The Latest Word On Trends And Developments In Aerospace And Defense

JFCOM Jitters. The SASC plans to examine Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ plan to shutter the U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va. The SASC hearing, to be scheduled after Congress returns to Washington in mid-September, will cover all of Gates’ recent proposals for making the Pentagon more efficient. SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) says he agrees with Gates’ cost-savings objectives, yet believes “the far-reaching initiatives announced by the (defense) secretary deserve close scrutiny from our committee.” SASC Personnel subcommittee Chairman Jim Webb (D-Va.) requested the hearing and wants Gates to suspend any action on closing JFCOM before “ample” congressional review. “The White House and the Secretary’s lack of prior consultation with Congress on his entire set of recommendations is deeply troubling,” Webb says Aug. 24. “The Department of Defense has declined for two weeks to provide any additional details regarding the decision to close JFCOM. The committee’s hearing will afford us the opportunity to receive answers to the many questions that, for whatever reason, Secretary Gates has declined to provide since he announced his initiatives.”

Stryker Hike. Congress has approved the Pentagon’s June 11 request to shift $102 million within its coffers for an effort to add angled hulls to the bottom of General Dynamics’ Stryker vehicles. “The funds will provide for the evaluation and implementation of survivability and force protection upgrades for Stryker vehicles based on Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) field experience and lessons learned,” the Pentagon’s reprogramming request states. “Specifically, the funds are required to provide an integrated solution of increased protection and v-hull survivability against Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). The objective is a modified hull design with related integrated system changes that achieve IED protection.”

Cyber Flash. Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn discloses in a new article that the most significant breach to Pentagon computers occurred in 2008 when someone plugged an infected flash drive into a U.S. military laptop at a base in the Middle East. The drive’s malicious code, he writes in the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, uploaded itself onto a U.S. Central Command network. “That code spread undetected on both classified and unclassified systems, establishing what amounted to a digital beachhead, from which data could be transferred to servers under foreign control,” he writes. “It was a network administrator’s worst fear: a rogue program operating silently, poised to deliver operational plans into the hands of an unknown adversary.” Lynn says adversaries “have acquired thousands of files from U.S. networks and from the networks of U.S. allies and industry partners, including weapons blueprints, operational plans, and surveillance data.”

Keeping Up With the F-22. Lockheed Martin has received a $111.4 million contract modification from the Air Force for sustainment of the F-22 Raptor fleet, resulting in a contract value of $709 million. This modification is for the 2010 Follow-On Agile Sustainment for the Raptor (FASTeR) sustainment contract, which was issued initially in 2008 and extended in 2009. FASTeR is a Performance-Based Logistics contract providing weapon systems sustainment of the F-22 fleet at all operational bases for the 2010 calendar year, including training systems, customer support, integrated support planning, supply chain management, aircraft modifications and heavy maintenance, sustained engineering, support products and systems engineering. “Our focus in sustaining the F-22 Raptor fleet is total support to our customer by helping enable higher readiness rates, more sorties, faster response and lower life-cycle costs,” said Scott Gray, F-22 Program vice president of sustainment for Lockheed Martin. F-22s are assigned to seven U.S. bases. Flight testing takes place at Edwards AFB, Calif. Operational tactics development is ongoing at Nellis AFB, Nev. Pilot training occurs at Tyndall AFB, Fla. Operational F-22 aircraft are assigned to Langley AFB, Va.; Elmendorf AFB, Alaska; Holloman AFB, N.M.; and Hickam AFB, Hawaii.

GPS Transfer. The 50th Space Wing’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2 OPS) accepted command and control of the first Global Positioning System Block IIF satellite last week, the Air Force said. The GPS Wing at the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles AFB, Calif., remained in control of the satellite during the test period before the hand-off last week to 2 SOPS. “I’m extremely honored to accept command and control of the first GPS Block IIF satellite,” says Lt. Col. Jennifer Grant, 2 SOPS commander. “Fielding newer and more capable systems enables GPS to remain the world’s gold standard.” The next-generation GPS IIF satellites are expected to provide improved accuracy through advanced atomic clocks, a longer design life than legacy GPS satellites, and a new L5 civil signal (third civil signal) for civil aviation and other safety-of- life applications. It will also continue to deploy the modernized capabilities that began with the eight modernized GPS IIR satellites, including a more robust military signal. The 45th Space Wing at Patrick AFB successfully launched a United Launch Alliance Delta IV-Medium rocket carrying the first Boeing-built GPS IIF satellite on May 27.

GPS Receivers. Meanwhile, Rockwell Collins successfully delivered 21 developed prototype Ground-Based GPS Receiver Application Module Modernized receivers developed under the GPS Wing’s Receiver Card Development program. These GB-GRAM-M receivers recently completed the contractor’s formal qualification testing and have been delivered for the developmental test phase. Concurrent with card delivery, Rockwell Collins conducted live satellite signal track testing to support on-orbit testing of SVN 62 (GPS IIF-1). The live tracking of true Military Code signal and recent card deliveries mark a significant milestone in the Modernized User Equipment receiver development program. The goal of the MUE program is to demonstrate the critical technology needed to incorporate a new M-Code military signal and security architecture for enhanced integrity, exclusivity and improved anti-jam capabilities. These modernized precision-encrypted Y-code, M-Code and Coarse Acquisition code receivers process legacy signals while taking advantage of advanced signal structure and frequency offered by the new military signal. The modernized constellation with M-Code is expected to offer military users a significant anti-jam advantage, improved signal security, and improved acquisition performance in a denied environment.

Happy Birthday, Corona. Lockheed Martin last week congratulated the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) on the 50-year anniversary of the first Corona photo reconnaissance satellite image from space. First developed as a joint Air Force and CIA program to provide surveillance from space of denied territories, Corona achieved mission success on August 18, 1960 when an Air Force C-119 aircraft recovered in mid-air the satellite’s capsule containing imagery captured by the satellite’s panoramic camera system. Launched into polar orbits by Air Force Thor boosters, the spacecraft flew at approximate altitudes of 100 nautical miles to take pictures of selected target areas. The exposed film, some 2.1 million feet, was returned to earth in capsules ejected from the satellites. The program flew 145 missions, producing more than 800,000 images during its 12-year duration. Corona marked many “firsts” in space history, including the first recovery of a manmade object (capsule) from space and the first Lockheed Martin satellite in space. The first image from Corona was 104 days after U2 flights were suspended over the former Soviet Union following the shoot down of Francis Gary Powers in May 1960. Lockheed Missiles & Space Company was awarded the prime contract for the Corona program in 1956. An example of the Corona camera and recovery capsule is on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.

Big Day For CH-53K. The CH-53K Heavy Lift Helicopter Program achieves “Ready to Load” (RTL) condition with the successful light-off of its first Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) engine, Sikorsky says.. The achievement signals that the program is ready to begin formal integration testing in early 2011. The APU provides power to a 45KVA generator, a 58-horsepower hydraulic pump and hydraulic starter, and also provides bleed air to an environmental control system and main engine start system. It is used for ground operations, main engine start, and conditions when main electrical power provided by the aircraft’s main generators is lost. It is a critical element of the aircraft’s design, the company adds. The APU achieved RTL condition after light-off at 100 percent speed sustained for 30 seconds. The engine is now being prepared for safety of flight testing and accomplishing the on-time delivery of hardware for the ground test vehicle, Sikorsky says. The program is expected to achieve the Initial Operational Capability milestone in fiscal year 2018.

Thumbs-Up. Two General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies’ Warrior antenna terminals are now certified by the Army to use the Ka-band frequency to access the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) network, enabling warfighters to transmit and receive video, multimedia imagery and data faster and more securely, the company reports. Certification ensures that the General Dynamics Warrior 1.2 and 1.8 meter, Ka-band enabled terminals meet stringent performance and operational control requirements needed to operate on the WGS network. The WGS network comprises a constellation of six DoD satellites that provide flexible communications connectivity for U.S. military forces.

Navy Energy Awards. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus recognizes nine NAVSEA field activities for outstanding performance in energy and water management for FY ’09 accomplishments, the Navy reports. The SECNAV Energy Awards recognize outstanding commitment to energy and water conservation by Navy and Marine Corps activities and ships. Each year, the SECNAV Awards are presented to those ships and activities that have made notable progress toward achievement of Department of the Navy and federal goals for the reduction of energy and water consumption. This year’s list recognizes: Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility as the overall winner in the industrial category, achieving a 19 percent reduction from fiscal 2003 energy baseline, and a 28 percent reduction from fiscal 2007 water baseline; Portsmouth Naval Shipyard; NSWC Carderock Division’s Large Cavitation Channel, Memphis, Tenn.; NSWC Carderock Division’s Ship Systems Engineering Station, Philadelphia; NSWC Port Hueneme Division; and Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Keyport earned Gold Awards demonstrating outstanding energy programs. NUWC Division Newport; Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and IMF; and NSWC Carderock Division earned Blue Awards for well-rounded energy programs, the Navy adds.

Expanding Again. Schutt Industries, the leading manufacturer of military trailers, including the Light Tactical Trailer (LTT) says it has almost completed the latest expansion of their main office and manufacturing building. With more than 300,000 square feet of manufacturing space, Schutt must expand again to meet the demands of the international and domestic markets. The 14,000 sq. ft. addition will house a new quality assurance facility, four new receiving docks and additional manufacturing space. Jim Schutt, president and CEO says: “The additional space will enable us to further our diversity plans and ensure our customers the best possible quality while providing a state of the art temperature controlled facility for our employees.

First For Partnership Mission. In a first for the Australian Defence Force, Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Tobruk will become the command ship for the US-led humanitarian assistance mission Pacific Partnership 2010 (PP10). The ship is the command platform for the final leg of the six-country PP10 mission in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and will host personnel from the United States Navy, partner nations and non-government organizations onboard. As of Sept. 3, the multi-national PP10 team will work in the area of Rabaul, PNG, with members of the PNG Defence Force, non-government organizations, and the ship’s company of supporting ship USS Crommelin, to conduct medical, dental, engineering and community service projects.Pacific Partnership, as it has been known since 2007, has been sponsored annually by the Commander U.S. Pacific Fleet since the devastating effects of the 2004 tsunami.

New CIO Officer. TASC Inc. names Mark Leary chief information security officer (CISO). “The growing sophistication of the cyber threats against both government and industry requires assertive and integrated measures to defend our national security,” says Barbie Bigelow, vice president and chief information officer of TASC. “Mark’s extensive career experience in military and private industry information security will ensure that TASC’s corporate information infrastructure remains secure, resilient and agile.” Leary joins TASC from Northrop Grumman Corporation, where he served most recently as director and deputy Chief Information Security Officer. Leary retired from the Army after 22 years in military intelligence.

New Complex Honors Marine. The Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. community honors fallen New Jersey Marine 2nd Lt. John Thomas Wroblewski and his family by dedicating a new Pyrotechnic Research and Technology Complex in his name during a Sept. 8 ceremony. Wroblewski, 25, died April 6, 2004 from injuries received from hostile fire in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Brig. Gen. Jonathan Maddux, Picatinny commanding general, says. “We’re honored to name this state-of-the-art facility, which will provide new technologies to improve the safety of our warfighters, in the memory of this local hero.” The $18 million, 27,000 square-foot facility will house the only organization for pyrotechnic research, development and engineering within the U.S. Army. The facility will support all branches of the military and other government agencies, academia and industry, by providing the capability for joint design, fabrication, testing and evaluation of pyrotechnic munitions at one location.

Worldwide Reach. L-3 Communications says its GCS subsidiary is awarded a five-year, potential $170 million contract by SOCOM for its Panther(tm) Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) manpack satellite communications systems and associated equipment. The systems will be used to support SOCOM’s Special Operations Forces Deployable Node-Lite (SDN- Lite) program, which will provide worldwide satellite communications connectivity to Special Operations Forces field personnel. Bob Jacobson, president of L-3 GCS, says, “For the past two years, our goal has been to bring the size of a VSAT terminal down to a rucksack-sized package. We have achieved that goal, and USSOCOM has validated our vision with this award. Now, a single warfighter can have a megabit-per-second, beyond line-of-sight radio in his or her rucksack.” L-3 GCS will begin shipping MIL-tested and certified Ku-, Ka-, and X-band manpacks, data kits and power systems to SOCOM this calendar year. Additional units are scheduled for production and delivery over the life of the contract.

No Love For Russia. Connecticut lawmakers are vexed by the Navy’s decision to buy 21 Mi-17 helicopters for Afghan Security Forces that are made by Russian state-owned corporation Kazan Helicopters. They argue in a Aug. 26 letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates that U.S. companies should be allowed to bid on the aircraft. They request a copy of the Pentagon’s analysis of alternatives on the choppers and call for the aircraft solicitation to be changed. “Particularly in light of the great commitment the United States is making to Afghanistan, rather than procuring Russian helicopters with unclear reliability and cost, we believe it is only prudent to consider proposals from U.S. manufacturers, employing American workers, with a history of providing the Defense Department with the best equipment at the best value to the U.S. taxpayer,” states the letter from Sens. Chris Dodd (D) and Joe Lieberman (I/D), along with Democratic Reps. Rosa DeLauro, John Larson, Joe Courtney, and Christopher Murphy. The Government Accountability Office is weighing a protest Connecticut-based Sikorsky filed this month over the Navy’s plan to buy the Russian helicopters.