2021 Budget. The Defense Department continues to anticipate it will receive less funding in the fiscal year 2021 budget than it requested or received in the last two years, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood told Congress Thursday. “We’re planning for something that will be flat,” Rood told SASC members during a hearing. When asked by members whether that will impede plans to implement the 2018 National Defense Strategy, he answered: “Obviously additional funds make it easier to do things than fewer funds.”

OPC Notice.

The Coast Guard on Dec. 4 released a draft request for proposals announcing an Industry Day on Dec. 11 for the upcoming recompete of the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) and related industry studies. The Industry Day will be held at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore and will give attendees insight into the OPC industry studies that will be competitively awarded. The Coast Guard in October decided to grant limited relief to OPC shipbuilder Eastern Shipbuilding whose Florida shipyard was pummeled by a hurricane last year and set back production of the medium-endurance vessel. Under the relief terms, the Coast Guard is accepting a delay in the program but limiting the company’s contract to no more than four OPCs before recompeting the construction contract. Originally, Eastern was under contract to build nine OPCs with options for two more before the program would be recompeted. The Coast Guard plans to buy 25 ships in all.

New TSA Roadmaps. The Transportation Security Administration is working on two new roadmaps—one for insider threats and another for countering small drones—to provide its stakeholders with insight into its focus areas, Patty Cogswell, acting Deputy Administrator for TSA, said at an aviation security conference last Wednesday. TSA recently was given the lead federal response for reacting to persistent drone activity around airports. The insider threat roadmap will establish a framework to direct its efforts here, she said. The agency in the past year released roadmaps on cyber security and biometrics.

Contract Award. An Air Force award to Lockheed Martin worth $988 million for the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) program was issued Thursday, per a correction included in that day’s contract awards. The notice was originally posted in the Dec. 2 contract notifications.

Laser Experiments. The Air Force awarded Raytheon a $13 million modification to a previously awarded agreement for the High Energy Laser Weapon Systems (HELWS). The modification includes one additional HELWS being produced under the basic agreement for an AFRL-led field experiment to be conducted outside the continental United States, per the contract notice Thursday. “Experimentation includes, but is not limited to, six months of in-field operation by Air Force personnel against unmanned aerial systems threats,” the notice said. It also includes, but is not limited to, full mission capable, partial mission capable and non-mission capable operator training in theater maintenance of systems while collecting availability; reliability, maintainability and supportability data; and system operation against real-world or simulated hostile vignettes without disrupting other necessary installation operations.  Work will be performed at OCONUS locations and is expected to be completed by Nov. 1, 2020. The total contract is worth $36.9 million.

Three POTUS Contenders Out. Montana Governor Steve Bullock, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and retired Vice Adm. and former Rep. Joe Sestak (Pa.) all announced last week that they are suspending their campaigns to become the Democratic nominee for president in 2020. Over one dozen candidates remain in the race and, to date, six contenders have qualified to appear in the Dec. 19 debate, with less than one week to go before the qualification period ends.

AIA Letter. The Aerospace Industries Association urged Congress to pass the outstanding FY ’20 appropriations bills before the current continuing resolution expires Dec. 20 in a Dec. 5 letter. “Industries like ours cannot make efficient investment or hiring decisions when our federal customers are only funded for a few weeks at a time,” AIA leaders said, adding, “Compounding the current delays will cause severe hardship not only to federal agencies and workers, but also to industries like ours that depend on reliable and timely federal funding.”

Rocket Lab Launch. Rocket Lab successfully launched its 10th Electron mission Friday morning from its launch complex in New Zealand, deploying seven small satellites into orbit before completing a guided re-entry of the rocket’s first stage, the company said. “Not only is this 10th mission a significant milestone launch for us, but our first guided stage re-entry was a complete success,” said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and CEO in a press release. “The stage made it through the harsh re-entry environment intact, which is an outstanding result for a first test of our recovery systems. It’s a huge testament to the relentless drive and commitment of our team that we’ve reached 10 flights in just our second year of commercial launches.”

DoJ/Navistar. The Department of Justice said on Dec. 4 it will join a lawsuit alleging Navistar Defense defrauded the Marine Corps of $1.3 billion by inflating the cost of parts for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. The allegation was detailed in a complaint unsealed this week that was originally filed by a whistleblower, and former Navistar employee, to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia six years ago. “The Department of Justice will hold accountable those contractors who falsify information and thereby cause the military to pay inflated prices,” Jody Hunt, assistant attorney general for DoJ’s civil division, said in a statement.  “We will take steps necessary to protect the military’s procurement process from abuse.”

IVAS/Microsoft. The Army’s official leading the effort to deliver the service’s future augmented reality headset said this week he supported Microsoft employees’ voicing concern over the company’s decision to accept the work. “We are in the Department of Defense so we can defend people’s right to protest. So I think it’s a beautiful thing. I am absolutely, perfectly okay with it,” Brig. Gen. Anthony Potts, head of Program Executive-Soldier, said at an AUSA event. Microsoft was awarded a prototype contract to develop the Integrated Visual Augmentation System late last year, and in February a group of Microsoft employees wrote a letter to company leadership to drop the contract citing a decision to use the HoloLens goggles for lethal purposes. “I believe it’s perfectly okay for somebody not to want to create technology that they have an ethical issue of delivering, whether it’s to the government or anybody else,” Potts said. 

Targeting Prototype. The Army has awarded Elbit Systems of America subsidiary Kollsman, Inc. a prototype deal to develop the Multi-Domain User Sensor Architecture targeting systems. The company said its prototype will allow dismounted soldiers to more rapidly track targets with a lightweight, modular package that meets an Army requirement for improved sensor-to-shooter capabilities. “Our MDUSA prototype solution provides revolutionary advancements from current targeting products and equips U.S. Army Forward Observers with information needed to dominate the battlefield,” Ridge Sower, Elbit America’s vice president of ground combat and precision targeting solutions, said in a statement. “This next generation system performs in GPS-denied and other contested environments, offering increased situational awareness in all battlefield environments.” The MDUSA prototype consists of a handheld target locator module, a laser marker designator, precision azimuth and vertical angle module.

11 Subs? Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) told Navy officials during a hearing last week he not only wants the optional 10th vessel in the Virginia-class attack submarine Block V contract to be taken, but thinks there should be an 11th vessel in the same period. He noted he recently spoke with the Navy acquisition chief about the capability of Virginia prime contractor General Dynamics Electric Boat and others to meet the needs of Virginia and Columbia-class submarine construction in coming years. “I think we need an 11th within that same time period, covered by the contract,” he said. Blumenthal added that building Virginia- and Columbia-class submarines at the same time is “an unprecedented challenge for our defense industrial base and the key to it in my view is workforce training.” GD builds the Virginias with Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), with the latter acting as a subcontractor and generally building about half of the vessel parts. When asked if the industry could build another vessel in this timeframe, HII spokesperson Beci Brenton simply said, “we stand ready to build the ships our nation needs.”

PAL. The Navy awarded L3 Technologies’ Insight Technology Division a $37.5 million contract for precision aiming lasers (PAL) with a five-year ordering period in a first-time buy for PAL. PAL combines a range finder with a ballistics and environmental sensor/processor to give an operator a ballistic solution for increased likelihood of first-round hit. This is a Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division contracting activity but is in support of U.S. Special Operations Command, Visual Augmentation Systems Weapons Accessories Program. Work will occur in Londonderry, NH and is expected to be completed by November 2024. The PAL contract was competitively procured with two offers, but the Defense Department did not disclose the other competitor.

ESB-7 Engines. General Dynamics NASSCO awarded EnPro Industries’ Fairbanks Morse a contract for four main propulsion diesel engines (MPDE) for the Navy’s Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) 7. Fairbanks Morse will build the engines at its facility in Beloit, Wis. Fairbanks underscored with this award the company is now on contract to deliver 12 engines with the common rail fuel technology to the Navy for ESBs. This “demonstrates their confidence in the reliability of our engines,” said Deepak Navnith, president of Fairbanks Morse. Each FM|MAN 6L48/60 Common Rail engine is rated at 6,480 kW and will deliver a total of 25,920 kW of installed power.

CNO Guidance. Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Gilday released his initial guidance to the fleet as a fragmentary order (FRAGO) on Dec. 4. “This Fragmentary Order is written for senior Navy leaders to simplify, prioritize, and build on the foundation of Design 2.0 issued in December 2018,” Gilday wrote in the document. The earlier Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority 2.0 was issued by former CNO Adm. John Richardson in late 2018. This guidance focuses on three areas: warfighting, warfighter, and future Navy. It includes deadlines to make improvements like having  Fleet Forces leading an assessment  of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan with results due by January 2020 and having the Information Type Commander develop a plan to field small tactical cyber teams for fleet commanders by February 2020.

CVN-78. The Navy awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding an $11.5 million delivery order for 12 months of execution planning for repair and alteration requirements for the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) aircraft carrier planned incremental availability. This covers advance planning, design, documentation, engineering, procurement, ship checks, fabrication and preliminary shipyard or support facility work.  Work will occur in Newport News, Va., and is expected to be finished by September 2020.

Missile Support. Naval Sea Systems Command awarded Raytheon a $29 million contract modification to exercise a one-year option for FY 2020 Standard Missile-2 and 6 repair and maintenance and support material. This mod will specifically provide for engineering and technical support, depot and intermediate level repair, maintenance and recertification of standard missiles, sections, assemblies, subassemblies, and components. This combines purchases for the Navy (90 percent) and Spain (10 percent) under Foreign Military Sales. Work will largely occur in Camden, Ark. (68 percent); Tucson, Ariz.(18 percent); and Anaheim, Calif. (11 percent).

Border Wall Award Review. After the Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $400 million contract on Dec. 2 to Fisher Sand and Gravel to design and build border wall infrastructure in an area of Arizona, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) asked the Defense Department Inspector General to investigate the possibility that the Corps was improperly influenced in making the award. Thompson, in a Dec. 4 letter, said, so far, the Corps has awarded more than $2.5 billion in border wall funding and yet Fisher Sand and Gravel hadn’t won an award until this point. The letter cited media reports that the company’s wall proposals did not meet operational requirements and that it was behind schedule and over cost on prototype projects. Thompson said that President Trump had urged the Corps to award the contract to Fisher Sand and Gravel and that his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner had also lobbied for the selection.