New NATO Leader. The new Secretary General of NATO and Chairman of the North Atlantic Council will be Jens Stoltenberg, appointed Friday to succeed Denmark’s Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Stoltenberg. Currently leader of the Norwegian Labor Party and party parliamentary leader has also been Prime Minister. He will take over Oct. 1, when Fogh Rasmussen’s term expires after five years and two months leading the alliance.
More Hiring Authority At DHS. The Department of Homeland Security’s top cyber official asks Congress for more hiring authority to bring more technical talent to the agency during a Senate hearing last week. “What we need are more people like the ones we have,” Phyllis Schneck, Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), says before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Schneck, who came to DHS from McAfee, was critical of the long and complicated government hiring process. She wants an easier onboarding process and more money toward new hires when questioned about what Congress could do to support DHS’ cyber programs. Schneck does not attribute pay for keeping additional talent in the private sector. “Our mission can meet what their salary offers can meet in another way,” she says.
Cyber Information Sharing. Private sector companies have been on a learning curve figuring out which government authorities to send their cyber threat information. Now, firms are concerned about the flip side: too many agencies turning to them. “We very much know who to turn to. Our concern is in a major event having too many agencies turning to us,” Pepco Holdings Executive Vice President for Power Delivery David Velazquez says on the Hill last week. Velasquez says it would be difficult have the Departments of Homeland Security and Energy as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and others “all coming to their doorstep” for information. David Johnson, vice chairman for Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council, suggests more security operations centers to address this problem during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing.
Winter Symposium Redux. The Association of the United States Army goes back to Huntsville, Ala., for the March 31-April 2, 2015 Winter Symposium, officials say. In 2014 the first symposium held in Huntsville had more than 6,400 attendees, four times the number attending in 2013 when the event was held in Florida. The 2014 event was supported by Army Materiel Command. In 2015, the leading role will be taken by Army Training and Doctrine Command in the AUSA Institute of Land Warfare professional development forum. AUSA President Gordon Sullivan says returning to Huntsville “will allow us to continue maximizing military, civilian and industry attendance during this period of constrained budgets and limited resources.”
Exercise Saber Guardian Under Way. Exercise Saber Guardian14 (SG14) is a multinational Joint Exercise Program, led by U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) and Bulgarian Land Forces under way at Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria. The March 21-April 7 exercise is designed to strengthen international agency and military partnering, foster trust and improve interoperability between NATO and partner nations involved in foreign humanitarian assistance operations with U.S. forces. Some 700 military forces from 12 nations are attending, including Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine and the U.S., as well as NATO representatives. Participating U.S. units include USAREUR’s Contingency Command Post and its 7th Civil Support Command and 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
New GDNexus Need. The first Need Statement for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) domain is available from GDNexus, the online community of technology providers created by General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems. With a focus on the intersection of analytics with image and video processing, the Need Statement will match a technology solution with a mission-critical customer requirement. “Accelerating innovation into the mission is the goal of GDNexus,” says Jay Mork, chief technology officer at General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems. “With GDNexus we have established an agile, repeatable process that creates new business opportunities for our members, broadens their mission understanding and meets our customers’ needs for innovative technologies.” Registered members may propose technology responses via the free web portal until the May 31 deadline. Submissions are vetted through a review process and the GDNexus team provides detailed feedback. For more visit www.GDNexus.com.
NROL-67… A tracking radar deemed a mandatory range asset at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., becomes inoperable due to overheating, delaying the Air Force’s launch of the NROL-67 satellite, the 45th Space Wing says Friday in a statement. The overheating was due to an electrical short, which the Air Force says rendered the tracking radar inoperable. The outage resulted in an inability to meet minimum public safety requirements needed for launch, the Air Force says, delaying the launch. Although launch provider United Launch Alliance (ULA) says Friday it is prepared to launch April 10 if the tracking radar is fixed in time, the Air Force says initial assessment indicates repair of the tracking radar will take approximately three weeks. The Air Force says it is evaluating the feasibility of returning an inactive radar to full mission capability to resume operations sooner. The Air Force says early indications are all launches scheduled for fiscal year 2014 will be supported. ULA is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing. NROL-67 is a National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite.
…SpaceX. Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) postpones its Cargo Resupply Services-3 (CRS) launch originally scheduled for March 30 due to the Cape Canaveral launch range issue. The company has not rescheduled the launch, which is to take place on a Falcon 9v1.1 launch vehicle. CRS is a NASA program to bring cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). It is also a critical launch for SpaceX as it is part of the company’s process to become qualified for national security space launch contracts.
Grasshopper Follow-On. SpaceX recently test fires the first stage of the F9R, the follow-on to its Grasshopper reusable vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) space vehicle test rig, company spokeswoman Hannah Post says in an email. Post adds F9R will have its first test flight in the coming weeks. SpaceX founder and Chief Designer Elon Musk told reporters earlier this month on Capitol Hill the company expects to test fly to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) limits of about 10,000 feet at its Texas test site before transitioning to Spaceport America in New Mexico, where SpaceX will perform flights in excess of 100 miles in altitude.
NETCENTS-2. The Air Force awards a multiple-award, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ) contract worth a maximum of $5.8 billion for Network-Centric Solutions-2 (NETCENTS-2) network operations and infrastructure solutions, according to a Defense Department statement. The following companies receive NETCENTS-2 awards: The Centech Group, Epsilon Systems Solutions, Smartronix, SMS Data Products Group, Indus Corp., Technica Corp., Telos Corp., Sumaria Systems, BTAS and MicroTechnologies. The NETCENTS-2 contract vehicle will provide solutions to support network operations, core enterprise services and infrastructure development. It also provides solutions for network management and defense, services-oriented architecture infrastructure, enterprise level security/management and implementation/operations, telephony infrastructure and services. Each company will receive a minimum guarantee of $2,500 at award. This ordering period is a three-year basic period with four 12-month options, if exercised, resulting in seven years of ordering.
Orbital Iridium NEXT. Orbital Sciences starts production of 81 satellites for the Iridium NEXT program as part of a contract between the company and Iridium-prime contractor Thales Alenia Space, according to an Orbital statement. Orbital will complete the assembly, integration, test and launch support phases for the constellation at its factor in Gilbert, Ariz. The commencement of production also signifies the opening of a foreign trade zone (FTZ) at the Gilbert facility, which allows Orbital to reduce program costs by importing foreign-sourced hardware from Thales Alenia Space. Orbital will integrate a total of 81 satellites, including 66 low-earth orbit operational satellites, six in-orbit spares and nine ground-backup spacecraft, over the next three years. Scheduled to begin launching in 2015, Iridium NEXT will fully replace Iridium’s current satellite constellation of 66 cross-linked low-earth orbit satellites providing voice and data communication.
JSTARS Recapitalization. The Air Force is conducting risk reduction strategies and market research for the aircraft, radar and communications portions for its Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) recapitalization program, the service says in a statement. During this phase, the Air Force plans to use existing contracts to define requirements, support demos and issue preliminary designs. Work is expected to accelerate in fiscal year 2015 if Congress authorizes the nearly $73 million allotted for the program in the Air Force’s budget request. Tentative initial operational capability (IOC) slated for first quarter FY ’22 and a potential full operational capability (FOC) for FY ’25. The JSTARS program is an airborne command and control (C2), intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) asset, which supports operations and supplies air and ground commanders with target information.
Boeing All-Electric Sats. Boeing is on track to deliver all-electric propulsion satellites in late 2014 or early 2015 as it has met key production milestones on its initial 702SP (small platform) satellites, according to a company statement. Boeing recently completed static qualification testing, verification and assembly of the primary structures for 702SP inaugural customers ABS and Eutelsat, with the spacecraft scheduled to be launched as a pair in a stacked configuration. Boeing is building two pairs of 702SP satellites under a joint four-satellite agreement with ABS and Eutelsat. Production on the 702SP satellites began in 2013 after the spacecraft passed its critical design review (CDR).
Facebook drones. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced on Thursday that the social media website plans to try to boost global access in the internet though the deployment of aerial drones. He said Facebook has connected with a small U.K-based company called Ascenta, which has developed long-endurance solar powered aircraft. The goal is to increase access in remote or underdeveloped areas of the world. Facebook says only about one-third of the global population has regular internet access, and the number if growing by annually nine percent annually.
Third JHSV delivered. The Navy has accepted delivery of the third Joint High Speed Vessel. Builder Austal USA the USNS Millinocket to the Navy on March 21 at its facility in Mobile, Ala. The vessel is designed to transport troops, equipment, and supplies to in theatre. It can transport 600 short tons of military cargo 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots.
DoD nominations move forward. The Senate Armed Services Committee voted to report out 147 military nominations on March 26. Among the military officers were Air Force Gen. Paul Selva to be the commander of the U.S. Transportation Command, and Vice Adm. Michael Rogers to be the director of the National Security Agency and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command. Among the civilian officials were Robert Work for deputy defense secretary, Michael McCord for defense comptroller and Christine Wormuth for undersecretary of defense for policy. The nominations were sent to the full Senate calendar for a final vote.
Navy details cruiser modernization plan. The Navy has about $2.2 billion in its Ship Modernization, Operations, and Sustainment Fund for cruiser maintenance and modernization, which won’t fully cover its plans to lay up 11 of its 22 cruisers for an extended modernization program but will go a long way in getting started, Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley told the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee on March 26. “This Navy plan is made affordable by drawing down manpower and operating costs during the extended modernization period, a cost avoidance in excess of $6 billion,” he said, though a Navy spokeswoman clarified that no sailors would be pushed out of the Navy, but rather would be more efficiently used based on Navy requirements. Stackley said the maintenance work would begin in 2015, and “the depot work will be scheduled to ensure efficient execution and, to the extent practical, provide stability to the industrial base.”