Capitol Hill Week Ahead…. House Speaker John Boehner’s resignation at the end of October could change lawmakers’ calculus as the House and Senate work to avoid a government shutdown. The Senate on Monday is slated to vote on a “clean” continuing resolution that includes funds for Planned Parenthood. The measure is expected to pass, and then it will be sent to the House, where it could encounter opposition by conservative Republicans who have threatened to vote against any budget bill that includes subsidies for Planned Parenthood. The fiscal year starts on Oct. 1, meaning that lawmakers only have three days get a spending bill to President Barack Obama’s desk.
…NDAA Watch…The reconciliation process continues. “We’re down to very few issues, and I’m hopeful that those few issues could be resolved any day,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) tells reporters on Friday. Acquisition reform has not been a significant source of disagreement between Thornberry and his counterpart in the Senate, John McCain (R-Ariz.), the HASC chairman says. However, Thornberry refuses to address whether he had signed on to McCain’s proposed changes that would grant the services greater authority to make milestone decisions.
…More Hill News. Even besides the budget issues, next week will be busy for defense on the Hill. On Tuesday, SASC will conduct a cybersecurity hearing with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work, and Adm. Mike Rogers, the head of Cyber Command and National Security Agency. On Thursday, a hearing on the Ford-class aircraft carrier will include testimony from the key Navy officials such as the service’s head of acquisition Sean Stackley, as well as the Pentagon’s independent weapons tester Michael Gilmore.
TSA before SAC HS. The Senate Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security (SAC HS) panel Tuesday morning will hear from new Transportation Security Administration Chief Peter Neffenger and Department of Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth for an update on the agency’s progress in closing screening security gaps highlighted in a classified IG report that was leaked in last May. The report prompted Homeland Security Secretary to reassign then acting TSA Administrator Melvin Carraway, direct that all screening equipment at the checkpoint be re-tested, continue random testing of the equipment, and expand training for Transportation Security Officers. The equipment in question appears to have been the body scanners, officially called Advanced Imaging Technology.
Cyber R&D. The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology branch this month awarded eight research contracts worth $10.4 million combined related to mobile device security for the federal government. Awards under the Mobile Technology Security project were made to HRL Laboratories, IBM, Intelligent Automation Inc., Kryptowire, Northrop Grumman, United Technologies, Rutgers Univ., and the Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Cash Back. Lockheed Martin rewards shareholders with an increased dividend and a new plan for repurchase more of its stock. The company hikes dividend by 10 percent to $1.65 per share in the fourth quarter, representing a 15 cents increase versus the third quarter dividend. The increase is the 13th straight year of double-digit increases in the quarterly dividend rate. The company also authorizes the purchase of up to an additional $3 billion of its common stock.
Accenture Financial Contract. The Air Force awards Accenture Federal Services a 30-month, $73 million contract to support the final phase of development activities for the Defense Enterprise Accounting and Management System (DEAMS), the service’s financial transformation initiative. DEAMS integrates data and processes across the Air Force, U.S. Transportation Command, and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. It currently manages about $800 million in monthly billings and cash collection while processing over 100,000 invoices annually for the Air Force. When fully implemented, DEAMS is set to integrate legacy financial management systems into a single system.
James Webb Fuel. Orbital ATK’s Space Components Division ships two oxidizer tanks and fuel to Northrop Grumman’s Redondo Beach, Calif., facility for integration into NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The tanks will provide propulsion for the successor satellite to the Hubble Space Telescope. The tanks first pass a qualification test that pressurizes one to failure. The tanks contain a Propellant Management Device (PMD) to provide gas-free propellant that reduces telescope residual motion.
Radar Contract. The U.S. Army selects Northrop Grumman to develop the Airborne Reconnaissance Low-Enhanced (ARL-E) Long-Range Radar (LRR) under an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract. Under the contract the company will develop a synthetic aperture radar (SAR)/ground moving target indicator (GMTI) system for the ARL-E DHC-8. The LRR system aims to enhance the Army’s C4ISR capabilities by combining the Gen 2 Vehicle Dismount and Exploitation Radar (VADER) back-end electronics and software with a high technology readiness level AESA to meet the performance requirements of the ARL-E, the company says.
Norway’s First F-35A. Norway’s first F-35A Lightning II, AM-1, is rolled out at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas production facility. “The F-35 represents a new way of thinking, a new way of operating, which will benefit the entire Norwegian Armed Forces,” Norwegian Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Soreide says at a ceremony at the rollout. AM-1 and the second Norwegian F-35A, AM-2, are set to be delivered to Norwegian forces later in 2015 while being based at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. for pilot training.
Microsoft Cyber Gift. Microsoft makes a $1 million gift to the Naval Academy Foundation to support its five-story, 206,000 –square foot Center for Cyber Security Studies (CCSS) building. Expected to be completed in 2018, the government directs $120 million to construct the building but further funding is necessary to fully outfit its laboratories, classrooms, and meeting spaces. The CCSS seeks to educate all midshipmen in areas of cyber defense and warfare, facilitate sharing of cyber expertise, and disseminate information. All midshipmen are required to take two courses on cyber issues. The CCSS also offers a major in cyber operations with first graduates expected in 2016.
NG ASISTT. Northrop Grumman beats out eight other companies to win an Advanced Staring Infrared Search and Track Technlogies (ASISTT) contract from the Air Force, the Defense Department says. The contract is worth $8.5 million. The ASISTT program intends to identify, mature and demonstrate technology solutions supporting the development of a future airborne long-range offensive infrared search and track (IRST) capability based on staring (non-scanned) system configuration. Work is expected to complete by Sept. 25, 2019.
WGS Outsource. The Air Force contemplates a contract for commercial operations of its Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) satellite constellation, the service announces Sept. 18. The Air Force issued a request for information (RFI), to identify potential sources to perform 24/7 on-orbit operations and maintenance (O&M) of the constellation of WGS platforms. It is also to gather industry’s estimates of start-up and operation cost, timeline for going operational and ability to provide the necessary capabilities. WGS provides worldwide flexible, high data rate and long haul communications for marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen the White House, the State Department, international partners and other special users. Intelsat General says in a statement it welcomes the opportunity to tell the Air Force it can use its half century of experience flying satellites—including the same Boeing bus—to help the Air Force save money and free up resources to focus on battle management.
AMRAAM Contract. The Air Force on Sept. 21 sole-sources Raytheon a contract potentially worth $180 million for Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) program support and annual sustainment, according to a DoD statement. The contract is fixed-price-incentive, firm target and indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ) and involves foreign military sales (FMS). Work is expected to wrap up by Sept. 30, 2020.
RTAPS2 Contract. NASA awards Orbital ATK a Research and Technologies for Aerospace Propulsion Systems 2 (RTAPS2) contract of unspecified value to provide advanced space propulsion system technologies, according to a company statement. Research and development (R&D) efforts in these technologies address a wide variety of propulsion issues for subsonic, supersonic, hypersonic and rotorcraft transportation vehicles, as well as addressing issues pertaining to aviation safety and space exploration missions.
MALD Contract. The Air Force sole sources Raytheon an ID/IQ contract worth $100 million for Miniature Air Launched Decoy (MALD) production support, DoD says. Raytheon will provide MALD system upgrades, integration, sustainment, management and logistical support. Work will complete by Sept. 30, 2020. MALD is an air-launched programmable craft that duplicates the combat flight profiles and signatures of U.S. and allied aircraft.
U.S. and Mozambique Cyber Workshop. The U.S. State Department and Government of Mozambique host a Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Workshop for Lusophone Africa in Maputo, Mozambique from Sept. 22-24. The workshop seeks to address broad cybercrime and cybersecurity issues in addition to specific Lusophone Africa interests including combating cybercrime; mobile phone security; Internet freedom, access, and affordability; and the development of national computer emergency readiness teams (CERTs). Attendees include government officials from Angola, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Portugal, and São Tomé and Príncipe. The African Union Commission (AUC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are also invited to share ideas on cyber issues.
Pope Criticizes Weapons Manufacturers. Pope Francis took aim at the defense industrial complex during a joint address of Congress last Thursday, where he asked lawmakers to stop the arms trade. “Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society?” he asked. “Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money. Money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.” Although lawmakers rose to their feet in a standing ovation, it’s nigh impossible that his words will have any impact on the largely bipartisan support for defense spending.