Defense Watch: SASC Hearing, New Hacker Group, Cyber Acquisition

New Hacker Group. Symantec has discovered a new cyber attack group, called Gallmaker, that is targeting government and military organizations, specifically embassies located in an Eastern European country and defense targets in the Middle East. The company discovered the new group using its artificial intelligence-based Targeted Attacks Analytics tool. Symantec said the group has been active since December 2017 with its latest attacks observed in June 2018. Gallmaker utilizes a fake Microsoft Office document made to look legitimate, and sends it to organizations where an employee may open the file thus exposing a vulnerability and allowing hackers to infiltrate the network. “Gallmaker bears the hallmarks of a highly targeted cyber espionage campaign supported by a nation-state,” Greg Clark, Symantec CEO, said in a statement.

Cyber Acquisition. ForeScout Technologies, a provider of software to provide visibility and control of traditional and Internet of Things devices once they connect to a network, has acquired SecurityMatters for $113 million in cash. SecurityMatters provides cyber security capabilities and services specific to operational technology (OT). “SecurityMatters’ technology and talent will accelerate our success in securing OT, expand our total addressable market, and reinforce our solution as the industry’s only, end-to-end agentless device visibility and control platform,” Michael DeCesare, president and CEO of ForeScout, said.

Columbia Materials. General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) recently awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding a $197 million modification for long-lead-time material and advance construction activities for the first Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, SSBN-826. GDEB is the prime for the Columbia program. These advanced procurement funds will be used to buy major components and commodity material as well as to start advance construction of SSBN-826. “This contract modification is critical in engaging the submarine industrial base as we continue our efforts to support starting full construction in Fiscal Year 2021,” Jason Ward, Newport News’ vice president for Columbia-class construction, said in a statement. SSBN-826 is expected to start construction in FY 2021 and be delivered by 2028.

Keen Sword 2019. The Navy’s Ronald Reagan Strike Group completed the biennial Keen Sword 2019 exercise with units from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) on Nov. 8. Keen Sword started in 1980 to increase combat readiness and interoperability between U.S. and Japanese military forces. This time the U.S. strike group and Japanese forces conducted several events over a 13-day period including logistics exchanges, replenishments-at-sea, and senior leadership engagements, as well as air-defense, anti-submarine warfare, and three-day war-at-sea exercises. Ultimately, 10,000 U.S. military members from Pacific Fleet, U.S. Forces Japan., 7th Fleet, the 5th Air Force, the 374th Airlift Wing, the 18th Wing, the 35th Fighter Wing, and III Marine Expeditionary Force participated in the exercise.

SASC Cyber Hearing. The Senate Armed Services Committee’s cybersecurity subcommittee has scheduled a Nov. 14 hearing on the Pentagon’s cybersecurity acquisition and practices from the private sector. Witnesses for the hearing include senior officials from four IT companies: Crowdstrike Inc., Palo Alton Networks, Core Consulting LLC and Parsons Corp.

… And Navy/Marine Corps Readiness Hearing. The SASC subcommittees on seapower and readiness and management support have scheduled a Dec. 5 hearing on U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Readiness. Witnesses include Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. William Moran and GAO Director of Defense Capabilities and Management John Pendleton.

Commander Nominations. The full SASC committee will consider the nominations of several senior leaders after Thanksgiving. On Nov. 29, it will consider Thomas McCaffery to be assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and William Bookless to be principal deputy administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration. On Dec. 4, it will consider Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, currently director of the joint staff, to be promoted to general and become commander for U.S. Central Command. The committee will also consider Army Lt. Gen. Richard Clarke, currently director for strategic plans and policy of the joint staff, to be promoted to general and become U.S. Special Operations Command commander.

Army Satellites. The Army has selected Dynetics, a Huntsville, Alabama-based technology company, to build new small satellites that will host the service’s next generation of tactical space support payloads in low Earth orbit, the company announced Nov. 5. The Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command Technical Center selected Dynetics to develop, test, integrate and demonstration two tactical space support vehicles under a program dubbed Gunsmoke-L. The $8.3 million contract will run two years and includes one option year, the company said in a statement Monday.

Air Force Satellites. The Air Force on Thursday awarded Ball Aerospace a $255 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for the previously awarded Weather System Follow-On Microwave contract. Ball was selected in December 2017 to build the DoD’s next-generation environmental satellite system, which will provide weather intelligence to warfighters. The contract modification exercises an option for development and fabrication of the program’s initial space vehicle, according to the contract announcement. Work will be performed in Boulder, Colorado, and is expected to be completed by Jan. 15, 2023. Fiscal 2018 research, development, test and evaluation funds are being obligated at the time of award. With the contract modification award, the total cumulative face value of the contract is over $349 million.

MQ-9 Training Contract. Crew Training International Inc. on Wednesday, was awarded a $241 million firm-fixed-price contract for the Air Force’s MQ-9 Contract Aircrew Training and Courseware Development training program. Work will be performed at Creech AFB, Nevada; Holloman AFB, New Mexico; March Air Reserve Base, California; Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, New York, along with other locations. Work is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2023. Eight offers were received for this contract, according to the Air Force. Over $1 million in fiscal year 2019 operations and maintenance funds are being obligated at time of award for the phase-in period.

DCCA/Intel Cyber. IT company Data Computer Corporation of America (DCCA) said on Nov. 7 it has received a five-year, $138.9 million deal to provide support services for operational signals intelligence and cyber systems for an unnamed Pentagon intelligence agency. DCCA is tasked with providing data analytics, cyber security services, software and hardware engineering and development operations to mature software for the agency. 

CVN-79 Schedule. Huntington Ingalls Industries is on track to launch ahead of schedule the Navy’s second Ford-class aircraft carrier, the USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), Mike Petters, the company’s president and CEO, said on a Nov. 8 earnings call. The ship is 84 percent structurally complete and 53 percent complete overall, he said. When the carrier is in the water in about a year, HII will have a good idea if it made any mistakes in accelerating the launch, Petters added.

T-EPF-11. The U.S. Navy plans to christen the newest Expeditionary Fast Transport ship, the future USNS Puerto Rico (T-EPF-11), during a ceremony at Austal USA’s shipyard in Mobile, Ala., on Nov. 10. The EPF is a commercial-based catamaran able to deliver up to 600 short tons of military cargo, travel up to 1,200 nautical miles, and at an average speed of 35 knots. It can operate in shallow-draft and damaged ports and features both a flight deck for helicopter operations and an off-load ramp to on/off-load a combat-loaded Abrams battle tank. Austal USA plans to deliver the USNS Burlington (T-EPF-10) later this month while the future USNS Newport (T-EPF-12) is currently under construction.

Hire a Vet. Monster Worldwide, better known through its website that connects people to jobs, released its fourth annual best companies for veterans list with ManTech International at the top. Factors in identifying the companies include veteran hiring, onboarding, and retention programs. Following ManTech, the next companies and organizations in order are CACI International, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Booz Allen Hamilton, PRISM Inc., Lockheed Martin, Intelligent Waves LLC, Union Pacific, BAE Systems, and Schneider.

NGEN Extension. The Navy awarded Perspecta’s Enterprise Services a potential $486 million modification to add a new eight-month option period to the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) contract. NGEN is the Navy’s enterprise-wide information technology services contract vehicle. This modification extends the potential ordering period from October 2019 through May 2020. This is a sole-source acquisition to the incumbent. The Navy previously awarded Perspecta a $787 million contract in September extending the existing NGEN through September 2019. In September and October the Navy released RFPs for the two parts of NGEN’s successor, the NGEN Re-compete (NGEN-R).

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