Defense Watch: SpaceX Win, DoD Approps Activity, Transcom Nominee

SpaceX Contract. SpaceX has edged out United Launch Alliance (ULA) for a U.S. Air Force contract to place a classified satellite in orbit in late fiscal year 2020. Under the $130 million contract, announced late June 21 and awarded through the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, SpaceX’s new Falcon Heavy rocket will launch the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC)-52 satellite from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The competition was the fifth under the EELV Phase 1A procurement strategy, which reintroduces competition for national security space launches. SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy for the first time during a February flight test. The Air Force certified Falcon Heavy for national security space missions on June 19.

House Defense Approps. House members have asked the House Rules Committee to clear more than 120 amendments for consideration during floor debate on the fiscal year 2019 defense appropriations bill. One amendment, offered by Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), would allow the Navy to conduct a dual buy of the third and fourth Ford-class aircraft carriers (CVN-80 and CVN-81). Another, by Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), would add $65 million to replace wings on A-10 close-air-support aircraft. Both amendments are intended to match provisions in the House-passed FY 2019 defense authorization bill. The Rules Committee is scheduled to meet June 25 and 26 to decide which amendments will be debated on the floor later in the week.

Senate Defense Approps. The Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense panel plans to mark up its fiscal year 2019 defense appropriations bill June 26. The full committee intends to take up the legislation June 28.

TRANSCOM Nominee. Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Lyons is scheduled to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee June 26 on his nomination to lead U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. He would replace Air Force Gen. Darren McDew, who is retiring.

SSN-764. Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding has started its scheduled overhaul work on the Los Angeles-class USS Boise (SSN-764). The submarines arrived at HII-NNS on June 18 and is set to first undergo maintenance and repair activities pierside before it is moved to a dry dock in January 2019. The total extended engineering overhaul is planned to take 25 months, with an expected completion date in 2021. This work includes system upgrades.

SSN Material. Naval Sea Systems Command awarded General Dynamics Electric Boat a $225 million modification for economic ordering quantity material for FY ’19-‘23 Block V Virginia-class submarines, SSNs 802-811. The work is expected to be finished by January 2019. Block V submarines will accommodate four Virginia Payload module tubes for seven Tomahawks each, making each vessel longer than previous blocks.

355 Ships. Vice Adm. Thomas Moore, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), told an American Society of Naval Engineers’ (ASNE) annual event that to reach the 355-ship fleet size before the 2050s it has to keep current ships in service for longer. “If you want to keep all the classes out to as long as you can keep them, and there’s cost associated with that, we think we can get to 355 now in the early 2030s – 2032 to 2035,” he said. Moore said the service is seriously looking at that, noting the FY ’18 budget request “funds to keep the cruisers around a little longer, and the Navy’s taking a serious look at do we want to keep other ships around, in particular the DDGs, going forward.”

E-2C Trap. An E-2C Hawkeye completed its first arrestment with the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) at the Runway Arrested Landing Site (RALS) in Lakehurst, N.J., in early June. This AAG helps test features used on the new arresting gear of Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers. The E-2C is the latest aircraft participating in AAG performance testing to ensure the system can support all carrier air wing vehicles.

Aquabotix. Underwater robotics company UUV Aquabotix Ltd. agreed to start supporting the U.S. Navy’s Forward Deployed Energy and Communications Outpost (FDECO) program as a member of the Innovative Undersea Prototype Development Consortium (iUPDC). FDECO prototypes are forward deployed, open, scalable, and coordinated data management and communications infrastructure for undersea vehicles. iUPDC helps industry prototype technology research to support FDECO. “As a member of iUPDC, Aquabotix will be afforded opportunities to bid on research and development and prototype maturation projects. Aquabotix is grateful to the Consortium for the confidence that this invitation shows in Aquabotix’s abilities,” Whitney Million, Aquabotix’s CEO, said in a statement.

Ouch! The Transportation Security Administration terminated a $578 million contract it previously awarded to Peraton to provide integrated logistics support for the agency’s transportation security equipment deployed at airport checkpoints. The contract was slated to begin on June 1 but instead, TSA has extended its existing contract with incumbent contractor Leidos “to ensure continued services and will issue a replacement contract as soon as practicable,” an agency spokesman told Defense Daily. He said the contract was terminated “in the best interest of the U.S. government.” A Peraton spokesman said the company “is currently engaged in a constructive dialogue with the TSA regarding the contract.” The contract was awarded last fall and was the biggest in Peraton’s history. Leidos initially protested but then withdrew the complaint in January, just days before the Government Accountability Office was expected to render a decision.

Deal Approved. Analogic stockholders approved the $1.1 billion acquisition of their company by the private equity firm Altaris Capital Partners and the deal closed on June 22. Analogic, which was publicly traded on the NASDAQ, is now a privately held company. Analogic makes medical imaging equipment, security detection systems for aviation security, and a rapid DNA analysis system.

AI Made in America. Federal information technology and professional services provider NCI, Inc., has launched an artificial intelligence solution it calls Shai, which stands for Scaling Humans with Artificial Intelligence. The company said that Shai is only coded in the U.S., which means it meets federal cyber security requirements. The solution is aimed at repetitive tasks in three areas: service desk support, back office support, and data entry and data migration. “With a dedicated tool like Shai, agencies can automate repetitive, high-volume task so their personnel can work on more complex mission-critical tasks,” Brad Mascho, NCI’s chief AI officer, said.

Nominations and Appointments. President Donald Trump has nominated retired Vice Adm. Joseph Maguire to director of the National Counterterrorism Center within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The NCTC was established after 9/11 to better connect information collected by the intelligence community to ferret out terrorists and their plots. Maguire is currently president and CEO of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and retired from the Navy in 2010 following a 36-year career, that included command at every level of the Naval Special Warfare Command, the White House said. CACI International said that it has appointed Deborah Plunkett to its board of directors effective July 1. Plunkett held a number of senior leadership positions with the National Security Agency. She will serve on the Audit, Investor Relations, and Strategic Assessment Committees on the board.

ARCYBER/Threat Monitoring. The Army awarded Applied Insight and DV United a five-year, $6.5 million deal to manage an insider threat monitoring program for its cyber unit. The two companies will run Army Cyber Command’s User Activity Monitoring (UAM) Program. To support the UAM program, Applied Insight and DV United will offer threat detection & mitigation services, data analytics, cyber behavior heuristics analysis and incident reporting.





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