Capitol Hill Look Ahead. The bustle of last week continues into the next, as the Senate looks to a vote on the defense authorization bill conference report. If passed by the Senate, it will move to  the desk of President Barack Obama, who has promised to veto it. Larger scale budget talks also continue between Obama and top Republican leadership.

Little Bird. Boeing locks down the first international customer for the AH-6i Little Bird light attack and reconnaissance helicopter and plans to begin deliveries next year, Vice President of Vertical Lift David Koopersmith tells Defense Daily. He declines to name the customer, but public records indicate the Saudi Arabian National Guard will be the first buyer of the variant. The aircraft was originally offered to the U.S. Army as a possible replacement for the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior armed aerial scout (AAS), a competition Boeing hardly lost as the Army instead decided to re-task its AH-64 Apaches to perform the mission in conjunction with teamed unmanned systems. The Ah-6i is currently in the final stages of flight test, Koopersmith says.

… Aerial Scout Revisited. Koopersmith says Boeing hasn’t given up on the Army buying a non-developmental follow-on to the Kiowa Warrior. “We are very enthusiastic  that a variant of the AH-6…that if there is ever funding for some kind of an armed aerial scout requirement, we’d be very bullish as we were when we provided a response to the [AAS request for information] two or three years ago.”

USASOC Audit. The Pentagon Inspector General announces plans to audit the almost entirely classified spending habits of U.S. Army Special Operations Command. The audit is being conducted by request of an unnamed member of the House Armed Service Committee. “Our objective is to determine whether U.S. Army Special Operations Command awarded service contracts and task orders in accordance with federal and DoD regulations,” a letter to several high ranking defense and Army officials, including the commander of USASOC, and dated Sept. 30, reads. The person to be contacted with questions regarding the audit is redacted from the document, which is signed by Michael Roark, assistant inspector general for contract management and payments.

Iraq Army. In a teleconference Thursday from Iraq, Col. Steve Warren, spokesman for the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State Operation Inherent Resolve says Iraqi forces are having trouble fighting ISIS because they were trained–by the United States–to fight the wrong kind of war. ISIS is fighting a 20th-century style war by defending strongholds and planting landmines instead of using improvised explosive devises and fighting an insurgent war, he says. “What ISIL is doing is- or certainly what they’ve done in Ramadi is really build a hard point. They’ve defended Ramadi almost in an early 20th century style, with belts of defenses, defensive belts,” he says. “So, this is not what we trained the Iraqi army back in the earlier and middle 2000s to fight against…We trained and built a counterinsurgency army.  And this is much more of a conventional fight.”

SECDEF On The Move. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter takes off Sunday for a five-day jaunt to Europe to attend the NATO Defense Ministerial Conference in Brussels, Belgium. On Monday, Carter meets with counterparts in Madrid, Spain, then moves on Tuesday to Moron Airbase where he meets with U.S. Marines stationed there. On Monday, Secretary Carter meets with Spanish leaders in Madrid. From there he hops to Sigonella, Italy to visit U.S. personnel, then to Rome on Wednesday to meet Italian government officials. On Thursday, he attends the NATO Ministerial in Belgium, including sessions on nuclear strategy, the NATO-Georgia Commission, and discussions on how the United States and allies can best respond to threats along NATO’s southern flank. Carter ends the trip in London where on Friday he discusses with his counterpart the ongoing Strategic Defense and Security Review. He returns to Washington that night.

C-130 Down. Six U.S. airmen and five civilian contractors are killed when the C-130J Hercules in which they were flying crashes shortly before midnight Friday, local time, near Jalalabad, Afghanistan. An investigation into the incident is ongoing and neither the cause of the crash nor the identities of those killed have been released. In a statement, Carter says the incident was “tragic” and that “while we are still trying to determine exactly what happened, this is a reminder of the risks that our men and women face serving their country in remote places all over the world.”

Morelos-3 Launch. Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services (LMCLS) on Friday successfully launches the Morelos-3 satellite for Mexico, according to a company statement. A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 421 configuration rocket launches at 6:28 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The launch marks ULA’s 100th mission since the company was formed in 2006. LMCLS is marketing the Atlas V to commercial customers worldwide and also offers Athena launch services for small satellites and multi-payload RideShare missions.

Boeing ISS Extension. NASA awards a $1.2 billion, five-year contract extension to Boeing to continue providing key engineering support services, resources and personnel to the International Space Station (ISS) through Sept. 30, 2020, according to a company statement. Boeing’s contract extension includes a task to assess the feasibility of extending the life of ISS’ primary structural hardware through the end of 2028. NASA and its 16 international partners are analyzing the ability to sustain station operations through 2020.

Global Hawk Contract. The Air Force on Sept. 30 awards Northrop Grumman a $3.2 billion indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract for Global Hawk development, modernization, retrofit and sustainment activities for all Air Force variants. Northrop Grumman will also provide management in program, business and technical areas; engineering efforts and related areas of concern such as technical refresh and diminishing manufacturing sources. The contract ends Sept. 30, 2020.

ULA Contract. The Air Force on Sept. 30 awards United Launch Alliance (ULA) a $233 million firm-fixed-price contract modification (P00090) for launch vehicle production services under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Phase I contract. The contract procures one Air Force Atlas V and one Delta IV launch. ULA is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

…More ULA. The Air Force on Sept. 29 awards ULA a $882 modification to a previously awarded contract (FA8811-13-C-0003) for fiscal year 2016 EELV launch capability from both the Delta IV and Atlas V families of vehicles. Services include launch capability, mission integration, base and range support, maintenance commodities and Delta and Atlas depreciation, in addition to others.

100 BE-4 Tests. Blue Origin completes 100 staged-combustion tests of its BE-4 engine, according to a company statement. The test series confirms pre-test predictions of injector performance, heat transfer and combustion stability. Data gathered during testing is used to refine the design of the preburner and main combustion chamber injector elements, preburner and main combustion chamber sizing and the regenerative cooling configuration.

Cyber Holdup in Senate. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Vice Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) are urging the Senate move forward with legislation to bolster the sharing of cyber threat data between the private sector and government, saying that special interest groups are getting in the way. “Despite strong bipartisan support in the committee and the Senate, and support from the administration and the business community, there are some groups that are opposing the bill out of a knee-jerk reaction against any communication between the government and industry,” they say in a joint statement. “If these special interest groups are successful in mischaracterizing this bill, which authorizes purely voluntary sharing, they will only succeed in allowing more personal information to be compromised to criminals and foreign countries.”

Consolidation is Market Driven. Responding to last week by Defense Secretary Carter and Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition Frank Kendall about excessive consolidation among prime defense contractors, Aerospace Industries Association CEO David Melcher says mergers are happening “as a natural result of decades-long trends in defense acquisition. Consolidation is market-driven and enhances the efficiency with which we deliver the world’s best equipment to the American warfighter.”  Melcher adds that with fewer new programs to compete on the stakes are higher, particularly if a company loses on a bid because it might “mean the end” of its “ability to compete for defense work.” This is why companies are trying to “become leaner and more efficient,” he says.

Importance of Cyber Deal. John Carlin, assistant attorney general for national security at the Justice Department, says the new agreement between the United States and China prohibiting the cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property by either country is important because “the next time that we take an enforcement action there will be no debate as to whether what occurred was wrong or not so that norm is set.” He says it’s also important that the agreement was signed with China “because it sends a message to all the world that this is clearly behavior that is outside the pale.”

Joint Strike Fighter. On Sept. 23, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter completed its first external weapons release, in which the jet dropped a 500-pound GBU-12 laser guided inert bombs from its wings’ pylons four times in a single pass. The test was conducted at the Atlantic Test Range by the F-35 Patuxent River Integrated Test Force. During the flight, engineers monitored data from each bomb drop to confirm the weapon’s accuracy and that it was following its predicted trajectory, a statement from the F-35 Joint Program Office says. Each weapon separation matched models derived from simulation and windtunnel testing data.

Trident II Missiles. The Navy awards Lockheed Martin a $392 million modification to a previously awarded contract for new procurement of Trident II missile production, life extension development and production and support of deployed systems. The contract award value could increase up to $1.475 billion if all options are exercised. The work is scheduled to be complete in November 2020.

CH-53 Logistics. Sikorsky lands a five-year, firm fixed price, contract worth $189 million for performance based logistics associated with the CH-53 helicopter. The contract covers “repair coverage for 10 weapons replaceable assemblies in support of the CH-53.” Work is expected to wrap up in September 2020.

Raytheon Contract. The Navy awards Raytheon a $159 million firm, fixed price contract for upgrades and repairs to the the MK 15 Close in Weapon System. CIWS defends against high speed, anti-ship missile threats. The contract includes options that would bring the total award up to $461 million, and includes purchases for the United States and New Zealand.

JCREW LRIP. Northrop Grumman picks up a $95 million fixed-price-incentive, firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee, and cost-only contract for Joint Counter Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare (JCREW) low-rate initial production for the Expeditionary Warfare program office. The JCREW system was developed to protect dismounted troops from IED explosions. If exercised, options would bring the contract up to $213 million. The contract was not competed because Northrop Grumman was the only contractor capable of meeting Navy requirements.

Cyber Company CSO. Retired U.S. Army Major General John Davis joins Palo Alto Networks as Federal Chief Security Officer (CSO). Davis previously was the Senior Military Adviser for Cyber to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy before exiting the Defense Department in May 2015.

Biden Meets With Abe. Vice President Biden meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meetings. According to the White House, issues discussed include cyber, maritime security, regional relations, and resolving limited outstanding issues of the Trans-Pacific Partnership at the upcoming ministers meeting in Atlanta, Ga.

Cyber Contract. The U.S. Air Force awards Booz Allen Hamilton a $17.5 million cost-plus-fixed-fee type contract for the development and enhancement of software tools and techniques to address current cyber requirements. Contract work includes developing technology to be integrated with current cyber solutions and demonstrating scientific and technical merit by providing state-of-the-art defensive capabilities, the contract announcement says. Work will be performed at McLean, Va., and Rome, N.Y., with an expected completion date of Sept. 29, 2018. The contract comes from a competitive acquisition with 23 offers received by the Air Force. Fiscal 2015 research, development, test, and evaluation funds of $50,000 are obligated at the time of award. The contracting activity is the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, N.Y.