U.S. Farnborough Delegation. The United States Government delegation at this week’s Farnborough International Air Show near London will be led by Air Force Secretary Deborah James and will include officials from the Defense, Commerce and State Departments as well as senior military leadership from the U.S. European Command. The delegation will “advocate for U.S. companies bidding on foreign commercial and defense contracts, promote U.S. defense sales abroad, and discuss how export control reform support our partners and allies,” the State Department says. Joining James from DoD will be Frank Kendall, the under secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. State Department attendees will include Ken Handelman, deputy assistant secretary for Political-Military Affairs, and Scott Nathan, special representative for Commercial and Business Affairs. Commerce attendees will include Kenneth Hyatt, deputy under secretary for International Trade, and Kevin Wolf, assistant secretary for Export Administration.
Coastal Interceptor. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the next month or two plans to issue a solicitation for a Coastal Interceptor Vessel, which will serve as a maritime law enforcement boat that will transport and employ the agency’s Maritime Interdiction Agents for various missions. CBP plans to purchase up to 52 of the approximately 40-feet, high-speed, deep-V, mono-hull vessels that will operate in littoral and offshore areas of the United States.
UAS Experimenting. San Diego Gas & Electric says the Federal Aviation Administration has granted the southern California utility a special certificate to allow it to conduct experimental testing of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to examine how the systems can be used in day-to-day operations to improve inspections of electric and gas lines, especially where infrastructure is off-limits to helicopters or vehicles. The utility says the small UAS, which are less than 16 inches in diameter and weigh less than a pound, can also improve situational awareness in emergencies through monitoring of fires. It also says they will be cheaper to operate, less noisy, and more environmentally friendly than helicopters and other heavy machinery.
Orbital ATK Seeking D.C. Boss. Less than one month after being named to head the Washington office for the new Orbital ATK company expected to stand up at the end of the year, Bill Johnson left ATK on July 1. Don Masch has been tapped for the job running ATK’s Washington office on an interim basis, replacing Johnson. The new Orbital ATK is seeking to find a replacement for Johnson. The two companies, which announced their all-stock merger at the end of April, could clear regulatory hurdles as soon as November. Johnson took the helm of ATK’s Washington office after Steve Cortese left for DRS Technologies last year.
Even Better BBP. Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall is in the early stages of crafting his Better Buying Power 3.0, which he told the House Armed Services Committee would focus on how to get the right ideas translated to a weapon in the hands of warfighters. “The next iteration of Better Buying Power is going to be about innovation and moving the technology to the warfighter,” he says on July 10. “We’ve been focusing for the last few years on business practices, on efficiency and productivity in general, and getting better business deals and executing them effectively. I want us to turn towards focusing more on what we’re providing to the warfighter and how we’re getting technology into the warfighters’ hands.”
Heron Keeps Flying. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) requests the Royal Australian Air Force’s Heron Remotely Piloted Aircraft extend its mission in Afghanistan. The aircraft supports ISAF’s requirement to maintain information, surveillance and reconnaissance capability during the traditional fighting season. Operating from Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan, Australia’s three unarmed Heron Remotely Piloted Aircraft provide real-time situational awareness of the battlefield. Australia’s Heron detachment consists of Air Force, Army and Navy personnel and civilian contractors. Heron is produced by Israel Aircraft Industries.
Javelin Support. The Javelin Joint Venture, a Raytheon Lockheed Martin joint venture, will provide Javelin life-cycle contractor support for maintenance of command launch units and training devices under a $15.5 million firm-fixed-price foreign military sales contract. The countries supported under the contract are Australia, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Ireland, Jordan, New Zealand, Norway, Oman and Taiwan.
New Jet Partners. Embraer and Saab sign a Memorandum of Understanding to partner in joint program management for the F-X2 Project, if the Gripen NG is chosen as Brazil’s next generation fighter jet. Under this agreement, Embraer will perform a leading role in the overall program performance as well as undertake an extensive share of work in the production and delivery of both the single and two-seat versions of the state-of-the-art Gripen NG aircraft for the Brazilian air force. Embraer will coordinate all development and production activities in Brazil on behalf of Saab and, in addition to its own extensive work packages, will participate in systems development, integration, flight tests, final assembly and deliveries. Embraer and Saab will be jointly responsible for the complete development of the two-seat version of the Gripen NG, at the same time a strategic partnership for future global promotion and marketing of both single and two-seat versions is being discussed between the two companies.
JHSV’s Builder Trials. The fourth Joint High Speed Vessel, the future USNS Fall River (JHSV-4), completed builder’s trials earlier this month. During the trials, Austal USA, the manufacturer in Mobile, Ala., tested the performance of all of the ship’s major systems including the propulsion plant, communications, navigation, and ride control systems. The Fall River is expected to be fully operational by the end of this year. Designed for the rapid transport of troops or heavy equipment in theater, the JHSVs are based on a commercial design.
Maintenance in Naples. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) recently set up a regional maintenance center in Naples, Italy. The center will be used for deployed ships and the detachment and report directly to Navy Regional Maintenance Center commander. “With FDRMC co-located with some of our forward-deployed ships and nearer our regional maintenance center detachments, we are providing the fleet with a single point of management and oversight that will enhance our ability to support their specific maintenance needs as they emerge,” says Rear Adm. Bill Galinis, the commander of the Navy Regional Maintenance Center (CNRMC). “FDRMC will improve the Navy’s coordination and integration of maintenance for forward-deployed ships serving in the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.”
Write About It. A new Award For Writing competition is open and anyone can participate. It calls for essays focused on Army acquisition issues, says Principal Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)), Lt. Gen. Michael Williamson. “I’ve created this competition as a way to help shape the public dialogue regarding Army acquisition through critical writing,” Williamson says in an Army Acquisition Support Center release. The submitted works must be original, not previously published, and completed during Fiscal Year 2014. Four award winners will be selected with four additional works selected for honorable mention. The deadline for submission is Sept. 15 to Karen Kurtz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check it out: http://www.army.mil/asaalt.
Falcon 9 Certified. The Air Force certifies Space Exploration Technology Corp.’s (SpaceX) Falcon 9 launch system as conducting three successful flights, a prerequisite for companies seeking to win business through the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. SpaceX says in statement Friday, under Air Force standards, it is already qualified to compete for EELV missions, but the company must also be certified by the Air Force before any contract can be awarded to the company. SpaceX says it expects to satisfy the remaining certification requirements later this year. The company is currently suing the Air Force to force the service to compete its block buy of 36 launch cores to incumbent United Launch Alliance (ULA).
New Bomber RFP. The Air Force releases its Long Range Strike Bomber (LRSB) request for proposal (RFP) to industry July 9, the service says in a statement, which will lead to a competitive selection of the bomber’s development in the spring 2015 timeframe. The RFP is classified, according to service spokesman Ed Gulick. Boeing and Lockheed Martin have declared their teaming arrangement to bid for the bomber, while Northrop Grumman, incumbent for B-2, is expected to compete. Northrop Grumman spokesman Randy Belote says Friday the company is “very interested” in working with the Air Force to provide the bomber capability to the nation. The Air Force expects to procure between 80 and 100 bombers with a unit price tag of around $550 million.
Orbital Orb-2 Sunday. Orbital Sciences again delays the launch of its Orb-2 Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission, this time to July 13, according to a company statement. Severe weather near the eastern shore of Virginia, home to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF), has repeatedly interrupted Orbital’s normal operational schedule leading up to the launch. The extra day allows the company to maintain normal launch operations processing. With the second launch delay, the Cygnus space capsule is now scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) on July 16 with grapple by the station’s robot arm scheduled for around 6:37 a.m. EDT. Cygnus is carrying about 3,300 pounds of supplies for ISS, including research investigations, crew provisions, hardware and science experiments from across the country. ATK is providing the second stage Castor 30B motor for Antares.
Arianespace O3b. Arianespace on July 10 launches four O3b communications satellites into equatorial orbit from French Guiana, according to a company statement. Built by Thales Alenia Space, these four satellites will enable O3b Networks to supply broadband internet access to emerging markets in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Australia and the Middle East, totaling nearly 150 countries surrounding the equator where broadband access is rarely available. O3b CEO Steve Collar says in a statement on the company’s website that the satellites will now go through a period of in-orbit testing before being fully integrated into its network. Collar says O3b’s third launch is scheduled for early 2015.
Common Upper Stage. Aerojet Rocketdyne and Ball Aerospace complete a study to develop a common upper stage service for NASA, according to an Aerojet Rocketdyne statement. The common upper stage would enhance the performance of the NASA Launch Services (NLS) II medium and heavy launch vehicles for planetary and heliophysics missions and pave the way for additional missions by providing more affordable launch services. The new common upper stage could be integrated on a number of launch vehicles, including Antares, Atlas V and future NASA-procured launch vehicles such as Delta IV Heavy. It would also be the first space vehicle to integrate the new green, non-toxic propellant being developed and qualified by Ball and Aerojet Rocketdyne for NASA on the Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) (Defense Daily, Jan. 9).
CYBERCOM Deputy. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel nominates Air Force Maj. Gen. James McLaughlin for assignment as U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) deputy commander and rank of lieutenant general, according to a Defense Department statement. McLaughlin is currently serving as commander of 24th Air Force, Air Force Space Command (AFSPC); and commander, Air Forces Cyber, CYBERCOM, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.