audit readiness to support the Navy audit readiness program. The program is called the Department of the Navy Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness program. The contract for each company covers a 12-month base ordering period and four 12-month options. Work is expected to be finished by Nov. 2018, but if the options are exercised it will last through Nov. 2022. Fiscal year 2018 Navy operations and maintenance funds will be obligated as individual task orders are issued.

Stackley To CNA. Sean Stackley, former Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition (RDA) and acting Secretary of the Navy has joined the CNA Board of Trustees. Stackley served as Assistance Secretary from 2008 to 2017 and Acting Secretary of the Navy from January to August this year. He currently acts as an advisor to the under secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics) at the Pentagon.

2018 Security Risks. The expanding Internet of Things will be one of the top six security risks in 2018 as Internet-enabled devices will be used increasingly for distributed denial of service and other cyber attacks, says Adam Isles, principal at The Chertoff Group. Isles’ list is all cyber related, and cites the evolving “tradecraft” in nation-state activity as another top risk. “State actors are increasingly relying on capabilities, people and technology, with roots in organized crime,” he says. His other top risks are the “increased use of software subversion to bypass security controls,” ways to subvert identities to bypass cyber and fraud defenses, increase risk to cloud service providers and other third party partners, and more “disruptive and destructive attacks targeting industrial control systems.”

Antarctic Operations. The Coast Guard’s only heavy polar icebreaker, the cutter Polar Star, departed from Honolulu on Dec. 15 as part of the annual U.S. military operation to resupply the U.S. Antarctic Program. The 41-year old, 399-foot Polar Star will cut a 15 mile channel through ice, sometimes up to 10-feet thick, in McMurdo Sounds, Antarctica, to resupply the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo and Amundsen-Scott South Pole stations.

USS Anzio. The U.S. Navy awarded Britain’s BAE Systems a $45 million contract to modernize the USS Anzio (CG-68) guided missile cruiser. If all options are exercised, the total value would increase to over $53 million. Under this contract the Anzio will undergo six months of work at BAE’s shipyard in Norfolk, Va., including ship alterations and miscellaneous repairs like replacing critical aluminum structures. Work is set to begin in February and finished by Aug. 2018. The shipyard is currently doing the same modernization work for the USS Vicksburg (CG-69).

Nuclear Propulsion. The Navy Sea Systems Command awarded Bechtel a $571 million non-competitively procured contract for naval nuclear propulsion components. The contract falls under U.S. Code authority for only one responsible source. Two-thirds of the work will be done in Monroeville, Pa., and one-third in Schenectady, NY. The Navy didn't provide a completion date.

Japanese Aegis. NAVSEA awarded Lockheed Martin a $136 million foreign military sales cost-plus-incentive-fee and fixed fee letter contract to build new DDG Aegis weapon systems at J7 baseline development and integration to support the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. Work is expected to be finished by Dec. 2018.

Fitz Repair. NAVSEA awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries a $63 million modification for the initial collision ripout phase of the availability to repair and restore the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62). The work will include maintenance, modernization, and collision repair of the vessel. This work will occur in HII’s Pascagoula, Miss., facility and is expected to be finished by Sept. 2018.

Sea Hunter II. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) awarded Leidos a $35 million contract for a second Sea Hunter II autonomous continuous trail unmanned surface vessel. The contract includes options that if exercised would raise the value to over $43.5 million. The base and option periods for the contract work concurrently so work is expected to be finished by Dec. 2020. ONR procured the contract through a long-range science and technology broad agency announcement (BAA) jointly with the Navy and Marine Corps. Proposals will be received throughout the year under the BAA. 

Stennis RCOH. NAVSEA awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries a $16 million modification for the pre-advance planning requirements to support the refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) of the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74). This award covers pre-advance planning, fiscal 2018 shipchecks, design, documentation, engineering, procurement, fabrication, material, and preliminary shipyard support work. Work will occur in Newport News, Calif., and is expected to be finished by July 2018.

Aegis Test Missiles. The U.S. Navy awards Kratos Space and Missile Defense Systems Inc. an $11 million modification to procure additional Oriole rocket motor systems and hardware used on Aegis ballistic missile test targets. These sub-orbital vehicles are called Aegis readiness assessment vehicles. Work is expected to be finished by Jan. 2020.

Trident II. The U.S. Navy’s Strategic Systems Program awarded Lockheed Martin a $154 million contract to provide the U.S. and United Kingdom Trident II (D5) Strategic Weapon System Shipboard Integration Increment 8 efforts for submarine navigation subsystems. This work covers the future U.S. Columbia-class and British Dreadnought-class SSBNs. The work will provide required navigation hardware and software design, testing, installation, and deliverables for the shipboard integration increment plus correlating fleet support services for the current fleet ballistic missile navigation subsystem. Work is expected to be finished by Dec. 2020. 

Navy Personnel. The Navy has assigned Rear Adm. (lower half) Jeffrey Hughes as commander of Navy Personnel Command as well as deputy chief of Naval Personnel. He currently serves as commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 2, based in Virginia Beach, Va.

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